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.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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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Kansas, Mexico and Points Beyond

I could write about how Mitt Romney just revealed that the elderly, the military, the poor and disabled consider themselves victims and don’t want to take care of their own lives but I had a few other random thoughts I wanted to cover. This will be brief.

Kansas

An idiot in Kansas files a petition to have Barack Obama kept off the ballot in November on the grounds he was not born in the United States. Birther nutjob and Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach considers the petition along with the rest of the all-Republican Objections Committee. Of course the fact that Kobach is a self-described “adviser” to Mitt Romney didn’t seem to make him think he should recuse himself from this judgment on Obama. Apparently enough people contacted the original petitioner and called him a moron that he withdrew his petition. Kobach, not wanting to appear the Birther-wuss said more investigation was warranted. Then Monday he finally agreed to have Obama placed on the November ballot. Of course, one of the folks demanding that this birth issue be thoroughly examined was “California lawyer and dentist” Orly Taitz, a lunatic I thought had finally faded from the scene.

There was a time in this country when no decent person would have made such outrageous claims about a sitting President for fear of being roundly rebuked. But then as Bill Clinton reminded Ted Kennedy back in 2008, there was a time in this country when Barack Obama would be doing nothing more than getting Kris Kobach a cup of coffee.

Mexico

I guess I’m ashamed to admit it but the one area in which I identified a bit with conservatives was their attitude toward “illegal aliens”. As someone who has been income-challenged for the past few years, I bought hook, line and sinker the notion that Mexicans were stealing jobs from deserving Americans. Even when I recognized that for the most part they were doing jobs most Americans didn’t want to do, I still resented it.

Watching the Democratic National Convention a few weeks ago gave me a bit of an epiphany. I already agreed that Obama was right to extent flexibility to children of undocumented workers who came here by no choice of their own. But the DNC gave me a new perspective on the parents. For the most part, these “illegals” represent the promise of the American Dream. They are no different from the scores of immigrants who have come to our shores over the past 200+ years. They come here to escape a life of certain poverty. They come here because they believe they will find opportunities not available south of the border. What makes them different is that instead of an ocean, there is only an invisible line in the soil separating them from their dream.

I don’t believe we should have open borders. I know it is not feasible to simply let every Tom, Dick and Harry enter the United States at will.  But the DNC made it clear to me that we need a compassionate immigration policy. Undocumented workers don’t come here to hurt us. They come here to help themselves.

Points Beyond

The Muslim Meltdown

Once again an insult to the Muslim prophet Mohammad is propagated and once again a small contingent of angry Muslims go wild. This time the rage is accelerated by newly elected unstable central governments (Cairo) and opportunistic terrorists (Benghazi, Libya). It was humorously suggested on Comedy Central this week that perhaps Islam’s big problem is immaturity. While at first blush this might seem absurd, Islam is a good 600 years younger than Christianity. Christianity’s record for civil behavior was not peachy keen even within the past 300 years (e.g. Salem Witch Trials). Perhaps a Muslim reformation sometime in the future is not outside the realm of possibility? I believe the only way to get rid of radical Islam is from within.

Israel v Iran

That Israel possesses nuclear weapons is the worst kept secret in foreign affairs. So, as a foreign policy neophyte, I ask my more knowledgeable readers why can’t the Iran/Israel standoff be resolved this way:

Iran simply says to Israel, “We will stop developing nuclear capability when you demonstrate that you have disarmed your nuclear weapons.” Seems simple enough to me. What am I missing?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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