Friday, March 9, 2007

59. Obama - and Nixon as a New Deal president

If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience in Dover, New Hampshire. Mrs. Clinton said that on February 17th. I may take her up on that. There has been no more all-consuming issue in my adult life that the poorly defined execution of the current Iraq War.

I've been weaving my way between support for Mrs. Clinton and support for Mr. Obama, in much the same way I've been roaming around in other churches because there are issues in mine which cause me concern. I like Mrs. Clinton. And I like Senator Obama as well. As to her, I firmly believe that having served as First Lady under Bill Clinton for eight very hectic years, in addtion to serving eight years in the United States Senate, is probably as good a training as you can get in preparation to lead the Free World from the Oval Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in the capital city of our Republic. I've always felt that the most prepared presidents came from the Senate. That's isn't to say they were necessarily the best, but they were the most prepared, and usually most able. But, that hasn't been the trend recently. But then recently, with the exception of Mr. Clinton, our presidents haven't been exceptional.

Bush, of course, was perhaps the least prepared of any president in [recent] history, ranking up there with Jimmy Carter. But, Carter did have some military service and was unquestionably an intellectual. Bush's military service was in the Alabama National Guard working for the political campaign of some friend of his father's. As to his intellect, no one has ever talked about it. It is as if it isn't there. The senior Bush served two terms in the House but failed in his only Senate bid. However, he came to the White House with an incredible resume of service both to the country and his political party. He also had left the United States Navy with the rank of lieutenant, having served in World War II.

Ronald Reagan led the world's fifth largest government when he served as Governor of California. For some insight into that era, you might want to read how he handled the Free Speech movement at California-Berkely. I'd recommend Professor Rorabuagh's Berkeley At War. Prior to serving as governor, he had no other government experience. As president, he nearly destroyed our country with his trickle-down economics, a theory his successor correctly labelled a form of voodoo. Up until Bush fils, he held the record for running up the deepest credit card bill the Republic had ever known. As nice an image as he portrayed, and as good as he made most of us feel, he was a horrible president, unable to handle the reality of running a government, constrained by laws and a constitution.

To get back to a Senator serving as president, you have to go to Nixon, the most unusual man ever to occupy the office. His predecessor, Lyndon Baines Johnson, also a powerful senator, was probably the second most unusual man ever to hold the office. But each of them used their senate collegiality to pass legislation that otherwise would not have been passed under a weaker - or less committed - president. President Nixon was, arguably, the last New Deal president, using the power of the country, to push along initiatives of the country in helping its people. He sponsored and sigend the EPA, the Water Quality Act, the Endangered Species Act, OSHA, the racial quota system sometimes called the Philadelphia Plan, and the Title IX nine law dealing with various aspects of women's rights, and for people my age, the bill that caused a lot of new high school gyms to be built, with the school usually allocating the "old" gym to the ladies, while the "new" gym was for the men. Finally, Nixon's Civil Rights Attorney wasn't someone handpicked by James Dobson and Trent Lott, but rather was someone named Leon Panetta. And how did he do all that? He had help from his friends in the Senate. And he had watched LBJ struggle valiantly with the issues that were important to him, while suffering under the burden of the Vietnam War, a war that draws parallels with today's War in Iraq (and maybe Iran, soon). Like LBJ, he knew the secret to governing lay at the other end of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

So, the time has come to promote a United States Senator from the second most exclusive club in the world, to the first, the one whose membership currently stands at 42 (since Grover Cleveland joined twice). I believe the 44th president of our Republic should be a sitting U. S. Senator. I have pointed out that I am not happy with Senator Clinton on the War. I will add there are issues on which Senator Obama's votes and rhetoric has been less than satisfactory, in particular his left-of-center but nonetheless waffling on some gay rights issues, and more importantly his support for the 700 Mile Mexican Wall and all that entails, including by extension the prisoner-of-war type camps America is operating in south Texas, about which I have written in a previous post.

But, broadly speaking, I think he is where our country needs to be on a number of other issues, especially on the War in Iraq. So, I am hoping that for the first time in my life, I will voting for a candidate for president who is younger than me. I was born in September 1960, just a little over one year after the Hawaiian Islands achieved American statehood by a vote in the United States Congress. Senator Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4, 1961.

1 comment:

Nick Stump said...

I'm still trying to figure out this '08 Presidential election, and I suppose my confusion is reasonable as the election is still a long way off.

Did you see Jim Webb on George Stephanopolis this morning? Webb is pleased with this diplomatic efforts made with other countries in the middle east, and though we never actually sat face to face with the representative from Iran, Senator Webb thought this current move by the adminstation is the the right one. I trust Senator Webb to be one of the few real "straight talkers" in Congress and so I find his approval of these new diplomatic efforts gives me hope that diplomacy might yet take root and yield fruit.

Stephanopolis also asked Webb if he was interested in the Vice-President position, as there has been a big push on the blogosphere. Senator Webb smiled and as usual answered the question not asked, choosing to speak to the number of people incarcerated in this country.

Webb's non-answer to this question leaves the door open to him becoming the vice-president. Though I believe Webb to be Presidential material, maybe even a better choice than our current selections--I was at first put off by the thought he would leave the Senate for the chance to be 2nd man.

However, seeing the work of Al Gore and Dick Cheney in the last two administrations, and realizing the office of VP can indeed be a place of power, I'm beginning to believe Webb should take this job if offered.

If Webb was given the chance to be a real working vice-president, I suspect he would be long remembered for his work in that office and being Vice President would put him in line to be the first choice the next time around.

Having Webb at the top of the ticket sometime in the future would make me very happy indeed.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.