Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books—-her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!
Barack Obama in Davenport, Iowa (River Center) during the 2008 caucus season.
I don’t know about you, my readers, but I’m missing B.O. (Barack Obama).
And by B.O. I mean Barack Obama. And Michelle, of course. And the days when we had an intelligent, literate, kind, considerate, compassionate adult couple in the White House.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArzB7P9CEy8It is January. It is cold outside. Children in elementary school are dying at the U.S. border while Emma Lazarus weeps. (“Give me your tired, your poor. Your wretched refuse yearning to breathe free. The huddled masses of your teeming shore. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”).
So, I decided to put my 2008 book “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the WhiteHouse” on sale for just $1.99 in e-book format, for ONE DAY ONLY because, well, because I’m missing Barack Hussein Obama and his wife and family and the decency and integrity that his 8 years in Washington, D.C., represented.
In the day(s) when indictments are flying faster than snowflakes and the days stretch ahead of us, gloomy and dark, and we are fast heading towards the cliff of a Constitutional crisis, we ALL need more pictures of the 2008 election. This book fits the bill. It is jam-packed with previously unseen pictures, taken by Yours Truly as she followed the campaign across Iowa and, eventually, across the nation—to Denver’s DNC and St. Paul’s RNC and the Belmont Town Hall Meeting and the Ron Paul Rally for the Republic and the goings-on in Grant Park and at Invesco Field.
It’s only going to be on sale on January 5th, so hurry up and take advantage of this offer. I could be persuaded to put Volume II on sale in the future if this goes well. So crank up your e-book readers and order yourselves a slice of history for under two bucks.
President Barack Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton in Washington, D.C. today, February 4, 2010. His remarks on civility are worth repeating, although I am only sharing excerpts, with commentary. . The entire transcript appeared in the Washington Post under the title “Politics and Policy in Washington” in an online posting made at 10:55 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 4, 2010).
After the normal “welcomes” and reference to how “prayer can bring sustenance to our lives” Obama said, “But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should. At times, it seems like we’re unable to listen to one another, to have at once a serious and civil debate. And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion. It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other. It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth…Empowered by faith, consistently, prayerfully, we need to find our way back to civility.”
Obama went on, “Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable…We forget that we share at some deep level the same dreams—even when we don’t share the same plans on how to fulfill them.” The president urged a way “to make an impact in a way that’s civil and respectful of difference and focused on what matters most.
Obama quoted three great leaders in making his point(s) on civility:
1) Abraham Lincoln, who said, on the eve of the Civil War, “We are not enemies, but friends. Though passions may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
2) Martin Luther King: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
3) President John F. Kennedy: “Civility is not a sign of weakness.”
Obama said, “But progress doesn’t come when we demonize opponents. It’s not born in righteous spite.” He added, “It seems like the very idea (of civility) is a relic of some bygone era. The word itself seems quaint—civility.”
All of the above excerpts from our president’s February 4th speech are so true and so sad. I have bold-faced the last line, because I think that President Obama may not realize how true it is: civility and politeness are, indeed, values no longer abroad in the land. Civility is a quaint word and a quaint concept in 2010.
It seems that only the older generation—those who grew up in the age of Truman and Eisenhower or before— have even a dim memory of how it used to be in society. Children were taught to be polite; rudeness towards one’s parents, peers or teachers was not tolerated. The longshoreman language we hear spouted by even first-grade students in schools was non-existent in those “happy days.”
In today’s schools at every level, teachers are lucky if they are merely called profane names. Educators are fortunate if they are only assaulted with idle threats and profane insults when things don’t go the students’ way. The teacher is no longer always right. Mom and Dad—if there is one— (and, often, the administration of the school) will very often side with Junior and undercut attempts at enforcing standards of civility and polite discourse. In some noteworthy cases, Junior may become violent, a threat to himself, his teachers, and his classmates. These outbursts, this impolite, dangerous behavior did not happen in the days of civility and polite discourse.
