On the President’s Biggest Mistake

With President Obama completing his first year, numerous political commentaries exist – although how many are nonpartisan? For a different type of post, I will use portions of past posts (dated) to make my point followed by a concluding statement

Nov 5, 2008 (Day after the Election)
Like all previous election winners, he (Barack Obama) campaigned about changing Washington. Can he transform his inclusive nature with the electorate onto a Washington establishment that resists change? Remember, the current economic conditions, financial systems, terrorist groups, and countries with anti-U.S. sentiments do not give time. Addressing the difficult force of time is about our country, not a political party. Therefore, I believe President Obama needs to govern from the center. Maybe he can. Hopefully, he will.

On Nov 13, 2008
In 2008 independent moderates wanted a change from Bush administration policies, but also saw Senator Obama as too liberal. Independents want fiscal restraint, but anticipate too much spending in a Democratic-controlled Washington.

On Nov 17, 2008
Pressure is on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to produce bipartisan results and Barack Obama to lead from the center.

On Dec 17, 2008
So, will change occur in Washington? Hmmmm, I doubt it – I do not think the political parties nor the obnoxiously-partisan media types will allow it.

On Jan 23, 2009 (2 days following the inauguration)
Candidate Obama repeatedly campaigned about working toward bipartisan solutions and setting a new tone in Washington – a noble thought. Now for the first major legislation, he relied on the legislative process to produce the bill known as the economic stimulus. Let me get this straight – relying on two partisan leaders with a dominating majority to produce a bipartisan effort sets a new tone?

On Feb 5, 2009
Speaker Pelosi is on a mission to achieve the party’s agenda. Unfortunately, her mission does not match the public’s wants and needs!

On Feb 11, 2009 (regarding the economic stimulus)
Since Congress continues to operate business as usual figuring the president will take the blame, it is time for President Obama to use his political capital by vetoing the bill and toss it back onto the lap of the problem. The people will love it and Congress will face the pressure to be constructive.

On April 8, 2009

  • Speaker Pelosi continues to lead in a partisan manner, thus foregoing a bipartisan response in favor of forcing an ideological agenda.
  • Democratic operatives are lining up at the pork buffet. Sure pork is actually a small portion of the total budget, but it is about principles.
  • Senate Leader Harry Reid’s focuses his effort to back the Pelosi-driven agenda by either limiting Democratic defectors to keep the majority or to gain GOP defectors to get the key 60.
  • Groups as MoveOn.org, the Campaign for America’s Future, and US Action are already targeting centrist Democrats for “standing in the way of the president’s programs.” In other words, the Democrats are using a bully pulpit.

Conclusion
How did I do? Candidate Obama repeatedly campaigned about working toward bipartisan solutions and setting a new tone in Washington – a noble thought, but far from practice. Since the first major legislation he relied on the legislative process to produce the bill known as the economic stimulus, and not much has changed ever since.

Although I do not approve of obstinate Republican tactics, the bully pulpit is also unacceptable. Does relying on two partisan leaders with a dominating majority to produce a bipartisan effort set a new tone? Nope, and now the Democratic is paying the price and giving Republicans upward momentum – and yes, I called that too.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 8

I usually do this post on Fridays and on a variety of topics. Given the historic inauguration, these shorts focus on the new president and associated events.

President Obama, please restore the balance of power between the branches of government.

I still hope that neither the Obama administration nor a Democratic-controlled Congress decides to investigate the Bush administration.

About a year and half ago, a friend (and self-declared political pundit) said to me, “America will never elect a person with a name like Barack Obama.”

My father-in-law, a lifelong Republican, said on Inauguration Day, “I didn’t vote for him, but how can I not root for this guy. I really like him.”

I’m amazed how many people continue to proclaim that CNN’s bias toward President Obama won the election. Of course these same people don’t realize the FOX News is the ratings leader in all timeslots and their viewership is relatively equivalent to CNN and MSNBC combined.

An interesting comment on presidential campaigns: Campaign promises function as guideposts, not promises.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CBS’s Bob Schieffer that he senses a bipartisan cooperative center in Congress. I hope he’s right, thus the heck with the far right and the far left. To Senator Graham I respectfully say, “Talk is cheap.”

Here’s an interesting post from Bush staff member Mark McKinnon about the trip from Washington.

This Cincinnati Enquirer editorial looked back at its previous Inauguration Day comments, which I found interesting.

From Peggy Noonan

This was not the sound of candidate Barack Obama but President Obama, not the sound of the man who appealed to the left wing of his party but one attempting to appeal to the center of the nation. It was not a joyous, audacious document, not a call to arms, but a reasoned statement by a Young Sobersides.

