A Human Trombone

It is not a good thing for a country to have a professional yodeler, a human trombone like Mr. Bryan as secretary of state, nor a college professor with an astute and shifty mind, a hypocritical ability to deceive plain people, unscrupulousness in handling machine leaders, and no real knowledge or wisdom concerning internal and international affairs as the head of the nation.

-Teddy Roosevelt on President Woodrow Wilson and his secretary of state William Jennings Bryan. To apply the same sentiment to our current President does not seem inaccurate.

Kagan

I listened to as much of the Kagan confirmation hearings as I had time for, and found it to be one of the most fascinating events conducted by our senior legislative body in recent memory. I was fascinated not so much by the depth of Kagan’s testimony (or lack thereof), but more so by the way the judiciary committee members utilized their time for questioning. For the most part the Senators took it as yet another opportunity to bask in the spotlight as they asked questions that were less about drawing out meaningful testimony from Kagan than they were about making political points with the constituents paying attention at home. Senator Sessions’ closing statement was a particularly annoying example. At least some of the Senators did their homework and acted like they know what they were talking about. I found interesting Senator Franken’s long-winded but intelligent questions regarding antitrust laws and their applications to the proposed Comcast-NBC merger.

In the end, we found that Kagan is an abundantly learned scholar and practitioner of law as well as an irrepressible and witty personality. On the more substantive matters regarding what type of a judge she would be, we are less clear. The NRA appears sufficiently concerned about her position on gun control to publicly oppose her nomination. In the past she has given money to pro-abortion groups. While claiming not to embrace a primacy of international law, she holds that it can be turned to for guidance. Her stances on these three issues alone will send up all manner of red flags for conservatives.

Beyond that is the fact a Kagan justiceship would last a very long time, as she is only 50 years of age.

If Kagan is confirmed, I will have to wonder if the charm factor was responsible, because as a personality she is hard not to like.

Meet the New New Left, Same as the Old New Left

Spending some time with David Horowitz’s fascinating volume entitled Left Illusions…interesting how the arguments of today’s “progressives” are so similar to those of the New Left and its antecedents. Members of that movement felt that they were misunderstood by most Americans, who were too dumb to realize that the “progressives” were trying to “help” them. “We’re doing this for you!” a young Horowitz cried in his head as he marched in the 1948 May Day parade while being heckled by curious onlookers who denounced the marchers as subversive Communist agitators. Barack Obama, a child of the New Left, seems similarly frustrated by opposition to his misguided attempts to “help” Americans through the institution of “progressive” policies. One hope’s eventually Obama will come to his senses as Horowitz did.

SOTU Pre-Game Shenanigans: Pelosi Jack-in-the-Box Routine

It was difficult to watch President Obama’s first addressing of the Congress without noticing the unbridled exuberance Nancy Pelosi exhibited throughout as she popped so energetically out of her chair at each applause line. In contrast, Joe Biden barely paid enough attention so as to know when to clap at all. In light of this memory, it seems appropriate to watch the montage again and have the same kind of laugh we have when we watch Howard Dean’s “I have a Scream” speech for the umpteenth time. Because something [like the fact that healthcare reform is in the ER] tells me Nancy may show more restraint this evening.

Obama to propose spending freeze – Glenn Thrush and David Rogers – POLITICO.com

Imagine that, Obama the deficit hawk. In what appears to be a political move intended to appease deficit-weary politicos and the public alike, Obama is poised to announce a halt in non-security discretionary spending. Cutting spending and pushing through an aggressive legislative agenda simultaneously will prove to be quite the balancing act, but I suspect the employment of creative fiscal gymnastics by Team Obama will make matters easier.

Obama to propose spending freeze – Glenn Thrush and David Rogers – POLITICO.com.

David Plouffe Just Sent Me an Email

Here’s what it said:

Friend —

On Wednesday evening, President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address. It comes at a critical moment.

We must regroup, refocus, and re-engage on the vital work ahead. So let’s watch it together at a State of the Union Watch Party in your neighborhood.

We’ve hit some serious bumps in the road recently in our march toward change. We always knew it would be difficult, but this past week has definitely been a hard one, for all of us.

But this movement didn’t come so far without making it through some challenging times. It’s at moments like these when we need you most. People are hurting. Our country is at a crossroads, and in communities like yours all across America we must all fight for the progress our families and businesses need to thrive.

The President’s resolve has never been stronger to keep fighting for health insurance reform, for lasting job creation, and to rein in the big banks and fight the undue influence of lobbyists. Wednesday’s speech will be a pivotal moment for us all to get on the same page and continue the fight together.

In just two days, OFA supporters like you will be gathering at State of the Union Watch Parties in living rooms and community centers across the country. You can share ideas and experiences — and I’ll be joining on the phone for a special strategy huddle before the speech.

