Will Olympia Snowe Run For President On Americans Elect Ticket?

This is not the year in politics to say something can not happen.

This sounds exactly like the kind of rhetoric emanating from Americans Elect, the third-party group that believes that both parties should put aside partisanship and come together to enact an ever-so-slightly more conservative version of Barack Obama’s agenda. Moderate retiring senators often deliver lofty, vacuous paeans to bipartisanship on their way to a lucrative lobbying career. But Snowe’s statement seems unusually specific(“unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate”) about her intent to do something.

I suspect it may not be coincidental that David Boren, the former Democratic senator from Oklahoma and oil industry lickspittle, came out for Americans Elect today. The group is set up so that its presidential and vice-presidential candidates need to come from opposing parties. The process is set up to, at least putatively, allow the voters to choose the ticket. But Americans Elect and its well-heeled funders have maintained tight control over the proceedings to ensure their envisioned ticket pairing establishmentarian insiders can prevail over candidates like , say, Ron Paul who might be able to actually win an open vote.

Republicans Not Happy With Any Presidential Candidate

Best summation from Tuesday night GOP primary results.

Steve Schmidt, on MSNBC: “Four years ago with Democrats, the tension in that race was which of two historic candidates the Democratic party voters all liked. who were they going to put forward in the general election contest? They liked both of them. They would have been happy with both of them. The longer this goes on, Republican voters are saying, ‘We don’t like any of them, we want somebody new in the race.’ And that new person isn’t going to appear in the race.”


“Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero” A Book Of Passion About Politics

Chris Matthews writes as much a nostalgic book about Jack Kennedy, as a historical text.  The book aims to illuminate how the character of the famed son from Massachusetts was created, and how his self-confidence was used to make sound judgment calls during the Cuban missile crisis.

Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero allows the reader to know Matthews grew up in the midst of the moments of which he writes.  There are many who still gravitate back to their childhoods, and see the pivotal times of our nation’s history which they lived through as extra-special.  In the case of Jack Kennedy there is no doubt that Matthews is correct about his assessment of not only the times, but also of the man of which he is most curious.

The book makes a point to show that the lack of a loving mother for Jack Kennedy had to be a harsh blow. How could it not be?  As Matthews recalls warm memories about his own family life as a boy on the one hand, there is the absence of Rose when Jack is seriously sick on the other hand.  Matthews writes of Rose leaving to visit friends in another state instead of being by her child’s bedside.  It is a cold thought.

Readers feel the competition between the Kennedy bothers, most notably Joe, Jr., who wanted to best Jack who at the time had already become a war-hero in the Pacific.  We read of Joe on his cot clenching  his fists while muttering “By God, I’ll show them” as he contemplates another dangerous mission.  Joe would die in the skies over Europe when his bomb-laden plane exploded.

Perhaps there is no more personal tension to be felt than in the paragraphs spread over the book dealing with Jack’s father, Joe Kennedy.  History is not kind to Joe, Sr., and for good reason as there is not much to hold onto that does not sink with the weight of history.  But it is wonderful to read when Jack reaches out, up, and away from his father and breaks new ground for himself.

No one needs reminding of Jack’s bad judgment calls when it comes to being unfaithful to his wife.  Matthews, being a true student of history does not allow the fond feelings he has for his subject to shade a complete view of the then-candidate for the White House.

There is a sad scene that takes place following the West Virginia slug-fest of a primary where Jack is reveling in his victory.  Ben Bradlee, who would become editor of the Washington Post, recalls how Jack showed no attention to his wife that night as he greeted people as an exhilarated victor.  Jackie seemed miserable at being left out of things as she stood on a stairway.  As Jack had the greatest moment of his campaign, the moment he knew the nomination was his, Jackie would disappear and sit by herself in the car.

It is those images that leaves readers sitting back and wondering why JFK had such a huge flaw in his make-up.

But for all of the chinks in his armor there is no doubt that when things were rough President Kennedy rose to the occasion and proved what leadership based on a keen intellect was all about.

As a sick boy JFK had constantly read, and his curiosity about the world only increased into his adulthood.  His ability to stand up to his father, and the Democratic Party only added a foundation underneath him when he needed to stand up to the military leaders during the missile crisis.

The book shines brightly as we near those days in October 1962 when readers get as close as we can to what made JFK tick as a man, and respond as a president.   I suspect that is when Matthews wishes he could have been in the Oval Office, and witnessed the decision-making process play out.

Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero is a book that will take you back to a time not so far removed from our own.  It is a book of passion about politics, but with a most candid view of its main topic.   This book is well worth your time.

Domestic Partners Win At Madison City Council Meeting

In December the Madison City Council introduced a measure to make city contractors provide benefits for domestic partners.  At the time I had this to say about the matter.

I do not care if business thinks this is onerous or not as the price to have a city contract.  These deals are very beneficial to contractors, and there is nothing wrong in making it so everyone is treated equally.  Ante up the benefits, or do not bid for city contracts.  That is the deal, plain and simple.

Last night the city council passed the matter–unanimously.

The council voted unanimously to create an ordinance requiring contractors to  provide benefits to employees with domestic partners that are equal to the  benefits offered and provided to married employees.

Rick Santorum Wrong About George Washington Statement In Michigan Concession Speech

Rick Santorum made a historical error Tuesday night when conceding the Michigan Primary to Mitt Romney.

