Shame on you.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has come to a unanimous decision that Al Franken is, indeed, the winner in the Senate race against Norm Coleman. After a seven month-long battle, it’s nice to put this behind us and even better to see another Democrat take the seat making Franken the much needed 60th vote required to prevent Republican filibusters.
National Democratic Senatorial Committee Chairman Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement:
“As we’ve seen over the past 238 days, no matter how many times Norm Coleman goes to court, the result of the election never changes: Al Franken earned more votes than Norm Coleman. Al Franken was elected to the Senate and he ought to be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota. We’ve always said that Norm Coleman deserved his day in court, and he got eight months. Now we expect Governor Pawlenty to do the right thing, follow the law, and sign the election certificate. From health care to the Supreme Court to getting our economy moving again, the challenges facing us are complex and we need Al Franken in the Senate. In this historic and urgent moment in our history, Minnesotans have gone long enough without full representation. Al Franken will be an critical voice on the issues before us and it’s time to let him get to work.”
It’s so easy to forget that not all people who ascribe to any particular political party, ideal or belief all think alike. During these past 8 years of Bush/Cheney, it’s been hard to keep that in mind as so much of what I personally value about this country was threatened. Some would say Bush’s intentions were good, but his decisions were bad. Others would say he had a personal agenda and simply lied to get what he wanted. I have no way of knowing where the truth lies, but I do know that I felt increasingly like I had found myself in a country I no longer recognized. Sure, most of the people around me shared my beliefs and fears, but I live in Los Angeles, a liberal city, and work in the entertainment industry–as an artist, not a businessman. So my experience of what people think and what they believe based on my personal experience does not very likely reflect the majority of this country.
When President Bush got reelected in 2004, my heart sank and a tangible layer of hope and optimism was stripped away; I no longer had faith that Americans as a whole could recognize what was happening to them; that our ability as a nation to be self-aware, to learn from past mistakes, had eroded. Or never existed at all.
But this election has given me a renewed sense of hope. And not just because I believe Barack Obama might move this nation toward a vision of America I personally share. I’ve seen too many politicians come and go, too many promises forgotten or pushed aside. I know that, even though Obama is unquestionably the most exciting candidate to come along in my politically aware lifetime, he could prove to be “just another politician.”
No, what’s renewed my hope and optimism is the McCain/Palin campaign. That’s right. McCain/Palin. To my mind, Sarah Palin was a supremely irresponsible choice for running mate on the part of John McCain. Though I understood the initial attraction so far as changing the political game by tossing in the unexpected and stealing some of your opponent’s thunder, I felt it would be a disaster for the country if she were to get elected. Initially, upon watching the Republican base embrace this woman, a familiar dread began to stir inside me.
As I continued to watch John McCain toss aside many of his own beliefs throughout this campaign, as I watched his desire to be president take him down paths I thought quite disturbing, I feared I would once again be in the minority and that I would end up in that Twilight Zone where no one seems to see what’s going on. But as John McCain’s campaign became uglier, nastier… as he himself showed us a man straining and failing not to come across arrogant, condescending and angry… As Sarah Palin proved over and over again that she was nowhere near ready to represent the best America had to offer, people started speaking up. And not just people like me, not just liberal Democrats who knew without question which way they were voting early in this campaign, but conservatives, Republicans, military personnel, political advisors, on and on… They too saw what was happening and began speaking out, voicing their concerns, sharing their thoughts. And so they started coming out against the candidate who represented the party that most closely epitomized their ideals and vision of America. Not because they had lost faith in the party, but because they realized that the man and woman heading the call of that party no longer represented them; they had gone to a place that was so clearly damaging, so obviously rooted in something other than the best interests of this nation, that to deny that would be to allow this country to slip deeper down the dark chasm it has been sliding down for eight long years. Only this time, the world was in an even more dangerous, even more vulnerable place. And so was America.
On October 20th, conservative diplomat, political writer, and policy analyst, Ken Adelman, came out for Barack Obama. Or, more precisely, against John McCain. Adelman was once an advisor to President Reagan and the Assistant to United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was initially a big supporter of the Iraq War. In the most recent edition of THE NEW YORKER, Adelman discusses his reasons for not supporting John McCain:
“When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure. Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate. That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.”
In his article today in the Huffington Post, Adelman stated:
“I’ve considered myself less of a partisan than an ideologue. I cared about conservative principles, and still do, instead of caring about the GOP.
