Washington DC–White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told the media that the White House was anxious over “Elevatorgate” and that the President was preparing to broker a peace settlement between the warring factions. “As with any foreign issue, the President is reluctant to get himself involved, but was willing to offer languid assistance. The crisis in the elevator had shaken the President to his core.” Rumors that the First Lady was preparing a hashtag campaign to raise awareness for the situation have yet to be confirmed. “At this time, our sources tell us that Jay-Z, Solange, and Beyonce have worked things out claiming that it was a ‘private family matter’,” Carney said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate our response accordingly.” When asked if another beer summit was involved Carney responded, “We are in contact with Jay-Z’s publicist to find out if he is a Bud, Coors, or Michelob guy.”
For some reason, after reading a USA Today article about the upcoming midterm elections, I strolled over to the comments section. Now, normally, I avoid reading the comments only because I can’t afford the spike in heart rate and my computer monitor cannot take the verbal abuse I spew at it while reading the comments. But there I was, reading the typically partisan venom and the obligatory name calling and elementary school bickering from adults.
All I could think about as I read the banter, for better words, back and forth in the some 140 comments at the time was that there is a serious need to review history again.
So, here it is.
Blaming The Current President For Economic Issues
Most people are quick to jump on the policies of the current president for the problems that this country is facing. Case in point: Economics. Read through the comments and there are those on the left who blame G. W. Bush for the 2007-08 recession because he was sitting in office at the time. The right counters that the current unemployment and economic malaise is B. Obama’s fault.
Both groups are simply incorrect. Take the Great Depression as an example. No one can lay the blame for the Great Depression solely at the feet of Herbert Hoover because he was president in ’29. Just like no one can cast stones on FDR for the Depression, either.
Economic events in U.S. history take time to evolve. The Great Depression can be linked to events in the 1920s–buying on margin, speculative land deals–and I will even argue that the foundations to the Great Depression can be traced as far back as A. Lincoln’s Homestead Act in 1862 (By encouraging farming of the Midwest, we were setting the soil and the environment up for failure. The Dust Bowl of the 1920s was the culmination of this failure).
So, to lay the blame for our current economic issues on G. W. Bush or B. Obama is as ludicrous as blaming Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression. So please stop this nonsense.
There are few times when economic issues during a president’s term can be squarely placed on the president’s table. Case in point, the Roosevelt Recession of 1937-38 where FDR curtailed some of the New Deal programs and dropped the recovering economy into a downward spiral.
To those who are quick to blame either G. W. Bush or B. Obama for our current issues, be sure to understand that our current issues have a foundation many years prior to either of these men’s time in office. I wrote about the Clinton impact on the economy today in this article “Looking that the Ads–Okay Just One”.
What can be addressed, and what one hardly reads, are the current policies that are being enacted to fix the situation. In this case, I’d give a D- to both G. W. Bush and B. Obama for their handling of the economy. They both inherited an issue and either chose to ignore it or throw random money at it hoping that something would stick. In the case of B. Obama, I find it funny that the left views trickle down economics as a system of failure, yet with the bailout of GM and loans to companies like Solyndra I can see no greater form of trickle down.
But I Need To Blame The (Circle one: Republicans/Democrats) For Something
After the economy, foreign policy is the next forum for uncivil discourse on the internet. At first blush, this would seem to be a fair place to level an assault against the rival party’s behavior on an international level. They are the ones directing the events that are unfolding at this moment with regard to U.S. relations. However, there are issues that must be neatly navigated around here.
While the Iraq War is and will be plagued with issues, is best compared to the Vietnam War, and will be a massive blemish on the G. W. Bush administration (US News has a good opinion piece you can read here) there are arguments bantered by those on the left that hold absolutely no merit. Chief among them is that the United States was lied to about the motives for the war: Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Again, if we are to be objective about our criticism of the present, we must be aware of the past.
