Media and the Message. CNN; Retain Bush Tax Cuts

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria says the easiest way to cut the deficit is to let the Bush tax cuts expire.

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

The day was Sunday, August 1, 2010.  Former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan appeared on Meet the Press.  When asked to discuss the Congressional debate on tax cuts, the man known to move markets, a person who leans to the “Right,” offered a decisive decree.  In direct disagreement with Republican officials and the profitable corporations that fund countless political campaigns, Mister Greenspan declared, “Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts,  but not with borrowed money.  And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous.  And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.”  

This statement was as a slap in the face to corporations, or more correctly to the tycoons who head these firms.  Multi-millionaire media moguls might understand this best.  These television and radio Executives experience firsthand that influence over an industry can translate into influence over an outcome.  Cable News Network Chief Officers are among those who actively make use of this truth.  Tax cuts expired?  “Never;” say network Administrators and the newscasters such as Allan Chernoff, who do their bidding.

Prominent persons in the Press know a snappy slogan, a simple statement repeated over and over again, an authoritative analysis, will yield a colossal return.  If the powerful exert pressure, they can sway the public and those who will persuade Congress to act, or not take action.   Without resorting to force, the wealthy need not worry. Forceful levy loopholes and tax rate reducers were long ago secured and still loom large.

Companies, most of which pay no United States taxes are often led by the affluent who, for years, sought greater protection for their wealth..  Indeed, many corporations forfeit less in levies in 2010 than in previous years.  Deductions are a delightful indulgence.  Even the electorate has grown to appreciate this pleasurable pursuit.

Individuals influenced by industry infomercials have insisted on the luxury.  Tax bills in 2009 are at the lowest level since 1950.  Regardless, many moneyed Americans want these lowered, if not eliminated in total. Thus, the public sees what they have for days, or is it weeks, a flood of news stories that speak in contrast to Economist Greenspan’s pronouncement.  The powerful understand that the former Fed Chairs statement was quite a severe blow to those invested in a taxless ideology.

On the same date, on Cable News Network’s a distinguished Anchor, Newsweek and Washington Post Columnist, Fareed Zakaria concurred.   The time to cut the deficit and let the Bush tax cuts expire is now.  Editor of Newsweek International and a New York Times bestselling Author, Mister Zakaria asserts, “Were the tax cuts to expire, the budget deficit would instantly shrink by about 30 percent, or more than $300 billion. But Republicans are now adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts because they say that would weaken the economy.”  This contention, with consideration for a credible source, was a second slam to commercial interests and to the political Party that promotes their causes.  

Mister Zakaria’s editorial would not be aired endlessly on various outlets. Nor would Alan Greenspan’s words be heard on many a local channel.  Another expert on policy, one who also speaks for the “Right”,  David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan would also be kept out of sight.

Only a day earlier, an article penned by Mister Stockman appeared in The New York Times.  In the missive, Stockman, once identified as a man with “Lincolnesque credentials”  expressed the angst he feels when his cohorts’ claim the need to extend the tax cuts.  The Reagan Budget Director cynically summarizes “How my Republican Party destroyed the American economy.”  The treatise titled Four Deformations of the Apocalypse, was the final strike.  

These slams could not stand, high salaried Chief Executives and their shills, such as Cable News Network, calculated.  Turner Broadcasting Systems decided to turn the ultimate key.  Media is the message.  The Press is able to manufacture promotional presentations and produce alternative authenticities.  The company realized the need to take restrained; yet aggressive action.  Slick salespersons, public relations professionals in the Press are well aware of the sound adage; a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.  People like sweetened solutions.

While true; each of the three esteemed experts spoke eloquently, and with abundant authority, the more persuasive and popular drone can and does drown out a meaningful message.  Cable News Network has vast resources and knowledge of how to deliver decisively, the populace demands, words of woe and whoa!  The Turner channels, with Corporate Chiefs interest at heart, transmits, as many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents wish to believe; life as we have come to know it cannot change.  

Regardless of Party affiliation, in America the public professes, “We are taxed enough.” En masse, citizens clamor;  “No new taxes!” “No tax increases!” We do not want to pay the price, is the consensus.  Most do not want to acknowledge, as Alan Greenspan and Fareed Zakaria have, Americans have paid for their own indulgence and chosen ignorance dearly.

In accordance with the adopted corporate mission, the wishes of Chief Executives, and possibly his own penchant, Correspondent Allan Chernoff compiled   a report that would please the common folk. This puff-piece touts as the public wishes to believe; the people need not contribute to the greater good of the community.  The innocent “documentation” that passes for fact, or is passed on as the truth, floods the airwaves.  It appears on local stations and hour after hour on network programs.  

This “news story” [sic] makes no mention of how the quoted sources benefit from a promoted belief, “In planning to let taxes rise, President Obama hopes to chop the budget deficit. But if families have to cut back on spending to pay those taxes, that may hurt the economy. It could de-rail the recovery.”

The Press hides what threatens the wealthy; the words of Alan Greenspan, He said “The problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is that spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous and my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here.”  

The “Right” and media moguls who used to anxiously await Alan Greenspan’s advise now reject the man once titled an oracle.   David Stockman, once characterized as a wunderkind is no longer welcome at the White House, on Wall Street, or in the Mainstream Media studios.

Interesting, or possibly, as expected, the words of the esteemed Mister Zakaria are also void in the less than honest, well honed, and more aired, Cable News Network account. “Federal tax receipts as a percentage of the economy are at their lowest point since 1950, and they had dropped to very low levels even before the recession. Half of Americans now pay no income taxes.”

Instead, the report that invites Americans to retain Bush Tax cuts is broadcast farther and wider than the more informed elucidations.  Contrary to the tax cutters claims that President Obama plans to punish the Middle Class, Bloomberg reports, “Obama and congressional Democrats want to extend [the tax cuts] for households earning up to $250,000 and let them end for wealthier taxpayers.”  Fareed Zakaria and perchance more surprisingly, in another forum, David Stockman, wish this were true.

Truthfulness is often tweaked when expert and powerful prose point to a vapid veracity, one that is less desirable to the self-defined blissful spenders who were featured in the ubiquitous Cable News Network account.  

The no tax and spend only on self throng condemn the acumen Mister Zakaria avows; “We have to be willing to pay for the government we want, which by the way is among the smallest in the industrialized world or we have to dramatically cut the government, which means cutting popular middle- class programs, since that’s where the money is.”

No, the pious people proclaim loudly, we will not pay taxes, then assert, we want no government in our lives.  Tax cuts advocates forget the foundation that our forefathers fashioned.  Essayist, Pamphleteer, Philosopher Paine espoused as Fareed Zakaria did today.   The two understood and addressed the necessary apprehension for Administrative rule while each concedes the commonweal must care to invest in the greater good.  Were we to forget that no man is an island, we will forsake the future as we have in recent decades.  Rarely remembered or recited is the founder’s resolve to embrace an elected Legislative and Executive Branch.  Perchance today, Fareed Zakaria spoke to the practical reality.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought.

A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labor out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing.  This necessity . . . will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Instead of Paine’s and Zakaria’s profundity, the language Americans long for is the sentiment expressed by profiteers highlighted in the Chernoff commentary.  Scott Hodge, President of Tax Foundation, an institute that Nobel Prize recipient Paul Krugman acknowledged as an unreliable source, reinforced the accepted alarm.  Mister Hodge affirmed, “If Congress does nothing, it could lead to one of the largest tax increases in American history.”  Robert Traphagen, a partner with Traphagen Financial, and a man who makes money when affluent clients invest in purely personal wealth, affirmed, “If new tax legislation is not implemented, it would be a dramatic effect to the middle class.” Indeed, it would.

Were we to adopt as Fareed Zakaria, Doctor Greenspan, and David Stockman think wise, Americans would have more money for schools, streets, services. The middle class would thrive.  Media moguls would have less money to survive. Hence, the mantra, the message, If Bush tax cuts expire this will  hurt America

References for varied realities . . .

We Can’t Afford to Wait



We Can’t Afford to Wait

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Only today Cable News Network aired a report that suggests most of those who want a public option health care plan are African Americans,  Persons in this population are more likely to be uninsured.  Statistics show dark skinned individuals also seem  predisposed to poor health.  News broadcaster Kyra Phillips continues.  Black people, when surveyed, say they think Mister Obama has performed well in office.  In contrast, far fewer white Americans approve of what the Obama Administration has done on the job.  Subtly, Ms Phillips reminds the audience, the current President of the United States is the nation’s first Black Commander-In-Chief.  The implication is obvious.

Yet, the tale is not necessarily as told.  Witness the stories shared in a MoveOn.org video, study the faces, and consider the situation of those who say they cannot afford to wait for health care reform,  Mostly white faces fill the screen.  

Of course, someone may surmise, this presentation was staged.  It was not.  Days ago, this author received a request to do as these individuals have done.  An electronic message was sent to millions of Americans.  The appeal was, Please share your story on a sign.  Hold the poster up and photograph yourself for all to see.  Send the snapshoot to MoveOn.org, and our organization will compile what we collect.  

Common everyday citizens responded en mass.  The people, informed of the intent saw this venture as an avenue to further their personal cause.  Each considered what was a potential presentation, perhaps the most powerful means to give voice to their message.

Here they are; real persons who openly say they cannot afford to wait for a public health care coverage option.  Be they affluent, ill, an average American, or the strong who fear for family, the plea is palpable.

Caucasian small business propitiators offer the words, “We cannot wait for affordable medical insurance coverage.”

Pink persons who had policies that were canceled once they were diagnosed with a life threatening illness tell us as a country, we have delayed a public option plan for far too long.  

Fair-haired families, forced to spend a large portion of their income on medical insurance say the nation cannot continue to over any real choice.  Coverage too costly does no one any good.  Inevitably, someone pays for the burden others bear.  Only insurance offered at a reasonable rate or free access to treatment for those who , for a time, have no funds will benefit Americans from all walks of life.

Certainly, people of every color need adequate and affordable medical treatment plans.  Americans yearn for policies that do not bar people with a pre-existing condition.  Citizens, no matter the race crave for a program that will not be canceled if they find themselves in poor health. People of all creeds cannot postpone access to pragmatically priced medical coverage.

