Sandy’s Last Victim: (President) Romney

In August at the Republican National Convention, Candidate Romney mocked President Obama when he said: “Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet” which drew groans and laughter from the Party loyals festooned in elephas regalia.  While Romney followed up his mocking with a reasonable pledge to instead concern himself with the American family as opposed to the sophomoric “Drill, Baby, Drill!” chant of four years earlier, he may have offended more than Obamians and human-hating environmentalists. He may have offended Mother Nature herself who sent the ambiguously gendered climate changer hurricane Sandy to submerge Romney’s campaign in its final days.

I may be proven wrong four days from now, but after studying the numbers posted at Real Clear Politics yesterday afternoon, it appears that Obama will win reelection.  There are too many ways he can win, and really no plausible pathway for Romney.  What was new and somewhat startling, however, was what appears to be Sandy’s effect on Florida; a state he/she rained on but passed on his/her way to slam the Northeast.  Florida, recently seen as a Romney certainty, may swing to Obama.  If Obama gets those 29 electoral votes he can lose every other swing state to Romney and still be reelected.

The Sandy effect on Florida is fairly easy to understand.  Floridians know a thing or two about hurricanes and are very sympathetic to their victims.  Obama has received great praise for his handling of the aftermath, which has, among other things, produced a November bromance-a-trois between himself, Mayor Bloomberg, and Governor Christie.  And remember, millions of Floridians either came from the Northeast or have family there today. Finally, Floridians are also aware—and were reminded again this week—that Obama appointed their former head of emergency management (a Jeb Bush man), William Fugate, as his head of FEMA who is also being (mostly) lauded for his handling of the Sandy aftermath.  Obama reached across the aisle to avoid a W/Katrina/Brownie disaster.

Last Thursday in the New York Times, Timothy Egan opined, “in the election of 2012, it looks like nature votes last.”  If it does, its deciding vote may leave Romney wishing that Obama had succeeded in his quest to “slow the rise of the oceans” that put the sunshine state on the tally sheet of President Obama.




By |2017-05-23T18:09:23+00:00November 3rd, 2012|General|0 Comments

The Neverwillbe Reagans

As the Republican presidential hopefuls gather at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this coming Wednesday evening, there will be, no doubt, a number of attempts to borrow the alchemic allure of President Reagan as each candidate seeks to channel his homespun American exceptionalism.  However, the top-tier, including Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, and Mitt Romney, have very little in common with Reagan.  They are the product of an angry and twisted exceptionalism steeped in religious certitude, nationalistic fear, and elite entitlement.  Perry espouses state’s rights and secession in a manner not heard since Southern Confederates used the same arguments to preserve the institution of slavery.  Bachman suggests we deserved our earthquakes and hurricanes as a rebuke of our evil ways, while Romney claims that corporations are people too.  At its core, their exceptionalism holds a contempt for Americans—especially for those who do not look like or believe as they do—and for the liberal ideals of the Founding Fathers.  Furthermore, while hope is a dirty word for today’s Republicans, commonly derided in the phrase “hope is not a strategy,” hope is exactly what Reagan brought to America.  (While President Obama tried too, he has thus far failed.)

Reagan gave Americans access to a special grace that his predecessor Jimmy Carter couldn’t or wouldn’t offer; largely due to the fact Carter was locked in his evangelical revivalist trinity of sin, redemption, and salvation.  Where Carter admonished Americans to sacrifice in order to alleviate a “crisis of spirit,” Reagan simply offered Americans absolution.  Reagan’s theological innovation was transferring the concept of original sin from the individual to the institution.  On the domestic front, Americans were good, while government and its bureaucracies were bad.  In foreign relations, the Soviet Union was evil, but Gorbachev (the human) was worthy of Reagan’s respect and consideration.  Reagan exalted Americans regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or even Party affiliation.  Reagan’s ire was reserved for communism, not Americans, which he saw as the principal threat to God’s gift to humankind: freedom.  Reagan’s America was the chosen land inhabited by chosen people who had a responsibility to the world: to establish a divine imperium of freedom.  While Reagan did battle with his political adversaries like Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, when the day was done they would share a drink, a story, and a song.

As charming and effective as Reagan was at attracting political support, it is easy to find fault with his presidency.  Besides his promises, government got bigger, deficits swelled, and illegal activities were conducted from the desks of the National Security Council.  Reagan never delivered on the social agenda of the Religious Right, although that should have surprised no one; as Governor of California, he allowed abortion to be legalized and he supported gun control.  He was often heralded as a great communicator, but he was also a lousy executive.  He lived in his own world where too often fantasy trumped fact; where reason was set aside for faith.  But, Reagan gave Americans something that the dismissive angst spewed by today’s field of Republicans will never accomplish: Reagan made Americans feel better about themselves.

It is a long road to the election in November 2012, and America is indeed in dire straits.  Things might get better by themselves, although right now I’d bet on worse.  But, we’ve been here before; there have been many dark days in our history.  What’s required now is a humble sense of self, a platform of mutual respect, and above all, the courage to do right by our founders and our children.  Reagan’s alchemic American exceptionalism may not be the answer today, but believing in each other and taking personal responsibility to make the country and the world a better place while setting aside certitude, fear, and elitism would honor his legacy in the most worthy manner.  Less than one hundred yards from where the Republican candidates will debate Wednesday night is Reagan’s tomb.  Above it, carved in granite, reads, “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is a purpose and worth to each and every life.”  Reagan loved his God and his country, and he loved Americans.  That is a message the Republican candidates would do well to heed.

By |2017-05-23T19:54:57+00:00September 2nd, 2011|General|0 Comments
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