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National Democrats

24
With the Irish Prime Minister sitting beside him, Obama said Republicans are against education. Infrastructure. Research. The things needed to create jobs. National defense. And the middle class.
 
Then having thrown down the gauntlet, and concisely summed up how he felt about the Republican budget, the President rolled out the welcome mat for the Prime Minister.
 
Next I turned to a stack of newspaper clippings about Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker – looking for an answer to Obama.
 
Walker was criticizing unions.
 
Cruz was criticizing Obama’s deal with Iran.  
 
Paul was talking about criminal justice reform.
 
And Bush was saying it’s the President’s job to reweave civility into political discourse.
 
Answering Obama would have been as simple as saying, If you don’t agree with the President about how big the federal government ought to be – he says you’re against the middle class. Now, does that really make sense?  
 
But no voice took up the gauntlet.


 

 

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16
Back when Navy Seals evened the score with Osama bin Laden, the Secretary of Defense proclaimed “defeating al-Qaeda” was within our grasp. Victory was at hand.
 
Then the wheel came off the cart.
 
And now up in Washington the Director of National Intelligence is telling Congress the threat of ‘terrorism is worse than at any point in history.’
 
How did we wind up in this train wreck?
 
The answer is harsh: We deceived ourselves.

We were never on the verge of victory.
 
And – no matter what we were promised when we invaded Iraq – there was never going to be a limited war with a quick and painless victory.
 
And after the fighting was done in Iraq we were never going to be able to quickly pack up and come home – because if we failed to lay a foundation for peace (with a successful occupation) we’d end up with… ISIS.
 
We’re also learning there’s no substitute for a leader (in the White House) who can explain the wickedness of ISIS. Politically-correct talk rationalizing beheadings (by saying they are the result of poverty or political alienation) doesn’t cut it – and neither do euphemisms (like calling ISIS simply a new kind of ‘Violent Extremism’) that infer ISIS selling infidel women as slaves has nothing to do with its peculiar version of Islam.  
 
We’ve spent over a decade learning the hard way: One mistake at a time.
 
The American people arenow (according to a new poll) ready to fight ISIS. And send troops into combat.
 
And what about the President? He says we can defeat ISIS with one more quick, painless, limited war.
 


 

 

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11
Over a decade ago some genius up in Washington – I think it may have been Donald Rumsfeld – figured we could conquer Iraq with 150,000 soldiers; that we could fight a little war with a little pain and have the troops home by Christmas – so we rolled straight into Baghdad then found out occupying a nation of 30 million people with 150,000 soldiers wasn’t such a good idea.
 
The occupation turned into a quagmire. The roof fell in. We ended up with ISIS.
 
It was the repeat of an old story: If you go to war use overwhelming force. It hurts more in the short run but pays off in the long run. You don’t get sunk by the inevitable surprises and miscalculations.
 
Now we’re facing another war and President Obama’s sent a bill to Congress – called an “Authorization to Use Military Force” – and it’s like déjà vu all over again.
 
We fought one limited war to whip Saddam and got ISIS.
 
And now we’re about to fight another to whip ISIS and Lord knows what we’ll get next.
 
There’s not much doubt we need a leader with conviction (and, maybe, meanness) to whip ISIS but even more, to avoid another quagmire, this time we need a leader with the courage to tell the hard truth – rather than promising he can get the job done with a little war with a little pain.


 

 

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09
Before any 2016 death match, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush face a death march through the media and their own parties’ chattering crowds.
 
Last week’s crisis was Clinton’s email while Secretary of State. The DC media pounced and some Democrats went into a frenzy of fretting: The Clintons are their own worst enemies! They think they’re above the rules! They can’t handle the media! Hillary can’t get her own campaign organized!
 
While the rest of us wondered: Who cares?
 
(The most interesting development was Lindsay Graham saying he has never sent an email. Really? Never? Isn’t that a Constitutional requirement to be President?)
 