Please pass this message on.  Send the video and the text to any Anglo who believes only the poor or brownish purplish persons burden the “phenomenal,” private, American health care system.

Read the references . . .

Oh [Ed] Henry!



Obama Holds 3rd Press Conference on Economic Recovery Plans

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Oh Henry!  For some the words may evoke thoughts of tasty fudge, peanuts, and caramel candy.  Others might be reminded of the famed American author, O. Henry.  The statement may stir an apocryphal debate.  Did the writer’s work inspire the confection creator to call his chocolate bar “Oh Henry!” or did the strange name originate closer to home.  Inventor of the sugary food, Tom Henry, may know for sure.  However, while I trust the tale would fascinate many, on this occasion the use of exclamation is not meant to speak to sweets.  I wish to offer my thanks to Cable News Network’s Ed Henry.

Minutes ago, in a Press Conference held in Chicago with President Elect Barack Obama, Correspondent Ed Henry asked the soon-to-be inaugurated change candidate what many Americans, or at least I desire to address.  I paraphrase since the transcripts are not yet available.  Mister Henry posed, ‘Countless announced Cabinet appointees seem to be persons from Clinton Administration.  What happened to the change we can believe in?’

I thank you Ed Henry.  You give me a glimmer of hope.  Perchance, your courage will be the change I, or Americans, can have faith  in.  

For too long, I have been troubled.  Others have also expressed a distress.  Sam Donaldson, I recall, spoke of his perceptions post the Reagan Revolution.  I remember Commentator Donaldson’s account of the earlier 1980 transition.  Seven years later, after much experience with the esteemed Administration, the seasoned Reporter, in his book, Hold On, Mister President, recounted his familiarity with a Executive Office, which by design was inaccessible.  Mister Donaldson penned words that warned of what has become the norm today.  In 1981, and for the decades that followed Presidents have played the press as was done when the “Great Communicator” took command.  

Years ago, the Reagan White House presented the daily, “Talking Points” to reporters.  The Oval Office framed the discussion.  The media became but a messenger.  Few if any rattled the supposed ‘righteous’ positions.  Rhetoric ruled; spontaneity in professional critical journalism slipped into oblivion.  Near thirty years ago, candid questioners were placed far from the President.  Over time, journalist accepted what was.  They adopted conformist habits.  Correspondents did not dare to do what they once were trained to do.  Management within news corporations seemed to adopt a more presumptive position.  The word in the pressroom was ‘do not rock the boat’ or rail against an Administration.

Today, Ed Henry, you held the reigns in a manner rarely seen in recent history.  I applaud you.  You spoke to what too many have chosen to tolerate.  Even among Progressive persons, excuses are made.  Collectively, constituents, for the most part, have given consent to a second Clinton term.  

Persons who would not vote for one more Clinton Administration have become apologists.  Much of the public has acquiesced.  Americans proclaim or claim to be comfortable.  Yet, you, Mister Henry were open and honest.  You chose not to permit a popular President Elect to do what seemed contrary to his oft-stated vision.  You questioned.  You inquired.  Ed Henry, you said, why?

The answer you, and we, the people, received was interesting, although for me, less than insightful.  I hope that Commander-In-Chief Obama will continue to ponder the true Progressive position.  Perchance, he will keep in mind that we, the people voted for a transformation.  

The transition team, thus far, has produced re-threads.  For many amongst the masses that came out to celebrate an Obama election, threads on the Clinton Administration, long ago wore thin.

Millions, as Ed Henry observed, wish to beseech the President Elect.  Earnestly, more than one of the electorate longs to say as I will.  Please, Chief Executive Obama, reflect further on your choices.  Consider, the American people did not cast a ballot for the Clintons.  

Many muse; had Hillary secured the nomination she would not have garnered the massive numbers of votes the President Elect did.  Nor would the throngs of Americans, those who placed their trust in an inspirational Obama influence, have followed the New York Senator’s path.  

Countless may yearn to share as Ed Henry suggested; the country, its citizens, placed their confidence in a novel vision, not in the Clintonistas calculations.

I implore President Elect Obama.  Please, be the change we can believe in.  Contemplate the words of Cable News Network Correspondent Ed Henry.  If you would have his audacity, embrace his hope, and trust that for some, such as me, valor of convictions is the change I have faith in.

Mister Henry, you may not be a candy bar.  Still, for me, your words were incredibly sweet and delicious.  Hugs . . .

Sources for all that is sweet . . .

Update . . .

A bit of the exchanges is shared.  President Elect Barack Obama explains his perspective .  He offers, he is the change we can believe in.  Please peruse.

“Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” he said.  “It comes from me.  That’s my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure then that my team is implementing [that vision].”

“The last Democratic administration we had was the Clinton administration.”

“So it would be surprising if I selected a Treasury Secretary who had had no connection with the last Democratic administration, because that would mean that the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever.  And I suspect that you would be troubled and the American people would be troubled if I selected a Treasury Secretary or a chairman of the National Economic Council, at one of the most critical economic times in our history, who had no experience in government whatsoever.  What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking.”

“I think when you ultimately look at what this advisory board looks like, you’ll say this is a cross-section of opinion that in some ways reinforces conventional wisdom and in some ways breaks with orthodoxy in all sorts of ways.”

“And that’s the kind of discussion we want.  We want ideas from everybody.  What I don’t want to do is to somehow suggest that since you served in the last Democratic administration, that you’re somehow barred from serving again.  Because we need people who are going to be able to hit the ground running.”

  • Obama Defends Cabinet: The Change Will Come From Me,  By Sam Stein.  Huffington Post. November 26, 2008 11:18 AM
  • Palin discusses potential plans for America.



    CNN/Palin Interview “you gave Biden a pass

    Sarah Palin one-on-one

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    Sarah Palin speaks and America listens.  This evening, on October 21, 2008, the Vice Presidential aspirant shared what she believes are her strengths in an interview with Cable News Network Drew Griffin.

    Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin vowed on Tuesday to use her executive experience to tackle government reform and energy independence if she and Sen. John McCain win this year’s presidential election.

    “It’s going to be government reform because that, that is what I’ve been able to do as a mayor and as a governor, you, you take on the special interests and the self-dealings.  Yep, you ruffle feathers and you have the scars to prove it,” Palin said Tuesday in an interview with CNN’s Drew Griffin.

    “You have to take that on to give the American people that faith back in their own government.  This is their government and we’ve got to put it back on their side,” she said.

    The American people are the allies Palin seeks in her pursuit of the Vice Presidency.  However, she realized, belatedly, earlier in this month she offended a few.  Sarah Palin expressed her sincere sorrow.

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin apologized yesterday for implying that some parts of the country are more American than others . . .

    The Chief Executive from Alaska, Palin proclaimed, surely, her words were misconstrued.  She never meant to imply that the patriotic values of some are evident in “the real America,” the “pro-America areas of this great nation.”  

    Perchance her words were not interpreted accurately.  The potential Vice President proposed that Democrats and the press demonize her.  The lovely lady Governor Palin prodded the Journalist who sat before her.

    Drew, you need to ask your colleagues and I guess your bosses or whoever is — whoever is in charge of all of this, why does Joe Biden get a pass on such a thing?

    Can you imagine if I would have said such a thing?  No, I think that we would be hounded and held accountable for, what in the world did you mean by that, V.P., presidential candidate?  

    The former Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin denied that was her intention to divide the citizenry.  She did not wish to incite a culture clash.  “I don’t want that misunderstood,” Governor Palin said.  “If that’s the way it came across, I apologize.”

    In a desire to advance a more authentic sense of what Sarah Palin meant to state, she explained.  “I do not want that misunderstood.

    When I go to these rallies, and we see the patriotism just shining through these people’s faces and the Vietnam veterans wearing their hats so proudly, and they have tears in their eyes as we sing our national anthem, and it is so inspiring.  And I say that this is true America.  You get it.  You understand how important it is that, in the next four years, we have a leader who will fight for you.

    I certainly don’t want that interpreted as one area being more patriotic or more American than another.”  Yet, the words might still worry some that do not feel they fit the definition Governor Palin provides.  Some may wonder what of those who are not veterans, do not attend a McCain Palin jamboree.  If an individual does not sing the sacred American song and cry in Palin’s presence do they not love this country.  

    Please view the video; ponder the interview.  Then decide for yourself, did the press give Sarah Palin a pass or did the Governor garner praise for what was less than laudable.

    References for a Sarah Palin Reality. . .

    Sarah Palin Transformed; Tina Fey



    CNN Laughs It Up Over Sarah Palin Interview

    copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    Sarah Palin performs admirably, or was that Tina Fey.  It is difficult to discern who is who.  It is perhaps a greater challenge to determine which said what.  Days ago, Katie Couric of CBS News, interviewed Vice Presidential nominee Palin.  The original statements and much of the script is virtually identical or so it would seem.  Tina Fey, may have meant to perform in parody.  However, in the satire the humorist altered little.  Indeed, Tina Fey directly quoted the Alaskan Governor.  What a wondrous world.  Wit and wisdom are one.

    Regardless of a point of view, it may be true, the election coverage need not be the source of tragedy.  There can be some comic relief.  Please take time to laugh a little, cry a lot; weep for the Veep who may soon enter the White House.  Moan for the United States citizenry Governor Palin may serve.  Ponder the prospect, Sarah Palin, informed, innovative, a cause for intrigue, and an inspiration to others may soon preside over this country.  The chances are good.  Sarah Palin, if elected on the McCain ticket in 2008, may become President of the United States in the near future.

    Please consider how important your ballot might be.  Become conversant.  Consider the issues and the individuals you believe might or do not represent your positions.  Cast an aware vote.  Research the candidates.  Respond to more than the label Democrat or Republican.  Realize, an election is not just a Party or political postures.  Prominent may not equate to profound.  

    If you would, please share your thoughts on matters of import in this campaign season.  You thoughts teach; no one else can tell your tale.  I thank you.

