Monthly Archives: November 2010

White House Press Secretary Now Creating (bad) News

In what can only be described as supreme arrogance and hubris, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got into a very heated, and somewhat physical, altercation with Indian security officials during President Obama’s state visit.

It started when Indian security officials decided to limit the number of reporters from India and America allowed in the room to five each, down from eight.

This threw Gibbs into a highly public rage.He even used his foot to prevent Indian guards from closing the door to the room where President Obama was meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Gibbs angrily inquired, “You gonna break my foot, now?”

Several times, Gibbs threatened to pull Obama out of the meeting if the Indian officials did not acquiesce to his demand for eight reporters.Rather than call his bluff or disrupt the official meeting, the Indian officials relented and admitted all eight U.S. reporters.

Gibbs is to be faulted on two very serious counts.First, he created an unnecessary international incident embarrassing the President and the United States.The image of an enraged American White House official yelling at Indian security officials can only transmit a negative image of America as an arrogant power to the people of India – and around the world.The photo accompanying this post is now the face of America – more so than any smiling poses of the President.Think about that.

Even worse is the fact that Gibbs appeared both willing and able to disrupt a meeting of two heads of state by ordering … yes ordering … the President of the United States to withdraw over a tiff that had nothing to do with the President or the serious business of the meeting.By this threat, Gibbs makes the President seem like nothing more than the figurehead of a cabal of all-powerful advisors.

I do not believe there is anything that Obama can do, short of firing Gibbs, that can undo the harm the Press Secretary has done to the image of America and the President’s own credibility as the man in charge.If the President does not send Gibbs packing for home immediately, he leaves himself vulnerable to critics who see an increasingly impotent president.Gibbs’ poor behavior will overshadow the rest of the trip – and maybe the rest of Obama’s presidency.

Advertisements

Labor Blew a Billion

While the Democrats whine, and the press reports, about excessive corporate expenditures and secret funding, it is the spreading around of big bucks by big labor that should be of concern.

This year, it is said that the major unions spent more than one billion dollars in this election cycle. Certainly the amount of money is noteworthy, but it is the source that is most troubling.

Business tends to give to both Republican and Democrats. The unions give virtually all their money to Democrats. The union bosses are not trying to influence the Democrat party, they are trying to own it – and they already seem to have a long-term lease on it.

In addition to the distribution of the money, there is a serious problem with the source.

Virtually all corporate money is given voluntary. Union money is taken from members regardless of their desire to give, or their party/candidate preferences. In some elections, more than half the union members vote for Republican candidates, yet 99 percent of the money confiscated by the union “no choice” rules goes to Democrats.

It is encouraging that the American people are not so easily fooled or influenced by big labor’s big bucks. What did these labor bosses get for that billion-dollar donation this year? A crushing defeat that goes well beyond the obvious humiliation.

They lost real prestige and real power. They lost control of the U.S. House. They lost influence in the Senate. They lost key governorships and state legislatures in this all-important redistricting year. They lost the chance to pass any of their top-priority legislative agendas.

I would dare say that they even lost the unconditional support of the President. Seeing these election results, I suspect Obama will move away from the labor camp in setting his priorities. In fact, his post-election press conference contained a ringing endorsement of business and free markets, and nothing about organized labor. He talked about the need for small business job creation, very little of which is unionized.

Coming into this election, labor wanted to be the 800-pound gorilla, but instead, it turned out to be a paper tiger.

Image © BusinessandMedia.org

Things look better already. A GOP Victory Dividend?

One of the immediate economic benefits of the Republican resurgence is the shift from pessimism to optimism –- or at least less pessimism. Consumer and business optimism is, to some extent, a self-fulfilling prophesy. Purchasing, investing, hiring, producing are all risk-based decisions – relying heavily on the perception of the future.

With Republicans in a position to – at minimum – block the most egregious, growth-retarding policies, both consumers and producers will open their wallets – the former to spend and the latter to produce.

