Why Christie or Kasich Must Run

I am faced with a dilemma that any honest liberal faces. We are about to witness the coronation of the next Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America. Hillary Clinton seems to have the nomination sewn up and we are still over a year away from the Democratic Convention. We haven’t even seen a caucus or primary and it feels like we won’t see one. At least we won’t see any credible opposition. Martin O’Malley is far from compelling. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have virtually no foreign policy chops. Jim Webb is remotely interesting but hardly a guy “you wanna have a beer with”. To beat Hillary’s celebrity, we need someone with a winning personality and I’m not sure Webb is that guy.

So what is wrong with Hillary? Not a genuine bone in her body. Political to the core. And, most importantly a proven liar and obfuscater. And there, my friends, is the dilemma. How do we vote in 2016 when the candidate who says she wants to be our “champion” (a manufactured poll-tested line if there ever was one) is so full of crap?

We have to vote Republican. There are only two men on the horizon, who have not yet declared, for whom a vote from me would not kill me. They are Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Here is why:

Kasich passes the “beer companion” test. He’s likeable with a good sense of humor and a strong streak of self-deprecation. He makes a very strong case for his own candidacy — just watch his appearance on Meet the Press from this week. He’s been in and around Washington long enough to know how the place works. He balanced the budget under Bill Clinton. By his reckoning, he has turned around Ohio and as a Governor, he knows how to run stuff. He appeals to blacks. Let me repeat that — he appeals to blacks. I am thoroughly fed up with conservative candidates who make zero attempt to court the black vote.

Christie also has the “beer companion” quality. His record in New Jersey is mixed. The Jersey economy not doing as well as he might like. But he is a straight shooter in a collection of manufactured sound bites and manipulative language. His recent statement about Hillary’s opposition to big money in politics while she rakes in big money is a perfect example of his ability to call out hypocrisy. His willingness to lose a vote for the sake of honesty is admirable. Case in point: his recent trip to New Hampshire where he proposed changes to Social Security and his assertion that we need to take a new look at entitlement programs. Most conservatives will spout this when it comes to the poor (cutting food stamps, for example) but few will broach the middle class and wealthy getting their priorities straight. Christie will.

Above all, I am so tired of being lied to. My radar may be off — it has been in the past — but I feel Kasich and Christie will tell it like it is. They are WYSISYG candidates, not molded by consultants and “thought leaders”. I want a presidential candidate who will tell me the truth and not pander. They are few and far between and I think Kasich and Christie qualify.

Christie and/or Kasich must run because ABH (anyone but Hillary) is not good enough for me. I want to vote in 2016. I consider it my responsibility. But if the Republican party cannot put forward a sane, measured and transparent candidate to oppose HRC, for the first time in my adult life I may need to skip the election altogether.

What do you think? The bar is open.

The Second Term Curse

You have to go back to January 20, 1961 to find a US President who didn’t screw the pooch in his second term. Nixon had Watergate and resignation. Reagan had Iran-Contra and taped testimony that made him look old and feeble (foreshadowing the Alzheimer’s that would eventually take his life). Clinton had Monica Lewinsky and an impeachment trial. George W. Bush had Hurricane Katrina and a financial meltdown that at least for the time being puts his presidency among the ranks of Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.

I can’t speak for all liberals but both times that I voted for Barack Obama I never dreamed his second term would melt down like those before him. There are two schools of thought about Obama. One claims he is an evil thug (turn to Fox News for that story). Another says he is asleep at the wheel. I tend to believe the latter. This is a man who, for reasons that escape me, still has not learned that the presidency is about leadership. It’s about knowing what the hell is going on around you. It’s about activity, not just passively relying on your daily briefing. As a non-sports fan, I’ll risk using a sports metaphor and say that Obama seems to think the MVP on the basketball team is the dude who can pass the ball to the best shooter. Obama never seems to go for the slam dunk himself. He passes to Pelosi (look at ACA) or he passes to Biden (gun control). Now he’s got three “scandals” on his hands that he needs to take the lead on if he is to maintain any credibility.

