<1 (do the math)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you noticed few people call Barack Obama “The One” anymore? “The Golfer” or “The Vacationer” is more like it. Something less than One, by any measure.


Still, with each passing day and each new, permanent crisis, it seems like BO just ain’t up to the job of President.  Nothing new.  When Jimmy Carter’s incompetence became obvious, the lefty press developed a theory that the job had simply grown too complex for one man. Don’t be surprised to hear it again shortly. They carried that meme right into the GOP convention of 1980 when Walter Cronkite decided that Ronald Reagan needed to appoint Gerald Ford his co-nominee rather than veep

Of course, Reagan became President and proved, in short order, that  not only could one person handle the job, the right person could do it in 6 hour days with a nap to boot.  The trick, of course, is finding the right person. And America apparently failed at that challenge in 2008. 

I don’t have a bunch of stats and numbers for this, but I do have an awfully strong hunch.  Bill Clinton was dealt bad news from time to time, but he always seemed to land on his feet.  Barack Obama has good news every now than, and he somehow manages to screw that up, too.  Let’s look at headlines of the past week:

Did I say past week?  That was TODAY! 

Here’s the thing: today wasn’t a aberration. Every day of the Barack Obama presidency is like this.  Or worse. In fact, a few weeks ago, former Obama fawner, Peggy Noonan, declared Obama a “snake-bit President.”  And that ain’t good.

But Mr. Obama is starting to look unlucky, and–file this under Mysteries of Leadership–that is dangerous for him because Americans get nervous when they have a snakebit president. They want presidents on whom the sun shines.

Indeed. In 1981, the masters at Bishop DuBourg High School had us all watch Reagan’s Inauguration on TV.  We saw it happen live, on CBS, if I remember correctly.  Here’s the story from Defense.gov:

In stepped Reagan. After taking the oath of office, Reagan strode to the dais. As the new president began his inaugural address, the sun broke through the clouds. A woman in the crowd said that even Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script.

Reagan’s whole presidency was like that. Not scripted, but lucky.  When Dutch (Reagan’s nickname from back in Dixon, Illinois) screwed up, something happened. He’d come out smelling like a rose.

Noonan was right, of course. We want lucky leaders.  As goes a song from the musical Pippin, “It’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart.”

I would argue that intelligence, education, and experience, alone, are not enough to be president. Yet Obama appears to lack all of those, in addition to luck and instinct.  We know he went to Harvard. But so did George W. Bush. And Hank Paulson.  And the CEOs of most of the banks that collapsed in 2008.

So we have a lot of evidence that we hired the wrong dude to lead America.  The question becomes “what do we do now?”

There’s only so much we can do, and some of you have been doing it for a while.

  1. We can keep pressure on Congress to STOP enacting this snake-bit, incompetent President’s agenda.
  2. We can support candidates who will stop Obama’s agenda in the next Congress.
  3. We can recruit and train candidates for 2012 who will reverse the damaging growth of government.
  4. We can pray that our country survives this present crisis of government.
    Until we have a Congress and President who understand the Constitution and voluntarily abide by its limitations on government powers, it’s up to us to remain vigilant against further government growth. And it’s also incumbent upon on us to understand what a colossal mistake we made by electing this snake-bit, failure of a man to our country’s highest office. 

Maybe We Need a Lazy President

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The MSM are tripping over themselves to publish stories about Fred Thompson’s supposed laziness. Newsweek decided to make the accusation head on (from CNN.com):

[A]s he prepares to formally begin his campaign for the White House this week, after months of “testing the waters,” the conventional wisdom in Washington is that Thompson doesn’t want it badly enough, isn’t willing to work hard enough-put bluntly, that he is lazy. Newsweek: Grin and Bear It

The last “lazy” president we had was Ronald Reagan. For those of you too young or too senile to remember, Reagan’s laziness was the stuff of legend. I found this beauty from Ralph Nader’s web site, written in 1985:

At first I thought that House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill (D-Mass.) had unfurled the white flag of surrender at his post-inaugural meeting with President Ronald Reagan. O’Neill told the president that “in my 50 years of public life I’ve never seen a man more popular than you are with the American people.” This is the same Tip O’Neill who called Reagan lazy, cruel and uninformed at various times last year.

Contrast the images of Bill Clinton holding all night “wonk” session with these images of Reagan, who bragged about “burning the midday oil” and giving orders to the Secret Service that if a military crisis develops to wake him up “even if I’m in the middle of a Cabinet meeting.”

During his eight years in office, Reagan’s laziness resulted in curing inflation and stagflation, a 50 percent cut in the cost of gasoline, a mammoth cut in taxes, a rejuvenation of American pride, the rebirth of the American military, near-perfect victory over the Soviet Union, and freeing American business from a labor union strangle-hold (m/m).