“It’s just the war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson and…” That’s Wesley, Jenny’s boyfriend, from Forrest Gump describing Lyndon Johnson. In reality, the Vietnam War was almost inevitable from the moment Truman issued his Containment Policy and Eisenhower gave the world the “domino theory.” Ike suggested that Southeast Asia was stacked like dominoes in a row, and should one fall (in this case to communism) then they all would leading to the “loss of Indochina, of Burma, of Thailand, of the Peninsula, and Indonesia following.” [Source: DDE News conference April 7, 1954]. That Kennedy and, later Johnson, would use this theory to support their activity in Vietnam, and ultimately Johnson’s decidedly misconstrued tale of the Gulf of Tonkin, is what truly matters in the study of current affairs.
That G.W. Bush had assembled a war hawk cabinet and a Vice President still reeling from his failure in Iraq years early was a large contributing factor to the declaration of war in Iraq. Had 9/11 not happened, there would have been other mitigating factors in our invasion of Iraq and the subsequent overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Whether for good or not, the United States has long been in the regime change business and it has continued with B. Obama and Libya and Egypt. But, I’d like to consider that there were other factors that allowed the Bush administration the opportunity to go at Iraq. What was their “domino theory”?
Again, history doesn’t repeat itself, but the coincidences are stark.
Like Vietnam, the Iraq war was molded in infancy during a press conference of sorts. W. Clinton established a policy for containing–to borrow a Cold War term–Iraq and the Hussein regime’s weapons. In February 17, 1998, Clinton addressed the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Pentagon and outlined his policy on Iraq. At their essences, both addresses focus on the freedoms of people around the world; freedoms that we in the United States take for granted–speech, democracy, economy. Both Eisenhower and Clinton warn of threats to these freedoms and the necessity of the United States to protect these for both neighboring nations and for our own welfare. Eisenhower worries that the nations of Indochina will fall under a dictatorship and Clinton laments that “There is no more clear example of this threat than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. His regime threatens the safety of his people, the stability of his region and the security of all the rest of us.” [Source: CNN Text of Clinton Statement on Iraq, Feb. 17, 1998].
Let’s look at how closely these two speeches mirror one another. The six quotes below were pulled from both speeches. Without looking them up, see if you can correctly identify the President who said each. (Parts of speech that would give away answers have been redacted).
Now, let me say to all of you here as all you know the weightiest decision any president ever has to make is to send our troops into harm’s way. And force can never be the first answer. But sometimes, it’s the only answer.
But it is different if we unite…. Our purpose is… to create the unity of free wills needed to assure a peaceful settlement which will in fact preserve the vital interests of us all.
I wouldn’t want to comment at too great a length at this moment, but I do believe this: this is the kind of thing that must not be handled by one nation trying to act alone.
But if we act as one, we can safeguard our interests and send a clear message to every would-be tyrant… that the international community does have the wisdom and the will and the way to protect peace and security in a new era.
It is against that background that we have repeatedly and unambiguously made clear our preference for a diplomatic solution.
But one thing: we are not going to overstep the line of prudence in keeping ourselves secure, knowing that the agreements we made have some means of being enforced. We are not simply going to take words. There must be some way of making these things fact and deed.
I promise that these six quotes came from both Eisenhower and Clinton. You can follow the links above to read them for yourself. That the similarities exist should have been a warning to us all that at some time we’d find ourselves enmeshed in a war in Iraq. Let’s see how you did: If you answered Clinton, Ike, Ike, Clinton, Clinton, Ike, you got the all correct. Both Presidents sought a unified front, either through our British and French allies or through the United Nations. However, both Presidents left open the opportunity for the use of force.
Just like the Domino Theory came back to haunt America in the 1960s, so to did Clinton’s “Promise to the Future” speech as I am calling it. The most damning part of it was Clinton’s continued use of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons stockpiles.
If G.W. Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq, then this speech (and many others by W. Clinton) is chock full of lies also. To condemn one is to condemn the other. That the Obama Administration continued the war is no surprise. If G.W. Bush is “that lying son of a bitch Johnson” then B. Obama would be Nixon. Both took the war into different directions. Nixon with his secret Cambodia excursions and Obama with his secret drone wars. And in this, we see that foreign policy cannot be used as a true condemnation of a presidency; all presidencies are tied to previous generations.
