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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Obama vs Bush. Again. But maybe that's a good thing...

Since the day he started campaigning for the Presidency (and probably a little before that as well), Barack Obama has been blaming George W. Bush for something.
George W. Bush spent money we didn't have in support of two wars that we didn't need to be involved in. Foreign nations didn't like us very much because of George W. Bush. George W. Bush tanked the economy. It was George W. Bush's fault that we don't have socialized health care and taxpayer-funded abortions for everyone. It was George W. Bush's fault that gas prices weren't lower. Fast and Furious was started by George W. Bush.
It was a fairly successful campaign tactic for him, too, since all he had to do on the campaign trail was tie Senator John McCain to George W. Bush.

But as he wraps up the last year of his first (and, Lord willing, only) term as President, much to the outrage and annoyance of many Americans, he is still blaming George W. Bush. As recently as the debates of the last two months, he has referenced the economy he "inherited" from the previous administration. His pocket moderator in the second debate, CNN's Candy Crowley, allowed Governor Romney to be asked the question, "How will your Presidency be different from another Bush Presidency?"

Several people I know were furious that Romney was asked that question while Obama was not required to respond by answering with how his Presidency differed from Jimmy Carter's. But not I. I wanted him to answer the same question that Romney did: President Obama, how has your first term as President differed from the George W. Bush Presidency?

(Before I get into the possible answers to that question, let me say this: while I supported George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, there were many things he did while President that I did not support. TARP, bailouts, No Child Left Behind, and those ridiculous curly light bulbs to name just a few.)

So, how has the Obama Presidency been different than the George W. Bush Presidency?

1) Not only has President Obama continued the wars begun during the Bush Administration, he has taken military action in several other nations. His actions in Libya were so questionable that 12 members of Congress (including several high ranking democrats) filed suit against him for violations of the War Powers Act. And the extra action has been reflected in the extra cost - both in dollars and in human lives.

2) Foreign nations may not have "liked" us as much during the Bush Administration - but a lot more of them feared us. In the days following 9/11, George W. Bush demanded both the apologies and the lives of those who dared to attack the United States. In the days following the Benghazi attacks this year, Barack Obama apologized to Libya for the insensitivity of a video no one had even heard of while covering up his and his State Department's involvement in covering up their knowledge of the situation and the murder of our Ambassador in real time.

3) No one would argue that the economy was in good shape in the final months of 2008. But consider this: Many of the people who blame Bush for the bad economy claim that Obama was helpless to fix the economy because he had Republicans in Congress blocking him. Why is that relevant? Because the economy didn't start to crumble until the end of George W. Bush's second term - when Democrats held the majority in both houses. If George W. Bush is to be held solely responsible for the economy that a mostly Democrat Congress helped him tank, then Obama can't blame a Republican Congress for his inability to fix it.

4) George W. Bush never apologized for being against socialized medicine or for being pro-life. And while President Obama referred to a pregnancy as a "punishment," George W. Bush outlawed fetal stem cell research long enough for the medical community to learn that adult stem cells are far more effective in most treatments. And they don't require the loss of innocent life.

5) When gas prices hit record highs in 2008, it was George W. Bush's fault. But according to Barack Obama a few weeks ago, high gas prices are actually a sign that our economy is doing well. (If you buy that, give me a call - there's a bridge I could sell you to go with it.) The winter 2008 gas prices under $2/gallon were only possible because the economy was in shambles... (Which really makes me want to ask him why, when gas prices were under $1/gallon for years during the Clinton Administration we didn't see a much more drastic collapse.)

6) I'm not sure why I even dignify any accusation in regards to Fast and Furious with a response, but regardless: Operation Wide Receiver, a similar gun-walking program, was begun in 2006 and ended in 2007. It resulted in the loss of 450 guns across the Mexican border. Operation Fast and Furious began in 2009 under sole control of Barack Obama's Justice Department. They took the admittedly failed Operation Wide Receiver, and made it bigger and far more difficult to control. As a result, thousands of guns crossed the border. Several hundred Mexicans have been killed so far, and two American Border Patrol Agents as well.

