17 Years Ago Today In Stevens Point, Wisconsin President Bush (41) Chugged Into Town

Pres Mrs Bush

October 31, 1992, was a cold and blustery day across Wisconsin.  Light snow flurries swirled through the air as many thousands stood for hours at the old train depot in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.   The presidential campaign that year was winding down, and even though President Bush was campaigning with David McCullough’s latest book “Truman ” in his hand while reminding voters that he too could win the election as Harry did in 1948, the polls were all indicating the opposite.  In later news accounts and books all would discover that it was that frigid day in Wisconsin when President Bush was told of his fate by his internal pollsters.    In spite of that there were still campaign stops to be made, as Bush was traveling Wisconsin by train, while working over-time at trying to making his Truman moment come true. 

A Republican friend  of mine at the Capitol had secured tickets for my mom and dad along with most of my immediate family, including nieces and nephews who wished to attend what turned out to be the most incredible campaign rally I have ever witnessed.  We had arrived very early which allowed us to stand in the very front near the podium allowing the young ones in my family to have a moment they will  never forget.   I have been lucky to be up front at many of these election moments over the years, but nothing compares to the sights and sounds of President Bush (41) arriving on the train to greet the people.  Being a lover of history this was a moment that made time seem to move backwards as the loud engine and sharp whistle brought  a President to that little depot.  I had at times wondered if my folks thought my involvement in politics was worth the time and energy which I had put into it.  But that day as I watched their  faces I had my answer.  This had impressed them!  

At about 5:00 P.M. off in the distance the lonesome sound of the train was heard and the crowd exploded with cheers.  As the big locomotive brought the long line of train cars into the depot the President and his family were waving and ready to embrace the folks who were friendly in spite of the national mood.  The crowd was highly partisan, as it should be, for such an occasion.  I was mesmerized by the historical and grand moment that this old-fashioned campaign rally had generated.  Nothing will ever surpass that event.

While my nephew Troy and I had actually shaken hands with both President Bush and Barbara in Waukesha that summer at another rally at the rope line up front (where Bush was also talking of winning like Truman) we were not so lucky in Plover.  But it did not matter as we all walked away after that wonderful afternoon to find a small restaurant to eat and un-thaw at for a while.  We had all witnessed something that is left to the history books, and nostalgic memories of those who lived the 1948 campaign and saw the train used in national campaigns.

George Bush 1992

Mark Shields: Obama Made “Reality Of War More Transparent”

Mark Shields is a Friday night treat on “NewsHour’.  His insight and perspective is refreshing and always squares with the America I know and live in.  This week I posted on President Obama flying to Dover Air Force Base to be there when coffins of American soldiers arrived.  I wrote that it was a sign of leadership that he would make this trip as President of the United States.

In part, I wrote the following.

The price of war is one that I have long argued needs to be shown, and there is nothing to be gained by hiding and denying what is sometimes the end result of a failure of diplomacy.  War is costly in many ways, and the visual result of war by means of the caskets are one that we must bear if we are to be honest about this part of our  foreign policy.

Today I was very pleased to read that Mark Shields also had a very positive response and writes the President passed the ‘the Dover test.”

The president of the United States is not just the commander in chief. The president is also the comforter in chief. That is what President Ronald Reagan was when, after 241 American servicemen, mostly U.S. Marines, were killed by a terrorist attack on their Beirut barracks, he went to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to honor those killed, to comfort those who survived and to give voice to the national grief. War’s endless expense in human suffering ought not to be shielded from either public view or from public responsibility.

President Obama, during his winning campaign, promised to make Washington more “transparent” and more “accountable.” At 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, as he stood silently by as six soldiers carried the remains of Army Sgt. Dale R. Griffin of Terre Haute, Ind., back to American soil and to those who mourned him, President Obama made both himself, and the national government he leads, more responsible and made the reality of war more transparent.

At Dover, he personally met with and consoled — in their time of profound sorrow — the families of 18 fallen Americans. No form letter or phone call. Just human being to human being.

As John Glenn said: “It’s easy to see the flags flying and the people go off to war, and the bands play and the flags fly. And it’s not quite so easy when the flag is draped over a coffin coming back through Dover, Delaware.” Barack Obama, by choosing the “not quite so easy” path, has earned his nation’s thanks.

