Friday, November 21, 2008

Power and Perception – The Clinton-Obama Whitehouse

In a recent AP article Kevin Freking noted Washington Republicans were complaining that President-Elect Obama is choosing Washington Insiders for Cabinet Positions - like some groups from the left, there is a concern that the promised change may be tempered by moderate governing. One can understand Republican angst – should Obama govern from the center, his changes of success are increased, although given the current state of the nation, one is hard pressed to find anyone who would want to fill Obama’s shoes, especially a Republican. The media, who were somewhat less than objective during the two-years running up to the general election, failed to notice something lacking on the side of the Republican machine. The biggest new regarding Republicans is that they suffered a huge loss, they were fractured, they were out-campaigned – true Obama ran a remarkable campaign, funded to the hilt, and aided by the likes of Dean, Pelosi and Reid, with a host of other top players in the Party, all intent on undoing Hillary Clinton (hold that thought), while the Republican’s ran an unusually lackluster and somewhat frenetic campaign. John McCain’s emergence as the front-runner, a man known by the base and moderate Republicans’ as most like to caucus with the Democrats, did little to inspire the base – the biggest component that went missing from this election – the 501’s in defense of McCain. There simply were none – and no one seems to wonder why? It isn’t as though there wasn’t enough material. The divide between so-call cultural and social conservatives is being talked about as though it might be a factor, although leaders on both sides have banded together in past elections in order to get out the vote – this time – they stepped away -almost appearing to ‘lose by design”. Obama won the general by a 1 point margin over the previous general election, yet, the media persists in the delusion that this is some sort of land-slide. Obama, who’s general governing experience, was limited to say the least, has the sense and ability to choose top positions wisely, and he also appears to understand that he needs seasoned experts that are also moderate in temperament will help him succeed.

That said one starts to see a pattern developing with some of the appointments to date:
Eric Holder, Attorney General (Justice Department under Clinton), Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff (former 6 year advisor to Bill Clinton), Robert Reich, Obama Transition Team ( former Secretary of Labor under Clinton), White House Counsel, Gregory B Craig (former defense attorney for President Bill Clinton), Tom Daschle, Health and Human Services(vigorously defended Clintons Health Care plans in the 1990’s) and finally, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State (pending formal rumored announcement).

The logical conclusion would be that Obama has chosen members and defenders of the Clinton administration based on their knowledge and established power in both the Party as well as in Washington. One can also wonder, Obama chose Clinton, over his mentor John Kerry (D-MA), as Secretary of State. Kerry will assume Biden’s old senate position as the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This non-appointment, though prestigious enough, speaks volumes. How long has Biden held that position and to what advantage? The old adage: “throw a dog a bone” may apply to Kerry in this instance.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? Absolutely, Hillary Clinton has an established presence in Washington now that has the potential to push her vision and her policies through with seamless effort. She has transcended the Presidency –a women, who for all intents and purposes should, by popular vote, been the nominee, a woman that some post-election polls suggest would have won the presidency by a greater margin had she been the nominee – now may, if she chooses, become Secretary of State in and administration where she will be surrounded by friends and allies. In the early stages of the campaign, it was rumored that the Clintons had some damaging information on the President-Elect, a rumor only, however, one has to wonder, due to choices made so far – if this information existed and if it has been put to greater use. It is good to be a woman.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama – the Centrist Military Model and the Lefts Concerns

The Los Angeles Times article, “Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet”, voices concerns by leftist activists regarding President-Elect Obama’s cabinet choices being “hawks” as opposed to doves. These are individuals who oppose any military action; regardless of intent or necessity. They are, for all intents and purpose not necessarily opposed to violence, should their voices not be heard, yet, the first to protest against the United States when the nation is attacked – “just in case”. In the weeks following September 11, 2001, anti-war activist sprang into action in the event the US would retaliate – shades of 1968, with a few hundred thousand less attendees. These are the same activists who hounded the Bush administration for the past eight years, and were somehow convinced that should Barack Obama become President, the military would be disabled, and peace would be realized. One has to ask: “What are they smoking?” Actually, one might have a pretty good idea; of what it is they are smoking to come to this harebrained conclusion.

It goes without saying that Barack Obama, like any other man who took the weight of the presidency upon his shoulders, is in a precarious position; with the exception that in this age, at this time in American, Obama will face challenges from all fronts that no-one would want to deal with – the situation is so severe it gives rise to speculation that the incredibly benign campaign run by the RNC was more planned than accidental. That said Obama is facing threats from abroad before even setting foot in the White House. Al-Qaeda’s Zawahiri, (Osama’s number 2), has taken to using racial slurs, in a warning more to his “troops” than the US, of no change in direction or policy with an Obama presidency. There simply is no end in sight to this "War on Terror". Barack Obama is no fool, having risen swiftly from the Illinois Statehouse to the White House; one has to credit his ability to campaign effectively, and to lead effectively in order to continue his success. That is good news for those of us in the trenches, but for those on the fringe, it’s a bit disconcerting.