Clinton, on the other hand, given the same amount of time managed to lose the Congress to Republicans for the first time in more than 30 years, pass sweeping Republican welfare reform, disspirit the military, and get a b.j. in the Oval Office. I’ll take lazy.

Getting back to the Newsweek article for a moment, it’s worth the read. I get the feeling that author Holly Baily set out to write a hit piece on Thompson designed to derail his campaign even before it starts. But, as so many journalists found when attacking Reagan, the story of the man turned her heart. For instance, Baily, here, attempts to demonstrate Thompson’s lazy selfishness at the Minnesota State Fair. In this scene, local politicians are impressing the former Senator with the fair’s Butter Princess–a statue of a woman made entirely of butter:

A Minnesota politician offers to introduce him to the sculptor. “No, no,” he demurs, trying to look disappointed. “I wouldn’t want to get in the way.” At the moment, Thompson is interested in only one thing-the giant strawberry milkshakes being sold a few yards away.

You gotta love it. Reagan, by the way, once refused to have his picture taken with a group of disabled kids during his 1975 run against Gerald Ford. Instead, after the press wandered off, Reagan rounded up the kids and spent half an hour talking and posing for private photos. He didn’t want to use their handicaps for his election.

Later, Baily treats us to what will likely become one of the defining stories of Fred Thompson.

He was interested in sports, and if Freddie Thompson wasn’t what you’d call a finesse player-he was a mess of arms and legs running with a ball-he managed to lead Lawrenceburg High to the state championships in basketball and football. Yet even on the field he was a clown. During one football game, Thompson took a hard tackle and didn’t get up. It looked as though he’d been knocked out. When his coach and teammates rushed over, Fred-die opened his eyes and grinned. “How’s the crowd taking it?” he asked. He kept still a few beats longer, then sprang to his feet and took in the cheers from the stands. Thompson was voted most outstanding athlete, but he never received the award. The school’s teachers, fed up with his classroom antics, demanded he be stripped of the prize.

I assure you that Bill Clinton was never stripped of a prize in high school without a fight to the Supreme Court. Fred Thompson simply moved on.

When Thompson begins campaigning in earnest, the qualities that some call laziness will pay big dividends. If a man or woman cannot do the job in a 60 hour week, then he or she cannot do the job at all. Clinton worked 120-hour weeks because the job was beyond him and he lacked focus. Reagan worked 40-hour weeks because he was larger than the job and focused on the important things.

I don’t know that Fred Thompson changed Holly Baily’s mind. She might have liked the guy before she began the article. What I do know is this: she likes him now. She and her contributors end the piece the way countless writers ended countless articles about Ronald Reagan. In fact, if I had Lexus/Nexus, I’ll bet I could make a case for plagiarism:

Thompson, who has already been president three times in the movies, is about to find out how much harder it is to play commander in chief when you don’t have a script.

Time to Take Down Iran

Reading Time: 1

I was lying in the bathtub after a rare Sunday afternoon football practice when the Big Red post-game show was interrupted:

We interrupt this program for a CBS Radio News special report. 

I’m Morton Dean.  The US State Department has announced that a group of students under control of the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran have siezed the American Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 100 Americans hostage.

or something like that.

It was November 4, 1979.  The action, as much as anything else, gave us Ronald Reagan for 8 years. 

But those of who lived through Jimmy Carter’s inept management of the crisis have longed for the end to the Islamic regime in Iran.  We’ve studied the vast chasm of philosophy between the Iran’s ruling despots and the Iranian people.  We know that Iran could America’s greatest ally in the Southwest Asia. 

When we hear that Iran is lobbing shells into Kurdish Iraq, we want our government to declare war on Iran to liberate her people.

My God, I miss Reagan.

Thompson Gaining Social Conservatives

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Boston.com reports that social conservatives are “coalescing” around Fred Thompson as their choice for Republican nominee for President in 2008.

“There’s a consensus developing around him that’s pretty clear and pretty profound,” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, an Orlando-based conservative group. “I’ve never seen anything like it in 25 years in politics.”

I agree. In 1979, as a high school sophomore with a National Review subscription, I became dissatisfied (for a short time) with the GOP. Don’t hunt me down and beat me, but I pulling for Ted Kennedy in October 1979.

The kid who sat in front of me in History, Jamie MacGauley, told me I was nuts. He said to find out more about Reagan. So I did.

It took about fifteen minutes for me to apologize to the universe for ever thinking Ted Kennedy was qualified for office higher than driving instructor.

