Thursday, October 17, 2013


Political Mayhem Thursday: Presidential or Political?

So, the government shutdown is over.  What comes next?

I realize that I've been cribbing a lot of my work lately from Ron Fournier, and I don't apologize for it-- Ron is doing some of the best work in America these days.  He is fair, smart, and beholdened to neither side.

A very long time ago, Ron and I rode a greyhound bus from downtown Detroit to Iowa City, Iowa, to go to the student writer's workshop at the University of Iowa, and returned to reshape our school paper, the North Pointe.  I doubt that as we did so we imagined where we would end up, but there you go.

I spoke at UCLA yesterday about narcotics policy and mass incarceration, and when I got done I did something I do most days-- look up what Ron had written.  What I found was intriguing and strong.

In that piece, titled "Will Obama be Presidential or Political?" the heart is in the subtitle-- "While the White House and Congress stumble to an agreement, the great unknown is Obama's second act."  It's a question that goes to the heart of my own work, as I hope that using the pardon power is a part of that second act.

Ron notes that the President has signaled that immigration reform is going to be his focus after the current fracas is done, rather than the national debt.  Clearly, immigration reform offers the better political pay-off, while the debt is (arguably) the more important broad issue.  Thus the question-- will he be political, and address immigration, or presidential, and make progress on the broader and tougher issue?

I agree with Ron that the better choice would be to address the debt, though I'll bet my friends here will probably disagree...

I actually agree with you, Mark.

For years I have advocated reasonable immigration reform that met these three requirements: 1) secure the border; 2) fashion a system that connects hard-working immigrants with businesses that need workers; and 3) construct a reasonable pathway to citizenship for high-quality immigrants who are carrying on the grand tradition of adopting America as their home.

However, I cringe at the thought of comprehensive immigration legislation in this climate. These are not the folks to get this done. Hard to imagine anything less than an intensely political monstrosity.

Better to punt on immigration and concentrate all efforts on a short-term fiscal deal and, perhaps, lay a foundation for tax reform and entitlement reform in the near future. Frankly, if this Congress and President can make it to January 2015 without breaking the place, I will be happy.
And I could not agree more re Ron Fournier. As Bum Phillipis once said about Earl Campbell, "he may not be in a class by himself, but it sure doesn't take long to take roll."
I think it is impossible to separate the presidential from the political. The ACA was an attempt to be presidential. To go with the conservative alternative to single payer, which riled his base no end, was presidential. At the same time, it was political in that it was what he thought he could get through the Congress.

Immigration reform, if it can be accomplished, is somewhat akin to the use you advocate of the pardon power. It releases people from a legal limbo into the ability to be fully participating members of the society, even if the vote does not soon follow legal status. And it will require both political dealing with the Congress and gaining the political support of the people.

Similarly, tackling the deficit (the issue that actually needs to be addressed, so that the debt will then shrink over time) is both presidential and political. I doubt that any balanced approach (revenue restructuring and enhancements while restructuring entitlements to reduce expenditures) will get through Congress as it is now, without a great deal of political effort.

Keep in mind that the dominionists would rather see a total collapse of government than compromise.
I would question why the Congress can not work on Immigration Reform and the Budget and Budget Deficit issues at the same time. The rest of us multi-task in our lives every day and Congress should to. We supposedly elect intelligent (although in some cases up for debate) people to represent us.

So to be Presidential he should be advocating for both issues in the shorter term. To me that would be the way to go. And like WF said, I don't think you can separate the two in today's environment.

A Waco friend (I like to refer to him as Wf) brings up, indirectly, another important point: ACA needs the full attention of the executive and legislative to ensure that it does not fall apart as the Un-ACA. As I say, saving ACA really is a full-time job.

Solidify one legacy piece before adding another.
Things I would like to see Obama work on:

-Making Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" named as our new national anthem

-Banning Texas A&M...the whole thing

-Making "Nacho Day" a new national holiday on par with the 4th of July and Thanksgiving.

-Making "America: Back 2 Back World War Champs" our official national slogan

-Replacing the Marine Corp's Band with AC/DC as the official band of all White House events

-Sending Kings of Leon to Guantanamo

-Why do immigration reform? Just invade Mexico. Rename it "USA: South" Problem solved.

Those are just a few of the things I hope Obama dedicates a significant amount of his political capital to getting done over these next couple of years.
Wait a minute, RRL... I thought you were actually a member of Kings of Leon.

And Christine, Ron know better than I do that Presidents can affectively push only one piece of legislation at a time, given that they aren't in Congress. Sure, CONGRESS could consider two or three things at the same time, but that is more in their nature.
That is the meanest thing you, or anyone, has ever said about me cut me deep bro...
What's wrong with the Kings of Leon?

The way Congress continues to deal with the deficit/budget and agreeing to short term fixes it really prevents anyone from pursuing other meaningful issues ~ immigration, the Farm Bill and others....

All they have done is kick the can down the road for 3 or 4 months of which they will be on vacation or away from DC about 2 of those months with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
"What's wrong with the Kings of Leon?"

They are the worst. They are bad top-40 pop, disguised behind beards and ratty t-shirts, parading as the worst kind of hipster drivel that there is. Their songs are awful. That "Sex is on Fire" song...replace the word "sex" with "heart" and it might as well be a song that Ray Pruitt would've sung on 90210. And that other song, "Use Somebody," is like a ugly step sister to every Coldplay song.

Kings of Leon is everything that is wrong with music. Oh God they are awful.
ok - seriously, I had never heard of the Kings of Leon but now I am intrigued. Sorry RRL :(
RRL - did in fact go out and "try" to watch the UTube videos for the 2 songs you referenced. Yikes ~ the 'Sex on Fire' video appeared to be some sort of exorcism and the other song confirmed that I have never herd their music on any station I listen to.
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