The Agitator #41
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
September 10, 2012 09:56 AM | 1590 views | 10 10 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The presidential nominating conventions are over, and from what one political pundit has said, there are only about 967,000 votes up for grabs that are spread out in about a half dozen swing states. There is a great divide between the two parties that makes this election much easier to choose from. It is interesting to see how the Republican Party has evolved since Eisenhower was president. I doubt that any modern day conservative Republican would vote for IKE in a primary today. And if Ronald Reagan ran for president today under a different name but exactly the same political history and record, he wouldn’t have much chance either. Eisenhower understood power, and he understood the abuses and dangers of power. That included his caution in not using nuclear weapons in Korea, not expanding the war there, not getting involved in Vietnam beyond a handful of advisers, and not triggering a war with the Soviets over Hungary. Eisenhower also advocated for an open skies policy with the Soviets where we would have mutual reconnaissance flyovers to ensure compliance with an arms limitation treaty. He had a long term vision that in the end I doubt few would dispute that we were better off for his hand at the helm for eight years.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes numerous times as governor of California. Before Roe vs. Wade he signed into law the most liberal abortion law in the country. As president he is remembered for lowering taxes and forgotten for his tax hikes. He is also largely forgotten for creating the largest deficits up until Bush II and Obama. Some economists believe that Reagan’s deficit spending was a big reason for getting us out of the recession that he inherited, that his deficits contributed to lowering unemployment. Reagan also did nothing when over 240 marines were killed in a terrorist attack in Lebanon. How much of that would fly in today’s Republican Party?

Obviously this forum is not the place for a detailed record analysis of either president. In my opinion both were very good presidents, and I voted for Reagan both times. But considering the total allegiance to the Republican Party’s platform today that is commanded of all Republican candidates for office, it makes sense why Romney and Ryan have tacked so hard to the right, why they publicly ignore where they have strayed from the platform in the past. At one time I was pretty confident that Romney would win the November election. Today, barring the unforeseen and all things being equal, I wouldn’t bet on it. Rather than post blogs challenging me on this, I would suggest that we wait until after the election to do a post mortem. I maintain that Eisenhower and Reagan had it right, that they had the pulse of the American people, and in Reagan’s case, the reality of his presidency is very different from the mythological one. And in spite of the reality he had a successful tenure in the White House.

On a totally different note, I would like to recognize the passing of Otis Brumby. I don’t claim to have known him well, but I am honored that I had several private meetings with him in his office, phone conversations, and other communications. I was very honored and touched when he introduced me as his friend to John McCain in 2007. It is probably fair to say, though, that we had less in common politically, but on some of the important issues in our community we often found common ground. The man was unfailingly gracious in person. Some years ago when we had very strong disagreement on a matter of local public interest, he allowed me to meet with him to argue my side and to present evidence to support it. Afterwards, I asked him if I could have 500 words to respond to his past editorials on the subject. He replied that I should take a thousand words. Facts, logic, reason, and evidence could persuade him---not always, but often enough to convince me that he tried to get it right, that he was intellectually honest. I will miss his closing words after each conversation, “Come by anytime and let’s have a cup of coffee. You are always welcome.” Otis Brumby could leave this world secure in the knowledge that he made a positive difference in the community he lived and served, and made it better than when he arrived a long time ago.

Comments
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B D Lane
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September 19, 2012
Well, Oliver, how about I look for consensus on this one? We can both agree that we strongly support military families. ;)
Oliver G. Halle
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September 18, 2012
Barbara,

I don't want to be pulled into a discussion about Clinton's sexual past. Let's just agree that what you wrote about it I won't argue or disagree with. That said, I do think that his presidency was a success despite his shameful behavior. Allow me to redefine the issue, though, and suggest that morality isn't just about sexual miscondut. I happen to think that how we got involved in the Iraq war is a moral and ethical issue. The number of American and allied lives lost and mutilated, the number of Iraquis who lost many more lives, the cost to our treasury, and much, much more---I consider that much more important. I also consider it a moral issue that the American people refuse to adequately fund the full cost of medical care for our veterans.

As for being pro-life, I am pro-life when it comes to unnecessary killing. Concerning abortion, when the right-to-life movement gets serious and demands that any doctor and mother that participates in an abortion be tried for capital murder, I will be on board. The right-to-lifers say that it is premeditated murder, and it certainly is a premeditated act, then they should be comfortable with executing these criminals. Short of that it is hypocrisy at its best. In the meanhwile I will continue to support the liberty interest a woman has in her own body and to make personal choices with her doctor as appropriate and consistent with the law.

As always, thank you for participating in the debates in this forum.

Best regards,

Oliver
B Lane
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September 17, 2012
D. McDowell:

Having a pro-life position--which is actually what I also have-- does not mean laws are magically overturned. If you recall, President Bush was staunchly pro-life. So are Romney and Ryan. And???

That said, President Clinton was a serial philanderer who thereby degraded himself and his wife. He used his positions in office to make sexual conquests. If one doesn't believe Paula Jones and her case about sexual harassment, I think sleeping with an intern young enough to be his daughter illustrated an abuse of a power differential, and no one would have even believed Ms. Lewinsky without her little blue dress.

Of course, AS a woman, I find the Democrats' idea of a "War on Women" exceedingly amusing.

