Tag Archives: presidential campaign

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.

Reality TV 2.0

Just when I was starting to get worried that season five of Jersey Shore is still a full six months away — how will I get through this rough time? — the GOP presidential candidates have come through.  I am not sure if this qualifies as a real progression from reality TV 1.0 to 2.0 but we have entered a new phase, that’s for sure.

The Cain TrainFor instance, Herman Cain is the newest gift that keeps on giving.  My personal issue with him isn’t his 13 year affair, the allegations of sexual harassment — although they are deplorable, or even his positions on policy.  Granted, the last in that list disqualified him immediately from being someone who would get my vote but he already knew that (did everyone catch him tell a reporter than he “doesn’t need 100 percent of the vote” ???). My real problem with Cain is that he thought he was qualified to run for president without doing even the slightest real prep for  it.  If he cannot read enough to know the issues — or even be able to accurately describe his own ideas, how could he ever govern?  I find it beyond arrogant that he thinks he can govern solely on the strength of his personality.  I met a candidate for the US Senate a few years ago who had never worked on a campaign or in government.  He volunteered on one in college.  He called the move to the US Senate a “lateral move.”  No, sir, it is not.

Campaigns are long job interviews.  If a job applicant answered any interview question with “I will listen to my advisors on that,” they would be laughed out of the interview.  Worse, they would have wasted the interviewers time.  That’s what bothers me about Herman Cain.  The farce of his campaign has hurt the level of discourse and wasted all of our time.

Having said all of that, I have found his train wreck campaign to be as delicious as any of Snooki’s adventures.  And I kind of love it that he is the last person in America to realize his campaign is over.  Love it.

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.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

Kind of ironic bok title, huh?

Kind of ironic book title, huh?

Herman Cain, aka the pizza magnate and current flavor of the month in the GOP POTUS candidate, has made some interesting choices and statements. He seems to think running for president and selling books are not mutually exclusive activities.

To give him his due, the Cain campaign has bought a lot of his books so he is definitely selling a ton while running for president. And Governor Sarah Palin would tell you her VP run and the speculation about her possible 2012 run did not hurt her book sales but just because you can do something, does not mean you should.

This is not an anti-capitalist view I am trying to promote. Sell as many books as want but it seems a little unseemly to use a presidential run to do it. Any presidential campaign is really a multi-month (or year) job interview for the most (or one of) important jobs in the country. Nothing a candidate does will really prepare anyone to be president (and it’s not supposed to, you should be qualified to run before you make that decision) but it does give the nation a chance to get to know the would be candidates. This is not a time to bring anything but your A game. When you think about that, is this really the time to split your energy between running and doing anything else?

Running for president is hard. Not has hard as being the leader of the free world but it is hard. That’s why I criticized Cenk Uygar when he said that Mike Huckabee was “too fat and happy” to run. I have a lot of respect for people who admit that it takes a lot of time and energy to run and there are no guarantees. Good for you, Governor.

Governor Rick Perry has learned how much harder it is to run for national office (I believe he thought that his track record in Texas would prepare him better for the presidential race) than any state-wide. That’s one of the reasons he has said he may not take part in upcoming debates (not that his underwhelming performances have had any role, seriously, if you cannot stay awake past 8:00 pm, how can you be president?).

Congresswomen Michele Bachmann has learned this, too. Maybe that’s why her New Hampshire staff all quit in a huff. Maybe she thought she could make up facts as she goes along in this campaign the way she does every other time she opens her mouth but it doesn’t seem to be working as well as she thought.

So we come back to the current front-runner (in national polls, though, not the state polls, where it matters more), Herman Cain. It is worth noting that the title of this post could also refer to Godfather’s pizza. With all due respect to Chicago deep dish pizza lovers, you can theoretically make pizza outside of New York, but why would you?

Full disclosure, which is pretty obvious to anyone who has met me or read what I write, I am a liberal Democrat and have every intention of voting for President Obama. Having said that, I think having two robust parties and a vigorous discussion about where we want the country to go, is in everyone’s best interest. I was really impressed when Governor Chris Christie said that he believes in “small government, lower taxes and less regulation,” not because I agree with ANY of that, in fact I do NOT, but that’s where our conversation should be.

Herman Cain is not advancing our political discourse at all. His economic plan (the “9/9/9” or “9/0/9”) would be disastrous. His ignorance of foreign policy is scary. It is his lack of interest in running for office, while he runs, that bothers me the most. With little or no campaign infrastructure, few details on his policy proposals and a general laissez-faire attitude towards the process, I am left with the thought that if he doesn’t care about his campaign, why should anyone?

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.