“Granted, McCain’s views are closer to mine than Obama’s. But I’ve learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.
“McCain’s temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that “our guy” would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.
“I’d rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.
“Nonetheless, I concluded that McCain would not — could not — be a good president. Obama just might be.
“That’s become good enough for me — however much of a triumph (as Dr. Johnson said about second marriages) of hope over experience.”
In yesterday’s online edition of NEWSWEEK, ex-Bush official Nicholas Burns also came out against McCain and Palin. It should be noted that Mr. Burns, now retired, was the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs within the Department of State, the highest-ranking American career diplomat. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate by President George W. Bush in 2005. Here is what he had to say:
“Are McCain and Palin correct that America should stonewall its foes? I lived this issue for 27 years as a career diplomat, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. Maybe that’s why I’ve been struggling to find the real wisdom and logic in this Republican assault against Obama. I’ll bet that a poll of senior diplomats who have served presidents from Carter to Bush would reveal an overwhelming majority who agree with the following position: of course we should talk to difficult adversaries—when it is in our interest and at a time of our choosing.
“The more challenging and pertinent question, especially for the McCain-Palin ticket, is the reverse: Is it really smart to declare we will never talk to such leaders? Is it really in our long-term national interest to shut ourselves off from one of the most important and powerful states in the Middle East—Iran—or one of our major suppliers of oil, Venezuela?…
“The real truth Americans need to embrace is that nearly all of the most urgent global challenges—the quaking financial markets, climate change, terrorism—cannot be resolved by America’s acting alone in the world. Rather than retreat into isolationism, as we have often done in our history, or go it alone as the unilateralists advocated disastrously in the past decade, we need to commit ourselves to a national strategy of smart engagement with the rest of the world. Simply put, we need all the friends we can get. And we need to think more creatively about how to blunt the power of opponents through smart diplomacy, not just the force of arms.
“Talking to our adversaries is no one’s idea of fun, and it is not a sure prescription for success in every crisis. But it is crude, simplistic and wrong to charge that negotiations reflect weakness or appeasement. More often than not, they are evidence of a strong and self-confident country. One of America’s greatest but often neglected strengths is, in fact, our diplomatic power. Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Libya in September—the first by a U.S. secretary of state in five decades—was the culmination of years of careful, deliberate diplomacy to maneuver the Libyan leadership to give up its weapons of mass destruction and renounce terrorism. She would not have achieved that victory had she refused to talk to the Libyans…
“Rather than default to the idea of using U.S. military force against Iran, wouldn’t it make more sense for the next American president to offer to negotiate with the Iranian leadership?…
“The next U.S. president will have little chance of securing peace in the Middle East if he doesn’t determine Iran’s bottom line on the nuclear issue through talks. Similarly, there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel if we don’t support the talks underway between those countries…
“The next president needs to act more creatively and boldly to defend our interests by revalidating diplomacy as a key weapon in our national arsenal and rebuilding our understaffed and underfunded diplomatic corps. Of course he will need to reserve the right to use force against the most vicious and implacable of our foes. More often than not, however, he will find that dialogue and discussion, talking and listening, are the smarter ways to defend our country, end crises and sometimes even sow the seeds of an ultimate peace.”
We are still a young country. We are still trying to understand and define the soul of America. Who are we? As a nation? As a people? Are we destined for greatness, or are we to be yet another example of greatness gone awry, misled? Are these just growing pains, or is it a death rattle?
The process of that discovery is fraught with hardship and loss, with changes and growth both exciting and terrifying. It is a painful path, an uncertain path, a demanding path. But a path that if taken with eyes and hearts wide open, with a desire for self-awareness, self-criticism and self-respect, then America may just find its soul and learn to nurture it. And I believe the whole world would be a better place for it.
Someone once told me the closer you get to achieving your life’s goals, to becoming the things that you are most compelled to be, the more monsters and demons will rise up to stop you. And many of those monsters and demons will be of your own making. I have found this to be true. Both in my personal growth and in watching the growth of this country, both historically and presently. I hope we can face those monsters together and find ourselves, one day, on the other side.
With all the Swift-Boat-like attacks pouring out of the McCain/Palin camp aimed at Barack Obama, people may want to brush up on their Keating Five history and Mr. McCain’s involvement as one of those five. It seems it’s only a matter of time before someone decides to resurrect this piece of history and remind voters of one of the MANY skeletons in Mr. McCain’s closet. Remember the old saying about throwing stones in glass houses?