And now for my personal pet peeves:
Shortly after 9/11, George W. Bush (up to this point an avid golfer) announced to the American public that he could not in good conscience play golf while our men and women overseas were putting their lives on the line. Not 24 hours after the Benghazi attacks - after a good night's sleep, mind you - Barack Obama's biggest stress was the fact that his Las Vegas fundraiser might not start on time.

People complained about the number of vacations George W. Bush took - even though he spent most of them on his family's property in Texas, clearing brush and taking care of his land. And yet, when Michelle Obama takes the girls to Spain for the weekend, no news coverage. After America has been warned - by the President, no less - that travel to Mexico is highly dangerous and not recommended, we get to see the news coverage of the President's own daughter along - with her entire class - enjoying spring Mexico.

So what's the point? For years, Barack Obama has been explaining to America that he isn't anything like George W. Bush. I, for one, believe him. He doesn't measure up.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Claire McCaskill Stops Campaign

Hey, remember how Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was going to stop campaigning? Apparently not before she got in one parting shot at opponent (and Army veteran) Congressman Todd Akin.

McCaskill (through the veterans in her video ad) suggests that Todd Akin will not support veterans returning from war. Todd Akin, who himself served in the Army Corps of Engineers. Todd Akin who has seen three sons join the Marine Corps and helped to support their families during multiple deployments. Todd Akin who has served nearly his entire career in Congress on the House Armed Services Committee.

My question to the McCaskill Campaign (and I would assume that they are still taking questions if they are still running attack ads) is this:
Senator McCaskill, you claim to be an independent voice, but you have voted with the President (even when no one else in your party did) 94% of the time. And to be honest, if I had to guess, a good portion of the 6% of the time that you didn't vote with him were days that you didn't show up to vote at all. 
In 2009, the President's Administration floated a suggestion to free up some federal monies after applications for veteran's medical benefits began to spike. The suggestion was to transfer some war injuries to the veterans' private insurance companies to ease the burden felt by the federal government. 
Given your unwavering support of this President, I find it difficult to believe that you would not have supported him in implementing this strategy. 
When people reacted with shock that the President would ask war veterans to pay for injuries sustained in defense of this nation, both Snopes and Politifact jumped in to defend the President, saying that wasn't what he said.
But as with most things the President (and you, Senator McCaskill) have said, the words themselves and the direct result of their application are two very different things. Although billing their private insurance companies is not directly billing the veterans, it will inspire private insurance companies to restrict the policies available to wounded veterans and to raise the premiums on the ones they do offer. The end result is that American citizens who gave their time, their limbs, their eyesight, and many other things to defend this nation will ultimately be forced to pay for the injuries they sustained while doing so.
The bottom line? It isn't Todd Akin who shouldn't be trusted with the care of returning veterans.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

McCaskill Quits Campaigning, but What Does That Change?

This morning, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill announced her intention to cancel all remaining campaign stops so that she could spend time with her mother, who is critically ill. Just six months ago I lost my grandmother, and I know how difficult the illness and potential loss of someone so close can be. My heart and prayers go out to her entire family, as this would certainly be a stressful time for all of them even if Claire's campaign for reelection was not a part of the equation.

That said, it is difficult to take any statement from the McCaskill campaign without a rather large helping of salt.

Her decision to remove herself from active campaigning happened with suspicious proximity to two things.

First, a story broken by the Daily Caller and Dana Loesch revealed that the Senator was aware of an investigation into her husband's business practices at least six months ago. Those "business practices" included him allegedly closing deals in the Senate dining room (ostensibly with his wife's full knowledge) for special awards of stimulus money for businesses he controlled. It was also revealed that when several outlets got ahold of the story, the McCaskill campaign reached out to them and persuaded them (though no one was clear how) them to bury it.

And second, when asked how she intended to finish out her Senate Campaign, she claimed that her strategy for the final two weeks was simply to "keep Todd Akin talking," as what he says "continues to offend women, anyone with a sense of decency."

The obvious convenience in the timing is difficult to overlook, regardless of her mother's condition. While again I pray for the family and especially for the ailing Betty Ann McCaskill, I cannot allow the sadness of the situation or compassion for the family obscure the truth of the situation:

Senator Claire McCaskill was likely well aware of it if her husband was in fact making backroom deals for taxpayer money. She certainly knew that the story was about to surface six months ago and her campaign was instrumental in having it scuttled. When the story broke two days ago about the sexual harassment lawsuit pending against one of her husband's companies, she had the opportunity to release a statement. Instead, she remained silent and waited until the Missouri media outlets (predictably) ran cover for her.