    Bhutto Died; Cable News Network [CNN] Made Clinton President



    Hillary calls for investigation into Bhutto’s assassination

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Often a King, a Queen, a Prime Minister, or even a President is anointed for they have what it takes.  A bloodline qualifies a person for a position of authority.  An individual may have married well.  A network of acquaintances often secures an honorable appointment.   After all, people profess, “It is not what you know, but who you know.”  A court may declare an individual all-powerful, or a media mogul, with monetary ties to those who “count” may commit him or herself to a candidate, or to a campaign.  

    The reasons for a selection may not be obvious, or at least a naïve public would not fathom the possible influences.  Yet, we observe the obscure rendezvous daily.   The so-called objective press tells us what to think and whom we must consider a credible source.  On Friday, December 28, 2007, America was reminded that Hillary Clinton was the chose one.  She alone is more than qualified to be Commander-In-Chief.  

    Less than a week before the Iowa caucus, Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, was invited to speak to a global audience, to an expectant nation, to the American people.  She did so with conviction.  Cable News Network featured the former First Lady in an exclusive interview.  The presumed future occupant of the Oval Office appeared Presidential indeed.  

    Definitively, Clinton discussed the death of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.  As she assessed the nations’ next necessary move, the New York State Senator was treated as though she was Commander-In-Chief, President of the United States of America.

    One might ask, “Who died and left Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office?”  Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was slain, or accidentally, she took her last breath, or insert the theory of your choice.  Hence, “The Most Trusted Name in News” chose to select our next President, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Regardless of Hillary Clinton’s recent slip in national polls and the possible cancellation of the previously planned coronation, Wolf Blitzer, Ted Turner, or parent company Time Warner thought the former First Lady was the best person to advise Americans on the crisis in Pakistan. In truth, there has long been an alliance between the Cable News Network and the Clinton clan.  

    Some might recall another discussion during the most recent New York Senatorial campaign.  In a cover story, Time Magazine the crown jewel periodical in the Time Warner media kingdom, explained to “uninformed” voters, Senator Clinton had “virtually nonexistent opposition for her senate seat.”  Hence, Time Warner’s NY1 TV news channel [“the CNN of New York”] vehemently refused to host a Democratic New York Senate race debate stating there was no need.  Clinton did not have a viable opponent.

    Notwithstanding numerous protests, and cries of foul, the New York Cable News Network claimed her antiwar challenger, union leader Jonathan Tasini, has not raised enough money to be considered creditable.  The station capriciously stated, a candidate must raise a half-million dollars before they are worthy of note, or are granted an opportunity to speak to the television audience.  Apparently, actual money buys airtime that support from the electorate cannot.

    Ironically, NY1 has already hosted and televised a Democratic New York gubernatorial debate between frontrunner Eliot Spitzer and a Democratic challenger who was at only 10% in the polls.  But that candidate had raised about $6 million.  So spending millions to get just 10% in popular support was rewarded by Time Warner’s channel, while building a more effective grassroots campaign, largely of volunteers, was punished.  (One wonders how much of the money went to NY1.)

    Did I mention that Time Warner’s Political Action Committee [PAC] is one of the many corporate PACs that underwrites Hillary Clinton’s reelection campaign against the “virtually nonexistent opposition”?

    While Hillary Clinton does face a field of qualified opponents in this national Presidential campaign, according to Cable News Network she is still classified as the presumed winner again and again, at least in CNN polls.  

    The American public may never have a chance to ask “Which came first, the media’s preference or the people’s opinion?”  A Clinton victory may have been cinched before the public campaign began.

    In an earlier era, Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, the candidate with “experience,” lived in the White House for eight long years.  While she may not be George W. Bush, the man who, current Chief Executive Officer of Time Warner, Richard Parsons has long supported; nor is she John McCain, a Republican nominee that Parsons now backs, of those considered electable, Clinton may be the best Bush clone.  That alone may be important enough to an elite entrepreneur who wishes to ensure his interests will be protected.  Hillary Clinton has corporate connections more meaty than all other contenders.  

    A bevy of current and former Hillary advisers, including her communications guru, Howard Wolfson, are linked to a prominent lobbying and PR firm–the Glover Park Group–that has cozied up to the pharmaceutical industry and Rupert Murdoch. Her fundraiser in chief, Terry McAuliffe, has the priciest Rolodex in Washington, luring high-rolling contributors to Clinton’s campaign. Her husband, since leaving the presidency, has made millions giving speeches and counsel to investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. They house, in addition to other Wall Street firms, the Clintons’ closest economic advisers, such as Bob Rubin and Roger Altman, whose DC brain trust, the Hamilton Project, is Clinton’s economic team in waiting.

    Even the liberal in her camp, former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, has lobbied for the telecom and healthcare industries, including a for-profit nursing home association indicted in Texas for improperly funneling money to disgraced former House majority leader Tom DeLay. “She’s got a deeper bench of big money and corporate supporters than her competitors,” says Eli Attie, a former speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore. Not only is Hillary more reliant on large donations and corporate money than her Democratic rivals, but advisers in her inner circle are closely affiliated with unionbusters, GOP operatives, conservative media and other Democratic Party antagonists.

    For Richards Parsons, the list of Clinton’s top contributors establishes Hillary Clinton is an attractive aspirant.  She is solidly in the Conservative Camp.  This is likely the reason that Parsons, the individual, also invested in her Senate campaign in 2006.  Now, in 2007, he and his network can further assist the candidate in her endeavors . . . and they are.

    After the death of Benazir Bhutto, Americans were invited into the Situation Room, not the one located in the White House.  We, the viewing public entered the halls of the  Cable News Network.  There we discovered who died, and who was made President.  As the Time Warner, Cable News Network broadcast began Journalist Wolf Blitzer announced right from the outset who was in charge of the nation and foreign policy.  Blitzer proudly declared  . . .

    Hillary Clinton’s get-tough approach to Pakistan — in our exclusive interview, she has some harsh words for President Musharraf and for the Bush administration . . .

    The television audience then saw the presumed “future” President of the United States. Her face filled the screen.  The United States flag was visible over her shoulder.   A golden ambiance set the tone; then the words of our “leader” echoed through the air.  Former First Lady, soon to be Madame President Clinton proclaimed her beliefs.  She shared her policy and offered instructions to  the world at large.

    I don’t think the Pakistani government, at this time, under President Musharraf, has any credibility at all.  They have disbanded an independent judiciary.  They have oppressed a free press.? ?Therefore, I’m calling for a full independent international investigation, perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.

    I think it’s critically important that we get answers.  And, really, those answers are due, first and foremost, to the people of Pakistan, not only those who were supportive of Benazir Bhutto and her party, but every Pakistani, because we cannot expect to move towards stability without some reckoning as to who was responsible for this assassination.

    And, therefore, I call on President Musharraf and the Pakistani government to realize that this is in the interests of Pakistan to understand whether or not it was al Qaeda or some other offshoot extremist group that is attempting to further destabilize and even overthrow the Pakistani government, or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly the security forces or the military in Pakistan.

    You know, the thing I have not been able to understand, Wolf — I have met with President Musharraf — I obviously knew Benazir Bhutto and admired her leadership — is that President Musharraf, in every meeting I have had with him, the elites in Pakistan, who still wield tremendous power, plus the leadership of the military, act as though they can destabilize Pakistan and retain their positions, their positions of privilege, their positions of authority. . .

    That is not the way it will work.

    Or is it Senator Clinton.  It seems if you and your cronies, your contributors wish to retain positions of privilege, and positions of authority a destabilizing death may be to your advantage.  Perchance, it already was.  You certainly appeared to be in control, as a Commander-In-Chief addressing the nation in our time of need.  Americans awaited an explanation after the Bhutto assassination, and before we could blink, we had the answer.  “Who Died and made you President?”

    Sources of Authority . . .

    Campaign Killers; Conglomerates, Candidates, Correspondents

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    On December 1, 2007 the American public and Democratic candidates had a rare opportunity to truly listen to the common folks.  Presidential hopefuls were able to see and experience the pain that people of lesser means feel each and every day.  The Campaign for Community Values hosted a forum.  This organization opened the floor to each and every candidate for more than a moment.  

    Common citizens shared sorrowful stories.  Real people informed the conversation.  Americans were reminded that no one of us can pull ourselves up by bootstraps we are unable to afford.  Tale after tale revealed a mentor, a member of the family, an association founded on the principle of community assistance helped many individuals to succeed.  Triumphant individuals from dire circumstances appeared on stage with the Presidential hopefuls and shared real life sagas.  The audience heard of nightmares and dreams that came true.  After the narratives, Presidential aspirants were asked what they might do once in office so that no one would experience what these persons had.  

    There were no flashy videos, no comedy, and the moderator did not force herself into the fray. Democratic candidates stood face-to-face with the those who experienced crisis in their personal lives.  Frequently, the prestigious politician, and the, all too often, invisible immigrant, poor person, child, and elderly citizen held hands.  Tears flowed and sincerity followed.  

    The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement debate was unlike what the general public often sees.  The assembly was not aired on one of the mainstream media outlets.  Only C-SPAN covered this campaign milestone.  Perchance, that made the difference.

    Today, Conglomerates, Candidates, and Correspondents kill campaigns.  The public is helpless to change what occurs and has been for oh, so very long.  Common folks flounder in a sea of information and believe they have the real scoop.  However, deep inside the people know, they have little if any access to authentic information.  Ordinary people cannot make their voice heard.  In recent decades the media is the message.  Political contenders control the communication, as do the companies that fund the discussions.  The race to the Oval Office, or any political cubicle, is bought and paid for.  The people purchase only the wares offered to them, and not much is made available.

    A National Study of Confidence in Leadership, a Harvard University report reveals what most of us know, for we, the American people are the subject of this survey. More Than 60% of the American people Do Not Trust Campaign Coverage.  I inquire, why should citizens have faith in the reports.  Even the Presidential “Debates” are rigged in favor of a candidate or a corporation. Sponsors of such forums are the same companies that contribute to a particular Presidential hopeful.

    Consider some of the conglomerates that characteristically subsidize the media programs. You may also wish to assess the assets that the candidates receive from these same sponsors, regardless of their political affiliation.  Then contemplate the carefully choreographed debate question and answer format.  Search for authenticity.  

