It was because he was going to retire anyway, lost a favorite port town in redistricting and had a tough race last time.
Was this really why Congressman Barney Frank announced today he’s retiring from the House of Representatives?
Perhaps another reason was he’s no longer chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and like a lot of bullies, Mr. Frank found it’s not easy to be stripped of the power to torment and humiliate others.
Brilliant, but acid tongued and generally unpleasant, Mr. Frank ruled with an iron gavel, ran over critics with delight and treated committee members and especially Republican colleagues as lesser forms of life.
Mr. Frank’s departure in January 2013 will remove from the House one of its more offensive members. Until then, this petulant, abrasive and downright nasty Congressman will keep making his presence known.
However, it is unlikely that Mr. Frank is leaving for the reason he should depart Congress: out of shame for all he did to stop reform of Fannie and Freddie while there was still time to avert the disaster that almost took down the American economy.
In 2003, he called Fannie and Freddie “fundamentally sound financially” and accused the Bush Administration of trying to “exaggerate a threat of safety… [to] conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see."
A year later, he said talk of financial problems at Fannie and Freddie were “an artificial issue created by the administration...I don't think we are in any remote danger here."
In 2007, as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and just as Fannie and Freddie – overleveraged and stuffed to the gills with risky mortgages they’d encouraged and facilitated – were about to go over the cliff, Mr. Frank attacked President George W. Bush’s call for reform as “inane.”
Yet when Fannie and Freddie went belly up in the fall of 2008, Mr. Frank voted for the same Bush Administration reforms that could have averted the bankruptcies of Fannie and Freddie.
Why did Mr. Frank oppose giving these two gigantic financial institutions the same scrutiny as a local bank, a neighborhood savings and loan or a community credit union?
Fannie and Freddie provided “grease” for the Democratic political machine through hundreds of millions in charitable contributions to left wing community and advocacy groups that are critical to Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts.
Fannie and Freddie hired vast armies of influence peddlers – admittedly from both parties, but mostly Democrats – to forestall any efforts at reasonable regulation.
Fannie and, to a lesser extent, Freddie, were led by Democratic political power brokers, masquerading as mortgage bankers while advising Democratic presidents, vetting Democratic running mates, and plumping the election hopes of Congressional Democrats.
Mr. Frank is incapable of feeling shame, regret or a sense of personal responsibility. These are emotions for lesser beings. He’s leaving because of redistricting or to avoid having to raise money or facing those nasty little voters every two years. The House will be a better place for his departure.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Friday, November 29, 2011.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The presidential election is one year from tomorrow, and the U.S. economy will likely be the top issue for voters.
It was also the subject of Regent University's ninth annual "Clash of the Titans" debate this weekend in Virginia Beach, Va.
The event pits heavyweights from opposite ends of the political spectrum against each other.
"No gouging, no biting, no kicking," CBN founder Dr. Pat Robertson told the panel. "Have a wonderful debate. I hope you come up with solutions to America's debt problem."
FOX News anchor Brett Baier moderated the debate, which centered on the size of government in solving the economic crisis.
Republicans want to downsize government, meaning less spending, lower taxes and fewer regulations. Democrats, on the other hand, want bigger government and even more spending to spur growth.
"What about the famous Obamacare? Truth is, it lets businesses, if they want to, do something they've never been allowed to do before. The public plan, that's a lot less than the cost you're now paying for worker," noted Larry Summer, former economic adviser to President Obama.
"What happens if the number of people, if Dr. Summers is right, and I think he is, and we have a much larger number of people dumped into the system and put on the taxpayer tab?" former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove rejoined.
"We'll have a trillion and a half or $2 trillion tab for this half of the program," he added. "That's why we need to repeal Obamacare."
The Titans all agree upon one thing: American is on a financial path that is unsustainable, and the stakes have never been higher.
Over the weekend, a pair of political pundits – National Journal’s Charlie Cook and the New York Times’ John Harwood -- engaged in some historical revisionism, suggesting President Obama’s emerging campaign strategy was (more or less) a carbon copy of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election bid.