Unfortunately, the world in which we live is fraught with dangers. Attacks on US soil have been threatened, Iran is tuning up its nuclear abilities, and the Israeli’s are leaning towards the Likud Party, lead by Netanyahu, China, Cuba and Venezuela are holding weekly meetings, and on and on. What’s a President-elect to do? He will surround himself with those who would protect our nation; to leave the United States vulnerable is unacceptable. To the Philip Beringer’s who just don’t “get it”, those who have to make the horrendous decisions to engage an enemy, under any circumstances, do so unwillingly. Obama will be no exception, yet his options are few, and the fronts are many. Campaign promises, are made to be broken, they are not a contract, rather a means to an end.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Conservative Feminism – Is Palin Credited for Beginning a Movement?

A comment on this blogs Post, “Sarah Palin, Sexism and Politics Why the Sudden Respect”, questioned the emergence of Conservative Feminism as “newly found” and tied exclusively to Sarah Palin the G.O.P. Obviously, there has been an increased interest, judging from “Google Search” (1.9 Million searches for Conservative Feminism, 2.9 million searches Conservative Feminist) in the term since Palin came to the national stage, however, “conservative feminism is not defined by one woman’s candidacy or by one party. The blogger, Merge and Divide’s comments here are worth sharing. What follows is a rebuttal to those who would define a movement by one individual and/or one political party.

The idea of “conservative feminism” is not something that has risen out of the candidacy of Sarah Palin – “within the past few months” – Palin definitely played a role in bringing conservative feminism to light – given her high profile – that said; from a personal perspective, I have always been a feminist, I have not always been a conservative, and yet, when I found that my point of view towards social and economic issues changed to a more conservative point of view, I did not lose my basic feminist instincts – therefore, I was both – a conservative and a feminist. Conservative Feminism is not tied to any specific religion as is claimed by “Merge”. One cannot say that those that follow Christian, Judaic or Muslim doctrine, all religions that prohibit “abortion”, are less feminist for being religious. The problem many of the “old traditional feminists” have is that they are a one issue, and exclusive – focused on “reproductive rights” – (abortion) rather than the big picture. They would cast blame on man, rather than work with other feminists who do not share some of the same ideology, in order to push one political party over another. Conservative Feminists take a different approach – it is not exclusive, rather inclusive - understanding that although one may disagree on a certain issue, there are more than enough problems facing women as a group to necessitate working together towards a common goal.

The notion that Conservative think and GOP does not go hand in hand is something the national parties failed to understand. Liberals are not necessarily Democrat and conservatives are not necessarily Republican – to think that people are that easily pegged is naive to say the least. When Clinton ran up against sexisms stone wall – those that came to her defense were both liberal and conservative – something – the situation was so severe that even right-wing (and that is not to say conservative, but specifically right-wing) columnist began to take notice. Go figure.
The assertion that the “vast majority of attacks (on Palin) having nothing to do with sexism” is ludicrous. Those who had Google email alerts on Palin from July through present find articles that are still focused, not on the issues, or her perceived inabilities, rather – the wardrobe, the celebrity status, ad nauseum.

Now, as to the role of women in the GOP, it is fairly well documented that more positions of equal pay and equal status have been granted to women in that party than in the Democrat Party. Additionally, there had been slow progress made in employment (jobs that we’re traditionally held by men, given to women) in the 1970’s, during the 1980’s more women assumed these positions but still held the same “less than” status, during the 1990’s – nothing changed, with one exception, there was less emphasis on gaining ground and more on the status quo, which is where it has stood. It was gratifying to see the Conservative women coming to the GOP (and I am not referring to the ridiculous Pink Elephants – that was demeaning) during this campaign, from both parties. Some because their personal convictions were more in-line with the Party and others because they felt their party had abandoned women, yet again. Try and find bills regarding women’s issues proposed by either party over since 1999 in the Senate and you will find little from either party.