Not just schools and government, but all of our institutions are under attack; none of our institutions are totally trusted any longer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fireman, a policeman, a teacher or a politician. Whatever form of authority you represent, even if it is simply the owner of a store, handling customer complaints is a nightmare in this age of out-of-control anger and uncivil behavior.
What was most telling, for me, about President Obama’s eloquent words, were the three quotes he selected to illustrate his very valid points about civility in 2010. Obama quoted John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the martyred president of Camelot lost; Martin Luther King, Jr., the murdered Civil Rights leader who preached nonviolence to his followers; and Abraham Lincoln, whose enemies chose to still that Illinois president’s voice of reason with a bullet to the brain
I found the words of President Obama’s speech true and moving.
However, I fear that he is pleading for something that is perhaps gone forever, like the dinosaur, or, if not gone, in very short supply. Quoting three murdered leaders only makes me fear more for our president and for our country, which so badly needs polite and civil discourse and both sides working together in civil harmony, rather than radical rants and unreasonable stone-walling.
Something is broken, Mr. President, not just in Washington, D.C., but also in the United States of America. Can chaos give way to order? Can the bell of rude behavior be unrung when it’s been pealing for decades?
Many things are definitely broken in America. I wonder if they can be fixed?
Inaugural balls were not held just in Washington, D.C. on January 20th.
In Davenport, Iowa, where Obama’s race for the presidency got its first big boost when he won the Iowa caucuses, several hundred Obama supporters gathered in formal dress to dine, dance and celebrate.
The event was held in the Davenport River Center, the very same venue that hosted Obama on December 28, 2007 at a rally attended by several hundred supporters, including Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, whose daughter worked for the Obama organization.
When I entered the River Center, I went to the press risers, where photographers and journalists from a Rockford (Illinois) paper were setting up, and I asked them, “Whose rallies are the most exciting, so far?”
They answered, in unison, “Obama’s.”
That night, Hillary Clinton appeared at the Figge Art Museum and John Edwards appeared at the IMAX Theater and Obama was in the River Center, traveling with General Merrill “Tony” McPeak of Oregon. I remember the excitement in the room, and I remembered the assessment of the press corps, which felt that his rallies were drawing the biggest crowds and creating the most excitement.
I raced across town to get to John Edwards’ rally at the IMAX Theater, and it was definitely less well attended and less spirited. I was still wearing my Obama Press Pass when posed with John Edwards. I remember saying, “Try to act like you’re having fun,” as our picture was snapped by a bystander. (Who knew that he really was?)
Returning to the River Center on Inauguration Night seemed fitting. It seemed right. It seemed as though I had come full circle, from seeing him for the first time in the River Center auditorium to celebrating this night in the River Center ballroom. I couldn’t be in Washington, D.C., but I could still dance the night away with kindred spirits and remember that this is where it all began. Without Iowa, Obama would not have won the nomination and, subsequently, the election. And I was there at the beginning and I was there at the end.
Today, I received an invitation to attend all public events connected to the Obama inauguration. Nevermind that there was an ad included, urging me to purchase a variety of collectible items, the invitation, itself, looked pretty impressive. It was roughly the size of “Time” magazine and it was addressed only to me (no spouse included) using both my Chicago address on Indiana Ave. and my East Moline address. (How it got here is a tribute to the efficiency of the U.S. post office, as it was sort of confusing.) Without further delay, and ignoring the snickers of my Republican husband, I am posting my invitation, which clearly states it is from the Inauguration Planning Commission or some such and would, no doubt, entitle me to sleep in a school gymnasium (if I could find one) and spend lots of money. I was spoiled by those Press Passes throughout the campaign just past, so I’ll be staying close to home, awaiting the birth of the twins in Chicago.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our fathers is alive in our lifetime, who still questions the power of our democracy? This is your answer.” With those words, Obama evoked the title of his best-selling book “Dreams from My Father.” He answered the doubters in the world-at-large who may have thought that the American dream was on its deathbed. “What happens to a dream deferred?” Lorraine Hansberry asked in “A Raisin in the Sun.” “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” There had been evidence that immigration numbers were down…that fewer people from other countries wanted to come to the United States—-that some abroad no longer viewed this as the land of opportunity, but they are wrong.