From George Will: Summoning the U.S. Up from Childishness

Obama, whose trumpet never sounds retreat, overstated the scale of our difficulties with his comparison of them with those the nation faced in the almost extinguishing winter of 1776-77. Still, the lyrics of cultural traditionalism with which he ended — the apostle of “change we can believe in” urging the nation to believe in “old” values — reinforced his theme of responsibility, summoning the nation up from childishness.

And from Dick Morris

So Obama’s name will be mud by 2012 and probably by 2010 as well. And the Republican Party will make big gains and regain much of its lost power. But it will be too late to reverse the socialism of much of the economy, the demographic change in the electorate, the rationing of healthcare by the government, the surge of unionization and the crippling of talk radio.

As a postscript addition (1 hr later), I have to add this. As Raul Castro says President Obama seems like a good man and wishes him luck, Rush Limbaugh proudly and loudly proclaims, “I hope he fails.”

Random Inauguration Day Thoughts

The Ongoing
The George W. Bush presidency is about to end. I watched his last news conference, Larry King interview, and his final address to the nation.

  • He doesn’t seem to second-guess himself much; “Presidents don’t get do-overs.” and stands by his decisions.
  • He seemed disconnect from the feelings of the majority.
  • From the heights of his leadership immediately after the attacks to the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, September 11th will define his presidency.
  • Only time will tell how history will look at the Bush presidency, which to me, is defined so much to 9-11. Current historians are predicting “not well.” Meanwhile, an unofficial news poll showed that 39% of Cincinnatians say the opposite. Check on this column from a Cincinnati Enquirer.
  • Presidents have post-presidency causes they champion, and serving the Katrina region could be a significant contribution.
  • Mr. President, I voted for you once, and disagreed many times, but nonetheless, thank you for serving the country.

The Incoming

  • Intentionally, I’ve posted very little about President Obama. The reason was simple ─ I refused to comment on the president that had served zero days. After today, he’s open game.
  • The amount of change I’ve seen in my lifetime is amazing. I’m proud that we’ve come a long way, but realize there is still a way to go by all.
  • Voters place too much importance of voting for president and too little on congressional seats. We give the president more power and transformational expectations than they actually have.
  • With expectations so high, the many current messes, and a fickle public, this could be a one-term presidency.
  • I continue to be amazed by those who hope President Obama fails.
  • Good luck Mr. President. If you are successful, so are we.

On Media Bias: Surely It Can’t Be

From Wikipedia

Media bias is a term used to describe a real or perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media, in the selection of which events will be reported and how they are covered.

The political election season seems to bring media bias into question more than ever. I have a friend who says President-elect Obama won the election because of favorable media coverage, another says Senator McCain lost the election because of the media, and another who refuses to watch a particular network news proclaiming the anchor is a communist. Then there’s a fourth friend who buys into the Fox News “fair and balanced” slogan.

I asked the same questions to each of these four friends and anyone else who says the media is biased: Does the media determine the questions asked? Does the media determine the sound byte they use from a speech? Does the media develop an abstract of any event? Since the answer is YES to all questions, ALL media is biased by their very nature. Of course many of the same people complaining about media bias surely don’t label their favorite talk-show host as biased.

In the spirit of wondering how people determine their preferred television news, I ask this the following. What if one didn’t know any newscasters or any networks, how would they determine their news of choice?

I believe that it’s not so much what the newscaster says, but it’s more how they say it. In other words, the first factor is their vocal cadence and tone. All news watchers have voices they prefer and know voices they find unpleasant.

Personally, Wolf Blitzer’s (CNN) and Nancy Grace’s (CNN HL) voices are too grating to me; therefore I don’t enjoy his shows and have a tendency to change the channel because of that ─ not because of what they say or don’t say.

Charles Gibson (ABC) and Brian Williams (NBC) (my evening anchor preference) have an even-flowing cadence. Bob Schaeffer (CBS) was successful as an evening anchor because of his cadence seemed to be talking to the viewers. Charles Osgood’s (CBS) voice is perfect for Sunday Morning, meanwhile Robin Meade’s (CNN HL) cadence and tone helps start one’s workday.

The news networks also know that besides cadence and tone, appearance is importance. Let’s face it, news departments are filled with many attractive people who have good voices and cadences. Alright, here’s my bias. I find many of the CNN staff very attractive.

Then there’s Katie Couric (CBS). Why isn’t she as popular as a news anchor as she was as a morning show host? Although she’s an attractive lady, her anchor cadence is different from the one she successfully used in the morning. Plus personality is a natural component on a morning show and less so on newscast. Then again, Robin Meade successfully uses her personality into her timeslot.

