Archive for the ‘debates’ Category

“American Press has Turned Into a Joke” Comparing Obama To FDR, Lincoln

November 19, 2008

“Barack Obama is just like Lincoln,” a youthful and eager fan reported to me.

And I thought: except for the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the preservation of the Union and his record as President of the United States.

Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner said, “The American press has turned into a joke by comparing Barack Obama to FDR and Abraham Lincoln.  They do him no favor by raising expectations to a level that is not achievable.”

Barack Obama, the first ever black man elected to America’s highest office, should be honored for sure; but we should also put our regard for him in proper perspective and watch how the next four years transpire.

Barack Obama is still, to me, a potential agent of manifest change: and not yet a historically overpowering figure we honor for his many accomplishments.

Oh I agree with others that the election of a Black American is historic and memorable; but while it says a lot about our new President-elect it says more to me about the American people.

The notion that Barack Obama is, in many ways, “Linconesque,” is at least premature and could seem a tad bizarre, especially to historians seeking meaning, accomplishments and proven character.

Obama has not yet managed through his Cuban Missile Crisis, his Vietnam War, his Great Depression or whatever real crises we can anticipate — and even whatever nobody could ever anticipate like George W. Bush’s “Nine Eleven.”

Yet both Lincoln and Obama certainly share Illinois and a place in history.  Lincoln’s place in history is “writ large.”  We do not yet know if Barack Obama is a chapter or two of history; or just a paragraph or two. 

President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist's question ... 
President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist’s question during his first press conference following his election victory in Chicago, November 7, 2008.(John Gress/Reuters)

Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. He graduated from  Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.

Obama is an “indoorsman,” who wrote two books about himself and arguably became addicted to his BlackBerry.

Lincoln was an outdoorsman who grew up in a log cabin in the rough “west” of the United States in his time, including Kentucky and Illinois.

Wikipedia says “Lincoln struck out on his own, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem in Sangamon County. Later that year, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods from New Salem to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers.”

Lincoln’s formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling, but he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. He was also a talented local wrestler and skilled with an axe.

Barack Obama is skilled with a computer keyboard, a teleprompter, and as a very eloquent public speaker and, though I myself have been moved by the style of many Obama speeches, the next day I have found something sometimes lacking. Yet like some of Mister Lincoln’s orations and remarks, Mr. Obama’s speeches are filled with “hope” and “change.”

Obama's speech earned him praise from politicians on the left and right. But not everyone was impressed.

Above: Barack Obama before a crowd in Germany. Photo: Getty Images
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Lincoln participated in the most studied and recalled political debates ever held in America.

Barack Obama’s debates with John McCain will be recalled for one thing only: Obama became the elected president.

“I don’t think we need any big media-run productions, no processed questions from reporters, no spin rooms, just two Americans running for the highest office in the greatest nation on earth responding to the concerns of the people who’s trust that we must earn,” John McCain said well before the debates with Barack Obama.

Famously, McCain said he wanted ten “Lincoln-Douglas” style debates with Barack Obama.

The nation ended up with far fewer than ten debates and not one came close to resembling the famed and historic Lincoln-Douglas debates.

But the world is a different place now and our national attention span and will to concentrate is short for good reasons, even though we are multitasking…

Creators Syndicate

Oprah Already Has Dress For Obama's Inauguration
WireImage
Access Hollywood

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are pretty much comfortable everywhere — from public speaking in Germany to Bill Ayers house and onward to Oprah’s TV show and to Hollywood.

Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, which many historians believe was at least “on the edge” and probably crazy, were famously uncomfortable in most settings.  Many Hollywood and TV people today say that Lincoln’s looks would probably make him unelectable today.

Lincoln mourned the loss of one of his own children: and he watched in horror as Civil War casualties bled the nation white.  He even took the time to pen a letter to a grieving mother who lost five sons in “Lincoln’s war.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s most famous oration, the Gettysburg Address, took just two minutes to deliver.  For more than a century, American school children memorized this magnificent piece of writing and oration, one of the finest speeches ever given in America, some say, and all in less than 280 words.

On the day of that address, Lincoln was not the featured speaker, who droned on for some time.  But nobody without a deep history education can even recall the man who delivered his remarks before Lincoln on Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the cemetery in Gettysburg.


Soldiers National Cemetery, Gettysburg

Lincoln freed the slaves and preserved the Union.  So far, Obama freed the media and the electorate of the feeling and belief that racism kept good men of color from key posts.

Lincoln was unafraid of firing his top generals — and then while U.S. Grant was gaining ground and winning battles and his staff said the man was a drunk, Lincoln issued an order to send Grant a case of his favorite spirits, or so the story is told.


Lincoln in the field during the Civil War

Lincoln had to sneak into Washington DC for his inauguration.  Obama will be greeted by a throng of millions.

Lincoln assembled a cabinet that was a train wreck of disagreement to the point of dysfunction.  Some in the media today say that Obama is emulating Lincoln’s ability to be “inclusive” in his cabinet selections.

But Lincoln did famously “reach out” to all great leaders who could help him including the Catholic Archbishop of New York, “Dagger” John Hughes.

