Posts Tagged ‘Democrat’

Hillary and a Bunch of GOP Wanna-bes

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In recent months, thanks mainly to the Republican Party’s simple-minded policy of anything President Obama does or says we don’t like, I have been lulled into a state of who-gives-a-rat’s-patootie about politics. Really. What’s the point? He says shoot; they say war-monger. He says don’t shoot; they say coward. Hot? Cold. Higher minimum wage? Lower taxes on the rich.

Leave it to the Associated Press, apparently committed to the mission of tracking the stuff no one else cares about, to remind me that Americans have another presidential election coming up soon. Well, not really soon. It’s actually nearly two-and-a-half years from now, but, the AP tells me, there’s no time like the present to catch up on the “movements and machinations of more than a dozen prospective presidential candidates.”

More than a dozen? I was flabbergasted. I could think of two Democrats:

  • Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, former senator from New York and former first lady is the odds-on favorite this far in advance of the vote to become the nation’s first woman president. She has the money, the machine, the name, etc. Although some people do hate her.
  • Vice President Joe Biden, who may make a token run against Clinton, but is more likely to step aside as, say, president of the University of Delaware or assume an advisory role in a new Clinton administration.

But the AP tells me there are two other Democratic possibilities:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. No way. First of all, there is a Cuomo family tradition of not running for president. Second of all, Cuomo served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Bill Clinton’s presidency and so is unlikely to challenge the Clintons. Plus, he’s got time on his side and is a shoo-in for re-election as governor.
  • Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. O’Malley? Who? Maryland? Get real.

Why not Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who at least have national name recognition and ardent supporters? Next!

It’s on the Republican side, though, that I had real trouble grappling with what the AP tells me is reality. My political sensibilities were shocked into a state of numbness as I read the list of possible GOP presidential candidates. Could this possibly be the best the party of Lincoln had to offer? Would any of these men be competent to carry Ike’s golf clubs? I went through the list:

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The supposed “moderate” Republican. His staff shut down the George Washington Bridge to get even with a Democratic politician who wouldn’t support Christie. Everywhere he goes, he has to defend himself against charges of being a bully. Tries to act like a reasonable politician, until you disagree with him. Two-faced. “I Am Not a Bully” does not resonate the same way as “I Like Ike.”
  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s between him and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (see below) for dumbest on the list. Renounced his Canadian citizenship to make sure he could run for president, even though he didn’t have to. Canadian citizenship may have been the best thing about him. Led the campaign to shut down the federal government. He doesn’t believe in science or education or government, etc. Thus, a tea party darling. Some Republicans hate him.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Again? Didn’t he demonstrate his intellectual shortcomings in the last campaign? Not big on science, education, health care. He likes to create lots of low-paying (minimum wage or less) jobs to brag about his state’s employment rate and visits other states to poach businesses. What is wrong with Texas?
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Another flameout from last time around. A president named “Bobby?” I don’t think so. Louisianans are among poorest, least educated, unhealthy people in country. He loves the oil industry (hello, Gulf of Mexico residents).
  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Actually supported immigration reform until tea party robots attacked him. Now he doesn’t talk about it. Gutsy. Like Jindal, he messed up a big opportunity to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union. Coming up small in big moments is not a desirable trait in a president.
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Again? Another loser from the GOP’s 2012 primary circus. He’s making Christmas movies. He criticized his own party. He’s a religious super-conservative. Why is he even on this list?
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Okay, daddy was a Libertarian and son says he’s not. But he is. Which means there is no consistency. You will love him on some issues, hate him on others. Thinks employers have right to do pretty much anything with employees; opposes use of drones by government. He’s a favorite among tea partiers, for now. Wait until they ask him about penalizing people for smoking marijuana. Plagiarized other people’s words for his newspaper column. Unbending views are not a useful philosophy for governing, especially for the less-fortunate.
  • Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Mitt Romney’s losing running mate for the GOP in 2012. Authored draconian budget cuts in House of Representatives that hurt, yes, the poorest and least fortunate, but did negotiate compromise deal. A favorite of the Wall Street crowd that wrecked the economy. Sometimes irritates tea partiers, but that doesn’t take much. Presidential timber? Plywood.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Hates unions. Is in midst of a scandal about government staff doing campaign work for him. In the Mitt Romney mode of good-looking and seemingly articulate, but had to survive a recall vote.
  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He’s a Bush. Two is enough. He believes in a sensible immigration policy, which means most Republicans will hate him. He’s on the list because he’s a Bush. We made that mistake already.