The end result of all of this is that no one but an insensitive jackass would press her with difficult questions while she deals with such a stressful time in her personal life. Like magic, the press (any outlets that weren't already coddling her) gives the Senator and her suffering family a pass. Suddenly she is no longer expected to explain her utter betrayal of the Missouri voters. The best part is, despite her resolution to stop campaigning to be with her mother, it won't compromise her campaign strategy: to keep Congressman Akin talking. Much like the surge she enjoyed after the "legitimate rape" comments, Senator McCaskill only has to sit back, say nothing, and hope that Congressman Akin will say something else that the waiting public finds offensive (or something the media tells the public to find offensive). And this time she gets to ride the bump of sympathy for her personal struggles as well..

Hey Missouri, Got 5 Minutes?

I ask somewhat in jest, because I know we are all busy people. As for myself, I am raising four children plus sometimes one stepchild while I attend school full time finishing two degrees simultaneously. I get that the average person doesn't have much time. Even so, today I come to you to ask a favor. A big one. One that could help change the media as we know it. And I promise, it will only take you five minutes.

Yesterday a major story broke on Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. Since the story broke, it has only been reported by conservative online publication The Daily Caller and St. Louis radio talker (and CNN correspondent) Dana Loesch.

You heard right. A sitting Senator who is currently running for reelection has been tied directly to shady business dealings - and at least one attempt to cover up said shady business dealings - and Missouri media outlets have covered none of it.

So what am I asking you to do? Pick up your phone. Log in to Facebook and Twitter. Open your email account. And contact your local media outlets. Contact your radio stations and your local television news stations. Call out your favorite (or least favorite) news anchor on Twitter. Demand to know why they insist on covering up the news instead of reporting it. Remind them that their job is to provide the facts and let you make the decisions based on those facts. And let them know that you will not tolerate a media that functions as the public relations wing of any particular candidate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hillary's Strategic Fall

Why would Hillary Clinton suddenly and inexplicably fall on her sword in reference to Benghazi? That question is everywhere today, and for good reason. She is perfectly poised for a presidential run in 2016 whether or not Obama wins his reelection bid this year. And she has earned both experience and respect for her work thus far as Secretary of State. It seems like career suicide for her to take the blame for such an obviously preventable foreign policy nightmare, so why would someone as career driven as Ms. Clinton make such a grievous misstep? There are a few reasons that come to mind.

First: the Clinton name is more or less like political teflon. If Bill's dalliances, cover-ups and half-truths are any indication, Hillary will likely have very few voters even remember any of this in 2016. And those who do remember it will likely believe (as many already do) that she only took responsibility to protect a floundering President. They will see her actions as compassionate, though possibly misguided. And they will love her all the more for the fact that she errs on the side of loyalty.

Second: Barack Obama is facing the first debate of his career that even partially focuses on foreign policy. One of the main criticisms against him in 2008 was the fact that he had little or no foreign policy experience. With four years of continued wars, new wars, and one global snafu or another, we have observed a President who defers instead of leading, who apologizes instead of taking charge, and who bows to people he should be demanding respect from. The Benghazi attack, if allowed to smolder, would become more of a brick wall than a "bump in the road." For that reason, Hillary's move - specifically the timing of her move - is designed to remove at least one weapon from the arsenal Romney could bring to tonight's debate.

Third: Hillary Clinton is likely at least considering her own Presidential bid in 2016. Given that thought, it is unlikely that she will finish out a second term as Secretary of State (assuming that Obama wins reelection). She may be taking this bullet as one final gesture toward the Obama administration before bowing out to pursue her own career track.

Fourth: This will be very easy for her to turn around on the Obama Administration, should she decide to do so in the future. All she has to say is that Obama asked - or even demanded - that she take responsibility, and threatened to throw her under the bus if she didn't. It's easier to recover from the scandal you admit to right away, especially when it turns out to be a setup. Add in the fact that most people already believe that she's taking the blame to throw pressure off the President in the first place...