On Palin and 2012 – No one has any idea of who will run in 2012 – Palin has a fan base within the Republican Party – to be sure, but one can almost bet the house that there won’t be a woman on the top or bottom of either ticket in 2012. Palin will work for conservatives and for her State. However, no-one knows if she will emerge as a candidate in 12, or if another woman, from either party, will decide to run, including Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Governor Mike Huckabee – “Do The Right Thing” – Cultural Conservatism and the 2008 Campaign

Mike Huckabee latest book, “Do the Right Thing”, offers a candid, behind-the-scenes, view of one of the most interesting campaigns of the 2008 general election. Huckabee, former 2-1/2 term Governor of the State of Arkansas, takes the reader through the campaign, which serves as a context and background on where the conservative movement needs to go. As in other books by Governor Huckabee, he addresses and then offers common-sense solutions on the challenging issues facing American’s today.

“Do the Right Thing”, releases today, the 18th, and last evening Governor Huckabee took the time to talk about the book as well as issues facing the Republican Party and conservatism in general. One of the first questions asked was if he would run again is 2012 – a question he’s been fielding since November 5th – he duly noted it was “too early” to make that decision. Most of the questions asked were about the 2008 general election and the role of cultural conservatives in the Republican Party. A brief (abridged) transcript follows:

The Conservative Movement

On the conservative movement and where it needs to go, Huckabee feels that it’s not about what’s wrong with the past, but what needs to be right – from economics to values issues. When asked how to get voters focused on the message, in a political atmosphere that remains highly partisan, Governor Huckabee noted that one problem Republicans’ face is that “we’ve expounded upon the what, not the why”. “If we focus on the why, and carry it out to its logical conclusion – on issues such as health care, national election reform - why they are serious - and here’s how we can fix them – that’s what people are looking for in politicians – what can we do to fix it (the problem) and really fix it”

On Cultural Conservatism

Governor Huckabee also believes that cultural conservatives kept John McCain as close in the race as he was. He went on to explain that Four years ago, George Bush won by a margin of 49 to 51 percent, and the pundits called it a slim victory while in 2008 Obama’s margin was only one point higher, 52 to 48 – Cultural conservatives didn’t lose the election because they are pro-life, they (Republicans) started to loose elections when “we acted like it didn’t matter”. Those people that didn’t see the different between the two parties went ahead and voted for a Democrat for a change.

On Campaign Strategy: Why he went to Michigan with South Carolina in the balance?

“We went to Michigan briefly – two quick trips – one of the things that was happening was that there was a perception that we were only able to play in the evangelical areas of South Carolina and Iowa – what we needed to demonstrate that we were viable outside of the evangelical world, and there was a growing interest in Michigan, the national media was following this, and so we knew we needed to play there – and we had to challenge that philosophy.

On the Division in the Conservative Base: (Those that voted for McCain because they felt they had to and those that just couldn’t)

“It’s easy to second guess tactical or strategic issues, the truth is, this was a tough climate – it would have been tough – McCain was a better candidate than Barack Obama - as to what I believe and what I stood for – it was largely that we did not take the strong stands, on economic policy an the values issue, should have come out against the bailout, be adamant about how crazy that was, get the word out how the Democrats stonewalled. We often got so caught up in the issues that didn’t resonate with the people, a lot of people didn’t care about Reverend Wright - they are worried about getting a paycheck.”

On His Support of Chip Saltzman for the RNC Chair

“The chairman’s race is easy to comment on, obviously I’m supporting Chip Saltzman because I saw his ability to operate a good organization – secondly he has a good understanding of using technology and trying to take our party into the future – on our campaign, it was the creative use of the Internet that got us to where we were – Chip understands the power of new media forms, and I’m convinced that if we don’t get in that game, we’re going to keep getting beat.”

On the Somewhat Negative Book Review in Time

“If people read the book, rather than just read a review, they will realize the reviewers took the most controversial pieces and reduced it down to a paragraph – I do name some names in the context of the campaign, specifically issues that we had with Mitt Romney and I could not tell the story about what’s going on in the party, without some candor, so I talk about it, I was very specific, It was for a purpose, because if I had just said, Mitt Romney didn’t represent a certain position, it could be challenged, but when I talk about times, dates, places and specific comments, it comes to a point where if someone has to challenge it would be a fact not an opinion but that’s not the focus of the book, it’s by intent somewhat provocative, what I try to do is point out that some present themselves a pure conservatives when they aren’t , they are more libertarian”

What Governor Huckabee hopes is that this book “causes discussion, even those that hate it, that’s fine, I want them to show me where I’m wrong, show me how I’m wrong, how there is no connection between the way we live and the cost that it results in. So I think that’s why you’ll find this book provocative but it will be the basis for quite a bit of discussion.”