So that’s my take on the list of possible presidents, for now. You’ll notice no women on the Republican side. Some of the GOP names will, one hopes drop by the wayside between now and 2015. My even more fervent hope is that some more credible GOP candidates of substance will appear to challenge Clinton.

Maybe the AP can compile a list of those possibilities instead of following all these losers for two years.

 

 

R.I.P., F.R.L.

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

The late Sen. Frank Lautenberg

The late Sen. Frank Lautenberg

Frank Lautenberg could be devastating if he thought he or his friends were being unfairly attacked. So in 2004, with John Kerry’s war record in Vietnam being torn apart by the Bush forces, it was the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey who was recognized on the floor of the Senate for remarks.

In that short talk, Lautenberg gave as good as Kerry was getting, and once again proved that if Democrats were smart, they’d search for some more pugnacious candidates like himself and stop being so damned polite.

Lautenberg referred to “chicken hawks,” a species he described as having an appetite for war but only if they could find someone else to fight it for them. Lautenberg was never one to speak quickly and then break for lunch. So he went on to identify Dick Cheney as “the lead chicken hawk.”

He continued: “We know who the chicken hawks are. They talk tough on national defense and military issues and cast aspersions on others, but when it was their turn to serve, they were AWOL from courage.” His outrage extended to the shameless GOP trashing of Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, a triple amputee from Vietnam, as somehow not strong enough on defense matters.

Calling the vice president of the United States a coward was a variation on the old Democrats-are-soft-on-defense drivel the Republicans had been spewing for years. Now it was in their faces. And they yelped that it was unfair.  

Lautenberg had the standing to make the case. He had spent four years in the Army during World War II while Cheney spent about the same amount of time getting his five deferments during Vietnam and while George W. Bush was finding himself a cozy place in the Texas Air National Guard.

President Obama would be in a much stronger position these days if he had a few more Lautenbergs to call on when his party, his supporters and himself are slimed by the Right. When Congressional Neanderthals play dirty, Democrats often seem quick to shrug their shoulders, look sincere, and announce to anyone who’s listening that they’re ready to work with the other side. They’ve yet to figure out that the other side has no interest whatever in working with them. Democrats ought to listen to tapes of Lautenberg when he was angry and stop being so characteristically courteous.

It isn’t just Lautenberg’s partisan mouth that will be missed. He was a passionate national politician.

–He led the struggle for a national drinking age of 21. For years, New Jersey teenagers drove across the state line to New York to drink. The Jersey drinking age was 21; New York’s was 18. There were comparable situations elsewhere. Using the possible loss of federal highway funds as a club, Lautenberg persuaded all the states to adopt that higher age.

–Lautenberg was an advocate of a national blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. If your BAC is higher, the law presumes you’re drunk and incapable of driving safely. Again, no state could be forced to adopt the lower BAC. But neither are the feds required to write highway-aid checks to states that refuse to comply. Today, 50 states subscribe to the 0.08 level.

–He was a strong supporter of the Secaucus railroad station, a $500 million project in the Jersey Meadows that was designed to allow NJ Transit rail commuters to switch trains and ride into midtown Manhattan or to Newark instead of traveling to Hoboken and the PATH trains.

–Just two things about Secaucus. There was an early proposal to spend $200,000 on a statue of Lautenberg for the station, an idea thankfully laid to rest by then-Governor Jim McGreevey, a fellow Democrat. I checked the clips to be certain and could find no story suggesting that Lautenberg opposed the idea of a statue of himself. I think he kind of liked the idea. Anyway, he got the next best thing; the station’s official name is the Frank R. Lautenberg Secaucus Rail Station, but most people just call it “the transfer,” and wonder why it’s such a confusing place.