Like a lot of revisionist history, there was a surface appeal to their theories. But alas, neither writer got it right. Mr. Bush is not to blame for Mr. Obama’s dash to the far left wing of his party. Mr. Obama is.
Let’s begin with the noted prognosticator and electoral commentator extraordinaire Charlie Cook, who suggested that when “independent voters…viewed Bush with skepticism,” the 2004 reelection “began focusing more on expanding its base than on throwing huge amounts of resources at independent and undecided voters.” Mr. Obama, he opined, is merely doing this year what Mr. Bush did eight years ago.
If Mr. Bush won re-election by focusing on the Republican Party’s base, exactly how is it that he won 23% more votes than he received in 2000?
By focusing on the GOP base, did Mr. Bush (a) nearly erase the gender gap; (b) carry the highest percentage of Hispanic voters for a Republican since exit polls began tracking Latinos; (c) increase his share of the African-American vote by 22%; (d) boost his support among union households by 4 points; and (e) do better among Jewish voters than any Republican since Ronald Reagan swept 49 states in 1984?
Mr. Cook asserts all those gains occurred because the Bush campaign focused on its base rather than throw “huge amounts of resources” at swing voters. That’s news to me.
Mr. Cook described only one leg of the Bush tactical approach. Of course we took steps to energize the Republican base; any incumbent does. But the 2004 Bush re-election also focused a huge amount of attention on persuading independents and swiping “soft” Democrats. The former succeeded so well that Mr. Bush won 48% among independents and 11% of Democrats while Mr. Kerry carried 49% of independents and only 6% of Republicans.
Much of the Bush re-election’s massive volunteer effort was aimed at persuading non-Republicans to support Bush. So was its advertising, including an extensive under-the-radar effort on African-American radio stations that helped, for example, double Mr. Bush’s support among Black voters in Ohio.
Mr. Cook concedes that a “base-only” strategy has its weaknesses and risks, requiring a candidate to place all his political eggs in one political basket. That’s why Mr. Bush’s re-election would have rejected a “base-only” strategy in a nanosecond as politically insane.
Last weekend’s other revisionist journalist is the New York Times’ John Harwood. He, too, suggested Mr. Obama is parroting Mr. Bush’s 2004 strategy, writing that in 2004, “George W. Bush exploited social and national security issues to offset his economic vulnerabilities.”
But what “economic vulnerabilities” does Mr. Harwood have in mind? The average unemployment rate in 2003 was 6% and for 2004, 5.5% (compared to 9.1% today). According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the economy grew 4.7% in 2003 and 6.4% in 2004.
In the last two quarters, by comparison, the economy has grown at 0.4 percent and 1.3 percent. The 2004 election, in fact, took place in the midst of an unprecedented period of uninterrupted job growth. Mr. Obama is stressing social issues because he wants to downplay the economic ones.
In addition, it wasn’t Mr. Bush who injected social issues – namely gay marriage – into the 2004 campaign. It was instead the Massachusetts Superior Judicial Court with its November 2003 decision legalizing gay marriage in the Bay State. That is what altered the status quo and forced conservatives to react.
The Massachusetts decision set off a grass roots reaction throughout the country that eventually led 11 states to pass traditional marriage measures by referendum in November 2004.
It’s also worth noting that the then-president and his 2004 Democratic opponent both supported the traditional definition of marriage, as did Mr. Obama in his 2008 contest.
Third, Mr. Bush had little choice in making national security the focal point of his 2004 campaign. The Democratic opposition already had made it so: it was the number one issue in the 2003 lead-up to their primaries, propelling the little known governor of Vermont to frontrunner status (until his campaign imploded in Iowa).
To suggest Mr. Bush focused on Iraq and the War on Terror to compensate for the economy is laughable. With unemployment low and GDP growth robust, Democrats didn’t want to make the election about the economy. The war was an issue because the Democrats wanted to fight the campaign over it. And Mr. Bush was happy to oblige. We knew he could defeat Senator Kerry on multiple political fronts.
