Friday, November 7, 2008

The Lieberman Dilemma

Avid Obama supporter here--precinct captain during my state's Democratic primary. I've made my calls, canvassed, blogged and contributed within my means. And Senator Lieberman's actions and words leading up to and during the recent campaign infuriated me. And while,in my heart, I haven't yet forgiven Senator Lieberman, I feel there's a real opportunity here for President-elect Obama to show benevolence and send a loud and clear message re his message of unity by stepping in and calling off the attack dogs and allowing Lieberman to continue to caucus and work with his Democrat peers in the Senate. In my estimation that would be the win-win choice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sideline Observations…The Upcoming Final Debate

Started out with some observations on McCain and his erratic behavior and mean-spirited campaign, but scrubbed them. The lack of honor and honesty and steadiness he has shown over the past month has essentially made he and his ticket superfluous in this election cycle and there’s really nothing he can say or do in the debate that I will find credible. I applaud Senator Obama’s overall response to the serious financial crisis our nation continues to face. And he has put forth an impressive plan for addressing job creation and providing hope and relief to small businesses and middle class voters. As he prepares to transition into the Presidency, now and in the coming months, the one thing that has been lacking is being completely and painfully honest with the American people in terms of how we got here and what it will take to right ourselves. Everyone is aware of the excesses of Wall Street and the absence of viable regulation and its impact on the economy. But we as citizens also played our part. We overspent and under-saved and failed at managing our own budgets and there are actions that we personally need to take as individuals to turn this economy around and it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s going to be tough and we can do it if we’re honest with each other and inspired to make the necessary sacrifices. It’s time for the voters to have a dose of reality. We can take it and we’ll appreciate the honesty and we stand ready to vote for the change that we all need and, if inspired, prepared to do our part to make that change happen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sideline Observations..."Who Won the Debate?...."That One"!

My son, who missed the debate due to a scheduling conflict, asked me what Senator Obama's response was to being referred to as "that one". I can't imagine that in his gut Senator Obama did not have the urge to take McCain out back and open up a can of South Chicago whup a__ on him. But once again he prevailed with his calm, confident, knowledgeable and Presidential demeanor. Senator Obama outshone his opponent by effectively addressing the real issues that concern the middle class. It's become even more apparent that McCain will do and say anything to win, honor be damned. If he and his surrogates continue their current fierce campaign of fear and smear politics, I feel it will be entirely appropriate and relevant for Senator Obama in his final debate closing remarks to address Senator McCain as follows, "John we've worked together in the past and I have hope that with the healing that comes with the passing of time, we will be able to work together during my administration, but, right here, right now, I have to tell you that I am genuinely embarrassed for you. I've meant it when I've honored your service and expressed my admiration for the courage you displayed in captivity, but you have besmirched your name and your honor by running the most vile and mean-spirited campaign this country has witnessed in modern times. And so tonight all I can really bring myself to share with you is shame on you, John McCain, shame on you.
And I can't close without expressing my pleasure with the whupping Obama's communications director put on Sean Inanity....hey Sean is that infomercial career I suggested in a recent post looking a bit more attractive?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sideline Observations….the Biden/Palin debate and going forward…..

I had planned to write a lengthy piece about the last “debate”, but it’s a cold trail and there’s not much I can add to Rachel Madow’s description of Palin as frenetic, folksy and cartoonish (my mind wanders to Boris and Natasha as I ponder the Republican ticket) and Chris Matthews' observation on her spelling bee-like performance. Senator Biden, I felt, was infinitely more genuine and certainly more effective in presenting his campaign’s message although traversing the politically correct minefield he faced seemed to put him a little off his game. And if Hannity and Buchanan and that crowd seriously believe that she “knocked it out of the park” in any sense other than waking/exciting the right-wing activist drones then they raise serious questions re their intellectual acumen and honesty.

I’ve decided to refer to the Republican candidates as the “Palin/McCain” ticket from this point forward because, given his age and increasing concerns re his mental competence and reality testing, it just seems to make sense to give her at least equal billing. And if the thought of either or both of them attaining the Oval Office doesn’t scare the hell out of any thoughtful person who is aware of the serious challenges this nation faces I don’t know what could.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"An Open Letter to Senator Obama"

Senator Obama,

You've spoken eloquently of the "fierce urgency of now" and lifted our hopes that we can meet our serious challenges with a new, bi-partisan approach. Now--right now is one of those urgent moments in our country's history. Rebuke the partisan posturing of Nancy Pelosi and John McCain and the left and right wing pundits, talk show hosts and ideologues. There will be plenty of time to assign blame and examine who played what role in bringing our economy to the brink of disaster. Return to Washington immediately and work urgently with your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to resolve this crisis. We desperately need your leadership now--we need a solution now for the sake of the economic security of our country.


