Politics: Need-to-Know Video

N2K: Energy Week

Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
March 6, 2011, 7:02 p.m.

An SIU-Car­bondale Paul Si­mon Pub­lic Policy In­sti­tute poll; con­duc­ted 9/30-10/10; sur­veyed 758 LVs; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 3.6% (re­lease, 10/12).

Obama As POTUS

- Now 10/09(RVs) Ap­prove 50% 63% Dis­ap­prove 48 35

Dir­ec­tion Of U.S.

- Now 10/09(RVs) Right dir. 29% 44% Wrong dir. 62 53

Dir­ec­tion Of IL

- Now 10/09(RVs) Right dir. 11% 23% Wrong dir. 81 72

House Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­up

Gen­er­ic GOP­er 41% Gen­er­ic Dem 40 Oth­er/un­dec 19

(For more from this poll, please see today’s IL SEN and IL GOV stor­ies.)

COR­REC­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this column mis­stated the first name of GOP pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Her­man Cain.

It struck me as more than a little odd, and crush­ingly sad, that we had to wait 47 years to find out what John F. Kennedy really thought of Lyn­don John­son. Oh, there had been stor­ies of JFK’s dis­like for his vice pres­id­ent, even about his tent­at­ive plans to dump him from the tick­et in 1964. But if Jac­queline Kennedy is to be be­lieved, her hus­band truly feared for the coun­try’s fate — and not just be­cause John­son might be tain­ted by the Bobby Baker scan­dal, as JFK’s former sec­ret­ary, Evelyn Lin­coln, wrote in her mem­oir.

In newly re­leased ex­cerpts from a series of in­ter­views she did in 1964, Jack­ie, her grief and an­ger still raw, told his­tor­i­an Ar­thur Schle­sing­er that JFK had fret­ted about LBJ’s suit­ab­il­ity to suc­ceed him. “He said, “˜Oh, God, can you ever ima­gine what would hap­pen to the coun­try if Lyn­don was pres­id­ent?’ “ This was well be­fore John­son turned Vi­et­nam in­to a bloody fiasco.

Doubts about JFK’s own suit­ab­il­ity were raised, just as stealth­ily, by his pre­de­cessor, Dwight Eis­en­hower, ac­cord­ing to his­tor­i­an James Led­bet­ter. Al­though it took years to gain wide­spread sup­port, one per­suas­ive in­ter­pret­a­tion of Ike’s fam­ous Janu­ary 1961 warn­ing against a “mil­it­ary-in­dus­tri­al com­plex”: The out­go­ing pres­id­ent feared that JFK was too na­ive to stand up to it, Led­bet­ter writes in his 2011 book, Un­war­ran­ted In­flu­ence: Dwight D. Eis­en­hower and the Mil­it­ary-In­dus­tri­al Com­plex. At the time, Kennedy was trump­ing up a fake “mis­sile gap” with the So­vi­ets as a cam­paign is­sue, and the Bay of Pigs was just around the corner.

Wouldn’t it be bet­ter if we all heard about these con­cerns in real time?

Today we face an­oth­er pres­id­en­tial-suc­ces­sion pro­cess at a cru­cial mo­ment in his­tory. And I get the sense that we in the me­dia are still just dan­cing around the real is­sues of char­ac­ter, read­i­ness, and sub­stance. Can’t we pre­tend, for a mo­ment, that we’re Jack­ie and Ar­thur, pars­ing the here and now for real — not for the cam­er­as — and talk­ing the way real people talk? No speeches, no pos­tur­ing for pos­ter­ity, and no wor­ry­ing about of­fend­ing con­ven­tion­al wis­dom.

Here’s what that might sound like.

First, we all know that one of three people will be the next pres­id­ent: Barack Obama, Mitt Rom­ney, or Rick Perry. The oth­ers are en­ter­tain­ing — and they’ve all had their mo­ments in the de­bates — but Newt Gin­grich, Rick San­tor­um, and Michele Bach­mann have about as much chance of be­com­ing pres­id­ent as you or I. (It’s a shame, be­cause Bach­mann’s vow to bring only the Con­sti­tu­tion, the De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence, and the Bill of Rights with her in­to the White House sug­ges­ted that we might see some very cre­at­ive at­tire.)

