Tag Archives: George W. Bush

A Debate, A Speech, And Oh, My God, I Forgot Claude Rains

The past couple of days have been eventful in the world of politics. There was a Republican debate, a presidential address to Congress, and shortly thereafter we kicked off the NFL regular season. I’m not sure what it says about this country that the President had to schedule his speech around a football game to make sure people watched, but that’s what happened. Scheduling aside, there is much to talk about.

First, the debate. I didn’t watch it. I have read the highlights. I probably should have watched because it is the first one Texas Governor Rick Perry has participated in, but I wasn’t that interested. Mostly, I didn’t care because the Republican party is not going to nominate anyone that I would consider voting for.  Michele Bachmann claimed she would get the price of gas down to $2 a gallon. I thought that was interesting. I’m sure her reasoning is that if we open the whole country up to drilling we’ll find enough oil. In reality that is nonsense. The price of gas is largely dependent on the price of oil and we will never find enough to compete with the national oil companies of countries like Saudi Arabia. I thought the small exchange between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry about job creation was funny. Perry pointed out the Micheal Dukakis had a better job creation record than Romney did as Governor of Massachusetts. Romney shot back that former Texas governors Ann Richards and George W. Bush had a better record than Perry. Personally, I believe that shows that governors don’t have a whole lot of power over job creation.

Jon Huntsman would be interesting candidate, but I don’t think he has a chance. He might not be a bad choice for VP. He is a seasoned diplomat, and the eventual nominee is almost certain to lack foreign policy experience. Why won’t they have that experience? The answer is simple. Rick Perry is going to be the nominee. I don’t have a doubt about it. He really is the best candidate that the Republicans can put forward. He’s got all the conservative bona fides. He’s got all the folksy appeal. He’s George W. Bush on steroids. Unlike Bush he’s a real Texan. He went to Texas A&M (though his grades weren’t that great.) With the economy stagnating and job creation basically non-existent, he has all the ammunition to take down President Obama. Obama’s problem is simple. His argument is more complicated. Perry can tout his record of job creation in Texas. On the surface this record looks good, but if you look deeper you find that most of those jobs are low-paying and don’t have benefits like health insurance. Obama’s problem will be that most people don’t look deeper.  On NPR’s “All Things Considered”, a Democratic strategist from Texas called Rick Perry, “the best, most talented politician to come out of Texas since LBJ.” If that’s true this election should be something to watch. Which brings us to the President’s speech.

Frankly, I didn’t think it was one of his best. I don’t believe it was particularly well-written. He told Congress to, “pass this bill,” far too often. From a policy standpoint, however, I think he is doing the right thing. His proposals will help everyday Americans. The middle class that doesn’t get talked about nearly often enough will benefit from the bill. The extension of the payroll tax cut, and unemployment benefits are good ideas. The fact that it won’t add to the deficit (which the president pointed out more than once) should make it palatable to Republicans. The President pointed out that the proposals in the bill have been supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the past. That, along with the fact that it won’t add to the deficit, should make it harder for Republicans to oppose it as another “government spending binge.” I firmly believe that the President has the best interests of the American people in mind. Yes, he has a political incentive as well. Job creation and a growing economy will help his reelection effort, but I think in this case he really wants to improve things for the people. We will see what Congress thinks.

Finally, I made a horrible omission. In my last post I recommended the film “Casablanca.” I talked about how the movie contained anything you could want. I talked about the amazing screenplay, and I talked about the stellar performances of all the cast members. To my dismay, I failed to mention Claude Rains. Claude Rains, in the role of “Louie” is absolutely one of the best parts in the movie. He even delivers the unforgettable line, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” So, I must apologize for my error, and once again recommend that you see “Casablanca” It is one of the best films ever made.

The Tea Party: Fed Up Fiscal Conservatives Or Anti-Obama Crusaders?

