Month: April 2009

The GOP Attempt to Rebrand Itself: A Real Challenge

A group of Republican leaders, led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,  Senator John McCain of Arizona,  former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,  and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia,  formed today the National Council for a New America, which plans town hall meetings around the country to produce Republican ideas on education, health care, energy, national security and the economy,  as alternatives to the programs of the Obama Administration.

The group is separating itself from Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele,  demonstrating that a split has developed as to tactics to be utilized.

Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,  Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine,  and George Voinovich of Ohio have argued for a "bigger tent" in order to expand the party base.  They argue that the party must move from the narrow conservative party which turned off young voters, Hispanics, women and Independents,  to a party of inclusiveness.  As it is now, the Republican party, originally the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, has become the party of the Old Confederacy and of narrow minded leaders, including Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford,  Rick Perry,  and Michele Bachmann.

So the GOP is involved in its own "civil war",  and the public utterances of Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney only make the possibility of Republican success in the future less likely.  When only 20 percent of those polled identify themselves as Republicans,  we are indeed witnessing the disintegration of the party as we knew it.  The road from the political wilderness to power will be a long, hard trek, and one must wonder if a new party will form and replace the GOP as the loyal opposition.

Michele Bachmann and Conspiracy

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is comic relief in difficult times, but again, as always, she is actually quite terrifying in her conspiracy theories, so the Democratic party is keeping an alert on her in the hopes of defeating her in  the midterm election and also to help raise money to promote the Obama agenda.

Her latest assertion is to wonder of the oddity that just as in the last flu scare in 1976, the President is a Democrat, although she makes it clear that she is NOT blaming Obama for the swine flu crisis.  Thanks so much for that, Michele!  For once, Obama is not directly being blamed for everything wrong in this world.  :)  LOL

However, Michele, you have your facts wrong.  In 1976, the President was a Republican Gerald Ford, not Jimmy Carter, as you claim.  Not only are you loony, but you are also wrong in your history.  Somehow, that is not surprising, considering the source of this statement.  :)  LOL 

However, a thought crosses my mind.  Maybe Michele is claiming that Gerald Ford, a moderate Republican with a so called "liberal"  Republican, Nelson Rockefeller, as his Vice President,  is not REALLY a Republican, but a Democrat in disguise, because, of course,  we all know the only GOOD Republicans are CONSERVATIVE Republicans.  After all, to conservatives, the name ROCKEFELLER is like a curse because he was that LIBERAL!  :)  LOL

So, in her narrow world, Michele thinks that ONLY conservative Republicans bring fortune to the country and keep it safe.   Like, for instance, the record of the Bush years from 2001-2009.  They were GREAT years, Michele, right?  LOL

Barack Obama, the Most Accessible and Transparent President in Memory

As the First Hundred Days are completed, one must marvel at the accessibility and transparency of the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama has been more in public than any president since John F. Kennedy, and his wife has become the most glamorous First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy.

We have not had as cool and calm a leader since JFK either, and Obama’s public persona gives people the hope and confidence that Franklin D. Roosevelt offered the country during the tough years of the Great Depression.  It is appropriate that in this greatest economic crisis since then,  that our President have some of the same traits of FDR, acknowledged as the greatest President of the 20th century.

One can see elements of many presidents in Barack Obama at this point.  He has not only connections to JFK and FDR, but also to Abraham Lincoln,  in putting his rivals and strong personalities in his cabinet and as advisers; to Lyndon Johnson, in his desire to do as much as he can as fast as he can, taking advantage of the moment; to Theodore Roosevelt in his level of energy and activity; and to Harry Truman in his courage and decisiveness of action in a time of great challenges in foreign policy.

The Performance of Congressional Leadership in the First Hundred Days

While President Obama can be graded, in my opinion, after the First Hundred Days, as a B PLUS, the same cannot be said for the Congressional leadership of both parties.

The House Democratic leadership has been forgetful of what they condemned when the GOP controlled the House from 1994 to 2006–accusations of heavy handed and one sided control by the Speaker and his team of leaders.  Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi has not been willing to promote a bipartisan spirit and has demonstrated lack of diplomacy in her dealings with the Republican minority. 

At the same time, the House Republicans have been unwilling to consider cooperation on any level with Obama, so the leadership of John Boehner and Eric Cantor cannot be given a high grade either.  I would give the Democrats a C and the Republicans a D.

The Senate also has seen tremendous partisanship by both sides, so I would give the Senate Democrats under Harry Reid also a C, and the Senate Democrats under Mitch McConnell at best a C MINUS.

It would be nice to think that there could be some cooperation between the parties in Congress, but at this point, there is still tremendous division and splits, and it seems unlikely that this situation will change at any point during the Obama Administration.  :(   So Obama will accomplish what he can with unity among the Democrats, and strong opposition from the Republicans.

C-Span Presidential Survey Leadership Characteristics and Barack Obama

Part of judging President Obama after 100 Days is utilizing the C-Span Presidential Survey Leadership Characteristics list.

C-Span came up with ten characteristics.  Let’s look at them and rate Obama.

