I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, January 31, 2008

As The Political World Turns

There are just a few short days left until “Super Tuesday”, when more than 20 states hold their presidential primaries. The political experts informed us last fall that the race for the nominations was all but over. Senator Hillary Clinton was predicted to have virtually eliminated all of the other Democratic contenders before February 5, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani was expected to roll through the early primaries and have the nomination wrapped up by the time the ballots are counted on “Super Tuesday”. What a difference 5 short months make in the world of politics. Giuliani dropped out of the race earlier this week after a disappointing third place finish in Florida. Clinton has spent the past 5 months desperately trying to fend off the campaign of Senator Barack Obama.

Obama has defied the laws of political nature and won both Iowa and South Carolina. He also picked up the endorsements of Democratic political royalty, the Kennedys. Even a reported phone call from former President Bill Clinton could not dissuade Senator Teddy Kennedy from throwing support behind the charismatic senator from Illinois. Many believed that Hillary would easily win the nomination without more than a mention of any opposition. Someone forgot to mention that small detail to the Obama campaign.

Giuliani wagered his entire campaign on winning Florida. He spent the majority of his time and money in the Sunshine State, believing that if he could win Florida it would propel him through “Super Tuesday” and onto the nomination. What he did not count on was that the preceding primaries would launch the campaigns of Romney and McCain through Florida on their way to next week. Giuliani made his graceful exit and immediately flew to California to endorse Senator John McCain with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. McCain was short of money and considered to be a non-factor in the primaries. Once again the experts were shown to be completely off the mark.

As we head into the carnival on February 5, we can be sure that the rhetoric from all sides will be turned up to a deafening roar. Each campaign is seeking to distance themselves from the embarrassing past, highlight their perceived achievements, and point out the many flaws, real or fabricated, of their opponents. There are a few websites that I recommend you check out to see whether or not the claims of the candidates are in fact truthful. PolitiFact is a website that shows specific comments by candidates or their campaigns and indicates whether or not they are factual or fabricated. FactCheck.org is another resource to determine if any of the political rhetoric bears any resemblance to the truth.
Tuesday could turn out to be the deciding factor in the nomination process or we may have to wait until the political convention before we actually know who will be the nominees. I believe that we will have a definitive winner on each side, if not on Tuesday, within a few weeks. I believe that Hillary will finally pull ahead of the charisma and hype that has built up around Barack Obama; and I believe that John McCain will squeak out ahead of Mitt Romney. From an entertainment perspective, this has been and will continue to be the most entertaining election season of my lifetime.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

35 Years of Roe vs. Wade, Have We Learned Anything?

In January of 1973, the abortion debate became a centerpiece in American political campaigns for many years to come. The landmark ruling of the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade has sparked more debate and controversy than any other political issue over the ensuing 35 years. The Court in it’s decision not only gave women the “right to choose”, but also declared themselves part of the legislative branch of government by making laws and superseding the rights and powers of the individual states. January 22 marked the 35-year anniversary of the decision and activists from both sides of the debate held events to remember that historic decision.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute released a study showing that the abortion rates are starting to decline. In 2005, there were 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States. That is down from the high of 1.6 million abortions in 1990. The 2005 numbers show that the abortion rate is the lowest since 1974. While the numbers are encouraging, there were still 1.2 million babies killed in 2005. I believe part of the reason for the decline is the advancements in ultrasound technology. You simply cannot see a live picture of an in utero baby at 6 weeks and hear their heartbeat and not believe that is a living child. If you talk to an expecting mother, she will never call the child growing inside of her, a fetus. That is an innocuous term used to describe an unwanted baby, so as not to cause undue emotional stress about the fate in store for the child.

I have heard the arguments about it is a woman’s right to choose, after all it is her life, her choice, her body. It is truly a sad world that we live in that we can justify ending an innocent human life because of convenience, or career interests, or worse yet, a mistake. Doesn’t the child deserve a chance to live? To be loved?

The government needs to leave their laws off of my body. If that is the case, then why are most of the political candidates discussing Universal Health Care, in which all of us are required to obtain healthcare? Isn’t that making laws concerning our bodies? Why are there laws against illegal drugs?

The earth simply can’t sustain the population explosion that would occur if abortion were outlawed. Using that logic, shouldn’t we then start euthanizing Alzheimer’s patients, or anyone who reaches an age of 85? After all, they have lived their lives and are generally not working or contributing to society any longer.