Santorum was speaking about the foundations of America and referenced George Washington as a model for one who led from a position of respect and understanding for those below him, and said Washington viewed all as important to the process.

While it is true that Washington had many admirable qualities, it would not be accurate to state that Washington viewed those under him as equals when it came to governing.

In fact, and this is where I find Santorum lacking in his knowledge of history, and why he should not be home-schooling his children.

In 1789 Washington and others like him were part of an elite, white, male crowd who owned land and were able to vote and make decisions.  They thought by the very nature of who they were that it allowed them a unique position to form government, and govern.  In fact, in 1796 Washington wrote “the people”(which he meant white men who were qualified to vote) had “the power and right to establish… government,” but “this presupposed the duty of every individual to obey the established government.”

Washington did not, nor did Federalists as a group, identify with those not among their own.  One can talk about the philosophical underpinnings of the republic, but when it came to governing it was clear that a structured republic, and not an uncontrollable democracy, was the intent of the white men with money.

Rick Santorum has lots on his mind these days, but for Pete’s Sake, if he is going to place himself in front of the nation while invoking images of the Founding Fathers he could at least get the themes of history correct.

Santorum should just stick to talking about wafers and wine.

Chris Matthews Warms My Heart With Teddy White Reference

It does not take much to make me smile.  It never has.  The best smiles are the ones that come when least expected.

Earlier today I was musing about the excitement generated by the Republican Primary in Michigan.  I mentioned Teddy White, who seems to always be on my mind on Elections Day, and hoped somewhere tonight he was able to look down and watch the action.

With that in mind as I watched MSNBC’s coverage (flipping along the various news channel options for this and that interview, etc.) I landed on Chris Matthews talking with longtime newsman and political watcher Tom Brokaw.  As they discussed the political landscape of Michigan, and the various components of the contentious nominating process this year, it was Matthews who invoked the name of White, and how much he would have enjoyed this night.  Matthews added that it was White who talked about “the primitives” in the GOP during the 1964 Goldwater election.

I was sitting in the living room, and just smiled.

Yeah, I know there is a huge segment of the younger viewers that have no idea who Matthews was referring to, and no idea what the “Making of the President” series is all about.

But for the segment of the audience who recalls the curious and informative man who loved politics, and had forgotten more than anyone around him ever knew about elections and campaigns–it was a great moment.

Thanks Chris!!


Emily Mills Interviews Kathleen Falk

Emily Mills should be working for a major newspaper in Wisconsin.  I have always liked her style.

And Kathleen Falk should be Governor of Wisconsin.  (Ditto.)

Certainly, one of the big reasons Falk has won the support of labor groups is both her history of negotiating with them and her recent pledge that, if elected, any budget bill that came before her without restoring collective bargaining rights for public employees would get her veto pen. That declaration has gotten her both praise and criticism, but Falk is unequivocal in her stance:

“I think it’s not only important to answer that question, because one of the reasons people are so cynical on politics in general is because politicians say they’re for something and then they don’t do it,” she explains. “It’s real easy to say you’re for collective bargaining, but how you gonna get it done? So over this last year as I’ve been going around the state at the behest of people sending me here there and everywhere to be helpful to the cause, people would regularly, and understandably, say well Falk, how will we restore collective bargaining? How, procedure-wise, will you do it? And I’d say, well, the governor can’t do it by executive order, doesn’t have that power. You could introduce a bill but the Assembly Republicans aren’t going to schedule it. You could call a special session and Assembly Republicans don’t have to convene – they decide whether to come to a special session, a governor doesn’t.”

So, what then? “The only bill that has to pass every two years is the budget bill – that’s why Walker eliminated collective bargaining through it, and that’s how you restore it. And unless you’re willing not only to say that’s how you’ll do it, but go to the mat by saying you will veto a budget bill without it, then you have no leverage. That’s how you get. It. Done.”

In the face of rampant criticism from her opponents for allegedly being a “big labor puppet” Falk is not shy about her union endorsements – she is, in fact, downright proud of them. She talked about dealing with the market crash and recession in ’07-’08, about creating a balanced budget in Dane County that relied on what she calls shared sacrifice.

“What I did was three-fold approach to the budget,” Falk explains. “Yes, we had to do cuts, but one of the things that I held dear was this levy sealing goal that I had created that I tried to keep the county to, because it made me have to reinvent government so that we would be more efficient so that we could deliver more services to people, especially in a growing population. Also it’s important because property taxes are your most regressive form of taxation and that’s what local governments do.”

When she approached the unions about doing their part, she offered to deviate from that governmental standard so long as the unions agreed to sit down at the bargaining table, open their contracts, and reduce wages or benefits as needed.

“They knew this was a big deal to me, and to their credit—I brag about them all the time—we sat down and we got it done.”

Update On Scott Walker John Doe Probe

There was a little news today about the ongoing John Doe probe into the political past of Scott Walker.  This is all interesting in light of what might appear an eagerness on the part of Walker to move the recall election forward in a more speedy fashion following his decision yesterday not to challenge any petition signatures.  Walker may want to get ahead of the potential bad news that may well result from the proceedings of the probe.

Walker stated todat that….

* He hadn’t yet met with Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm in the John Doe investigation into Walker’s current and former aides.

* He will eventually announce how he is financing his legal bills in the John Doe  but declined to detail it on Tuesday.