The rate and level of economic recovery will take a little more than first impressions, however. If this were a poker game, I would say that the American public matched the bet on the first round of seven-card stud. Now they want to see more of the faced up cards.

Right now, the game is to the advantage of the Republicans. They will argue, with some legitimacy, that any economic improvements coming down the pike were due to their being put into the game. They will claim that without the GOP resurgence, the Obama administration would have continued down the path of economic devastation.

Obama and the Democrats will argue that all future improvements were due to their policies and the results just happened to be delivered after the Republicans arrived in town. That is a much harder argument to make convincingly.

Speaker Pelosi – Arrogant or Stupid?

When I suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might be stupid in the headline, I do not mean a lack of common intelligence – maybe more a lack of common sense. I am referring to the kind of stupidity which results in very intelligent people not seeming to see reality very clearly.

Pelosi was one of the key ingredients in the toxin that poisoned the political atmosphere for the Democrats. She may well be the most unpopular American woman since Jane Fonda traveled to Vietnam to play patty cake with the Viet Cong a couple generations ago.

There are two moments that define the obscenity of this woman. The first is when she marched through the crowd of Tea Party ralliers with the oversized gavel flanked by Black legislators. There is no doubt it was done in the hope that some renegade demonstrator would say or do something outrageous so that Pelosi could tar all Tea Party participants with racial and/or violent epitaphs. I am sure this was her intention because that

was not the normal way legislators enter the building, especially if there are demonstrators at the main entrances. In fact, she usually rides to the Capitol Building in the underground railway. It backfired because none of the thousands of demonstrators took the bait.

The second defining moment was when she said at a press conference, in response to criticism for not allowing time to read the healthcare bill before taking a vote, “we have to pass it to find out what is in it.” Such arrogance is beyond comprehension.

So, it appears that the GOP’s luck has not yet run out. If Pelosi were to ask me what she could do to further help the Republican Party, without hesitation, I would advise her to stay on as the leader of the House Democrats. Let her dismal 8 percent popularity be the face of the Democrats in the House for the next two years.

The fact that the surviving Democrat members would elect her would signal to the American public that they have not yet heard the voices of America, and that they may need yet another political “time out” in 2012 before they get it.

This also means that the reviled Obama, Reid and Pelosi troika is still in place. In a previousblog, I suggested that Senate President Harry Reid will now be an albatross around the neck of the President. Should Pelosi succeed in her quest to maintain leadership over the House Dems, the President has a second albatross.

This is also where the liberal Democrat bias of the newsrooms becomes a benefit. They will undoubtedly afford Pelosi much more coverage than they did Republican minority leadership. She will be in the press a lot – pressing her unpopular left wing agenda — and nothing could be better for the Republicans.

You have to wonder if Pelosi got the go-ahead from Obama. If she did and he did, then the President is as out of touch as Pelosi. I try to keep this blog on the highest ground, but honestly, doofus Reid and cackling Pelosi always bring to my mind images of the Scarecrow and the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz.

To use comedian Jackie Gleason’s line, “How sweeeet it is!”

What can Obama do with a lame duck?

Obama’s moment of truth will come at the calling of the special “lame duck” session of Congress. This is when we see what meaning there is to all the mea culpas and all the pretty words in the President’s post-election news conference.

The House under the new Republican conservative orthodoxy has promised to reverse the tide of big government, or, none-dare-call-it, socialism, in the face of the election night rant of Harry Reid, promising to fight for as much of the old Obama, Pelosi, Reid progressive agenda as possible – even as the reins of power are slipping from their politically cold dead hands.

Where is the President in all this?

The telltale issue may well be the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Obama, Reid and Pelosi have hitherto been adamant that they will only be extended to those with incomes under $250,000. The party-of-no says “no” to any tax increases at all – and the failure to extend even a portion of this IS, by definition, a tax increase on those left out.

This is a very key issue, because Congress MUST pass one version of the extension or the other. They cannot afford to do nothing. In his press conference, the President talks of an extension for the “middle class.” These are the buzz words for the $250,000 break point.

