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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 July 29, 2013/ 22 Menachem-Av, 5773

Politicians, heal thyselves: The president's latest campaign for change has little hope of succeeding

By David Shribman




JewishWorldReview.com | The other afternoon President Barack Obama gave what the White House described as a "major speech." When political aides describe their boss's forthcoming perorations as "major," they almost always are speaking in hope rather than in reality. By employing the five-letter intensifier they are saying to press and public: Please pay attention to this one.

This one, in truth, deserved some attention. The president is seeking to change the conversation, away from what he called "short-term thinking" and "the same old stale debates." Six times he invoked the word "bargain," suggesting that his new bargain was a riff off the New Deal.

White House aides did more than portray the president's speech as major. They said it was the opening to a symphony in six movements -- my metaphor, not theirs, though they might have done well to describe it in that manner rather than the way they did, which was to say it was part of a campaign-style effort by the president.

That may have been a major (that word again) tactical mistake -- voters are turned off by a president on a campaign, particularly when he has just won re-election and especially when he's in his second term and shouldn't be running for anything.

But that wasn't the only misstep. The White House also made it as clear as a July afternoon that there wouldn't be much new in these speeches, no new political initiatives, no new economic proposals, which is not exactly the way to build anticipation, or an audience. The nation in its midsummer reverie was not shaken by its sunburned shoulders to come in from a softball game to listen to the president say not much new for the first of six occasions of not saying anything different.



This political initiative, disparaged and dismissed bitterly by Mr. Obama's Republican rivals, comes at a difficult passage for the president. He cried wolf over the sequester, blaming Republicans for setting off a new crisis, when in fact most of the country has carried on pretty well during the sequester, though in part because so few pay attention to the troubles of those terrorized by the wolves, particularly if they are poor and virtually voiceless.

Besides, the sequester, which he excoriated in his speech on Wednesday, can fairly be laid as much at his door as at the Republicans'. (The sequester grew out of a scheme conceived in the White House as a threat so odious that no one could possibly embrace it, a strategy that backfired terribly. It was passed by Congress -- where one house is controlled by the Democrats -- and signed by the president.)

Mr. Obama, whose policies and priorities are being undermined systematically in obscure corners of Capitol Hill, is registering poll ratings that aren't exactly robust. The latest Marist Institute survey puts Mr. Obama's approval rating at its lowest in nearly two years, 41 percent, a drop of nine points since April. Only 37 percent said they approved of the president's economic performance.

The president's remarks Wednesday came at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., site of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates but not a natural location for a notable speech. Mr. Obama has made scant use of the Oval Office, which his predecessors sometimes used for major addresses. Ronald Reagan spoke there 16 times (including his memorable remarks on the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle), Mr. Obama only twice.

One truth of our time is that presidential speeches aren't what they used to be -- not what they were in the FDR or Reagan years. And presidential campaign-style efforts in non-campaign years have not fared especially well.

The most famous was Andrew Johnson's 1866 excursion, a.k.a. the "swing around the circle," his (failed) effort to build support for his Reconstruction plans in the face of furious opposition from Radical Republicans. "Even his partisans were mortified," wrote Eric Foner, the distinguished historian of the period, who quoted the Journal of Commerce as characterizing the swing as "thoroughly reprehensible."

Another famous presidential campaign-style tour was undertaken by Woodrow Wilson, who sought to go over the head of a recalcitrant Senate to win support for his League of Nations and for American approval of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.

"He had always enjoyed campaigning," John Milton Cooper Jr. wrote in his recent biography of Wilson, "and he believed that a democratic leader -- like the mythical figure Antaeus, who renewed his strength through contact with the Earth -- renewed his strength through contact with his people."

For a long while it seemed to work, the president attracting huge crowds: 12,000 in Oakland, 30,000 in San Diego, 200,000 in Los Angeles, enough to lead commentators to believe this swing had swung public opinion. But it wasn't public opinion that mattered, it was the Senate, where Henry Cabot Lodge stood athwart the measure.

Wilson collapsed in Pueblo, Colo., suffering a debilitating stroke that in effect ended his presidency and doomed his drive for the League. The president was rendered an invalid for the remainder of his term, a sad and shocking coda to a brilliant career as academic, reformer, wartime president and peacetime visionary.

The public is increasingly pessimistic about Mr. Obama's prospects for the remainder of his term; last week's Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll showed more than a third of Americans expressing that pessimism, exactly double the rate of the public who expressed optimism -- a chilling sign for the White House. But Mr. Obama possesses an advantage his predecessors lacked -- a public that has even less patience for the Congress than for the president. The legislative branch's disapproval rate, according to the same poll, is an astonishing 83 percent, as opposed to only 12 percent who express approval for congressional performance.