    If you find it, please tell me where.  Bill Moyers, of Public Broadcasting Services would also like to know if you discover a genuine give and take amongst the candidates.  The founder of a nonpartisan organization Open Debates, and Author, George Farah might counter the notion that the debates are truly spontaneous or real.  Yes, there was a time when Presidential hopefuls spoke at length, in depth and detail.  They exchanged opinions, and carefully reflected on the issues aloud.  However, that was eons ago.

    When Carter squared off with Reagan, sixty percent of American TV households were watching. But over the past quarter century, there’s been a big change. During Gore versus Bush four years ago, less than thirty percent of TV households tuned in . . .

    Farah: The American people want to hear and see popular candidates discuss the important issues in an unscripted manner. That’s what’s at stake. Whether or not we’re gonna have the right to witness an important conversation.

    Moyers: And why aren’t we getting that kind of discussion between the candidates now?

    Farah: Because the Commission on Presidential Debates secretly submits to the Republican and the Democratic candidates and allows these candidates to sanitize the debate format, excludes popular voices, avoid discussing critical issues.

    . . . The Commission on Presidential Debates, although it claims to be a nonpartisan organization, was created by the Republican and Democratic parties for the Republican and Democratic parties. By design, it was established to submit and conceal the wishes and demands of the Democratic/Republican nominees.

    Moyers: The result, he says, is an event tightly controlled by the candidates, a glorified press conference with rules rigged to serve the candidates, not the public. . . .

    . . . Do you think the people watching knew that the rules had been written by the two parties?

    Farah: Oh, of course not. They had no idea. They thought the Commission on Presidential Debates, whose name sounds like a government commission, it sounds like a lovely agency that was commissioned or chartered by Congress. They thought this: organizations had decided that these rules best served the public interest. They had no idea that behind closed doors leading negotiators hand-picked by the candidates were determining that the candidates could not even ask themselves questions.

    Moyers: The Commission is in fact a private corporation, founded by the then chairmen of the Republican and Democratic national parties. They’re still running the show.

    Farah: Every four years, the Commission on Presidential Debate publishes candidate selection criteria and proposes debate formats in order to comply with federal election law.

    But questions concerning debate format and debate schedule are ultimately resolved behind closed doors between negotiators for the Republican and Democratic nominees.

    Moyers: That wasn’t the case in the beginning. The first televised presidential debates, between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960, were sponsored by the networks.

    Now even the networks have questionable mores.  News departments are more concerned with profits than information.  Reporters do not investigate. There is no rhyme or reason for examination.  You may recall, Broadcaster Sam Donaldson wrote of the change in his book, “Hold On Mister President.”  Under Ronald Reagan, all was staged.  Journalists were kept safely at bay and the White House dictated the news of the day.  Perhaps, the Reagan White House predicted what George H. W. Bush did not.  Real people, reporters, rural, and urban dwellers might pose a question that belies the “illusion of truth.”

    Dear reader, you may recall in days of old, televised town hall meetings were broadcast nationally.  During one of these assemblies the former President Bush was flustered when asked if he might relate to the plight of the average American citizen.


    Audience Question: How has the national debt personally affected each of your lives? And if it hasn’t, how can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common people if you have no experience in what’s ailing them?

    Bush: I think the national debt affects everybody.

    Audience Question: You personally.

    Bush: Obviously it has a lot to do with interest rates.

    Simpson: She’s saying, “you personally.”

    Audience Question: You, on a personal basis, how has it affected you?

    Simpson: Has it affected you personally?

    Farah: The President was very flustered with the question. He didn’t know how to handle it. What do you mean affect me?

    Audience Question: What I’m saying is…

    Bush: I’m not sure I get… Help me with the question and I’ll try to answer it.

    Farah: Well, this revealed much to the public that he had a very difficult time relating to everyday working people and how they are affected possibly by the budget deficit. And it’s precisely because of that that the candidates decided afterwards for the next two election cycles and in this election cycle to manipulate and sanitize the town hall format.

    Moyers: The candidates got their way.

    Lehrer: The audience participants are bound by the following rule. They shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion. And the questioner’s microphone will be turned off after he or she completes asking the question.

    Moyers: What’s more, town hall questions would have to be submitted in advance.

    Farah: They had every member in the town hall audience write their questions on index cards and give them to Jim Lehrer.

    He would point to the individual and have him ask the question. The consequence, of course, was no matter how good a person Jim Lehrer is, he’s still asking all the questions.

    The audience members are just there as props. He’s still picking the ones to be asked. So it shows the sanitization of the town hall format, showed the evolution of how the candidates are increasingly controlling whatever they can control to avoid mistakes.

    Controlling all aspects of the campaign is of utmost importance to the candidates.  Long before a Presidential aspirant is the Party nominee, with the help of the media and powerful sponsors they ensure their win.  This explains why money matters.  Candidates are not electable if they propose policies that are doable and coveted.  An effective campaign has the green necessary to sell the person that will profit those that already have economic power.

    In 1996, members of the press remarked, political conventions were made for television theatrics.  The drama was gone.  Every aspect of the assembly was pre-planned and arranged with precision.  Powerful Party players picked the delegates.  For the candidates, the conference was a coronation.  There was no real deliberation.  Political conventions were just as the campaigns, calculated.

    Weeks ago, we witnessed what was billed as a Democratic Debate.  The forum in New Hampshire was one of many profitable programs that allow the public to hear the Presidential hopefuls speak.  Scripted questions are presented and supposedly spontaneous responses are offered. However, in this recent debate, just as all that preceded it, there was no real discussion.  Interaction was frowned upon and ended by a host almost as quickly as it started.  Hype, hard sell, the handlers, and the handled filled the air with folly.  Few of the Presidential aspirants were afforded an opportunity to speak.  Nor do most seem to want to engage in meaningful discussion or debate.

    Oh, the chosen ones, so anointed by the media, or the persuaded masses, were granted time.  These front-runners often had more time to answer a question than the approved and allotted minutes the “rules” provided for a response.  However, the little guy, the unelectable one, who articulates what the general public feels and experiences had only five minutes and thirty-seven seconds, in a two-hour broadcast to share his vision for America.  Might we wonder why . . .

    Americans give their lowest marks to leaders in the press. Americans are particularly dissatisfied with press coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign.”

    When asked if election coverage was politically biased, 40% believed it was too liberal; 21% too conservative; and 30% found it neutral. Nine percent of those responding were not sure.

    Key among the findings:

    • 64% of those polled do not trust press coverage of the presidential campaign.
    • 88% believe that campaign coverage focuses on trivial issues.
    • 84% believe that media coverage has too much influence on American voting choices.
    • 92% say it is important that the news media provide information on candidates’ specific policy plans, but 61% say the media does not provide enough coverage of policy plans.??
    • 89% say it is important to hear about candidates’ personal values and ethics, but 43% say there is not enough coverage of personal values and ethics.

    Instead, those surveyed claimed they were getting “exactly the type of campaign coverage that they want the least,” the report found. ??Seventy percent of those polled said coverage of negative ads was not important and 65% said the media provided too much coverage of them; 67% say that coverage of “gotcha” moments – candidates’ embarrassing incidents and mistakes – was not important and 68% say there was too much coverage of those moments.

    Even when the possible Presidential nominees are not engaged in trickery or deception, during election season the media is.  On a Cable News Network program, titled Campaign Killers, host Campbell Brown, wife to former Advisor to the George W. Bush Presidential Envoy in Iraq, Dan Senor spoke of the insurgency.  The reference did not address those we commonly think of as terrorists.  The lovely Miss Brown purposely indicted MoveOn.org, a Progressive organization.

    During the November 28 CNN special Campaign Killers: Why Do Negative Ads Work?, CNN anchor Campbell Brown said: “General David Petraeus made his reputation taking on insurgents in Iraq. But when he came to Capitol Hill in September, he was confronted by American insurgents, a liberal anti-war group called MoveOn.org.”

    Brown also asserted that a MoveOn.org advertisement headlined “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” “became a huge news story because it questioned the loyalty of a wartime commander, implying he was a traitor.” In asserting that the content of the advertisement generated news coverage, Brown did not point out the claim by many commentators that the ad “became a huge news story” because Republicans preferred to talk about it rather than Petraeus’ testimony before Congress about the situation in Iraq.

    In 2007, it is difficult to discern the media from the message.  Lobbyists linger in the halls of every debate.  Special interest groups and individuals with a well-known agenda marry those that report to the masses.  No wonder the American people lack confidence in campaign coverage; accounts are obviously skewed.  

    As the broadcast of Campaign Killers continues, viewers realize Campbell Brown consistently makes mention of what she perceives as the wily practices of the ‘money machine’ MoveOn.org.  Hence, we might acknowledge, perceptions of the infamous Liberal bias are not valid.  This supposed slant is not evident in the press today.  Nor has it been for quite some time.  At least, we may note Miss Brown does not lean towards the Left.  

    The transcript of for this documentary might reveal Brown is not in favor of grassroots Progressive actions.  We cannot know with certainty.  One can only presume.  However, if we note the number of times this Journalist links MoveOn.org to money, we can assume there is reason to postulate.  Might Brown’s personal perspective influence her reports.

    It seems, in 2007 journalism is as the political process, a muddle.  In the twentieth first century the old adage is truer than it was.  “Politics makes for strange bedfellows.”  Correspondents sleep with those they report on and we, the people are without an objective blanket.  Campaigns are but a high stakes rigged game.  Once more, in 2008, the public will cast a ballot for the elite’s handpicked electable winner, not for the one best able to address the issues, domestic and foreign.  

    In this election season,  as candidates speak of change, we must accept there will be none.  As long as we buy what the Conglomerates, Candidates, and Correspondents sell, only the face in the White House will differ.  The status quo will live on in the Oval Office and the lives of the American people.

    References, Resources, Campaigns, Contributors, and Correspondents . . .

