Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Post-Election Reflection

1. Some of us remember a song from World War II -- When the Lights Go on Again all Over the World. Well, they went on about 11 PM, November 4, 2008. when the TV announcers said that Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States.

2. I cried twice on election night, once when I first knew that Barack Obama had won and thought how wonderful and again when I first knew that Barack Obama had won and thought how awful it was to have the job given the mess we're in. As The Onion put it in a headline, Black Man Given the Worst Job in the World.

Monday, November 10, 2008

White House Tour: Toilet in Lincoln Bedroom

When Laura was showing Michelle around the WH, I hope she warned her that you have to jiggle the handle in the toilet in the Lincoln Bedroom after every use to keep the water from overflowing. That always annoyed me when I was there.

And I thought that handwritten note that Rosalyn Carter had taped on it in 1979 reminding everyone to jiggle after flushing was a little tacky.

Maybe with all the books Barack is selling since his election, he could afford to bring in a plumber to fix it. Actually, I would do it free if they wanted, just to save taxpayers a little money, what with the deficit and the economic crisis and all.

Famous But Fatuous Political Statement

Some of the most famous statements in recent political history are bull biscuits.

In 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Nonsense. People had a lot to fear, during the Great Depression, things like unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and the like. Just ask my Dad, who lived through it.

In his campaign for VP with Michael Dukakis in 1988 against George the Elder Bush, Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle, the Republican candidate, "I know Jack Kennedy . . . and, Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy." That statement was mean, gratuitous, insulting, vacuous, obvious, just to get started.

In 1961, John Kennedy said, "Ask not your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." Nice rhetoric, has a nice sound to it, clever to use the reverse images, etc. But the statement is empty without some specifics to give it content.

And not universally applicable, e. g., those who were sent to Iraq to fight this senseless war have every right to ask what their country can do for them when they return -- if they do.

Kennedy's speech to the Baptist preachers in Houston in 1960 is lauded as a clear-headed statement on church and state, but it is actually shallow and confused regarding the difference between church and state and between religiion and politics.


Maria Cumo and Obama have a much better and more profound grasp of the issues.

See my article:

Why, then, are they so famous and so often repeated? Beats the heck out of me.

Trust Obama, Oh Ye of Little Faith

Some are already criticizing Obama for designating Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff -- one of his very first choices -- because of his close Israeli ties.

Here is my theory about Rahm Emanuel. First, it is a gesture to the Jewish community that will help him to get tougher on Israel later on. Second, he knows that to get stuff done, he has to pass legislation through Congress. RE is just the kind of tough SOB who can help with that.

Whether my theory is right, you can be sure that Obama had clear purposes in mind that had been thoroughly thought through when he chose RE. I trust him. He succeeded in the primaries and in the election by ignoring the advice I gave him.

BO will certainly make choices that will make those of us on the idealistic left squirm. We should not hesitate to criticize him when we think he is wrong. He plays a tough political game. He obviously catered (pandered?) to farmers in Iowa and Illinois in supporting ethanol subsidies. He broke his promise on public campaign finance. He has been quiet on Israel's sins, etc., etc. Jack Kennedy's father bought West Virginia for him in the primaries by paying off the country sheriffs in 1960, as I understand it.

He could not survive politically if he tried to satisfy my tendency toward democratic socialism, even if he shared my views. The question is how does Obama balance realism and idealism, pragmatism and principle, in the long run, especially on the big issues.

For the moment, I trust BO more than I do the people so eager to criticize him so early. I think we should give him a break and allow him some time, but when appropriate we need to be critical as necessary, and I think he would want that.