2009 saw the birth of America’s latest political outsider movement. In the 90’s it had been Ross Perot and the Reform Party. After that we had Ralph Nader and the Green Party. Today, in the age of Obama, we met the Tea Party. What was unique about the Tea Party was that they had no singular leader. There was no face of the movement. They were touted as everyday Americans fed up with Washington. An upstart grassroots movement meant to overthrow the establishment and put the power back in the hands of the people. That may be how it started. It didn’t last that long.

Since its inception the Tea Party has seemed to be a conservative movement. They claimed to have members from all walks of life; all political ideologies. They had only one core message. Control the deficit. Get government spending under control. Keep government limited. The banner at teapartypatriots.org reads: “Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Market.”  Fiscal conservatism is supposed to be a Republican cornerstone. In the past 20 years that has changed. People who desire a balanced budget do come from both sides of the political spectrum. In fact, the only time recently that we have had a balanced budget was with divided government. When government has been completely in the hands of one party or the other the budget has not been balanced.  For a group of people to rise up and demand accountability from the government about its finances, and its intrusion on personal freedom, should be no surprise. That’s what the Tea Party’s message was. That’s what the Tea Party said they had been speaking out against for a long time. That wasn’t what happened. That version of history didn’t exist.

To claim that you are a group fed up with fiscal irresponsibility in 2011 means you need to account for some things. First off has to be why did you show up just now . The earliest references I can find to the Tea Party movement are in 2009. Our fiscal house was certainly out-of-order by then. It had been for some time however. Pres. Bush’s budget proposals led to the highest budget deficits in U.S. history. They were not only record-setting in number of dollars, but even if those dollars are adjusted for inflation. The first time the deficit has gone down since FY2002 (Pres. Bush’s first budget proposal) was FY2010 (Pres. Obama’s first budget proposal.) Yes Pres. Obama passed nearly a trillion-dollar stimulus package and the Tea Party was upset. Pres. Bush pushed a nearly trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street. Tea Party members today will tell you they were against it. They weren’t upset enough to protest. There were no raucous town hall meetings. Where was the anger over fiscal irresponsibility spanning a decade of deficit spending that ended with a collapse of the economy not seen since the Great Depression? Where was the anger over TARP? Where was the anti-establishment feeling against Washington run amok? It didn’t exist.

It doesn’t get any easier to explain the Tea Party’s desires for limited government. The Tea Party really gained traction during the debate over healthcare. The original healthcare reform proposals included a provision known as the “public option,” or the “government option,” depending on which party or media outlet you listened to. The idea was that the government would provide an option for citizens to buy health insurance from a government program if they could not obtain it through an employer. Republican’s denounced it as a “government takeover of healthcare.” Town hall meetings about the reform descended into chaos across the country. Finally the “public option” was removed from the final bill. The Tea Party movement generally seemed to be against the bill even after the “public option” was taken out. As the Tea Party Patriots website says, they are for limited government. Are they? The healthcare bill does put government into the healthcare field, but only slightly. It doesn’t even give the people the freedom of government help. It only helps people deal with private companies. That’s something the “free market” Tea Party should be happy about. The real problem is that this is small government intrusion compared to what has happened over the past decade. After Sept. 11th, the Bush Administration used the fear of the American people to start a war and engage in the largest expansion of the federal government in 50 years. They created a new cabinet level post. They established a new level of bureaucracy over the intelligence community with the NID(National Intelligence Director.)  It later came out that they authorized the NSA to conduct a warrantless wiretap program that circumvented all laws set by Congress for surveillance.  Was that limited government? Was that the freedom ensured in the Constitution? Where was the Tea Party outrage? Where were the calls to end the invasion of our rights? They didn’t exist.