Mr. Harwood did hit the mark on an important aspect of Mr. Obama’s current strategy: the president has suffered an enormous decline among college graduates, independents and young people (his job approval rating among the last group has dropped 30 points since his inaugural).
But President Obama is pursuing a strategy that is completely at odds with, not similar to, the one pursued by President Bush. And these appeals to class warfare, demands for higher taxes, and slashing attacks on his political opponents are unlikely to get these voters back, no matter where Mr. Obama stands on social issues. These groups were among those most powerfully drawn to the young Illinois senator’s pledge to change Washington by being the president “not of red states or blue states but the United States.”
The latest Obama strategy, though, is to seek to divide Americans in every possible way, including by class and sexual orientation. And so Mr. Obama takes great delight in excoriating “millionaires and billionaires” for their “corporate jets.”
This weekend he attacked Republicans for not denouncing a couple of people sitting in a debate audience who booed a question on repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (they did not boo the gay soldier). This is a pitiful (and fruitless) effort to draw attention away from the disastrous effects of his stimulus program, alarm over his spending patterns and deficits, and the huge opposition to his signature achievement, health care reform.
To date Mr. Obama’s re-election strategy is, if anything, an anti-Bush strategy. If an unpaid intern had suggested we do what the Obama campaign is doing, he’d have been demoted. But thankfully no one on the ’04 Bush campaign was that stupid.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Friday, October 4, 2011.
President Barack Obama’s private musings while waiting to be introduced at an American Jobs Act event:
Pass this bill.
I admit it’s not “yes, we can,” but it gets the crowd chanting. Said it 18 times before Congress, 12 times in the Rose Garden, 24 in Raleigh, 18 in Richmond, 18 in Columbus. Maybe I'll set a new record today.
The dirty secret is I don’t really want to pass this bill. Like that historian told my senior advisors, I can’t win re-election by emphasizing what I’ve done. Better to run against a do-nothing Congress, Harry Truman-style. I do wish the House Republicans would stop passing stuff though.
I love that this jobs package is mostly recycled. We already passed a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed. Already claimed my second stimulus would create more construction jobs. Said last September “we want to set up an infrastructure bank,” promised last August that my state bailout bill would “save the jobs of teachers,” announced in March 2010 that the HIRE Act would let businesses “write off investments…in equipment this year” and pledged in February 2009 that we’d eliminate wasteful projects. Yet all things can be made new again! Amazing.
It’s true a bunch of the ideas are already in force and most haven’t done much good, including the Social Security payroll tax holiday. Extending it costs $175 billion, speeds up Social Security’s bankruptcy. The trust fund will have to be repaid, but by whoever follows me in 2017.
I’m sure I can even get away with calling my bill bipartisan, even if just a Republican or two have supported only a provision here or there once. And best of all, I get to claim the bill is paid for. Forget that I couldn’t get these tax increases when Democrats ran Congress. Landrieu and Begich hate the energy ones, Conrad and Baucus opposed limiting charity and mortgage deductions, other Democrats are down on other tax increases. But as long as I attack Republicans for protecting “millionaires and billionaires,” the MoveOn crowd and Michael Moore will stop complaining.
Then there’s spending cuts. That guy from ABC — Tapper — is giving me a hard time again, saying I’m “trying to pad” the numbers by counting savings that were already happening from winding down Iraq and Afghanistan and double counting $1 trillion in cuts from the debt ceiling deal. What’s with that guy, anyway? He needs to fall in line. Of course I’m padding the numbers. How else could I claim to be saving trillions?
The next thing you know, NBC’s Chuck Todd will dust off what I told him a couple of years ago, that “the last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.” Too bad 68 percent in that Bloomberg poll feel we’re in a recession.
But, hopefully, details will get lost when I talk about the “Buffett rule” and “pay their fair share.” I know the rich pay most of the income taxes and at higher rates than anyone else, but why let facts get in the way? I need to win this election! Warren should give his secretary stock. Then she’d lower her tax bill like he does by getting lots of capital gains.