Bush faces his own media/party critique: He’s too moderate! Conservatives in Iowa don’t like him! Even Republicans have Bush fatigue! His charter school in Florida failed!
 
This is all gripping chatter to those who like to chatter. But now is a good time to remind yourself that no real votes will be cast for nearly 10 months.
 
You can breathlessly follow all this all year if you want. After all, either Clinton or Bush, or other candidates, could chase a rabbit off a cliff any time.
 
Or you could save your breath. There’s a long way to go.

 

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09
President Obama held a summit up in Washington about terrorism but decided not to say the words ‘Muslim terrorist.’
 
Instead, he announced, he was leading a crusade to stop ‘Violent Extremism’ and, then he put his finger on the root cause of the villainy: Violent Extremism, he said, is caused by political disenfranchisement and poverty.
 
Then he spelled out the cure: Human Rights. Religious tolerance. And peaceful dialogue.
 
Which sounded sensible and ecumenical and logical except for one obvious contradiction: Our own nation was founded in war by revolutionaries disenfranchised by a corrupt King but they didn’t go around chopping off innocent people’s heads.


 

 

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05
This is about as good a tale of conniving as I’ve heard: I can’t remember why but forty years ago back in 1976 the state legislature moved our Presidential primary up from May to March – then the unexpected struck and Ronald Reagan whipped Gerald Ford.
 
It was the first time Reagan won a primary. And the only time a sitting President ever lost a primary. And it turned the 1976 election upside down.
 
Down in South Carolina, watching, inspiration struck Lee Atwater and, after a bit of conniving of his own, Lee got South Carolina to move its primary up so in 1980 South Carolina was the ‘first primary in the South.’
 
Atwater’s plan worked better than he ever imagined. The winner of the South Carolina’s primary has gone on to win the Republican nomination in 8 of the last 9 Presidential elections.
 
In fact, South Carolina liked its new status so much, at some point, it got together with Iowa and New Hampshire and persuaded the Republican National Committee to pass a rule saying no other state could hold a primary before March 1.
 
At the same time, after the 1976 election, the North Carolina legislature went back to business as usual – and holding primaries in May – and for the last 40 years the North Carolina’s Republican Primary hasn’t mattered a toot.
 
Which suited Democrats just fine – after all about the last thing, say, Jim Hunt wanted was a liberal like Walter Mondale or Michael Duhakis or Al Gore traipsing across the state while he was running for reelection.
 
But, then, Republicans took control of the legislature and decided we’d been sitting on the Presidential sidelines long enough and moved our primary up to the week after South Carolina’s.
 
Which seemed reasonable.
 
But, oddly, sent national Republican Chairman Reince Preibus into a tizzy – Preibus announced North Carolina would not be allowed to hold its primary before March 1 and, he added, if we tried he’d take away 60 of North Carolina’s 72 delegates to the Republican Convention.
 
Those sounded like fighting words but, rather than calling Preibus out, North Carolina’s Republican Chairman decided to strike the flag and traipsed over to the legislature to ask it to move the primary.
 
The State House played its cards pretty close to the vest and didn’t say much either way about Priebus’s edict. But Republican State Senator Bob Rucho didn’t buy it – Rucho stuck to his guns and he’s got a point.
 
It’s as easy for the National Republican Committee to change its rule as it is for us to change our law – and, after 40 years of playing second fiddle to South Carolina, it’s time to unwind this bit of political conniving.


 

 

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04
The Reverend William Barber got up to pray at a memorial service for three Muslim students killed in Chapel Hill and, right in the middle of his prayer, pointed his finger straight at Reverend Franklin Graham and said Graham lit the fuse to the powder keg that led to the murders.
 
Barber’s thinking went like this: He said Graham spoke out against Muslim students’ right to pray in Duke Chapel which poisoned the “Atmosphere” which triggered hatred of Muslims which drove an atheist from Chapel Hill to murder.
 
Meantime, in Washington, the Obama Administration’s explaining a theory of its own, saying young men join ISIS and become terrorists because of broken Political Systems – in places like Syria – that breed corruption and poverty .
 
