Dump Duncan. The Power of a Plan versus Petition

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

The Powell Plan understood what the Dump Duncan advocates seem to have missed.  “The Medium is the Message.”  Melodic Messages such as “Freedom” and “Individual Choice” Move the Masses. Move the Masses. Money is less Meaningful than a Mission that Gives Voice to a Shared Vision.

What does a memorandum scribed more than a two score ago have to do with a present-day petition?  Everything!  Granted, on the surface there are few if any similarities beyond the veracity that each addresses education.   One is an archaic collection of suggestions.  The other is a contemporary polemic petition.  The latter has an immediate punch.  The language is forceful.  The sentiments are fervent.  Signers of the Dump Duncan supplication submit, we “wish to express our extreme displeasure,” followed by a threat. “It is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless…”  The plea is addressed solely to the President of the United States, Barack Obama.  The former, known as The Powell Memo, while a quiet communiqué, became a catalyst for lasting and profound change.    The latter “Dump Duncan!” document, however, will likely die a quiet death.  Why might this be?

A word; which has a wide appeal, propagates the Powell dossier. “Freedom.” The stance silently stated and shared with many was “the truth is that freedom as a concept is indivisible.” Indeed, even those who wish to Dump Duncan might agree.  After all, endorsers of Duncan initiative seek also emancipation.  Signatories seek freedom from No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top mandates and the man who enforces such unyielding legislation.

Freedom is a concept that resonates within us all.  However liberty from this particular Secretary of Education does little to excite most Americans.  In truth, despite a devotion to Party or position innumerable individuals think Arne Duncan is doing a fine job.  Thus the reason the Dump Duncan dictum did little to move the masses.  Meanwhile, the Powell Manifesto moved and moves us all, like a ghost never gone with the wind.

Readers respond to what is relatable, the Powell proclamation.  The “views expressed…tentative and suggestive” sparked a flame. Insidiously, the intensity of the fire grew and grew.  Today, the nation is ablaze.  Intent on privatization, a select few ultimately persuaded a nation.  Millions of individual men, women, and children, acceded to the need to transform our schools.  

Once the initial mission was accomplished the quest did not end.   It was never meant to as is evident in the statement; “Recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival – survival of what we call the free enterprise system, and all that this means for the strength and prosperity of America and the freedom of our people.”  It is essential to realize as the Writer, an Industrialist highly involved in multiple Boards of Education did.  Even Educators fight for survival.  Teachers, parents too, want the right to choose.  Everyone does.  In America, few are ready or willing to reject what is prized, the Entrepreneurial spirit.  Citizens, and those who flock to the States, celebrate what Capitalism symbolizes.  We cherish independence and the possibility that as an individual we too can succeed.

Thus as it has been for decades; society and the world, followed the lead first fashioned in the subdued Powell epistle.  Indeed, were it not for the effectiveness of this treatise, there would be no Dump Duncan plea.  The Powell Memo or at least what some consider a transformative version of it, would have been but a whisper, lost in the past.

The Powell Plan understood what the Dump Duncan advocates seem to have missed.  “The Medium is the Message.”  Melodic Messages such as “Freedom” and “Individual Choice” Move the Masses. Money is far less Meaningful.  Convince the people that what they want is what they need and can have and the world, education and equity reform will be your oysters.

Beyond a Broad Appeal.  Saper  Vedere. To know how to see.”

Justice Powell had sight, hindsight, foresight, and insight.  Lewis F. Powell had a vision, a message to impart.  He mapped out the elements that comprise the essence of an effective campaign.  The Corporate Lawyer understood the core of a fine argument.  It is vital to gain people’s confidence, utilize any and all available medium, and the case is yours.  Mister Powell’s thoughts can be summarized in a phrase, as Marshall McLuhan articulated before him, “The Medium is the message!” This truism translates to ‘Market to the masses.’  Do not miss a moment.  Broad appeal is the aim.  “Public relations” equates to relate to the public. Meet their needs and wants, one individual at a time.  

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.  “Television.” Radio. Periodicals. “The Scholarly Journals.” “Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets.” “Paid Advertisements.” Pronouncements are powerful; that is if a presenter or presentation is profound and present in every conversation.  The essential elements need be pervasive and persuasive.  Expression matters more than what is expressed.  However, these fundamentals alone may not be enough to sway the people.  The ultimate strength is found in “freedom.”

People need to feel as though whatever their thoughts, these were arrived at independently, and after much analysis.  Thus, the message must appear on every avenue, in each forum and discussion.  Omnipresence affords infinite opportunities.  In time, ideas are internalized.

For Powell and his pals the hope was the public might see and surmise that it was time for a change.  Surely, the average America was aware, or would be with a little help from free-market friends, there had been a triumphant broad-based “Attack on the American Enterprise System.” In his personal assessment of the past, Lewis Powell penned what his business partners also believed.  He outlined the dimension, sources, and tone of the assault on entrepreneurship.  The eventual Supreme Court Justice also gave voice to “The Apathy and Default of Business.”  Much as a frustrated Teacher might say at present.  Colleagues frequently feel that coworkers are overly compliant, unconcerned, or just too comfortable with what is.

All those decades ago, Barrister Powell, advanced a societal shift…a move from a perceived attack on American Free Enterprise to an engineered assault on public opinion, especially as it relates to education and equity.  Perhaps, we can best understand how this played out by way of an analogy.  Contemporary anecdotes may offer just the “saper vedere” we need.  

Medium Builds a Movement Beyond Magnates or Mentors

On the Surface, Seen in the Cinema

We can see the contrast and consequences of a vision acted upon when we observe what occurs in our theatres.  The regard for films such as Waiting For Superman versus ‘American Teacher, narrated by Matt Damon tell a part of the tale.

Actor, Director, and Author, Matt Damon has a name and fame.  Millions express an interest in the man, his career, and subscribe to the quests Damon undertakes.  His work sells.  However, the movie American Teacher was never a box-office success.  The motion picture was barely a blip on the national radar.  It is as the Dump Duncan appeal, only acknowledged by academics, classroom teachers and their allies.

The American Teacher is not alone in the film world.  Other productions have attempted to tell a tale about education, just as  Waiting For Superman does.  Several flicks evoke sniffles a technique used effectively in the Guggenheim creation.   Race To Nowhere, and August To June, bring audiences into the lives of little ones, as does Superman.  In each production, viewers can and do relate to real-life “characters.”  Thus, the theory that the  much-acclaimed movie was a tearjerker, and therefore, a success does not hold.  

Through each production, we feel the pain in pupils and parents.  School life offers stress as well as success.  The circumstances in one or the others are all too familiar.  Any of us who has yearned to learn, especially as children, fears being told that we, or our work is a failure. Empathy is a strong emotion evoked as we watch the stories unfold on a silver screen. People relate to what mothers and fathers feel.  When a young one stumbles, falls, and pick them selves up again we bleed then believe.  Then, why might it be that one of the movies has a mammoth following?  Why is Waiting For Superman present in the public’s collective mind?

Obviously, we cannot surmise that documentaries do less well; Waiting is of this genre.  It is a “factual” film, dependent on your personal perspective.  Yet, it has received awards, accolades, and is much appreciated. The essential difference came in the form of backers.  Not only did the message speak to the magnitude of the desire for freedom, Free-Enterprise proponents promoted the production.  Any policy or presentation that appeals to marketers is as a Muse.  Inspired Industrialists will happily be advance-persons and advertise programs that push an agenda of “Choice.”

In actuality, frame after frame of Waiting for Superman circulated in Corporate Board rooms. Audiences of Chief Executives gathered to assess the much-acclaimed film.  Staffers were called to view.  Won over by the medium, and the message, word spread.  Ah, the wildfire that today is ablaze.  Soon audiences attended screenings in droves.  Showings were held not solely in theatres, but in homes, town halls, and youth centers.  Clubs used the film as fundraiser draws.