Unless Reid and Pelosi have gotten religion, or a private message from the Oval Office, they are likely to pursue the old plan in the “lame duck” session.

The current Democrat strategy is to demand the passage of the OPR version, daring the Republicans to filibuster it – essentially killing the extension and raising everyone’s taxes. With no choice, the Republicans might have to capitulate.

But it would be a Pyrrhic victory for the Democrats.

Should the President take the hard line, he will have effectively rendered his press conference conciliatory rhetoric meaningless. The new Congress will convene as a war party because the President will have fired the first shot of strident partisanship. Reid and House Speaker John Boehner will be two generals leading their forces into a two-year series of philosophic battles.

On the other hand, if Obama surrenders on the Bush tax issue, he will lose what remains of his core left-wing support and signal his willingness to let the Republican House set the agenda for the next two years. The President already has the progressives crazed with his press conference endorsement of capitalism, free-markets and corporate America.

What the President does in advance of the new Congress may well determine the last two years of his first term, or the last to years of his presidency.

*Image © Eric Allie*

Lame Ducks and Dead Ducks

We all know that a “lame duck president,” or now, a “lame duck Congress,” refers to that period between the election of the “new” and the inauguration of the “new.” It is that period in which the “old” still govern, but from a much weaker or “lame” position. The upcoming special session of Congress is, therefore, a “lame duck” session.

 Recently, I coined a term to describe the Chief Executive of the United States as a “dead duck” President, defining a President whose party suffers such a horrendous defeat in the mid-term election that they lose an enormous power such that the President is mortally weakened and potentially unelectable for a second term. By my appellation, Barack Obama is now a “dead duck” President. (You can see the actual term and definition at the online Urban Dictionary, if you like.)

GOP Tidal Wave

I watched as former Democrat vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferrarro opined that the Republican victory was not the big wave that had been predicted.WHAT?

This was about as huge of a repudiation and annihilation that a party can suffer.The Democrats lost control of the house with one of the biggest political party gainsin modern American history.Not only were the crop of new recruits that got the Dems the House in 2006 decimated, but a lot of “old bulls” and powerful chairmen were knocked off as well.

Also, keep in mind that it is the House from which all budget and appropriation bills must originate, and while Nancy Pelosi was re-elected, she is effectively gone.I would even go so far as to say that she ranks below an incoming freshman in terms of influence, even in her own party.

While the GOP did not take control of the Senate due to the fact that only one-third of its members had to face this year’s angry electorate, when you consider that the GOP already held some of those seats and some were beyond hope for a takeover, the Republicans had to win 10 out of 12 – a daunting task.

Picking up more than half a dozen seats, however, is very significant since it shifts the center of gravity in the Senate and makes stopping filibusters impossible.Not taking the Senate also means that Obama cannot run against the Congress as Harry Truman did in 1948.

The Democrat loss of governorships across the board – especially the big states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio – have huge ramifications for the redistricting year.The Republicans are poised to redistrict themselves into an even greater majority in the U.S. House and the various state legislatures.

Also, having a friendly governor in a state is an important asset for any presidential campaign.The advantage now leans toward to the GOP in key states – imperiling Obama’s second term.

The Tea Party, which is now bonded to the GOP, was a huge factor – not only in their own winning candidates, but the grassroots energy they generated throughout the nation.Some pundits see the defeats of Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle as some sort of indication of Tea Party weakness.No one should have expected that all Tea Party candidates would win, and the weaker ones did lose.To fully judge the Tea Party impact, you need to see their wins in the Republican primaries, their wins in the general election and their undoubted influence as the foundation for the broad range of GOP victories.

Ironically, I see the victory of Harry Reid, in Nevada, as the gift that keeps on giving.Had he lost, New York’s Chuck Schumer or Illinois’ Dick Durbin would be taking the helm in the Senate.They would not have the same negative national image and propensity to say stupid things as does Reid.Reid’s pugnacious victory speech gives the American people the personification of their angst against Washington, and is an albatross around the neck of the President.