So we have two new explanations for murder: The Atmosphere. And the System.
 
And the problem is obvious: A lot of poor politically disenfranchised young men never chop off a anyone’s head.
 
So why are they different?
 
Could it be Reverend Barber and President Obama have missed a darker power (that’s more capable of murder than the Atmosphere or a Broken System) that’s whispering to the young men who become terrorists?


 

 

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26
A snow-day deep-dive into current political commentary finds three things. One, Republicans are becoming more and more deranged. Two, Democrats are falling deeper and deeper into despair. And, three, it’s all about President Obama.
 
Politics has come unhinged since Election Day 2008 and the election of a black President. It just gets worse as time goes on and he stays in the White House.
 
Look at the Republicans lately. Rudy Giuliani says Obama doesn’t love him or America, which Giuliani apparently considers one and the same thing. Scott Walker isn’t sure Obama is a Christian. Bobby Jindal doesn’t think the President who ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden, drone attacks on al Qaeda and a war on ISIS is protecting us. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell want to shut down Homeland Security because they’re mad at Obama about immigration.
 
Democrats can’t or won’t see that all their problems are simply part of the reaction to Obama. Witness the DNC task force that bemoaned the 2014 election results. Its solution is this gobbledygook from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear: “We need a cohesive, values-based narrative that quickly and succinctly defines our beliefs and helps voters identify with who we are and how we best represent them.”
 
Get a grip.
 
Democrats ought to be proud. They did something historic, remarkable and praise-worthy. After centuries of slavery and decades of discrimination, they elected the first African-American President. He and Democrats then saved us from a depression, saved the banks, saved the auto industry, gave millions of Americans affordable health care, attacked climate change, knocked down walls of discrimination, reduced the federal deficit, drew down two wars, killed the world’s number-one terrorist and got America back on track after eight years of war, waste and mismanagement.
 
Naturally, there has been a reaction. There always is. American history is two steps forward, one step back.
 
This too shall pass. Obama will be gone in two years. Then we’ll get back to more familiar turf, back to doing what we’ve done for nearly 30 years: hating the Bushes or hating the Clintons. 

 

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13
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt looked the American people in the eye and said, December 7th is a day that will live in infamy forever.
 
After ISIS burned a hostage alive, President Obama told the American people, We’ve done some pretty bad things ourselves.
 
Which is the proper response to a moral outrage?
 
We need Horatius at the Bridge in the White House but have Hamlet giving a soliloquy on moral relativism: They’ve sinned. We’ve sinned. They’ve done terrible things in the name of Allah. We’ve done terrible things in Christ’s name. We are all alike.
 
It’s the devil’s own argument breeding moral ambivalence and we wouldn’t be the first poor fools blinded by it.
 
Lord knows, we’ve committed sins. But we’ve also deposed Kings, vanquished tyrants, whipped Hitler – and never asked for a thing in return.  
 
The day before the President’s soliloquy the United Nations reported ISIS has been “crucifying Iraqi children and burying them alive.” 
 
It’s time for Hamlet to move past ambivalence and stop asking, Are we any better than ISIS?

 

 

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03
Bush’s steady and Hilary’s experienced and it all looks familiar but deep within the earth hidden rivers are flowing that may turn the Presidential race upside down.
 
No one had seen a caliph or caliphate for a millennium. Then, suddenly, in Yemen, Nigeria, North Africa, Syria and Iraq we have caliphates – and women sold as slaves, towns razed and hostages beheaded (or burned).
 
We have terrorist attacks from Australia to Paris and, in Saudi Arabia, an ‘enlightened’ country, the government has ordered a man publicly flogged, given 1000 lashes in front of a mosque for blasphemy.
                                                                                   
A year more of this and we may not be looking for a President whose steady or reliable – we may be looking for a warrior to whip the Huns. And someone who looks hard-edged, abrasive and unbending today, like Ted Cruz, may fit the bill.


 

 

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