The Flawed President

As a young boy his mother put everything into him. He was her first child—and with an absent husband—the boy quickly became the center of her life.

In fact, this boy was her life.

So from his earliest days, he was made to feel as if he was the center of his mother’s Universe. All her attention was paid to his wants, interests, cares, worries and fears.

His mother focused more on him even when she gave birth to other children. This boy was—to her —‘special’ and thus he came to feel ‘special,’ too.

As he grew up he rarely if ever heard the word “No” spoken to him. Nothing was denied him. Mother did all she could to answer his desires the way he wanted.

As the boy became a teenager others, too, wanted to please him. Some did this because they felt sorry for him; others had guilt; still others sought favors by being seen to aid the Boy.

So as he approached adulthood, he was not like most boys. No, he thought about himself differently. He knew that his life was special and that he would have everything he ever wanted. Why not? For his entire life it had been that way. His mother told him he was ‘special’ and she had seen to it that he had everything he ever wanted. So why wouldn’t that continue?

Indeed, as he entered his teens and then his twenties, he was admitted to the best high school, and then an Ivy League College and then grad school at Harvard.

[Who is this? Can you guess - yet?]

Life was his oyster! He had it all! Everybody loved him—or seemed to love him! And he never wondered why this was so because it had always been so. After all, Mother said, “You will have anything you want.”

After graduating from Harvard, he went off to a life that was almost pre-ordained. Setbacks were glossed over. Indeed, the run for the U.S. House of Representatives ended with a humiliating defeat. But it didn’t hurt him one iota! No one called him a ‘loser’ or said he’d have to go back to the starting gate and begin all over, as “they“ say about other first-time losing candidates. Not with this young guy! No way! Instead, they urged him to run for an even higher office! No wonder that he just ’knew’ that he would get to the top of the political heap because big, powerful people always wanted to help him, just as his mother had predicted.

In fact, his political party begged him to run for state-wide office. They threw money at him—even though he really had accomplished nothing in his life to warrant or deserve such support.

He soon came to take it all for granted. In fact, he expected it. Anything he asked for he received—as he always had. Experienced party campaigners and staffers flocked to his campaigns - certain that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was the next stop. Money rolled in, too. All the big party fundraisers went into overdrive to curry support for him. He also got incredibly favorable press coverage from a normally cynical political media contingent.

After winning state-wide, it was immediately clear: this was a mere stepping stone to the White House. So he glossed over his day-to-day duties, delegating those to others. He focused on expanding his national profile; he wrote a self-promoting campaign-intended memoir—even though he had accomplished absolutely nothing in his life except for winning an election—so he wrote about the only thing he knew anything about: himself and his relationship to his namesake father and his father‘s family.

The media—predicting Big Things—began comparing him to past political icons—including Ronald Reagan.

The hype grew and grew—way beyond what this young man deserved or had earned. But he didn’t see it that way. No, he saw himself—as his mother had always told him—as the new Savior; the new sheriff riding into town to clean it up. And anyone who said, “No,” to him was to quickly be dispatched far away. It was his way—or the highway.

[Any idea - yet - who we are talking about?]

So the time to run for President of the United States came—and he ran in a long, arduous, difficult two-person race. He was upset in the New Hampshire primary and then the race stretched on for months. He eventually won—but it was closer than it should have been given the free and favorable coverage given him by a media that really helped him along the way.

He won the general election and was inaugurated amid high hopes and great fanfare.

His presidency began with bold pronouncements and a desire to take the nation in a totally new and different direction—different even that what he had pledged a few month earlier in the campaign. With a Congress of the same party, there was no force to check the President’s excesses. So the two branches of government reinforced each others’ worst extremes—and federal spending exploded.

When the new President needed something controversial from Congress, he simply held a gun to their head and demanded and threatened dire national consequences if they didn’t give him everything he wanted—at once! And the Congress buckled to the popular new President’s wishes.

[Any idea yet which President we are talking about here?]

Massive new federal spending followed. Unbelievably wasteful projects in Members’ districts were a part of this, along with federal subsidies and bail-outs of private corporations. And the true costs of new spending programs were kept secret from the Congress and the American people in order to get the popular support needed to pass these new spending bills.

