My theory on the debate

I watched the debate. While it was going on, I thought Obama did fine.

Romney suddenly changed from a right winger to a moderate — pitching to the middle. The only surprise there is that he didn’t do it sooner in the campaign.

Obama didn’t blast back. But he did point out the flip flops.

From my point of view, Romney was being Romney — a pragmatic candidate who will change his views when he needs to. A tough politician who plays to win.

Obama was being, well…Presidential. He was respectful. He explained his positions and didn’t apologize for his record.

With divided government, filibusters, no deal making, etc., critical matters (education, infrastructure, energy) aren’t getting handled anyway. So I found it all the talk a little moot — a little boring.

Then the debate is over and the analysis beings. The talking heads begin to talk. That’s when I found out Romney had kicked Obama’s ass.

Could it be that Obama is being dumb like a fox?

Perhaps he’s looked at the situation and sees that he’s going to win. Incumbent Presidents rarely lose. Romney’s got to sweep the swing states to pull it off.

Maybe Obama is thinking ahead, to the possibility of governing more effectively in the next four years. When the drama settles, history will show that he’s been extraordinarily effective so far.

But what if he gets a little Republican support going forward? What would that be like? He won’t be running again. Maybe he’ll get a year or two of bipartisan workability after this election. Anything is possible.

So maybe he wasn’t tired or sad or preoccupied with no-telling-what was going on the in world during that time. Maybe he was being a statesman who thought it might not be in the country’s best interest to crush the opposition on stage.

Just a theory…

They're called tweets, President Mubarak (a short play)

President Hosni Mubarak
President Hosni Mubarak

The private chambers of EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK.  He works at his desk, with paper and pencil.  Enter CHIEF OF STAFF.


EGYPTIAN CHIEF OF STAFF:  Mr. President, the people are revolting.

PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK: You can say that again.

CHIEF:  No Sir, I mean they are actually revolting.

MUBARAK:  What seems to be the problem?

CHIEF:  They want a middle class, Sir.

MUBARAK:  They’ve got one.

CHIEF:  It’s disappeared, Sir.

MUBARAK:  Disappeared!  You are in the middle class.

CHIEF:  I’m the only one, Sir.  We basically have two economic classes now, Sir.  The poor.  And the billionaires.

MUBARAK:  Who is revolting?

CHIEF:  The poor.

MUBARAK:  That’s good to hear.  I’ve got enough problems without having a bunch of unhappy billionaires on my back.

CHIEF:  I’m not so sure, Sir.  There are so many poor people.

MUBARAK: So where exactly is this revolt?

CHIEF:  In the streets.

MUBARAK:  Then close the streets.

CHIEF:  We’ve tried that, Sir.  They keep moving to another street.  We can’t close them all.

MUBARAK:  Of course we can.  Impose a curfew.

CHIEF:  Yes, Sir.


CHIEF:  The people are still revolting.

MUBARAK:  I’m sure they are.

CHIEF:  The curfew isn’t working, Sir.

MUBARAK:  Why not?

CHIEF:  They won’t listen.  It’s impossible to enforce.

MUBARAK:  Cut off the telephones.  That’ll stop ’em.

CHIEF:  They aren’t calling each other, Sir.  They’re using the Internet.

MUBARAK:  Excuse me?

CHIEF:  The Internet, Sir.  Computers wired together.

MUBARAK: They can do that?

CHIEF:  Yes Sir.  They also have wireless devices.  And they text.

MUBARAK:  Since when do the common poor use these Internets?

CHIEF:  They use it quite a bit, Sir.

MUBARAK:  And they talk to each other on this?

CHIEF:  Yes, Sir.  Mostly with social networking sites.

MUBARAK:  Why would the common peasant need this?

CHIEF:  Fun, mostly. They share things and tweet.  For example, yesterday I posted some amazing pictures of my granddaughter’s birthday party.  In some ways, I think it makes for a richer online experience.

MUBARAK:  Isn’t that nice.

