Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Living in the Past
I'm an old guy; I love my nostalgia, but I don't let it influence me that much. I believe there's a time and a place for everything, and that's why Joe Scarborough drives me up the wall when he continues to compare presidents Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson to our current president. He always leaves out the part where Reagan won 49 states and Johnson consistently had control of both houses. Scarborough considers himself an expert in presidential politics because he served in Congress. That will give him a one up on me on the day –to- day operation but revisionist history cannot wipe out the reality of having to have 60 votes in the Senate in order to pass a major piece of legislation. President Obama has to have the votes of five Republican senators on any given day.
Joe Scarborough thinks President Obama is a weak president with no leadership skills, and some mainstream columnists are starting to write columns echoing the same thoughts. At his press conference yesterday, the president looked down beaten because nothing is getting done. Many in the press are blaming the president because the background check legislation failed although it had a 90% approval. I guess in a country where we believe that the “the buck stops here” that's to be expected. Unlike other presidents before him, Obama doesn't have earmarks to persuade a wavering lawmaker. Committee chairs are powerless with the sixty vote mandate. Polarization and primaries are the main reasons for the stalemate. Those situations may sound like excuses , but no one can deny that those conditions exist in today’s politics.
Republican representative Tom Cotton from Arkansas is a Harvard Rhodes Scholar and a veteran of two wars in the Middle East but has chosen to vote and take positions outside the mainstream in order to stay to the right of future competition. Senator Ted Cruz is a graduate of Harvard and Princeton, yet placates himself to the less-educated Tea Party. Those two politicians can see the reality of partisan redistricting, so they'll do and say whatever it takes to hold on to their seat. Peddle revisionist history, no problem, obstruction, easy consider it done and CNN, Meet the Press, and Fox loves to have controversial guests spout their views because it boosts ratings.
History is important and it should help us from repeating mistakes. I’ll bet my last dollar that the mistakes of invading Iraq is influencing the president’s decision on what to do about Syria. The president was talked into tripling the size of troops in Afghanistan because the surge in Iraq slowed down the violence. This is where history failed us with the surge of troops in Afghanistan because the countries and situations were not the same.
For some reason, the press doesn’t want to believe that the GOP hates the president even though Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president." The press forgets, and the Democrats don’t remind them of the meeting by GOP leaders had on the day of the president’s first inauguration where they decided to vote against anything that the president wanted. I remember the bad right- wing press Governor Chris Christie got when he praised President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy response. History will write that chapter, but it's not going to be before President Obama leaves office.
Joe Scarborough likes to say that President George. W. Bush was equally hated by the left, but he scrambles the whole eight years together. After 9/11 the country united and Bush enjoyed high approval ratings until he made the mistake of invading Iraq. Joe continues to say that Bush found a way to push through legislation as if to praise his leadership capabilities. That’s not so on many fronts because Democrats voted for the war resolution because they were afraid of being painted as being weak and Bush passed the two tax cuts through Budget Reconciliation where only 51 votes were needed. President Bush tried to pass Social Security privatization , but his own party didn’t back him up nor did they allow Harriet Miers to be a Supreme Court nominee.
History can be your ally or your foe so it’s important to get your fruits (apples and oranges) to match.