Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Explaining Limbaugh

Weekly Wednesday Presidential Politics - 2/20/07

One has to wonder, when Rush Limbaugh previewed and framed a potential John McCain nomination as a precursor to a "fracture" in the Republican Party, did he intend for it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I will not use this space to analyze Limbaugh's animus towards McCain, nor will I appraise his intent. I will, however, examine the possibility that if the Republican Party does indeed split upon McCain's official ascension to Republican nominee, would McCain have any shot of winning the White House? And if not, can we not assume that Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and co., whom despite being inarguably self-promotive and agenda-driven are brilliant and talented pundits, knew they were hurting the Republicans' November chances when they made their audacious attacks against Arizona's Senior Senator? If so, is the conservative base planning to punt the 2008 general election, hoping to hand off a sliding economy, an acrimonious international relationship, an increasingly hostile Muslim world, and a perilously prodigious debt to the Democrats, in hopes of licking their wounds and coming back strong with, say, Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in 2012? And if that's the case, do the Limbaugh's and Hannity's of the world really think it is crucial to keep a Republican in the Oval Office after all?

Let us start at the beginning. Thanks to weeks of consistent and calculated comments from the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter, an unusually incohesive Republican Party was experiencing a prelude to a civil war. It would pit the social conservative base, flanked by the conservative media, against everyone else who called themselves a Republican, which meant social conservatives, moderates, war hawks, and red-staters caught in blue states - blue states which very much play a role in the nomination process of the Republican Party. There are shades of the English Civil War, when Anglicans and Catholics teamed up to take on all comers.

The aim of the social conservatives was to rally enough Republican support around Mitt Romney before McCain opened up too large of a lead in pledged delegates. To this end, they failed. Miserably. Romney won less than a third of McCain's delegates and pulled out of the race soon thereafter. At that point, the two Republican candidates that Rush Limbaugh continually denounced, McCain and Mike Huckabee, were the only two viable candidates that remained.

Now, all of a sudden, Huckabee isn't looking too bad, despite his fiscally and executively liberal (for a Republican) tendencies. When compared to McCain, conservatives drool over Mike Huckabee. It probably explains why Huckabee forges on in a race he cannot win. He is the last hope of Republicans who cannot bear to see McCain represent their party. Despite his success in the states below the Mason-Dixon line, however, Huckabee has no realistic avenue to victory.

Here's what political pundits cannot escape, though: We knew Huckabee could only compete in the southern states. We knew Mitt Romney could not compete with McCain in the big ones. Surely, if amateur bloggers are predicting the Republican race since New Hampshire and South Carolina, Limbaugh, Coulter, and Hannity must have seen it coming, too.

Why, then, did they move forward with the assault on McCain? Surely they realized that verbal attacks on McCain's conservatism would hurt McCain's chances in November, and, by extension, hurt the chances of the Republican Party. Only one conclusion can be drawn.

They do not want a member of the Republican Party to be sworn in upon President Bush's exit on January 20th. The Republican Bush Administration, and for 3/4 of their stay in Washington, a Republican Congress, saw a steady downfall in approval both from the American people and foreign countries from all continents. The reasons were loud and clear.

A rash and incautious war with poor results has produced more tentacles of terror on a headless foe. Irresponsible spending from the self-proclaimed fiscally faithful party has produced an outrageous debt never before seen in history, perhaps irrevocably damaging the United States economy. These policies have concussed the working class to the point where even our ever-optimistic President must admit we are in uncertain economic times. The median salary falls while the number of millionaires and billionaires grow. The United States is still tending to fractured relationships with foreign allies who stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. as 2001 came to a close, only to steadily put distance between themselves and the unrelentingly bellicose world superpower.

The next President faces these challenges and more. Is it at all possible that the Republican base wants no part of a battle that is, at best, uphill, and, at worst, a brick wall? In fact, from a Republican perspective, either a Democrat inherits this mess and fails, or McCain inherits this mess and fails. Either way, in four years, while the U.S. and the world are still shattered in partisan and precarious pieces, Republicans put up a strong social conservative who claims to be the broom.

