By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, January 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
The president begins his second term with political capital to spend, but plenty of barriers in his way
There will be two Bibles (Abraham Lincoln’s and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s), dozens of balls, thousands of musicians and marchers on parade, and more than a half million people expected to descend on Washington to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office for his second term on Jan. 21. The President will arrive at his inauguration more popular than at any time since his first year in office—with an approval rating of 53 per cent—and determined to push a new agenda through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives whose popularity is a fraction of the President’s.
In his high-minded inaugural address in 2009, Obama declared, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” Unfortunately, the last four years proved the cynics right. If anything, partisanship has grown more intense, and Congress more averse to compromise. In the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner cannot control a significant number of conservative hard-liners in his own caucus.
Obama comes to his second term reinvigorated and combative with a policy agenda that looks hastily ripped from recent headlines: a post-Newtown attempt at gun control, a post-hurricane Sandy renewed interest in climate change, and a return to the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of an election in which he won 71 per cent of the Latino vote. But while he embarked upon his first term in the midst of an economic crisis, his second term unfolds amid a made-in-Washington fiscal crisis and partisan stalemate. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:36 PM - 0 Comments
Will a blood clot scare stop another presidency run?
The U.S. secretary of state has been making the media rounds saying she’s ready to leave—to be a grandma, to travel for fun, to teach and, above all, to sleep. But nobody quite believes that she isn’t planning another run for the White House. “I really don’t believe that that’s something I will do again,” Hillary Clinton told interviewer Barbara Walters recently. But, asked whether, at the age of 69, she’d be too old to run, she bristled: “I am, thankfully, knock on wood, not only healthy, but have incredible stamina and energy.” Clinton’s hospitalization on Sunday for a blood clot may have cast a shadow on that optimism. The clot stemmed from a concussion she sustained after fainting from dehydration due to a severe stomach virus, and doctors were confident about her recovery. But the string of illnesses has forced her to cancel most of her engagements for the better part of a month, and is an unforeseen setback as she wraps up her tenure as secretary of state.
Of course, Clinton has more than optimism on her side. She exits with one of the highest approval ratings on the national stage, 66 per cent (10 points higher than President Barack Obama), and 57 per cent of Americans say she should run again, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Friday, October 26, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Book by Aida D. Donald
Of all the accidental presidents of the U.S., the men who came to the Oval Office through the deaths of their predecessors, Harry Truman was at once the most likely—Franklin Roosevelt was a very sick man—and the most unlikely. It’s impossible to imagine the machine politician from Missouri winning the job on his own, without the benefit of incumbency. He just didn’t look or sound like a president to his contemporaries: when Truman entered the East Room for FDR’s White House funeral service, two days into his own presidency, no one stood up—an unheard-of insult to a president. He himself blurted out, early on, “I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me.”
But based on Truman’s nearly eight years in office, scholars beg to differ. The conclusion of the Second World War, the founding of NATO and other efforts to contain an expansionist U.S.S.R., firing overbearing Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and staunch support for the fledgling United Nations have all led historians to conclude that Truman, who consistently makes their top-ten presidents lists, was the very embodiment of Shakespeare’s third part of greatness, one of those who had “greatness thrust upon them.”
Donald convincingly finds the secret to Truman’s astounding success—essentially inheriting a prostrate world and managing it until it was on its own feet again—in the president’s character. She emphasizes his personal honesty even as he won elections with the aid of a corrupt political organization, and the loyalty to his fellow soldiers Truman developed in the Great War. Loyalty to common soldiers played a key role in what will forever be his most contentious act, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Truman believed that he was “saving the lives of 250,000 boys from the United States,” as he wrote his sister. The man whose desk sported a sign reading “The buck stops here” knew what would unfold; he suffered from severe headaches in the days before and after making his decision, but he still made it.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
No Labels, a bipartisan organization pursuing democratic reform in the United States, revives the idea of introducing Question Period into the congressional system.
We should take a cue from the British Parliament’s regular questioning of the prime minister to create question time for the president and Congress. These meetings occasionally may be contentious, but at least they force leaders to actually debate one another, and defend their ideas.
Here’s how it would work: On a rotating basis the House and Senate would issue monthly invitations to the president to appear in the respective chamber for questions and discussion. Each question period would last 90 minutes and would be televised. The majority and minority would alternate questions. The president could, at his discretion, bring one or more cabinet members to the question period and refer specific questions to them.
By John Parisella - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
Money and the state of the economy give every reason for the U.S. president to worry
With the Wisconsin recall election over, and Republican Scott Walker reelected, it is clear the reelection of Barack Obama next November is far from certain. For the labour movement, this is a serious setback, and for Democrats, it’s a warning signal that the Republicans have shown strength in a state that has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the last 6 elections. And we are less than 6 months from the presidential election.
Republicans have every right to be jubilant. Governor Walker took on the public service unions, withstood a 1-million plus recall petition, and was able to keep the governorship in a state that gave Obama a 13% vote margin in 2008. This can only add to the already phenomenal fundraising efforts of the pro-Romney Super Pacs. The Wisconsin result has shown that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision regarding election finance from corporations is certain to change the parameters of this presidential election.