So this summer is developing into a terrible season, as bad in its way as winter was. A struggling president has begun a campaign-style offensive with no campaign in sight against a discredited Congress still 15 months away from its own midterm elections. The word from the public, however, is clear: Heal thyselves. We're not going to help.

Comment by clicking here.

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


Previously:



07/22/13 Latest example of a one-term president whose reputation has flourished after leaving office
07/08/13 Watergate's lone unmastered lesson
07/01/13 Before and after Gettysburg
06/24/13 Your life in the age of Big Data
06/17/13 America slips its bonds: Project Mercury lifted off in a more innocent time, but inspires us still
06/13/13 As the World War II veterans depart
06/03/13 Capitol culture shock: The Old Guard of the Senate valued honor most of all, and see little of it today
05/27/13 Patience is a virtue --- and a political strategy
05/20/13 Crossing sacred lines in Washington
05/06/13 The limited power of presidents
04/29/13 Living history on display
04/22/13 Social Security, 21st-century style: Dems call Obama a traitor
04/15/13 49 years, four months, 25 days: Today's America is as far removed from JFK's era as his was from World War I
04/08/13 The Senate as it once was
04/01/13 Connections and coincidence: History is full of mysterious relationships, including clusters of greatness
03/25/13 Where portraits tell the story of America's greatest conflict
03/18/13 A former president's correspondence reveals the power of letters, and the powerlessness of aging
03/11/13 Outrageous spectacle lead to a rational resolution on the budget? A nation can dream, can't it?
02/25/13 The one big thing Democrats and Republicans can actually agree on
02/18/13 Obama is wrong to make young people think college is mainly about making a living
02/11/13 The war inside the GOP
02/04/13 Presidential politics, frozen in place
01/28/13 Speech invokes past for present and future
01/14/13 If Obama's inaugural address is to be remembered at all
01/21/13 Identity crisis in the GOP
01/07/13 History meets firearms
12/31/12 In search of our better angels
12/24/12 Wounded in war, Inouye just kept serving his country
12/10/12 President as change agent
12/10/12 Another overtime election
12/03/12 Defining the Obama presidency: Our re-elected chief executive has the whip hand now, but how will he use
11/19/12 New Hampshire 2016
11/12/12 Obama's second chance
11/05/12 America's first martyr to free speech
10/29/12 Making hay in Iowa
10/15/12 When two men confronted each other from afar as civilization hung in the balance
10/08/12 If you look at the election a certain way, things don't seem so terrible
10/01/12 Debating the debates
09/24/12 Pessimists R Us
08/20/12 Obama remains a puzzle even as he asks the American people for a second chance
08/13/12 With Ryan, Romney upends the conversation
08/06/12 The real Romney remains hidden behind other people's opinions
07/30/12 What summer is for: How August can matter, and how Romney might use it
07/23/12 The Independent son of independent Maine promises to shake up Washington
07/16/12 The Rambler American
07/09/12 The Telstar revolution: Fifty years ago, a 3-foot orb was sent aloft and spawned a new era in communications
07/02/12 It's got only four electoral votes, but Romney and Obama will be fighting for them
06/25/12 A little noted rebellion over a lonely stretch of land helps tell the American story
06/18/12 You're nothing special: Luck is what you make of it . . . and what it makes of you
06/11/12 Anybody can talk authoritatively about the presidential election. Here's how
06/04/12 Candidates love to ally themselves with admired presidents, in sometimes unexpected ways
05/29/12 Americans aren't in a new burst of patriotism but they are in a new burst of appreciation for the military
05/21/12 Inside out: Almost nothing about this year's presidential election conforms to conventional analysis
05/14/12 Lugar grew into an elder statesman, which is why he'll be leaving the Senate
05/07/12 50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire
04/30/12 The likability factor: We're going to find out how important it is in these troubled times
04/23/12 Romney's four battles: With the nomination essentially in hand, he must turn to new challenges
04/16/12 For GOPers, expect the frustration to build, not abate
04/09/12 The political battles you cannot see
04/02/12 Romney's roadmap: Doing better in Democratic states may complicate his fall campaign
03/26/12 Romney struggles with same GOP forces his father faced long ago
03/19/12 The writer and the president
03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
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





© 2011, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Universal Uclick, as agent for UFS.

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