A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Return of Obama the Campaigner

With the debate surrounding the economy and the upcoming budget negotiations, one thing has become readily apparent over the last month: President Obama has rediscovered his inner campaigner. Since he gave his budget address to Congress at the end of February, the President has gone into “campaign mode” meaning that he is doing a lot to get out in public and sell his plan. This includes numerous speeches, town hall meetings, a press conference and yes, even a late night talk show appearance.

In my last two posts, I focused on the voice of the Republican party (or lack thereof). If the Republicans are disorganized and bickering, they will not be able to get a clear message across to the American public. With President Obama’s recent media blitz, we are seeing the flip side of this situation. As I said previously, the Presidency has little actual constitutional power. The importance of the presidency is the very office itself and the ability of a president to articulate a clear vision for the country.

This is exactly what President Obama has been doing – articulating a clear direction that he wants to take the country. And right now the majority of Americans are willing to give him a chance to take the country there. As of the time I write this, Gallup has President Obama’s approval rating at 60%. (Click here for the daily tracking on his approval rating). Whether or not you agree with him, you have to give him credit for his ability to break down an issue and communicate it clearly to the American public. As I have said here before, President Obama is the best communicator to occupy the oval office since Ronald Reagan.

In the first month of his presidency, Obama was focused more on trying to work on Congress to have his stimulus plan passed. While the bill did pass, I think he learned an important lesson with the way some members of Congress beat him up. That lesson was that he was no longer a member of Congress and he needed to stop trying to negotiate like he was. This explains why he is approaching the budget process so differently. A president is at his most effective when he is trying to sell his plan to the American public. For this reason, look for the White House to keep President Obama in a perpetual “campaign mode” especially when it comes to domestic policy and the economy.

I also noticed something else interesting over the last week or so. Lately, President Obama seems to have a protégé who is also on a media blitz. That is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. After the AIG bonus story hit, there was increased criticism of the Secretary Geithner and some in Congress were even calling for his resignation even though he was only two months into the job. Let us remember that Secretary Geithner is not a natural politician like the President. He was an under secretary at treasury in the 1990s and then he was president of New York’s Federal Reserve Bank. While he has dealt with politicians in the past, he was not required to act like one. However, this past week he came out of his political shell and gave several speeches and made several appearances in support of the administration’s proposals. It seems to have helped the embattled Secretary as he has had much more positive press recently and has even earned the praise from some Republicans, like Senator John McCain.

The Treasury Secretary’s media blitz culminated today with his appearance on Meet the Press, where Geithner said, “[W]e're going to emerge stronger than this. When we get through this, people are going to care less about what they make, more about what they do, what they achieve with what they make, and that will help make this country stronger.” He went on to explain further, “I think people will be living within their means more, which is helpful.” Let’s hope that as both the President and Treasury Secretary stay in campaign mode that they continue to preach this message to the American public and eventually make living within our means a priority not just for American families but for the American government as well.


  1. Karl,

    You will have to explain more in your next post, because I am confused. How can you say you believe in conservative fiscal policy then vote for a democrat? Especially one of the most liberal Democrats in the senate. Granted, the Bush administration spent like drunken sailors, and McCain wouldn't have been much better. But your reasoning is like saying you won't support Bush because he won't ban assault rifles, so you choose to join the NRA! You've thrown the baby out with the bathwater on this issue. Do you really think trillions of dollars in new debt that is expected over the next 6 years is conservative fiscal policy?

    Secondly, here is a link for you: http://www.american.com/archive/2007/november-december-magazine-contents/guess-who-really-pays-the-taxes. This article shows that the Bush tax cuts "for the rich" is not only an inaccurate description, but is a typical result of media spin to get a certain candidate elected. The tax cuts actually boosted business to take MORE of the burden off the middle and lower class. There is another table that I couldn't find quickly but have seen before. Maybe you can find it. It basically shows that MORE money was brought into the federal coffers under Bush than when tax rates were higher under Clinton. Lower taxes for the rich means they invest more in business, start new ventures, and create massive amounts of jobs - all while continuing to pay way more than their fair share. Your assumptions are just wrong, my friend.

    Finally, look deep into what both President Obama and Geithner say. "people are going to care less about what they make, more about what they do" - sounds eerily socialistic. You no longer have the right or ability to care about how much you make, but only about the QUALITY of your work. That is not the government's job - to dictate what each job is worth based on what they feel the value is to society. They already tried it with AIG and other banking execs. Don't think for a minute they will stop there.

    Come back to the fold, my brother. Not the old fold, but the new, conservative fold that is forming even now. Fiscally conservative, socially responsible, and focused to lead us into a better future - not one that will bankrupt our country!

  2. Andy:
    Thank you for your interest in my blog.

    As for the complete rationale on why I voted for Obama, I would invite you to read my political essay “The Case for Obama: Why This Evangelical Christian Will Be Voting Democrat In 2008.” You can e-mail me at the address at the bottom of this page and I’ll be happy to send you a copy. The bottom line is that economic policy was only one consideration for me and I agree with you that McCain and Obama did not offer many distinctions between them other than their positions on the Bush tax cuts. I do take the position in my essay that the Democrats as a rule have been better at balancing the budget and I do not wish to completely reiterate that argument here. I would simply refer you to my essay if you want that complete argument. When it came to my vote, more important to me in a presidential race is foreign policy, and on those positions, I agreed more with Obama than McCain.

    As for my position on the current spending and the stimulus plan, I direct you to my post on February 8, 2009 entitled “What’s a Deficit Hawk to Do – My Position on the Stimulus Plan.” Essentially, with the current economic climate, I thought the situation was a lose/lose as far as the deficit is concerned. Either spend now and have the deficit temporarily balloon, but quicken the recovery or have the current deficit remain at the same level, but have the recession last longer thereby lowering tax revenue in the long run. You point out that tax revenues were higher under Bush. This was due to growth. One of the main reasons that the deficit is so high now is actually due to the fact that the recession has caused tax revenue to drop substantially. Don’t get me wrong, the increase in the deficit is attributable to increased spending as well, but most people overlook the role that depressed tax revenues play in the deficit. In other words, every time you here that the deficit is so many trillion dollars, just remember a lot of that is due to the fact that tax revenues are substantially down in the weakened economy.

    All this is a long way to say that we are going to have trillions in debt over the next few years regardless of what we do. That is why I have continually said that the real test for President Obama will be once the recovery starts, what will he do about the deficit at that point. Trust me, I will be one of his loudest critics if he does not take the appropriate action to cut the deficit at that point.

    As for your comment about Secretary Geithner’s statement about people caring less about what they make and more about what they do, I could not disagree with you more that it sounds “eerily socialistic.” In our culture, where everyone is consumed with their status, their possessions and the balance sheet of their 401(k), I find it refreshing to hear a leader of our country reminding us of what is really important. As a Christian, I think it is important for us to be reminded that this world is not all about our personal financial statements.

    As for the executive pay issue and even the CEO for GM stepping down at the White House’s request, you are not the first conservative I’ve heard raise concerns about this. What I think all the conservatives who sound the Socialism Alarm are conveniently forgetting is that these companies are requesting the government’s help. If they want their help, they should be prepared to meet the conditions that the government puts on them. If the companies don’t like it, they shouldn’t take the government’s money in the first place.

  3. good discussion, keep it going, this blog needs some more sparks!