Day: October 25, 2009

Helen Thomas’s Advice To President Obama

Helen Thomas, the 89 year old news woman who has been on the White House beat since the Kennedy Administration, has written a new book in which she gives advice to President Obama.

Her advice is, needless to say, priceless and wise.

Life in the White House will be more difficult as time goes by, and the best moments of glory and happiness are probably already past.

The concept of privacy is gone, and will never return, as once a public servant at this level of responsibility, a President will never again know what it is to be a private citizen, even after leaving office.

The promotion of an “open” administration is always to be preferred, as if you try to avoid telling the whole story and avoid the media, it will reverberate against you.

It is important to have strong convictions and courage, and do not allow yourself to be deterred by public pressure from others to do what you believe is right.

You must have a vision and have the ability to inspire and promote a legacy you can be proud of. Delivery of results is imperative, as talk is not louder than action.

Obama’s honeymoon is over, but he has the capability to have a dramatic effect on the nation’s future. Let us hope he understands Helen Thomas’s advice!

Lamar Alexander And Three Year College Degrees

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, former Education Secretary under George HW Bush, has written an article in Newsweek Magazine, advocating the promotion of a three year college degree as a way to encourage savings for college students, and also as a method to advance careers for students more quickly.

Of course, this is only good for that small sliver of students who are mature enough, motivated enough, and intelligent enough to be able to work harder than most do today who attend college.

Since so many students need to work to stay in college, and since so many, at the same time, want the “full” college experience of social life and development of “relationships”, this will not work for the vast majority of college students. The fact is, right now, only five percent of students manage by working, at an accelerated pace, to finish in three academic years.

So this proposal might work for the top graduates of high schools across the country, who are accepted at top private and public universities, and are mature enough to be willing to sacrifice and work to finish and move on to graduate degrees or the world of work. But again, it will not work for the vast majority of college students who, not only need four years to finish, but in most cases need six or more years to complete their undergraduate education.

So, Senator Alexander, I give you credit for motivating the very best students among high school graduates, but your idea will never be realistic for more than ninety percent of college students, sorry to say!

Comparing Barack Obama To Past Presidents

President Obama, after just nine months in office, is being actively compared by different commentators and scholars to several former Presidents, who happen to be vastly different. So it all depends on one’s ideological bent as to which comparison makes the most sense.

Obama has been compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton! What an interesting list this is, and based on differing perceptions.

Obama is FDR to some, because of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, and his willingness to experiment and try anything, as well as his inclination to create more government intervention in the economy, ability to communicate with the public, his strong charismatic personality, and strong ideological attacks beginning in the first year and causing the President to be called contradictory “isms”!

Obama is called John F. Kennedy because he is young, charismatic, has great communications abilities, is considered inexperienced for his position by critics, is a leader who overcame a barrier not accomplished earlier (religion or race), and faced strong foreign policy challenges immediately upon taking office.

Obama is Lyndon B. Johnson in that he is seeking to accomplish a tremendous amount of legislation as soon as possible, sees FDR as a model, and faces a major decision early on over escalation of a foreign intervention.

Obama is Richard Nixon in that he is very bright as Nixon was, is attacking his media critics in a strong fashion, and also is involved in tough decisions on escalation of a foreign intervention.

Obama is Jimmy Carter in that he is seen also as inexperienced, overly idealistic and visionary, wants to lessen the possibility of war by pursuing every avenue toward peace, and prefers negotiations over confrontation, and had a similar background in the state senate before seeking higher office.

Obama is Ronald Reagan in that he is personally popular, had to deal with a serious economic downturn, often had his policies disliked even with a high personal rating, and had a reputation as a “Great Communicator”.

Obama is Bill Clinton in that both were young, had desire to promote health care reform, had great ability as communicators, and Obama has used a lot of “Clintonites” in his administration, including Hillary Clinton, the First Lady under her husband’s administration.

These comparisons are, of course, fascinating, but at the same time, there are ways that Obama can be shown to be DIFFERENT than any and all of these predecessors.

The truth is, it is really too early to know how Obama will be rated in history, or compared ultimately to his predecessors, both those mentioned above, and the others who, each in their own way, made positive or negative contributions to the office of the Presidency.

But the beginning of rating Obama is deeply engaged already!