“It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited 3 hours and 4 hours, many for the first time in their lives, because that this time must be different, and they believed that their voices could be that difference.” My daughter voted for the very first time. After careful consideration, she chose to register and vote in her college town of Nashville, Tennessee, which went red, anyway. Young people turned out in record numbers, giving the lie to the label of apathetic that had dogged them. Newly registered voters clogged the polling places, a tribute not only to the outstanding organization of the campaign’s masterminds but also to the determination of a battered and bruised nation to make change a reality.
In his next line, Obama paid tribute to all ethnic groups, including “gay, straight, disabled and not disabled” saying that “Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America.” I thought of the American Independence Party, which Sarah Palin seemed to actively support, even from her Governor’s office. I thought of one word: “Amen!”
“It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we an achieve, to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more to the hope of a better day.” The fear-mongering tactics that Lee Atwater taught Karl Rove and Karl Rove (“Bush’s Brain”) used over the past 8 years (and which John McCain’s handlers tried to use this year) have been discredited. The majority of citizens figured out that trying to “scare” us out of rational thinking by using color-coded charts and rattling sabers was not the right way to select a leader for this great land. We have, once again, put our hands on the arc of history and bent it to the hope of a better day. Amen to that, also.
In his next paragraph, Senator (now President-Elect) Obama paid tribute to the old warrior who ran against him, Senator John McCain. Both candidates proved to be class acts on election night, although there were times along the way that we all wondered about some of the tactics we were seeing. Guilt by association? We would all go down to defeat if we were held responsible for the sins of every single person we ever met in our lives. Roslyn Carter would be blamed for the crimes of John Wayne Gacy under the reasoning used in some of the ads. There is no question that the final day’s ad using the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary comments in an attempt to discredit Barack Obama was among the lowest of many low blows. “Too risky,” it said. What is “too risky” at this point in our nation’s history would have been more of the same.
In his next paragraph, Obama thanked his wife and children and let us all know that a puppy is coming to the White House, I immediately thought of another young president with young children who had horses (a pony named Macaroni) and who played beneath the Oval Office desk. This nation can use the happy sound of children’s laughter and the image of a happy nuclear family in the White House during these trying times. I can almost imagine Caroline Kennedy smiling at the thought, just as I am smiling at the thought.
There were echoes of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in Obama’s well-crafted remarks. There were echoes of Abraham Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people and for the people” Gettysburg Address. There was a palpable sense of hope despite adversity, of leadership in tough times, of optimism amongst despair.
I felt proud to be an American last night. I felt proud to have elected the candidate who wants war to stop. I felt glad that I had done what I could to help elect the first African-American, and, some day, I hope to help elect the first female President…just so long as it’s not Sarah Palin, who is the antithesis of nearly every belief I hold. Pretty, yes. Prepared, no.
On this “day-after-the-election” I wanted to share with you, my reader, some of my thoughts and feellings about the historic journey we have all witnessed, and explain my fascination with the cause.