Jon Hunts­man fits the per­fect ca­ri­ca­ture of a can­did­acy: smart, ser­i­ous, good head of hair. But as Obama’s former ser­vant (his am­bas­sad­or to China), he has no busi­ness here, and every­one knows it. Her­man Cain is, well, a pizza ex­ec­ut­ive. The only reas­on Ron Paul is not simply scary is that we all know he has no chance of run­ning any­thing, so he is simply silly. I mean, a gal­lon of gas might cost only a “sil­ver dime” if he were pres­id­ent? Sure, and the Mod­el T could be Amer­ica’s next great ex­port. When an­oth­er ques­tion about the Fed came up at the de­bate the oth­er night, my At­lantic Me­dia col­league Jeff Gold­berg tweeted mer­rily that Paul’s forth­com­ing re­sponse would be like the drum solo at a 1970s rock con­cert: time to go get some beer.

How long does the pre­tense have to go on? Is it really ne­ces­sary that we all play along with Rick San­tor­um’s fantasy and Newt’s self-in­dul­gence?

Second, while the eco­nomy is the primary is­sue, no one in Wash­ing­ton really knows how the eco­nomy works any­more, no one agrees on it, and no one will talk about the prob­lem. “The really fun­da­ment­al ques­tion,” the head of the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice, Douglas El­men­d­orf, told the su­per com­mit­tee this week, is “what role do you and your col­leagues want the gov­ern­ment to play in the eco­nomy and the so­ci­ety?” Most of what we’re hear­ing is bump­er-stick­er solu­tions with no rhyme or reas­on be­hind them. Three years in­to a ti­tan­ic crisis that has left us with ser­i­ous (and jus­ti­fi­able) skep­ti­cism about the abil­ity of either mar­kets or gov­ern­ment to man­age things, the con­ver­sa­tion in Wash­ing­ton about what really happened to the eco­nomy has not yet be­gun.

Rom­ney’s 59-point pro­gram is little more than a grab bag of tra­di­tion­al GOP nos­trums. Obama, still look­ing des­per­ately for cov­er from Re­pub­lic­an at­tacks, has put for­ward a pro­gram heav­ily re­li­ant on GOP-style tax cuts and tax in­cent­ives. Much of the $450 bil­lion pro­gram could work, but Re­pub­lic­ans will prob­ably quash the most ef­fect­ive spend­ing/stim­u­lus part and leave the least job-cre­at­ing parts: the tax cuts and cred­its. Here, we’re all pre­tend­ing as well: Busi­nesses hire be­cause they need em­ploy­ees, and they need em­ploy­ees be­cause de­mand for their products and ser­vices is up, not be­cause they get a break on their taxes. No one is talk­ing about the one big move that could make a dif­fer­ence: us­ing the cur­rent rock-bot­tom in­terest rates to help hun­dreds of thou­sands of un­der­wa­ter mort­gage hold­ers to re­fin­ance.

And then there’s Rick (I Can Do the Math on That One) Perry. He con­tin­ues as ap­par­ent front-run­ner by in­sist­ing that the 2009 stim­u­lus pack­age cre­ated “zero” jobs. That’s com­ic­ally wrong. Eco­nom­ists es­tim­ate that it cre­ated or saved at least a mil­lion and a half jobs — just not enough. Perry also said that we need to “free up Wall Street” — as if the glob­al eco­nomy had not been nearly hurled in­to a second Great De­pres­sion by Wall Street just two and a half years ago.

Knock, knock. Time for a real­ity check. Any­body home? Is that you, Lyn­don? We have a mes­sage for you “¦

What We're Following See More »
North Korea Threatens H-Bomb Test Over Pacific
1 days ago

"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."

Trump Makes Good on Promise of New North Korea Sanctions
1 days ago

President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.

Trump Promises More Sanctions on North Korea
2 days ago

In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."

FLOTUS to Speak at UN Luncheon
3 days ago
Trump Meets with UN Leaders
3 days ago

President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.