The real story of the Tea Party lies beneath the rhetoric and anger of everyday people. Everyday people may have had the passion for the movement but they didn’t make it happen. The major Tea Party groups all have strong affiliations with some more familiar organizations like American’s For Prosperity. So what’s wrong with that? American’s For Prosperity is a front group funded by the Koch brothers. The heads of Koch Industries. Charles and David Koch are far-right Libertarians with a lot of money. Combined they have more wealth than anyone but Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. It doesn’t end there. Tea Party rallies were organized by all kinds of conservative groups. Tea Party leaders have often been linked to conservative groups. A quick survey of the Tea Party Express website shows that they endorse only Republican candidates, and sometimes far-right candidates over more moderate Republicans. All this points to a movement funded by ultra-conservatives to achieve an ultra-conservative agenda. The Tea Party may have started out with a message of fiscal responsibility, but that has been lost. They are only the pawns of the conservative money movement. They are the far-right’s “Anti-Obama Army.”  When Obama comes out and endorses something they will be right there to refute him. That is why Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have become Tea Party darlings. They oppose Obama no matter what. They will attack him and his supporters no matter how ridiculous it sounds. Evidence doesn’t need to exist.

Third party movements have made huge changes in American politics. The Whig Party shook us in the mid-19th century. Teddy Roosevelt’s third-party bid nearly won the presidency in 1912. The Reform Party can be credited with electing and keeping Bill Clinton in office. Without the Green Party Al Gore would have almost certainly been president. The Tea Party does not seem to be destined for that outcome. A movement based on opposition to a man instead of issues has no future. Until Obama, they were not against a decade of fiscal irresponsibility. Until Obama, they allowed government to expand unchecked and intrude into our lives. Until Obama, they didn’t exist. After Obama, they won’t exist.

Today’s Breakfast: Healthcare Rehash

So the House decided to repeal the healthcare law. Great use of the people’s time and money, but it happened so let’s talk about it for a minute. My humorous side is real unhappy about this. Mostly because they called it “The Repealing the Job-Killing Healthcare Law Act.” That’s just a ridiculous name. First of all, it’s a little early to call it “Job-Killing.” Second, the Law Act part seems redundant. Third, what do Republican’s hope to possibly gain from this stunt.

As soon as John Boehner said this was going to happen, Democrats got real excited.  The get a second chance to record all the sound bites about wildly popular parts of the bill. Democrats came down with healthcare Tourette’s. Everybody was talking about “no more preexisting conditions, no more dropped coverage.” They even brought out people who are excited because they can keep their kids covered to age 26.

All Republicans did was say it was a government takeover. Obamacare is socialism. Americans like a lot of this bill though. The only thing people really seem to have a problem with in the bill is the mandate to buy insurance. Republicans are challenging that across the U.S. The real problem is that they aren’t opposed to individual mandates. They came up with them. It had broad support from Republicans in the 1993 healthcare law that President Clinton failed to pass, and in the Wyden-Bennet bill in 2008. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post argues, the problem is purely partisan.

I think that’s where Republicans lose. Sure, they will fire up the base. Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachman will go on a rampage. Sean Hannity’s head might just explode. The real issue is that House Republicans are saying we have to repeal everything. So they want insurance companies to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. They want insurance companies to discriminate against those who already have medical conditions. If Republicans were saying they wanted to repeal the mandate, it would still be hypocritical, but it wouldn’t be such blatant politics. They want the grand showmanship of total repeal, because they don’t care about healthcare. They care about winning, and they think this is the easiest way to do that. They are banking on the idea that Americans won’t do their homework. Rank and file Republicans and Democrats won’t. They will vote with their party because they always do. Those of us who choose to be independent of the parties must do ours. It’s important that people realize that these issues are much more complex than either side wants you to think about.

The individual mandate may seem wrong, but insurance is a tricky business. If they are going to cover everyone who walks through the door, someone has to pay. It takes the monthly premiums of a whole bunch of people to pay the monthly cost of cancer treatment for one person.  If we want insurance coverage when we need it. We have to be willing to pay for it when we don’t.  In other countries it is considered a civic duty to be insured. If Americans felt that way we would all be better off.

As Americans we tend to cling to our freedoms in the most peculiar way.  Opponents of the mandate have said it suppresses their freedom. They should be able to choose to be uninsured.  For virtually everyone that’s just crazy. No one who has any common sense would choose to be uninsured unless they were filthy rich. I must admit that I was uninsured for a long period of time once in my life. I was in my early twenties, and I will readily admit that I had no common sense. As a nation we have to act with some common sense. If we believe that people should be able to afford health insurance then it will take the work of the government and the insurance industry. The American people must also be willing to pitch in.

