Category Archives: Uncategorized

Secret White House Meetings? Has Anybody Seen Joe?

Seems like a good time to reprise a post from a few weeks ago, which has apparently aged like fine wine:
You may have heard the rumors over the past few weeks—the suggestions that Obama might replace Biden on the ticket, perhaps with Hillary Clinton. The recent gay marriage announcement seemed to put more distance between the President and Biden. Just before, the NYT ran a lengthy piece about Sunday night strategy sessions in the Obama campaign, sans Biden. Ominous signs for Biden.

If the President were 75 years old with a heart condition, the choice of Vice President would certainly be more of a consideration. Since Obama is relatively young and apparently healthy does anyone really care who his Vice President is?

The old pols will tell you that the choice of Vice President is seldom a consideration for most voters. Voters react to the choice for President.

Yes, but what if the election is really close?

And, if Obama’s slide in the polls continues, changing VPs could be a Hail Mary pass.

What if Biden makes a really big, unforgivable gaff?

Or, another new embarrassing revelation?

Let’s face it, there have been lots of Biden gaffs. You might have trouble remembering why he was chosen in the first place.

Let me refresh your memory:

Biden was elected back in 1972. Shortly after the election, his wife and daughter were killed in a horrible automobile accident. His two sons were critically injured. Biden was devastated and considered quitting the Senate before he was sworn in. He ultimately did take the oath and perhaps as a reward  was given a seat on the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committee. Both were considered plum assignments.  Prior to his election, Biden had served one term as county councilman, so it wasn’t like they needed his input. One of the youngest senators ever elected, he gained seniority over time and  became chairman of Foreign Relations. Ultimately, he was recognized as a kind of foreign policy expert. When Obama chose his running mate, it was crucial to find someone who could strengthen his foreign policy/commander in chief credentials.  Plus, in person, Biden is a charmer. He ingratiated himself to the young Senator from Illinois and Mrs. Obama, rumor has it.

There is speculation that Biden might run for president in 2016, when he will turn 74. Is that an inducement for Obama to keep him on the ticket or does that undermine the idea that he will have singular loyalty and continue to be the hatchet man?

Biden is a complex character. He can relate to “joe sixpack” to recall another phrase that got him in trouble earlier in his career.  He has people skills, but shoots from the hip. There have been plagiarism allegations and major health issues. You can read more about him in one of the best books on American politics, What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer.
Bill Kristol makes the argument that Obama is already paving the way to elevate Hillary as a way to get a lock on the women vote plus energize the base. But don’t forget that Hillary has baggage, too. Revelations from Edward Klein’s The Amateur  drive a further wedge between the Clintons and the Obamas. Kristol throws out a few other names, Mark Warner, Ken Salazar.  Here’s something I haven’t heard—that team Obama is vetting replacements. Could they do that and keep it quiet?

Bottom line, I think Obama will keep him unless it looks like he has no choice or needs to create some news. To dump him would be a sign of weakness. Dump Biden and bring in Hillary to save the bacon? Pretty hard to stomach unless you are really going under.

What do you think? Will Obama dump Biden? Please let me know by voting in my poll or leave me a comment

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Filed under 2012 Election, Biden, Uncategorized, Vice President, White House

The Health Care Cliff: Obama at the Edge

When we look back on the 2012 campaign, will the turning point be the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare?

Not only the decision of course, but how the candidates react to it—how will they spin it? The Obama campaign has not exactly been deft in handling touchy matters so far. And the Romney campaign is still untested.
Supreme Court police are said to be ready. Justice Ginsberg predicts it will be contentious. The decision will spring soon–in the next few days.

Most of the impact of the health care law will take effect in the distant future. But efforts to assuage the electorate do not seem to have worked so far.

The most recent Rasmussen has 52% in favor of repeal.

77% of those with health insurance now consider it good or excellent.

“Seventy-six percent think they should have the right to choose between expensive insurance plans with low deductibles and low-cost plans with higher deductibles. A similar majority believes everyone should be allowed to choose between expensive plans that cover just about every imaginable medical procedure and lower-cost plans that cover a smaller number of procedures. All such choices would be banned under the current health care law.”