Find and RSVP for a State of the Union Watch Party near you:

http://my.barackobama.com/AttendSOTU

I hope you can join us,

David Plouffe

P.S. — Volunteers have set up hundreds of Watch Parties over the last few days. But if there isn’t one yet near you, just sign up to host one yourself. It’s easy and fun, local OFA organizers will help you with any questions you have, and it’s an incredibly important way to let supporters near you be part of the action:

http://my.barackobama.com/HostSOTU

Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)

Why? Because it will soon be here. I beg your forgiveness for the tacky (yet pertinent) Fleetwood Mac reference.

In the wake of Obama’s triumphant elevation to the Presidency last Tuesday at the hands of millions of starry-eyed voters, many of my conservative friends determined to head for the hills. “I’m going into hibernation for a few weeks,” a Senate staffer told me, “You may not hear from me for awhile.”

This is precisely the wrong approach for activist conservatives. For those of us that spent the last few months contributing in various ways to the effort to stem the tide of Obamamania, there is no rest-only a slight change in focus. Faced with a federal government dominated by a socialist-leaning Democratic party on a power trip, it will be crucial for us to continue the fight. Starting now, it will be not about individual candidates but about issues, something that got little attention during the recent campaign. Issues took a back seat as the media and pundits focused largely on the shallow but glitzy rhetoric of the candidates, especially that from Barack Obama. Problem is, while Obama’s “Change” and “Hope” rhetoric is rather nebulous when it comes to specifics, the ideas that gave rise to rhetoric are products of the influence of 1960s-vintage New Left thought; and these ideas will be the guiding light for Obama as he at determines how to bring “Change” to fruition as policy.

To combat this, we as conservatives must become a very vocal minority. But first, we must become educated. In order to spread the word, we must be able to articulate clearly why Obama and Pelosi and Reid are wrong. We have to be literate in the language of conservatism. This does not mean mastery of the GOP talking points of recent years. It does not mean strident partisanship. It does not mean tasteless jokes about watermelon patches at the White House. What it means is understanding why we as conservatives believe what we believe about the government’s role. It means recognizing that the GOP has in recent years been guilty of straying from the brand of limited-government conservatism most us signed up for. Once we get back to the basics of the conservatism of Reagan and Goldwater, we must be clear in communicating our opinions to our elected representatives in Washington, be they Republicans or Democrats. We must also talk to friends and neighbors and get them on board. We must win the battle on the ground for all those minds that think they are Democrats until a conservative friend explains to the them how our redistributive tax code works.

The groundwork must be laid for picking up seats in Congress in 2010-a mere two years from now. We cannot sit by idly and hope that the Democrats fall on their face and thereby hand seats on Capitol Hill back to us. We must point out there faults and show how conservatism would remedy them. We must do this actively and constantly.

Now is not the time to let up or give up. Now more than ever we must be on our game. If we are, then the era of Democratic domination will be short-lived.

What if?

Let’s face it, the vaunted Clinton machine has shown complete fecklessness in the face of Obamania. The ways in which she has failed to make headway against this force of nature–the rhetoric of Obama–are countless. Its actually staggering the missed opportunities and the inability of her campaign to find weak points to harp on, especially considering the willingness of the Clintons to play dirty.

 A new thought occurred to me this afternoon, though. Did Hillary just get unlucky? What if Obama had decided to wait until the next go ’round in ’12? How would the “inevitable candidate” fared in a race without the Illinois senator-cum-rock star/hope-monger/Presidential candidate?

For starters, she would have dispatched all the second-tier candidates with ease. John Edwards would have remained as her chief rival. I suspect that she would have become at some point the clear establishment candidate, meaning all the endorsements and money flowing to Obama would instead have been hers. She would in that case have been able to play by her own rules. She could have hit Edwards with more traditional attacks, since he would be a more symmetrical opponent. Without Obama, it is highly likely she would have all but wrapped up the nomination by now.

Then what? She would face McCain in the general election. Theoretically, she should win, because she would be the “change candidate.” In the general election, her more centrist foreign policy would dilute McCain’s biggest selling point, and she could probably demagogue her way to victory on domestic issues.

But this is 2008. Would the voters really go for the old Clinton tricks this time around? Cynicism directed toward Washington is high, as shown by not only President Bush’s perennially dreadful approval ratings but also the even worse approval rating for the Democratic Congress (which somehow has managed to do worse than the shamefully useless Repubican Congress before it). The Clintons of ’92 and ’96 got away with all manner of semantic gymnastics and fallacy, and developed evasion of tough questions into an art form. They played dirty but never got mud on their clothes. And somehow, they could connect with Americans, who were all too happy to overlook the closets in Arkansas bulging with skeletons.

Methinks today’s voter would be less apt to let them get away with it. The Clinton machine is a 20th century dinosaur that has proven itself inferior to better evolved species. Perhaps she was unlucky in that in her year to shine, Obama also rose. Perhaps, however, she was doomed anyway.

Your comments are appreciated.