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Diary of a disenfranchised Democrat

Ok, I published this a few years ago but with the pundits hopping all over themselves to write President Obama’s most recent obituary, I thought we could use a laugh.  Oh, how the 1990s were just an era of wonderful bipartisanship and hope…

 

There’s been a lot of talk about how President Obama is in trouble with his base.  The narrative goes something like this: liberals are disappointed with Barack Obama’s performance.  Maybe he has been too timid, too hands-off, too much of a law professor when what we neehttp://www.alysonchadwick.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?post_id=688&action=grunion_form_builder&TB_iframe=true&width=768&id=add_formded was a scrappy street fighter, willing to go toe-to-toe with an obstructionist Congress and the wiley John Boehner and Eric “Dr. No” Cantor.  Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton would have put up with this malarky.  No, sir.

My friend, Chris Rugaber (you know the AP business writer, if you don’t read his stuff, you should start), sent me this piece: When did liberals become so unreasonable? The idea being, that liberals are never happy with anything.  I dug through my personal papers and the following represent excerpts from my journal.

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Fall 1991:

Dear Diary,

My mom and I were talking about what Democrats will run for president next year.  Seems pointless to me.  George Bush is just so dang popular, what with that stupid Iraq war and all.  I like Paul Tsongas a lot but, seriously, another liberal, Greek from Mass?  That’s never gonna happen.  I said Bill Clinton is the only viable candidate.  She thinks his performance at the 1988 Democratic Convention will do him in, they did lower him off the stage and all, but I think he’s got a certain “je ne sais quoi.”  I cannot wait to move to France.  If Bush gets reelected, I am going to move there.

Winter 1992

Dear Diary,

Well, I don’t have to move to France.  Bill Clinton is our new president!  We have the White House, the Senate and House of Representatives!  I hear that means a lot!  There’s nothing stopping us now!  We are going to make health care available to everyone!  It’s a good time to be alive!  Diary, you had better not stop thinking about tomorrow!  I know I won’t!1

Spring 1993

Dear Diary,

This has been a sad time for Democrats.  We have a Dem in the White House and control both sides of Capitol Hill but President Clinton’s stimulus package went down in flames in the Senate, damn you filibuster! ( http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/22/us/gop-senators-prevail-sinking-clinton-s-economic-stimulus-bill.html) Weren’t they paying attention to the It’s the economy, stupid! message?  Hello! I remain hopeful that we can get healthcare reform through, Hillary Rodham, I mean Hillary Rodham Clinton (I keep forgetting she is using his name now!) is heading up the committee for that so I am sure it will go through.  She tried to soften her image with that cookie recipe and my mom swears by her turkey tips (hint: avoid basting by putting bacon on top — saves time and is delicious!) but she’s tough as nails. President Clinton’s lack of foreign policy experience is pretty clear, I sure wish we’d stop the genocide in Bosnia.  Slobodan Molosovic sounds like a dick.

Fall 1993

Dear Diary,

I just cannot shake the feeling that we are fucking up big time here.   If we cannot capitalize on the promise of Bill Clinton, we are totally screwed.  Does he know the damage he is doing to our party and system?  Bosnia remains a mess.  When are we going to help these people?  I hear there’s going to be a new Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, I sure hope they look into Bosnia.  This crap is unacceptable.  None of my friends will even talk to me about it.  And now the crazy “liberal” media seems obsessed with some innocent investments the Clintons made a thousand years ago, I think they’re calling it white-water?  I don’t know why they are so anti-rafting.  Seems like a good hobby to me.

Spring 1994

Dear Diary,

Am so depressed.  Hillary Clinton’s health reform looks to be headed towards disaster!  They say she didn’t consult Congress enough, as if!  What has happened to our party?  I thought we had some guts but I guess not.  Man, Bill Clinton sucks.

Winter 1994

Well, the end of the world is here.  Officially.  The Republicans just took the House back — after about a million years.  The Speaker was the first to lose his seat since we had a speaker.  Healthcare reform died a painful death.  Damn senators act like they should be consulted on policy issues, how rude!  Don’t they know Bill Clinton is a D?  Stupid “liberal” media is still into that rafting crap.  Have they no lives?

Winter 1995

Dear Diary,

Have been too depressed to write.  Bill Clinton has failed us all.  First no action on Bosnia, then health care reform failure and then he was all about welfare reform.  Says that will be his big thing should he win reelection, good luck, jerk.  Thank god for Newt Gingrich.  He was so mean/whiny that he made us look good.  Shut down the government because he was pissed about his seat on AF1.  I sure wish Democrats would grow a pair.