Fallout From Republican Debacle Over Dede Scozzafava

Warming ourselves from the heat created by the anger between the Republicans and the conservatives is not a bad thing, is it?  One thing we do know is there is plenty of heat, and lots to reflect over from the sidelines.  For all the football fever in Wisconsin this weekend, the real action to follow is in New York and the special election in the 23rd Congressional District.  It is there the teabaggers have trashed the GOP candidate and forced her to be sidelined. 

Now read that last sentence, close your eyes, and think about it.  This is not an Allen Drury novel…….this actually happened.   It is from that point we move forward.  This is what the internet is consumed with today, as well as lunch table discussion at our home.  The conservatives want to be a party of political purity…..and we know that means a smaller party.  This is a win-win!  Ronald Reagan practiced the big-tent approach to politics and his victories underscores that requirement on the national stage. There is no way that the teabaggers style of politics can win in state-wide general elections.    What will the GOP do to counter the teabaggers?  How will they placate them to shut-up? 

As Erick Erickson, editor of the RedState blog, wrote today, the fallout among Republicans — inside the Beltway and outside – holds great portent for the 2010 midterm elections, and requires a purging of G.O.P. officials. “Someone, more than one person, must be fired for the Republican botching of NY-23. Heads must roll lest this happen again,” Mr. Erickson warned. “And John Cornyn and the National Republican Senatorial Committee better be paying attention, see e.g. Charlie Crist v. Marco Rubio in Florida.”

Indeed, Mr. Rubio is fighting Governor Crist for Florida’s right-leaning angst over such things as Mr. Crist’s endorsement of the president’s $787 billion stimulus package, in the 2010 race for the Senate seat abandonded by Mel Martinez. a Republican.

Ms. Scozzafava was battered, slammed by national politicians with far bigger ambitions than hers of becoming one member of Congress. Former Senator Dick Armey, who has been the leader in fomenting tea party upset, former Gov. Sarah Palin, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has 2012 ambitions, all lined up against her. One after another seemed to jump in to this otherwise obscure election, viewing it as a harbinger for what the Republican party’s ideals may be going forward.

Just this past week, Representative Pete Sessions, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he would embrace Mr. Hoffman, were he elected. That means money, in an election.

None of this bade well for Ms. Scozzafava, who saw her polls numbers fall — and in fact a Siena Poll just released seemed to lead to her decision.

A few days ago, Michael Steele, the chairman of the national Republican party, said he stood by Ms. Scozzafava as the G.O.P. candidate. But today, he released this statement:

The Republican National Committee respects Dede’s decision to suspend her campaign. This selfless act of releasing her supporters provides voters with the opportunity to unite around a candidate who shares Republican principles and will serve the interests of his constituents in Congress by standing in opposition to the liberal policies of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi.

Effective immediately, the R.N.C. will endorse and support the conservative candidate in the race, Doug Hoffman. Doug’s campaign will receive the financial backing of the RNC, and get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Bill Owens on Tuesday.

I appreciate the hard work Dede put into her campaign, and for understanding the political reality of this race. By releasing her supporters she has gracefully placed the Party before her own self interest, and for this she deserves enormous credit and respect.

What a wild leap four days before the election. Of course, Ms. Scozzafava’s name will still be on the ballot, and she frankly didn’t endorse anyone else today. The question remains: Does this upset throw even more weight to Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate?

Continue reading “Fallout From Republican Debacle Over Dede Scozzafava”

Teabaggers Force Republican Scozzafava In New York 23rd Congressional District To Suspend Race Days Before Election

Seems appropriate to write this on Halloween.

Beware what monster you create. 

That advice goes to the Republicans who created the outlandish and pumped up outrage that the less educated within their ranks then took with them to town hall meetings where they ranted and screamed for the TV cameras.  Now the monster thinks he is in the drivers seat…….damn this is a fine story to watch play out.

This is remarkable news.  The fact is as of today the Republican Party now has no viable candidate for New York’s 23rd Congressional District’s special election on Tuesday.  The reason is due to the teabaggers who are a minority within a minority, but have the leverage at some levels to force the GOP to bend over  and cry ‘uncle’.  When the national GOP is forced into this position it is a major political story, and one that will have legs.  Not the type of story the Republicans are going to wish to talk about or deal with, but alas, that is their fate.   