Behind the Scenes. In the Streets and In Corporate Suites

Money. Money. Money! Does not a Movement Make

Such was the fate of the Powell Memo and its mantra as well.  Interestingly enough, the two [Which two?]share the same message; privatize! Each was sponsored by big businesses.  

In the case of the push for the Powell Plan, there were many movers and shakers.  US Steel, GE, GM, Phillips Petroleum, 3M, Amway, American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Columbia Broadcasting Services (CBS) were actors of note.  

The latter two of these enterprises could and did weave a tapestry that told the tale of privatization in all its glory.  Lights, cameras, action mixed with a bit of adversity, adventure, triumph, and special effects, surely tell this American  folkloric story successfully.  

Witness Waiting For Superman.  It too had and has phenomenal partners.  Glance at a revered registry, Organizations Making a Difference for Waiting For Superman.  The Gates, Broad and Walton Family Foundations are primary partners in the popular plots.   (Please explore their areas of interest and influence.  Click on the stack of dollars in Under the Influence; Big Education Spenders to see behind the scenes.)

Consider Merit Pay and Charter Schools.  Powerful privatization promoters subsidize vouchers too, just as they did the movie.  All fall are under the influence of the influential.  

Perchance unexpected, although equally compatible with the Entrepreneurial agenda are federally “funded” programs such as Race To the Top, and No Child Left Behind.  These donors, and more benefactors sponsored the film and were intimately involved in Arne Duncan’s Renaissance 2010 Chicago School Miracle Story.  

The marriage between moneyed and governement bureacracies is a long and enduring, mutually beneficial engagement, one Lewis F. Powell proposed.  Plese recall, Mister Powell, unlike Dump Duncaneers, saw the pertinence of no left stone unturned.

Corporations fund alliances such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),”the nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators.  This organization, as many other conservative collectives, was born of the inspirational ideology found in Powell’s prose. Corporate-controlled task forces within ALEC address issues from education to health policy. Legislation introduced by this dominion in recent sessions complements the agenda voiced in theePowell doctrine and in the documentary, “Waiting For Superman.” Privatize education. Break unions, such as the Teacher’s.  Deregulate major industries, inclusive of the institution known as public schools.

As many might be aware, in 2011, in 2012, and as is expected to be in the future, America’s public education system has evolved.  For-profit venture Capitalist sought and found homes in America’s “public” schools.  The key to schoolhouse doors was opened with the turn of a phrase, the one found throughout the Powell Memo.  “Freedom!”  

Independence and individual choice.  The music from Powell’s Manifesto prospered

While the immediate response might be “Follow the money.”  Frequently we find funds are not enough to advance a message.  Money does not buy love or a movement.  Consider recent political races and grass-roots actions.

Occupiers grow without gardens of green-backers.  Please ponder a list of abundantly affluent “losers.” Meg Whitman, spent $160 million on her failed bid for Governor of California.  Linda McMahon depleted her bank account with a $47 million withdraw.  Her belief was she could purchase a Connecticut Senatorial seat.  Microsoft Vice President Suzan DelBene tried to procure a position in the Washington House.  Well over two million dollars later, the candidate   was defeated.  In the 2012 Grand Old Party Presidential races we have often seen that dollars do not get the job done. Thus, we must wonder; as Lewis Powell did, what is it about a film or a philosophy that allows it to spread?  It is the meduim and the essence of the message.  “Freedom!”

Does it have a beat that harmonizes with that of an individual’s heart.  “Liberty!”  Sing it loud!  “Choice.” Chime in.  People on the Left, Right, Middle and Independent spirits do.

Melodic Messages Move the Masses.  The Choir. The Chorus and Choice

Free Enterprize! Freedom. Individual Choice. “Education  and Equity,” as envisioned and eloquently expressed by entreprenuerial edification deformers, is areality embraced by the public.  Yes, please, the people say, we must put Students First.   Educator need to Teach For America.

The opportunity to choose the best school for our offspring is one any, every, and  likely all mothers and fathers covet.  Our President understands this.  Mister Obama often cites his own circumstance when he speaks of the issue. Just as persons who actively advocate for “School Choice” Barack Obama wants to provide his progengy with the finest education he can.  The variance comes only in how this might be achieved politically through policy.

No one can deny that consistently, Barack Obama, just as Arne Duncan, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, Michelle Rhee, the American Legislators Executive Council (ALEC) and a majority of “we the people” hold dear the prospect of Charter Schools.  Vouchers are the aspect of School Choice that the Administration rejects.  Only Dump Duncaneers and/or persons who support an authentic preservation and transformation of public education object to owner operated Education Management Organization Charter Schools and Vouchers.

We might surmise the  intial bipartisan hug over No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top was born out of a love for accountability.  Indeed, even today, Teachers, their Unions, those who see the woes of high-stakes testing, and some who acknowledge the abundant stress these bring, justify a need for “accountability.”  “Sophistication” of the standards appears to be the point of contention.  As a whole, very few believe that education and equity can be sustained without some sort of quantifiable measure.  Perhaps, those who do never sat in the pews occupied by the broader population.

Barack Obama, alongside his friend, Arne Duncan did.  The two hummed the hymn as the High Priests and Priestess, sang.  Affluent families attended the church and stood with common parishioners as they  kneeled and prayed.  As the Good Book says, Moms and Dads must have the prerogative to choose what is best for their children.

Thus, there is reason to believe.  The Powell Plan understood what the Dump Duncan advocates seem to have missed.  “The Medium is the Message.”  Melodic Messages such as “Freedom” and “Individual Choice” Move the Masses. Money is less Meaningful than a Mission that Gives Voice to a Shared Vision.

References and Readings…

Mitt, My Good Man





Romney: Rivals’ attacks a ‘good warm-up’

copyright © 2012 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Dearest Mitt . . .

I am unsure if we have had the pleasure of an in-person exchange.  I too travel in political circles.  However, I do not recall.  Perhaps we met in the past.  I trust I have done business with you and your firm, Bain Capital.  Bravo on your successes.

Please allow me to introduce myself by way of this letter.  This morning, I caught a glimpse of your Today Show interview with Matt Lauer.  I heard you speak of the exaggerated envy now heard on the campaign trail.  Oh, my friend Mitt, how I relate. If I might; well stated my man. People do want what they do not have. First Bain, then the White House.  Indeed, one Chief Executive position ensured that you were a world power.  The other is but a natural transition. Instead of having a seat at the table of global influence, as President of the United States, you, old man, will own the table.

I concur with the thought expressed in the title of a Wall Street Journal Mitt.  The Bain Capital Bonfire. Romney has a good story to tell, if he’s willing to tell it. Might you have read the account my friend?  The treatise speaks of the gains and losses, signature events in our glorious Capitalist system.  You know the tale dear Mitt and I trust you will articulate it well. I look forward to the day when you share it with me personally; perhaps, over dinner.  Until then, may I offer my own anecdote.  It speaks of why I do not envy you.

Mitt, my man, I am an extremely wealthy individual.  Granted, financially, I have had my share of ups and downs.  At birth, I was born into money.  My father, Michael, had been a very poor young man.  One of thirteen children, the son of first generation Americans, Michael had to work his way to the top.  

Michael enrolled in University. He may have been the first in his family.  He completed his degree in Accounting.  Michael sought and realized Certification.  Then, “visionary” that he was Michael opened his own business. The man was an expert at making money.  He made millions for his client and much for himself.  Ultimately, his firm grew and grew.  

At the time of my birth, my parents lived in a large house on a hill.  The estate was built only a year before.  “Mother” designed the private residence herself.  She chose the neighbor and the acreage.  It was a beautiful plot of land, rolling hills, a deep forest to roam through.  I used to  wander the woods for hours on end.

