Monday, October 11, 2010

President Obama a Neo-Nixon

By T. Lee Humphrey

If you ask the average American who is old enough to remember President Nixon, what you best remember about him, most people won’t say, he ended the Vietnam war or he visited China or that he kept an enemies list, they’ll say Watergate...and won’t mean the break-in at the Watergate Hotel but the totality of use of government and party resources to go after your enemies, and then attempt to use the power of the President’s office to cover up your illegal actions. The line in the Frost – Nixon interviews where Nixon is asked about the legality of his actions, he replied, if the President says it’s legal, it’s legal...I’ve summarized his words but they are telling. The belief that as President you are completely above the law is a funny concept considering the complaints about this really old guy in England by the name of King George. As a Canadian my US history may be a bit dodgy but I think his ability to just create laws or impose taxes as it suited him regardless of the pain it caused his subjects was one of the reasons for the whole Boston Tea Party thing that led to that dust up called the Revolutionary War wasn’t it? I’m pretty sure the founding fathers didn’t want the President to have that same power as the King they’d just divorced?

Having watched and listened to President Obama and his proxies lately I’d have to ask the real Richard Nixon to please stand up? It would appear to me that a neo-Nixon now occupies the White House. While I don’t come to this conclusion based on his policies I do so because of his administration’s actions and rhetoric. It’s obvious that they have created an enemies list so the question is are they using more than the bully pulpit to deal with those enemies as Richard Nixon did?

It began last year with a self proclaimed boycott of Fox News by senior administration staff which turned into a media revolt by the MSM. Before you get upset and think I’ve gone over to the dark side and am now watching MSNBC nightly, the MSM only banded together because of the precedent that the Obama administration was setting and they knew that any one of them could be next because Obama and the democrats won’t be in the White House forever. It didn’t last long but the willingness to cut out a major network who’s cable news ratings each night in every time slot destroy the other cable news shows is an odd strategy at best and an interesting interpretation of the Constitution at worst.

One would have thought they’d learned their lesson but as we’ve seen with their never ending blame Bush campaign they don’t learn much of anything easily. Again we’ve got the President saying that the likes of Fox News and Rupert Murdoch the owner of Fox are destructive and divisive. Again this is red meat for the base but in an age when the base can’t get you elected perhaps it’s time for the President to realize that independents are watching Fox too and maybe just maybe they’re not as radical and biased as you’d like Americans to believe.

As the mid-term election moves closer and the polls continue to favor the Republicans it would appear that the real enemies list is being developed and worked on. This weekend David Axelrod lashed out against the Chamber of Commerce on Face the Nation. When he was asked about providing proof about the claim that foreign money is being used to fund anti-Democratic ads he replied by saying “it’s up to the chamber to prove it isn’t true”...what...did I wake up on another planet? Did America just become a country whereby a member of the President’s inner circle and the Democratic National Committee in a new ad timed to match up with the Axelrod offensive, can make a claim of illegal actions, and then say that the accused is guilty until they prove otherwise? Is this change you can believe in? If it was just David Axelrod perhaps Americans could look the other way but when the President himself said the same thing on the stump according to the New York Times it’s time to stand up and say not again Mr. President. You sir, represent all Americans and you are misusing and demeaning the office you temporarily hold with this sort of desperate politicking.

America had a President who used his office to go after his enemies and he had to resign...if you continue to pursue this course of action President Obama please feel free to do the same.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

To Teddy or Not To Teddy

Have you ever been plodding along doing a task and found yourself day dreaming? I often do this to pass the time on long flights or drives through the desert or when my daughters talk about the Jonas Brothers. The other day a friend dropped me a note about the pending decertification of private security companies in Afghanistan asking me if I’d enjoyed working in Ecuador a few years back as the Security Manager for a Canadian gold mining company. He had a job offer and since the Afghan gravy train appears to be ending he was more than interested in securing his future.

His email took me back to those long damp humid days spent hiking through the jungle. Do you remember the scene in Forrest Gump when it begins to rain in Vietnam and he talks about the different kinds of rain...well those really big drops that seemed to come from the ground up and soak you completely were the type of rains that made my life less than exotic. It was six hours of fun filled adventure walking through calf deep mud to get to the main base camp from our logistics base. While we had hundreds of local men who made the march each day with supplies in and out the next day with gold samples, I only did the round trip once a week. After the first couple of trips I would find myself day dreaming about this and that trying to take my mind off the pain and misery.