The biggest hurdle is thwarting the business lobby. The law requires companies to provide insurance or face penalties. Business doesn’t like that.  You would have to be crazy to think that this week’s repeal measure doesn’t have something to do with Republicans shoring up support among Big business. There is a ton of cash in business and they want it when the next election rolls around. With all the money corporations put into our campaigns, it’s fairly amazing that any elected official was willing to vote for the healthcare bill. This is why the right has taken to opposing Obama so passionately.  I’m not even sure how many people who yell about fiscal responsibility realize that Obama’s first budget brought the budget deficit down for the first time in nearly a decade. The healthcare bill is projected to reduce the deficit by another one hundred billion and change over the next ten years. The right-wing business community doesn’t want people to realize. So they have funded Tea Party rallies across the nation pointing the finger at Obama, and stirring the fear. People say the Tea Party is about fiscal responsibility, and the rank and file may be. The people running the show don’t give a damn about fiscal responsibility. They are playing on the fear of white America. They are people from Citizens for a Sound Economy, and Americans for Prosperity. Both groups with ultra right-wing agendas formed by billionaires to protect their own money. If a business friendly president gets elected the Tea Party will disappear, because those who organize them will have gotten their way. That’s why the Tea Party didn’t exist for the 8 years of record-setting deficits under Pres. Bush. That’s why they fought the stimulus but not TARP. The people may feel that they are pushing for fiscal responsibility but the ones with power are using them for their own agenda. We should be scared. They know how to win elections. Pick an issue, this time healthcare, make people afraid of it, and tell them whose to blame for it. That way the healthcare law will be repealed and they aren’t on the hook to give health insurance to their employees.

I know there are people out there who genuinely have paid attention to the issues and oppose healthcare reform. I know there are those at Tea Party rallies who are seriously concerned with the national debt. Those could be valid viewpoints, but it is a stretch to believe that the repeal this week was a genuine attempt to do what’s right. Total repeal doesn’t make sense. There are good parts to the bill. We need to keep those and tweak other things to make them better. As an example, every President takes up education reform. Since Johnson passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 60’s it has been regularly modified and reauthorized. In 2001 it was passed as No Child Left Behind.  A lot of people didn’t like a large part of NCLB, but no one is talking about repealing it. It wasn’t all bad and a total repeal would be of great detriment to our nations schools. We will once again try to fix the problems and enhance the strengths of the bill with the ultimate goal of providing the best possible education to our children.  We need to approach healthcare reform in the same manner. We need genuine discussion and modification to make healthcare in this country better.

We need less political grandstanding

My 5 Least Favorite Presidents

As with my previous list, this is in no way supposed to represent who I think the best and worst presidents were. This addresses only a number of things that annoy me about past presidents. So here are the five. Well, actually six, there was a tie for 3rd place.

5) Bill Clinton

Clinton probably shouldn’t be on this list, but I was having trouble with one thing and I think it needs to be said. My one problem with Pres. Clinton has always been that he cheated on his wife when he was President; with Monica Lewinsky.  That’s the part that pushed me over the edge.  Monica Lewinsky was the best he could get. He was the most powerful man in the world. He could’ve done better. I think it was just laziness. I mean look at JFK. That guy got Marilyn Monroe. That was ambition. JFK was a pro. I’m sorry to say it, but Clinton really let us down on that one.

4) Ronald Reagan

It is unfortunate that Pres. Reagan also has to be included. I’m no fan of Reagan’s politics, but this is not a list of who I think had the worst policies. This is about the Presidents I don’t like to talk about and why. Why don’t I like to talk about Pres. Reagan? I don’t, because I keep being forced to.  Republican’s can’t open their mouths anymore without pulling out Reagan. Try it. Ask a Republican politician a question and see how long it takes them to mention him. Who is a personal hero of yours? Ronald Reagan! What’s your favorite book? Reagan Diaries. (That’s actually a real question and answer from the RNC Chairman debate. Guess who won. It was the guy that said Reagan Diaries.) If aliens came down to Earth today they would probably believe that Ronald Reagan was the only Republican ever elected President. It’s killing me. I mean, Republicans have the guy that abolished slavery and I can’t remember his name because all I hear is Ronald Reagan.