As a seedling, conceived in a Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite, you might correctly imagine that, as  a child, my clothes were all New York designer collections.  My backyard playground was furnished with the finest swing sets.  We had two.  Sliding boards, climbing bars, and seesaws as well.  Among my favorite toys was not a plaything at all.  Made of wood, large and spacious, a cabin graced the grounds.  Outside of my little log home was a sandbox.  The container for tiny grains did not sit on a lawn. No. the box was built deep into the soil. When I sat within, a portion of my body might appear buried below the surface of the land.  Did I mention the whirly-bird? Oh, Mitt, my life was a child’s delight . . . or so it might have appeared.

I trust any child would have been envious of me, all that I had, and did daily. We vacationed often. A skating weekend here, days away at a resort . . . Sun and fun. Snow and frolic.  ate at the best restaurants regularly. My “father” owned one, that is, in name only.  The Penthouse was an investment made on a client’s behalf.   Taxes, title exchanges. . . shelters and such.   I am sure you understand old man.

My Mom too lived a lovely life. She had no need to work.  Philanthropic endeavors were her want.  Dressed to the nines, she volunteered hither and yon.  At times, the women would play. Bowling. Cards. Shopping.  Mommy was active in many an organization.  Religious affiliations were a wondrous source of shared pleasure.  Father’s career was furthered through the associations.  Mother made friends with the women during daylight hours.  In the evening, the men would join their wives at a club.  On countless occasions, a bigger bash was planned.  

Often, my parents hosted these.  The best china, the finest crystal, and oh the food.  Catered gourmet delicacies filled every room.  As a tot, I would sneak out of my room and “steal” a snack. Sure to be noticed, I was met with a smile and “Is she not so cute?”

Cute? Charming? Endearing? So it might seem. Reason for envy? Absolutely!  That is, if it were true.  Yes, the tale is accurate.  The account is my life.  However, as blissful as it might sound, as beautiful as it might be or have been, it was not.  There were hidden hurts.  

I was a spoiled child. Not spoiled, overindulged or a tike with too much.  I had nothing! There was no love. My parents had no time for me. The two hired a woman to raise me before I was born.  I was given everything, anything my little heart desired, except a connection.  Try as I might, I could not bond with my parents.  I had elder sisters. However, they too abandoned me prior to my first appearance in their home.  

The pair was forever busy.  Each had friends who were surely more fun than a baby sibling.   Fine fabrics hung in their closets and were worn on their backs.  Their bedrooms were as full as their lives without me.  While it may seem that only I was unhappy in this home, in this family, at the age of eight and one half, I discovered the truth.

Ten days after my parents wedding anniversary, my Mom walked out!  I was eight.  My sisters were much older.  It was a Sunday. The five of us were it the same eatery we dined at each Sunday, just as we had for years.  We just ordered dinner when my eldest sibling asked for her allowance.  Mother said she could not have it until she cleaned her room.  Father, on the other hand, assured her she would never need to clean.  He would forever furnish her with a Maid and of course, her pocket money  

I will not bore you with the details or the drama, my friend.  Suffice to say, my mother looked across the table at her selfish children, her moneyed husband whose sincerest interest was to have more, and decided she wanted none of it.  Mommy rose from the table.  Walked towards the door and then, through it.  She left!  Stunned, the rest of us sat there for a minute.  I wonder; was my father thinking of the food that had yet to arrive, or . . .

I will never know. He never spoke to me much.  The next day he did tell us to clean our rooms. We did, but it was too late.  Mother was determined to make a life for herself and any of us who wished to join her.  For a time, there were two of us children.  My eldest sister and I elected to be with our Mom and her new husband, the man I finally felt I could call Dad.

While Mommy was awarded child support and alimony, she refused each.  Barbara wanted none of Michael’s “Dirty Money!” She had had enough of what she characterized as “ill gotten gains.”  That was the reason she chose to give it all up.  We moved to another State and to other than a wealthy suburb.  Our family of four lived a far different life than the one we had always known.  We were poor, dirt poor.

Living on $1500 a year . . . Yes, you read that right. Fifteen-hundred a year for a family of four.  Welfare knocked on our door and said, “You need to apply for financial assistance.  You are eligible.” However, my parents refused.  Mommy wanted no handouts.  Daddy yearned to make it on his, our own.  Mommy gardened.  Daddy did all our household repairs.  Logan returned to school and also worked for meager wages.  Mother too secured a position.  You might recall the once vibrant five and dime, W.T. Grant and Company. Mommy’s employee  discount helped.  The woman who for a score purchased her lingerie at Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bonwit Teller’s and other  exclusive establishments bought my first brassiere at Grant’s.

As a child in this newer reality, I was allowed one new outfit in the Fall of the year, for the first day of school and one in the Spring.  Chic, expensive, exceptional and elegant designs? Not anymore.  There were no dollars for such fabulous duds.  Next to nothing at little cost would have to do.  This was true in every aspect of life.

Mommy grew vegetables. Daddy helped.  All our produce was fresh grown.  Breads, pies, cakes and cookies all came out of the family oven.  Store bought goodies were a luxury we could not afford.  Later, Daddy took up fishing.  Even before that, all our entrees were prepared from scratch. Meals were a time for conversation and connections. At last, I was connected!!!!!  That is rich; a richness I envied whenever and wherever I saw it.  Ultimately, I had it! With not a dime to my name, I had love!  I was loved!!!!!!  Mitt, I trust you likely think you have love as well, and money, and that is the reason others feel envious.  Again, I relate to your reality my friend Mitt.

Over the years, wealth once again became part of my life, or perhaps more accurately, in my Mom’s life, by extension, I too had enough. The family moved to another magnificent house.  A panoramic window looked out onto the ocean. The neighbors were highly educated, esteemed, experts in their respective fields.  You know Mitt; they were our kind of people.

While our life was similar to what it was in earlier, years it was not as it had ever been. The difference; this time was our greenbacks were clean!  We laughed often at our lot in life as we do now upon reflection.  So my friend, I do not envy you.  I have and want not.  Oh certainly Mitt, I, as most humans might, enjoy nice “things.”  I acknowledge that is far easier when earnings are great.  However; while I never expected to quote Governor Rick Perry, in this moment I will.  “There is a real difference between Venture Capitalism and Vulture Capitalism.”  My personal experience Mitt is: A vulture capitalist eats children and families.  A venture capitalist feeds people so that they might prosper.  A free market Entrepreneur wishes to ensure that every person, one and all, have the earnings necessary to live well.

References and Resources . . .

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The Unstoppables; Bill and Hill



US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

How do you stop a train that long ago left the station?  How might you un-ring a bell that rang weeks months, or even years, before you knew the chord was struck?  How can a countryman, or woman rewrite history?  How might a Clinton, or two reclaim entrance into the White House?  Perhaps, she [or he] has already done what, since Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination, no one expected.  The Clintons have found a way through the front door of the White House prior to 2012.  Days ago, President-elect Obama met with Hillary Clinton to discuss her role, and her husband’s, in the Oval Office and in international affairs.  Senator Clinton emerged as the candidate for Secretary of State.

While Americans voted for change in 2008, and millions cast aside even the politics of past Democrats, the Clintons included, Barack Obama calculated his choice for this most senior position would be his former antagonist, Hillary Clinton.  Some reports say the New York Senator requested time to think.  Other accounts suggest the Obama Administration asked only for her thoughts.  What might Hillary Clinton wish to pursue.  As the hours pass there is one certainty.  “Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has engaged three prominent lawyers to help President-elect Barack Obama vet her candidacy for Secretary of State.”