I began covering the candidates who appeared at the Iowa caucuses the year that (Dr.) Howard Dean ran for president. My long-dormant political passion was stoked by drifting across the steet from teaching classes at the Kahl Building in downtown Davenport, Iowa, and wandering into the downtown Dean headquarters. We were urged to stay and share our thoughts and feelings about the state of America. I became hugely disillusioned in the wake of the 2000 election that saw “hanging chads” in Florida and the Supreme Court select George W. Bush as our 43rd president. I found it incomprehensible that one man’s brother (then-Governor Jeb Bush of Florida) could hand the most important office in our land to someone totally unprepared. The process was broken. I, along with many others, felt betrayed. I have felt that only once before…when a 1st Ward Alderman race I had labored long and hard in turned out to be “rigged,” was proven to have had officials at the top playing fast-and-loose with the absentee ballots, but nothing…not one word…was written in the local newspaper, despite the presence of a reporter from same (Jenny Lee of the Moline, Illinois, Daily Dispatch). it is one thing for candidates to cheat and get caught. That happens every day. My point: where is the retribution? Where is the “gotcha'” moment that restores the true, natural order of the universe? It seemed that the sense of decency and honesty in the election process that i had watched my father helped preserve in his races for Democratic County Treasurer of Buchanan County (IA) had evaporated, and in its place was corruption at the very heart of the political process…even in small-town America. If counties like Rock Island County, Illinois, were proven to be as dirty as Cook County in Chicago, what was the world coming to? And if proving it, in court, didn’t bring at least a slap on the hand to the perpetrators, could our national election process be far behind in granting complete impunity to those who would steal our democracy from us?
I live in a divided household, an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Maria Shriver split, with no one but me weighing in as a Democrat or…at times…an Independent. When one family member admits to glee at the time that JFK was shot, the feeling of complete alienation from what is right and what is good becomes pervasive. I have never wished death on a candidate, no matter how corrupt or evil I might perceive them to be. I have the same horror of that kind of thinking as I do for not trying (at least) to see the other person’s point of view.
Many times, my life partner would tell me that, in expressing my support for a candidate that (apparently) did not provide congruency with his own choices, I was or had been “obnoxious.” This meant that I had spoken my mind about the lack of preparedness or the general quality of a Repubican, usually, and I had found them wanting. at the same time, I hosted coffees for a Republican neighbor (Ray LaHood, last out of Peoria) and contributed to more than one Republican candidate (Andrea Zinga, Dave Machacek) so, was I really the blind straight-party voting ticket person that my spouse accused me of being during various discussions that generated far more heat than light? No. I was someone who would weigh the candidates and try my best to select that individual who could best lead our country in troubled times.
No times are more troubled than now. The economy is spiraling downward. We are fighting on two fronts. Our esteem abroad seemed irreparably shattered by a pre-emptive war that should never have been started, begun by a man who wanted to show dear old dad that he could do it better. History will judge if junior did a better job or a worse job than his father, but, as for me, in my semi-retirement, determined to write as I had always planned to do, I became political.
Oh, we still observed the political sticker moratorium, after the years of a Republican bumper sticker being applied over a Democratic bumper sticker ad nauseum, but I was not content to sit idly by and watch my country go down the tubes in the wake of George W. Bush. I became convinced that a president who was determined to ‘win at any costs” and a running mate with little or no foreign policy experience and some very esoteric views about the rest of the world and science and religion spelled certain doom for what remained of this once-great nation.
And I also decided that the best way for me to contribute to the victory of one (of many excellent Democratic candidates (Obama, Clinton, Richardson, Edwards, et. al.) as opposed to the reactionary forces of the Republicans arrayed against them was to throw off the cloak of meek-and-mild indifference and DO SOMETHING. Anything. Even if it was the wrong something, it would be better than a Bush clone in the White House. After all, what more could the man ruin.
It was this decision, made during a previous election run, that led me to ‘blog” for Iowa (www.blogforiowa), which, no doubt, earned me a place on George W. Bush’s enemies list. I took popular song lyrics and turned them into political gems aimed at exposing the Man Who Would be King. With humor, I aimed barbs at “the Decider,” covering Abu Ghraib and all things horrible like it. My journey had begun, and it would not end until November 4, 2008, in Grant Park in Chicago (see video above).
Through the bitter cold of Iowa’s winter, I tracked caucus candidates like Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd and Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Barack obama to school gymnasiums and people’s living rooms. I listened to their message(s) of change and hope. I contributed cash, but, more importantly, I contributed time and effort, attempting to let others know what I was able to observe, up-close-and-personal. Yes, some of my early heroes turned out to have feet of clay (Edwards, anyone?), but the eventual winner of this marathon race seems like the right man for the job at the right time in history.