  • Campaign for Community Values
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
  • Open Debates.
  • Hillary Clinton; Top Contributors.  OpenSecrets.org
  • Barack Obama; Top Contributors.  OpenSecrets.org
  • John Edwards; Top Contributors.  OpenSecrets.org
  • Dennis Kucinich; Top Contributors.  OpenSecrets.org
  • Cris Dodd; Top Contributors.  OpenSecrets.org
  • Bill Richardson; Top Contributors.  OpenSecrets.org
  • Banking On Becoming President.  OpenSecrets.org.
  • Some media members hope for a new game at this year’s conventions, By Ian Christopher McCaleb.  Cable News Network.
  • Washington Talk: The Presidency; Shouting Questions At Reagan, By Steven V. Roberts.  The New York Times. October 21, 1987
  • Study: More Than 60% Don’t Trust Campaign Coverage Editor and Publisher. November 30, 2007
  • CPD: National Debate Sponsors.
  • Transcript. Rigging the Debates. NOW with Bill Moyers.  Public Broadcasting Services.
  • Hold On Mr. President. By Sam Donaldson.
  • Ronald Reagan, TV Auteur, By Joe Hagan.  The New York Observer. June 13, 2004
  • CNN’s Brown called MoveOn.org “American insurgents”. Media Matters.
  • Dan Senor, Former Advisor to the U.S. Presidential Envoy in Iraq.  White House.
  • Campbell Brown
  • Campaign Killers: Why Do Negative Ads Work? Cable News Network.
  • “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”  MoveOn.org
  • Clinton, Obama; To Communicate or Not to Communicate?


    Obama Clinton Feud on CNN Debate Question

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert.

    In recent days, I am reminded of my own life as I watch the Democratic Presidential candidates quibble, over the timing of peace talks.  Throughout the airwaves, and in every periodical, reports discuss the divisive dynamic.  Senator Hillary Clinton thinks Barack Obama is naïve.  She states the comparison he makes when discussing her point of view is silly.  Thus, the former First Lady emphasizes a theme that has haunted the junior Senator.  Is the Senator from Illinois too young and inexperienced to be President of the world’s superpower?

    In the July 2007 Democratic debate Barack Obama stated, within his first year in office he would speak with world leaders from “rogue” nations were he President of the United States.  Senator Obama stressed the harm that befalls a nation, indeed the world when Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Heads of States do not meet.  Obama referred to earlier events in our history.  He mentioned, even the revered Ronald Reagan and the much-admired John Fitzgerald Kennedy spoke with those considered dictatorial. 

    Senator Obama said, I would.  And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

    (APPLAUSE)

    Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire.  And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

    And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.  We’ve been talking about Iraq — one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

    They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point.  But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.

    Nonetheless, the former First Lady disagreed.  Hillary Clinton thinks it unwise for the President of the United States to reach out before diplomats do their deeds.  Clinton continued to counter; she would not meet with leaders of “particular” countries in her first year in the Oval Office.  The Senator did not wish to be used as a pawn, a tool for propaganda.

    Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year.  I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.

    I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes.  I don’t want to make a situation even worse.  But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration.

    And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.

    And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way.  But certainly, we’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.

     
    Former First Lady Clinton envisions herself as an expert, more experienced in the finer points of negotiation.  After all, she spent eight years in the White House and many more years meeting with dignitaries.  Senator Clinton believes herself senior and more superior pertaining to issues of State. 

    Perchance, this is the reason the Clinton campaign chose to force focus on this issue.

    Hillary Clinton and her supporters considered her calculated response worthy of praise.  The Senator from New York sought further substantiation for her position, and she received it.

    Seeking to attack Sen. Barack Obama’s greatest perceived weaknesses – lack of experience – Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign today used a former secretary of state to subtly question an answer he gave in Monday night’s debate.

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a member of Bill Clinton’s administration, did not specifically criticize Obama’s response to a question about meeting, without preconditions, with leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea during his first year in office.

    But she did strongly suggest that her candidate gave a much better answer.

    “She gave a very sophisticated answer, which showed her understanding of the whole process,” Albright said on a conference call this morning with reporters.  “If you look back at real breakthroughs in diplomatic history, what you basically find is that in order to understand where the situation is, to clear the underbrush away, it is necessary to have lower level people make the initial contact.”

    All this bickering leaves me wondering.  Many muse that my own peaceful posture is infinitely naïve.  I am frequently criticized for speaking with anyone and everyone, for trusting people for too long.  In my own life, I have been bruised and blistered with barbs again and again before realizing that I may need to separate myself for safety and sanity.  Even still, I keep hope alive.  I trust all beings evolve.  If I choose to close myself off, I may miss an opportunity to reconcile with those that, in a moment of anger, brutally, verbally attacked me.

    Granted on the world stage, people in power may use others as pawns.  They may employ the innocent to impose their destructive and debilitating desires.  The blameless may die and more than a heart is hurt.  However, I believe and history seems to bear this out, more perish and over a longer period of time if world leaders do not speak to each other.

    The new world crisis brought about by the lack of strategic foreign policy thinking in the US since 2001 will get worse unless Washington uses its historic strengths instead of believing the myths of its military superiority.

    The US did not destroy the German army in the Second World War – the Soviet Union did. Chinese peasants fought America to a standstill in Korea and Third World Vietnam defeated America two decades later. Polish workers sapped Soviet imperialism’s will to rule, not threats of Star Wars. America withdrew from Lebanon in the 1980s and Somalia in the 1990s at the first whiff of murderous violence.

    Rumsfeld is no exception to the rule that when America does war, it often does it badly. But it has defeated fascism, communism and will defeat jihadi terrorism by using the unstoppable power of its democratic, multi-faith, multi-race, rule-of-law, open-market ideology to make a better offer than any other ideology.

    America now has to find the confidence and strength to try ‘jaw-jaw’ instead of ‘war-war’. Nowhere is this more needed than in the region which has robbed Dick Cheney and the Republicans of control of both houses of Congress. Under Bush, America gave up diplomacy and international politics and surrendered foreign policy-making to the Pentagon. So far this century, America has forgotten the old maxim that peace works by talking with your enemies.

    It is not just America. To be sure, the US won’t talk to Iran. But France won’t talk to Syria. And Syria won’t recognise Lebanon as an independent nation. Most Arab states won’t normalise relations with Israel.  In turn, Israel won’t talk to elected leaders of the Palestinians.  No surprise that the alternative is war.

    If we decide to be indignant, to declare a person a dictator, and therefore, not speak to that individual then we can expect that person to act as any of us might when we are judged or feel attacked without reason.  No one of us purposely does what we think wrong. 

    Humans rationalize and justify whatever it is they do, even if only belatedly.  Perhaps, the perfect example in my mind is all religions claim to command, “Thou shalt not kill.”  Yet, for centuries mankind has engaged in religious wars.  When we battle, blood is spilled. 

    Accuse others of wrongdoing, make no attempt to understand their position, and the indicted will react.  Refuse to speak to the person [or national leaders] you blame, or send a subordinate to speak for you and watch the resentment grow.  Ultimately, as you assess the situation, or contemplate your options, so too will your opponent.  Without direct dialogue between the concerned parties, nothing will change.  Resolution will be fragile.  Ultimately, as we have seen, the combat will begin.

    Un-ringing a bell, although beautiful in the abstract, is not possible in the physical world.  What we choose initially will set the tone for future interactions.  As an educator, as a human, I am reminded of this daily.

    You may noticed my last name; “Angert.”  At the beginning of each school year, students also observe what you may have just realized.  The root word in my surname is anger. 

    As an instructor, that knows what she values and says so at beginning of class, on the first day, at the first bell, I often hear students snicker, as they refer to the deeper meaning of my surname.  As our first meeting begins, I stand tall, all five feet of me.  The expression on my face is extremely serious.  The tone of my voice is strong, not loud, just firm.  I insist the class be silent as I prepare to state my standards.  All the indicators validate for the pupils I will be a taskmaster and I will adamantly dictate their responsibilities.  While it is true, my students are extremely productive; that is their choice.

    I begin.  I first mention what they have already observed, my name on the board.  I explain what I realized as an adult.  I was decades old before anyone ever hollered at me.  I assert; clearly, it was not a member of my family.  My relatives “talk,” as indicated by the “t” in my last name.  Thus, there is no need for “anger.”

    I continue.  The faces are wide-eyed.  Students listen intently.  Soon they discover that my tale is informative, not punitive.  I am actually human, just like them. 

    The yarn I share helps to explain that people, pupils have choices astounds many a learner.  Possibly, it confuses some.  The narrative is not baffling.  Indeed, students are captivated as they take the saga in.  What confounds those sitting in the class is that I am so open about my life.

    I discuss my own awful habits and how I adopted these when I was so very young, I did not realize there were other options.  I offer analogies.  A talkative child believes that is their nature; they constantly chatter.  They always have.  A young girl or boy with “nervous energy” never considers that they may be bored, seeking any form of attention, or that they are perhaps frustrated.  People do as they do, and more often than not as was done to them.

    As I tell my tale, I speak of my own progression and realizations.  In my life, in my family no one drank milk; nor did I.  I mention the first time I ran away from home at the age of eight.  My Dad wanted me to drink the milk left in the bottom of my cereal bowl.

    I tell new students of how, when, and why I developed a dependency on soda.  I share the realization, the repercussions from too much carbonated water.  I speak of my own choices and the challenge to change. 

    Quickly, they discover our shared qualities.  They understand my demeanor.  They accept “anger” is not a place I travel to.  We develop a relationship.

    I consciously choose to create a communicative, creative, caring, and peaceful environment in the classroom.  In truth, I endeavor to establish a tranquil milieu in each aspect of my life.  For me, reciprocal reverence reaps abundant rewards. 

    I am acquainted with those that yell.  As I said, after many years of calm, I met someone that screams, that stops speaking when he feels agitated.  I learned.  People do what was done to them.  If as children, the people we most admire are punitive, we are likely to be similar as we age.

    How many of us can recall a time in our youth when we stood in awe of our mother or father’s foolish behavior and said, “I will never do that to a child of mine.”  Yet, a score later we find ourselves repeating the pattern we learned at our parents’ knee.

    As I witness a scholar, a successful attorney, a Senator, and some say a threat to the security of a Clinton win called “silly” by his opponent I must wonder.  What was learned, accepted, and rejected.  What habits were formed when the Senator from New York was so young she did not realize there were other options.