Several within the President Elects inner circle were critical of the possible appointment.  Advisers to the former First Lady said nothing is definite.  Senator Clinton will weigh whether to take the job if President-elect Obama offers it.   Yet, it seems the die has been cast.  Senator Clinton and her spouse have secured the powerful position of Secretary of State.

Breathless with consternation, numerous inquire; is there a way for one small individual to sway a gargantuan group who controls what was and will be our government?  Countless fear not.  It seems the Clintons will once again control policy, people, and alter the political landscape planet wide.

Momentum builds.  A rolling stone, or a rumor, gathers no moss.  When a report is not immediately rescinded, we must accept, as frequently occurs, gossip grows into reality.  Hence, scores conclude, Hillary Clinton will be the next Secretary of State.

The way is cleared.  Only the justifications need to be formalized.  Qualms need to be calmed.  One cabinet job would put focus on “Two Clintons.” That circumstance cannot be corrected, and perhaps, the President-elect would not wish to alter what is.  Some say the status of a former Commander, well-connected would benefit the soon-to-be current.

“He’s a former President of the United States. He’s been traveling around the world, and he’s got his foundation and a lot of foreign policy efforts going on,” proclaims Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton’s former Chief of Staff.  The current Professor of public policy, Mister Panetta pronounces, “What they will have to obviously be careful of are the potential conflicts that might appear.”

Conflicts may extend to interests, investments, and the invisible hand of another American widely considered a world leader.  In the past, the President may call upon another former United States Chief Executive for advice.  He, or she might ask for counsel, or invite the previous President to serve as an envoy.  However, if, as proposed, the once Head of State sleeps with and sings sweet nothings in the ear of the current Secretary of State, it may be a challenge for Premiers and Prime Ministers to determine which President presides. A nation in negotiations must be confident; the person they speak with communicates the preferences that take precedence in policy decisions.

Rogues often rise from rolls in the hay.  “You want to be able to determine when you are going to make use of a former president in terms of foreign policy or trying to help on particular issues. That can be a very powerful tool if it’s used well,” Professor Panetta advised. “It has to be used with discretion. Delicate details in an intimate relationship cannot be ignored, particularly when more than passion is at stake.  Lives can be lost on the turn of a phrase.  A United States President, be his name Bill or Barack, must not forget how much influence he has in and out of the bedroom.

Charles Hill, a Professor at Yale, perceives a possible peril if Hillary Clinton is appointed Secretary of State.  The scholar, Hill explained, the former President’s constant presence could lead some world leaders to question the authority of the new Commander-In-Chief.  As he attempted to digest the dynamics, Charles Hill asserted, “He’s got to maintain his stature. He should not want Bill Clinton getting all the ink or Hillary Clinton.”  

The ink may have already been put to paper and dried.  Deeds may be done and decisions made.  Hence, Professor Hill’s concern for supposed sins may only be academic.  Nevertheless, he states, the selection would violate “one of the cardinal rules of foreign policy: “Secretaries of State don’t deal with ex-presidents.  And if they do, the White House raps their knuckles.””

A slap of the hand, a slight blow to the wrist, a reprimand, or a retort will not change what has been a constant in the life of Hillary Clinton.  Bill will not be removed; her resolve will also remain.  

Hillary Rodham Clinton the oft-perceived to be a hawk, will deliver dictums if or when she chooses.  As she told Barack Obama in a recent debate when he remarked, it was difficult for him to know who he was running against, Bill or Hill, she replied, “Well, I am here, he is not.”  To that then Senator Obama said as Heads of States may say tomorrow, should Hillary Clinton become Secretary of State, “It is hard to tell who I am running against [or working with] sometimes.”

The sensibility expressed by Barack Obama in earlier times is not singular.  It has been stated and said again.  When an individual associates with the Clintons, direct dialogues are reported to be other than those involved thought the circumstances to be.  Some might say, for the Clintons, the shortest distance between an ambition and an accomplishment is often an indistinguishable path.

As an assistant to the Senator, a former 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue aide stated, when First Lady, Hillary Clinton learned how to be effective as a “backdoor diplomat,”  Now, through her characteristically tough talk, the once Presidential aspirant intends to acquire what might arguably be considered the keys to the second most powerful position in the world.  

A few prominent persons at home and abroad may muse Senator Clinton is not the best choice.  Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province might say as he had in March when Senator Clinton and her supporters exaggerated her foreign experience record, this is a “wee bit silly.”  Nonetheless, Barack Obama never asked the man who truly brought tranquility to his homeland of Hillary Clinton’s talents.  Had he, he might have heard the tale,

“I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around,” Lord Trimble reflected.  In the Spring of this election year, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient pondered then recent statements about Hillary Clinton being deeply involved.  His conclusion was, the rhetoric was “the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets” during elections.  “She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience.  I don’t want to rain on the thing for her but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player.”

Perhaps, David Trimble is correct.  However, Hillary and her adept assistant have capably adopted a different  perspective; Senator Clinton mastered “a lot of the intricacies of these issues before ever joining the Senate’s Armed Services committee.  She’s tough; she had meetings with some Prime Ministers and Presidents where she had to deliver some blunt messages for us.”  Perchance, in the past, the world leader who received most of her brusque communications was her husband Bill.  

This appointment would provide her far greater opportunities to be brash with world leaders.  As benevolent as Barack Obama may wish to be in his appointments, as Lincolnesque as he longs to be, it may be wise to consider the wars Hillary Clinton welcomes, her words, and President Elect Obama’s own  experiences of the dynamic duo of Bill and Hill.  The actual person, the personality, and the prospect of what Senator Clinton brings to the world stage, may not be as magnificent as the former President-elect Obama, First couple, or their supporters would wish us to believe.  

While granted, a team of rivals who work together may be reminiscent of the illustrious words of President Lincoln, “We are not enemies, but friends … Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” human emotions may not evoke “the better angels of our nature.”  People, personas, and the power they seek may have wings, and wants more fragile than a seraph.

Confident in his current role, perhaps, the President Elect forgets.  In May 2008, he bellowed, Hillary Clinton has the “bluster” of President Bush.  It is she who was ready to obliterate Iran if provoked, or Senator Obama, if he stood in her way.  

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Hillary Clinton, not Bill, offered the statement “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran [if it attacked Israel].”  The former Presidential challenger, when she thought she had a chance to sit in the Oval Office and commands said, “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”  Given the opportunity to retract her words, the potential Secretary of State did not.  

“Massive retaliation” is the message Hillary Clinton chose to cling to.  The then Presidential hopeful did not waver.  Hillary Clinton confirmed her truth, reprisals are needed.  Talk of diplomacy was for Senator Clinton naive.

Then, the candidate the people chose to govern expressed a divergent thought.  Barack Obama emphatically stated, “We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber-rattling and tough talk, and in the meantime have made a series of strategic decisions that have actually strengthened Iran.”  Being more sensitive to slights, Mister Obama offered, “[I]t is important that we use language that sends a signal to the world community that we’re shifting from the sort of cowboy diplomacy, or lack of diplomacy, that we’ve seen out of George Bush.”  In what now appears to be ancient wisdom, the one, or that one that Americans elected to act with restraint affirmed, “[T]his kind of language is not helpful.”  Tis true!

Barack Obama may wish to recall the rants and rage expressed by Senator Clinton not so long ago.  The President-elect might ponder beyond Bill.  Hillary Clinton, on her own, now wishes to serve in an alternative capacity.  However, as she attested to through words and actions, she is her own master.  She will posit her own positions, irregardless of who might be her President, Bill or Barack.  Might it be mused, Hillary Rodham Clinton will officiate, cooperate, or obliterate, whatever she may choose.

Post Script . . .