Here’s a brief summary as outlined by Slate.com:
Charles Keating owned a savings and loan in California. He was illegally using the money of his bank’s customers to give loans to himself and friends that they didn’t have to repay, and to speculate on risky real estate investments, which was strictly forbidden by U.S. law (and was one cause of the Great Depression).
When the feds found out what was going on and launched an investigation into Keating and his company, Keating called five U.S. Senators whom he had wined, dined, and lavished with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and personal gifts.
Keating asked the five Senators to tell the feds to bug off, and the five Senators, later known as the Keating Five, obliged, meeting with federal investigators twice and pressuring them to stop investigating Keating’s crimes. They bought Keating some time, but the feds didn’t give up and eventually Keating was nailed. The reason the feds were so persistent was because Keating wasn’t playing with mere chump change. Keating blew $3.4 billion through illegal personal loans and bad investments, and the FDIC had to reimburse Keating’s customers who had been ripped off.
(Background Info – Keating wasn’t the only Savings and Loan owner who was committing fraud, 20% of the S&L’s that failed during that three year period were found to have been caused by fraud and/or insider trading. The failure of the Lincoln Savings and Loan and other S&L’s pushed the country into a recession, costing the U.S. government $126 billion dollars in FDIC insurance payouts to investors. All of this came to a crescendo during the first year of the presidency of George H.W. Bush, who pushed through the S&L bailout plan to keep the economy afloat.)
When the involvement of the Keating Five was made public, a scandal erupted and the Senate Ethics Committee launched their own investigation into whether the Keating Five had violated Senate ethics rules. The other four Senators left office either immediately or within one term. John McCain was formally rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for exercising “poor judgment” for intervening with the federal regulators on behalf of Keating, but because McCain accepted Keating’s gifts of travel and vacations to Bahama while McCain was a member of the House of Representatives (he served one term there before moving to the Senate), the Senate claimed they had no jurisdiction to censure McCain. (However the meetings to pressure federal regulators occurred during the first few months of McCain serving in the Senate in 1987, so that excuse doesn’t hold up)
John McCain then went back to the drawing board and re-invented himself as “the Straight-Talk Express” and the media gobbled it up. “Tax-Evading-Criminal” doesn’t sound as catchy as “Straight-Shooting-War-Hero”.
And if you don’t like that particular piece of history, you can purchase this John McCain doll at Entertainment Earth for only $12.99 and re-enact your own version of events.
Democrats have a recent history of playing it safe. They try not to get upset, they try to appear calm and “reasonable”… But what’s happening in this country–and make no mistake, the Democrats’ passivity is partly to blame–requires an appropriate emotional response. And that emotional response is anger. What the Bush Administration has done to this country and to the American Constitution is vile. What McCain is now doing is just as dangerous and just as damaging. I’d add Sarah Palin to the mix, but she’s as ridiculous as Dan Quayle was and her interview tonight with Charlie Gibson was all the proof anyone should need of that. No, this is about McCain. He chose to allow her to be the VP nom. He put politics before country. He put personal gain before country. And now with his repugnant ads against Obama, with their outright lies and shameless smearing… Hell, even some Republicans are finding themselves disgusted. You know when Bill O’Reilly starts standing up for Obama, something major is happening! Nico Pitney at the Huffington Post reports:
Bill O’Reilly led off tonight’s episode of The Factor with a pointed critique of the latest small-minded content of the news cycle, criticizing the McCain campaign both in terms of character and tactics, slagging the media for pressing the story senselessly, and largely absolving Obama…
Finally people are starting to find the balls needed to stand up and say, “NO MORE!” Check out this “it’s about time” moment shown on MSNBC this afternoon when Democratic Strategist Ari Melber lays into Republican Strategist Brad Blakeman and is backed by the MSNBC Jed Report anchor. What’s scary about this is watching how desperately Mr. Blakeman holds onto his lies when openly called on them, and his overt, blatant willingness to try and deceive Americans.
You thought that was good? Take a listen to Sen. Joe Biden let loose on Republicans during a Senate debate over the bill that would have required George W. Bush to withdraw U.S. troops within one year. Biden’s been called a blow-hard and a loud-mouth in the past, but it’s more likely those are descriptions used to describe someone so disgusted with the lies and incompetence and the high price paid for those that he no longer feels it appropriate to call it anything other than what it is. And the best part, Biden gets the floor just after McCain!