    I inquire.  Why would this well-informed, intelligent Presidential hopeful, the former First Lady, Hillary Clinton think it naïve to speak with world leaders as soon as possible?  I can only ponder why the senior Senator thinks she might be used as a pawn.  I cannot imagine why in her mind punitive measures are proper.

    It seems Senator Clinton thinks accentuating her experience and asserting her skepticism are strengths, or possibly, she wishes to emphasize there is a difference between Senator Obama and she.  However, this was always obvious, even to the casual observer.

    Journalists commented, Hillary Clinton is totally in control in this campaign.  In the most recent broadcast, her body language spoke volumes.  Senator Clinton is self-assured.  Many thought the Senator from New York was confident going into the Cable News Network forum.

    The Clinton camp put forward . . .

    [T]he aura of inevitability: “Face it, she’s going to be nominated.  Better get on the bandwagon now.”

    The CNN-YouTube debate in Charleston, South Carolina, Monday night could look like seven against one: seven Democratic contenders trying to challenge Clinton as “The Inevitable” — and competing with each other to become “The Alternative.”

    Everything was going well; each moment was predictable.  Hillary Clinton was placed center-stage.  Cameras focused on her, as did the moderator and the audience.  How could they not? 

    The former First Lady wore a striking orange and pink jacket.  Her tone was firm.  When Senator Clinton answered a question, and she was given an opportunity to answer most every inquiry, Clinton spoke with certainty.  An air of authority surrounded this esteemed front-runner.  Even up until the moment, the controversial instant when the split between Senator Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was glaringly evident.

    Washington (CNN) – The spat between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is really about calling attention to your opponent’s weakness.

    In politics, just like in prizefighting, you look for your opponent’s weakness and pound away at it.  In the debate this week, Obama portrayed himself as new and different – the total opposite of George W. Bush.  “The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration, is ridiculous,” Obama said in the CNN/You Tube debate on Monday.

    Clinton portrayed herself as experienced and knowledgeable. “You don’t promise a meeting until you know the intentions.  I don’t want to be used for propaganda,” she said.

    She was going for Obama’s weakness – his lack of experience.  She kept hammering away at it the next day.  “I thought that was very irresponsible and, frankly, naïve to say you would commit to meeting with Chavez and Castro or others within the first year,” she said.

    Obama came back punching at Clinton’s weakness.  “If there is anything irresponsible and naïve it was to authorize George Bush to send 160,000 young American men and women into Iraq apparently without knowing how they where going to get out,” Obama said.

    -CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider

    I did not think Barack Obama appeared weak as he stood strong stating his convictions; communication can change the world.  The Illinois Senator avowed we, the people want a “uniter” in the White House.  The current “decider” has divided us for too long.  In a speech delivered days after the now infamous YouTube debate, at the College Democrats of America convention at the University of South Carolina, Senator Obama stated. 

    “The reason that this president has failed to lead this country is because he hasn’t been able to unite our country.  He’s polarized us when he should have pulled us together.” . . .

    “That’s why the experience we need in the next president is the ability to bring this country together.

    “It’s not enough to just change parties.”

    Perhaps, I understand his contention because it parallels my own life experience.  When Barack Obama offers his philosophy, I relate.

    Not to be undone, defeated, or denied a righteous place in this crucial crusade the Clinton crowd fought back.

    The New York senator’s campaign contended Obama, with his remarks, had broken a pledge “to elevate our political discourse.”

    Yikes.  The Eleventh Commandment now lives large in the Democratic Party.  However, lest we forget, this credo, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow [candidate],” is a Republican principle.  Perhaps that is the essential problem.  When we, the Progressives mirror the musings of those on the right, when we adopt their doctrine, we forget the spirit that makes Democrats great.  As Will Rogers, political Humorist and Philosopher explains, the Party often criticized for its intellectual repartees is quite a phenomenon.  Those that declare themselves liberal understand. “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” 

    Let us not walk in lock step.  May we never stop speaking or delay when world affairs beckon us.  We must accept that Heads of State will not feel safe or honored when speaking solely with diplomats.  If our own President were slighted in negotiations there would be no peace.  Perchance, we might each adopt the Angert family practice.  Talk to ensure that anger will never arise.

    Resources, references, rage, habits that hurt  . . .

  • Clinton calls Bush-Cheney comparison ‘silly’. Cable News Network. July 27, 2007
  • Clinton-Obama Commander Duel. Obama. The New York Times. July 24, 2007
  • Fourth Democratic Debate. Clinton. The New York Times. July 24, 2007
  • Fourth Democratic Debate. The New York Times. July 24, 2007
  • Clinton, Obama Camps’ Feud Is Out in the Open, By Chris Cillizza and Dan Balz.  Washington Post. Thursday, February 22, 2007; Page A01
  • pdf Clinton, Obama Camps’ Feud Is Out in the Open, By Chris Cillizza and Dan Balz.  Washington Post. Thursday, February 22, 2007; Page A01
  • Obama Calls for Uniter in White House, By Nedra Pickler. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Thursday, July 26, 2007; 8:25 PM
  • pdf Obama Calls for Uniter in White House, By Nedra Pickler. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Thursday, July 26, 2007; 8:25 PM
  • Bush must be told: talk to your enemies, By Denis MacShane.  The Observer. Sunday, November 12, 2006
  • The Campaign. RonaldReagan.com.
  • President Bush Meets with Al Arabiya Television on Wednesday. Office of the Press Secretary.  White house.
  • Childhood Obesity. Adult On-Set Diabetes. Osteoporosis. Soda. By Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.
  • Clinton, Obama trading jabs, By Christi Parsons. Chicago Tribune. July 26, 2007
  • Primary Elections Lost; Electability Lives


    2008 election primary disaster for democracy

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Tonight we witnessed a change.  Apathy is no longer part of the American election process.  Cable News Network brought citizens to the tube and the televised Democratic debates to you, the voter.  We, the people were given an opportunity to participate as we have never done before.  Throughout the airwaves, the word is “This event was a success.”  The format helped to develop a dialogue.  The conversation flowed.  The panel was far more authentic.  Responses were not rehearsed; the interaction was more real.  Thus, we have reached a consensus.  All agree, except for at least one, me.  I think this broadcast was the pinnacle of what has been standard in politics since 1960.  The medium is the message.  Image makes a President.

    A candidate is sold to an expectant public.  Theatrical events are exciting, exhilarating, even entertaining.  Everyone rushes to be part of the process, so much so that America holds primary elections in name only.  Primaries in the year 2007 are the main event.  Each state is vying for eminence.  They want to be the earliest to lure Presidential hopefuls to their region.  Mostly, each territory yearns to select the national nominee.  Apparently, it is a privilege to claim, ‘we picked the President.’

    The 2008 presidential race will be shaped, in unpredictable ways, by a parallel competition among states leapfrogging one another in pursuit of a greater voice in the nominating process.

    The maneuvering threatens the traditional roles of Iowa and New Hampshire as gatekeepers of the White House competition. It has the potential to change the dynamics of the battle among the candidates and significantly alter its terrain of issues.

    Measures now poised for consideration in legislatures across the county would mean that voters in some of the largest states would be able to cast primary ballots weeks before the first Iowan enters a precinct caucus.

    Gone are the days when a nominee represented the whole, the Party wrote the platform, people were able to meet, greet, and speak with the contenders personally.  The public once shaped a national strategy.  Now advisors and advertisers do.

    In this nation, we spend months and much money in an attempt to determine who we think will win.  Politics are polls.  Primaries pick the person representing the Party.  Our countrymen and women do not familiarize themselves with the depth and breath of a candidate’s position.  Indeed, if a Presidential aspirant does not meet the presumed height or weight requirement, they do not have a chance of being heard, let alone seen.

    Those of us who watched the recent debate might have noticed, the production was well staged.  The mis-en-scene was marvelous.  Every aspect, lighting, color, placement, the particulars were well crafted.  The “decided” “front-runners” were placed front and center.  They dressed in vibrant shades; clothes make a statement.  The top performers were more comfortable in their position.  Body language spoke volumes. Perchance, hand motions were a reflection of their perceived rank among registered voters or their prominence in the political community.  The camera followed those who stand tall in the eyes of promoters, and oh, yes, thanks to advocates that “delegate” authority these candidate now are considered powerful and perfect in the minds of future voters. 

    The moderator, articulate, and handsome Anderson Cooper favored the big three.  If a citizen video asked an individual a question, that person answered.  However, if the query was not meant for one of the notables, the fave few were still given an opportunity to reflect aloud.  Time restraints were less tight for the preferred.  An inquiry intended for all was infrequently addressed to each of the possible respondents.  However, we could be certain the privileged had a chance to discuss and deliberate.  That’s entertainment.

    We have heard that at least two of the top contenders wish to lessen the number of hopefuls on a stage.  For them, Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, the process is nearly over.  The point is to be seen or heard widely on screens nationwide.  These candidates know image sells, issues are irrelevant.  A scant sense of where a campaigner stands is enough to garner support.  There is no need for more.

    Thus, this televised debate was, as elections are in recent years, staged and set.  Decisions are made.  Content is excluded.  Context is crucial.  The primary, as far as the public is concerned is the general election.

    Currently, campaigns are produced and directed by the mainstream media, public relation persons, marketers, advertisers, and promoters.  The people, unknowingly are pawns.  The process is void.  In these times, primaries promote a single agenda, electability.

    In days of old electing a President was a progression.  Primary elections allowed even the most unrecognized candidate an opportunity to be known.  Those on the stump traveled to the early primary states.  They gathered in regions that held caucuses.  They met the people, the common folk.  Aspirants kissed babies, hugged mothers, and shook the hands of papas.  A Presidential participant could be seen in a local dinner, in the home of your neighbor and on the streets. 

    The campaigns were not a snapshot or two.  Sound-bites did not dominate television screens.  Crowds gathered without be invited or screened.  The people on either side of a Presidential hopeful were genuinely interested in the candidate’s position.  Town people were not purposely placed to create an impression.  In the past, decisions were grounded in dialogue.  Citizens did not choose to support an entrant because he or she had great hair, a nice smile, or wonderful commercials.

