Point of View Columns

What Biden Should Have Said

During last week’s continuation of the Democratic Debatepalooza in Houston, Joaquin Castro and Corey Booker executed a classic high/low tackle of Joe Biden on the issue of his age. In a not very subtle fashion they both tried to make the case that Biden was simply too old to be a successful candidate for president.

There are many aspects of the Biden candidacy that are subject to legitimate criticism and concern. The question of his age is a different story however, since there is nothing that Biden can say about his age. In other words, he is what he is.

But given the fact that Baby Boomers continue to occupy a major space in the American demographic and they aren’t getting any younger either, Secretary Castro and Senator Booker might want to be careful about the age of the toes upon which they tread.

In the meantime, here is what Joe Biden should have said:

  • I was elected to the New Castle (Delaware) City Council at the age of 28 and many people said that I was too young to serve effectively.
  • I was elected to the United States Senate when I was 30, become the sixth youngest person elected U.S. Senator in American history and many people said that I was too young to serve.
  • I was re-elected to the Senate six times and someplace along the line people stopped saying that I was too young to serve.
  • When I was elected Vice President in 2008 I was 66 years old and people said that I was a “mature” balance to the more youthful Barack Obama.
  • Now that I am in my 70’s, it seems that some of my younger competitors for the Democratic nomination want to make an issue of my age. The irony of this situation does not escape me.
  • Age did not make a difference when I was first elected. Age has not made a difference during the years that I have served this country. And age will not make a difference should I be fortunate enough to be elected President of the United States.
  • And I will tell Secretary Castro and Senator Booker that I will not make an issue of their youth and am hopeful that they will not make an issue of my age.
  • And in any event, I learned a lesson when I was 28 and was told that I was too young to be elected – if all an opponent can talk about is my age, instead of my record and my accomplishments and my qualifications, then my record and my accomplishments and my qualifications must be pretty damn good and they should just bring it on.

That’s what Biden should have said.

One can only hope that going forward the Democratic Candidate Carousel can offer up some more substantive subjects for discussion and true debate – this country is in crisis, as is the world – and leadership does not wear an age number.

 

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 12, 2012

After Joe Biden’s tour de force dismantling of Paul Ryan during the vice presidential debate many supporters are calling for President Obama to be more like Joe Biden during his next debate with Mitt Romney. Actually, Barack Obama just needs to be Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, Jack Welch and the Teapublicans refuse to accept any good news if it benefits President Obama….there’s a pattern here. And finally, for all of his tough talk about trade battles with China, Bain Capital will be moving about 500 jobs from Michigan to China right after the election.

Let Obama be Obama

During the 1980’s pumped up conservatives would proclaim “Let Reagan be Reagan” convinced that the unedited version of the leader of the right wing brave new world was at his best when he was himself. There is a lesson to be learned there.

We may someday learn the reason for the desultory and distracted performance turned in by Barack Obama during his first debate with Mitt Romney. While there will be time for retrospective, what is important right now is that all of the White House handlers, advisors and media specialists “Let Obama be Obama”.

It is pretty clear that the path the victory in November will require President Obama to remind the electorate that he is still the same person who inspired a country and electrified the planet less than four years ago. When he is being himself, Barack Obama is both compelling and convincing.

There isn’t any time for rehearsed smiles and self-enforced silences. “Let Obama be Obama”.

Facts do Matter

Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate in this country had gone from 8.1% to 7.8%. While this news should not prompt a chorus of “Happy Days are Here Again”, it certainly qualifies as good news, especially for the thousands of Americans who didn’t have a job and now do.

So it is puzzling, although not surprising, that right wing of the right wing zealots like Donald Trump and former G.E. CEO Jack Welch led the Teapublican shouts and murmurs of some kind of “fix” being attached to the numbers. Somehow, their reasoning goes, the Obama Administration seized control of an independent and non-partisan element of the federal government to advance the Obama political agenda.