I do not know Mr. Halle's position on the same.

D. McDowell
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September 16, 2012
Barbara,

I would like to expand the great divide between Clinton vs Romney/Ryan and the War ON Women. Clinton did not try to legislate any control over a womens' right to choose health care. His personal life and beliefs were his, not dictated to an entire nation of women.
B. D. Lane
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September 13, 2012
Oliver,

I am not quite as young as you think. I don't recall people giving Reagan a complete pass on some of the things you mention. They were issues during his campaigns. Perhaps now people don't remember, but I think those things were in play back then, too. Reagan didn't just waltz into the presidency (the first time). The 1980 race was tight for a lot of reasons... some of which you've stated. Reagan is used now to rally Republicans because he is a conservative icon. People love icons. Plus.. you know... his history as a governor of a liberal state is in a broad sense similar to Romney's. The comparison is easy.

As for Clinton... He is used as this symbol of past prosperity because there is no prosperity under the guy currently in office. You know this. It amuses me that Clinton's the flavor of choice when Republicans are having a "war on women." Both parties have selective memories.

Anyway, I enjoy reading your thoughts. We are of different eras, but I like the consensus approach to politics. Maybe one day the MDJ will sponsor a debate between all its pundits. :)

Take care,

Barbara

P.S. I think CobbCoGuy has made some good points.

CobbCoGuy
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September 12, 2012
Sorry, Mr. Halle. I don't mean to hijack your Comments, but I really need to respond to our Lib in Cobb friend :)

"...GOP moving further to extreme right..."

Perspective, folks. In our eyes, the dems are moving further left, and more importantly, encompassing a narrower slice of the American public. Evidence? Zell Miller and Artur Davis are no longer Democrats. I'm sure there are plenty more, but those two well known names come to mind immediately.

"...GOP has been hi-jacked [sic] by..."

To us, the Democrats have been hijacked by the likes of Sean Penn, Cher, and Robert Redford.

"The GOP is hurting us with their goal to ensure that President Obama is to serve only one term."

Yep, Senator McConnell said something like that, but only after Obama said something like (paraphrased), "Elections have consequences; and I won." Yeah, that's the way to reach across the isle and build relationships. Have y'all heard about Bob Woodward's new book "The Price of Politics?" Google it, friends.

"They are not performing the business which they were elected to do."

My favorite. Why hasn't the Senate, controlled by Democrats, passed a budget resolution in over three years? Why have Obama's last two budgets not garnered a SINGLE democratic vote?

Did you hear that Obama missed the deadline imposed by the Sequestration Transparency Act requiring him to outline how Pentagon spending will be cut?

Did you hear that Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he comes to the U.S. later this month? Well, I guess they did speak on the phone last night, but, you know; just sayin'.

Y'all take care now!
Oliver G. Halle
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September 12, 2012
Barbara, your comment deserved a more prompt response, but I was out of town Tuesday and Wednesday and could not get to it until now. Where I think your argument fails concerning politicians living in a particular moment in time, is that today's Republicans only mention Reagan with reference to better times, lower taxes, strong foreign policy, etc. I listened to every Republican debate over the past few election cycles, and this one was no exception; all the candidates tried to tie themselves in one way or another to being the next Reagan. Interesting that none wanted to associate with a more immediate predecessor, George Bush. Today's Democrats, for the most part, don't seem to shy from association with Clinton. On Eisenhower, we can agree that he was a man of a differnt time, but it is his leadership qualities and accomplishments---one which I forgot to mention but that deserves emulation---he was the last Republican president to balance the budget.

I didn't mention Obama in my commentary becasue it was irrelevant to the point I was trying to make. We could have a good debate about his administration, but I doubt that this blog would be the right venue for it. You should know thta I am not a Democrat. I have alwasy been a Republican, and in recent years I have modeled my politics after Zell Miller: he has never disavowed his affiliation with the Democratic Party, but he votes for Republicans.

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. You and I probably come from different times, different places, and have different experiences that have shaped our lives and informed our opinions. And that's a good thing.

Be well.

Oliver
Lib in Cobb
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September 10, 2012
All over Cobb county, I can hear conservative heads exploding on the latest news involving the election polls. Obama up by 6 points. Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Don't stop!
B D Lane
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September 10, 2012
Mr. Hale,

I think it is very hard to look at presidents as you've done here. Per your assumptions about conservatives and what their possible relationships would be today with past Republican leaders, I could counter and say that JFK would not be welcome in the Democratic party today, and the "blue dogs" have mostly been run off. But I won't counter because I don't think you're right. Politicians of all stripes live in the moment, and it's impossible to view them outside of context.

Regardless, do you really think the party of Mr. Obama represents moderation? Really?

Personally, I never met Mr. Brumby, but I wish that I had. I'm also sure he will be missed.

Kindest regards,

Barbara



Lib in Cobb
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September 10, 2012
Oliver: With the GOP moving further to extreme right, Reagan would never be considered in this election cycle. It is unfortunate that the GOP has been hi-jacked by folks like Boehner, Perry, Cain, Ryan, McConnell and the Tea party as a whole. The GOP is hurting us with their goal to ensure that President Obama is to serve only one term. They are not performing the business which they were elected to do. Their job is to represent the people, it is the people who elected President Obama by a very wide margin.
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