Sunday September 21, 2014
April 13th, 2014
In his speech Thursday commemorating the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, President Barack Obama talked about the enduring power of one of President Lyndon Johnson's signature accomplishments.
The news that Stephen Colbert will be taking over "The Late Show" desk from David Letterman led Rush Limbaugh, noted comedy expert, to describe this as a sign that "CBS has declared war on the heartland of America" and that "no longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatives - now it's just going to be wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy."
It is, deservedly, Lyndon Johnson's moment. This week, three former presidents and the current one all journeyed to Johnson's presidential library in Austin, Texas to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law.
Two of the most skilled Republican members of the House of Representatives announced their retirement over the past 10 days. Their departure is unfortunate, but the hand-wringing over term limits for committee chairmen is misplaced.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp and Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, both from Michigan, are leaving. They are influential and respected across the political aisle, and their departure will exacerbate the partisan rancor in the House.
Gentlemen, raise a glass to Equal Pay Day. You've won again. You are still making about 25 percent more than the woman next to you who is pushing the same pencil, tapping the same computer keys, devising the same software or screwing in the same widget. Each year, a date in April is selected to illustrate how long into the current year a woman must work to match the amount a man doing the same job earned the previous year. We reached that milestone today.
At a 25th anniversary reunion of old hands of the George H.W. Bush presidency at Texas A&M last weekend, the good will flowed in such abundance that the 89-year-old honoree remarked: "It's kinder and gentler all over the place."
The observation referred to the senior President Bush's pledge, in accepting the 1988 Republican nomination, that if elected he would conduct a smiley-face administration. And in personal style, he pretty much lived up to it.
President Obama's speech at the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act inevitably invited further comparisons with its ultimate champion, President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Fifty years later, it's hard to imagine the enactment of the Civil Rights Act by today's polarized Congress. Maybe, as the old saying goes, today's fighting is so vicious because the stakes are so small.
We Americans fight less among ourselves when we clearly face a common enemy or crisis. In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, for example, we showed a heartwarming level of national unity and sense of purpose for, oh, at least five or six days or so.
Like any other job, there are days when covering the White House gets old and boring. But, even for grizzled veteran reporters, there are also times when you look up and say to yourself: "This is important. We're actually watching history being made." And that's the case with Obamacare.