Bobby Watts

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sideline Observations--The First Presidential Debate

I guess a good starting point is a comment on Senator McCain's vaudevillian pre-debate political theatrics. As Senator Obama reached out to explore a joint, bi-partisan statement encouraging their colleagues to work together with a sense of urgency to address the Wall Street crisis, McCain and his campaign staff calculated how best to use the crisis to their political advantage. The "campaign suspension" never actually occurred and McCain proceeded to interject Presidential politics into an already volatile situation resulting in discord and division.
And what did we learn from the debate itself? One could view it as a micrososm of the candidates' differing political styles. McCain communicated a disdain for his opponent as he took every opportunity to attack and belittle Obama. Senator Obama, on the other hand, presented a calm, confident demeanor demonstrating his firm grasp of the relevant facts and voicing cogent arguments for how best to move the country forward in addressing serious financial and foreign policy issues. Much has been made of the fact that Obama "agreed with" McCain on numerous points. From my vantage point, he was merely exhibiting the bi-partisan, collaborative approach which is his forte and which is so desperately needed if we are going to be able to break the Washington gridlock which has stymied our political representatives and frustrated the citizens whose values and issues they purport to champion.
And a final point or two...Why did the moderator and Senator Obama give McCain a pass on the issues of torture? He had maintained a principled stand throughout most of the Republican primary debates and then reversed himself last February by voting against a bill to curtail the CIA's use of harsh interrogation tactics. And does anyone honestly believe that a provocative, saber-rattling President McCain who has "looked into the eyes of Putin and seen 3 letters--KGB" would be able to deal effectively with a resurgent Russia or that after joking about "bomb-bombing Iran" he is the leader to deal with that nation and the overall complexities of a Mideast foreign policy.
My overall takeaway from the debate--Senator Obama held his own, counter-punched effectively and exuded a Presidential calmness and breadth of knowledge of national and international issues and an understanding of the importance of of reviving and enhancing collaborative relationships with key allies. Senator McCain, on the other hand, appeared petulant, demeaning, provocative and dangerously out-of-touch and ill-equipped to deal with with the complex foreign policy and financial issues we face.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sean Inanity and The Politics of Division

Really don't mean to leave out Limbaugh, Hewitt, Levin and the rest of that noisy right wing crowd, but I've had more exposure to Hannity via his talk radio and tv shows. I tune into his radio show for an hour or so so 3-4 times a week on my commute home from work. Not because I agree with hardly any of his views, but rather just to check out the daily buzz and the corresponding Republican talking points which Hannity faithfully recites. His callers routinely greet him as a "great American". And while I do not question his patriotism (as he does in response to anyone who disagrees with him or dares to engage in democratic debate) and I am sure that he is a good father, spouse, son and friend, from my vantage point, he's a pretty lousy American. You have to ask yourself if Hannity truly loves this country then why has he devoted his life to dividing it's citizens along political and cultural lines. And I guess one answer is that it's made him filthy rich. He and Limbaugh and their ilk have built multi-million dollar empires based on the politics of division. Little wonder that Senator Obama and his campaign for change and a return to civil and bipartisan politics have engendered such a ferocious and vile response from Hannity and the hate-mongers. If Obama and his supporters were to achieve their vision of a united America where politicians and citizens worked across party and cultural lines to address the serious challenges this country faces they'd be out of a job. And wouldn't that be a loss [sic].....[Update 9/20/08....kudos to Hannity on the recent Palin infomercial he put together....thinking there might be a career opportunity in that genre if his day job ever tanks]

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reflections on the Past Week...The New Palin-McCain Double-Talk Express, etc.