Public Persuasion–A     Crisis Leadership–B+      Economic Management–B      Moral Authority–A

International Relations—A-      Administrative Skills–B-      Relations with Congress–B   Vision-Setting Agenda–B+

Pursuing Equal Justice For All–A-       Performance Within Context of Time–cannot be determined

So considering that in my estimation, Obama receives two As,  two A-s, two B+s, two Bs, one B-, it averages out to a final average grade of B PLUS  after the First Hundred Days!

The First Hundred Days Assessment

Today is the day for everyone to make their initial assessment of Barack Obama as President of the United States, as it is Day 100.

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt set the standard with the most active First Hundred Days ever accomplished, every President, and in fact every Governor and Mayor, has been put under judgment after 100 Days.

No one has ever matched FDR for activism in the First Hundred Days, and one cannot claim that Obama has surpassed Roosevelt.  However, I believe that his performance will stand in history as the SECOND most active First Hundred Days in American History.

Sometimes, one can wonder whether the President ever sleeps.  He and his wife have been a whirlwind of activity since January 20, and they have both certainly succeeded in raising the spirits of the nation.  Both of them are very popular, and interest in the Obama children and even their dog is very high.  It is obvious the American people, in any poll, want their President to succeed and wish him well, with only talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel wishing him ill.

The country has been very impressed with Obama in every way, including his press conferences, speeches, travels overseas, and promotion of his economic program on Capitol Hill.  The Democrats have been very unified, and it is a shame that only three GOP senators (now two, with the switch of Arlen Specter) have the willingness to promote bipartisanship in a difficult economic time.

My judgment would be that I would rate Obama B on economic policy, with the understanding that it is premature to judge him on this, since we will have to wait to see if the plans indeed do work.  I would rate him A- on foreign policy, with much of it being the impression of his foreign travels and his openness to new beginnings with Iran and Cuba and his desire to improve America’s image in the world, so heavily damaged by President Bush’s approach to foreign policy.  I am pleased with most of his social initiatives, particularly on stem cell research and global warming, as he restores the role of science in public policy over the earlier religious influence prevalent under President Bush.  Therefore, I would give him a B + in this area. 

Again, much of the future is yet to come, so it is likely that this assessment may change dramatically for better or for worse based on performance and success.  It is good to know, though, that Obama is putting maximum effort into his job, and at least, again, it is a time to be proud to be an American.

So averaging out these different areas of Obama’s First Hundred Days, my overall grade for President Obama is a solid B +!

The Challenge of the Next Hundred Days

Now that Barack Obama has reached the 100 Days mark, he faces a far more challenging next Hundred Days.

He has to figure out how to deal with the Middle East, particularly the intractable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. 

He has to respond to the rapidly changing situation in Pakistan, where the Taliban seem to be a real threat to the survival of the central government.

After the niceties of his first diplomatic missions to Europe and Latin America, he now has to react to the Cuban, Venezuelan, Iranian, Afghan, North Korean and Iraqi problems that face him every day.  Plus Russia and China are not likely to stay in the background and leave Obama with a longer honeymoon.

Domestically, Obama has to get his programs through on health care, education and energy, but must also show evidence that his economic plans and his interventions in banking and the auto industry reap a positive result.  Right now, the economy continues to be in contraction, and the American people will soon place the blame on Obama if the economy does not start to get better.

While he remains personally popular, Obama has to know that other presidents have also had periods of positive image and often have followed that with dramatic drops in public opinion polls.  Ultimately, the American people expect results and success, so at some point, the honeymoon that Obama has will end.

Watch Jon Huntsman!

As part of the reaction to Arlen Specter leaving the Republican party, moderate Utah Republican governor Jon Huntsman is criticizing the congressional GOP for refusal to work for compromise with President Obama.

Huntsman asserts that being a "No" party is inadequate, that in a time of turmoil economically, it is essential that the Republican party offer to cooperate in finding solutions that work.  Common ground and shared solutions are the way the GOP should go at this time, as obstructionism is not the answer as a political alternative, in  his opinion.

Huntsman has been mentioned as a possible candidate for President in 2012 and seems to offer a refreshing change from the unimaginative leaders of the GOP at this point.  Watch him as this may be the story of 2012!

The Maine Senators and the Republican Party

Both Maine Republican senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, are alarmed and sad at the leaving of Arlen Specter from the Republican party.

Both have warned that the GOP needs to broaden its base if it is to survive in its current form.  Both have called for moderation to be seen as acceptable. 

Unfortunately, the early indications are that their message is being ignored, and it would not surprise me if they were both at some point to decide by their own thoughts or criticism from the far right to leave the Republican party.

That would be a sad day for what once was a great political party, but it would be a great day for the Democratic party.  We shall see what develops in future months.

Joe Biden and Arlen Specter’s Party Switch

Another plus for Vice President Joe Biden as Barack Obama’s choice for a running mate last year!

Biden used his long time friendship with Arlen Specter to convince the Republican senator over the last five years of the virtue of switching his loyalties to the Democratic party, and it finally worked yesterday!

Biden, often criticized for his incessant talking and gaffes, certainly is not perfect, but this is just one evidence of how significant he is to the Obama Administration, and I believe that when the history of the Obama Presidency is written, Biden will have played a very prominent role in its success.

Biden has many talents, abilities and great connections as a result of his 36 year long career in the Senate, and now the Democratic agenda has been promoted by his close ties to Arlen Specter, who is welcome back to the Democratic party he left in 1965.