What about those babies that have a high risk of being born with Down’s Syndrome or other developmental problems? Again, I have to ask, don’t they deserve to live and be loved? The latest Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow, would not be alive today if his parents had listened to the doctors. Tim’s parents were missionaries in the Philippines when Pam Tebow became pregnant. During her pregnancy she became ill from amoebic dysentery, which caused her to slip into a coma. The doctors were able to treat her dysentery with some very strong medication that would cause irreversible damage to her unborn son. They advised that she have an abortion. The Tebows cited their Christian faith as a reason to not kill their son and prayed that Tim would be all right. 20 years later, Tim became the first sophomore in NCAA history to win the top prize for college football players. I realize that not every high-risk pregnancy ends with such a happy ending, but who are we to decide which baby lives and which baby dies?

What about cases of rape or incest? Is the child guilty of the details of their conception? There are thousands of parents waiting to adopt children in our country. They don’t care how or why the baby was conceived. They long to be able to share their lives and their love with a child.

After 35 years of abortion on demand, haven’t we learned that the killing of unborn children is wrong? Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe Vs. Wade, has changed her mind and gone on record to say that her story was false and made up to overturn the existing abortion laws. She originally claimed that she was raped in order to file the suit. She now admits that her boyfriend of the time was the father of her baby, whom she gave up for adoption after she was born. McCorvey is now a pro-life activist, seeking to change the minds of over 1 million women each year who choose to end the lives of their unborn children.

Check out this amazing story of a 21 week in utero baby

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Politics Of Race

In 1998, Toni Morrison, a Nobel prize winning writer, declared President Bill Clinton “the first Black President”. The Congressional Black Caucus followed suit in October of 2001, by honoring the former President at their annual awards dinner. Clinton told CNS News that, "I think it's a function of the work I have done, not just as president, but my whole public life to try to bridge the racial divide and the fact that even when I was a little boy I had friends who were African-American”. I am beginning to wonder if the Congressional Black Caucus and Ms. Morrison wish they could take back the honorarium that they bestowed upon the 42nd President. I have always found it interesting that Bill Clinton could be considered “the first Black President” when he is proud to admit that well-known segregationist James William Fulbright was his political mentor. Fulbright was a staunch supporter of racial segregation.

Now that the first Black President’s wife is vying to become the first woman President, her campaign has started playing a familiar tune, albeit with a surprising twist. Senator Barack Obama, the first African-American with a legitimate chance at winning his party’s nomination, has been the recipient of numerous racial attacks and innuendos from those associated with Hillary’s campaign. Senator Clinton made reference to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. fight for civil rights needing a President to achieve his dream. BET founder Bob Johnson alluded to Obama’s drug use during an introduction for Hillary. When Johnson was pressed to clarify his words, he went further to compare Obama to Sidney Poitier’s character in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner; an obvious ploy to allege that Obama has sold out. The former President apparently felt left out of the game of personal attacks, he called the Obama campaign a fairy tale.

When Senator Clinton appeared on the Sunday morning news show “Meet The Press”, she explained away her campaign’s remarks by accusing the Obama campaign of not only distorting her words, but also of playing the race card. I am amazed at the audacity of the Clintons. They bring up race and personal attacks, and then proceed to turn the tables and accuse their political opponents of the very same thing, all the while pleading innocence. It is a very risky political maneuver, especially with the South Carolina primary looming in the near future. If Hillary does go one to win the nomination, she also runs the risk of African-Americans of either voting for her opponent, or staying home on election day. I believe it would be a fitting end to the Clinton’s political career. After all, they have taken the “Black vote” for granted for years by playing lip service to the African-American community.

To Senator Obama’s credit, he has displayed character and maturity by not allowing the Clinton campaign to drag him down to their level of politics. I am a bit surprised by the Clinton campaign’s tactic of attacking him personally and racially. Senator Obama has been in the Senate for barely 3 years, during which time he has spent the majority of his time campaigning for President. His time spent in Illinois’ state senate was marked by his propensity for voting “present” instead of a simple yes or no. His campaign is one built on excitement and his personal charm and charisma, which makes him a formidable political opponent, but he is not invincible. If his Democratic opponents begin to point out the sizable holes in his policy positions, we will see his poll numbers start to slide. The question remains, will the Clintons continue the politics of personal destruction? Or will they become victims of their own game?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Would JFK Be Relevant Today?