Once again I honor Senator's McCain's military service and the courage he displayed as a POW in Vietnam. Certainly worthy of an inspirational movie or naming streets, bridges or buildings for him or we could even construct a McCain memorial in the appropriate setting. But it does not uniquely qualify him to hold the office of President of the United States. And his biography from that life experience forward is certainly not an untarnished testimony to honor and courage. There is the failed marriage and his involvement in the Keating 5 scandal. He developed a reputation as a maverick over the years, but his words and actions since his failed bid for the Republican nomination for President in 2000 reflect either a change in his core values and principles or an unmasking of an underlying cynicism and political ambition that the country was not aware of. Little wonder that we recently witnessed his angry refusal of a reporter's request to define "honor". McCain "the maverick" might have shown the courage he did as a freshman congressman when he opposed Reagan's disastrous deployment of our marines to Lebanon and spoken out against the infinitely more foolhardy decision of Bush and the neo-cons to manipulate the country into the ruinous Iraq conflict. He would not have voted with Bush and his peers 90% of the time over the past 8 yrs and so easily reversed his positions on tax cuts for the rich, torture, immigration and a host of other critical issues. McCain "the maverick" would have chosen Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge as his running mate. And even though I do not share many of their views, I could have felt reasonably assured that they had the seasoning and judgment to safely be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. He would not have courted Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson or more recently sought out the support of John Hagee and Rod Parsley and he surely would not have allowed himself to be forced into the choice of a ultra-conservative neophyte as his running mate by a social conservative cabal. The nomination of Gov Palin as VP for the Republican Party--a "pit bull with lip stick" as she so aptly described herself. She delivered the offensively sarcastic and condescending lines they wrote for her with such relish. Nothing out of character there if you've had the opportunity to review her record as a politician and the calculating, ruthless approach she has taken to furthering her career. And the smoothness with which she misrepresented her record and belittled Senator Obama's life story and accomplishments--she effectively energized the Republican base as we all sat and watched the final transformation of the McCain Straight Talk Express into the Palin-McCain Double Talk Express. And now the right wing pundits and hate-mongers scathingly attack the media for their hurried attempts to vet this little-known, political neophyte with the potential of being elected in less than eight weeks to an office which would place her a heartbeat away from the Presidency . I'll close for now by recommending to you the excellent commentary of Jon Stewart of the Daily Show on the hypocrisy so evident in their protestations--


  • The $500 shoes McCain sports as he campaigns in his wife's private jet
  • His response to the question of how many homes he owns--"I'm going to have to let my staff get back to you on that one"
  • Cindy McCain proudly showing off at last week's convention a $313,000 outfit whose value exceeded the average voter's current mortgage
  • The rich symbolism of how out-of-touch they are with the values and needs of the average citizen who McCain cynically purports to champion

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

John McHurricane and the New and Improved Republican Maverick Brand

Thinkin' there is fertile ground (manure-rich) for a hot, new action figure or maybe a new weed and feed product or would a weed stimulant be more apropos. Gotta love the political theater. McCain and his new VP pick jet down to the Gulf Coast in advance of the storm. The Republicans call for a political cease-fire (which didn't last long) and the nation's prayers and compassion. There was talk of McCain delivering his acceptance speech via satellite from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. But wait a second ...what does McCain's post-Katrina words and actions tell us about where he really stands and who he and President Bush and his Republican peers really care about. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina John McCain pledged to "do all that is necessary to fund essential relief and recovery efforts and help those in need". And did he "walk the talk"? Well, no, actually he sided with President Bush and the Republicans to quash the following legislative initiatives: S Amdt 1679 aimed at providing financial relief for victims: S Amdt 2356 aimed at the provision of emergency health care for survivors and S Amdt 2602 which would have provided tax benefits for affected areas. Alas, I don't think there's going to be much of a market for this action figure after all. We can tolerate flawed superheroes, but who needs one as out-of-touch and cynical as this one.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sideline Observations—Senator McCain and VP Picks

Sideline Observations—Senator McCain and VP Picks

I used to be a big fan of John McCain. I was touched by the courage he showed in his POW experience and, in the past, bought his “maverick” and “straight-shooter” monikers. When my son deployed to Iraq a few years back one of the items I placed in his first pkg from home was McCain’s autobiography. I’ve learned a lot over the past year and, while I will always honor his service and, in particular his courageous decision to remain with his peers when offered the opportunity to exit captivity, I now find very little else to admire or respect about this politician. I had known about the “Keating Five” story, but hadn’t been exposed to the tale of how he betrayed and ultimately abandoned his crippled wife. And, I might add, it took some digging to find that story. Curious how the media who allegedly are so favorably biased toward Senator Obama despite looping the Rev Wright and bitter American stories for weeks on end have made scant mention of the these items in McCain’s autobiography. McCain’s stated intent to run an honorable, issues-oriented campaign was quickly abandoned and, from my perspective, he has done exactly what he falsely accuses Senator Obama of—reversing his positions at whim and saying and doing anything his campaign staff advises him will help him get elected. The latest and most cynical example is his pick for his running mate. He assured us that his selection would reflect his best judgment of the most qualified individual available to be just one heartbeat away from the role of Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world and this is the best he could do. There’s no honor in the choice he made, no notion of “country first” it was a calculated political move that is an insult to his fellow countrymen. A parsing of Gov Palin’s credentials is pointless—she’s as much a victim of McCain and his campaign’s cynicism as the voters are.