I know not what to do with my frustration.  Do I merely restate what others have said before I put pen to paper?  I tried to, many times.  In frustration, I have walked away from a composition that expounds upon futile arguments.  I relent.  Barack Obama offered Hillary Clinton a position in his Cabinet.  He proposed she might be our next Secretary of State.  Now he and his transition team vet the New York Senator and her spouse.  However, in truth, as I assess recent history and recall that Hillary Rodham did not wish to be considered for Vice President unless . . . thus, I presume the mere consideration is a confirmation.

For days, the White House transition team told no tales.  They did not confirm hearsay.  Nor did they deny the talk.  Hillary Clinton was offered a Cabinet position in the Obama Administration.  Ultimately, after much speculation, word came down from senior sources unknown.  The former First Lady is “under consideration.” Hillary Clinton will have to decide whether she wishes to abandon her Senate career and pursue another path.

The signs say she is interested.  The smile at a Press Conference as she discussed the possibility, the saucy statements, the legal assistance she provided the transition team, all say ‘Sure, I would love to be Secretary of State.’. Hence, countless conclude.  Hillary Rodham Clinton is the one, the person who will serve at the pleasure of President-elect Obama, and I can do nothing, but voice my apprehension aloud.

Should Senator Clinton become Secretary of State, America and the world will have to weigh each day what perchance, Barack Obama did not wish to, or thought would not be a problem.  Bill and Hillary Clinton are forces not to be underestimated.  Negotiations are not their forte.  The two favor force and power.  Peace is not the prospect they pursue.   If this train leaves the station, and the bell rings, no one will be able to look back.  The damage will be done.  Perhaps, we will live the truth of the words oft cast, “Past is prologue.” Woe is me or we.

Sources of Scorn from the possible Secretary of State . . .

60 Minutes with the American People



CBS Video. 60 Minutes 11.16.2008

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

On Sunday night, November 16, 2008, twelve days after an historic Presidential Election, Americans watched the couple who represents the culmination of their efforts.  Barack and Michelle Obama appeared on 60 Minutes.  Journalist Steve Kroft sat with the President-elect and his partner and pondered all that had occurred and would possibly be.  Television screens flickered.  People felt elated, exhausted, energized, or just excited.  Few knew what would come.  However, most agreed, after the 2008 Presidential Election, everything was different.  

Barack Obama was not yet in the Oval Office.  The Illinois Senator’s promises of transformative policies are still not in place.  The transition team had begun its work.  Yet, until the President-Elect takes office nothing official can be done to bring about the pledge of change.  Only hope reigned eternal.  Nonetheless, the world had turned on its axis.  All were altered by what had occurred the night before.  The evidence was perhaps more obvious in the United States.  

A friend, who lives in Chicago, Barack Obama’s hometown, said, as he drove to work on Wednesday morning, November 5, he could not help but notice sanitation workers wore smiles.  Other commuters were more at ease.  Persons in cars were happy to allow pedestrians the right of way.  People on the road did not pass each other in haste.  Genuinely polite postures were adopted on city streets.  

The mad scramble, the race to nowhere, the need to rush was replaced by a pleasant amble.  People on the streets were authentically more polite.  It seemed to my champion in the Midwest, just as it did to me in the South East, America had done the unexpected, the unprecedented, the unpredictable, and for the most part, people were quite pleased with them selves and with the nation as a whole.

Some were shocked to discover a Black man could rise to power, and become President of the United States.  Others were in awe that the man, Barack Obama had not been scared off.  So many political opponents tried to intimidate him.  Any excuse was used to slam and damn the man some thought was not Presidential material.  Barack Obama was too thin, too fat, he did not associate with the “right” people; nor did he reside in a house that befitted his station.

Scandals were floated and filtered through the airwaves; the Illinois Senator was tied to the Chicago machine.  The constitutional lawyer was called a Socialist, and a Communist.  Those who misread reports in prominent periodicals avowed; the then Presidential hopeful palled around with American terrorists.  

As if all that was not enough, the candidate’s complexion was too dark in color.  Yet, for several, Barack Obama was not Black enough.  Threats, from the first, were heard on the campaign trail.  White supremacists, and those who merely believe themselves superior to African-Americans, attempted to put Senator Obama in what they thought to be, his place.  Racism was perhaps the most recognized reason for a possible retreat.  However, it was the one few wished to publicly broach.  Prejudice was perchance the only issue posed that could not be denied.

All the rumors were proved wrong.  Rants were rarely reasonable.  Rage rolled off Barack’s back.  Anger expressed against the person, Barack Obama was thought without cause.  The individual who asked to be President did not personally revile his rivals.  He did not antagonize his adversaries.  Forever calm, Presidential aspirant Obama held his own.  He captivated a country ready for change.

The person who emerged, Barack Obama, and the average people who endorsed him, helped build an American community so powerful, so full of pride, practical, and persuasive, they were able to elect a President.

That action was the change that transformed America.  A supposed “celebrity” did not move millions to go to the polls.  Eloquent speeches did not cause the country to suspend disbelief.  Citizens of this country did not wait in long lines to cast a ballot for a boy wonder.  Eighty-two year old men and women who had never voted in their lives did not register merely because they saw a man they could believe in.  Hope did not enter hallowed halls and bring people to their knees.

What occurred on November 4, 2008 was the American dream.  Apathy virtually ended.  The people took back their power.  Since Election Day 2008, average Americans anticipate that the man they appointed President would do as they desire.  Common folks began to believe they were as the Constitution of the United States declares, equal.  There was a genuine hope; the government was truly of, by, and for the people.

City laborers did not glow with glee as they reflected upon Barack Obama in the White House.  Bus, train, plane, and subway riders did not rejoice merely because the son of a Kenyan scholar, and a Kansas student would take the oath of office.  Nor did millions dance with delight as they pondered the other prideful parent, Michelle Obama, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  A country did not celebrate Grandmother Robinson’s possible move to Washington District of Columbia.  Few found intense pleasure in the notion that the daughters, Sasha and Malia, and a new dog would romp around the Rose Garden.

Billions beamed throughout the globe for finally, everyday folks, at least in America, achieved the impossible.  Common people created enthusiastic communities that together showed they cared.  Masses knocked on millions of doors.  More made telephone calls.  All asked friends and family to have faith that change could come if we, the people, organized and acted together as one.  

The hope was that if the public believed in them selves, as the Presidential aspirant, Barack Obama requested, common folk would overcome all obstacles.  On November 4, 2008, many realized they had reached heights not attainable in year’s prior.

While Barack and Michelle Obama spoke of how the election had altered their lives, the audience trusted, in truth, what was transformed was not evident on the television screen.  Change came through challenging work.  Citizens accomplished more than they had.  Harden hearts were replaced with a reason to believe again.  On Election Day, the people and the nation were transformed.  

On that special Sunday, more than a week after an extraordinary election, the people’s image of self, and others, were seen in the smiles donned by Broadcaster Steve Kroft, Barack and Michelle Obama, by street sweepers, bus drivers, school teachers, stylists, police persons, fire fighters, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and so many more Americans.  Each grinned as they said to themselves, “Yes we can!”

Pure Palin; Sarah Ponders Profusely



Palin One-On-One

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Palin, Palin, Palin.  No matter where you might turn, eyes are on Sarah Palin and her trek.  The Vice Presidential candidate ponders the future, her fun, and the follies of elections.  The Governor does not wince, when she contemplates the win that escaped her and her fellow nonconformist, the man at the head of the ticket John McCain.  Sarah sees no personal failures.  Nor does the Alaskan resident recede when asked of possibilities.  Might she pursue the Presidency, G-d willing.  Sarah ponders it all.  Live, from The Last Frontier, the maverick shares memories and muses of what might be.