Alright; all media is biased, but I cannot believe that most people determine their news preference by the content they present. It’s voice cadence first, then appearance ─ and content will be somewhere else down the line.

Prologue
Going back to the recent election, I found two reports: Scientific American and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Because this is print media, I guess the degree of perceived bias is determined by the degree they meet what the reader believes. Alas! ─ A bias in its own right!

Bias is naturally part of the human experience. Let’s not forget the bias that the audience brings to the table.

Election Winners, Losers, and Pressure Points

With Election Day in our rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the current winners, losers, and pressure points of the aftermath. (No particular order)

Winners

  • New Voters: Voting can make a difference
  • Race relations: Historic proportions
  • Barack Obama: Calm, resolve, calculating, and new vision
  • Television viewers: The ads are over!
  • Hillary Clinton: She still has clout
  • Sarah Palin: A partisan rock star
  • Tina Fey: One of the best political impressions of all time
  • John McCain: Still a respected American
  • Internet: Fund raising, information, videos, and bloggers changed the landscape
  • Young Republican Governors: The future of a rebranded party
  • Libertarians: An opportunity to attract mainstream Republicans
  • Members of a lowly-approved Congress who somehow won re-election: Continued job stability during difficult economic times
  • Conservative Talk Show Hosts: A Democratic-controlled Washington provides ample fodder for beating the drums of descent on every move

Losers

  • Joe Lieberman: He’s paying the price for playing both sides of the fence
  • Republican Party: It’s time to rebrand
  • Personal-attack political campaigning: It didn’t work this time, but it will return
  • Sarah Palin: Garnered many negatives
  • Gays and Lesbians: Lost ballot initiatives in several states
  • Internet Users: Shifting through the vest frontier of misinformation
  • Partisans: For continuing to divide us
  • Social Conservatives: But they don’t know it yet
  • The Newly Elected to Capitol Hill: Facing the decision of doing the right thing and not be re-elected, or caving in to be re-elected
  • The Voters: For re-electing their incumbent while blaming congressional woes on others
  • Barack Obama: For inheriting a huge mess and a mountain of expectations on his shoulders

Pressure is On

  • Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to produce bipartisan results (By the way, I have some waterfront land in Florida for sale)
  • Barack Obama to lead from the center
  • Republican Party: Rebrand to what?
  • New Voters: To stay engaged
  • Republican Congressional leadership to provide not only checks and balances, but to work toward the center (Did I tell you about that land I have for sale?)

Who Really Lost the Election?

Metaphorically visualize political parties as winged insects: each with a body and two wings – wings for power and direction and a body serving as the intellectual compass. These party insects fly in an environment composed of partisans swinging selective swatters and independents wanting a closer look with the hopes of not getting stung.

The Republican insect body contains the traditional Republicans embracing concepts as lower taxes, smaller government, less regulations on business, and strong national defense. These Republicans use their ideals to reject some Democratic proposals, but also attempt to integrate their ideals into the political center. Groups rallying around as trade and immigration also exist.

One wing supporting the body is the staunch right. They passionately embrace the body’s principles, but without the element of comprise. They welcome others to join them, but will not move toward the center. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter are the talk show celebrity headliners for the staunch right whose ideological theme when they are out of power focuses on political descent.

The other wing attached to the Republican body is the religious right – those with a social agenda based on religion with hopes of changing America into a conservative Christian nation. This is the portion of the party embracing Roman Catholics and Mormons for their political money to finance their social agenda while distaining the theological aspects of both Rome and Salt Lake City. This is the portion of the party embracing Israel as a political entity based on religious convictions while distancing itself from Judaism. This is the divisive portion of the party whose social agenda is paramount to a government philosophy.

The two Republican wings became allies to each other. The religious wing needed a political identity and the conservative wing embraced the dollars the religious right could provide – and together they would fly into power.

The religious right embraced Ronald Reagan’s election; but in the end, they weren’t happy because he didn’t legislatively or judicially deliver their social agenda – nor did Bush-41; so they found an advocate in George W Bush.

One must remember that moderate independents control the swinging political pendulum. Because it was too far left, independent moderates pulled in the opposite direction when electing Ronald Reagan and Bush 41. Since politics swung too far to the right, independent moderates started their pulled toward the center in 2006.

In 2008 independent moderates wanted a change from Bush administration policies, but also saw Senator Obama as too liberal. Independents want fiscal restraint, but anticipate too much spending in a Democratic-controlled Washington. So independents were still ripe for the picking.

