It seems surreal to hear that the White House is announcing plans, six months before the November elections, to energize its base and appeal to such distinct groups as African-Americans, Latinos, and younger voters. Weren’t they supposed to have been helping these groups all along? After all, these people were a crucial voting bloc for the Democratic Party in 2008.
However, all is not well within the ranks. The Congressional Black Caucus had a meeting with President Obama last month to complain that their constituents were not seeing the positive change promised during the campaign. And a newWashington Post/ABC News poll reports that less than a third of all voters now say they will vote for their Members of Congress in November. Maybe this situation was created because the White House made healthcare reform their singular goal for over a year, ignoring other priorities.
That was the response of the guest speaker at a luncheon the other day, after I told him his speech was a little scary. We were riding down the elevator together and by the time the doors opened to the lobby I was convinced he was serious.
The speaker was Dr. Alan Greenspan, the man who served as chairman of the Federal Reserve for 18 years and is as much admired as he is despised. Whatever you think of him and his tenure, his remarks were chilling.
Greenspan’s message was that the short-term economic outlook is pretty decent because the stock market is driving the recovery. The long-term outlook, however, is grim. That’s because eventually U.S. debt is going to consume so much capital that there will too little left for the private sector to borrow.
When the private sector cannot borrow it cannot produce and when it cannot produce, the economy fails.
The American suburbs fueled the emergence of the Democratic congressional majority in 2006 and then helped expand it 2008. During those two election cycles, Republicans lost 24 incumbent or open seat races in these cul-de-sac filled districts.
But now suburbanites are shifting again. As a result, many of these districts could swing back to the GOP, providing more than half of the forty seats Republicans need to capture the majority in the House.
The battle for the suburbs will determine if President Barack Obama continues to work with his own party as the congressional majority or if Washington reverts to divided government.
Many swing voters live in the suburbs. As these regions grew following World War II, they became an increasingly large and pivotal piece of political real estate. Continue reading →
Fifteen years have passed since Timothy McVeigh’s bomb ripped the heart out of my hometown. Fifteen years since people I knew had their lives cut short by violence planned and executed here in our land by one of our neighbors. This is one pain that does not diminish over time.
I had represented Oklahoma City in Congress for 16 years. On the day Timothy McVeigh’s bomb exploded outside a courthouse named for a federal judge I had known, I was far from my home, teaching at Harvard. I was about to enter a classroom for a 10 o’clock class when I learned of what had happened. The news was numbing. Not only was this my home, these people were my friends; my daughter still lived there, my grandchildren lived there. What was happening? Who had done this? Who was safe?
In Ancient Rome, it was the poor people who lived in the suburbs. The rich lived in the city center, close to work, close to entertainment, close to all the finest restaurants (or the Roman version of restaurant).
But in post-World War II America, that all started to change. Public transportation became more readily available, and bedroom communities rose up, first outside of New York City, and then swept the nation.
The riots of the 1960’s convinced many ethnics and the few remaining Protestants who lived in the big cities, that the American dream was better found in the suburbs, and a great wealth transfer from the cities to the suburbs began in earnest.
Voters elected Barack Obama in November 2008 – at least in part – based on an American myth. Seventeen months later, the same allegory is creating a host of consequences for individual politicians, as well as the way citizens view political institutions like Congress.
The myth concerns the level of political consensus in America. It’s a lot lower than most people think. Polls may show high levels of agreement on generic aspirations like peace, prosperity, or even a better education system. But when it comes to specific steps to achieve these goals, things begin to unravel.
Last summer the President spent several months publicly anguishing over what he would or wouldn’t do in Afghanistan. Finally, he agreed to ramp up troop levels, but warned that he intended to start getting American troops out in 18 months. After myself anguishing in several columns over the President’s anguishing, I concluded in November 2009:
“If the Taliban and al-Qaida retake Afghanistan, the world (and America) will have hell to pay for the consequences. But this president and this White House do not have it in them to lead our troops to victory in Afghanistan. So they shouldn’t try. The price will be high for whatever foreign policy failures we will endure in the next three years. Let’s not add to that price the pointless murder of our finest young troops in a war their leader does not believe in. Bring them home. We’ll need them later.”
In 1982, Tylenol faced a potentially lethal brand crisis. Someone tampered with its packaging in a number of Chicago retail locations, randomly lacing the pain relief capsules with cyanide. Fear and chaos ensued. Seven people died, and the well known product risked commercial extinction.
Fortunately, the company slowly clawed its way back from the abyss through a combination of smart repackaging and crisis communications. Continue reading →
Every author wants to be popular enough to make a living from their efforts. But more and more journalists are cutting financial deals and skirting their own professional code of ethics to get on the best seller lists.
The reigning king of journalist bookdom is the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. But this year, according to Reliable Sources columnist Howard Kurtz there is a stampede of journalists headed toward the publishers’ doors.
Many of the top names in national political journalism writing for fun and profit include Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, NBC’s Chuck Todd, and MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe; the Post’s David Maraniss; the New York Times’ Jodi Kantor and New Yorker writers David Remnick and Ryan Lizza, according to Kurtz. Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin and New York Magazine’s John Heilemann just published their moneymaker called Game Change and they have already signed a multi-million contract for a 2012 tome, according to Kurtz.
So, according to various news reports, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is going to “investigate” corporate America for reacting to the president’s new healthcare law by promising to take huge tax write-downs because of the expected negative impact of the law on their bottom lines. This kind of reminds me of when O.J. Simpson decided to launch an “investigation” into who killed his wife.