CHIEF:  They also use these sites to discuss politics and plan protests.

MUBARAK:  Then this is the problem.  What are the names of these so-called websites?

CHIEF:  Facebook.  Twitter.  Youtube.

MUBARAK:  Shut these down!  Immediately!

CHIEF:  I don’t know if that’s a good idea.

MUBARAK:  If it resides inside my head, then by definition, it’s a good idea.  Would you like to have your head cut off?

CHIEF:  No Sir.

MUBARAK:  Then ban these Facebooks and Twitters.

CHIEF:  Yes Sir.


CHIEF:  Mr. President, the people are really revolting now.

MUBARAK:  Tell me about it.

CHIEF:  It’s not a modifier, Sir.  It’s a verb.  Hundreds of thousands of them are in the streets now, revolting.  I’m afraid they might set this building on fire.

MUBARAK:  Still that middle class bullshit?

CHIEF:  The economic grievances have been building for some time, Sir.  But the more immediate problem now is Facebook and Twitter.

MUBARAK:  I told you to shut those down.

CHIEF:  We did that, Sir.  It made the problem worse.

MUBARAK:  If we turned it off, then why is it worse?

CHIEF:  The people want to Tweet, Sir.  They want to update their Facebook status and connect with their friends.  They’re angry.

MUBARAK:  Have the police arrest them.

CHIEF:  Not an option, Sir.

MUBARAK:  If it comes out of my mouth, then it’s an option.

CHIEF:  The police are on their side.

MUBARAK:  On their side?

CHIEF:  Yes, Sir.

MUBARAK:  But the police work for me.

CHIEF:  Police are people, too, Sir.  The revolt is widespread.

MUBARAK:  So the police are not following orders?

CHIEF:  No Sir.

MUBARAK:  Then call out the military.  I’ve never had any problem with them.

CHIEF:  That may piss the people off even more.

MUBARAK:  Maybe so.  But if we kill a few, the rest of the people will fall in line.


CHIEF:  The people are still revolting, Sir.

MUBARAK:  I’m well aware of that.  Have we killed a few?

CHIEF:  Yes, Sir.

MUBARAK:  And they’re still up to no good?

CHIEF:  They’re fighting back, Sir.  They’re filling the streets and burning government buildings.

MUBARAK:  Then perhaps we should kill some more.

CHIEF:  You may want to leave the country, Sir.

MUBARAK:  Leave the country?  You think I need a vacation?

CHIEF:  No Sir.  You may need to leave permanently, Sir.

MUBARAK:  You would look very different without a head.

CHIEF:  I’m sure I would, Sir.  But part of my job description is advising you.

MUBARAK:  And you would risk your life by advising me to leave my country?

CHIEF:  Only because it may save your life.

MUBARAK:  Nonsense.  Where would I go?

CHIEF:  South America is always a good option.

MUBARAK:  And who would lead my people?

CHIEF:  They want to select a different leader.

MUBARAK:  I don’t understand.

CHIEF:  The people are ready for a change, Sir.

MUBARAK:  After 30 years — the best years of my life — and this is the thanks I get?  That’ll be all.  You can leave now.

CHIEF:  They want change in their government.

MUBARAK:  You’re talking gibberish.  You may go now.

CHIEF:  It’s been a pleasure, Mr. President.  I’m going to Paraguay.

MUBARAK:  Paraguay!  What’s in Paraguay?

CHIEF:  Google it.

MUBARAK:  What does that mean?

CHIEF:  Goodbye, Sir.

He exits.

end of play

Obama's Tucson speech

If a book or story or movie or speech moves me to tears, I stop and ask myself:  is it that good, or could I be depressed?

Last night, the memorial service in Tucson moved me to tears.  Twice.  And I’m not depressed.

