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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 2, 2011 / 28 Nisan, 5771

From nobodies to nominees

By David M. Shribman




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama cannot be beaten. The root of this wisdom is the aphorism, sometimes attributed to former New York Gov. Benjamin B. Odell Jr. and sometimes to former House Speaker Joe Cannon, that you can't beat somebody (Obama) with nobody (any one of the dozen Republican nobodies, male and female, Trump and trumped).

The provenance of that aphorism, which puts it at the beginning of the 20th century, points to the fallacy of that aphorism. Since then, nobodies, or near-nobodies, have done fairly well. Five have been elected president since that time -- in 1920, 1960, 1976, 2000 and 2008.

Partisans of those five will howl in outrage at that characterization, but were Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama substantially more established political figures the year before they were inaugurated than the current crowd of Republican possibles?

Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Obama -- both charismatic and eloquent campaigners -- scored historic victories when they became the first Catholic and black presidents, respectively. But neither was an inevitable nominee, let alone a favorite, for the White House at the time the 1960 and 2008 campaigns began.

Sen. Harding may not have been even the most distinguished or distinctive Ohioan in the 1920 race; James M. Cox had served in the House and had two star turns as governor in Columbus. Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush were successful governors, but neither left footprints as deep as Mitch Daniels in Indiana or Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

There are, to be sure, some howlers in today's Republican field. But is Rep. Michele Bachmann, the tea party firebrand from Minnesota, more or less outside the American political mainstream than, say, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has run for president twice in Democratic primaries? Bachmann is part of a broader political movement that helped elect substantial numbers of House members last year and is an Iowa native, no small advantage.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, whose prospects grow dimmer by the day as details of his personal life are examined, is only slightly less a has-been than was Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska, a Democratic candidate in 2008. Both are historical relics; one brought to an end 40 years of Democratic rule in the House, and the other is remembered for placing the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record.

But the important thing to recall is that presidential challengers almost always seem weaker until they get the nomination, when their influence and appeal grows. The very act of accepting a major party presidential nomination has the effect of one side of the mushroom in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," which made her grow very tall indeed. (The other side of the mushroom has the power to make a person smaller. That's the side that must have been ingested by former Gov. Pete Wilson of California in 1996 and Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee in 2008.)

Indeed, the Alice Effect transformed Kennedy from a senator taking on a sitting vice president into a political powerhouse who, at his nominating convention in Los Angeles, spoke of a New Frontier. Consider the speech he delivered there in the Los Angeles Coliseum:

"The New Frontier is here whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink from that new frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric …"

Had that speech been delivered by a junior senator on the Senate floor, it would have been remembered by nobody, except perhaps Theodore Sorensen, who helped write it. But today it is remembered as a signature speech of the era, and the phrase is indelibly imprinted on the American character. A presidential nomination has that effect, and whoever heads the GOP ticket next August will have that platform -- and that stature. That's why Obama's re-election is not assured, despite the apparent weakness of the GOP field. That said, Obama has many advantages.

First is the presidency, of course, which confers upon him a gravitas and glamour that no challenger can match. Then there is his robust fund-raising operation, which grows out of his residency in the White House and his efficiency in raising money. That was on full display during his 2008 campaign, and allowed him to conduct $35,800-a-plate dinners like the one he held at the home of Jon Corzine, a former senator, governor and Goldman Sachs chieftain.

Obama also has the power to control the political agenda, though in recent weeks he has ceded that to the Republicans, who have made the deficit the defining issue of the time, drowning out the surprising notion that low interest rates have rendered the cost of serving the nation's ever-bigger debt the lowest it has been in more than a dozen years.

Still, the deficit remains a huge problem -- and a huge drag on the Obama re-election campaign.

Nobody wants to deal with the debt right now. Not the president, because the choices are politically unpalatable to Democratic interest groups, and not the Republicans, because the longer the issue persists the better are their prospects in 2012. Otherwise the budget question could be resolved in 25 minutes of reasonable compromise involving the Social Security retirement age and tax caps, Medicare benefit levels and eligibility ages, military spending cuts, and a comprehensive overhaul of the income-tax system that would please both the left (by eliminating loopholes) and the right (by lowering rates).

As St. Augustine would say if he were a member of the House: Give me budget discipline, but not yet.

The Republicans also seem to be saying: Give me a 2012 frontrunner, but not yet. But they'll have one soon enough, and when the eventual nominee walks onto the stage at the first debate next year, he or she will have the same podium and the same opportunity to score points as Obama.

Of all the ladders of social mobility in America, none is steeper than a presidential nomination. It allows a nobody to become a nominee and thus a somebody in an instant's time. The person who knows that better than anyone on Earth is … Barack Obama.

Comment by clicking here.

David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Previously:



04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar





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