By Alan Caruba
A RETURN TO BASIC VALUES
By Alan Caruba
I keep hearing about “likeability” and how it influences presidential campaigns. Well, obviously, a candidate or an incumbent needs to be liked, but in the end it is his policies, his vision for the nation that matters.
President Obama has high likeability ratings, but just being likeable is not going to save him from defeat—possibly a defeat on the scale of Jimmy Carter who, though liked, was deemed a failure when it came to the economy and his tendency to blame the American people for his problems. He had come into office on a wave of disgust with the first and only President to resign, Richard M. Nixon, and his likeable replacement, Gerald Ford, paid the price of pardoning him. He needed to be pardoned. America does not send its presidents to jail.
Few would suggest that Nixon was “liked.” Formerly the Vice President under Ike Eisenhower, he too had come into office following the public distaste for Lyndon Johnson’s conduct of the Vietnam War, promising that he had a plan to end it. That “plan” would take the nation into his second term before it was fulfilled. People noticed, but what they really noticed was a colossal failure of judgment called Watergate. Known throughout much of his political career as “Tricky Dickie”, Nixon had as many detractors as supporters.
Indeed, the first likeable President I recall was Dwight Eisenhower, a hero of World War Two who ran on the Republican ticket with the slogan “I like Ike.” He served two terms that don’t get enough credit for any number of accomplishments
After Ike’s second term he would turn the White House over to one of the most likeable candidates of the modern era, John F. Kennedy. Young, handsome, with a beautiful wife, Jackie, JFK gained immortality via assassination, but it should also be remembered the U.S. suffered humiliation with the Bay of Pigs debacle and got its respect back when he confronted the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis that forced Krushchev to back off.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was likeable enough to win a full term for himself against an anti-war candidate, George McGovern, and disliked enough to conclude he should not run for re-election. Nixon replaced him.
Without doubt, Ronald Reagan was likeable. A former movie star and Governor of California, it was the force of his ideas, solidly conservative, anti-communist, and indefatigably optimist about America’s exceptionalism, Reagan joined the pantheon of Presidents to become an icon for his success in office. His Vice President, George H. W. Bush would succeed him. Bush41 was likeable, too, and despite a successful and mercifully short war to force Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, he fell out of favor due to the economy. Ironically, Bush41 had been raised to not toot his own horn.
Bill Clinton was very likeable, to the point where his moral failures have been forgiven, but so is the fact that his initial performance in office was such that the Republicans returned to power in Congress after forty years in the wilderness. Their programs and his good sense to track to the center and adopt them served him well. He is so liked that Barack Obama has had to call him out of retirement to nominate him for a second term in the Democratic Party convention.
The Obama campaign is complaining about the latest New York Times/CBS poll, because of its “methodology.” Their real complaint, however, is with the results. Whereas in April, the poll showed that in a general election match-up between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Obama was ahead among women voters by 49% – 43%, now, in the latest poll, Romney is ahead among women by 46% – 44%, which is within the three-point margin of error, but represents an eight-point swing in one month. After the Sandra Fluke/contraception issue, and the whole “GOP war on women” theme pushed by Obama and his media allies, these numbers seemed surprising. But, in fact, they indicate that a majority of women aren’t buying it.
The part of the poll that upset the Obama campaign even more was the percentage of those polled who believe that Obama made his decision to announce his support for gay marriage for political reasons. That number was 67% versus only 24% who said they believe he did it “mostly because he thinks it is right.” That is hugely significant, and it is a gap, a credibility gap, that reverberates throughout the Obama administration.
The White House’s reliable mouthpiece, Chuck Todd, of MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” said that the poll was “a callback survey, not a traditional poll.” This point was also made by Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, in an interview with Todd. She questioned the methodology. Yet this same poll matched its highest approval rating for Obama in more than two years, 50%, except for a bump he got after the death of Osama bin Laden in May of last year.
The irony is that this poll, like so many others, is skewed to favor Obama. Of those interviewed, 27% generally considered themselves Republican, 35% considered themselves Democrats, and 34% considered themselves independent. And most do not agree with Obama that the economy is getting better. In fact, 63% believe it’s getting worse or is not getting better, and only 36% believe it’s getting better, which is actually an improvement for Obama. By a 46% to 43% margin, they would vote for Romney over Obama if the election were held now. And this is a group in which 45% have a favorable opinion of Obama, while only 31% have the same feeling about Romney. It goes without saying that polls are a snapshot in time, and will certainly move in both directions in the months leading up to the election. And there are other polls showing Obama with a double-digit lead in the gender gap. But this is significant because it comes at a time when the Obama campaign has ramped up, and made a strong push to win over women voters. The media have clearly carried their message for them.
Obama’s Evolution Toward Gay Marriage
It has been obvious for a long time that Obama, despite his public statements to the contrary, did not oppose gay marriage. But now John Heilemann, the liberal columnist writing in New York magazine, has confirmed the extent of the duplicity. According to Heilemann, “Barack Obama knew the ludicrous pretense that his views on the issue were ‘evolving’ was living on borrowed time.