Winter 1997

Dear Diary,

Wow. It’s been a painful few years.  When did Democrats stop being Democrats?  Sure we had a few victories but that’s all because Newt Gingrich is so stupid. And whiny.  Bill Clinton totally caved to the GOP on the last two budgets and welfare reform.  Thank goodness he won reelection, though he seems more like a Republican.  That rafting thing ended up being more of a big deal than I had thought. And now, it looks like he may have had an affair with an intern.  Question:  If you know the world is watching you, can you keep your pants on for five minutes?  No?  Work on it.

January 1998

Dear Diary,

Just got a job in the record industry (publicist for RCA Victor).  All my friends were surprised that I would pick music over politics but it has been hard to be a Dem.  Fr weeks, every day, reading the paper has been a challenge.  But then I was walking down the street and had a thought — why am I upset with Bill Clinton?  He has been a good president.  We have had a near unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.  That has been a good thing.  I am tired of being unhappy with him for stupid crap that doesn’t matter.

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Ok, those aren’t really from my journals, though I am sure I wrote similar things back then.  I remember worrying that Bill Clinton was going to squander the opportunity to do some truly spectacular things with his presidency.  I could not understand why Congress resisted working with him, did they not understand that he and they were in the same party?

It is easy to criticize President Obama for being too hands off when dealing with Congress, his absence from the conversations about the debt ceiling or the super committee’s failure only reinforces the narrative and it is easy to forget that he accomplished more in his first year in office than Bill Clinton.  He also managed to get health care reform, as imperfect as it is, passed.  I would like him to be more of a fighter, to het his hands dirty a little — politics is a dirty business — but that’s not who he is.  That’s also not the person many people voted for.  I am going to try to remind myself of how I felt during the Clinton administration whenever I am tempted to buy into the narrative that says I am supposed to be disappointed in President Obama.

You sure told me

I thought I was so clever. My analogy about how I approach conversations with people who disagree with me seemed so perfect. The assumption I have about most everyone who is active in politics is that we have the same ultimate goal; to make the country a better place. My analogy is that we both want to get to the same place — say we need to get to Safeway. I want to take one road and you want to take another, well, that doesn’t make either of evil, right?

So last week, I was feeling all good about my theory and approach and I tried to explain it to a Republican friend. She looked at me like I had eight heads and a tail — but people like you, she said, want to turn America socialist. You hate democracy. I tried to tell her that socialism is an economic system, that most of the democracies in the world (including ours) are capitalistic/socialist hybrids, that most of Europe, which is more socialist but anyone’s standard has more fluidity and upward mobility that we have (and higher standards of living) and that not all of us view democracy and some socialism as being mutually exclusive ideas. And, at he end of the day, don’t we seriously both want to make the US the best country it can be?

When Paul Ryan released his plan to overhaul Medicare and Social Security, I read it and hated it. Merely shifting the costs of healthcare from the government to the elderly will not impact the actual costs at all — we need real health care reform for that. That doesn’t mean I question his sincerity or his patriotism. I don’t blame Grover Norquist for anything the GOP Congresspeople do — and let me be as clear on this point as I can be, any member of Congress that voted for a tax hike, even after signing the pledge, would still be able to go back to their district and win re-election. Talk about paper tigers.

But I don’t have an ideological litmus test for my friends. I wish some of them had the same point of view.

I am a Democrat because I think out government exists to do for all of us collectively what we cannot do individually. I think a single payer health care system would be more cost effective than the system we have now. I think it would lead to more preventative care and the individual mandate is absolutely necessary for the system to work. I like the idea that my tax dollars go to help people who need it, pay for quality education, build a strong infrastructure and first rate military. And I think if we shifted the burden of health care costs from companies — with the additional step of streamlining costs — to all of us, we would make our businesses more competitive. How is that anti-capitalist? It’s not.

Moreover, I like regulations that keep my air and water clean, make sure the transportation I take is safe and my food is free of toxins and infectious agents. I don’t look back on movies like “Boys’ Town” or the novels of Charles Dickens and think — wow, we had it so good then.

And I like NASA. When President Kennedy reached for the stars, we did more than send men to the moon, we inspired generations of kids to go into sciences. The technological advancements achieved through the space program can be seen everywhere.

And I am an optimist. I don’t think we need a civil war to fix our country because I agree with Bill Clinton when he said “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed with what’s right with America.”

These are not the opinions of someone who wants us to lose our freedoms or change to a totalitarian state. If I am going to try to see your point, I wish you would make even the smallest effort to see mine.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you for…

1.  The US Constitution:  It is easy to look at the recent Congressional failures, and the “super

The US Constitution, it rocks

committee” is only the most recent, and think “our system is broken.”  It isn’t.  Flawed, yes.  Injured, probably.  Broken, no.  One thing that has always confused me is why some people, upset by the results of the 2008 presidential campaign, preferred to think that we had entered the “end of days” rather than entertain the idea that they lost an election.  You see, I have some perspective on this.  I worked on the Gore 2000 campaign.  I was devastated by the result but I never — not once — considered George W. Bush to be anything but a legitimate president.  My belief in our system got me through that loss.  When you work on campaigns, sometime you lose.  It sucks but that’s part of the deal.

