My Political TV Oasis and the Hillary Sex Speech

With All Due Respect

My friend and former political blogger Huck has been taking over blogging duties here lately. His film reviews and pop culture takes on politics have been great and have inspired me to knock off a quick TV review to end the year. As a bonus, I’ve drafted a speech for Hillary to deliver since Trump has her rightfully in his cross-hairs.

First some quick background. From the late 70’s I was a fan of the various incarnations of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s film review programs. Once Gene died I stuck with Roger as he went through a few co-hosts and stayed on the air until poor health forced him out from in front of the camera. We have since lost Roger too. There was something about two guys debating their opinion on a topic that was fun to watch.

Well, film has changed to politics and Siskel and Ebert has changed to Halperin and Heilemann and the show is “With All Due Respect”. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, co-authors of the two “Game Change” books have the same bouncy back and forth on things political that Siskel and Ebert used to have on things cinematic. Halperin is the nervous one with facial ticks and a certain obnoxious stubbornness to his interview style. Heilemann is the laid back pot smoker. Mark appears moderate, skewing perhaps a wee bit conservative. John seems pretty clearly liberal.

This is pure inside-baseball folks. You don’t get the impression that either Mark or John give that much of a rat’s ass about the good of the nation or the world. This show is not about preaching. It’s about politics as a game and how it is played. Who is winning and who is losing. It reminds me of the great WordPress blogger ChenZhen of years ago who really was just in it for the horse race. When the race got boring he retired. I stuck around trying to argue the right and wrong of things. I think I missed the point. Right and wrong only exist on a personal level. On the macro-level, sadly, it is just a game and we can either be entertained or watch in disgust.

The leading GOP candidate is a master of branding with little else to show. The leading Democratic candidate is a woman most find untrustworthy but will still inexplicably support. How can one approach this political season with any sincere hope for a good outcome? That is why I turn to my oasis in the political desert, a show where the game is indeed just a game and the analysts know exactly how to call the play by play. On a side note, I’ve caught plenty of hell from the bar patrons on my MSNBC habit. “With All Due Respect” broadcasts on the Bloomberg channel but effective January, 2016 the MSNBC snarking will begin again as the show does a dual broadcast on Bloomberg and MSNBC. Regardless, “With All Due Respect” gets five stars from me.

The Hillary Sex Speech

Donald Trump, God bless him, says the stuff everyone wants to say but is afraid to. When Hillary calls Trump crude and sexist, Donald fires back with a hat tip to her philandering husband and former POTUS Bill Clinton. In the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus gave an unconvincing argument as to why Trump was not off base. It seemed to suggest being married to a pig made attacking a pig less credible. Fine, but the better argument is Hillary’s own behavior. Hillary viewed Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony” and asked that her opinion be documented, as discussed in Lewinsky’s Vanity Fair article from last year. Let’s be clear. Bill was a workplace predator. Lewinsky was a victim. Hillary lashed out at the victim, never publicly acknowledging the harm done to her.

So now in reaction to Trump, I suggest Hillary deliver in prime time, the equivalent of 2008’s Race Speech by Barack Obama. This one should be called The Sex Speech and it goes something like this:

What goes on in a marriage is nobody’s business but the people in the relationship. Donald Trump’s comments about my husband’s behavior are intrusive and rude. But I would like to take this opportunity to address an article published in Vanity Fair last year that expressed the emotional damage done to Monica Lewinsky, the intern whom my husband sexually harassed. I have zero tolerance for workplace harassment and my husband’s behavior back then was inexcusable. I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Miss Lewinsky for the pain and suffering she has gone through. I also want to apologize for not addressing this sooner. As women, we must stand together against workplace harassment. I know that Bill is sorry for his behavior. He and I have made peace with it. I hope that Miss Lewinsky can find peace also.

Of course, Hillary is way too arrogant to ever give such a speech but I think in the words of Halperin and Heilemann, it might be a game changer.

Happy New Year,
Rutherford

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

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance