JFK knocks Reagan out of the top spot

by lestro

Since we already know why the various candidates are fighting to claim the legacies of former presidents, there’s probably no need to go through that again.

But yesterday’s annual Presidents Day poll may give a little indication of a change on the horizon and good news for the Obama campaign. Last year, the top four most popular presidents were, in order, Lincoln, Reagan, Kennedy and Clinton.

With Lincoln a mythic figure, each of the candidates hitched themselves to a wagon, Clinton stuck with No. 4 whether she likes it or not, every Republican cozied up to Reagan’s mantle as much as he could and then, in a stunning shot to leapfrog the Clintons, the Kennedys themselves bestowed the mantle onto Obama.

While the top four have not changed in this year’s “greatest president” poll, a second poll released yesterday asked Americans which president, living or dead, they would most like to bring back as president to lead the country today.

In that poll, John F. Kennedy came out on top, besting Reagan 23 percent to 22 percent (though technically a dead heat). Clinton comes in third at 13 percent.

The fact that Americans seem to recognize that it is once again time for the sort of change those two president brought can only bode well for the Obama Campaign…

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Hillary may be a top-of-the-line VCR, but Obama is a DVD player

A letter to a Hillary Clinton supporter

by lestro

Recently I discovered that a friend of mine is a supporter of Hillary Clinton and what follows is my response, with links added for reference purposes:

Well, thankfully your reasons for Hillary are actual reasons and not just ‘it’s a woman’s time.’ I hate that shit. It’s so anti-feminist. I am all for a woman President. But not Hillary Clinton. and I voted for her for Senator.

Which is where she belongs, working on the legislation, fighting over the details, making the sausage.

Presidents, however, are about vision, leadership and direction. The policy will follow.

Presidents do not write laws, Congress does. The President sets the vision. Think of your city councils. The mayor doesn’t have a vote. The federal government is supposed to function in the same way on a larger scale.

Presidents provide vision and direction by rallying the country around a set of ideas and a series of goals. Congress then responds to that by writing those laws.

And Hillary has no vision. Obama has vision. He’s the first candidate since Reagan to have vision. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of Reagan’s but he definitely changed the entire political culture of the country. We are still living in Reagan’s America. And I, for one, am done with it.

It is time for something different.

Hillary Clinton will lose to John McCain (you asked who needs Reagan? really? He’s the second most popular president ever. Clinton is fourth. Kennedy is third) because the change she offers is essentially the same he offers. There would be changes in policy, sure, but the time of the baby boomers is over. They are all VCRs and Hillary may be a top-of-the-line VCR, but Obama is a DVD player.

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I see your Kennedy and raise you a Reagan

by lestro

There is no bigger indication of the failure of the Bush Administration than the fact that not a single candidate is trying to claim the Bush mantle and legacy. He’s a pariah right now with approval numbers hovering at 30 percent.

And rightfully so.

But that is not stopping the candidates from trying to assume the legacies and mantles of presidents past.

As I struggle with watching the Republican candidates genuflect at the temple of Reagan, I recognize the necessity.

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Not the Reagan I remember either

by lestro

As part of the Red Dawn generation, I grew up in Reagan’s America. I have no memory of a president before him.

While I remember him as something of a grandfatherly figure whose smiling picture we all saw every day at school, I don’t really remember much of his policies, just the overwhelming sense of fear that Mutual Assured Destruction and nuclear war was all but inevitably on its way from the “Evil Empire.”

I have also looked back at the 80s and frankly, I am appalled at some of the things Reagan did: making ketchup a vegetable for school lunch purposes, ignoring AIDS and of course the whole Iran-Contra trading arms to our terrorist enemies to secretly get money to support some other terrorists in Central America.

Brilliant.

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Edwards just doesn’t get it

by lestro

On Thursday, the Reno Gazette Journal endorsed Sen. Barack Obama as the best choice for the Democratic party’s nomination. They cited his talk of unity and change and ability to cite both Presidents Kennedy and Reagan as agents of change.

According to a CBS reporter, John Edwards jumped all over Obama for the Reagan reference:

“When you think about what Ronald Reagan did to the American people, to the middle class to the working people,” said Edwards.

“He was openly – openly – intolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country. He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment, you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment.”

“I can promise you this: this president will never use Ronald Reagan as an example for change.”

Edwards isn’t wrong. Reagan fucked over the middle class, sold out the government to private interests, tripled the national debt, ignored AIDS, made ketchup a vegetable in public schools and rolled back a bunch of environmental advances.

But he isn’t right, either. Reagan’s election in 1980 set the tone for the next 12 years. I grew up in the 80s, so I have no recollection of what happened before, but even a cursory glance shows the structural changes and cultural ripple effects that still has all of the Republican candidates drooling all over which blowhard is the most fit to carry Reagan’s jock strap.

For the record, here is the actual quote to which the Edwards campaign was responding:

“I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what’s different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

There’s been a lot of talk of “change” this election season but the real question is what that change means to the person who says it. Today, we got a look at what two of the Democratic candidates mean when they say change.

Obama apparently means one of those fundamental shifts in the way we look at things. A new generation rising to power and bringing with it a different world view, a new, more interconnected sensibility that draws the best parts of both sides of the aisle.

Edwards version of change is an old definition, a change of faces and rhetoric, but the same world view we’ve been arguing over for decades.

It is time to sluff off the world view of the Baby Boomers. I am appreciative of what they’ve done, but they are still fighting the same fights while the world is moving past them.

You can’t really blame Edwards for wanting to improve the VCR, but i think it might be time to take a chance on this up and coming DVD technology…

UPDATE: Well, Bill and Hillary Clinton both weighed in on this proving they too are just building a better VCR. They are both still struggling with the difference is the word change and are happy to distort what Obama said (though his campaign’s response was admittedly disappointing) in a distinctly Boomer political maneuver.

The report is at TPMelectioncentral and links to Bubba and Obama’s additions are at the bottom.