The Woe Is Me Presidency Tuesday, Nov 23 2010 

Sub-headline,  Newsweek cover, November 2010:  WHY THE  MODERN  PRESIDENCY  MAY  BE TOO MUCH  FOR  ONE  PERSON TO  HANDLE.

Here we go again. Sixty years ago, while Harry Truman was grappling with post-war problems  at home and a Cold War overseas,  the contrarian Senator William Fulbright — called by Truman “an over-educated Oxford  SOB” — questioned the one-man presidency and suggested the country’s sole hope for survival lay in adopting the British parliamentary system.

Thirty years later the one-man presidency again came into question with Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office micromanaging  both the Tehran hostage rescue mission and his staff’s  use of the White House tennis courts.

Now it’s Barack Obama’s turn, weighed down as he is with the burden of getting Senate confirmation of  the  New START treaty  on  one hand, while writing children’s books with the other.

All of which leads this under-educated White House observer to think that while  the  modern presidency might be  too much to handle for some incumbents,  it isn’t for others.

Or am I simply being querulous in asking why Newsweek editors didn’t raise the same banal question when  Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan were calling the shots in the Oval Office?

Folk Wisdom of the Week Tuesday, Nov 23 2010 

“Never play checkers with a man who carries his own board.”

— Branch Rickey

McCAIN DEFEATS OBAMA! Wednesday, Nov 17 2010 

It turns out that Tea Party members are not alone in their depressing view of the direction the country is headed. According to one over-caffeinated Left-wing hysteric — there are a few of those around — Michael Bloomberg will run for president in 2012 and take enough votes away from Barack Obama to elect Sarah Palin president.

I find several glitches in that scenario, not the least of which that we have yet to see a birth certificate proving that Sarah Palin was born on this planet.  That aside, I have already dreamed my worst-case Palin narrative, a hallucinated alternative history reversing the result of the 2008 election.

Think of it: President McCain in the Oval Office, mulling whether he can spare troops from the 200,000 boots-on-the-ground in Afghanistan to add to the 50,000 on-the-ground in Yemen, without reducing the number available for the pending invasion of Iran; while one heartbeat away Vice President Palin, just returned from her most recent book tour, preps her family for the first installment of the new Fox reality show, “Mama Grizzly Goes to Washington.”

Rhetoric Americana Wednesday, Nov 17 2010 

“I am a rube of the rubes. The odor of the barnyard is on me yet. I have greased my hair with goose grease, wiped my proboscis with a gunny-sack towel, drunk coffee out of my saucer, and eaten with my knife. I have said ‘I done it’ when I should have said ‘did it’, and ‘I have saw’ when I should have said ‘I have seen,’ and I expect to go to heaven just the same.”

WHO SAID IT? Choose One of Three:

(a) Alaska’s Joe Miller, circa 2010; (b) Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, circa 2008; (c) Evangelist Billy Sunday, circa 1925.

Answer: (c)


When Is An Issue Not An Issue? Monday, Nov 8 2010 

Let  me  show my age by revealing that I grew up in a time when there was no penalty for face-masking in football  because there  were no face masks;  when people rode in vehicles called streetcars to baseball games that were played in daylight;   when characters in movies could smoke but not curse;  and when the  ­Number One issue in any election held while Americans were fighting and dying overseas was that Americans were fighting and dying overseas.

That said, please tell this relic of the 20th century how the most heated, divisive mid-term election in a generation could take place with candidates venting their feelings over health care, bailouts, taxes, deficits, immigration, but with no question raised over a decade-old war in which young Americans are fighting and dying.

What’s more, fighting and dying with no clear objective and, as the man in charge of the war, General David Petraeus, tells us, no end in sight. This, says Petraeus, is a war our children will inherit, the same view held by that great sage of the Vietnam era, Henry Kissinger, who warns that Americans “must be prepared for a long struggle.”

Read now, as quoted by Andrew J. Bacevich in “The New American Militarism:  How Americans are Seduced by War,” what another sage observer once said about long struggles: (more…)

Foreign Policy Quote of the Week Monday, Nov 8 2010 

“If you give them food it’s spreading democracy, but if you leave the label on it,  it’s  imperialism.”

— From Billy Wilder’s film “A Foreign Affair”