Between October 1979 and June 1980, the Reagan tidal wave consumed me. Everywhere he went, he changed people’s hearts. He messed with people’s minds. Blue collar union guys from my neighborhood who never voted for a Republican in their lives were asking me if I had any more Reagan bumper stickers. I became the neighborhood clearinghouse for stickers and buttons.

Nineteen-Hundred Eighty was a wonderful year.

I get the same feeling about Thompson. He doesn’t have the worst president in history to run against, but he does have the opportunity to run a positivist campaing. The Democrats can’t. They have to paint America as a toilet, a cesspool of evil and greed, because that’s what Democrat believe.

Thompson can beam hope, optimism, and future. He can swell the hearts of millions who know America is a great country but feel pressured to criticize her becaue of the liberal, anti-American culture.

That’s why I’m for Fred: I want my fucking country back.

Peggy Noonan: Turning Coats Softly With Her Song

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Peggy Noonan is a great ally and a doubtful foe. She turned, mildly, on Reagan. She has turned on Bush. So what. Her human insights are wonderful, her writing , usually, excellent. She is setting up her pick for 2008 awkwardly.

Bush supporters and detractors, alike, have made much of Ms. Noonan’s Friday Opinion Journal column about President Bush. As a fan Peggy’s, I was disappointed. One of the hallmarks of conservatism—something that should distinguish us from them—is that we don’t eat our own in public.

Look back to 1987. Peggy Noonan had just left the Reagan White House where served with distinction as Mr. Reagan’s chief speech writer. After her departure, she became the darling of the anti-Reagan sewers of national media. She seemed, at the time, to enjoy her new role.

While Ms. Noonan avoided direct criticism of Reagan, she didn’t exactly defend him. She’d titter at Cokie Roberts’s hint that Reagan nearly gave over the country to Gorby at Reykjavík. But years later, Ms. Noonan as back in the Reagan camp. He changed her life, she says.

From 9/11/2001 until approximately last Friday, Ms. Noonan was one of Mr. Bush’s loudest cheerleaders. Then she changed. And, the gifted writer she is, she changed in a way that gives me great confliction. I love her writing; I honor and respect our current President.

With Mr. Bush it is the people who are forced to be cool-eyed and realistic. He’s the one who goes off on the toots. This is extremely irritating, and also unnatural. Actually it’s weird. (source)

I can’t be too upset with Peggy for a couple of reasons. Number one, Bush is the worst public relations President since Nixon. He has no ear for the popular. (Then again, Oscar Wilde said, “Everything popular is wrong.”) Number two, people said the same thing about Reagan.

At a comedy club in Charleston, South Carolina (my adopted hometown), a comedian in 1987 said, “Ronald Reagan: a man who remembers the future and dreams the past.” (The guy was really funny, though; don’t get me wrong.) As if Ms. Noonan were channeling the guy:

I suspect people pick up with Mr. Bush the sense that part of his drama, part of the story of his presidency, is that he gets to be the romantic about history, and the American people get to be the realists. Of the two, the latter is not the more enjoyable role.

Same sentiment as the comedian about Reagan, but Ms. Noonan used more words.

I think Ms. Noonan’s short and unedited piece is more about 2008 than about Bush. She’s setting up the anti-Bush: a Republic who captures the Reagan spirit. Probably Fred Thompson. Her method is ugly and unprofessional. Certainly unConservative. She’s violated the 11th Commandment.

During the 2004 election, Richard Brookhiser, writing extemporaneously on National Review’s The Corner, mentioned that Bush would be re-elect, and his second term would be pathetic “as all second terms are.” At the time, I thought Brookhiser hyperbolic. He was right.

The last two years of eight-year presidencies are historically difficult, particularly after a loss in the final midterm elections. Eisenhower in 1959-60 assumed a more aggressive conservative posture by firing off multiple vetoes of excessive spending legislation. During the Iran-contra scandal, Ronald Reagan in 1987-88 was steadfast in pursuing Cold War victory. But the way George W. Bush handled Rumsfeld was not a good sign for his concluding years as president Robert Novak (H/T Daniel Larison on Eunomia)

So Mr. Bush’s second term is tougher even than his first. In his first term, he recovered the economy form a recession handed over by his predecessor and exacerbated by the greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. Yes, Peggy, his political instincts suck. His public relations people, when enjoying a day without chemotherapy, do a poor job, as does he, at selling his ideas and ideals. But he is President and we are at war. So he doesn’t scowl enough? He doesn’t yell and rant? Too frickin bad. He has a terrible job, and people who advocate for the victory of terrorists in Iraq over their neighbors’ kids only make the job—and our country–more difficult.

Neither Ms. Noonan nor Mr. Bush deserves the scorn they receive.