The President himself?

He had high ratings to begin with. His own party gave him anything he asked for. His arrogance grew by leaps and bounds. How could it not? He was getting any and everything he wanted. Snap his fingers and presto—he is given all he asks for! Just like it has always been since his Mother began telling him his life would be this way.

And over the years he had become petulant, too—like a spoiled child—because no one had ever said, “No,” to him. But DC is a tough place—and no President gets everything he wants. Well, he would show ‘em! No one dares deny me what I want!

With this arrogance and hubris came a false pride that caused him even to intercede in local issues which are not part of a President’s job description. But he saw himself as ‘above’ the regular presidency—he was, after all, God’s gift to the world. So he stepped into a local situation fraught with emotion on both sides—and it was a huge mistake. It caused his poll ratings to decline even more quickly.

Politically he took his party to the far fringe of the political spectrum—far, far away from the crucial political ‘middle’ and thus doomed his party to losses in mid-term elections.

[Figured it out yet? Who is the President of the United States described here?]

As a political figure he proved surprisingly inept at speaking without a script or the TelePrompter. Halting speech, many pauses and “ahs” and “ums” punctuated his off-the-cuff speaking style.

His presidency’s signature issue was motivated by a private grudge he held from an event involving his family that occurred several years before he was elected. This event churned inside him—and now that he commanded the Political Universe—he used all his Presidential powers to bully, force, jam, finagle, goad, press the nation and the Congress to enact a law that “paid back” those who aggrieved him and his family years earlier. This singular action would lurch the nation into massive new deficits—and damage the national economy for decades to come.

The President, in his arrogance and hubris, also never could bring himself to say he was “wrong” or he was “sorry” for any mistake he made.

What of the American people in all of this?

They had hopes after the election that the new President would be able to go to DC and solve some of the nagging problems gripping our nation. But, after an initial honeymoon that lasted about six months, they soon re-divided into roughly 50-50 blocs: Red states and Blue states. However, with a Congress and a President of the same party they ignored public opinion and dragged the country in one direction - even with half the American people in total disagreement.

[Any idea yet who this is all about?]

History judges Presidents according to the likes and dislikes of the historian writing his or her particular take on an era and a President. So some will adore something others will detest. It is up to each of us to decide what we think of a President—not just his personal attributes—but whether what he does is good or bad for our nation.

OK. It is time now to reveal which President is described above:

Is it:

A) Barack Obama?
B) George W. Bush?
C) Both?

The answer is C - this column describes both G.W. Bush and Barack Obama and how similar they are as people and as political leaders coming, as they do, from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

In fact, they are mirror opposites of each other.

And we, as Americans, have now twice in a row selected Presidents Hell-bent on taking the country in a direction that will bankrupt the nation.

In 2012 we have to do better.

Obama’s Disdain for Authority

President Obama’s diatribe against the Cambridge cops about the arrest of his “friend”, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates contains perhaps more than the so-called Mainstream Media is reporting.

In fact, Barack Obama had his own ongoing ‘problem’ with the Cambridge police while he attended Harvard Law School.

As first reported in March 2007 by the Somerville Times, Harvard law student Barack Obama accumulated 17 unpaid parking tickets between 1989-1991—and never paid the fines ad associated penalties totaling $375 until a few weeks before announcing his presidential campaign.

In other words, as a practicing lawyer in Chicago, he allowed these tickets and penalties to remain unpaid; as an Illinois State Senator he allowed these tickets and fines to remain unpaid; and as a United States Senator he allowed these almost-two-decade-old signs of his disdain for the law to remain unpaid.

As the Washington Post reported in 2007, “Obama received 17 parking tickets in Cambridge between 1988 and 1991, mostly for parking in a bus stop, parking without a resident permit and failing to pay the meter, records from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation office show.”

Only when he was afraid that the media would dig this up as he launched his presidential campaign did he swallow his scofflaw attitude and pay what he owed to Cambridge.

Indeed, the MSM all but ignored this incident; they have been “in the tank” for Obama since he spoke at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Of course they were never going to reveal anything unflattering about their new ‘Post-Racial Hero.’