Today, I think I’ll do the thing where I talk about bipartisanship, then strafe Republicans. Give that riff about “this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own…that’s not the story of America.” Of course, I’ve never heard a real Republican say this and don’t believe they’re unpatriotic, but calling them un-American drives 'em crazy.
And when the jobs bill doesn’t pass, I can blame it all on the GOP, not nervous-nelly Democrats like both Nelsons and Casey and Tester and McCaskill, who say they have “concerns” or accuse me of ducking hard issues.
What is it with my own party? Saw a report in my favorite rag, Politico, about a conference call last week where “donors and strategists commiserated over their disappointment” in me. Someone on the call described the mood as “awful…People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless.” Well, can’t please everyone all the time.
Well, enough of this: they’re starting the music in the auditorium. That’s my signal. Are they playing “City of Blinding Love” by U-2 again? Much better than “Hail to the Chief.” How’s it go? “The more you see, the less you know/the less you find out as you go/I knew much more then/than I do now.” OK, fired up, ready to go and remember, pass this bill!
“Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Friday, September 23, 2011.
Thursday night’s show by President Obama struck me as…
Presumptuous: He demanded – 17 times – that Congress immediately pass a bill no one has seen.
Tired: The speech contained little new, just mostly recycled ideas or extensions of current programs that haven’t worked.
Small: Its proposals, while expensive, offer little hope of really jump-starting the economy.
Mind-boggling: Mr. Obama wants to drains hundreds of billions from Social Security for another stimulus.
Slippery: It will all be paid for, the president said, but it’s up to a Congressional committee to figure out how.
Misleading: These were just GOP ideas. Really? Republicans have proposed another $450 billion stimulus bill, Mr. Obama?
Arrogant: He refused to consult in advance with anyone on the Hill, even refusing a meeting request from the House Speaker and Majority Leader.
Self-centered: The only job he’s really concerned about is his own. If he really wanted a bipartisan package, he would have worked with Republicans to come up with one.
Unnecessary: The president would have been better off traveling the country this week to lay out proposals, surrounded by people he could claim would might benefit.
Completely political: Before he spoke, Mr. Obama sent supporters an email titled “Before I head to the Capitol” that ended with “You should donate today.”
Hyper-partisan: This speech – especially its angry tone – was aimed at setting up the Republicans for blame next fall. Then he’ll say the economy would be better if the GOP has just done what I ordered them to do.
Misguided: Mr. Obama is betting his re-elect on a massive spending bill.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the show.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Friday, September 9, 2011.
Having a presidential primary debate with eight candidates on the stage means no one gets knocked out unless they do it themselves. And no one knocked himself or herself out Thursday night. Instead, several candidates did themselves some good.
Frontrunners help themselves when they meet or beat expectations. Mitt Romney beat them last night, by saying “I'm not going to eat Barack Obama's dog food,” by offering a meaty, punchy response of seven items he would do to get the economy moving again, and by missing no opportunity to emphasize his background as a businessman who knew how to create jobs.
While the coverage emphasized the mini-brawl between former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the two candidates did themselves more good by what they revealed about their own backgrounds, values, records, and vision. Gov. Pawlenty focused on his achievements as a conservative governor in a purple state; Rep. Bachmann heralded her opposition to President Obama’s policies.
While their attacks on each other were good TV, adding some drama and spark to the debate, they did little damage. Bachmann arguing Pawlenty’s record “sounds a lot more like Barack Obama,” and Pawlenty saying Bachmann’s “record of accomplishment and results is nonexistent,” simply reinforces the views of voters who were already committed to them. It didn’t sway any undecideds.
While the political class has focused much of its attention on the direct confrontation between Pawlenty and Bachmann, it was more important that Iowa voters heard him say, “If you can find Barack Obama's specific plan on any of those items, I will come to your house and cook you dinner,” and heard her proclaim, “I was leading on the issue of not increasing the debt ceiling.”