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican and Independence parties candidate, announced Saturday that she is suspending her campaign for the 23rd Congressional District and releasing all her supporters.

The state Assemblywoman has not thrown her support to either Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate, or Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate.

“Today, I again seek to act for the good of our community,” Ms. Scozzafava wrote in a letter to friends and supporters. “It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so. I am and have always been a proud Republican. It is my hope that with my actions today, my party will emerge stronger and our district and our nation can take an important step towards restoring the enduring strength and economic prosperity that has defined us for generations.”

Ms. Scozzafava told the Watertown Daily Times that Siena Research Institute poll numbers show her too far behind to catch up – and she lacks enough money to spend on advertising in the last three days to make a difference. Mr. Owens has support from 36 percent of likely voters in the poll, with Mr. Hoffman garnering 35 percent support. Ms. Scozzafava has support from 20 percent of those polled.

Saturday Song: “The Lighthouse” By Buddy Mullins And Vestal Goodman

Recorded at the Ryman Auditoruim, and fitting the mood of the week.

President Obama In Madison Next Week, Perhaps At Middle School

Madison, Wisconsin is about to make the national news big time when President Obama makes an appearance here.  Might it be a middle school that gets the honor of hosting the President?  The school kids are about to have a story that will linger for a life-time.  The city will be electrified too with a sitting President coming here, as opposed to presidential candidates who always stop here as they know we produce the volume of votes needed to make someone a winner.  This is grand!

Barack Obama’s planned visit to Madison next week might include a stop at J.C Wright Middle School.

At a news conference about the Wisconsin Covenant at the Executive Residence on Friday, Gov. Jim Doyle told a Wright student, “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but Wright might have a very special visitor next week.”  

In a question-and-answer session with reporters following the news conference, Doyle then declined to confirm Obama’s speech would be located at Wright, saying only “no comment.”  

A spokesman for the Madison Metropolitan School District would only say that any information about the president’s visit next week would be coming from the White House.  

White House officials released information earlier this week saying only that the president would visit the Madison area on Nov. 4 to speak about strengthening America’s education system. 

White House Ends HIV Travel Ban

It is about time!

President Obama called the 22-year ban on travel and immigration by HIV-positive individuals a decision “rooted in fear rather than fact” and announced the end of the rule-making process lifting the ban.

The president signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 at the White House Friday and also spoke of the new rules, which have been under development more than a year. “We are finishing the job,” the president said.

The regulations are the final procedural step in ending the ban, and will be published Monday in the Federal Register, to be followed by the standard 60-day waiting period prior to implementation.

A ban on travel and immigration to the U.S. by individuals with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was first established by the Reagan-era U.S. Public Health Service and then given further support when Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) added HIV to the travel-exclusion list in a move that was ultimately passed unanimously by the Senate in 1987.

Wisconsin Radio Antics Show How Far We Have Slipped

In light of the news from around the state regarding on-air personalities making less than wise decisions, I thought I would share one of mine while working in radio.  I think this also puts the state of radio into perspective, as I have lamented this matter before on my blog.  Radio is not what it used to be.  As a result, though others may not know it, we have all lost something.

While working at WDOR radio for four years the biggest ‘controversy’, if you can call it that, was my lack of pre-reading a piece of copy prior to news time.  So there I am on air reporting about something regarding….whatever…..and the person’s last name was Staufaucher…..and the name came off just like you think it did.  There was no disputing that I put the hard ‘u’ sound into the name for all the listeners across the Door Peninsula to hear.  WHOOOPPS!  As I continued my newscast I could see the lights of  the phone near the console start to blink a bright orange from every line.  Even the long-distance line from Algoma and Kewaunee were blinking!  Good Lord!  I knew as soon as the word had slipped my lips that this was going to be a problem.  At first the general manager was a bit irritated…..he was on one of the telephone lines of course……but later I recall he came into the studio and told some stories of his time at WGN radio and soon we were laughing.  Eddy Allen, Sr. was a class act, with a great deal of old-fashioned broadcasting under his belt.  I have thought over time at some level he was laughing about this matter too.  He just cautioned me to read local names more carefully as they were at times different than what I had perhaps been accustomed to in my area of the state where I grew up.

That story is kind of quaint in relation to what passes for broadcast outrage now.  It all seems so long ago in so many different ways.