Even in the midst of an overheated and highly partisan campaign, one would hope that both sides would welcome good news in this country. But the Trump/Welch reaction is typical of the last four years of Teapublican wishes that President Obama will fail regardless of the damage that this would do to the country.

Paper Tiger

During his campaign Mitt Romney has huffed and puffed and bellowed about how tough he would be on China with respect to trade issues. He has accused the Chinese of “cheating” and promised to crack down on “cheaters”.

So last week’s news reports were particularly interesting when it turned out that a company in the Bain Capital portfolio is planning to move 500 jobs from Michigan to China soon after the election. And while Mr. Romney is no longer a member of the Bain management team it is impossible to believe that he is without influence and might ask his former firm to reconsider its plans in light of the hardship that will be visited on over 500 Michigan families.

So far, the only word from Mitt Romney is that he can’t interfere in a private business decision.

Consider this an indication of what to expect during a Romney presidency and be very afraid.

Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 28, 2012

Marie Antoinette has nothing on Mitt Romney and his “let them use the emergency room” response to healthcare for uninsured Americans. Meanwhile hopeful Teapublicans are touting Mr. Romney’s primary debate experience as a plus going into his debate with President Obama next week. They must be kidding. And meanwhile, Paul Lyin’ Ryan, the other 2/3 of the Teapublican presidential ticket seems to be hedging his bets more than a little bit.
Mr. Marie Antoinette

Mitt Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare as soon as he is inaugurated as president. “On Day One”, is Mr. Romney’s pet phrase. When asked what would happen to the over 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured and will be insured by Obamacare in the near future, Mr. Romney channeled his inner Marie
Antoinette.

He actually pointed to the fact that there are plenty of emergency rooms in hospitals all over the country as a viable alternative. The mystery is really that callous or is he just that out of touch with fragile nature of this nation’s healthcare system.

It is difficult to believe that a serious candidate for president would suggest that emergency rooms represent a viable healthcare strategy. And while we can be sure that Mr. and Mrs. Romney have not spent a lot of time in urban emergency rooms, it is still difficult to believe that a serious candidate for president would consign the sick, the elderly and children to emergency rooms for their primary care.

By the way, Marie Antoinette never actually said “let them eat cake”, but it is true that Mitt Romney has said “let them use the emergency rooms”.

Moving up to the Big Leagues

As the first presidential debate approaches, remaining Romney supporters are touting their candidate’s extensive primary debate experience as a reason why he will do well in Denver on October 3rd and beyond. They can’t be serious.

While Mr. Romney did indeed engage in twenty debates during the primary season, does anyone think that participating in a Klown Karnival qualifies as preparation for debating President Obama on the issues of the day? While practice is important, the level of competition is a critical factor.

Perhaps the Romneyites forget that one of Mr. Romney’s opponents couldn’t even remember his own talking points – Rick “Oops” Perry. Or that Michele Bachmann is at best delusional and may actually be in need of medical supervision – her claim that HPV vaccine causes mental retardation comes to mind.

Other Teapublican candidates that Mitt Romney vanquished included Herman Cain who admitted to having things “twirling around in his head” and Newt Gingrich who thinks that colonizing the moon is a good idea.

And we can’t forget Rick Santorum whose self-righteousness might have been attractive during the Inquisition but doesn’t come off so well in the 21st century. And, rounding out this less than impressive list of debate opponents was Ron Paul who played the part of the cranky old man at all of the debates.

If anyone on the Romney team thinks that debating these Klowns qualifies as useful preparation President Obama’s biggest task may be to steadfastly avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence.

Hedging His Bets

In 2008 then Senator Joe Biden ran for re-election as senator while also running as a vice presidential candidate. Not everyone saw this move as a demonstration of full confidence in the Obama-Biden ticket although some Democrats in Delaware thought it important not to give a certain Teapublican witch named Christine O’Donnell even a ghost of a chance of winning.

Now, in 2012, we have Paul Ryan, another vice presidential candidate who is hedging his bets. While campaigning on the sinking Romney-Ryan ticket he is also campaigning for re-election to Congress in Wisconsin. It cannot be the kind of move that inspires confidence with rank and file Teapublicans.