Independents have a moral compass. Independents go to church and are not Godless. Independents understand diverse nature of this country, yet struggle with religion’s tenants of diversity, inclusivity, and a selective understanding. Independents struggle with the society issues embraced by the religious wing, but do not believe morality can be mandated through legislative or judicial action.

Ironically, independents embrace many traditional Republican ideals embedded as lower taxes, fiscal restraint, strong national defense, and limiting government intervention. As the Republican Party brought forth Governor Palin to appease both wings, it pushed away independents. As the party described the opposition as socialists, communists, Marxist, and even totalitarian, it pushed away independents. As the party used the politics of fear, it pushed away independents. The party supporting George W Bush had candidate that either wouldn’t or couldn’t distance himself from the president, thus pushed away independents. As the party continuing to promote a Supreme Court dominated by a homogenous ideology, it pushed away independents.

Senator McCain, principled in the insect’s body, was the nominee of party that its wings did not support. After all, this is the same group that trashed him during the 2000 primary. Many held their nose while voted for McCain, and yes, some stayed home as a pouting protest of his candidacy.

In spite of the uphill battle Senator McCain faced, the election was within his reach. Senator McCain made his share of mistakes, and is honorable enough to acknowledge such. He didn’t lose because of money. He didn’t lose because of the media. He didn’t lose because the economy became the central issue over national security. He didn’t lose because personal attacks to the ticket by the leftist bloggers.

The Republican Party lost Election 2008. The Republican Party was out-campaigned. The Republican Party was out promoted. The Republican Party nominated someone that the party wings couldn’t support because he came from the body, not from the wings. The Republican Party lost because the wings didn’t forget the way they trashed Senator McCain during the 2000 primary. The Republican Party lost because many partisans either held their nose while voting for McCain, while others stayed home as a pouting protest of his candidacy. The Republican Party lost because the single-minded nature of the Republican wings doesn’t and didn’t reach out those who actually decided the election – the independent voters. Since only inviting them to join is not enough, independents rejected the divisive side that the Republican Party has become.

The Republican Party is split into the party of less intervention in our life and the party of how we should live our life while being dominated by the special-interest dollars of the latter. This is what voters soundly rejected on Election Day. Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the right-leaning think tank the Cato Institute, confirms the divide when by saying, “It’s going to be very ugly on the Republican side. The Republicans are split into clear factions who will blame each other for the second defeat in two years and try to seize dominance of the party.”

Although it is time for Republican rebranding, the wings continue to drive further to the right for a 2012 thumping. Maybe now is the time for a schism with one side joining forces with the Libertarian Party because room exists of a viable third party in our political landscape. If so, which wing moves and whose money moves?

It’s time for the insect’s body to release the developing party’s reformers whose job will be to lead the metamorphosis of a new and inclusive coalition of traditional Republican ideals grounded in running government without running lives: a party powered by the principles and intellect within the body, not the divisive nature of the wings; a party with dominated by a government agenda, not a social one.

Republicans will return to power, but the independent moderates will decide when the brand is acceptable.

It Didn’t Take Long to Begin

Seven days ago, our system of democracy spoke. Since then, our system continues to demonstrate switching from the gears of the campaign’s stones and poison arrows to a peaceful transition of power.

Our economy faces many perils and uncertainties. Our international standing is very low. We are fighting wars on two fronts. We also seek energy independence, improving education, and attacking health care insurance. With tough times ahead, President-elect Obama seeks united bridges for a positive future. Senator McCain reminds us that we are Americans first.

Meanwhile, all of this happened (and certainly more) since the election. (All of these examples are true.)

  • Conservative talk radio is leading the bashing of the president-elect’s any and every move
  • Partisans are denouncing the results, pointing fingers, and blaming the media to being preparing for 2012
  • Some people are preparing for the Apocalypse as their preachers are using the election as one of the dominos aligned to end the world
  • In order to help them with the approaching fears that the election bestows on us, some seek help and guidance from clergy, psychologists, psychiatrists, and support groups
  • A few have placed their home for sale as the first step in leaving the country
  • Others are proclaim a race war in the foreseeable future

No question, we are in turbulent waters, and tomorrow may bring rougher waters. Change isn’t gradual, but is preceded by difficulty. Even as we elected new leadership last week, the problems still exist. November 4, 2008 didn’t correct anything. The problems still exist.

Yet in our time of need, some continue to pound the drums of descent. Others continue to preach the politics of fear. Many others listen and buy into the descent and fear. Since these are the same Republicans abandoning their party’s nominee from the start, why should they listen to his reminder that we are first and foremost Americans? After all, they are Republicans first because they know what is best for all of us. Just ask them.