3)  George W. Bush\Rutherford B. Hayes

This spot is a tie because both men made the list for the same reason. They were only kinda elected. For some reason our electoral system allows a guy to get elected when more people voted for his opponent. This apparently happens every 120 years roughly.
When you lose the popular vote and still win the election it makes your term less legitimate. It just goes against the foundation of democracy.

2)Richard Nixon

Nixon did a number of good things during his time in the White House. He ended the draft, and improved relations with China, among other things. Eventually, he was forced to resign because of his role in the cover-up of the Watergate incident. These things are not the direct cause of his place on this list. The main cause is that there was recorded evidence that he knew about the crime and the cover-up. He was the President and a seasoned, veteran politician. How did he not realize that there were recordings of the things he said. That’s just ridiculous.

1)William Henry Harrison

To start with the first Pres. Harrison is responsible for one of the most useless pieces of knowledge I possess. He ran his campaign on the slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.”  The slogan stemmed from his role in the battle of Tippecanoe when Harrison was a military officer.  As the oldest President to ever be elected until Ronald Reagan, Harrison gave a two-hour long inaugural address on a cold and rainy day. He didn’t even wear a coat. 31 days later he died from complications brought on by what was apparently a cold. This makes him easily one of the most ineffective Presidents, but mostly I’m mad about the slogan. When am I ever going to need to know about that, but I can’t forget it now.

The Problem with Obama’s Tax Deal

Since the election last November, I’ve had some time to think. About 2 months worth of time actually. During my reflection Pres. Obama compromised with Republicans to pass a bill on the Bush tax cuts. I’ve written before that I think he did the right think, but there is one thing about it that I don’t understand. That’s the number two.The deal extended the tax cuts for two years. That means right in the middle of the presidential campaign of 2012 this is going to be an issue. As far as I can tell it’s a losing move for Democrats. The unfortunate truth for Democrats is that lower taxes always sound better.

We live in a time of huge budget deficits. If we look at the reality of the situation two things almost certainly need to happen. We need to cut the amount of money we spend, and we need to raise taxes. The Tea Party movement is built upon fiscal responsibility. at least in theory. The rhetoric you hear from them doesn’t support that, however. What we heard in the last election was that taxes are too high, and government spending was out of control. What is most interesting about that argument is that taxes are exactly what they have been for 10 years, and spending (along with the deficit) has been growing that entire time. Where was the outcry then? Why weren’t Tea Partiers angry in the last year of Pres. Bush’s administration when the budget deficit went over a trillion dollars for the first time? The truth is that the Tea Party cares little for fiscal responsibility and more for the government not taxing them at all. They don’t consider the consequences of that, however.  It is easy to say the government should take less of your money, but not so easy to deal with the reality of what will happen if they don’t. It’s easy to want your paycheck to be bigger, but difficult to deal with the fact that you can’t survive in retirement and old age because Social Security and Medicare are not funded.  The Tea Party is existing in a world that will never come to reality, because it is impossible. They want the services that the government provides, but don’t want to pay for them.

Unfortunately for Democrats it is easy to buy the Tea Party’s vote.  All you have to do is follow the formula that Republican’s used in the last election. Promise lower taxes, say the problem is just government spending. If you simplify the argument to the point that it doesn’t make any real sense, it will probably work. Kevin Yoder, who is the new congressman for the Kansas 3rd district, ran a campaign commercial in the election where he said, ” Washington taxes too much, borrows too much, and spends too much.”  He never mentioned what would happen if they did less of any of those things. That wasn’t important. What was important was saying Congress is wasting money. He wouldn’t want to mention that they were wasting money on things like helping the poor, old or disabled. He wouldn’t want to mention that we spend billions on military programs that go nowhere, only to further the most technologically advanced military in the world unnecessarily. He wouldn’t want to propose real solutions, because real solutions almost always have side effects that some people don’t like.