And there is this one:  “65% angry at government policies.” A bit vague, but ominous.

For the Obama campaign, whatever the outcome, they had better bring the A game, because the polls are opposed to the decision.

An outright win for the Obama administration will set up repeal of the law as the defining domestic issue in the campaign: Repeal vs the imprimatur of the Court’s blessing. How will the Obama campaign try to do what they have been unable to do for the past two plus years?  Surely they have a major media blitz, unlike anything we have seen from them so far. Andy Griffith with guns blazing. Betty White exuding reassurance and calm. Pitches from other popular media personalities. Will it work?

A partial or complete loss for the Obama administration will be more difficult: Opponents will crow that their hand is called. They overreached. The professor didn’t understand what would be allowed under the Constitution, etc.

Proponents of the health law will be quick to brand the justices the “Bush Court” and dismiss their views as partisan.

But the Obama campaign will  have  to convince already hostile or indifferent voters that the remnants will need to be protected from the savages in Congress.

The Romney campaign has a much easier game plan. Win, lose or partial loss, they can be for repeal. The law can continue to be the economic bogeyman. Fear of the law’s impact on our future health is easier to imagine than fear of the status quo—our current system.
Regardless of the decision and your health care views, watch the spin. The best spinners are going to win in November.

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Plot Twist? Will Obama dump Biden?

You may have heard the rumors over the past few weeks—the suggestions that Obama might replace Biden on the ticket, perhaps with Hillary Clinton. The recent gay marriage announcement seemed to put more distance between the President and Biden. Just before, the NYT ran a lengthy piece about Sunday night strategy sessions in the Obama campaign, sans Biden. Ominous signs for Biden.

If the President were 75 years old with a heart condition, the choice of Vice President would certainly be more of a consideration. Since Obama is relatively young and apparently healthy does anyone really care who his Vice President is?

The old pols will tell you that the choice of Vice President is seldom a consideration for most voters. Voters react to the choice for President.

Yes, but what if the election is really close?

And, if Obama’s slide in the polls continues, changing VPs could be a Hail Mary pass.

What if Biden makes a really big, unforgivable gaff?

Or, another new embarrassing revelation?

Let’s face it, there have been lots of Biden gaffs. You might have trouble remembering why he was chosen in the first place.

Let me refresh your memory:

Biden was elected back in 1972. Shortly after the election, his wife and daughter were killed in a horrible automobile accident. His two sons were critically injured. Biden was devastated and considered quitting the Senate before he was sworn in. He ultimately did take the oath and perhaps as a reward  was given a seat on the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committee. Both were considered plum assignments.  Prior to his election, Biden had served one term as county councilman, so it wasn’t like they needed his input. One of the youngest senators ever elected, he gained seniority over time and  became chairman of Foreign Relations. Ultimately, he was recognized as a kind of foreign policy expert. When Obama chose his running mate, it was crucial to find someone who could strengthen his foreign policy/commander in chief credentials.  Plus, in person, Biden is a charmer. He ingratiated himself to the young Senator from Illinois and Mrs. Obama, rumor has it.

There is speculation that Biden might run for president in 2016, when he will turn 74. Is that an inducement for Obama to keep him on the ticket or does that undermine the idea that he will have singular loyalty and continue to be the hatchet man?

Biden is a complex character. He can relate to “joe sixpack” to recall another phrase that got him in trouble earlier in his career.  He has people skills, but shoots from the hip. There have been plagiarism allegations and major health issues. You can read more about him in one of the best books on American politics, What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer.
Bill Kristol makes the argument that Obama is already paving the way to elevate Hillary as a way to get a lock on the women vote plus energize the base. But don’t forget that Hillary has baggage, too. Revelations from Edward Klein’s The Amateur  drive a further wedge between the Clintons and the Obamas. Kristol throws out a few other names, Mark Warner, Ken Salazar.  Here’s something I haven’t heard—that team Obama is vetting replacements. Could they do that and keep it quiet?