Having followed the Huckabee campaign from 2006 onward, and having read other books by Governor Huckabee, he gives readers solutions in language that makes sense – common sense. There are hundreds of lengthy tomes, by those “Washington elite” that do the same thing – geared towards members of both parties, in minute detail - and although critically acclaimed they also act as a “sleep aid” - they reach an intended audience, not a general audience. Huckabee, on the other hand, writes so that “we the people” are able to see his vision of the future, as well have a chuckle or two (his humor is part and parcel of his books), and feel that, yes, there is a place in politics for those “outside the Beltway”. His ability to reach people, without preaching dogma, (yes, he was Baptist Minister), is what took him from the Governors’ office in Arkansas, to a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2008 – on a shoestring budget, bolstered by people who felt they were understood, by a man who does understand, and who explains his positions, not in rhetoric, or canned party phrases (pick a party, we’ve heard them all), but by connecting to those who want to see the party of Lincoln returned to its roots – those roots are as viable today as they were when they party was founded – a unique blend of inclusive, cultural and fiscal conservatism.

To learn more about Governor Mike Huckabee visit:
Also Suggested: “From Hope to Higher Ground – 12 Steps to Restoring America’s Greatness”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sarah Palin - Sexism and Politics - Why the Sudden Respect?

In September, when Sarah Palin was introduced to the nation as the Republican V.P. nominee, the press and the public entered into a love-hate relationship that transcended politics. She was hailed by conservatives, who had followed the Alaskan Governors’ career, as a stalwart conservative who was a breath of fresh air that the party desperately needed. She connected with “the people” at a personal level, a rarity for politicians. On the other hand, the press, and those in the Republican Party who would maintain the status quo, reviled her as less-than intelligent, a “bimbo” who was out-of-touch with mainstream values. The vitriolic reporting drove Palin to a level of celebrity status over night – from false allegations about her youngest child that made daily newspapers read like the worst tabloids. There was a never ending litany of complaints regarding her hair, her accent, her cloths, her religion, ad nausea – There were literally hundreds of negative “Sarah Palin - Google News Alerts” daily – up until November 5th.

One has to ask – What gives? From the San Francisco Chronicle’s Debra Saunder’s defense of Palin against anonymous campaign leaks to the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby article on Palin’s Political Potential the mood has changed a bit post November 4. There continue to be articles and blogs from the left that recycle, the “Palin as Inept” theory - Democrat Susan Estrich, writing in the Hartford Currant, dissects the choice of Palin as a V.P. pick noting: “The fact that anyone could believe a candidate for vice president was capable of being that ignorant is enough. and going on to rehash the Couric interview. One cannot fail to see the difference between those articles written by journalists and those written by partisan commentators. The difference: Palin no longer represents a short-term threat to Obama, but to another, yet unnamed Democrat in the future.

Two other women, who had reached high in national politics, Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, were subject to more intense scrutiny than their male counterparts, and scrutiny that had little to do with issues – rather the fact that they were women. Although, one would expect that a twenty-four year gap between vice-presidential and presidential candidates that just happened to be women, would have changed the rhetoric – it did not – in fact: “We’ve come a long way, baby”, should be “We’ve got a long way to go”. Clinton was treated to a review of her marriage, her pantsuits, her laugh and her cleavage; which was enough to drive conservatives to her defense, however, transparently sexist as the treatment Clinton received, nothing compared to the evisceration of Palin.

In this past contest, both Vice Presidential Candidates gave enough material to the press to be equally criticized, yet, Biden received a virtual pass. One might be inclined to believe that the pass given to Biden was partisan, however, examining article after article, it was clear that clothing, hair, children, and other feminine attributes took center stage – never the issues - sexism, plain and simple.

In retrospect, both Clinton and Plain although subject to unusual scathing from the press and from members of their own party, came through standing up and standing tall – taking the punches better than many of their male peers may have. It speaks volumes. Some may feel that the “glass ceiling” has become a “cement ceiling” – after all, what woman would want to go through what these two patriots have? One has to believe that both women have inspired, through their strength and ability to weather the “political storm”, others who will shortly follow in their footsteps. It is not that “our time has come”, rather it is that the notion that women are unable to grasp the brass ring, is no longer valid. Palin, who took the brunt of it, a working mother, a Governor, whose political future is now being trumpeted by those within her party as well as those in the press, has proven that women can aspire to and achieve anything. Love her or hate her, depending upon one’s political affiliation, she is owed a debt of gratitude from all women and parents who have daughters. Sexism was used to distract the general public for political gain. It was evident, and women have taken note. Will sexism be used again in politics and succeed? That question remains - hopefully, because of women like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, the nation will not have to wait another twenty four years before learning the answer.

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