I Have To Complain About Something
We all do. That’s just the nature of having an opinion. What needs to happen, however, is a greater understanding of that past before we are able to criticize the present. Many of the issues facing us today could have been avoided had we, the electorate, and our elected officials bothered to pay attention to the things that we’ve tried before. Consider it a Been There, Done That (BTDT) scenario. When you understand the past, your are more likely to accept the present–both the good and the bad–and you are more likely to accept that both parties have some culpability in the issues at hand.
However, if you still wish to complain and cannot be bothered to understand the past, then I would suggest the following for your rhetoric. Since everything offends everyone on the opposite side of the political spectrum, these options will further that divide:
1. You can borrow the line used to describe Lewis Cass in the 1848 election. He is a “pot-bellied, mutton-headed, cucumber.”
2. If calling someone a cucumber seems too childish, you can always drag out their sex life as did the Polk supporters in the 1844 election. They claimed that Henry Clay had broken every single Commandment and had sex with whores. When Clay supporters demanded evidence, Polk’s camp merely said that the details were too scandalous to print.
3. Sticking with sex, you can accuse the opposition of pimping American girls as was the case with John Quincy Adams in the 1828 election. JQA was accused of pimping an American girl to the czar of Russia.
4. When sex becomes taboo, or the website moderators delete your posts, you can always just fall back on death. In 1800, Jefferson was declared dead by Adams supporters.
5. And if people realize that the object of your spite and malice is still living go after their parents. Back to the 1828 election and this time Adams’ supporters went after Jackson’s dead mother claiming she was a “common prostitute brought to America by British soldiers who married a mulatto and fathered Jackson”.
6. Those of you who feel you are above the personal attacks, you can always worry about the future: It was said that if Thomas Jefferson was elected he would usher in an America where “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced.”
For the rest of us, we’ll continue to keep up on the present by investigating the past.
As always, From The Kitchen Cabinet encourages comments and feedback. Political discourse can only happen when two or more people talk, listen, and observe. Otherwise, its just tyranny of the mind.
So, in light of last night’s State of the Union address, I post this for you and ask: Who issued this rallying cry? No cheating. Just take your best guess in the comments.
Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined; as the session which enacted the most far-reaching tax cut of our time; as the session which declared all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States; as the session which finally recognized the health needs of all our older citizens; as the session which reformed our tangled transportation and transit policies; as the session which achieved the most effective, efficient foreign aid program ever; and as the session which helped to build more homes, more schools, more libraries, and more hospitals than any single session of Congress in the history of our Republic.
What ever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.– Buddha
It is just a word. A simple one really. It comes from the old French word destreit meaning “straits.” And at one point in time it was synonymous with American ingenuity and prosperity. Now, it has become a strange focal point for two political camps who have now taken semantics into the dark, vile recesses of American political discourse.
How can one word invoke such confusion? Well, if you read all the comments of posters on the left and the right, it is really all about doublespeak. You know, “downsizing” not firing. “Gone to meet their maker” not died. “Detroit” is now in the lexicon of what is is.
On the one hand, the right argues that when Obama said, on 13 October 2012, that “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt” he meant the city of Detroit. Seems logical to assume that since he did mention Toledo and Chicago later in the address. Here’s a link to some funny right wing comments from The Blaze the home of some right-wing thinking.
However, the left is claiming that the word “Detroit” was a metaphor? parallel? simile? for the auto industry. When the President said “We refused to let Detroit go bankrupt” he meant GM and Chrysler. Here’s a link to Media Matters (“A non-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the media”) on the subject.
So, which is it? Did Obama mean Detroit the city or Detroit the automaker? Well, this is where our media, our politicians, and our own handlers (those people we chose to follow in the media be they movie stars, musicians, athletes, bloggers [yep, like me], or journalists) prefer us to remain, stuck on one word.
Honestly, I can see it both ways. Like I said in my intro, Detroit was synonymous with the auto industry. No, Detroit itself didn’t build cars, but our largest manufactures called it home. And, Detroit is a city. It is a city facing and urban blight, mass-emmigration, and now bankruptcy. I also think this was a clever way for the President to handle the situation. If he came out and said “We will not let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt” he has put the onus on his administration to see to it that those two companies succeed. If they fail, then his opposition has words to damage him with. But by saying “Detroit” he’s created a cleaver doublespeak that leaves him relatively undamaged in the eyes of his constituents (go the to Media Matters link to see that evidence), and gives him leverage in any assault from the opposition.