Linoln also gave a seemingly open door to the White House to Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who pushed President Lincoln to create and issue the Emancipation Proclamation — against the advice of many including his top military commanders.


Above: Frederick Douglass, in about 1879.

Above:  Lincoln met with his cabinet on July 22, 1862 for the first reading of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Barack Obama’s challenges have yet to unfold.

Lincoln’s challenges were manifest.

History has judged Lincoln.  Obama’s first full chapter, now, at least in part, well chronicled by eager contemporary media scribes, is mostly still a way off for historians to evaluate.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
November 19, 2008

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The Topeka Capitol Journal began an article on November 9, 2008 with, “Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama, who will become the nation’s 44th president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.”

My Vietnamese American relatives say, “We seem to have the Easter before the Palm….”

Lincoln’s Day, once celebrated on his birthday, is now largely forgotten and squeezed out by the celebration of other great Americans like Martin Luther King.  Frederick Douglass has no day at all. It might be prudent to hold off on the “Barack Obama Day” just a tad….

Related:
Barack Obama Needs To Know: Lincoln’s Dysfuncional Cabinet Was Not Your Mother’s A-Team
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 Frederick Douglass: Turning Points
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“Most Famous” Lincoln Letter of Civil War Found?

Candidates pressured to change debate

October 10, 2008

By Andy Barr
Politico

After a thoroughly panned presidential debate, a wide-ranging coalition is calling on Barack Obama and John McCain to change the rules for the last presidential debate to guarantee that voters get the answers they deserve.

The group, which includes the likes of MoveOn, The Next Right, The Huffington Post and Wikipedia, sent a letter to the presidential candidates Friday pressuring them to change what they called a “lacking” debate deserving of ridicule from the likes of Saturday Night Live.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) ...

At a minimum, the group demands that moderator Bob Schieffer be allowed to ask follow up questions to the candidates, who many believe have been allowed to skate through debates without providing answers to fundamental and important questions.

While the last debate did include questions from the Internet, the group is demanding that the question process be more transparent and accountable. The letter asks that questions be submitted and voted on online, and that the moderator be allowed “broad discretion” to follow up on the candidates’ answers.
The final debate is Wednesday October 15. 

The full text of the letter is below:

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081010/pl_politico
/14470;_ylt=Ai2uGN_hzmY13WPMQxDR5Eis0NUE

Corporate Cash Behind ’08 Presidential Debates

September 26, 2008

By Jennifer Haberkorn
The Washington Times
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The presidential debates, one of the most potentially significant events of the 2008 campaign, are being brought to you, in part, by the very companies that the participants say they want to keep out of politics.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have spent much of their time railing against the control of Washington by special interest groups and lobbyists, but some of those same groups are now spending millions of dollars to bring the presidential face-off to the public.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the International Bottled Water Association and Hewlett-Packard-owned Electronic Data Systems are among the private firms and organizations sponsoring the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which hosts the forums every four years.

The CPD, which the candidates say they have no control over, declined to disclose how much its sponsors have contributed.

This year, the CPD planned to host three debates between the presidential candidates and one with the vice-presidential candidates. But the first presidential debate, scheduled for Friday night, is in serious doubt because of the flurry of congressional activity on the economic crisis. The debates are to be held in Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville, Tenn.; and Hempstead, N.Y.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
sep/26/corporate-cash-behind-08-debates/

Mitt and Hillary: Running Into a Head Wind

January 7, 2008

 By Robert D. Novak
The Washington Post

January 7, 2008

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney and Sen. Hillary Clinton wanted to use Saturday night’s televised presidential debates to further their respective goals: keep Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama from winning Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Neither accomplished that mission, but the failure is much more damaging for Romney than for Clinton.

Romney looks like a clear loser of the state’s Republican primary to McCain, which his once-promising campaign can hardly afford on top of his decisive loss in Iowa‘s caucuses last week. While Clinton cannot come close to matching the fervor of Obama’s supporters, polls still show a close race on the Democratic side. Despite her embarrassing third-place finish in Iowa, Clinton can withstand another defeat without dooming her once-certain procession to the nomination.

Newt Gingrich: What’s Wrong With Our Election Process?

October 23, 2007

By Michael Lumley
The Daily Beacon (University of Tennessee)
Monday, October 22, 2007

A few months ago at a National Press Club Lunch in Washington, Newt Gingrich actually said something worth repeating. That happens so rarely now-a-days with prominent political leaders I was actually a little astonished. Essentially, Newt argued that the current electoral process is too long, too expensive and fundamentally insane.

“As the campaigns get longer,” Gingrich said, “you’re asking a person who’s going to be sworn in in January of 2009 to tell you what they’ll do in January of 2007, when they haven’t got a clue — because they don’t know what the world will be like, and you’re suggesting that they won’t learn anything through the two years of campaigning.”

Newt’s completely right of course. In 2000, Americans voted for a “compassionate conservative” who believed in limited government, cutting growth in federal spending and a restrained foreign policy. Instead they got George W. Bush.

How could America have been so deceived?

Our electoral process sucks.

