The Politics of it all

This is where I hope to publish things that I find interesting, provocative, interesting and compelling.  I will try to bring balance to those things I post.  If I have an opinion on them, I will share it.  If I don’t, I wont.  Not everything in life requires an opinion.  Which, in and of itself, is an opinion!

5/4/2015: When Bill Clinton complains.

Let me begin by saying that President Bill Clinton is a much better historical figure in American politics than former President Bill Clinton.  On average, I think President Bill Clinton can claim to have had a pretty successful domestic based Presidency.  I think his foreign policy perspective left much to be desired but when America elected a Governor to be President they elected someone to be its Chief Executive Officer.

His Republican antagonists and opponents can point to any number of public policy areas where they believe President Clinton fell down, but it is hard to dispute President Bill Clinton showed that he could be more effective as a bipartisan President than a partisan President.

Since his departure from office the former President Bill Clinton went from someone who, I believe, had a great concept and idea of creating a foundation based on his love of ideas and solutions and has allowed it to morph into a blubbery mass of money laundering.

Now confronted with questions about the lavish spending of his foundation on himself and his family — the receipt of funds from questionable foreign sources — and the failure to follow basic accounting principles — the former President is doing what any politician does when confronted with these types of accusations:  He’s complaining.

In a recent NBC News interview, Clinton says that he and his foundation never did anything “knowingly inappropriate” when accepting money that one could reasonably assume was meant to influence public policy in the United States.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy,” the former president said.

I imagine there are a lot of Americans behind bars today who would use the defense that they never did anything “knowingly inappropriate” when it came to breaking the law.

Notice that Clinton did not refute that there may have, indeed, been a quid pro quo — he just said that if there was one he didn’t know it wasn’t appropriate.

The Clinton Family — former Secretary of State Clinton and former President Clinton — have always had an unusual grasp of phraseology that never completely exonerates them for their questionable actions or activities.  It confuses the issue and the topic — which is its ultimate goal — not vindication or acquittal.

When challenged by their insistence that they aren’t covered by the same rules as everyone else (, i.e., Secretary Clinton using a secret email server in what may or may not be a violation of federal law, but was certainly in violation of strict requirements set forth by the President or the failure to disclose funds that were accepted by her family foundation as a condition of her being able to serve as  Secretary of State) the Clintons complain they are targets of their political opponents.

In pushing back against allegations of growing evidence of questionable activities at his foundation the President’s big whopper of a complaint was this one:

“People should draw their own conclusions. I’m not in politics,” Clinton said. “All I’m saying is the idea that there’s one set of rules for us and another set for everybody else is true.”

The former President is right:  There is one set of rules for him and his family and another set for everybody else.

The problem is it is he and his family that believe the set of rules they should be able to operate by are completely different than the set of rules the rest of America has to operate by.



4/22/2015:  Why the thrill of politics is gone.  A view from the New Yorker 

George Packer’s piece is worth reading for a variety of reasons.  I have listed the link to his piece below from the New Yorker.  I don’t agree with all of what he writes, but he gives a good sense of what it is that has turned off many Americans — including myself — with politics and government.

There was a time when politics was as much a national past time as sport.  There was also a time when politicians were larger than life and one political leader could command the public’s attention — move public opinion — galvanize public consciousness — generate public action.

Those times are long past us.  For many reasons.  The advent of the 24/7/365 news cycle on virtually every media and medium one can imagine, envision or create is one reason for that.

The base politics of today that invades every single political calculation made by candidates, incumbents and political parties has certainly contributed to the growing distance and disconnect.

We tear down our political leaders (and our sports heroes and cultural and social icons) as fast as we build them up.  We demand perfection from them despite the many imperfections we all have in our own lives.

The difference is these people make the conscious decision to get into the arena while the majority of us stay out of it, preferring to toss the brickbats and insults at those who willingly subject themselves to the abuse.

Don’t get me wrong.  Politicians ask for much of what they get and deserve much of what they have gotten.

In Washington, D.C. too many members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have simply been in office too long.  One need not doubt their sincerity or their commitment to service while at the same time believing they have served far longer than is necessary.

America is a nation of 300 some million people.  Surely there are a few — hundreds — even thousands of Americans who could serve just as ably as someone who has been in office for 30 or 40 years.

The same politicians who rail against the entitlement society for the poor or the wealthy are the same politicians who assure us that their 20, 30 or 40 years of incumbency is not an entitlement — it is a privilege and an honor — and shouldn’t we simply return them again and again because they are the best and most qualified to have this privilege and honor?

Perhaps the day when my son and daughter find a political leader that excites them like Kennedy or Reagan is long gone.  There have been other giants — men and women — who not only commanded our attention but earned our respect.

I hope not.  I hope there comes a day when my children find those leaders.  A day when they, themselves, are those leaders.

Men and women who understand that the true power of change is not rooted in money, political organization or carving out a bigger chunk of a smaller and smaller electorate than the other candidate.

The true of power of change is rooted in ideas and in vision and the courage and the commitment to risk everything to find the way to serve everyone.

That is the excitement I remember the most, and miss the most, about politics.


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