    The process of electing the President is essentially divided into four stages:
    (1) the pre-nomination phase, in which candidates compete in state primary elections and caucuses for delegates to the national party conventions;
    (2) the national conventions?held in the summer of the election year?in which the two major parties nominate candidates for President and Vice President and ratify a platform of the parties? policy positions and goals;
    (3) the general election campaign, in which the major party nominees, as well as any minor party or independent contenders, compete for votes from the entire electorate, culminating in the popular vote on election day in November; and
    (4) the electoral college phase, in which the President and Vice President are officially elected.

    That was then.  This is now.  Admittedly, there were problems in the past.  America is an expansive territory.  There is much land to cover, many people to meet.  Sadly, only a few citizens followed their potential leaders.  Often the wealthy and influential wielded much power.  Principally, the affluent brokered the election, and the apathetic remained poorly represented.  Much has changed, or so it would seem.  Indeed little is different.

    In this, the Information Age, people consider themselves connected, cognizant, and active.  Grassroots organizations flourish.  Some say elections today are as the founding fathers intended them to be.  Participation is far broader than it was in early American history.  More individuals, from every walk of life, now help determine who the nominees will be.  Witness last evening’s glorious broadcast.  Cable News Network reached out to you, the common man, everyman, and made it possible for any of us to speak to the nominees.  We could watch from the comfort of our homes and determine whom we would support in the “primary” election.  That is, unless we had already decided.  It seems most of us had.

    If we had any doubt about which candidate we want in the White House, there is one thing the majority of people agree on; they want to win.  If a Presidential hopeful leans towards the presumed party platform, they have a chance.  However, if they are thought too far astray, they alienate the voters.  If a contender genuinely embraces the issues that people say are important to them, that petitioner may be thought too bold.  A true Liberal is extremely far left.  An actual Conservative is a kook.  “Electability is essential.

    The longer a particularly party is out of office, the more desperate they become.  Witness the Democrats in 2004, or in this, the 2008 campaign.

    Democrats’ Litmus: Electability
    Key Issue for 2008 Race
    Poses Hurdles for Clinton, Obama
    By Jackie Calmes
    January 11, 2007

    WASHINGTON — For a party long known for subjecting presidential wannabes to a battery of litmus tests, on issues from abortion to trade, Democrats are uniting in raising one big issue for 2008: electability.

    Who can win? That question is paramount for many activists, donors, and voters, desperate to reclaim the White House. In addition, it’s one that poses a big hurdle for both Democratic front-runners, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

    Widespread concerns about whether either could get elected — Mrs. Clinton because she is a woman, and a polarizing figure; Mr. Obama for being African-American, and relatively inexperienced — potentially prevent either from running away with the Democratic nomination. That, in turn, is what keeps hope alive for about a half-dozen rivals maneuvering for advantage should the leaders stumble. Of that pack, polls and early organization suggest the best-positioned is former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the 2004 vice-presidential nominee. Today Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut officially joins the race with his announcement on the syndicated radio show “Imus in the Morning.”

    That was the belief in January 2007,only seven short months ago.  In the winter of this year, who could have predicted the fate that would eventually befall Don Imus.  In July, who might know with certainty whether Hillary Clinton will perform as promised.  In this era, it may not even matter.  Winning is what counts, even in the primaries, at least so say the Democrats.

    The primaries have taken on the aura of a national election.  Citizens no longer care if one candidate has a position more reflective of their personal philosophy.  Potential participant plans go unread, unless the possible nominee shows promise.  The public wants to be assured that the contender might take the Presidential prize. 

    Much is based on image.  Senator Clinton appears Presidential, and indeed she may well be.  The former First Lady knows how to persuade and please a crowd.  Senator Clinton had a successful career as a lawyer.  She met husband, former President of the United States, Bill in law school.  While serving as the First Lady Hillary Clinton learned much, she did plenty.  During the July debate, Senator Clinton reminded the audience that she is well traveled; she has met with many world leaders.  Clinton confirmed she was greeted with confidence; dignitaries had no doubt that she was their equal.

    In last evening’s debate, Clinton dressed to impress and used large sweeping hand gestures that suggest she is strong and confident.  The Senator stood center stage; camera angles were flattering.  The cool and calm Clinton could be seen clearly, no matter where a viewer might look.  The day after the July 2007, debate people said Hillary looks and sounds “Presidential.”

    There was a key moment, however, and once again it pitted Clinton, the New York senator, against Barack Obama, her counterpart from Illinois.  The question was whether they’d promise to meet in the first year of their presidency with the leaders of such enemy nations as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

    “I would,” Obama said, foolishly showing his inexperience, and perhaps his naiveté as well, in foreign affairs.  After all, he said, President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and still talked to Soviet leaders. “I think it’s a disgrace we haven’t talked” to leaders of the five anti-American countries, Obama said.

    Clinton benefited from getting to answer after Obama, and she made the most of it. She said, firmly and coolly, that she wouldn’t promise to meet with them. Clinton said the new president had to be careful not to be exploited by hostile leaders for propaganda purposes and not to do anything “that would make the situation worse.” Before any meeting, she’d have to know “what the way forward would be.”

    The verdict on whose answer was better, Obama’s or Clinton’s, came from John Edwards, the next candidate to speak. He echoed Clinton.

    Seemingly, unshaken and perhaps contemplating that Hillary Clinton could in practice, craft a policy reminiscent of the Bush Administration,  ruling out “early” talks and possibly even later diplomatic discussions with nations defined as ‘rogue,’ Obama stood steady.  Senator Obama may understand what occurs when America waits to engage in diplomacy.

    Barack Obama appeared quite “fine” with his answer, and did I mention is quite fine-looking  The Senator, also an Attorney, and former State Legislator, is a long, and lean man.  He is keen on the issues.  Senator Obama eased any concerns; he is experienced enough, and well seasoned.  The long primary process alone has helped hone his skills.  Barack Obama can cook a goose, even if it belongs to the former First Lady.  Senator Obama is indeed a rising star.

    Obama Narrows Gap With Clinton
    By John Harwood
    The Wall Street Journal
    April 26, 2007; Page A6

    Orangeburg, S.C. — Sen. Barack Obama has pulled close to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that suggests doubts about his electability are diminishing.

    As all Democratic presidential candidates gather here for their first televised debate tonight, the poll shows Mr. Obama trailing Mrs. Clinton by 31% to 36%; 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards runs a solid third with 20%.  Last month, Mr. Obama lagged 12 percentage points behind.

    Moreover, the poll shows that rank-and-file Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters don’t perceive a wide gap between the two front-runners in their ability to defeat the Republican nominee in next year’s general election; 39% say Mrs. Clinton has the “best chance,” while 32% say Mr. Obama does.  The finding indicates that, just as the first-term Illinois senator’s robust early fund-raising has undercut one of Mrs. Clinton’s presumed advantages, his relative inexperience hasn’t emerged as a major impediment in his competition with the former first lady who now represents New York in the Senate.

    Mr. Obama “seems to be gathering momentum as the candidate of change,” says Neil Newhouse, the Republican pollster who helps to conduct the Journal/NBC survey.  At a time when Americans want a new direction on Iraq and in Washington generally, adds his Democratic counterpart Peter Hart, “Sen. Obama comes closest to matching what voters are looking for in the broad political environment.”  The telephone survey of 1,004 American adults, conducted April 20 to 23, carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

    The percentage of voters supporting John Edwards is high in some communities; however, not in all.  John Edwards is definitely a looker, and he is smart.  Each may work to his advantage.  Nonetheless, as of yet he is not considered the media darling.  Perchance, his loss in the 2004 Vice Presidential bid had a lasting effect. 

    Senator Edwards received much sympathy when his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer.  Nonetheless, his decision to continue with the campaign drew ample criticism.  Neither may be the reason for his current standing.  It may simply be that being a white man holds him back.  America has seen many a Caucasian male in office.  The people say they want a change.  clearly considering Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are far more moderate than the other Democratic hopefuls, a novel approach in policy is not enough to convince an expectant public that you are Presidential.

    As the former Vice Presidential participant, Senator, Edwards perceives a need to strengthen his position, to change the way people see him.  Interestingly, John Edwards chooses to focus on an issue the front-runners avoid.  The hope is this will solidify the impression he is authentic.

    Edwards’ travels could bolster his image as the most liberal of the leading Democratic candidates, a shift from his 2004 run for president.  He has staked the position with uncompromising opposition to the Iraq war and an expansive healthcare proposal.

    Though poverty may not resonate as an issue with most Americans, “there are few groups that are more concerned about the poor than Democratic primary voters,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.

    Edwards could also benefit from talking about poverty, precisely because there is apparently so little political gain, demonstrating a personal conviction that transcends polling.

    He has laid out perhaps the most comprehensive program of any Democrat running.  His goal is eradicating poverty within 30 years through tax credits and other incentives, programs expanding access to healthcare and higher education, and government creation of 1 million “stepping-stone jobs” for adults who have struggled to find work.

    In the Information Internet, always connected, cyberspace age candidates are running as fast as they can.  The delegates at a national political convention no longer choose the Party’s nominee, you and I do.  We sit in front of the television or at a computer screen and consume audio-visual information.  The media massage the message they believe we want to see or hear, as do the advertisers, public relations persons, and decidedly, the aspirant.  America has no time to waste.  Winning is all that counts.

    If a candidate is short or stout, small or diminutive they do not have a chance.  A scream can destroy the democratic process.  There is no defending what some think “inappropriate behavior” for a Presidential campaigner.  Electric shock treatment is inexcusable.  Americans hesitate to vote for a candidate that sweats or sighs during a debate.  A scowl also can cause criticism. 

    If you are not a macho man, never, ever dress in camouflage fatigues and place yourself in a tank.  Cameras are everywhere.  The American public can be less than forgiving, especially when the tape is rolling.  In the Information Age, the medium is the message.  A picture is worth far more than a thousand words.  Considering few citizens read periodicals, let alone Presidential platform papers, this adage is truer than ever.