The first time was during the opening prayer, when Dr. Carlos Gonzalez asked God to let us bless many people and things, including:

“the families of those that have lost their loved ones… the family of those that are healing…those people that are here today… those that are outside in greater Tucson, in Arizona and in our country… our fellow creatures. Those that stand. Those that blow in the wind. Those that are tall and stately. Those that crawl on the earth. Those that slither on the earth. Those that live under the earth…”

But it was this line, dropped in among the many, that, for some reason, hit me hard with emotion:

“Oh, Creator — if I may, my son is in Afghanistan. A little blessing to him, too.”

This really got me, the personal prayer, so meaningful to him — and so out of place among the other collective, communal blessings.

Many bloggers and talkers have questioned his rambling, non-Judeo-Christian prayer.  Brit Hume on Fox said it was “most peculiar.”

I found it quite moving and refreshing.

I was moved by Obama’s entire speech because he was so much The President.  Barack Obama inspired many millions of us to work quite hard to help him get elected, only to watch his opponents (many of whom did not lift a finger to canvass their neighborhoods for McCain-Palin in 2008) relentlessly whine about the election’s result and try to disqualify him for the office he rightfully holds.

Last night, Obama made things quite clear.  The entire speech was a much needed symphony of healing.

But with all the lyrical, powerful passages, including the plea to make America as good as 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green imagined it to be, it was this simple line that got me:

“And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and first responders who worked wonders to heal those who’d been hurt. We are grateful to them.”

Why, with so much poetry, did this simple statement punch my buttons?

I don’t know.  Experience creates memories that become mysteries of our experience; it’s not always possible to explain.

Obama’s gratitude reminded me of one of my favorite passages in literature, from Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist. She asks what a martian might think if he came to Earth and happened to land at the entrance to the emergency room, seeing all the people rushing to help someone in need.

“‘Why,’ he’d say, ‘what a helpful planet, what kind and helpful creatures.’ He’d never guess we’re not always that way; that we had to, oh, put aside our natural selves to do it. ‘What a helpful race of beings,’ a Martian would say.  Don’t you think so?'”

I well remember listening to Reagan’s Oval Office address in 1986, after explosion of the The Challenger.  Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, was aboard.  I was a teacher then, at West Rowan Middle School, where I watched The Challenger and crew and teacher burst into flames along with roomful of children.

That night I watched Reagan’s address with my father.  Dad was a good, liberal Democrat who, without an ounce of animus, completely disagreed with Reagan’s conservative stand.  As was the custom back then, he respected the person and the office.

It seems to me that politics was not so much a competitive sport in those days, but a way of looking at the world.  An education in civics.  History in the making.  When Nixon resigned, before the days of VCRs, I remember my father and I setting up a reel-to-reel tape recorder and putting it in front of the TV so we could tape the audio.

My father tried to see humor in almost everything.

After Reagan’s Challenger speech, Dad said “You know, he would have been great during World War II.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt was his reference point for what a President could do and be.

These days, Obama gets criticized for “just giving speeches” with a “bunch of rhetoric.”

For my father, who quit Columbia University the day after Pearl Harbor in order to join the United States Air Force, that was a primary part of a President’s job:  giving speeches.  Displaying a mastery of rhetoric.  Using words to lead a nation.

I remember being in the car with my father one night in March of 1968 when he told me to stop talking and be quiet so we could listen to the President.  Lyndon Johnson was announcing that he would not seek reelection.  My mother was a journalist who reminded us that today’s news is tomorrow’s history.  These were moments which required our attention.

And yet, this morning, I saw friends on Facebook express their gratitude for the President’s speech, only to be answered by those who said he was chastising his liberal base.  One person wrote that it was just a crazy person in a grocery store — something that happens every day — and because a member of Congress was involved, Obama…

Such bull.

Obama could thank God for the sunshine and Fox News would say that he’s not a Christian because he’s worshipping the planets (I know, the sun is a star, not a planet; it doesn’t matter).

Arizona has been through a tough time with the politics of racial profiling.  Many of us in North Carolina lived with Jessee Helms for many years; we know how it feels.

And now this.

If ever a place hungered for a speech, it was Tucson last night.