The real problem with the tax deal is that it makes it more difficult for Obama to be re-elected. It they had extended the cuts for 1 or 3 years, it would be an entirely different situation. Democrats have little to gain from a tax argument in an election. Any real fiscal conservative would say that when the time comes we need to eliminate the Bush tax cuts. I’ve heard a few say just that, but in an election year logic takes a back seat to winning. In a year where the future of not only Congress, but the White House, hangs in the balance, we can expect a lot of politics, and little of sensable policy.

Happy New Year: A Look at 2011

Well, it is official. One particular midnight has come and gone and now we all get to spend the next few months writing the wrong year on the date line. Typically people write all about New Year’s resolutions at this time. The blogosphere will be crowded with people making promises to themselves. I am not going to do this. One, if you really want to know my goals for 2011, I have a feeling you’ll ask.  I have instead decided to look forward at what 2011 holds for us.

Across the country new governors are being sworn in. To list a few of my favorites: Andrew Cuomo in New York. I list him because New Yorkers we’re smart enough to not elect his opponent Carl Paladino. Paladino on at least two occasions sounded like he was going to clock the a reporter with the gall to interview him. The second time was during an interview with NPR’s Robert Segal, when he was asked about the first time.

Break out your tie-dye, grow out your hair and light a joint,California is going back to the Seventies. From 1975-1983 Jerry Brown served as California’s 34th governor. Upon leaving he prophetically stole a line from a future California governor saying, “I’ll be back.” Tomorrow, on the 28th anniversary of his first inauguration, Brown is back for his 3rd.  His re-re-election brings up an important trend in American politics. If people know your name because you run for something in every election, they’ll vote for you. Well, except if you happen to be a witch.(I’m looking at you, O’Donnell.)

I could talk about my own state of Kansas and incoming governor Sam Brownback. Unfortunately, I’m to frightened/depressed/wanna-move-to-Canada to do so yet. Maybe, Brownback won’t be so bad. He has already appointed the top lawyer in the Governor’s office. That guy was an advisor to former Attorney General Phil Kline. So, I’m not really excited so far. Hey, I was wrong. At least I can talk about it a little.

Nationally, we had a very productive lame-duck Congress, after a fairly productive regular Congress. This fact combined with the unofficial start of the 2012 Presidential campaign, makes me believe nothing is happening in Washington for a while. Luckily, we still have Sarah Palin going all “Mama Grizzly” on us. So there will be something to talk about. There should be a George W. Bush Award for Providing Comic Fodder. Palin would be a shoe-in.  All in all, 2011 might prove to be a calm year. There are no Olympics, no World Cup. There won’t be any true election fervor for a while, so all our Muslim and Mexican friends can relax for a bit. (Unless you live in Arizona or a few other places, like Kansas, but more on that later.)

Perhaps the most important event of all time, but probably for at least 2011 can be summed up only one way.  “YOU GET THE OPRAH NETWORK, YOU GET THE OPRAH NETWORK, IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT CABLE OR SATTELITE PROVIDER, YOU GET THE OPRAH NETWORK.”

Oprah is now not just on your t.v. for a few hours. She’s got a whole network. I don’t really watch cable television so I won’t see much of it. If you want to win a car or humpback whale, the OWN is for you.

I would like to recognize just a few people who I don’t think got nearly enough press in this last year.  I’m sure you all remember the 30 or so miners who were trapped in a Chilean mine this year. They endured an unbelievable event and in the end were hailed as heroes around the world. One guy who didn’t get as much press was a man named Jeff Hart. Jeff Hart flew halfway around the world from Afghanistan to Chile. His job was to drill the hole that the miners escaped through. There were countless others, from engineers to medical staff and beyond. Unfortunately, I don’t know their names, but without them not one of those miners would have ever seen daylight again. They all deserve Time’s Man of the Year award.