The palpable enthusiasm at last night’s part gathering was like a city celebrating a World Series or a Super Bowl victory. Just a few moments ago, sitting in my 7th floor condo on Indiana Avenue near Hutchinson Field, a red balloon, no doubt left over from last night’s celebration, drifted past my balcony door. Today, though I am tired, I feel that, somehow, we, as a nation are back on the right track. It is a given that other nation’s will see Barack Obama as a worthy representative of this nation’s highest ideals. After years of a stumbling, incoherent leader who not only could not speak well, but could not lead well, we will have a well-qualified, well-educated, hard-working man who seems to genuinely love his family and his country in ways that do not visit death and destruction on the rest of the world.
I pray for Barack Obama on this day-after-the-election. I revel in the knowledge that I was “there,” inside, at the Pepsi Center in Denvr, at the Excel Center in St. Paul, at the Target Center for the Ron Paul Rally in Minneapolis, at the Iowa caucuses, at the Belmont Town Hall Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, and, last night, in Grant Park where Barack Obama started this nation on a brand new journey that I hope will restore this country’s honor and reputation, both abroad and at home.
It was just announced that former Republican Senator from Iowa James “Jim” Leach, now serving as the interim Director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard is to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado on opening night (Monday, August 25, 2008).
Trotting out this esteemed thirty-year Republican legislator, who endorsed Barack Obama on August 12th, is a coup for the Democrats akin to the use of Senator Joseph Leiberman, (former Democratic Vice Presidential running mate with John Kerry) at the Republican convention.
Jim Leach is one of the most respected politicians ever to serve. And serve he did…for 30 years, in fact, from 1977 to 2007, when, after being re-elected 14 times, he was upset in the 2nd Congressional District in eastern Iowa by a mere 6,000 votes by former Cornell College Professor David Loebsack.
Leach, a graduate of Princeton, Johns Hopkins and the London School of Economics, and a Davenport, Iowa, native, has been a voice for moderate Republicans ever since he defeated Ed Mezvinsky (who later served time in prison) in 1976.
If all politicians had the integrity, smarts and scruples of James Leach, this country wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in at this time in our history.
Leach was fiscally conservative, socially moderate, but progressive on such issues as stem cell research, which he supported at a time when “W” was banning the use of all but a few strains. Leach also had the integrity to quit during Watergate, in protest over the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when Richard Nixon fired Eliot Richardson and Archibald Cox. (At the time, Leach was serving as a delegate to the Geneva Disarmament Conference and the U.N. General Assembly). He never accepted PAC money, refused out-of-state contributions to his campaigns, and put limits on how much one individual could contributions.
After 9/11, I was standing in a long line at the Baltimore Airport, trying hard to get a plane back from a Sylvan Learning Center convention to the Quad Cities of Ia/Il when I happened to notice that the man 2 people back in line was Jim Leach, schlepping his own suit over his shoulder in a garment bag. The lines that day, snaking through that airport, were the longest lines I’ve ever seen in an airport. Airports in Washington, D.C. had been closed and planes had been grounded for days.
I struck up a conversation with Leach, saying something less-than-intelligent like, “Hey! You’re my Representative!”
Everyone, at that time, felt as though they wished they could do something to help, and I sketched for Leach my goal of hosting a fund-raiser for the children of the victims of that tragic terrorist attack. When I asked his opinion of the idea, just then taking shape in my mind, he responded with amusement, “You’re way ahead of me.” I forgot to ask him if he would participate, were I successful in organizing such a fund-raiser, but belatedly thought of this coup and sprinted the length of two airport concourses to ask him (breathlessly), “If I get something together, would you come and be the keynote speaker?” He looked a bit startled, but acknowledged that he would do so.