On Tuesday we (and the rest of the free world) mocked the Obama administration for including pitiful addendums at the bottom the biographies of almost every president from the last century.
The Obama administration, true to narcissistic form, don’t really understand why people are making a big deal out of it. Besides, technically, they didn’t change any of the bios:
The Obama White House is drawing ridicule for appending the official online biographies of nearly every president over the last century, in order to link President Barack Obama’s accomplishments to the former commanders-in-chief.
The Obama team went into the pages of US presidents dating back to Calvin Coolidge to add “Did you know?” fact boxes to the end of their bios. Those additions were used to plug a host of Obama administration initiatives.
For instance, the following line was added to the official bio of Ronald Reagan, “In a June 28, 1985, speech, Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multimillionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule.”
The White House defended itself, saying, “No biographies have been altered. We simply added links at the bottom of each page to related whitehouse.gov content, which is a commonly used best practice to encourage people to browse more pages on a site.”
The additions do include links, but each one touts an Obama administration policy or practice in the process.
So it’s kind of like Obama building a monument of himself next to the Lincoln Memorial with the inscription “Yeah, what he said,” and then saying, “What’s the big deal? We didn’t make any changes to the Lincoln thing.” But I’ll stop talking about that because I don’t want to give them any ideas.
When I write that President Obama has “made history,” I’m not referring to this obvious historic first or even the that that Obama is the first president to ever to run up the debt over $5 trillion on his watch. Those things are indeed historic, but the history that’s being made here is in the very literal sense:
The Heritage Foundation’s Rory Cooper tweeted that Obama had casually dropped his own name into Ronald Reagan’s official biography on www.whitehouse.gov, claiming credit for taking up the mantle of Reagan’s tax reform advocacy with his “Buffett Rule” gimmick. My first thought was, he must be joking. But he wasn’t — it turns out Obama has added bullet points bragging about his own accomplishments to the biographical sketches of every single U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge (except, for some reason, Gerald Ford).
On Feb. 22, 1924 Calvin Coolidge became the first president to make a public radio address to the American people. President Coolidge later helped create the Federal Radio Commission, which has now evolved to become the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). President Obama became the first president to hold virtual gatherings and town halls using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.
The Twitterverse finds this extremely mock-worthy, and rightly so.
In the Truman bio, the administration’s historians forgot to mention Obama’s role in the liberation of the Philippines during World War II, but I’m sure they’ll get around to it:
Can you imagine, 151 years ago today, the nation’s greatest president was sworn into office?
And you can read Lincoln’s words, “First Inaugural Address, Monday, March 4, 1861“:
One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, can not be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section, while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other.
Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service.
America’s slide from the forefront of freedom to the swamp of collectivist social engineering didn’t start with the current manager of our decline and his Cavalcade of Czars. It didn’t start with President Obama’s favorite foil and arch-nemesis the man the Corporations-Once-Known-as-the Mainstream-Media love to hate, George Bush, the Younger. It didn’t start with the Bush-Clinton decade + 2 of continuous government growth, its thousand points of light or its thousand points of light or its Hillarycare.
Even Ronaldus Magnus, the last good President left Washington bigger than he found it.
Jimmy Carter not only walked in the Inaugural Parade he walked us into the grip of a Department of Energy that works tirelessly to limit our energy production and a Department of Education that presides over the greatest decline in education in world History. He chastised us in his malaise speech about our crisis of confidence never realizing it was our confidence in him not our country that was hobbling America. And what was his advice? Should we work harder, invent more, or launch out in bold new ways? No he suggested we wear sweaters and turn the heat down. Managing the decline has long been the theme song of those who see America’s glory days in the rearview mirror instead of in the headlights as we travel towards the future.
What about Nixon? Forget about it! He gave us price controls, OSHA, and the EPA. He took us off the gold standard and left us at the mercy of the Federal Reserve, all this from the conservative wing of the Dualocracy which is the bi-polar Party of Power.
Lyndon Johnson and his Great Society, Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamp revolution created the entitlement monsters which are poised to devour the budget.
Though he cut taxes to spur the economy, Kennedy with his phony missile gap and foreign policy blunders did little besides set the stage for Johnson.
Eisenhower spent eight years guiding the construction of the Military Industrial Complex he warned us about as he left the stage.
The Fair Deal was merely Truman’s election driven attempt to increase the size, scope, and power of FDR’s New Deal which was a massive and unprecedented intrusion of the central government into the economic and social life of America.
FDR was the 20th century poster boy when it comes to stretching the size of government and putting the stamp of entitlement as the cause on liberty’s death certificate.
Hoover, contrary to FDR’s story line and the accepted version of America’s History, responded to the stock market crash with a massive extension of government and its programs. The Great Engineer, as he was known before his name became a household word for failed presidency, was a champion of government intervention, and though today his devotion to the tenets of laissez-faire are blamed for the depression when it was instead his federal interference that provided a deep recession for FDR to turn into the Great Depression.