Presidents are elected from a pool of candidates who are selected based on one determining factor — their ability to gather small contributions from large groups of people. How best to do this? Some have found that being mayor of a large city devastated by a major terror attack helps. Others have tried being married to very popular former presidents. Less common is an approach involving vision, principle or leadership.

But it’s not enough to start out with a really terrible pool of candidates. After the system eliminates anyone who is unable to instantly reach two to three million campaign donors, it plunges the candidates into a series of encounters that the political machine calls “debates.”

To call these spectacles debates is a bit like calling “Big Brother 4” prime-time television or calling Britney Spears an artist. I mean, sure, technically they’re debates, but in reality, its only 90 minutes of eight to 10 suits doing their damnedest not to stick their feet in their mouths.

Take this real debate question, posed to Rudy Giuliani: What are the biggest mistakes that you have ever made, and how have they changed you for a better person? You have thirty seconds.

Thirty seconds? To answer the question properly would take 30 seconds of just thinking before speaking. Of course, as all good candidates do, Giuliani simply deflected the question — playing it safe and keeping his foot well away from his mouth.

Every once and a while, however, a candidate actually tries to engage in a meaningful policy discussion instead of parroting off meaningless drivel like “I believe in the American Dream.” When this happens, they are first misunderstood and then demonized.

Take Ron Paul, who tried to explain in one Republican debate that American foreign policy might be contributing to a “blowback” effect — that is, when we kill women and children overseas, it makes their relatives angry at us and more likely to blow up buildings. The solution: Critically examine our policies to ensure that they maximize the benefit to the American people and discontinue policies that do more harm then good to our relations overseas.

But for Rudy Giuliani, Paul’s digression into substantive policy analysis was a golden opportunity. In thirty seconds, Giuliani turned the reasonable position articulated above into a message that Ron Paul blamed America for 9/11, and as mayor of New York during 9/11 (something he just won’t shut up about) he demanded an official apology from the Paul campaign.

What’s even worse is that a lot of people out there — people I thought were smart enough not to fall for this crap — loved Giuliani’s aggressive approach.

And then there’s a whole other host of issues that I don’t even have the words to discuss here. Campaign finance reform is silencing people with little or no name recognition. In the wake of the 2004 election, candidates are no longer allowed to change their minds about anything — lest the opposing factions wave flip-flops in the air at rallies or speeches. (Yes, the flip-flop has now become an appropriate substitute for intelligent and rational debate.) And when the driving issue in a campaign becomes something like “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” or a made-up story about National Guard papers, well, something is definitely wrong.

The bottom line is this: It’s time for Americans to demand real, intelligent and appropriate presidential campaigns. How do we do that? Quit voting for politicians who shovel out meaningless drivel. And for once, just once, let’s start using our brains.

— Michael Lumley is a senior in economics. He can be reached at mlumley@utk.edu.

Excellent Gingrich Speech, National Press Club, Aug. 7, 2007

Excellent Gingrich Speech, National Press Club, Aug. 7, 2007

August 9, 2007

The speech below is mainly a proposal to reform the way we in the United States discuss major issues and choose our president.   But Mr. Gingrich has thoughtful things to say on a wide variety of our nation’s issues.

Peace and Freedom sincerely thanks Mr. Rick Tyler of Mr. Gingrich’s staff who worked so hard to get us this transcript.  Mr. Gingrich gave this speech from notes (not text) and a transcript had to be made.  Since the text of the speech is so long we added some headers so readers can scan don and find the areas that interest them the most.  The headers are:

Introduction
Mr. Gingrich Begins
Lincoln-Douglas Debates
Current System Not Working
Strategy and Reality Not Connected
Challenges Are Immense
UPS and FedEx Superior to Federal Bureaucracy
The Scale of  Change
Britain’s Phoney War
 
Our Phony War: The Scale of the Challenge
Conversations About Our Future: Better Debates
Questions and Answers
—Proposal Favors Good Debaters
—How to Handle 3rd Party Candidates
—How to Engage The Public
—Revising Primary Debates
—Reforming The Overall Primary Process
—Campaign Financing
—Fred Thompson
—Gingrich’s Own Plan to Run
—2008 a Democratic Year
—Are The Candidates Up To The Task
—Near Future of the War On Terror

We had a lot of formatting trouble with this document and we are sorry for its porr appearance.  We think you’ll find that the content is excellent.All the best to everyone,
John E. Carey
******************* IntroductionMR. ZREMSKI: (Sounds gavel.) Good afternoon, and welcome to the National Press Club. My name is Jerry Zremski, and I’m the Washington bureau chief for the Buffalo News and president of the Press Club.I’d like to welcome our club members and their guests who are with this today, as well as those of you who are watching on C-SPAN. We’re looking forward to today’s speech, and afterwards, I’ll ask as many questions as time permits.Please hold your applause during the speech so that we have as much time for questions as possible.

Link to the entire speech text at: http://extendedremarks.blogspot.com/2007/08/speech-below-is-mainly-proposal-to.html
 

Daguerreotype of Lincoln c. 1846

Daguerreotype of Lincoln c. 1846

What in the world could the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 POSSIBLY teach us today?  Newt knows.  This is why everyone needs to understand history….