So here we are America at nearly 234 and 1/2. Let’s hope we make it to 235. To all our readers have a Happy New Year. We here at Independent Kansan hope to provide another year of civil argument in a world of cable-news,political-spinning madness.

Independent Kansan’s New Year’s Resolution 2011: “Count how many ways Glenn Beck says that Barack Obama is a Communist.”

I had to sneak it in there. That’s gonna be a tough one though.

The Beauty of Being First Lady

So I’ve decided to never be President. I can hear a few of you laughing already. Yes, I know it was unlikely that I was ever going to be President anyway. Now the fact is: I don’t want to be President. Barack Obama and the 43 men who preceded him, not to mention the men who ran and didn’t win, are crazy. People truly believe the President is some insanely powerful man who can do nearly anything. The simple truth is that he can’t.  He can’t go to war just because he wants to. Many people think that Pres. Bush did that. He didn’t. The Congress was behind him all the way. In fact, at the onset of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars , the majority of Americans said they backed him.

Abortion is a big one that I’ve talked about before. People will vote for a particular candidate because of his views on abortion.  The President has somewhat more control here.  He does nominate Supreme Court Justices. The nomination process is so rigorous and partisan today that it would be hard to confirm someone with a strong for or against position on abortion. If you couple that with the fact that the Court rarely overturns precedent, it turns out that not one President but many would likely account for any change in the law.  Once the Supreme Court rules, the President’s power wanes drastically.

My favorite misconception is that the President can do something about the economy.  Presidents like to act like this is true and the public is ready to believe it.  It’s complete nonsense though. First, we must understand that the economy is not scientific. To an extent,  there is math and theory behind it, but that can all be misleading.  Adam Smith talked about an “Invisible Hand” that guided the capitalist economy. Attached to that hand is a fickle, and nearly psychopathic, American public. You and I make up the economy. It is driven by consumption. We, and businesses, have to buy stuff to keep it going. Presidents try things like stimulus bills, and rebate checks, but if the American public doesn’t do what they are supposed to, it doesn’t work. The Fed can raise and lower interest rates to affect lending,l but banks then have to go along. It’s this uncertainty that allows economists to say one action will help, while others say it will hurt.

Caught in the middle of this is the President. The public pressures him to improve and affect things that he cannot.  And all of this ignores the fact that politics is always in the way. For every President who wishes to succeed there is a person who wants to be President that would be happy to make him fail.  That is why I don’t want to be President.  They go in with grand ideas and goals only to find a system bent on stopping them. One person doesn’t suffer from nearly as many of the political constraints, but still has a budget to do something good. That is the First Lady.

Since the beginning of the modern American Presidency (which I’m defining as FDR and after) First Ladies have been given the ability to advocate for causes they cared about.  To list a few from the past fifty years:

Betty Ford raised awareness for breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy shortly after becoming First Lady. As one of the most candid First Ladies she spoke openly about everything from sex to drugs.

Rosalynn Carter was a fierce advocate for mental health awareness. As well as being an active advisor to her husband she was an honorary chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health.

Nancy Reagan spent her time as First Lady raising awareness about drug use. The famous “Just Say No” campaign was her primary initiative. In support of it Reagan drew upon her earlier career of acting and did guest spots on the t.v. shows “Dynasty”, and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Both Barbara Bush and her daughter-in-law  Laura Bush, pushed for awareness about literacy and education. Laura Bush partnered with the Library of Congress to start the National Book Festival.

Most recently, Michelle Obama has taken on the cause of childhood obesity. She said she hoped her initiative called “Let’s Move.” She is also the only First Lady to plant a White house vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt.

What’s the point of all this. First Ladies get a huge budget and enormous resources to focus on issues that matter. They can avoid all the politicalcrap that gets thrown around.  One could say that First Ladies have a chance to make a difference that Presidents don’t. So I’ve decided to marry a woman who wants to be President, because God knows I don’t.

First Gentleman, sounds pretty good though.