The other part of the equation is the recognition that as great as our system is, it is a tool.  No tool is better than the people who use it.  our representative democracy, otherwise known as a republic, reflects us.  If we do not like the results it produces, we have no one but ourselves to blame.   I have written several letters to the Washington Post about George Will.  He claims to be both a proponent of capitalism and an opponent of public broadcasting.  And yet, he hates reality TV.  I think you cannot argue that the free market is the best method to produce quality anything and then be angry when it produces crap.  The same can be said of our government. As Bill Clinton used to say, There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.  Amen, brother.

2. The Mets.  Do I hate to love them or love to hate them?  Clearly the former.  Oh, they break my heart every year.  I am not going to write any more right now about that, I need a break from hating myself.

3. Reality TV.  Jersey Shore.  Hoarders.  Anything with people who weight more than 500 pounds.  We all know why we watch; we want to feel better about our own lives and I am no different.  No, I don’t want to see wealthy, vain housewives spend more in an afternoon on napkins than I spend in a year on rent but  I like that as dirty as my apartment may get, I don’t have goats eating holes in my walls.  Oh, and I can stand up and walk around.  Seriously, your family cooks 12 chickens a day for you?  Do they deliver your heroin, too?  See?  I am clearly a disturbed person.

4. The GOP candidates for president.  About two years ago, I called Michele Bachmann’s office.  I said, “Look, I am not a constituent but I would love it if she ran for president.”  I did not add, because I write comedy and that would be awesome, I figured it was implied. I had no idea Herman Cain even existed.

Seriously, I am thankful for the Constitution but I am infinitely more thankful for my friends and family.  Thank you for being so awesome.

You know who you are.

Seriously, when did this start bothering you? Yesterday?

Wow.

This used to be one of my favorite photos of myself. Today? Not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this Congressman Anthony Weiner situation had happened at a different time, I would have felt differently.  (I should point out before I continue that I have been pretty merciless in my criticism of John Edwards, someone I supported and worked for and when I started doing stand-up used to say “Every time I think this story cannot get any douchier, it does.”  That joke is as true today as it was two years ago when I wrote it).  The calls from the right for Weiner to resign and the “outrage” they have been falling over themselves to express sickens me.

You see, I have a few other scandals kicking around in my head making me put this in perspective.  There is neither rhyme nor reason to the order I am using.

America’s Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.  The cheating really isn’t what bothers me.  He and his then-wife – Donna Hanover – were having very public problems.  This is none of my business.  Not until this happened; Ms. Hanover was doing an interview where she told of how they were “trying to work things out.”  As she says this, the channel goes to a split screen with the mayor giving a press conference that he was in the process of serving her with divorce papers.  Yes, that’s how she learned she was getting a divorce.  Ouch.  Where is he now?  Considering a second run for president.  Oh, he was a crappy mayor, too.

The GOP “ideas” guy, Newt Gingrich.  Three marriages and countless pieces of Tiffany’s jewelry later, everyone’s favorite “intellectual” and serial adulterer, divorced one of his wives while she was recovering in the hospital from cancer.  Doonesbury ran a cartoon of this at the time with Newt telling her to “Press hard, woman, you’re making three copies!”  Where’s this family values former Speaker?  Again, running for president.

The Governator.  Known for decades as groping women on film sets and press junkets around the globe, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “recent” antics should shock no one (not the LA Times who reported on this when he ran for governor).  Think it gets worse than fathering a child with your maid, who continues to work for you and bring her son who looks just like you to the house you share with your wife and children?  Oh, it does.  Reports have indicated when confronted with his – is it indiscretion at this point? – situation he told Maria Shriver that she had to move out.  Oh, and the premise of his new animated series (from the press release issued the week this story broke) is that a governor is living a dual life – as governor during the day and super hero at night – he even keeps a separate and secrete home under the home he shares with his wife and family that he doesn’t even tell them about.  And where is he?  Right, starring in a new Terminator movie.  He said he would be back…

David “Acorn shouldn’t get funding because they support prostitution and only I am allowed to do that” Vitter.  In 2007, the world learned that Senator David Vitter was a client of the “DC Madam.”  He had been a “client” from 1999-2001(he was in the House of Representatives where he was serving in the seat vacated when Bob Livingston – at the time Speaker – resigned following his own adultery scandal, for which Vitter praised him saying “This is what Bill Clinton should have done.”  If that doesn’t make your head spin, what does?).  The main difference between Vitter’s support of prostitution and Acorn’s is the latter was investigated and found to be false while the only standing between Vitter and a  criminal prosecution for his crimes is the statute of limitations.  Where is he?  The US Senate.