Newt Gingrich proved again that the counterpunch is often stronger than the punch. Chris Wallace asked the former speaker a tough but fair question about what Gingrich would say to those who felt his “campaign has been a mess so far.” Newt threw a haymaker in response, saying “I took seriously Bret's injunction to put aside the talking points. And I wish you would put aside the ‘gotcha’ questions.” Wallace’s question was legitimate, but Newt successfully evaded it by punching back.
What happens at a debate off stage is often more important than what happens on stage. That was certainly true yesterday for Romney, whose debate performance was bolstered by his tough and passionate response to a left-wing heckler at an appearance earlier in the day at the Iowa State Fair. But the biggest offstage event was Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s very adroit leak Thursday afternoon that he was getting into the GOP presidential race Saturday. It made him a looming presence in a debate he skipped. And it may also have been an attempt to jack up his vote at the Iowa Straw Poll Saturday to create a surprise showing or to obscure a weak one.
In the end, the debate is likely to have little effect on the Straw Poll, the next possible inflection point of the content. For example, Congressman Ron Paul gave a less than stellar performance in the debate, but that didn’t quiet the roar of his well-organized and vocal supporters. While he has no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, he may do well at the Straw Poll. Three million people live in Iowa: a couple thousand of them turning up in Ames at the Straw Poll will make any candidate, even a fringe one, a contender.
What really matters Saturday is whether a candidate exceeds expectations. That puts Bachman and Pawlenty in the hot seat. She’s expected to win and he’ll be damaged if he doesn’t “do well,” meaning win, place, or show. And while neither Romney or Perry are contesting the Straw Poll, both could be damaged if the press decides their vote total tomorrow aren’t what the media think they should be. This is especially true for Perry: independent groups are actively working to turn out supporters for the Straw Poll.
We’re still in the political pruning process. Debates like last night’s will become more consequential in the GOP contest the smaller the number of candidates participating. That would allow for more time for each candidate to speak and more consequential exchanges. That’s why we’ll all be watching how the Straw Poll -- and the passage of time and the absence of campaign contributions -- slim downs the Republican field.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Friday, August 12, 2011.
President Obama's campaign fundraising last quarter was impressive -- he raised $48.7 million for his campaign and more than $38 million for the Democratic National Committee.
But it wasn't as good as I expected, especially given how much time Mr. Obama personally invested.
According to CBS radio's Mark Knoller, who also serves as the unofficial White House press corps statistics king, the president attended 31 fundraisers in nine states during the last three months. That is more than a fundraising reception or dinner every three days.
This flurry of fundraising events was the main reason Mr. Obama posted the biggest first quarter cash total for a presidential reelection. But is that pace sustainable? No.
Thirty-one fundraisers in a quarter is a big strain on any president's schedule. Mr. Obama can’t keep that pace up and not just because he's got a day job. There are also just so many cities capable of producing $1 million and only so many times you can hold a million dollar fundraiser in them.
The president held six fundraising events each in California and New York. Even these two bastions of rich liberals have a finite amount of $2,500 donors. Mr. Obama is front-loading campaign cash and won't regularly get this amount of big buck donations each quarter.
Even though at least $35 million (almost half the total Obama/DNC haul) can be credited to just 244 well-connected “bundlers,” Team Obama made a big thing of their 260,000 new small dollar donors. But that means only 292,000 donors from his last campaign have renewed their support for the re-elect so far. That's just 6.6 percent of the 3.95 million people who donated to the '08 Obama effort, only a quarter to a third of what most reelect campaigns could expect from renewal efforts at this point.
Perhaps there really is donor fatigue among the legions of stalwarts who put Mr. Obama in the White House the first time.
Further evidence of Team Obama's challenge is something The Washington Post spotted, namely that the campaign reported "uncommonly high fundraising and mail costs." This is evidence that even Team Obama found the first quarter more challenging than they anticipated. It may have even led them to the (somewhat) embarrassing pitch for $5 for a lottery offering a chance to share a meal with Mr. Obama, which the campaign later hyped by saying Vice President Joe Biden would also be given a seat at the table.