Fast forward to an Iowa football game one month later in a pancake house in Iowa City, Iowa. Who should be there but Senator Leach, wearing an orange sweater. I went over to his table and said, “Remember me? The Sylvan lady? I’m still working on the plans for the fund-raiser. Can I still count on you?” He chuckled, probably wondering if I were stalking him, but responded affirmatively.
I worked out the details of this event between 9/11 and 11/11, Veterans’ Day. In frequent conversations with the Senator’s office staff, I received word that, although he had many speaking commitments that day, he would, indeed, travel all the way from Iowa City (106 miles, round trip) to the Pleasant Valley High School, whose auditorium I had rented for an event we dubbed “Celebrate Citizenship.” I was warned, however, that, since he had at least 7 prior speaking engagements, he would arrive late.
When Jim Leach entered the hall about halfway through the performance(s) by the Glenview Band, he gave a thoughtful report to the assembled citizens about what was being discussed in the halls of Congress regarding the dastardly attack on the World Trade Center. He was insightful, thoughtful, inspiring, just as I expect him to be on Monday night at the DNC in Colorado.
He did not let me down in my hour of need, and, through the generosity of the people of the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities and the forthright goodness of this man of principle, we raised $5,000 for the Scholarship Fund established for the children of the victims of 9/11, (with matching funds from our Sylvan Corporate company.)
This is the James Leach who endorsed Barack Obama on August 12th and who will speak to the nation on Monday, August 25th.
Jim Leach is one of the good ones. Lord knows we need more like him now. I hope that, when he speaks, the nation listens.
Back on January 1, 2008, I printed some remarks made by Senator Joe Biden (D, Delaware) as he appeared in Davenport, Iowa, during the Iowa primary campaign season. In light of Senator Biden’s selection Saturday (Aug. 23, 2008) to be Barack Obama’s running mate for the Democratic bid for the Presidency, I’m reprinting some of his more noteworthy comments. (For those who wish to see the original article, complete with photo of Joe Biden and Yours Truly, check the archives on www.associatedcontent.com).
There is no doubt that Senator Joe Biden is a great orator. Sometimes, he has followed in the tradition of “loose lips sink ships,” as when he used a line at an Iowa State Fair speech and failed to properly attribute it (he had attributed it appropriately in prior addresses). This furor derailed an earlier bid for the Presidency with charges of “plagiarism.”
When the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party was up for grabs, it was Dean and Biden who really stood head-and-shoulders above the field and commanded attention. (Dr.) Howard Dean had just come off his unsuccessful bid for the Presidential nomination during the “Sleepless Summer” tour in Iowa, which derailed in Iowa at the ValAir Ballroom in what infamously became known as “the shout heard round the world.” Howard Dean is now DNC Chariman, and the ValAir Ballroom derailing was nothing more than a dirty bit of Republican showmanship. (Ask Joe Trippi, his campaign advisor, if you don’t believe me). Howard Dean has been known to say a few things off the top of his head, to “lip off,” which he may later regret. And so has Joe Biden. But isn’t some candor refreshing after years of Darth Vader Cheney?
Here are a few quotes from Senator Biden’s Iowa appearance on January 1, 2008:
“I’ve been a Senator since I was 29. There are only 27 in history that have served longer than me. My Grandpa Finnegan would not believe this. Iowa is the last level playing field in American politics. You can’t do this anywhere but here. We owe you. The whole process owes you. Win, lose or draw, I’ll always be indebted to you. Absent you and New Hampshire, it’s all about the money.”
“I look forward to a country that is proud of its great heritage. The United States does not torture and does not condone torture. The world is not stable. George Bush has done more than mess up. He’s been the worst President in history…at least the worst in the twenty-first century. The next president has to know what they’re about. I am the only candidate with a specific, concrete plan to end the war (The Biden Exit Strategy creating a Federal State of Iraq.). Five years ago, when I visited Afghanistan, you could walk down the street. You can’t do that now. You have to stay in the Green Zone. We may be in the midst of losing Afghanistan.”