Henry Hyde – my personal favorite.  This is an oldie but goodie.  Congressman Henry Hyde – one of the chief prosecutors of the Clinton impeachment – admitted he cheated on his wife but explained it as being a “youthful indiscretion.”  He was 51 when that happened.  I have tons of time to do dumb stuff and claim it was all because of my youth.  The former Congressman has passed – at 83 after retiring with a full pension and some pretty sweet health insurance.

What people do in their private lives – no matter how public they have made their lives – is private.  None of what I wrote about is any of my business.  I was never going to vote for any of them (except John Edwards).  When Eric Cantor – Minority Whip and lead “you need to resign, Weiner!” point person – was asked about Vitter, John Ensign (affair with employee that was covered up with payments to his best friend and her husband) and Mark Sanford (flew to Argentina with state funds to have an affair) he said “We are a party of ideas, not personalities” – it makes my skin crawl.

So, no, I don’t think Anthony Weiner should resign.

All these cheaters deserve to live (but not work!) here.

My post mortem on the Trump candidacy

Donald Trump was never in the 2012 presidential campaign for the long haul.  I am not saying he had no interest in being president, I think he did.  He probably still does.  But this is my take of how this all went down.

 The 2012 campaign began almost the day after the election in 2008 but it really started up after the 2010 campaign.  Speculation about who was going to run on the GOP side seemed to be everywhere.  If there is anyone who understand the adage that “no press is bad press,” it’s Mr. Trump.  I grew up on Long Island where we seemed to get a ring side seat to the Trump Show.  I think he had been asked to do this and thought his campaign would be credible; a credible stunt.    Now, because he has a considerable ego, had been considering this, maybe his real interest was at 10 percent.  Anyone who has worked on a presidential campaign has seen the cottage industry that springs up when someone looks like they are running for president.  Would be candidates end up surrounded by a growing chorus of people telling him to run.  I used to wonder about candidates who have no chance, do they have no one in their life who can tell them this is a bad idea?  No, no there is not.

 So after a bit of this, Mr. Trump’s seriousness may have grown but I can guarantee that he did some checking into this – before he announced he was looking into it – and one of the very first things he would have learned,  was that he would have to release his financials and anyone who has ever really followed his career understands that this was never going past the summer.  Add to that his discomfort at shaking hands (a campaign must-do) and hatred of being seriously questioned (another campaign must-do) and you’ve got your three strikes.

 I think Mr. Trump started this thinking it would get decent press and raise ratings (can they ever be too high?  Not to him).  He starts out talking about the issues that he thinks makes him a credible candidate – the economy and our relationship with China.  He makes progress in the polls but the progression is more of a stable growing of support (good for politics, not so much for TV ratings) but not the meteoric rise he was looking for (bad for a campaign of a year and a half but good for TV ratings).  What’s been the hottest topic for many on the right?  President Obama’s birth certificate.  Mr. Trump takes a hard turn right and into loonie land, his polls numbers soar and the media eats this up like crazy.

 Note to the news media:  you have what, 17 months left of this campaign to cover?  Ask yourselves if you took his candidacy more seriously – or claimed to – to give you an excuse to cover something interesting.  If your answer is that he repeated (over and over and over) how serious he was – his stunt would not have worked without that.  If you really believed this, you would take Chris Christie at his word when he tries to make that same claim the other way.  Oh, and I also have a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in.

 With his poll & ratings numbers soaring (not sure about his actual show but he dominated the 24 hour news cycle), the White House sees some of the crazy rhetoric is having an effect on what average people were starting to think about the President’s place of birth.  They release the long form certificate.  Mr. Trump is a allowed a small victory lap before his Icarus (thank you Chris Cillizza) candidacy crashes to earth.  We all know what happened next, Mr. Trump is eviscerated a few days later at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and to add that last nail, his NBC show is interrupted by the announcement that President Obama caught and killed Osama bin Laden.  Done.

 I would like to draw a clear comparison between this media type candidacy and that of Mike Huckabee.  Governor Huckabee was the clear front runner, which means as much as that can in 1.5 years out.  He also wanted to be president but this is a long grueling process.  One thing I always try to remind people about campaigns is that there are two things that you always run out of.  While you can theoretically make more money (as hard as that is), you can’t get more time.  Once the race starts, you get a finite amount and that’s all you get.  I think he looked at his life and weighed the real chances – even locking in the GOP nod would not guarantee him the prize, and it probably just seemed to be too much.  I am only laying all that out to show just how genuine his reasons for ending his campaign were.  No, Cenk Uygur, he did not “get too fat and happy to run.”  That’s just petty and mean.

 PS.  Dear Mr. Trump, this might be a good time to revisit that plan you had to save the Mets.  That’s a financial/sad situation that really might need you.