It was late 2003 and people were already talking about the upcoming re-election campaign (OK no regular people were talking about the election yet just us political wonks) and I began to day dream about a scenario that would play out if I was the guy in charge of all things Republican Party. In my scenario, after President Bush won re-election in 2004 and no later than fall 2005 Vice President Cheney would for the sake of his health announce that he was stepping down. Long known for having heart difficulties this would be an easy sell I assured myself, as I trudged on through the mud. Condoleezza Rice would become the new Vice President, why you ask...well says I, to myself, Hillary Clinton will be nominated in 2008 after having spent a few years as a Senator and you need to counter that and what trumps a female candidate but a black female candidate and never having heard of Barrack Obama at this point, I thought for sure that America was not only ready for an African American president but a female one to boot. The fact that she’s brilliant and has no baggage other than only being married to the job is just topping on my brilliantly baked cake. I mean I’d take no husband on the campaign trail over Bill Clinton any day. Everybody knew that Dick Cheney could and would never run for president and what party would be satisfied with not having an incumbent VP on the ticket to carry on the presidency.

Now I actually can prove that this scenario was bouncing around my head because it turned out that a newly hired American geologist had shown up in our logistics villa and when he was scheduled to go into the base camp I was also going in and thinking that any American would be impressed with my political insight and forethought I attempted to dazzle him with my theory throughout our jungle march. I soon realized that he was a democrat and would be happy if President Bush and Vice President Cheney died together from a joint heart attack so I quickly went back to my dream world and continued to fine tune my cunning plan.

Why did a plea of help from friend take me back to that story instead of all the other stories I could have thought of about during my time in the jungle (like the day the guys decided to catch a really big snake to impress me...not realizing how scared I am of those slimy evil creatures), well it’s Hillary again. I wasn’t bright enough to see Barrack Obama coming and was convinced that he was going to end up as her VP pick when he did announce he was running for President, and well obviously Dick Cheney didn’t fake a heart attack for the good of the party and Condoleezza Rice became the Secretary of State and began to accumulate baggage, so it seems that my theory was premature and focused on the wrong party. It would appear that there’s a growing cry for President Obama to ditch VP Biden and name Hillary Clinton as his VP on the ticket which would ensure she didn’t run against him a la Teddy Kennedy versus Jimmy Carter and assuming the re-election of President Obama in 2012 would ensure that Hillary is prepared for the next round in 2016 as an incumbent and not as a candidate amongst a field of candidates who won’t specifically mention she had her chance and lost or is now too old to be President.

Of course Hillary is saying she’s not interested, being publically interested in being President or in this case Vice President is seen as opportunistic and you have to slyly deny wanting to be in these lofty seats and instead say something prolific like “if the people demand my service I will acquiesce and do my duty” but deep down we all know both Bill and Hillary are working the options to allow her to fulfil their mutual dream of becoming the first husband and wife team to become President of the United States, kind of like Argentina, where Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner followed her husband Nestor de Kirchner into office. There’s a reason you don’t hear her name anywhere near the Afghan or Pakistan issues instead leaving it to Richard Holbrook and Jim Jones (the first casualty of the latest Woodward book). She wants to be able to point the finger solely at the President and say he isn’t up to managing foreign affairs or a war.

Now here’s the question, given my past failure in dreaming up a winning go forward Republican plan, am I wrong again? Not discounting an elder statesman reporter like Bob Woodward who is pushing the VP replacement possibility, I actually think it’s impossible for Hillary to become anybody’s VP, as I really don’t believe that she feels that the best person won the Democratic primaries and I’m convinced that she is feeling more and more vindicated about her primary ad that asked if then Senator Obama was ready to answer that call in the middle of the night.

With that in mind I’m convinced that if the pundits and polls are right and the House goes to the Republicans that’s not enough to put the President in jeopardy but if the Senate falls too and the unemployment rate doesn’t well stand by for a “Teddy Kennedy”.