[This last nugget of information was seconded by a British Army member I met in Las Vegas recently, who had just completed his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and said that Britain would soon withdraw all its troops, as the situation was untenable and unwinnable.]
Biden: “You have the most dangerous and complicated nation in the region in Pakistan, armed with nuclear weapons. Their population is larger than Russia’s. It’s the place where Bin Laden lives, where the Taliban reside. Imagine a Pakistan taken over by 15% of the Muslim zealots. My God, the lack of focus we have! My god, what hat this President wrought? This is the single most consequential election of your lifetimes. If it’s about experience, well, heck, I win! There’s good change and there’s bad change. It’s not about change or experience. It’s about pragmatic action. Inaction is a decision in itself.”
Moving from the topic of national security, Biden noted that he wrote the Violence Against Women Act “back in the eighties” working alone, and that it took him six years to get it passed. He added, “Initiating change is about taking action.”‘
Biden also quoted the statistics that show him to be “the fourth most liberal Senator and the Crime Bill that helped him put 100,000 more policemen in the streets, with $10 billion of additional funds for the task. “I’ve gotten it done in the past, and I believe I can do it again.”
On the subject of Republicans, in general, Biden commented, “I’ve had it up to here with the moralizing on the part of the Republican party…Where in the bible does it say torture is good? How can a tax cut for the rich, while millions have no health care coverage and millions live in poverty, be good or fair?”
Biden ended that night by saying, “I can hardly wait to debate any of these Republican candidates. I can hardly wait. The test for the Democratic candidate for the Presidency is crystal clear: who can take these guys on and win? Who can turn this nation around?”
[For an exclusive AC interview with Finnegan Biden, Joe’s granddaughter, search the Associated Content archives.]
Barack Obama seems to have (finally) clinched the Democratic nomination for President. The path to this Holy Grail has been long and arduous, no less on him than on the public! I think that most of the Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party and all other fractions of parties are happy to see the campaign end before the campaign begins. I know I am. It’s been like the Bataan Death March, and I’m sure the candidates couldn’t agree more.
Now, the question has been posed: “Why did Hillary lose?’ There are many pundits weighing in on this weighty question, and I keep wanting to tell them to read the “Rolling Stone” article that brilliantly described Obama’s “bottom-up” campaign strategy, versus Hillary Clinton’s old-style “Top down” campaign strategy. Indeed, that article even went so far as to say that, if the Clinton’s much-vaunted political machine could lose to that upstart Obama, this will be the last time you will even see the “Top Down” model used in a national campaign.
I don’t want to bore readers with all the details of how Obama’s people got the cell phone numbers of transient populations like college students and turned them into votes, or how the voter registration drives have cranked up record number of eligible voters for the fall general election, or any of the nuts-and-bolts in that “Rolling Stone” article, but let’s just say, as someone invited to become an Obama Organizer and attend a two-day training session to learn all the above, the man’s organizational know-how was and is amazing.
And, while we’re at it, let’s look at some of the other factors being cited in the loss of one of the most well-known, (if not well-oiled), political machines that still exists, that of Billary (Bill and Hillary Clinton).
The reasons I have seen cited most prominently for Hillary’s loss of the nomination to Barack Obama are as follows:
1) She represents the “Old” school (and certainly this goes double for McCain). Obama represented “change.”
2) They were basically the same on the main issues.
3) Hillary Clinton (aka ‘Miss Frigidaire’) never had the likeability factor going for her, while Obama did, in a phenomenal way.
4) Did race trump gender as a reason to vote? Obama, after all, is the candidate who best represents how the world will look by 2050: multi-racial, polyglot, a white mother and a black father producing a child who grew up in many areas of the world and has ties to them and is intellectually aware.
5) Everyman versus Ms. Entitlement. Need I say more?
6) Bill. Need I say more?