Travel hither and yon, on every television screen, nationwide, there she is,  Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.  While she may not have made it to the White House, this time, Sarah is prepared for “twelve.”  The once Mayor of Wasilla likes to refer to the next Presidential Election in 2012 as a familiar number, one she thinks might be her objective.  However, she trusts only G-d can genuinely know what the future will bring.  Sarah Palin has faith.  Doors will open; the Lord will show her the way.  So she said as Americans officially observed Veterans Day, millions more, interest was elsewhere.  

Countless, authentically tuned in to see interviews with Sarah.  On November 10, 2008, six days after she and her fellow Grand Old Party nominee, John McCain conceded in this 2008 election former Vice Presidential candidate Palin appeared on her favorite network news station, Fox.  Greta Van Susteren, goes, or went On the Record with the Governor of Alaska.

The day after, Sarah Palin spoke with Matt Lauer on The Today Show.  Fans of the former Vice Presidential aspirant flocked to their sets.  Countless did not wish to miss a word from the woman they hope will be President some day, Sarah Palin.  As citizens sat on the edge of their seats, they embraced the ambition of the lovely lady they followed since the Republican National Convention.  Many continue to express commitment to the cause; Sarah, Sarah, Sarah!  Certainly, Greta Van Susteren is not only on record with Governor Palin, she is in her home, with her family, and perhaps hopeful that one day this woman will represent America in the Oval Office.



Exclusive Web Video

Governor Palin Part I

Governor Palin Part II

Governor Palin Part III

Governor Palin Part IV

The next day there was more.  Sarah Palin spoke of what preceded her rise to the national stage.  The Governor “gossiped” with a national audience as she came to grips with how her rise to national prominence occurred.  Sarah Palin spoke of the saga Behind the Nomination.  Sarah Palin shared stories of her first encounter with the man she considers a beloved champion, Republican Presidential nominee, and fellow risk-taker, John McCain.

Thankfully, for those who treasure the maverick spirit exemplified in the earnest Sarah Palin, there is much more.  There will be other conversations.  On November 12, 2008, only a day later, Wolf Blitzer will air his substantive interview with the Grand Old Party Governor, Sarah Palin.  The broadcaster will ask Sarah of her goals, her dreams, her hopes, and perhaps those of her base, the real Americans.  Until then, citizens can commune with her cohort, John McCain who sat with Jay Leno, also on Veterans Day.  

It may be apt; veterans, the Vietnam Vet who did or did not vet his first running mate, and Sarah Palin saturate the airwaves on a day reserved for reverence for soldiers who saw a fight.  Please enjoy what for some is entertainment, or election excitement.





America, need not wait long.  The Governor will grab the stage in Miami.  Sarah Palin will keynote at a convention held for Republican Chief Executives.   She will appear with Wolf, Wayne, Jane, and Jack, anyone who will listen.  Sarah Palin is intent.  She will show America she did not lose, and she will not fade quietly into the background.

Sarah Palin, once chosen to stand on the national and international stage will not be left behind.  Fear not fans and followers; Governor, perchance, Senator, and then President, Sarah Palin is here to stay!

To Ponder Palin, Palin, Palin . . .

We Were Warned



The Daily Show: International Male

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Conservatives clamored; if Americans elected Barack Obama as President, unthinkable change would transform the planet as we know it.  Republicans warned, there would be war in the streets throughout the land, people would respond violently.  An international incident would certainly occur.  World leaders would test the “inexperienced” Commander.  Certainly, the Illinois Senator would be stunned, awash in angst.  If Obama were in the Oval Office, it would become more obvious.  He was not prepared to command a country as great as the United States of America.  The people, from every nation would take advantage of the inexperienced leader.

During the campaign, Sarah Palin saw what her constituents feared and capitalized on their concerns.  She addressed the ample alarm from the podium.  When her message was questioned, she retorted, she had proof.  Barack Obama was not equipped to govern.  Governor Palin thanked the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee for the confirmation of her thoughts.  Alaskan Executive Palin pointed to the words of the then Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Biden.  In a Seattle fundraiser, the Foreign Relations expert cautioned,  “We’re gonna find ourselves in real trouble when we get elected.”  

John McCain, the Presidential aspirant, advanced the clamor when he too recounted the prophecy.  “Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

The Confederate Yankee rejoiced when the Delaware Senator stated, “Mark my words;  . . . the world is looking.”  

Persons on the Right could not resist the temptation to omit the full statement, “‘They’re going to find this guy’s got steel in his spine.”  Grand Old Party participants knew better.  The Right relentlessly explained, a President Obama would be a risk to the nation.  Indeed, if Barack Obama were Commander-In-Chief, the country would suffer.  The world would not bow at his feet as the American press and people had.`

Republicans ranted; if Barack Obama were placed in the Oval Office, in every part of this planet, adversaries would know, American shores were vulnerable.  The world’s superpower was no longer safe or secure.  Foreign foes would certainly attack.  Traditionalists warned; if Obama were this nation’s Chief Executive, allies would have abundant reason for fear.  McCain and Palin were unwilling to ponder possibilities, such as Six More Foreign-Leader Calls for Obama.  

The two, and those who advocated for them, could not imagine a time when Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, President Lech Kaczynski of Poland and President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan would request a conversation with Commander-In-Chief Barack Obama.  Nor would they wish to.

‘That One,’ Conservatives would remind the public, the Socialist, would not assist American businessmen and women.  Hence, he could not be relied upon to offer relief to other nations.  Traditionalists attested to what they thought fact, an Obama Administration would not advance democracy.  Barack Obama, the Republicans reminded, does not know how to defend a country.  He has never held such a high office.  

The “Right” rejected the notion that John McCain also had not served his country in the White House.  They preferred to posit Palin as the most qualified manager among the four possible Presidential [and vice Presidential] candidates.  After all, Sarah Palin had served as an Administrator.  She managed a city and a state.  She is a beloved leader of substance.  The Governor of Alaska and her supporters, former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani among them, avowed, she could handle the job.  

Another Republican, who earlier deferred to the wisdom of John McCain, Fred Thompson, assured America, Thompson said Palin has the experience needed in Washington.  The American politician called her “a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuit.”

Well, perhaps for those who think politics is but sport and the District of Columbia beltway is but a party for the charismatic who were able to close a deal, the recent competitive row is complete.  The results are in.  The scorecard is now full.  Barack Obama is the successor, and just as the Grand Old Party predicted, the world reacted.  The sentiment can be expressed in but a single word,  “Elation.”

Emotional events in the streets were realized.  They were just not the raucous riots John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Republicans expected  All were peaceful.  People did parade en masse.  No one marched; many danced.

“The New World,” the Times of London declared on its front page, beneath a huge smiling portrait of Obama.

“One Giant Leap for Mankind,” echoed the Sun. . . .

“A lot of people told me they had tears in their eyes last night. I was one of them,” Randa Habib, a Jordanian writer and political analyst, said Wednesday.  . . .

[L]egions of jubilant supporters set off firecrackers in El Salvador, danced in Liberia, and drank shots in Japan. Good wishes went streaming Obama-ward from homemakers in Indonesia . . . and from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who also beat long odds to lead his country.

“Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place,” said one letter addressed simply to “Senator Barack Obama, Chicago.”

Its author: Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, writing to the first black president-to-be of the United States.  . . .

Those inspired by Obama’s origins and accomplishments include French political activist Patrick Lozes, the son of an immigrant from the African nation of Benin.

“This election is going to improve the image the U.S.A. has in our neighborhoods,” Lozes said of France’s heavily Muslim working-class enclaves. “The American dream comes back to life.”

Tens of thousands of Europeans turned out to catch a glimpse of Obama during his tour of the continent over the summer. Many are counting on him to restore a more harmonious relationship between the U.S. and Europe, after recent years of tension over the war in Iraq and matters such as climate change.