Bottom line, I think Obama will keep him unless it looks like he has no choice or needs to create some news. To dump him would be a sign of weakness. Dump Biden and bring in Hillary to save the bacon? Pretty hard to stomach unless you are really going under.

What do you think? Will Obama dump Biden? Please let me know by voting in my poll or leave me a comment:

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Filed under 2012 Election, Biden, Uncategorized, Vice President, White House

Introducing a New Character, the Running Mate

In keeping with our theme, this drama is due to get a new character. Over the next several weeks, the pressure will build to choose a running mate. Behind the scenes, what is going on?

Duh. Background checks. Almost everyone under consideration has run for office, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an embarrassing secret. Or are married to one. Or did business with one.  Finding something juicy might make a good story line, but would not be helpful for the race– of course.

Romney knows that the mere consideration of someone elevates them–gives them national status. And the grateful pol will be obliged to work a little harder in their respective state for Romney’s election, even if they aren’t picked.

So what  will Romney consider? What state could they help with? Ohio, Florida? Are they good in a debate? What expertise can they bring if they were elected?time, Romney knows that the mere consideration of someone elevates them–gives them national status. And the grateful pol will be obliged to work a little harder in their respective state for Romney’s election, even if they aren’t picked.

And more questions/drama:

Will they leak some names to see if anything embarrassing surfaces before the names are released?

Will they release an official list?

When will they reveal the choice? At the convention? Before?

But for now, let’s confine ourselves to the big question:

Who do you think Romney should pick?

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Santorum Drops Out: Drama Moves Offstage

“In the theatrical works we love and admire the most, the ending of the drama generally takes place offstage.” Gustav Mahler

So Santorum is out, but there is more drama. Some of it will be made public, but most of it we will have to imagine based on reported events.

When will Santorum endorse Romney? Are they working out details of help with Santorum debt reduction? Or details on some of these other points:

Certainly, Santorum will want a speech at the convention and with 3 million votes, it will be hard to turn him down. The Santorum operatives will negotiate  the details with Romney people. In the 24/7 cable world, what will Santorum want and what will they let him have? Will they let him have prime time? Or late afternoon, early evening? And which night?

Santorum will want to influence the platform, but it is unclear right now what policy he will want to put his stamp on. And if the Romney folks will let him. No major policy differences come to mind, but will he push for language that is more strident than Romney might want for the general election? Does anyone care about the platform?

Will Santorum campaign for Romney? Will he really try to energize his followers to defeat Obama? Or will he do some perfunctory appearances and lay low until after the election.

Will Santorum angle for an administration job in case Romney is elected?

And the big question: is Santorum in the running for Vice President?

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”– Orson Welles

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Plot Twists or Red herrings? Santorum-Con huddle in VA and Gingrich health biz belly up?

NovelPolitics is not sure what to make of these two developments: first, just saw a tweet that Mark Halperin is reporting that Santorum is in VA to try to unite with Gingrich to stop Romney. Politico has a similar story without the Gingrich component: http://ow.ly/a6Bm7

Next, the Washington Post has this headline:

Newt Gingrich’s health care think tank files for bankruptcy in Atlanta federal court http://ow.ly/a6BfV

Apparently, Gingrich cut ties to the group last May, and it has not prospered. So not a major blow, but not helpful.

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If This Were Fiction….how would they leave the race?

If this were fiction, how would Santorum, Gingrich and Paul leave the race?

Of course, they can’t actually leave the race, as in withdraw,  because of campaign finance issues. But it looks like it will be over before the convention.

Good fiction would not have them leave quietly. It has to be a bit unpredictable. A scandal?  Unfortunately, we can all imagine it, but, no violence please.

But we do have drama. Regardless of how you feel about the candidates, did you ever work in a campaign for someone? You really believe in them. You hope. You work long hours and hope.

Gingrich wound down his campaign yesterday. One third of his staff fired, his campaign manager gone.

The folks who thought they might have a White House pass in a few months are now unemployed. If you have ever worked in a campaign, you feel their pain. You know there is drama for them.

