We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Policy Papers

Like many folks, I’m a bit confused by the rise and persistent success of Donald J. Trump as Presidential candidate. People, supposedly smarter than I in these matters, say that without specific policy positions Trump will soon take a nose dive in the polls.

When I heard this theory on the car radio today, I had an epiphany. How many voters read policy papers? How many voters know the nitty gritty details of their favorite candidate’s positions? I’m not saying there aren’t some well informed voters out there but as I discussed in a recent essay, most American voters can barely find their way to the polling place.

Long before Barack Obama’s cult of personality, presidential candidates appealed to voters for purely emotional, cathartic reasons. We had Reagan’s grandfatherly, sunny optimism. We had Kennedy’s youth and (apparent) vitality. Eisenhower was a war hero. Most of these folks had experience in politics. That’s just the nature of the game. But their voting record as a Senator? Puhleeze. The only change we are seeing in 2015 is this:

THE TRUTH

For once, the populace is saying “we don’t need no stinkin’ policy papers”. Those who like Trump like him because he seems to shoot from the hip. He ignores the “rules of politics”. He doesn’t pretend that you are going to study his ideas. He simply says, “don’t worry, I’ll handle it, and it will be terrific!” Seriously folks, what more does the average American need to know? Want to know how to handle China? Don’t worry about the specifics. We are gonna send Carl Icahn over there to get the job done. DC doesn’t know crap about negotiation. Icahn is a “killer”.

Here we have a candidate who has busted the myth of the functional president. Trump’s an entertainer and he is letting us all in on the truth that the President’s primary job is to be an entertainer … an entertainer who gets the right folks around him to get the job done. Trump is down on Obama (to put it mildly) but what is one of his chief complaints? He complains that Caroline Kennedy is our Ambassador to Japan. He calls it a joke. And of course, it is kind of a joke, isn’t it?

My theory is that Trump is laying bare what fringe elements have been saying for some time, namely that the presidency is largely ceremonial, largely a puppet show with special interests’ hands shoved up the ass of the puppet. And again, how appealing is it to hear a candidate say “I can’t be bought. In fact, I DO the buying.” Trump is defying pundit’s expectations because he’s showing the emperor to be naked in a way no candidate has done. He is changing the rules of the game and none of his opponents nor the media in general know what to do with him.

A Side Note about Bernie Sanders

Because Trump is still seen by many as a side show and spectacle, he is being used to discredit the campaign of Bernie Sanders. Just about no one is making the comparison between the two as a compliment to Bernie. The fact is Bernie and Donald share one key trait. They are telling their audiences a truth that their opponents cannot do convincingly, Hillary Clinton is a phony populist. Martin O’Malley is an old school pol. It’s hard to tell if Jim Webb is even really a liberal. And Lincoln Chafee is … Lincoln Chafee. When it comes to the message of income inequality and that we are all getting the short end of the stick, Bernie is the real deal. And when it comes to exposing the charade that is our presidency and government, Donald is the real deal too.

What do you think? The bar is open.

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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

Re-Imagining Reagan and the End of Palin (We Can Only Hope)

The Myth of Reagan

Sometimes the legend is way more powerful than the man behind it. The hero of conservatism is Ronald Reagan, President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Every cockeyed idea coming out of the GOP lately supposedly has Reagan’s mark of approval all over it. That’s why it was refreshing to see ThinkProgress remind us that Reagan was just as guilty of “class warfare” as our current president.

In fact, not only did Reagan condemn under-taxation of the rich, he actually raised taxes several times during his administration (albeit after cutting them massively at the beginning). The truth is that the Ronald Reagan of the 80’s could not get nominated by today’s GOP. The fact that they re-imagine Reagan to justify their current policies is completely consistent with a party that lives in an alternate reality.

Now Can She Please Just Go Away?

After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States.

via Sarah Palin Will Not Run for President – ABC News.

You have to hand it to Sarah Palin. Unlike Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, at least Sarah listens to God. You see, God is the ultimate political strategist and there is no way He advised Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann to run for President. At least Sarah took the Almighty’s advice. Now the question remains what lies ahead? In an interview with Fox’s Greta Van Susteren, Sarah discussed and dismissed the possibility that she might be politically dead with this decision. I think she should think again. Now that the long tease is over, Palin is irrelevant. The only reason there was to tolerate her word salad foolishness was the possibility she might make headlines with a Presidential run. With that possibility gone, Sarah is now a truly powerless ditz.

If you need proof, just look at the interview with Van Susteren. Greta started the interview not by discussing Sarah’s decision but by asking her what she thought of Apple genius Steve Jobs’ untimely death. In effect, Greta was saying, “before we talk about the end of your footnote to history, let’s discuss some consequential news.”

While I hope Ms. Palin simply returns to Alaska to be with her family, it doesn’t really matter. Regardless of how much we see her on Fox News, ultimately she will end up being nothing more than the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo credit: Ronald Reagan via Wikipedia

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