Archive | February, 2013

Chuck Hagel’s Nomination

20 Feb

As many of you know former Republican senator Chuck Hagel has been nominated to replace outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  I think he would be a great choice for Secretary of Defense.  I know this has already been said but I think that his experience of fighting in a war also gives him more awareness than most as to the price of war.  I’m aware that he has made some controversial statements in the past, but I do not believe that disqualifies him from being Secretary of Defense.  He has apologized for his remarks and I believe he was sincere in his apology.

The center of the attack against Hagel in the beginning was that he referred to the Aipac Lobby as the “Jewish Lobby.”  This past comment was misguided, but by no means does it make him an anti-Semite.  I am a Jewish-American and I don’t believe he had or still has any ill intent when he made that comment.  The other comment he made in the past was that he referred to someone as, “aggressively gay.”  He has apologized for his naïve comment and his apology was accepted by James Hormel last month; the same person of whom Hagel was talking about.

Brett Stephens of the Wall Street Journal was one of the first people to attack Chuck Hagel’s nomination.  In an article he wrote in December of last year titled, “Chuck Hagel’s Jewish Problem”, he accused the former Senator of anti-Semitism for his past quotes.  I reject this accusation against Chuck Hagel because of the lack of evidence behind it.  (I’m not even sure that Brett Stephens himself believes this accusation.)  I think that the reason Brett Stephens doesn’t support Hagel, is because Stephens wants a secretary of Defense who sees bombing Iran as the only course of action for Israel.  It’s pretty low for someone (Brett Stephens in this case) to accuse another person of racism simply because Hagel doesn’t agree with him on every issue.

The confirmation hearing was as bad if not worse than that which was said before the hearings.  Senator John McCain went after Hagel asking him about the 2007 troop surge in Iraq and only directing him to answer the question yes or no.  Senators James Inhofe and Ted Cruz went as far as to suggest that Iran was supporting Chuck Hagel’s nomination (with little to no proof mind you).  Their accusation was so out of order that even McCain slammed Ted Cruz for his accusations.  To accuse a former war hero of working or being supported by our enemies is beyond reprehensible in my opinion.

Last week, Hagel’s nomination was filibustered (the first time for any defense secretary nominee).  Some senators said that they were simply trying to get more information about the Benghazi attacks from last year, which has nothing to do with Hagel.  Other senators said they simply needed more time to debate former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination.  I hope that this is simply a stalling tactic and that it isn’t another attempt for the GOP to block someone that they don’t agree with.  I have no problem with any senator voting against Hagel, but I believe it is unnecessary to filibuster his nomination.  There have been some people comparing this to George W. Bush’s nomination to Ambassador of the UN John Bolton.  I don’t believe it is fair to compare John Bolton’s nomination with Chuck Hagel.  John Bolton essentially wanted to dismantle the UN.  Chuck Hagel on the other hand would never try to dismantle our defense department.

I still think former Senator Chuck Hagel will be confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense.  At least I would hope so.  I would hate for him to get blocked because of baseless accusations or his opposition to the war in Iraq.  We need a Secretary of Defense who knows what it is like to fight in a war, and I hope Chuck Hagel gets confirmed soon.


The 2012 Election

11 Feb

I have lived through seven presidential elections.  The first election night that I remember was in 1992.  I have followed every election closely since 2004.  Oddly enough this election felt similar to 2004, but different in many other ways.

This election was like the one in 2004 because a sitting president was being challenged by a flawed opponent.  In 2004 John Kerry was challenging a relatively unpopular president Bush.  I still think that the Democrats could have defeated Bush if they had a better candidate,  but I will likely elaborate that on another blog entry.  In 2012 some people saw Obama as vulnerable.  As with 2004 the challenger to the incumbent was flawed, so how did Romney win the nomination?

In the last election the Republican primary was one of the strangest and messiest that I have seen in either party in recent elections.  The only pattern I saw from beginning to end was that many people in the Republican Party resisted nominating Mitt Romney as their candidate.  The term “front runner” was used very loosely.  Michele Bachmann was the front runner for a short while, and then Herman Cain was seen as the front runner.  The fact that Donald Trump was considered as a serious contender showed how much of a circus the Republican primary was that year.  I have never seen so many changes in front runner status in one election primary season.

I think that the 2012 Republican primary was similar to the 2008 Democratic primary for president.  In 2008 Hilary was the establishment candidate and Obama was seen as the Washington outsider.  The biggest difference between the two primaries was that the Democrats got behind the “outsider” candidate quicker than the Republicans did in this past election.  By the time Rick Santorum became the consensus outsider candidate, Romney was well on his way to the nomination.  If the Republicans had chosen their anti-Romney candidate before the process got underway, Romney might not have won the nomination.

Romney entered the general election weakened by the primary.  His campaign and Super Pac spent a lot of money to tear down his opponents which made him look bad in the process.  Even though Romney had won his party’s nomination, he still had to win over the most conservative base of his party.  Romney had a tougher challenge then Obama did in 2008.  There was a lot of enthusiasm over Obama’s candidacy.  Romney never had that enthusiasm.  The Republicans were happy with Paul Ryan as his VP pick, but they still didn’t like Romney.

There were other problems with Romney’s campaign as well.  Since Obama was the incumbent he had a head start for the general election.  Romney had to be strategic on how he spent campaign money and had to play catch up leading into the general election.  The biggest problem Romney had was that he was incredibly gaffe-prone.  I’m not going to pretend that Vice President Biden didn’t make gaffes, but Romney made a new gaffe almost every other week.  The forty-seven percent comment may have damaged his campaign beyond repair, but he wasn’t a great candidate to begin with.  Romney would have had to win all three of the presidential debates to re-gain lost ground, and he only won the first debate.  I think the bizarre candidates in senate races across the country hurt Romney, but by no means cost him the election.

I can go on and on about the differences between each campaign but one thing remains clear.  President Obama and Vice President Biden knew how to connect with everyday Americans, Romney couldn’t   If you can’t connect with an everyday person, how can you be expected to win a majority of the vote?  Connecting with the voter has and always will be the core part of every election and every candidate.

Inauguration 2013

7 Feb

I decided that for my first official entry in my blog I will write about the inauguration.  I went to the 2013 inauguration for many reasons.  As a result that I got to see a president give his re-election speech, as well as hear him take the Oath of Office at the inauguration the next year.  That alone was enough reason to motivate me to go to the inauguration.  There is a chance that it will be the only time I am able to witness both in person.

Even though I this was my first inauguration, I have always been fascinated by the process.  The president being sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Vice President being sworn in by an Associate Justice is something we only get to witness every four years.  The fact that we have a peaceful transfer of power (or continuation of power) is what makes our country unique from countries that don’t have stability.  While we may not always agree with how our country is being run, I think we can admire the process that is the inauguration.

This year wasn’t my first visit to our nation’s capitol, but this time was unique in that I saw more of Washington D.C. then I ever have seen before.  The day before Inauguration Day, I saw a live taping of CNN and the rehearsals of the inauguration.   Inauguration Day was something that I will never forget.  For me, it was well worth it to stand in the cold for several hours to witness history.  The next day I toured several of the senate office buildings and the capitol.  I saw many senators and got to shake hands with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse.  The main difference that I noticed from Inauguration Day and the next day was that most if not all of the unity between parties was gone the next day.  Senators from each side were back walking with other senators from their own party.  It disappointed but definitely didn’t surprise me.  Unity isn’t something we should feel several days a year; it should happen a good part of the year.  I hope that in the future we will become as united (if only a little closer) as we are on Inauguration Day.