And what about the former Speaker?  He will want a speech at the convention. He will try to get something in the GOP platform that he can claim credit for. The next chapter will tell whether he will try to help Romney get elected. Or not.  Then, if Romney is elected, will he want a job?

My guess is, no. He will not want to go through the confirmation process. He can write books, give speeches and influence policy. Is that a third act? Or a very long second?

If I were writing this scene, Gingrich might be relieved. A little. Campaigning is grueling, but having people cheer you, applaud you, adore you– does energize. The reality that this was his last, best chance, that he may be too old to ever run again. For someone who has been sure he would be President someday, that has to suck.

Also, he will deny it, and isn’t that rather tragic.

How do you think it will unwind?

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Nasty Campaign Tactics: “The Best Man” wouldn’t think of it…


Republican primary rivals accuse each other of faux conservatism and we call that dirty politics. Too personal.
You want campaign hardball?

Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” is in previews on Broadway. http://thebestmanonbroadway.com/tickets.html Opens April.
Fantastic cast— Profiles in WSJ,Vanity Fair and CBS Sunday morning, among others. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57399527/eric-mccormack-now-playing-the-bad-guy/

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Snowe v. Trollope

I didn’t plan the starting point of this blog to be Trollope. I thought I would start with the American master, Robert Penn Warren. But I happen to be reading Phineas Finn, and I feel as though I can hear Trollop, swirling his glass of brandy, wheezing out bon mots that are so strangely relevant.

As in Life imitates Art…

Senator Olympia Snowe announced her retirement from the Senate this past week, citing the rising partisanship in Congress.

Olympia Snowe: Why I’m leaving the Senate http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/olympia-snowe-why-im-leaving-the-senate/2012/03/01/gIQApGYZlR_story.html

“As Ronald Brownstein recently observed in National Journal, Congress is becoming more like a parliamentary system — where everyone simply votes with their party and those in charge employ every possible tactic to block the other side.”

I have the highest respect for the good Senator. However, let’s see what Trollope had to say about partisanship back in 1869.

I know if you want to you can click on the free book for your kindle, or go to Wikipedia or similar and find out the background if you want, but the odds are, you might not have the time or patience to wade through the delicious political pudding of Trollope. We are not used to his way of storytelling today, but I like it.

I’ll give you an Americanized translation of the beginning:

Phineas Finn has finished college and is working on his law degree. He has no money of his own, and won’t for some time as he sets up a new law practice. His father is a prosperous doctor, who reluctantly gives him a modest allowance. With these limited prospects, some of Finn’s acquaintances want him to make a run for a seat in parliament. At that time, Members didn’t receive a salary, by the way, making it that much more absurd for Finn to attempt.

But as one of the party operatives—Barrington Erle– tries to coax him to run, Finn explains:

Finn: “If I go into Parliament, I shall go there as a sound Liberal, –not to support a party, but to do the best I can for the country. I tell you so, and I shall tell the Earl the same.”

 Barrington Erle turned away in disgust. Such language was to him simply disgusting. It fell upon his ears as false maudlin sentiment falls on the ears of the ordinary honest man of the world. ….But he hated the very name of independence in Parliament, and when he was told of any man, that that man intended to look to measures and not to men, he regarded that man as being both unstable as water and dishonest as the wind. No good could possibly come from such a one, and much evil might and probably would come.”

 

Trollope shares more of Erle’s dismay a few pages later: …

A member’s vote, — except on some small crotchety open question thrown out for the amusement of crotchety members, –was due to the leader of that member’s party. Such was Mr. Erle’s idea of the English system of Parliament, and, lending semi-official assistance as he did frequently to the introduction of candidates into the House, he was naturally anxious that his candidates should be candidates after his own heart. When, therefore, Phineas Finn, talked of measures and not men, Barrington Erle turned away in open disgust. But he remembered the youth and extreme rawness of the lad and he remembered also the careers of the other men.

 Trollope weaves this theme through many pages but you get the idea: It turns out we didn’t become partisan monsters recently. The conflict between and individual and party has a long history and isn’t likely to be resolved –not in a democracy.

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