Two score and seven years ago, John F. Kennedy delivered his famously quoted inaugural address. His speech contained one of the most historic and memorable phrases in American history. “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In the four decades since Kennedy spoke those words, the country has indeed gone through many changes, both political and economically. Do Kennedy’s words possess any relevance today? From the rhetoric coming from the majority of presidential candidates, the political parties don’t believe they do

Senator Barack Obama is promising a host of new programs that in essence is nothing more than new entitlement programs in fancy packaging. From healthcare to civil rights to immigration, the senator promises to provide new services to the people. Obama is not alone with his promises. Senator Clinton, the godmother of universal healthcare, is also promising healthcare for all, as well as programs for illegal immigration. Former Senator Edwards has built his campaign on the battle between the classes. These are hardly the plans and rhetoric of Kennedy proportions.

Before my liberal friends begin to completely spin out of control, allow me to point out that the Democrats are not alone with their entitlement campaigns. Former Governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are both talking about different versions of government controlled healthcare. Senator John McCain was a leading proponent of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I thought that Republicans were supportive of a smaller and less intrusive government.

The politicians are not the sole owners of the blame on this issue. The vast majority of American people have developed an entitlement mentality, a mentality that guides them to expecting the government to give them something for “free”. They expect the government to provide healthcare, corporate bailouts for their companies, exemption from defaulting on their mortgages, and providing services for illegal immigrants to name but a few. I can almost understand that thinking from younger voters, because they have been raised to think the government’s sole responsibility is to dole out “freebies”. What I find unbelievable is the voters that were empowered by listening to Kennedy when he actually delivered his inaugural speech, but now are screaming for their fair share of the government pie. I know the argument well, the argument that says that we live in different times now than when Kennedy was President. I agree, we do live in different times, but the message is still relevant today. We scream and cry about the deficit and the debt, but when it comes to actually cutting programs and spending, the screeching grows louder. Everyone else’s special interest or program is wasteful spending, but my government supplied handout is important.

This mindset has grown and evolved over the nearly 50 years since 1961, so it will not change overnight. It will take at least a generation to transform the entitlement mentality into a mindset of what can we do to help our neighbors and country. I believe there are problems with healthcare and many other issues at stake during this campaign season, but I don’t believe that the government is the solution. Look back over the past 47 years. How many problems have been solved by government intervention? For the most part, government is the problem and not the solution.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Iowa Caucus Circus

After months and months of campaigning, we finally have a moment of peace and quiet, but only a fleeting moment as we wait for the results of the Iowa caucuses. The poll results have been all over the map. One poll says that Hillary will win, with Obama and Edwards following closely behind. Another says that Hillary will come in third behind Edwards and Obama. The Republican side is just as unpredictable. Some say Huckabee will win, while others say Romney is the man. Others say that McCain and Thompson are surging to the front.

It has been more than 40 years since neither party is running an incumbent President or Vice President. The political parties have given us a wide array of candidates to choose from, with none of the politicians distinguishing themselves from the rest of the pack. Just a few short months ago, the pundits told us that the primaries were already decided with Giuliani and Clinton being declared the winners. Now it is 2008, and we see that Clinton’s lead has evaporated to the point that some polls show her trailing both Edwards and Obama. Giuliani’s lead is gone to the point where he hasn’t focused on the Iowa caucuses.

In the run-up to the first test for the candidates, some “experts” questioned whether or not the Iowa caucuses really matter anymore. The same “experts” posited that if Hillary came in second or third, it would actually be seen as a win because of the uphill battle she has had to fight. I simply don’t understand what battle she has had to fight. She held a commanding lead in every poll since before she even declared her candidacy. Their logic does have a ring of familiarity. Former President Bill Clinton came in fourth place in Iowa, only to see him come in second in New Hampshire. He was seen as the “Comeback Kid” and went on to win the nomination. Hillary’s campaign is being run by the same people that propelled her husband to the Oval Office, I have to wonder how much of this is coincidence or political maneuvering.

As the results come in we will see all of the candidates rationalizing the outcome to their advantage. If Hillary does come in second, it will still be declared a victory and she will move on to New Hampshire a little more determined. If she ends up in third place, Obama and Edwards are in for the fight of their lives. The gloves will come off, and the Clinton War Machine will get in gear to roll over anyone in their path. She believes it her birthright to be the next President and will do anything that she deems necessary to achieve that goal. If Edwards comes in third behind Clinton and Obama, I believe we will start to see the last days of his campaign. Obama is in this for the long haul, no matter where he ends up in the polls.

On the Republican side, I see Huckabee finishing at the top of the heap this evening with Romney trailing closely behind. I think that the real race is to see where Thompson and McCain end up. I think that the upcoming primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina et al, will be a free for all with a different candidate winning each state. It will be interesting to see who remains at the end of the accelerated primary cycle.