Silent Cal Coolidge was America’s last limited President. He limited himself and stayed with the confines of the Constitution.
Harding tried but died.
With Americans telling pollsters that they disproportionately disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance in his first term, advocates of his re-election must promise the public that another four years would represent a dramatic improvement.
But to keep that promise the president must overcome a “second-term curse” which constitutes one of the iron rules of the American presidency. Since the origins of the Republic, every re-elected president met with more frustrations and fewer notable triumphs in a second term than in his first.
The record of rocky, often scandal-plagued second terms applied even to the most admired chief executives, very much including George Washington (who coped with wrenching cabinet squabbles, a rebellion in Pennsylvania, and the hugely unpopular Jay’s Treaty); Thomas Jefferson (whose Embargo Act left him widely reviled); James Madison (who stumbled into unnecessary war, saw the White House burned by Brits and New England states talking secession), Grover Cleveland (who presided over the devastating Depression of 1893, and top-secret cancer surgery to his jaw shortly after inauguration for his non-consecutive second term); Woodrow Wilson (who suffered a stroke and rejection of his League of Nations plans); and even FDR (who experienced the “Little Depression” of 1937-38, the disastrous “Court Packing” plan, and huge GOP gains in off-year elections before seeking his unprecedented third term in 1940).
Republican heroes Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan both weathered major scandals in their second terms (with resignation of Ike’s compromised top aide Sherman Adams, and Reagan’s humiliating Iran-Contra debacle) as well as witnessing huge Congressional gains for Democrats two years before they left office. Even more dramatically, Richard Nixon went from triumphant re-election (carrying forty-nine states in 1972) to resignation in disgrace mid-way through his second term, while Bill Clinton’s return trip to the White House produced painful polarization and an impeachment crisis.
Most recently, George W. Bush pushed ambitious initiatives for Social Security and immigration reform that both collapsed in his second term, before Hurricane Katrina, Democratic takeover of Congress and the economic meltdown of 2008 added to his woes.
Lincoln never confronted the second-term reverses that afflicted other chief executives because Booth killed him just five weeks after his second inauguration. William McKinley (another popular president who had just concluded a triumphant war) also avoided losing the public’s admiration when he met an assassin’s bullet just six months into his second term.
The second-term curse stems in part from the diminished influence and lame duck status that afflicts re-elected presidents. Even before the 22nd Amendment made it official in 1950, all chief executives (with the single exception of FDR) observed the traditional two term limit, meaning that their ability to punish enemies or reward friends looked far less formidable during return trips to the White House. Inevitably, second-term presidents regularly feel upstaged (especially during their last two years) by jockeying within their own parties among potential successors.
Moreover, any president deemed successful enough to earn re-election completed much of his promised agenda during a first term, so a lack of energy usually characterizes complacent “stay the course” chapter twos in the White House. As with movie sequels, the second time around generally provides a pallid repetition of what made the franchise popular in the first place, or else heads off in some bizarre and unsatisfying new direction.
This is from yesterday’s New York Times editorial:
As soon as he proposed to pay for his $447 billion jobs plan with tax increases, President Obama knew he was going to do battle with Republicans. But he is also being challenged by Democrats because they cannot face another big pre-election fight or are thinking more about campaign contributors than the country’s best interests.
It is time for Mr. Obama to think about what Lyndon Johnson would do. Mr. Johnson did not flinch from confronting his caucus when he needed to, and neither should Mr. Obama.
When the Times says Obama should ask himself “WWLBJD,” do they remember what else Lyndon Johnson did?
Does anyone remember that most of President Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘new deal’ was overturned by the courts and strongly opposed by Congressional Republicans, and not a few Democrats? They faced the ugly truth back then. Throwing government into any issue only results in making any problem infinitely much worse.
Roosevelt’s redistributionist-socialist ideas only resulted in extending the depression by an extra ten or so years. There are some who claim, and not without some justification, that we actually didn’t come out of the depression until the consumption boom of the late forties and fifties… citing the large numbers of men who came back from World War Two who couldn’t find jobs in a peacetime America. It was the Roosevelt administration who sold us a bill of goods, about the greatest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen.
This monstrous unfunded liability has had tax revenues stolen from the ‘Social Security Fund’, virtually from the beginning, by greedy, unprincipled politicians seeking to increase their own power. What we have with the Obama administration and Congress is nothing more than the Roosevelt New Deal on steroids.
Our new Conservative Congress will force austerity on a wildly out-of-control government by starving out the Marxists’ socialist programs by removing their funding. Hear that, Obama? We should go from there to the EPA and the FCC, and yank their funding as well.
The battle for the heart and soul of this great nation is only beginning. We can not and will not tolerate the leftists’ repeated assaults against the very fabric of our society.
Be warned… The American Patriot is on the march and will not rest until America is free of the taint of communism.
Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis
© Skip MacLure 2010