Saturday February 06, 2016
Archive - Jan 2014
As Barack Obama struggles to gain political traction as a lame-duck president in his remaining three years in office, the two-term limit on service in the Oval Office has encouraged a premature public focus on the identity of his successor in 2017.
President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday is about more than the final three years of his presidency. Its purpose should be to influence the next decade of American political life and begin shaping the post-Obama era.
When President George W. Bush was considering candidates to be chairman of the Federal Reserve in the autumn of 2005, the rap on Ben Bernanke, a brilliant economist, was that he had never faced a crisis, might be too soft for a challenge and wasn't politically astute.
Suddenly it's OK, even mandatory, for politicians with national ambitions to talk about helping the poor. This is easy for Democrats, who can go back to being the party of FDR and LBJ. It's much more difficult for Republicans, who are having a hard time shaking their reputation for reverse Robin-Hoodism, for being the party that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.
As of late Monday afternoon, when I was finishing this column, the most frequently emailed story on The Times' website for the previous week wasn't about the polar vortex, Chris Christie or "Downton Abbey."
It was about cats.
What is the greatest fear of conservatives when they warn against the dangers of big government? It is that a leader or the coterie around him will abuse the authority of the state arbitrarily to gather yet more power, punish opponents and, in the process, harm rank-and-file citizens whose well-being matters not a whit to those who are trying to enhance their control.
Gov. Chris Christie had the best day he's going to have for a long time on Jan. 9. He had two hours to give his side of the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge that gridlocked Fort Lee, N.J., for four days in September.
From the moment Lloyd Bentsen uttered it, none could disagree with his televised jab that Dan Quayle was “no Jack Kennedy.” Few remember, however, that in ascending to the presidency, Jack Kennedy had his own damning comparison. He was no Dwight Eisenhower.
It took a disaster at the Bay of Pigs, and then resolve in the Cuban Missile Crisis, for Kennedy to find his inner Eisenhower.