Benghazi up until this week was a tragedy exploited for political gain. Then a memo from one of Hillary Clinton’s flunkies surfaced that spelled out the petty politics at the heart of the matter. No, contrary to the opinion of Republicans who are in permanent denial about the implausibility of a Mitt Romney presidency, there was no attempt to tamp down the terrorist aspect for the sake of Obama’s reelection. The memo from Victoria Nuland (which has been in the hands of Congress for some time but strangely only surfaced this past week) spells out the reason for sanitizing the CIA talking points. She wanted to save face for the State Department. So the American people were lied to over petty office politics. Not even big stakes electoral politics. The equivalent of the software development team spinning the bad message from the testing team about the lousy code they produce.  Had the GOP proceeded with moderation, the memo could have seen the light of day sooner and Nuland could have been fired as the appropriate sacrificial lamb for the lie perpetrated on the American people. Bottom line, despite the overplay by the GOP, the truth about the Benghazi talking points are a supreme insult to the memory of Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The IRS is caught targeting right-wing groups for added scrutiny. Something right out of the Nixon playbook, although as I said earlier, I doubt this goes as far up as Obama. I think Obama is innocently or willfully ignorant of the shenanigans going on around him. Now let’s be perfectly clear, some of the groups targeted ARE full of horse manure, applying for tax exempt status as a community service when they are a pure political organization. The problem is that they were targeted based on profiling. It’s like pulling over the black guy cos you think he’s more likely to have committed a crime. It’s immoral. It’s indefensible.

The Justice department is caught listening in on the calls of the Associated Press, encompassing the conversations of some 100 journalists, at least some of whom are talking with confidential informants. The excuse is that Eric Holder and company were cracking down on leaks that could endanger national security. But let’s be honest here. Washington is hardly leak proof when it comes to national security, particularly if the leak makes the administration look tough on terrorism. Where I come from, conservatives intimidate the press, not liberals. But then again, where I come from conservatives drone-kill innocent 16-year-old boys, not liberals.

What the hell is going on?

And the best my beloved news source MSNBC can do is say “all the presidents have done it” or “Nixon did it” or “Bush did it and where was the Republican outcry then?” Are you kidding me? The best you can do in defense of this presidency is say he is just like every lousy president before him? Didn’t we hope for more?

I don’t know where we go from here. Obama clearly needs to fire a few folks. Credibility needs to be restored. And MSNBC needs to catch up with the rest of the press who are not so enamored of our historic President right now. We need to be honest and say this stuff stinks to high heaven and we need to clean it up. Stop making excuses. Stop covering up. One common theme to the second term curse is that the cover up is always worse than the crime. Obama better wake the hell up and start managing his administration or he will find himself right down there with Bush, Buchanan, Harding and Hoover.


What Petraeus Reminds Us About Bill Clinton

When you bring up the impeachment of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, you will likely get the following vulgar response from the average progressive: “Puhleeze, he was impeached over a blow job.” Heck, I don’t consider myself a radical leftist and this has typically been my response. Of course, I’m wrong and so are my fellow liberals. Unlike Andrew Johnson, impeached more than a century earlier, Clinton actually committed a crime, perjury. However, recent events cast the Monica Lewinsky scandal in an entirely different light in my opinion.

Last week retired General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA after he revealed that he had been in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Some folks consider it a non-starter and wonder why Petraeus felt he needed to resign. Well first of all, he did not honorably fall on his sword. He was asked to resign by his direct superior, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and had this not happened, we have no reason to doubt Petraeus would have tried to salvage his job. The affair supposedly ended months before he was caught by the FBI so where was his honorable conscience in the interim? Even if we buy the notion that he resigned because he felt he dishonored the CIA and even if most of us agree on the immorality of his infidelity, his resignation was necessary for a far more important reason.

David Petraeus was America’s top spy. He had access to highly classified information. An extramarital affair puts him directly in the line of fire of a potential extortion. He could have been blackmailed by any third party that became aware of the affair. He also could have been blackmailed by Broadwell herself if she perceived herself the scorned lover. Clearly it appears that Broadwell sent emails to another woman (Jill Kelley) warning her to stop flirting with Petraeus so Broadwell herself seems to have been slightly unhinged. So Petraeus’ conduct goes beyond just poor judgment or immorality. His conduct put our entire national security at risk. He absolutely had to resign.

And that brings us back to Bill Clinton. As President, Bill Clinton had access to classified information, not the least of which were the codes to the nuclear arsenal. While history may record Monica Lewinsky as a harmless naive intern, Clinton’s consorting with her made him vulnerable to extortion just as it did with General Petraeus. We have a tendency to look the other way when presidents misbehave sexually (see FDR and Kennedy for starters) but the Petraeus affair should make us rethink this tendency. Just as there is a zero tolerance policy for adultery within the CIA, so should it be for the presidency. In retrospect, Clinton should have resigned. Perhaps the next president who cannot control his libido will set a proper precedent and step aside if he gets caught with his pants down.


Photo of Petraeus by Darren Livingston (Central Intelligence Agency) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Clinton by Bob McNeely, The White House [1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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