7) Obama the phenomenon. (See Point 3 above)
8) Tactical Errors: (See my opening remarks and read up on those tactical errors in the Clinton campaign in the much longer and much more complete “Rolling Stone” issue.) I would add that there are those that feel Hillary thought she’d have it all wrapped up by Super Tuesday, and the campaign had not been too well thought out past that date. Thus, they were playing catch-up from the beginning, when things did not play out quite the way the Clinton people thought they would.
9) The 8 Years Under Bush, the Younger. Hillary voted for the war. Obama was against the war. Hillary, much more than Obama, is tied to the failed policies of George “W” Bush, even though she was of the opposition party while a Senator from New York. Is there anyone in this country at this time who wants 8 more years of Bush’s incompetence, corruption and mismanagement? If so, raise your hand, and we’ll send you somewhere to read a book on it.
You might start with “In Defense of Liberty” (Richard Clarke, former White House Security Chief under both Clinton and “W”), or you might move on to Clarke’s newest one, “Your Government Failed You.” I recommend Paul O’Neill’s (Former Secretary of the Treasury) “Against All Enemies” and, failing that, try Scott McClellan’s (former White House Press Secretary under “W”) “What Happened” now hitting the bookstores. There are just so many books out there that give you chapter and verse on an amazingly bad run of Republican government under George W. Bush that, hopefully, will soon give way to something better. (See point #1).
Even staunch conservative Republican (and former Presidential candidate) Pat Buchanan said, in his column yesterday, that Bush, the Younger, while a better campaigner than his father, was not qualified to carry the old man’s loafers, in terms of governing. There are too many facts to support that statement, and some have even wondered if, in an amazing display of hubris, the younger Bush simply wanted to whale away at everything his father had stood for, as the CIA took hits under “W’, the “I’ll finish the war in Iraq, which you should have done” factor (Desert Storm vs. Operation Shock and Awe and Awesome Horribleness), and all the rest of those Bush 2 vs. Bush 1 comparisons. Books have been written about how George W. Bush viewed Reagan as his hero, and brushed aside his father’s accomplishments, because dear old dad was just playing second fiddle to the former film star. The result was “W’s” Churchillian attempt to make bold strokes, even if the bold strokes were all wrong. Don’t blame me for that analysis. Read the books.
Now, all we have to do is sit back and wait to see if Hillary Clinton is successful in lobbying for a spot on the ticket as the Vice President. If she gets that, and Obama is elected, she’d be “next in line” for the Presidency after he serves out his one or two terms, assuming election. That could be 16 to24 years of Clintons in or around the Oval Office, if Hillary is granted her wish. [You are either rejoicing or groaning as I write that.]
I am assuming election of Barack Obama. I have to. Otherwise, I have to give up all hope that we will get our troops out of Iraq safely and in a way that will both guarantee national security and save (national) face. It is impossible to occupy a country, long-term; the British proved that in India. We must leave. We must leave in a well-thought-out manner (which means that we don’t want Bush, Jr., organizing the withdrawal).
We must use the money being wasted on a senseless, useless war (Vietnam, anyone?) to build up our country here at home, and the new national leader of our country must turn his attention to “fixing” the many things that George W. Bush broke, both here and abroad. For openers, that individual needs to turn his or her attention to Al Gore’s pet issue, the environment and alternative energy sources, and, beyond that, it would be nice to have the tons of money wasted on this useless war to shore up our nation’s infrastructure, fix New Orleans, help make our schools better, get gas costs down or find a better solution to using gasoline to run our country, and a host of other worthy projects.
Lots of work to do. Let’s get cracking!
There are so many things that need fixing now that we almost need a new Department of What “W” Broke to figure out how to prioritize all the many mistakes. But it goes without saying that any “project” of George W. Bush’s that is costing thousands of American lives, snuffing out the lifeblood of our American youth (and our country’s future) and sending them home to inadequate V.A. facilities with horrific injuries from which they will (probably) never recover, is Number One on my list. And I suspect it is Number One on Obama’s list, as well.