And they got one.

This is just to say that Obama may have won reelection last night.  Not because he played a political move, but because it’s hard to beat an incumbent — and last night it was clear to both sides that he fully embodies the office he holds.

Other moments that transformed presidencies:

Bill Clinton’s Oklahoma City Speech

George W. Bush’s Bullhorn Speech

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

to the right wing purists who are so giddy these days…

I just had a discussion on Facebook.  All I did was post a video I thought was funny, but a couple of right wing friends got sort of emotional about it. This was one of my answers and thought I’d go ahead and make a blog of it.  (Hint to those who have friends on the right and want to remain friends:  they take Sarah Palin and Fox News seriously).

American politics is a pendulum that swings back and forth.  The Republicans had control of two branches for six years.  It was split for two years.  Democrats have two branches now.  It will probably be split again after next week.  My guess is that the Presidency will shift back and forth, as will the Congress, for many years to come.

This is the way it has been, and the way it will be.

Rather than focusing on these wonderful, pure thoughts that you believe so strongly (ie. pure capitalism is great; pure socialism is evil) — why not be realistic? It’s a pluralistic system.  Obama is not a socialist.  We have a huge country and it requires a huge federal government in order to function.  Somebody must be the CEO of this giant corporation, and some people must make spending decisions.  It doesn’t mean they’re evil.  It’s a hell of a task.

Your ideologies are wonderful for dormitory bull sessions and Fox News stockholders, but why not be real and put forth some ideas that can make this a better place to live, for us, our children, and grandchildren?

Sooner or later, your political party will prevail and have the opportunity to govern — as they did throughout the past decade.

I wish they could be a little more responsible with the budget, national security, and public discourse. The last time they had complete control — from 2000 through 2006 — they blew up the deficit, sliced and diced races and religions, neglected infrastructure, and spent our prosperity on war and extreme wealth for the very richest of the rich.

Sarah Palin reflects on her Presidency in new memoir

In her new memoir: Going Vogue: How I Saved the My Country’s Ass, Sarah Palin fondly remembers her greatest achievements as President of the United States.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

In an interview published yesterday on Craigslist, Palin brushed off questions that reminded her of the fact that she was never elected and therefore never served as President of the United States.

“Aw — now that’s just the left wing liberal commie media trying to pick on me again,” she says.

“I can’t decide what the best thing I did was,” writes Palin, in the soon-to-be-published book.

“It was either eliminating the death tax, capital gains tax, or income tax,” she writes. “Whichever — it worked. There’s no more government spending, and no budget deficit.”

She also credits the end of abortion and birth control as strategies that will have long term benefits for the country.

“The increased reproduction will grow our population and the numbers in our military,” writes Palin. “We need more children to fight in future wars that will make our country safer.”

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a strong Palin supporter, fully supports the Palin Presidency.

Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann

“Real Americans know Sarah Palin was President,” says Bachmann. “It’s the un-American Americans that try to keep saying she wasn’t the President.”

Carrie Prejean, a Palin intern and former Miss America Pageant contestant, helped Palin write the book.

“This is not only one of the first books I’ve ever worked on,” says Prejean, “but I think the Palin memoir will go down in history as one of the first books I ever read.”

Carrie Prejean
Carrie Prejean

Prejean, a strong opponent of gay marriage who believes people should have sex only with themselves, also believes strongly that Palin was President.

“Saying she’s not President is inappropriate,” says Prejean.

Glenn Beck, of Fox News, noted that Palin’s “book” rhymes with “cook,” as in “cooking the books,” — something Beck claims poor people do on a regular basis.

Beck also points out that Hitler, in fact, did cook books — and that “cook” is “something people do to corn,” which is contained in the word “acorn.”

Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck

“Cook also rhymes with ‘look,'” says Beck. “As in ‘look’ how choked-up I get about loving my country.

“It also rhymes with ‘took,'” he says, “as in they ‘took’ out my appendix so we can ‘took’ back our country.'”