Friday, January 21, 2011

Political wrap-up

The political zeitgeist of this country is, once again, in flux.  What are we to make of these developments?

  • President Obama's approval numbers are on the rise again.  He's currently at 53% approval, which is a 7% jump since the end of last year.  I perhaps stand as exemplary of the turnaround.  When the President announced the tax deal he made with Republicans in the Senate, I deemed it the final straw.  But then, following quickly on that deal, the lame duck Congress kicked into high gear and passed a lot of good, marginally-progressive legislation.  Then, after viewing the President's eulogy for the victims in Tucson, he won me over again.  So, I'm one of that 7%.
  • Things are off to a bad start for Speaker Boehner's House of Representatives.  The Republican caucus found itself in the awkward position of having to pass legislation to repeal last year's health care reform bill even as the public is warming up to the new reforms.  The bill calling for out-and-out repeal passed the House, but will go nowhere in the Senate, which is still run by Harry Reid.  Now, Boehner is faced with a predicament:  move on to other issues and risk infuriating the Tea Party base; or continue the quixotic fight and risk seeming out of touch with the political "middle" which has expressed a desire to see bipartisan cooperation and jobs legislation.
  • Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut announced on Wednesday that he will not seek reelection to the US Senate in 2012.  "I've never shied from a good fight and I never will," said he, as he made his announcement.  Good riddance, says I.  There's no need to recount all the ways in which Lieberman has infuriated me (and many others) with his sanctimonious nonsense.  The writing was on the wall and he read it.  He could not win reelection.  But don't think he won't be around to plague us in the future.  Whether he chooses a behind-the-scenes lobbying job on K Street, making bank by serving insurance companies and defense contractors, or perhaps serves as a token "Democrat" in some future Republican administration (perhaps as Defense Secretary), I have a feeling Joe Lieberman is with us for the duration.  (Just like herpes simplex virus.)
  • Democratic prospects for holding a majority in the Senate after the 2012 elections are dim and growing dimmer.  Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced that he will not seek reelection.  The chances of another Democrat winning that seat are slim.  After all, North Dakota has not voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate since LBJ crushed Barry Goldwater in 1964.
  • It seems that Sarah Palin's star may finally be setting.  After her ill-advised remarks defending herself in the wake of the Tucson tragedy, in which she invoked the historically-loaded term "Blood Libel," elected Republican officials were noticeably disinclined to leap to her defense.  And why should they?  They want her out of the way.  They don't want her complicating the political equation in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election.  Fox News, of course, is doing its best to keep her relevant.  They've invested a lot of money in her, after all.  The problem is that the Sean Hannity interview was so obviously softball that even Fox News viewers saw through it.  If she wants my advice (and I just know she does), I will tell Sister Sarah to stash her lettuce, stay up in Alaska, and live the easy life.  That's what I'd do, if I were her.

  • Ron Reagan, Junior, has written a book about his father, entitled My Father at 100.  In it, he suggests that President Reagan may have been suffering from symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease during his presidency.  Ron's brother, Michael Reagan, a conservative radio talk-show host, denounced the book and his brother, stating:  “Ron, my brother was an embarrassment to his father when he was alive and today he became an embarrassment to his mother."  I'm not a big fan of Ronald Reagan, and even less a fan of Michael.  Nonetheless, it is always tragic and sad to see a man publicly denounce his own brother.  Patch it up, you two!
All in all, an interesting week or two, politically.  Interesting times ahead...

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