True, the Citizens’ United decision allows pro Democratic constituencies to regroup and form Super Pacs. But all the evidence points to the overriding strength and wealth of corporate America over the union movement.
Another factor in the GOP win has to do with Democrats being unable to present a coherent alternative to the GOP outside of the more traditional rhetoric of the past. As much as the Democrats and Obama were inspirational in 2008, they have resorted to tactics and a political discourse that is more reminiscent of past glories than of a promising future. It is fair to ask, despite Republican obstruction: What has happened to change and hope?
The economy, which remains the major issue for much of the electorate, seems to be sputtering at a very inopportune time for the Obama Administration. Despite some obvious achievements by the Obama team, the general mood of polarization and negative attacks has soured the electorate on politics this time around.
President Obama himself cannot escape some of the blame for the Wisconsin debacle. Some will point to his absence in the recall campaign for the defeat. The margin appears too wide for this hypothesis to be viable. Besides, an incumbent President running for reelection should not be distracted by a state conflict despite national implications. What Obama has to reflect upon is not his presence in Wisconsin, but his message to the country. He needs to do more than try to define the unimpressive Mitt Romney.
The American electorate continues to show respect and affection for a President who is facing the slowest post recession recovery since the 1930’s. They may not be satisfied with the state of the economy, but they are willing to cut Obama some slack. After all, the Bush years remain a bad memory.
Despite the disappointing results last night in Wisconsin, Obama still has plenty of time to recover. His Republican opponents continue to hammer a negative, un-inspirational message, alienating in the process some key constituents. Their attacks on a ‘fictional’ Obama lack ingenuity, and seem increasingly so over-the-top as to be risible.
Yet, Obama remains vulnerable as Wisconsin has shown. Money and the state of the economy give every reason for Obama to worry.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM - 0 Comments
Josh Barro suggests a solution to the Republican Party’s current predicament.
On @mattyglesias‘s point re: moving successful public sector leaders to bigger markets, why not make Stephen Harper the GOP nominee?
Barro figures Mr. Harper has always wanted to the President of the United States and Yglesias says Mitt Romney would be better off running in Canada. Barro ventures Mr. Harper is “massively more charismatic and relatable” than the current Republican frontrunner.
Setting aside the citizenship requirement, this makes for some fun speculation: How would Stephen Harper do in a race for the Republican presidential nomination? Or, put another way, how would Stephen Harper do in a race for the Republican presidential nomination if he was able to carry his record from Canada? I’m tempted to say he’d do very well. But he would conceivably have to directly engage social conservative issues like abortion and same-sex marriage and that would require a fairly major deviation from how he has handled himself as a party leader here.
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 23 Comments
There’s never been a better time for a man with no political experience to audition for the world’s biggest job
Can Donald Trump be president of the United States? Snoop Dogg and the Situation from Jersey Shore think so, and when are they ever wrong? Last week, the billionaire took time from firing ex-stars like David Cassidy from Celebrity Apprentice and attended a televised “roast,” where many of the jokes from B-list celebrities were about his intention to throw his toupée into the ring for the Republican presidential nomination. “Trump says he’s gonna run for president in 2012,” said host Seth MacFarlane, “but if his plan for America is to fire everyone, he’s about two years too late.” If smarmy stars believe Trump’s running, so does Trump. He told the show Inside Edition that he’s “seriously thinking about doing it” after this season of The Apprentice ends in June; he’s also reportedly booked time that month in New Hampshire, an early primary state, to address its fabled “Politics and Eggs” lecture series.
Trump is encouraged in his ambitions by a website, shouldtrumprun.com, which was set up by his spokesman Michael Cohen and grabbed what Trump described as “500,000 names in a very short period of time.” Polls are looking good too: a Newsweek one shows him running almost even in matchups with President Barack Obama, while another (by NBC, which broadcasts his show) announced that his favourable rating is higher than the GOP’s top candidates, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. In the words of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, “Who can beat Barack Obama? Donald Trump! Yeah, baby!”
Much of the mainstream media has chosen to treat his candidacy as a joke. Lamar Alexander, a Republican senator, told CNN that The Donald “has absolutely no chance of winning,” adding “I mean, he’s famous for being famous. He may be good in business but he’s not going to be president.” But maybe the supporters of the “serious” candidates don’t think Trump is such a big joke: after he appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February and said that Rep. Ron Paul has “zero chance of getting elected,” a Paul supporter from 2008 sprang into action and filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Trump, charging that this “de facto candidate” was improperly spending money to jump-start his primary campaign in Iowa.
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, August 29, 2008 at 6:27 PM - 0 Comments
This Pinky and the Brain cartoon (which starts at about 1:39 into this clip, after a couple of other short segments) first aired in 1994 and is partly a relic of the Ross Perot era, but it still works in any era, and especially, in any election year.