However, there was a flaw in his speech; a flaw that seems to be going unnoticed by all the message board hounds, bloggers, journalists, and talking heads. If you go back to his speech, it would appear that the President did mean the city of Detroit, and for that matter, every city in America.
More than a million jobs across the country were on the line – and not just auto jobs, but the jobs of teachers, small business owners, and everyone in communities that depend on this great American industry.
“And everyone in communities that depend on this great American industry.” By saving the auto industry with his bailouts, the President was, in turn, saving our communities, our cities, our jobs. Without these secondary jobs where would the tax support for our communities come from? Our communities would go be the way of Stockton, CA, San Bernadino, CA, and now Detroit, MI. Obama wasn’t going to let either GM or Detroit go bankrupt.
This is not to cast Detroit’s bankruptcy at Obama’s doorstep. Detroit needs to own its bankruptcy like it owned being the center of American auto-making for decades. But, the President needs to own his own words, also. Detroit is Detroit. It was an auto-manufacturing city, but it is still just a city. A broke one. (See… more doublespeak!).
No matter. The left will say that Obama meant GM and the right will try to lay Detroit’s bankruptcy at the President’s doorstep. Either way, words are becoming more and more politically divisive each day.
The language of friendship is not words but meanings. –Henry David Thoreau
- Obama Might Let Detroit Go Bankrupt (huffingtonpost.com)
- Detroit goes bankrupt under Obama’s leadership after he campaigned on saving it (redalertpolitics.com)
- Detroit’s Bankruptcy Follows Decades Of Decay (detroit.cbslocal.com)
As if there wasn’t enough rancor in the realm of politics, our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, stood at a clearly divergent path and had the opportunity to close the chasm. Instead, he opted for the cliff and dove head long, like a political lemur, into the abyss.
In one of his first public statements as the newly appointed Secretary of State, Kerry addressed a gathered audience of German students and said,
“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid – if you want to be. And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.”
Unfortunately, the following statement went mostly unheard by both the German students, who were laughing–either at the statement, or, more likely, at the U.S.–and by Americans.
“And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for. The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.”
Sadly, there is no tolerance.
Google “Christianity is a mental illness” and you get 2,420,000 hits. That’s the tolerance that Kerry insists we have? Read the comments following the articles (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/26/us-usa-kerry-liberties-idUSBRE91P0HJ20130226 or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/26/john-kerry-right-to-be-stupid_n_2764973.html). I suppose that’s tolerance? Blaming Democrats for the Obama re-election because of “stupidity”? Blaming Republican “stupidity” for eight years of George Bush?
If anyone really wonders, and I mean with sincere curiosity, as to why we have faced a fiscal cliff and now face sequestration, all they need to do is look at how each side of the political aisle views one another. To steal a line from Mrs. Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
Right now, Republicans are stupid, Democrats are idiots. Congress is an insane asylum, and the inmates are running the institution. The idea that there is any way that for civil discussion is remote simply because neither party is willing to concede that the other has even the slightest mental faculties. This is a top down issue. Obama commented recently,
“Maybe they couldn’t understand the whole thing [his jobs bill] at once,” the president said to laughter. “We’re going to break it up into bite-sized pieces, so they –they can take a thoughtful approach…We’re going to give members of Congress another chance to step up to the plate and do the right thing.”
There is something inherently wrong when the President is pandering the his political base by calling the other side too dumb to understand a complex proposal. It is sad that the audience found humor in this. Worse yet, no one in the main stream has called him out. And for every example one can find for Democrats debasing the Republican party, you can find just as many the other way.
Meanwhile, our new Secretary of State announces to Europe that Americans have the right to be stupid. I wonder which “Americans” he is referring to? Is this another attempt to pander to Democrats during the sequestration boondoggle? If so, then John Kerry took the stupid option. If not, all Mr. Kerry did was add fuel to a tire fire called American politics. I suppose we’re all just stupid since we have an opinion that stands contrary to those of others. Welcome to American tolerance. Thank you Mr. Kerry for finally clarifying what some of us in the middle already knew.