–It was Lautenberg who led the fight to outlaw smoking on most domestic passenger flights. Remember what it was like when smoke drifted from the smoking section to the nonsmoking section? Remember the headaches? Remember thinking how much you’d pay for a breath of fresh air? Remember the smell of your clothes?

He had other issues: One of his environmental measures requires manufacturers to inform local officials of the chemicals they have on hand and use. He supported gun control. His intervention sped up federal assistance to survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

Lautenberg was one of the wealthiest members of Congress but he fought the people’s fights. The party and the people need a few more like him.

Wanted: One Soul, One Victory Tour Bus

Monday, November 5th, 2012

President Obama and family, celebrating victory.

By Bob Gaydos

After watching hours of election returns, skipping from channel to channel trying to get the latest results as quickly as possible, I have three lasting impressions:

  • Fox News consistently beat everyone else in calling states for a candidate (usually Barack Obama) and signaling a bad night for Mitt Romney. They called Pennsylvania and Ohio for the president while the other, “more reliable,” networks played it safe.
  • The “expert” talking heads spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the coming debate over the “soul” of the Republican Party. Again, Fox was out front.
  • Obama delivered a victory speech that came close to being classified as a “barn-burner.”

I don’t expect to watch much of Fox again, so I’ll chalk its surprisingly professional performance up to an anomaly and move on to the other observations.

For starters, will someone please define what they mean by the “soul” of the Republican Party? A party whose presidential candidate told Hispanic aliens to “self-deport” and dismissed 47 percent of the country as not his concern? A party that would deny gays and lesbians the rights guaranteed to all Americans? A party committed in its platform to denying women the right to an abortion under any circumstances? A party dominated by aging white men whose favorite pastime seems to be figuring ways to keep other kinds of people from voting? A party focused on maintaining every tax break possible for wealthy Americans, but making it tougher for college students to get loans? A party that treats science as a theory and global warming as a myth? A party that requires its ultimate presidential candidate to lie his way through primary campaigns in order to capture the votes of the whack job far right that dominated those campaigns, then backtrack on all those positions once he enters the general campaign and has to attract normal voters and then re-backtrack to some of the early positions in order to hang on to the Tea Partiers, ultimately leading millions of Americans to conclude he’s a liar?

That party? If there’s a soul in there, it must be in pretty sorry shape. Besides, just who is going to have this debate over the GOP’s soul? No elected Republican or party official said anything during the campaign about the GOP’s glaring position outside the mainstream of American thought on virtually every social issue or the fact that ever-increasing numbers of Latinos, blacks, gays, women and young people identified with Obama and the Democratic Party and that those are constituencies who are voting in ever-increasing numbers while old, white men are just getting older.

Who in the GOP will dare to defy Karl Rove, whose genius has now been trumped twice by Obama? Or Rush Limbaugh and the cadre of media blowhards that riled so many Americans up against Obama with a litany of half-truths and outright lies? Is there a leader in the GOP that dares to say the Tea Party, which cost the GOP several Senate seats as well, has no clothes, or at least no influence with a majority of Americans? The talking heads kept saying this debate was coming, but no one offered a name.

My advice to the Republicans who are fed up with the last two elections is to form a new party starting with all the sensible Republicans who have left the party.

Which brings me to Obama’s rousing 2 a.m. call to action. After the obligatory thank you’s to campaign workers and a promise to meet with leaders of all parties to end the Washington gridlock, and thanking supporters for their votes, he harkened back to a message delivered by another Democratic president 50 years ago.

“But that doesn’t mean your work is done‘” he said. “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government.”

John F. Kennedy’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” was more dramatic, but it had already been used. Obama’s message, however, was the same — you, the people need to be more involved. If you don’t like the way things are being done, change it. The election is not the end; it’s the beginning.

A reporter covering Obama said the president did plan to try to work with Republicans, but also intended to take his message directly to the people, to take his show on the road, so to speak.

The talking heads all said it would never work. But they were still convinced Republicans — who lost the election — were going to sit down and have a heart-to-heart over their party’s soul.

I suggest a search party.

bob@zestoforange.com