On the other hand, I can’t be more pleased with the choice of Senator Biden as Barack’s running mate. Senator Obama passed the test of his first executive decision with flying colors by choosing the very best individual available for his running mate. Senator Biden is truly an experienced statesman and a straight-shooter who has walked the talk when it come to the values of family and work and putting his country first. His personal story is inspiring and his enthusiasm for the opportunity to move this country forward at the side of Senator Obama is clear. I am delighted to see a politician of his stature have a lifetime of service to his country be rewarded in this way and I am confident that he and Senator Obama give us the greatest opportunity for maintaining our security and dealing with the serious challenges we face on so many fronts. Contrast that team with a cynical, saber-rattling, out-of-touch pol who can’t even get the geography and the players right backed up by a social conservative princess who is ill-equipped to operate on the national and world stage and I think the choice for the voters should be clear.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Senator Barack Obama--When Poetry Becomes Prose

Throughout the campaign Senator Obama has been falsely charged of lacking a record of substantive action. Check out this post by Jonathan Cohn on TNR Blogs on 1/21/08:

From 1997 to 2004, as a member of the Illinois Senate, Obama advocated several proposals to make medical care more accessible--culminating, three years ago, in a bill designed to force the creation of a universal coverage system for Illinois. And, while none of these efforts come even close in scale to what he's promised to try in Washington, they do provide a window into the governing style he would pursue there.

Time after time, Obama brought adversaries into the process early, heard out their concerns, then fashioned compromises many of them ultimately supported. In other words, he used the very strategy he's been describing on the campaign trail--the one giving people like me such angst. And yet, if you talk to liberals in Springfield, the ones who've spent decades fighting for universal health care, you don't hear a lot of disappointment with him. As far as they are concerned, Obama's signature inclusiveness was always a means to an end--a way to push the limits of reform rather than accept them. And, they say, it worked.

In 2002, when Democrats won back control of the Senate, Obama became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. And it was from that perch that he adopted his other noteworthy health care cause, a measure called the Health Care Justice Act. The brainchild of grassroots activists tired of fighting losing battles to create a single-payer system for Illinois, the act, as originally proposed, would have created a task force, empowered it to develop a universal coverage plan, and then forced the legislature to vote on that plan. Predictably, it aroused the ire of insurers and other business interests, who, by all accounts, lobbied to derail the effort. "They--the insurers--pushed [Obama] really hard," says Jim Duffett, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, the group championing the plan. "They also tried to use other people to push him really hard."

Publicly, Obama used hearings to rally voter support for universal coverage. Inside the statehouse, he pursued a two-track strategy. He made common cause with doctors and hospitals, two groups that had become more sympathetic to universal coverage because of the financial burdens charity care placed on them. This gave cover to moderates who wanted to support the bill, while increasing pressure on the insurers to fall in line. At the same time, Obama carried on discussions with the insurance and business lobbyists directly, eventually granting them two key concessions: He altered the makeup of the task force to make it more industryfriendly and dropped the provision requiring a vote from the next year's General Assembly. "We had significant concerns and looked to Senator Obama, who is an extremely bright and accessible individual," Phil Lackman, who represents the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois, told me. "My experience is that he is willing to listen to anybody willing to talk to him."

It's those kinds of statements that lead to stories, like one that The Boston Globe published in the fall, noting that "Obama's own experience in lawmaking involved dealings with the kinds of lobbyists and special interests he now demonizes on the campaign trail." But, whatever the contrast with Obama's campaign rhetoric, reformers in Springfield say the concessions worked out just fine. As it turned out, binding a future Assembly to vote on a measure was probably unconstitutional anyway. And the presence of insurance representatives on the task force may have actually bestowed it with additional legitimacy. Although those members would end up filing a dissent to the task force's final report--which was issued after Obama had moved on to the U.S. Senate--press attention focused on the majority recommendation. And that recommendation was just what many advocates hoped (and opponents feared) it would be: a comprehensive plan for universal coverage, financed and overseen by the state government. "He didn't back down," says Duffett. "There was no mandate [on the next Assembly to vote], but that was a constitutional issue. ... We got everything else we wanted."

Duffett's quote is important because he is among the state's most prominent and committed advocates on behalf of universal health care. (For the wonks out there, he's the Illinois equivalent of Ron Pollack.) If Obama were in the pocket of health care lobbyists, he'd be the first guy to complain. But Duffett has only good things to say about Obama. Very good things, as a matter of fact.

Caroline Kennedy endorses Barack Obama for President

Caroline Kennedy endorses Barack Obama for President in the New York Times...

A President Like My Father

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Senator Obama

Hearing of Caroline's endorsement touched my heart in a special way. My generation had its inspirational leaders, John, Bobby and Martin, tragically taken away from us and lost our way. Senator Obama has once again given me hope of realizing our dream of a unified America capable of meeting any challenge and reclaiming it's place as a beacon of hope for the world.

Our dreams unlock the door

To a place we once called home

Where full of life’s sweet promise

Our spirits freely roamed

Back to a time when we still believed

In all of life’s possibilities

Our dreams can lead us

To a future all our own


google search

Custom Search

Search 2.0