    Nonetheless, Americans think themselves knowledgeable; convincing them that they are not is quite a challenge.  People have fragile egos and are firm in their commitment to electability.  Everyone you ask will tell you they are informed.  “I watch the news, read the papers, and peruse the Internet.”  In January 2004, Americans surveyed by Pew Charitable Trust reported just how connected they are.

    Cable news networks are the most frequently cited source of campaign news for young people, but the Internet and comedy programs also are important conduits of election news for Americans under 30.

    One-in-five young people say they regularly get campaign news from the Internet, and about as many (21%) say the same about comedy shows such as Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show.  For Americans under 30, these comedy shows are now mentioned almost as frequently as newspapers and evening network news programs as regular sources for election news. 

    But people who regularly learn about the election from entertainment programs ­ whether young or not ­ are poorly informed about campaign developments.

    In general, Americans show little awareness of campaign events and key aspects of the candidates’ backgrounds: About three-in-ten (31%) can correctly identify Wesley Clark as the Democratic candidate who had served as an Army general and 26% know Richard Gephardt is the candidate who had served as House majority leader.  People who say they regularly learn about the campaign from entertainment programs are among the least likely to correctly answer these questions.

    In contrast, those who learn about the campaign on the Internet are considerably more knowledgeable than the average, even when their higher level of education is taken into account.

    Nonetheless, even among the more educated the desire to support a winner can influence who they choose.  Pragmatism is the prominent consideration, particularly for Democrats.  In 2008, after four plus four years of George W. Bush the cry continues, “Anyone but Bush.”  Progressives, Liberals, Blues, and Greens feel they must move forward, regardless.  Issues be damned; these are important, but not worth the sacrifice.  Democrats declare, ‘We must beat Bush.’

    As for the liberals who make up Democrats’ base, for all their passion about jobs and global trade, health care, the environment, abortion and gay rights and especially the war, these days the left cares “big time” about whether a candidate can get elected, says Robert Borosage, co-director of the union-supported advocacy group Campaign for America’s Future.

    Likewise, feminist leader Kate Michelman says that in her travels, “I hear people talking about ‘electability’ all the time, and Democrats are going to continue talking about it.” Even among audiences eager to see a female president, she says, skeptics ask, “Do you think the country is really ready for a woman?” Ms. Michelman is supporting former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards — not, she says, because she considers the front-runners unelectable but because Mr. Edwards is the best candidate for women’s issues, and electable.

    Even the most ardent activist cannot deny the electability factor filters his or her familiarity or that more than half a year before the primary her mind is made up.  Indeed America has changed.  The primaries no longer provide the average American citizen with a voice.  We, the people do not build a Party platform.  The guiding principles are established before we reach the polls. 

    John Kerry was thought to be electable, and some say the Senator won the popular vote in 2004, I among them.  Nonetheless, can we, will we continue to negate that the win was not a landslide.  Electability does not guarantee a win.  Electability is a myth.  The numbers do not always add up.  Please do the math, take the measure of a man or woman into consideration.  Subtract the electability factor and then decide whom you will choose.  A candidate may look good on screen; they may be well trained.  However, if they do not represent you as a whole do you really want, them in the White House.

    Please America let us not settle.  Images are nice, but they will not exit Iraq immediately. Nor will they meet with Heads of State, unless they think the time is right, if it ever is.  America has seen the damage caused by such a stalwart stance. 

    A perfect Presidential posture does not endorse marriage for all people, no matter their sexual preferences.  A suave Sue or Sam will not necessarily work diligently to insure all citizens universally have health care.  An attractive and accomplished Joe or Jane  may not have a care for  our well-being.  A lack of Social Security or Medicare will not be their undoing.  They will be paid and cared for regardless of the reverence they show for us, the people that elect them.

    Contenders say, ending poverty must be a priority.  However, did you hear the candidates speak?  The vast majority of these contenders were never poor.  They are willing to work for minimum wage because they can.  How many millions sit in their bank accounts gaining interest?  Without supplementing the windfall from these funds, many struggling Americans could easily survive on the principal alone.  If the future President did chose to live on a minimum wage, it seems certain their “constituents” would donate to their cause.

    Educating the Whole Child and improving schools is surely an issue that affects most Americans.  Yet, almost all these aspirants sent their own children to private schools.  A few stated that when their children were younger they attended public school for a time.  However, more than one mentioned they were glad they later transferred their children to a private institution.  You know how the media can badger a famous offspring. 

    Global warming is definitely a crisis.  The rise in water temperature directly correlates to our use of oil.  Nonetheless, little was proposed beside fuel efficiency.  Our dependence on petroleum will likely not be dealt with.  Candidates that ask Americans to sacrifice their cushy lifestyle may not be electable.

    There is so much more to ponder and peruse than electability.  Please, let us do and be more, our planet, people, young, and old depend on us.  I invite you to read the plans of each Presidential hopeful.  Do not glance at only the proposals of those you think pretty enough to pass the electability test.  Remember this is a primary election, not the general and final opportunity to cast your ballot.

    Tell the Presidential entrants what is really important to you before it is too late.  You may recall, in 2000, George W. Bush thought George W. Bush was a likable guy.  He had a record; the junior Bush was Governor of a large state.  That is certainly impressive.  He was personable, in good shape.  His wife was cute. In 2000, people voted for a personality.  Powerful political plans were thought to be less important.  Witness our current circumstances and then consider.

    Now, we have a chance to be more cautious.  We can choose carefully.  Each of us could tell the candidates where we really stand.  You, dear reader, might express what you need. Perchance, the primary election could be as it was intended to be, an opportunity to tell your Party what you, we, I value.  The national Party can shape a platform, rather than rely on one individual to determine what is best for us, everyone of us, as a whole.  This primary election could demonstrate the power of the people, or . . .

    Alternatively, Americans can do as is done in the Information Age.  Citizens can profess to be educated and vote for the candidate they think will win, regardless.  We can presume that a participant understands our experiences, that essentially, he or she has the qualities we desire.  However, if we do not take advantage of the primary process, use this time to familiarize ourselves with the aspirants one by one, face to face when possible, if we do not remember and acknowledge this is not the general election, we will get what we accept, an impressive image.

    Primary, Secondary Sources . . .

  • Democratic Debate, July 23, 2007. Cable News Network. 
  • Race For the White House. Cable News Network.
  • Presidential Debates. Cable News Network.
  • States vying to vote early primary primacy, Presidential primary muddle could reshape entire campaign. By James O’Toole,  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Sunday, January 28, 2007
  • Democrats’ Litmus: Electability, Key Issue for 2008 Race Poses Hurdles for Clinton, Obama. By Jackie Calmes. The Wall Street Journal. January 11, 2007
  • pdf Democrats’ Litmus: Electability, Key Issue for 2008 Race Poses Hurdles for Clinton, Obama. By Jackie Calmes. The Wall Street Journal. January 11, 2007
  • Dems shouldn’t put all of their eggs in the ‘electability’ basket, By Walter Shapiro.  USA Today. November 4, 2003
  • Your voice to be heard in historic debates. Cable News Network.
  • White House 2008: General Election. Polling Report.
  • Bush: No early Iran-Syria talks. British Broadcasting Company. December 7, 2006
  • Bush must be told: talk to your enemies, By Denis MacShane.  The Observer. Sunday November 12, 2006
  • John Edwards road-tests poverty theme, By Mark Z. Barabak.  Los Angeles Times. July 13, 2007
  • pdf John Edwards road-tests poverty theme, By Mark Z. Barabak.  Los Angeles Times. July 13, 2007
  • Obama Narrows Gap With Clinton, By John Harwood. The Wall Street Journal. April 26, 2007; Page A6
  • pdf Obama Narrows Gap With Clinton, By John Harwood. The Wall Street Journal. April 26, 2007; Page A6
  • 2008: 7/23 straw poll results. By Kos.  Daily Kos. July 23, 2007
  • Edwards: Wife’s cancer returns, campaign goes on. Cable News Network. March 23, 2007
  • Defending Dean’s Scream, It Just Wasn’t That Weird, By Dick Meyer. CBS News. January 23, 2004
  • Thomas F. Eagleton, 77, a Running Mate for 18 Days, Dies. By Adam Clymer. The New York Times. March 5, 2007
  • The Health and Medical History of Richard M. Nixon. Doctor Zebra.
  • Reaction Shots May Tell Tale of Debate, Bush’s Scowls Compared to Gore’s Sighs. By Dana Milbank. Washington Post. Saturday, October 2, 2004; Page A10
  • Kerried Away, The Myth and Math of Kerry’s Electability. By William Saletan. Slate. Wednesday, February 11, 2004, at 12:41 AM ET
  • A New Compact to Educate the Whole Child. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Online poll: Bush is likable. By Michael D. Clark. The Cincinnati Enquirer. September 10, 2000
  • Democrats Debate; Directed By Cable News Network


    CNN/YouTube Debate: Part 1 a

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    Last evening we had an opportunity to assess the candidates, or perhaps their performance, produced and directed by Cable News Network. 

    Please, scan the stage.  Be a critic, an analyst, or a theorist.  Study the mis-en-scéne.  Attempt to separate yourself from your political philosophy and your preferred candidate.  What do you see?  Examine the lighting, the colors contenders choose to wear, or the producers suggested they might don.

    Observe the camera angles, and discern whom the audience is directed to consider the main character in this performance.  Supporting actors also fill the scene.  There are those clearly staged as background players.  Might you recognize these.

    In every concert, there is a climax.  All that precedes it is foreshadowing.  The dramatist walks the viewers through the set.  Each moment builds on the other.  Every event is planned in hopes of maximizing the effect.  Sequencing is important.  The first entrance is often more memorable, only the close of the play supercedes the introduction.

    As a member of the audience, as an objective observer, what causes you to marvel.  Do the speeches dazzle you, or does the “point of view” affect your ability to choose what interests you.  Are you mesmerized?  Perhaps, a few dominant deliveries distract you or the absence of others disturbs your sensibility.  Remember, to truly be an effective reviewer you must do what no human can, separate your heart and heady soul from this scene.  Report as though you have no care in the world . . . if that is possible.