But the unexpected diatribe at Wednesday evening’s press conference reveals a long-standing and perhaps deep-seeded attitude toward the Cambridge police department—and maybe toward authority in general.

(Having lived there for six years, I can attest that the Cambridge Police are professional, courteous and respectful of the tens of thousands of students and foreigners and people of color who inhabit their city.)

Here is what we now have learned:

At the mention of Professor Gates, Obama could not contain himself; his self-discipline eroded and he slurred the Cambridge police as “stupid.”

He stepped all over his health care press conference—to the point that the network news has—for over 24 hours—focused more on the Gates-Obama story than the progress of the health care bills in Congress;

At a time when his poll rating are declining steadily, the last thing President Obama wants are stories exploring the whys of his decades as a scofflaw;

Perhaps all of this reveals much about our new President: not only his attitude toward the police, but why he developed a cool exterior to hide much underneath.

Clearly we do not know Barack Obama as well as we should. Criticizing the first black President is a risky endeavor. But he has now opened the door—just a smidgen—but it is open at last.

We have a right to know this fellow’s true opinions—not just about the “stupid” police—but about many other things he so far has cleverly and cynically kept from us.

Let us hope we learn these things—soon—before he leads us to places we cannot come back from.

Obama, Palin and Politics Today

Obama is declining—his ratings on his handling of the economy are actually plummeting—and the honeymoon is rapidly coming to an end. Opposition to his policies is hardening - and he is in a race to pass as much of his agenda before Democrats in the House get cold feet in advance of he 2010 mid-term elections.

Americans want progress; they expected some improvement by now after all the grandiose promises from Team Obama. The problem with creating the image of The One or The New Messiah is that expectations are then raised to such a high level that no one could ever meet those expectations.

The Obama White House cannot match the promises of the Obama Campaign in 2007-2009; yet they are going to be held up against those promises and pledges.

Polls show support for the President’s handling of the economy is declining. Stories are leaking that there is panic inside the Obama Economic Team over the failure of the Stimulus Bill to reverse the downward jobs picture. Thus the renewed talk lately of a “second stimulus” —all while we have our first Trillion Dollar Deficit—with three months left in the fiscal year!

The jobs picture is ugly; the President himself has now backtracked on the short-term picture and even he predicts it will get worse before it gets better.

Now we see a new push from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to “rahm” the nationalization of heath care down Congress’ throats in the next few weeks - all before they read the polls about how a plurality of Americans now oppose this bill.

So the clock is ticking on the aggressive, leftward agenda of the new Administration. They know they have to pass as much of their program between now and the early fall or else the window closes and the 2010 political season begins.

But what of the Republicans?

Nada. Zip. Nolo Contendre.

The GOP—as a national force—is presently in hibernation.

All the attention lately—instead of a coherent, simple and clear-cut message of credible fiscal conservatism—has been on the odd behaviors of Mark Sanford and his Argentinian ‘soul mate’ mistress followed by more drama from an erratic, over-wrought and almost sad Sarah Palin.

While Sanford is finished as a national figure, Palin is clearly not. She has a reservoir of support; the same people who loved G.W. Bush when he first ran for President in 1999 and 2000 love her now.

But there are differences in her status: the GOP candidates for Governor this year in Virginia—and New Jersey where Chris Christie leads Governor Jon Corzine by 8 points—have announced that they will not have Governor Palin in to campaign for them.

There appears to be too much downside to Palin—a toxicity that scares off these credible candidates with legitimate chances to win this November.

Still, Palin can draw big crowds and raise money and thus she will have a place inside the GOP and the conservative movement for a while to come.

But she brings more baggage than assets.

If we want to win in 2012, then we need a new candidate—perhaps someone not even on the scene today who has none of the Bush-Cheney-McCain taint on them.

The present group of GOP leaders are a desultory crew with no joy, no pizzazz and no charisma.

But despair not: who ever heard of Obama a few years ago?

Why can’t a new GOP/conservative star arise between now and 2012?

Breakthrough for the Vets

Do you want to know what was—and still is—unbelievably sad? Incredibly wrong? And just plan un-American?