If Mr. Obama is to match his 2007-08 fundraising total of $745 million, then the campaign will have to raise on average $133 million in each of the 5 1/2 quarters left in this election. And if the president and the DNC are to reach their $1 billion goal, they'll need to up their game dramatically, raising on average a combined $183 million a quarter.
If Mr. Obama couldn't hit this mark in his first quarter with a record number of personal appearances for fundraising, I doubt he will reach it in many of the quarters ahead.
I'm impressed with what Mr. Obama did but not as impressed as I thought I’d be.
If I were his campaign team in Chicago or his West Wing political consigliere, David Plouffe, I'd be more than a little worried that their billion-dollar goal is out of reach.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Tuesday, July 18, 2011.
It was more than a little jarring when President Obama joked during a meeting with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council in Durham, N.C. on Monday that "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." Everyone at the head table had a good laugh.
After all, Mr. Obama argued for the $830 billion stimulus that America?s governors ?all?have projects that are shovel ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door.? And Vice President Joe Biden echoed the President, saying it ?provides a necessary jolt to our economy to implement what we refer as ?shovel-ready projects.?
The Obama White House understood ?shovel ready? conveyed the sense of good construction jobs and that their constant repetition of the phrase would leave the impression the stimulus was mostly about building roads, repairing bridges, constructing runways, and extending rail lines.
But the reality is that only $47.4B ? of 5.7% of the total stimulus ? went towards spending on roads, bridges, railroads, airports and even high speed rail. This was apparent to anyone who even glanced at the stimulus legislation. Surely both the President and the Vice President knew what a small portion of the spending was going to ?shovel ready? projects.
Mr. Obama said unemployment was supposed to be around 6.8% right now because of his stimulus. Instead, unemployment was 9.1% last month.
While Mr. Obama overpromised and undelivered on shovel ready projects, it?s no reason for laughter by him or anyone else. His little joke rings hollow for the 13.9 million Americans out of work today.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Tuesday, June 14, 2011.
Immigration reform, President Obama said Monday, is an issue ?that politicians in Washington have been either exploiting or dodging.? Mr. Obama should know because he has spent his time in Washington as senator and president alternately exploiting or dodging the issue.
Start with his observation itself: he made it in a fundraising e-mail that asked for campaign contributions.
The e-mail was sent following his speech Tuesday in El Paso, in which he exaggerated his own record and claimed credit for actions taken under his predecessors (like doubling the size of the Border Patrol). He called for bipartisan cooperation on comprehensive immigration reform and then mocked the very Republicans he?d just asked to join with him.
Mr. Obama?s speech on immigration -- on a day where he made his first visit to the border region since becoming president nearly 28 months ago -- is the latest example that he and his team are in full election mode and could care less about actually getting something done.
After all, in 2008, candidate Obama promised he was ?guaranteeing? he?d offer an immigration bill his first year. Once elected, he ignored the issue for a year and a half. Then at the ?Three Amigos Summit? in Mexico in August 2009 he vowed that "before the year is out we will have draft legislation, along with sponsors potentially in the House and the Senate who are ready to move this forward, and when we come back next year, that we should be in a position to start acting.? Again, nothing happened. No draft legislation. No sponsors. No action.
This inaction took place while Mr. Obama and the Democrats controlled the Senate by a 60-40 margin and the House by 256 to 178.
Even today, Mr. Obama has no comprehensive proposal, no draft legislation, and no sponsors in either the Senate or the House. Even advocates of comprehensive immigration reform are leery that just like Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip, Mr. Obama is teeing up the ball but will jerk it away at the last minute.
Does Mr. Obama think so little of the American people that he believes he can say these things and no one will remember what he said before? Is he so cynical he thinks we?re that dumb?
Then there was this gem in Mr. Obama?s El Paso speech: a fervent plea for a guest worker program that would make "it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here? and also ?provide our farms a legal way to hire workers that they rely on.?
But this wins the hypocrisy prize in light of then-Senator Obama?s actions during the 2007 immigration reform debate. He claimed to support comprehensive immigration, yet when decision time came, he sided with the unions in gutting the measure.