But then again, perhaps Paul Ryan knows something that they will only find out on November 6th.
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Have a great weekend!

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Point of View Columns

President Obama Did Not “Surrender”

As this column is being written the Danse macabre called the debt ceiling negotiations continue like some bizarre video loop of the 1990’s movie “Groundhog Day”. Every day it is the same intransigence. Every day brings hopelessness dimming the light of future days. Every day witnesses the triumph of greed over compassion. Every day witnesses the triumph of hate over common sense.

Please reread that last sentence………anyone who thinks that the G.O.Tea Party frothing intransigence and obstinate frenzy is about the debt ceiling and the budget deficit isn’t paying attention or is just fooling themselves. The Republican playbook calls for eviscerating and amputating every vestige of power and discretion that Barack Obama might exercise as President of the United States. The reelection of Barack Obama is viewed by the right wing of the right wing as being unthinkable and against the very laws of nature. It is something to be avoided at all costs.

We have now seen that those “costs” include the debasement and possible unhinging of the American economy. The fact that the unthinkable fiscal default of the United States government has almost occurred is due to the kamikaze-like belief of the G.O.Tea Party that it would be better to let this country crash, burn and die rather than let Barack Obama lead it.

Amidst the smoking embers of near catastrophe we can smell a whiff of brimstone from racist fires. The brutal invective and color-tinged vitriol directed at President Obama during the first two and a half years of his presidency have not been seen since the administration of Abraham Lincoln and that was in the midst of the Civil War.

There is old saying that goes like this, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” The G.O.Tea Party has taken a spin on this bit of bamboozelry to tell the American people that the debt ceiling crisis has been caused by a lack of leadership on the part of President Obama.

The fact is that the Republicans have refused to negotiate on any aspect of the debt ceiling /budget debate and remain welded to the anchor of their no new tax pledge that threatens to us all. The fact is that the right wing of the right wing has abandoned any pretense of seeking to work with Barack Obama and is prepared to place the collateral damage of their fanaticism on his doorstep.

Mean statements and harsh words are part of the political process. But the racial radar begins beeping when Senator Mitch McConnell talks about “breaking” Barack Obama. And then there is Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado stating that negotiating with President Obama is like “touching a tar baby”. On the Planet America, if these aren’t fighting words they are cause to start searching the crowd for nooses and pitchforks.

Critics from the left wing of the left wing contend that President Obama has “surrendered” to the G.O.Tea Party. My Dartmouth College classmate Robert Reich contends that Barack Obama should have “done more” to articulate the crass and brazen greed of the Republicans as they protect the greedy and continue to fleece the needy. I assume that Dr. Reich means that President Obama should spend even more time trying to convince the American people who vote for “American Idol” in greater numbers than they vote in presidential elections.

During the past few weeks President Obama was like the guy in a chair fight where everybody had a chair but him. The sounds of silence emanating from Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus and organized labor have been deafening. There have been some murmurs from AARP and Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher and John Stewart have weighed in on occasion.

But any support for the president has been drowned out by the 24/7 drumbeat from the right wing of the right wing and its personal television network, Fox News. The television commercials funded by the Koch brothers and organizations affiliated with Karl Rove have skewed and corkscrewed the mentality of the American public until no sense and nonsense make sense.

Too many people who stand to be victimized by the G.O.Tea Party agenda do not vote. Too many people who disbelieve the idiotic notion that “shared sacrifice” means that sacrifice is shared between the middle class and the poor do not vote. Too many people who instinctively understand that President Obama is being played like a cheap banjo stay silent – public officials and private citizens alike.

To suggest that Barack Obama has “surrendered” is to ignore the facts. Under the circumstances he will be fortunate to get out of the debt ceiling debacle with a decent portion of his epidermis intact. And we can see already that November 6, 2012 will be a real bad day for the progressive community if it doesn’t wake up from the hypnotic spell cast by the G.O.Tea Party.

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