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Charming but naïve: Obama shouldn’t run for reelection 2010-Nov-14 at 01:23 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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From One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012, by Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell, 14-Nov-2010:

This is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

To that end, we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

If the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it. But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

If Obama announced this week that he wouldn’t seek reelection, it would Bring Hope Back™ for a little while.  That’s why this idea is so charming… for a little while, it’ll be right.  The country would seem united again, there would be excitement that we could work through our problems quickly, and that we could come together around some simple ideas that most of us agree on.  Unfortunately, after some months, it would fade, and impatience would once again take over.

Soon the Democrats in Congress would stop listening to President Obama, because their neck is on the line in the next election, but not his.

And the Republicans… if you think that what you’ve seen so far is what an uncooperative Republican Caucus looks like, you haven’t seen them when he’s not even an opponent anymore.  Don’t forget, Republicans believe that the policies they’re advocating are better for the country, and a whole bunch of them just got elected, so they think they’re on the right track.  Anything he proposes that doesn’t match the story they’re selling gets stonewalled immediately, and there won’t be enough Democrats who want to fight about it to get things done.

So, really, it would lead to an even worse version of Congress than we’re seeing right now.  But what we’d really lose is the potential to have our first Integral President serve for another four years.

If he runs and loses, I’ll be disappointed and I’ll be among those who reevaluates the pace of development I think I’m seeing.  But if Obama doesn’t run at all… I’ll wonder what could have been, and where the country could have gone if someone with a clearly Integral perspective were running things just as the Integral movement heated up around the world.  I’ll wonder if we’re missing out on a chance to ride out this current storm and end up in some smoother sailing by the end of his second term, thanks to a segment of the public undergoing rapid transformation, as they take on broader perspectives.

So, I’m sorry, I must disagree with this sweet and well-intentioned idea we find written up in the Opinion section of the Washington Post.  Charming idea, but it won’t lead to the world that they think it will.

This doesn’t make a pessimist, by the way, just a realist.  I trust you already know how optimistic I am about where we’re going, because I am.

And don’t despair: the Republicans don’t actually have a credible candidate right now who can beat him in a general election, and we’re two years out.  I know that’s a lot of time, but in the world of United States National Politics, that’s less time than it might seem.  I really don’t think President Obama has much to worry about in 2012.

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I’m a sucker for an Ayn Rand reference 2010-May-28 at 08:25 PDT

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Instead of shrugging, Ron Johnson is running for office, by George F. Will, 27-May-2010

Before what he calls "the jaw-dropping" events of the past 19 months — TARP, the stimulus, Government Motors, the mistreatment of Chrysler’s creditors, Obamacare, etc. — the idea of running for office never crossed Ron Johnson’s mind. He was, however, dry tinder — he calls Ayn Rand’s "Atlas Shrugged" his "foundational book" — and now is ablaze, in an understated, Upper Midwestern way. This 55-year-old manufacturer of plastic products from Oshkosh, Wis., is what the Tea Party looks like.

He is trim, gray-haired and suddenly gray-suited. For years he has worn jeans and running shoes to his office, but now, under spousal duress, he is trying to look senatorial — "My wife upgraded me to brown shoes." He has been endorsed by the state party and will almost certainly win the September primary for the Republican nomination to run against Russ Feingold, who is seeking a fourth term in a year in which incumbency is considered a character flaw.

Former Republican governor Tommy Thompson led Feingold in polls and froze the race on the Republican side before deciding not to run. But in this season of simmering resentment of the political class, a neophyte such as Johnson might be a stronger candidate than a recycled executive. Johnson can fund himself. Asked how much of his wealth he will spend, if necessary, his answer is as simple as it is swift: "All of it."

I had a big Ayn Rand phase, too… it’s kinda sweet, in a weird way.  If you didn’t, you missed out on a seminal experience growing up.  It’s fun to be that certain that you’re right, while simultaneously being certain that other people are wrong.  At least it’s fun when you’re young… but in your 50’s, I have less interest in seeing it in leadership and in Congress.

I believe that Ron Johnson’s motivation for running is rooted in a deeply felt sense of morals… but I still can’t support him.  We already know what lies down the path of deregulation and the lack of government oversight, and it’s not the hidden capitalist lair, complete with gold-backed currency, of “Atlas Shrugged.”

The right kind of political leader 2010-May-23 at 08:21 PDT

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I love Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).  I think I love him more than any politician in the United States right now, except for the President and Rahm Emanuel.

From Gov. Christie: Fixing NJ finances more important than re-election, 19-March-2010:

Using self-deprecating wit and plainspokenness, Gov. Chris Christie suggested Thursday in a speech to the New Jersey Charter Public Schools Conference that his tough talk and tough love for New Jersey might cost him a second term in 2013.

“I will tell you today what I said throughout the campaign and what I mean from the bottom of my heart: I don’t care a bit about being re-elected. Not one bit. The proof of that should be Tuesday’s speech,” Christie quipped, referring to his budget address to a joint session of the Legislature that has resulted in protests and demonstrations by public employee unions upset over planned cuts to their benefits. “If I cared about getting re-elected, I wouldn’t be doing what I did on Tuesday. I don’t care about being re-elected,” he said.

And just watch this two-minute video of him responding to a reporter about taking a “confrontational tone.”  You can’t get more straightforward than this.  “I came here to govern, not to get re-elected.”  God, I love this guy.  See the guy in the background smiling the whole time?  If I were there, that would be me.

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I mean, one of the guys commenting on this video is already comparing Gov. Christie to Chuck Norris: “Chris Christie once broke every law of physics, at the same time. He was let off with a warning.”  That’s solid.

This is the kind of straight-up honesty we’ll get when term limits arrive.  I’m not saying we’ll get it from everyone, but we’ll see it more and more as part of the political culture in America, from both sides of the aisle, and that will be a really good thing.  These are the kinds of people that can hammer out tough but important agreements on things that move us all forward.

Scott Brown wins in Massachusetts 2010-Jan-19 at 20:32 PDT

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One comment… you realize that if the Democrats don’t get health care reform passed now that it’s not Scott Brown’s fault, right?  It’s the Democrats’ fault for wasting an entire year doing absolutely nothing but arguing with each other.

There’s no cause large enough that the Democrats can’t screw it up and shoot themselves in the foot.

God please let there be Congressional term limits soon.