Monday, October 7, 2013


    My first big city newsroom boss told me we weren't doing our job unless both democrats and republicans were mad at us. As you read on, know that I invoke that principal, as I have over the decades.
     President Obama has himself to blame for many of his problems.  And he has the mutant spawn of the old Gipper for the balance.
     Obama emerged as America looked for and needed a change.  He was fresh, historic, appealing to new generations and with communication savvy. David Axelrod read the mood of America, fashioned a political campaign in response and unleashed a passion for change.  Hope, you remember.  
      But there were two shortcomings.  Obama himself, a smart young man, but without the wisdom that comes with years of survival in Washington or the learning that comes with being knocked down a few times. The other was the naive belief that controlling the White House meant you had the most power, or the biggest club in the fight.
      When they had the chance, back when American was sick and tired of W and Cheney, and as the economy was coming undone, Obama, Axelrod and team should have built a true political movement, a gradual revolution if you will.
      They could have, in fact should have seen that a compliant congress was necessary to affect the CHANGE they promised. Instead of the White House only, they could have been effective in bringing about a wholesale change-House and even in the Senate.  There was a time in America when a campaign for the Presidency was a product of a top to bottom party movement-state legislative races, Congressional Districts and Senate campaigns. A full package. More than anyone in the last couple of decades, they had that potential and capacity.
      And there is the diffident, distant, professorial and even arrogant style of Mr Obama himself.  Had he been around the Senate a little longer, he would have learned the wisdom of the old boys and girls.  Collegiality, friendship, schmoozing.  For those of you old enough, think of Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, John McCormack, Carl Albert,  Tip O'Neil, Ronald Reagan, Ev Dirksen, Charlie Halleck, even the depraved and aberrant Newt Gingrich. They could deal, horse trade and find a way to make things happen.
     In addition to their shortsightedness and inept use of power there is the buzz saw of the Tea Party. Here's where I lay its ancestry to Reagan.  The great communicator spent years telling people the federal government was the problem. He was very effective at selling that point of view, even though all the while he was himself adding more debt and growing the government.  But one thing he and his guru Michael Dever understood was that it's all about appearance and image.  So the great Conservative/Neo Con progenitor unleashed a couple of decades of a "the government is the problem" mantra until latent generations believed it. Enter the disgruntled if not overly bright Tea Party players.
      Old fashioned traditional Republicans worry the Tea Party, who represents a strident, loud, belligerent and obstinate base, minority though they are, will continue to make the once GOP a laughing stock or kill it by a suicide of ignorance.
       I agree that Speaker Boehner is like a besotted eunuch  when it comes to political combat, with his own charges even. The recent SNL parody which had him parading around in panties and vamping was brilliant. But I am not so sure my Republican sources aren't a little out of phase. I sense that an increasingly tribalized American body politic, fed by an increasingly stupid media, mainstream and partisan, and a growing number of low information voters only plays into the hands of those who's intellectual depth goes to bumper sticker slogans.  Currently I fear that thought, analysis and a sense of history has been eclipsed by volume, rancor, selfishness and presided over by inept government.  It is a bit as though our highest level of aspiration or accomplishment is to look like a Greek or Italian government in search of yet another spiral down. 
       Maybe it is time to give each member of the house a walking stick and to urge them to use it as a tool of persuasion.  We have a long history of Congressional fistfights. Link here as you ponder if it might not be time to let them rumble!!  By the way, my money would be on Barry Obama to take crybaby Boehner down, quickly!
   After enduring that rant you deserve something nice.  This is about as nice as it gets.  Included here are scenes from a hike that began at about 9 thousand feet and continued around alpine lakes and mountain streams to just below 11 thousand feet.  This is from Rock Creek Lake, in the eastern Sierra over the Mono and Morgan Pass trails to some of the most pristine sights on the planet.

   The frame above and below was our view as we paused for a back pack lunch.

     We were impressed by the "landscape painting" in the striation of this boulder.
     This is where the trail ended for us. Lana had a bad altitude headache.  I had no desire to hike alone as you can see the trail was becoming a little more difficult.
    So we decided to settle in and simply be overwhelmed by the quiet, serenity and beauty of creation.
    See you down the trail.


  1. As you grow older, perhaps good sense will prevail in your hiking plans, as well as your politics.

  2. I guess there is heaven on earth! Thanks for sharing the beauty, Tom.

  3. Fabulous post. I couldn't agree more with your political analysis, and greatly admire your craft in presenting it. I've often thought that Obama achieved the presidency just a tad too early, before he had been properly seasoned. He's clearly made some big mistakes, and unfortunately he time will expire just about the time he's genuinely ready to lead.

    I've very fond of the mountains, though have spent more time in the Rockies. There's something quite unique about the quality of light in the Sierras, though; Ansel Adams had it exactly right there.

    Extraordinary post.

  4. Obama has made the same mistake as Jimmy Carter: good intentions don't make a great president. To be successful one needs to know how to bully, intimidate and build a consensus. LBJ is looking better with each passing year.