A similar hope lives in Mexico, where former Foreign Secretary Jorge Castañeda wrote in Wednesday’s Reforma newspaper: “Obama won, the map of the United States was transformed and for Mexico an extraordinary opportunity has opened . . . because it will be infinitely simpler to be a neighbor, partner and friend of the United States with Obama.”

Republicans are “Right” again.  The world is not as it once was.  People, in every corner of the planet were moved to respond.  Common folk could not be contained.  Presidents, Prime Ministers, powerbrokers, and the populace as a whole were unbound.  The restraints imposed by Grand Old Party rule were broken.  People felt liberated.  Freedom from oppression, rather than fear rang out.  Flags flailed.  Yet, not as forecasted by Conservatives, none were burned when the world realized Barack Obama is America’s President.

References for Republican Rally . . .

From Abomination to Obamanation




To view the original art, please travel to From Abomination to Obamanation

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

With overwhelming voice, Americans have voted to move beyond the dark times of the past eight years. “Yes We Did” (Archive No. 0838). Now, if the nation can just survive the next two months, 17 days, 19 hours, 59 minutes and 42 seconds.

Quick note: I’ll be out of town so no new cartoon next week. Back November 19.

Till then,

Andrew

toon@offthewahl.com

Yes Eddie, There is a country that can!





Watch CBS Videos Online

Obama’s Victory Speech

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

It was the Friday before Election Day 2008.  The sun was low in the sky.  My spirits were also near to the ground.  As the days focused on “change,” turned to months, and near two years, I had begun to lose hope.  Too much time had passed.  The Bush Administration overturned too many laws.  In the recent past, the country had transgressed back into the future.  Others were blissful, certain a better world would come.  I was not confident.  Near an hour before, Eddie, a young man who has lived on Earth for less than a quarter of a century, said he may not vote.  He did not have faith that we, or he, were the change a country could believe in.  for Eddie, “Yes we can” equated to “No he would not.”

Eddie had lost the ability to dream.  As was true for too many Americans, the vision of what could be seemed but an illusion.  For some citizens who, decades earlier, had hoped the country could change, life had become a nightmare.  While this fine fellow may not have experienced a similar sense of dire desperation he did not aspire to do more than he had done.

Twenty-six months earlier, I accidentally discovered Eddie had never participated in an election.  On another occasion, moments after I cast a ballot during a primary campaign, I encountered the knowledgeable fellow. Then, oh so long ago, I learned Eddie had not registered to vote, ever.  When I asked him of his vote in 2006, he admitted, he did not even know an election was held.

I was fascinated, or was I frustrated.  I know not.  I am only certain that more than a year later, when I realized Eddie had submitted his application and received his voter registration card, I was overjoyed.

At that time, Eddie said he only chose to commit to possibly participate in the election process when his college Professor promised he would receive class credit if he registered.  The scholar truly did not expect to feel a deep desire to cast a ballot anytime soon.  Eddie barely paid attention to what went on beyond his personal play.  Parties filled his frame.  Politics, not so much.

Granted, Eddie, an extremely curious soul could carry on a conversation when the discussion turned to government or the economy.  However, way back then, he mostly asked questions and listened.  Eddie was polite when I shared story after story about this political event or that.  He could and did converse on the issues.  Mostly, when we talked, life was the topic of import.

Relationships, realities, reflections, and realizations filled our tête-à-têtes.  In time, we grew closer.  I first met Eddie at the recreation center.  I swim daily and he works as a lifeguard.  Hence, we speak with each other often.

I have witnessed, first-hand, growth I could have never imagined in such a short span.  I always accepted Eddie is very smart.  His curiosity is endless.  Eddie is an eager, enthusiastic student of the world.  He absorbs information like few I have ever known.  It is not what I shared that accelerated his evolution.  Eddie avidly exchanges with everyone.

Perchance, that is why, as the Presidential election became more important to his friends and family.  Eddie began become interested himself.  This fine fellow became the person with whom I could speak when I went to the pool.  He knew what I did.  He read.  He watched.  He tuned into television reports and connected on the Internet.  Eddie was engaged in the election.

Then it happened.  On All Hallows Eve, just before I placed my body into the pool, when I asked if Eddie had voted early, Eddie said, I see no reason to take part.  Barack Obama will win or he will not.  It is destiny.  Our fates are predetermined.  “Whatever occurs,” Eddie explained, “is out of our control.”  He shared his religious philosophies and stories from the Bible to further illustrate this thought.

I tried to reason with him.  I expressed my empathy.  I told tales of when or why I too wondered what was providence and what was within our power.  It was obvious to me, my words were of no avail.  Forlorn, I swam.  What else could I do.  No one can convince another to do what he or she does not wish to do.  I resigned myself to what I could not change, the mind of another human being.  I have long known, people choose for themselves.  Each of us has an effect on another.  Still, true transformations come from within.

As I was awash in water, my mind moved.  I did not think I could offer more to Eddie.  I believed there were no words that might be perceived as wisdom.  Indeed, I am no wiser than he.  I was left to be one with my thoughts.  When I emerged from the concrete pond, I approached Eddie again.

I shared my own story, my personal experience, and why this election, every election means so much to me.  I told Eddie a tale I had offered before.  I first became active in politics as a child.  At age eleven or twelve, I marched with my family in what would be my first Civil Rights demonstration.  

Just before my birth, by law, people of color could not attend school with white folks.  Even after African-American children were finally allowed to attend school with Anglos, there were still numerous other restrictions on persons who were charcoal in color.  Some boundaries were visible, many were not.

“In my lifetime,” I affirmed, “Those whose complexion is dark could not enter a restaurant reserved for people pale of face.”  In the few years that I have been on this planet, segregation was allowed to return to America.  The “privilege” to share a classroom was afforded in the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, and was virtually rescinded.  I asked Eddie to consider the future of the daughter he and his bride had recently conceived.

Yes, in two short years Eddie had experienced much change, within himself.  He was no longer the party person he had been.  His interest in his own education had grown.  The thoughtful chap now embraced knowledge more than he had before, and Eddie always was quite brilliant.  A booklover, likely from birth, intellectually Eddie grasped the veracity of government.  “Eddie,” I quietly exclaimed, “the President picks Supreme Court Justices.  The appointments last a lifetime.”  The Roberts Court has imposed edicts that will not be easily erased, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 Et. Al  

“Oh Eddie,” my voice barely audible at this point, the Supreme Court, under George W. Bush has moved the country to the “Right.”  Some, such as I fear, we have journeyed back more than a century.  Some of the current jurors are elderly.  There is reason to believe a few will choose to step down from the bench.  If we, the people, do not cast a ballot for Barack Obama, I fear the Court, will move farther into the private lives of citizens.

I chattered on.  My characteristic calm demeanor a bit less controlled as saltwater streamed from my eyes. “Eddie, for me, race and discrimination acted out against those of color is not the only issue that must call us to the ballot box.”  There is so much more to consider.  Economic, environmental, and education policies.  “Eddie, think of your college loans, those you may have now and the prospects to pay for your later study.”

“Oh my gosh Eddie,, President Bush may not have been the change I or we would believe in, but he trusted he could do as he wanted.”  I reasoned or attempted to articulate every thought I had, to share my personal history, and relate it to Eddie’s own truth.  Change, I mused, will come.  As individuals or as a country, we may not have control of all occurrences.  Nonetheless, as I learned in Elementary School, “Not to make a decision is to decide.”

In my own life I realized, one by one Americans cast a vote. Collectively, we, the people, choose a President.  The nation’s Chief Executive then selects who will rule the Courts, what regulations he will impose, and which laws he will sign.  “Eddie, in my own life, in yours, we have seen how the President can be the change, or the constituency can be what we believe in.”