If this is truly their intent - to sacrifice 2008 in order to regain power in 2012 - one can only wonder how much they really do want an established presence in Iraq. One can only wonder how much they really do want President Bush's tax cuts to stay in place. One can only wonder if they really worry about the impending Supreme Court retirements and appointments that could overturn Roe. One can only wonder how sincerely they believe that the growing Islamo-fascist threat must be dealt with through concentrated and unilateral force.

Because if these issues were truly as imperative and paramount as they claim, how can they possibly live with themselves if they split their party and allow a Democrat in the west wing of the White House? It is as monstrously mindless as it is myopic, though Democrats might argue that such a characterization of the Republican Party is neither surprising nor new. Even more would argue that partisan games are being played with the future of this country.

The attitude of the Republican base is ultimately as defeatist as they accuse their ideological adversaries of being in foreign policy. To them, the November 2008 elections will produce no winners, just someone who gets more votes.

(IC is a bi-weekly contributor to 1% More Conscious. He blogs almost daily at his website Presidential Politics for America.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Target Michelle

Target Michelle

Here we go again: Apparently, all Republican & Mainstream Media Talking Heads received their Marching Points Memo yesterday on the ever elegant Michelle Obama. Yeah, I sort of figured this out when on Larry King last night right winger David Scum (Frum) made a BIG deal about Mrs. Obama's comment in which she asserted that this was the first time she was proud of her country.

This morning, on Morning Smoe, Joe Scarborough almost foamed at the mouth over the comment. Even when Mika Brzezinski tried to tame the Smoe and explain that there was much ado about nothing, Smoe practically went into apoplexy. Perhaps Smoe was auditioning for Best Actor-R in a morning show drama. Puhleeze!

What do we do with this information? Take it in--and get ready. It's quite obvious that an emerging "smear" strategy against Barack is gaining traction: Question patriotism, point out his and her disrespect to our country, call them...leftists, if not fun-loving Muslim sympathizers. This strategy will be all the more in play once he--and I suspect he will--secures the nomination and crazy--national security--Bomb, Bomb McCainy is the extreme patriot whom Obama will run against.

In an election when we Democrats invest in change, when we try to look forward to the future, post Bush, which this country so desperately needs, the Republicans, I'm afraid, won't change a thing, including how they target and smear their opposition.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coming to a Classroom Near You: The Homework Debate Redux

Coming to a Classroom Near You: The Homework Debate Redux

Oh, no—not again! Just when I was ready to crawl under a rock to protect myself from the stupidity of public education—I’m an educator by the way, the ever-hideous homework debate, courtesy of stupid-dome, crash lands yet again on the shores of reality. My protective rock is gone—and so is a bit of my sanity.

Those who make the case against homework claim that it doesn’t help. Rather, they allege that it detracts students from their families, from their extra-curricular activities, from their jobs, and, oh lord, from their social lives. Theorists posit that there’s no solid connection between homework and academic achievement, especially in grade school. Sure, the theorists may have a point with excessive homework at the elementary level; the little ones can only develop so fast after all. But they certainly could benefit from age-appropriate practice at home, so let’s not go crazy.

What is CRAZY is how some theorists extend their arguments to middle and high school students, who desperately need as much practice with skill development and content acquisition as possible. Certainly, any excessive and irrelevant homework assignments may turn students off, as the theorists suggest. But manageable amounts and relevant homework could certainly benefit students as they prepare for more complex learning that awaits them in college, in the work force, and in our ever-changing, advanced technological world.

Has anyone looked into how BADLY American high school students under-perform compared to students from other industrialized nations? Has anyone wondered why so many colleges and universities nowadays must offer prerequisite, developmental courses because so many “college age” students cannot test into the standard, beginning 101 courses? Has anyone considered the relationship involving the high failure rates of college freshmen, student preparedness and readiness, and the serious homework demands of an undergraduate education?

Approximately six months ago I decided to play guitar. I have weekly lessons with my guitar Sansei, who’s a great teacher and very patient soul. In order to get better, I obviously have to practice at home. It’s real simple: the more I practice at home, the better I get at guitar, and the better my lessons go. My point: my work at home matters and helps my learning.

So as I aspire to improve at guitar by doing my homework and by rocking out with my bad self, I just might be able to recover my metaphoric rock under which I must return to survive the insanity of the homework debate redux.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Super Mess

A Super Mess

While superdelegates to some may seem strange, they are, in fact, elected officials and party “insiders” who can vote independently in a primary season when it appears that the voters can’t make up their minds.