The Senate was on the verge of passing immigration reform when Majority Leader Harry Reid rashly pulled the bill from the floor before voting began on 150 proposed amendments. He did this without discussing his action with either the Democratic or Republican sponsors or the White House. Reid thought the long amendment process would rile up emotions, ignoring the fact that more amendments improved the bill?s chances for passing. After facing intense blowback from his colleagues, Senator Reid brought the bill up again, but the only way for him to do so was under a Senate rule that allowed only limited amendments.
Unions opposed the guest worker program, one of the three major elements of comprehensive reform. Of the handful of amendments Mr. Reid allowed, two would gut the guest work program. One amendment capped the size of guest workers allowed to 200,000 (rather than making the number depend on the number available jobs) and another would end the program after a 5-year period (which meant few companies would make the investment and participate). Mr. Obama voted in favor of both amendments, and on June 28, 2007, immigration reform failed 53-46.
President Obama is insincere, hypocritical and cynical when it comes immigration reform. As president, he has dodged the issue, doing little to advance it, failing to even offer draft legislation. And as a candidate, he has shown himself more than willing to exploit it to try currying favor with Latino voters.
Americans may have given him the benefit of the doubt in 2008, but they are less likely to accept his excuses now.
They heard the president explain it best himself in El Paso, ?It?s easier for politicians to defer the problem until the next election. And there?s always a next election.? If Mr. Obama continues to play politics with immigration reform, the coming election may well end in his defeat.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Friday, May 13, 2011.
After Bin Laden's Death, President Obama's Next Challenge Is to Explain That the War on Terror Is Still Far From Over
What grand words to bookend a long and dangerous effort. On September 20, 2001, President George W. Bush said “whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” Last night, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “Justice has been done.” Usama bin Laden is dead.
Much credit goes to our Navy SEALs, armed forces, CIA operatives, and the intelligence community. They proved again they are the best in the world at what they do.
Congratulations also to President Obama and his national security team for their adroit leadership of this operation. And thanks is also due President Bush, whose policies provided the tools that led to the discovery of Bin Laden’s hiding place.
* * *
Now, in response to questions I’ve been asked, here are more mundane political observations: in the short term, this event is sure to boost President Obama’s standing with the public. Giving the orders that kill an evil figure like bin Laden should redound to the president’s credit.
But President Obama faces new challenges. Bin Laden’s death may lead more Americans to conclude the War on Terror is done, much as the death of Hitler marked the collapse of the Third Reich. But bin Laden knew he might be killed and prepared Al Qaeda for that possibility by installing leadership that could act in the event of his death and decentralizing the organization so it could not be decapitated easily.
President Obama needs to go to the American people in the weeks ahead to explain plainly and forcefully why more days of danger and sacrifice lie ahead in Afghanistan and across the globe. Public opinion has soured on the war in Afghanistan already with 34% approving of the President’s handling of it and 54% disapproving. Before Bin Laden’s death on Sunday, only 32% of Americans thought we were winning the war on terror.
Nor can people in the West Wing think this event permanently alters the president’s relationship with the American people. Less than a week before Saddam Hussein was captured, President George W. Bush’s Gallup rating stood at 55% approve, 43% disapprove. Shortly after Saddam was pulled from his hole, Bush’s rating rose to 63% approve, 34% disapprove. But a month later, they had returned to 53% approve, 44% disapprove.
Last Friday, President Obama’s Gallup rating stood at 46% approve, 46% disapprove.
And because Bin Laden’s death is a bigger event to the American people than the death of Saddam Hussein, President Obama’s numbers may well see a bigger bump than Bush received, and it may last longer. But the effect could still be transitory as concerns about rising gas and grocery prices, government spending, the burgeoning national debt, and health care pull the president’s numbers down again.
* * *
For now, however, President Obama has every reason to take pride in his handling of this operation, his national security team and, most important of all, our SEALs and CIA operators. He also has reason to be grateful to his predecessor for having put in place tools whose use hastened the extraordinary events that took place on an early Sunday morning in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Monday, May 2, 2011.