Throughout my tearful plea, Eddie was pensive.  He gazed into my eyes.  His stare never left my face.  Then, he asked, was I crying.  Initially, I made an excuse.  “It is the chlorine,” I remarked. Then, more honestly, I said “Yes.”  I tried to tell Eddie how much the election means to me.  I shared my sincerest belief.  The power that each of us has as citizens, if only we realize what we can do when we come together as one . . . My words could not express what I yearned to communicate.  Nevertheless, Eddie thanked me.  He said he would sincerely make an effort to get to the polls, to be part of the solution.

I was at a loss.  I feared I had not said what I might have.  Nor were my words as powerful as they could have been.  In truth, tonight when President Elect Barack Obama stated my sentiments, better than I might ever have done, he said to Eddie what I could not though my tears.  I invite reflection.  Please peruse the words of a man who speaks for all Americans.  Ponder the profundity of “Yes we can!”  

In America, government is as this Presidential campaign has been, of, by, and for the people.  Congratulations and thank you Barack Obama, Joe Biden, you, me, America.  Eddie, I am grateful for your empathy and decision to cast a ballot.  I have faith again; hope is alive. We, Eddie, and all Americans are indeed, the change we can believe in.


Transcript

Obama’s Victory Speech

The New York Times

November 4, 2008

The following is a transcript of Senator Barack Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, as provided by Federal News Service.

Senator Barack Obama: (Cheers, applause.) Hello, Chicago. (Cheers, applause.)

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. (Cheers, applause.)

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — (cheers) — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states; we are and always will be the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

It’s the answer that — that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America. (Cheers, applause.)

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. (Cheers, applause.) Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. (Applause.) I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin for all they’ve achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead. (Cheers, applause.)

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton, and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.)

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years, the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady, Michelle Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. (Cheers, applause.)

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Auma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given to me. I am grateful to them. (Cheers, applause.)

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe — (cheers, applause) — the unsung hero of this campaign who built the best — (cheers) — the best political campaign I think in the history of the United States of America — (cheers, applause) — to my chief strategist, David Axelrod — (cheers, applause) — who has been a partner with me every step of the way, to the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics — (cheers) — you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done. (Cheers, applause.)

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. (Cheers, applause.) It belongs to you. (Cheers.)

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington; it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause. (Cheers, applause.) It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy — (cheers) — who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the Earth. This is your victory. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, I know you didn’t do this just to win an election, and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there. (Cheers, applause.)

Audience: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.

And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House — a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. (Cheers, applause.)

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends — though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too. (Cheers, applause.)

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. (Cheers, applause.) To those — to those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you. (Cheers, applause.) To those who seek peace and security: we support you. (Cheers, applause.) And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals — democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope. (Cheers, applause.)

That’s the true genius of America, that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She is a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old. (Cheers, applause.)

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons, because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America: the heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress, the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed, yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the Dust Bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We shall overcome.” Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can!

Mr. Obama:: A man touched down on the Moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can.

Mr. Obama:: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there’s so much more to do. So tonight let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century, if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

Audience: Yes we can.

Mr. Obama:: Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

I thank Eddie, Barack, and the American people.  The dream is reborn, and we, as a country, can believe again.  Yes we can!

History Referenced and Realized . . .

Make History; Vote Early



VoteForChange.com: Make History

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

In this election year, America has made history.  Throughout the country, people are able to vote early.  Millions have decided to take advantage of what never was this easy to do, contribute to the greater community.  The question is will the once apathetic, those who felt powerless, or the people who were willing to be labeled as lazy participate.  

Might any of these individuals be deterred by the rumors.  Absentee ballots and tallies transmitted before the official election date will not count.  Ballots are altered by machines or perhaps, inept poll workers.  Proper attire must be worn or a constituent will be refused a place at the polls.  Could citizens consider the lines are long as an excuse to wait or a reason to forfeit the role they may play in the future of this nation.  There is much to ponder.  

Perhaps the reason people do not partake is the survey is too long.  Initiatives, Judges, Representatives, and the Presidential race; some might say there is just too much to research.  However, in America today, wherever a person may go there is talk of tomorrow, a hope for change, fear of what could be, and most importantly a sense that anything is possible.  After all, if citizens can choose early, and the hours to vote are more extensive, perchance, for the first time ever, more, if not every eligible American will have a say.  Apparently, the novel arrangement known as “early voting” appears to be a triumphant.

We may not yet know which candidates will win.  Nevertheless, it seems the people are a bit more victorious.  Countless pound the pavement.  The electorate runs, walks, bikes, and drives to the polls in numbers never seen before.  People hope to make history, to bring about change, to secure a sense of commitment to country such that America has never known.  An expanded opportunity to contribute to the choice of President has an effect on the possible outcome of this election.  The chance to speak through a ballot, coupled with what some express as, a greater need to voice personal preferences, the public heads for the poll en masse.


The Success of Early Voting

The New York Times

October 30, 2008

A lot is going wrong in this election, from malfunctioning electronic voting machines to voters being purged mistakenly from the rolls.  But one thing is going very right: early voting.  In the more than 30 states that allow early or no-excuse absentee voting, voters have been casting ballots in record numbers.  Early voting has many advantages.  The main one is that it makes it likely that more eligible voters will participate in democracy.

Election Day has traditionally been held on a single day – a Tuesday.  Congress scheduled federal elections on Tuesdays because they worked well for farmers and Sabbath observers.  But in the 21st century, having one day to vote is an antiquated relic.  Voters have to fit in a visit to the polls with their work, family and other responsibilities.  Many cannot find the time, particularly when lines are as long as they have been in recent times.

The answer, as many states have discovered, is to move away from a single day of voting and allow voters to cast ballots over a period of days or weeks. . .

Some people are wary of early voting.  As Susan Saulny reported in The Times on Wednesday, there are rumors in the African-American community in Jacksonville, Fla., that early voting is a scam and that the votes cast early would be discarded.  Given Florida’s history with electoral mischief, some skepticism about election procedures is not only understandable, but necessary.

But the truth is that early voting actually makes it harder for the forces of disenfranchisement to stop eligible voters from casting ballots.  If election officials try to require voters to present ID when it is not required by law, early voting gives voters a chance to simply return the next day.  Dirty tricks are also harder to pull off.  If political operatives want to jam get-out-the-vote telephone lines, as they did on Election Day in New Hampshire in 2002, it would be harder to do if people voted over two weeks.

Tittle-tattle, tales of what will go wrong, or has, may be unfounded, or at least far less dire than reported.  While problems still exist, purged ballots, misplaced tickets, and other antics are less likely when the time to vote is spread over days, and even weeks.  Challenges can be corrected.  Dilemmas dealt with.  Quandaries quickly resolved.  Hence, eligible voters enjoy.  

Chat with those in your community while you wait to cast a ballot for your county and for the children who cannot yet legally speak for the concerns that will transform life for them.  Take comfort in the knowledge that time will pass and you can be a part of what will be better for the Seventh Generation.  Settle in as you sit with your absentee form and do the research.  Remember, the young, the old, those soon-to-be born, the ill, the impoverished, even the affluent will be affected by your decision.  Be part of the choice this country makes.  Feel empowered.  Make history.  Vote early.

Reference: for a newer reality . . .

GOP Back on the Brink




To view the original art, please travel to GOP Back on the Brink

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

With less than a week until Election Day, it’s starting to look more and more likely that the GOP will be cast “Back to the Wilderness” (Archive No. 0837) by voters.  But beware: The last time Republicans were banished, they came back strong, first with their “Contract With America,” then with a scary brand of neoconservatism implanted on the born-again blank slate of George W. Bush. Lord only knows what they might come up with this time.

Back in seven with my post-Election Day toon.

Andrew

toon@offthewahl.com