As talk show host Randi Rhodes discussed on her show today, the superdelegates are becoming--in many ways--a super mess for the Democratic party that has the planets aligned--as of this moment--to reclaim the White House in November. The question is, as Rhodes has so beautifully said: For the Democrats, will this mess create the “snatching of a defeat” from what seems to be the “jaws of victory?” In other words, are we Democrats doomed yet again?

What exactly is “messy,” though, remains in the details.

Take the state of Massachusetts, for example, a primary state where Senator Clinton decisively won. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a superdelegate, recently endorsed and campaigned for Senator Obama. But Senator Kerry’s state on super Tuesday did NOT give a win to Senator Obama. Should he be called to his superdelegate excellency, Senator Kerry will go against the will of his voters and pledge for Senator Obama, which does seem admittedly problematic. Obviously, what applies to Senator Kerry also applies to Senator Kennedy, who will most likely exert his super delegate power for Obama, the candidate he has quite publicly endorsed.

In California, Congresswoman Lynn Woosley has endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton. However, the congresswoman’s Marin and Somona counties DECISIVELY voted for Senator Obama. Like the good senators from Massachusetts, Congresswoman Woosley may also very well vote against the will of her constituents should she have to activate her superdelegate power.

Things are messy. But as we slouch toward the nomination, as we endure the twists and turns of the mainstream media narratives, as we Democrats hope that we can bridge the divides in our party, will we look upon this mess a year from now as something we simply cleaned or will our super mess allow for more messes that another Republican White House can’t help making?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dowdworld Drama

Dowdworld Drama

Get your pencils ready.

Recall the time you took the SAT? And those heinous bubbles?

Well, get over your standardized test-taking anxieties: it’s time to play.

Breathe. Namaste.

Let the force flow


The reasons for the love-fest drama at the democratic debate on Thursday night:

A. Mother Superior Pelosi had after-mass, Sunday detentions.
B. Rev. Reid ruler-knuckled the bad girl—her frat-husband Bill—and the seldom misbehavin’ Barack.
C. Free-wheelin’ Uncle Howie brought it to these insubordinate candidates
D. Hill and Barry wanted to flip-off Mean Girl, always-startin’ drama Dowd for her latest high school-cafeteria antics in her most recent columns.
E. All of the above.

Albeit D is a tempting choice because in Dowdworld, the more drama troll Dowd starts, the more she can write about, I’m selecting E: All of the Above.

WHY the love-fest drama happened is one thing; WHAT the love-fest produced is quite another: speculation over whether or not Hillary and Barack would consider running on the same ticket.

Here’s the real drama that Dowd in her solipsistic, latter mid-life crisis-induced Dowdworld overlooks: Hillary DEFINITELY needs Barack on her ticket; he, in contrast, probably won’t need her.

Yes, should Hillary get the nod, many have said that she might turn to Latino Richardson, she might turn to military man Clark, she might turn to the ever photogenic, sexy white guy Evan Bayh. But after a collage of recent ill-advised blunders, after the “routing” in South Carolina, after losing so much of the base to Barack in the primaries, after Kennedy, Oprah, et al, Hillary, should she squeak by—and should she really want to win in November, would commit a colossal crime for NOT picking Barack.

Of course, for this fairy tale ticket to happen Senator Obama would have to agree. Therein lies another potential colossal problem: in order to attempt to bring his “voters” to her and in order to attempt a win in November, Obama would have to bypass the recent history of Clintonian assault and really rise above for the sake of the team and the party.

Barack, though, doesn’t have the same “ticket” drama should he get the nomination. Truth be told, he could easily leave Billary in the dust and simply move on with another running mate who would strengthen his ticket in ways that Billary cannot. Thus, one can’t help wonder whether or not Billary goes gentle into that good night, pushing beyond a catastrophic loss and, well, repudiation, to campaign for the sake of the party and for the sake of a win despite NOT BEING on the ticket.

These are the real dramas unfolding in the political meta-narrative that continue to take shape day in and day out; these are the stories that beg consideration, analysis, and less high school soap opera treatment that Dowdworld Drama emphasizes.