That at one time over 200,000 of our soldiers who had served in the Vietnam War and had come home were in prison—many for problems related either to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)—once called ’combat fatigue’—or related addictions to drugs or alcohol.

Many of our troops during Vietnam had gotten hooked on drugs or booze just to cope with the agonies of that war or injuries sustained there. Then they came home and were often treated like ‘war criminals,’ as the New Left labeled them in those days.

And then, sure enough, when they ran into problems with the criminal justice system and an unforgiving pubic attitude toward their problems, they were thrown into jail as if they were apart of the criminal element.

This was—and remains—one of the most disgraceful examples of betrayal in American history.

Now, once again, we are faced with hundreds of thousands of returning veterans from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with many of the same severe problems: brain injuries and severe concussions (from IEDs)—often mis or un-diagnosed—and PTSD and addictions to prescription and non-prescription drugs and alcohol.

These vets are now also running into trouble back home trying to re-adjust to life stateside.

Here is a typical example: a US Army veteran who served three tours in Iraq. He had been trained to never go anywhere in Baghdad without his firearm firmly in his holster. OK. He survives that Hell-hole over there and returns to his home in New York City, where he remains in the Army Reserve. He does not feel safe without that firearm still strapped to his belt; his Army training had kept him alive and he could not and would not abandon its lessons. Sure enough—without doing a thing—he is arrested under NYC’s very strict new gun laws. Mere possession of a hand-gun means an automatic one-to-three year prison sentence. And that heroic veteran was sent to state prison!

This is true!

And it is just plain wrong!

Are we going to repeat the mistakes of the Vietnam War Era? Are we going to turn our back on these wonderful men and women who risk life and limb for us?

This week in New York City there was an announcement that someday will be viewed as an epic turning point in the care of our returning veterans:

Three District Attorneys—from Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County—joined with the Chief Judge of New York State, Thomas Lippman, and the Veterans Administration and some generous private charities to announce the first-in-the-nation Veterans Mental Health Court Initiative.

This program will handle those cases which involve veterans who commit non-violent crimes and who should receive treatment for their mental illness rather than be incarcerated. This will be the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the nation, involving two urban counties (Brooklyn & Queens) and one suburban county (Nassau) with a combined population of 6 million persons.

The New York Times story can be found here, and the NEWSDAY story here.

The real impetus for this program is to avoid that indifference we showed the returning Viet Nam Vets. They became addicts in combat or from the addictive pain medication received for their wounds. And then when they used drugs, or sold drugs to feed their habits, rather than treat them we put them in prison, often for many years.

This Veterans Mental Health Court Initiative will be very, very popular around the nation when veterans and their families hear about it.

We need every District Attorney in every county and municipality in our nation to implement a similar program, with the appropriate training for the judges who will preside over these special courts.

All our vets out there need to prod their DAs to follow the example this week of these pioneering DAs in New York.

This week’s announcement here in New York City is a turning point in our history. We are changing from the disgraceful way we used to treat our vets into a smart, flexible system which adjusts to the realities of war.

Please spread the word far and wide!!!

The Odd Palin Resignation

It has just been announced—on a Friday afternoon of a holiday long weekend—that Sarah Palin is giving up her Alaskan Governorship with a year and a half remaining in her term.

What is going on here?

Why is this happening?

Who has ever heard of giving up a governorship mid-term to—allegedly—run for the 2012 GOP nomination which is three plus years away!!??

Am scanning the TV and these debases are not seeing this thing right: they are not asking the key why on a Friday afternoon question.

Friday afternoon is the time you dump out bad news in hopes of it getting lost in the Friday late-afternoon weekend getaway syndrome.

But if Palin is all well and happy, why make such a sudden announcement like this? Why not hype it and make a big deal out of it by getting the national press to come up to Wasilla? No, she suddenly announces this today—on a Friday before the Fourth of July?

No, there is something more here. After John Ensign and Mark Sanford, there is something bad going on here. She may very well be being forced from office—suddenly indeed—because of some threatened revelation.

Am amazed at the idiocy of the so-called “political analysts” on TV; they are not thinking smartly at all. They don’t see—or don’t want to see—that this story smells to high heaven!

OK. Let’s watch this as it develops. One thing is guaranteed: it isn’t what it seems.