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February 7, 2008
Some hip-shot 1 a.m. reactions to news reports of “Super Tuesday” presidential primary election results:
What a contrast there was in the style—and, I believe, in the substance—of Sen. Barack Obama’s reaction as he maintained his position as a serious challenger for the Democratic nomination, and the reaction of Sen. John McCain, who solidified his position as frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
In his usual self-confident, egocentric and frequently emotional oratorical style, Obama told a national television audience and a crowd of his supporters in his home state of Illinois (the only large-population state which he carried Tuesday) a long list of the things which would be accomplished “when I’m president.” He used language like “We are the we have been waiting for” and “We are the hope of the future,” both for the United States and for the world.
Obama’s egocentric approach contrasted sharply with the remarks of Sen. John McCain, who said he was pleased that Tuesday’s victories in eight states—California, New York, Massachusetts and Missouri among them—confirmed that he has moved from underdog to frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
Lou Dobbs, one of the biggest egos practicing television commentary, opined that the contest for the Republican nomination is “still a three-man race,” including McCain, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
Other commentators said Huckabee had done well for himself Tuesday, winning five southern states, but clearly isn’t a serious contender for the presidential nomination. A couple of commentators opined that the appeal of Huckabee, a former television evangelist, to the evangelical right might make him an attractive vice presidential running mate with McCain. (My reaction: Huckabee has a pleasant speaking style and seems to have given up the idea that he can wisecrack his way into the White House, but his right-wing political views certainly wouldn’t appeal to moderates, a significant number of whom Republicans must attract if they are to be successful in November.)
Ending on a very personal note: Over recent months, when people have asked me what I would like to see replace George Bush in the White House, I’ve replied that among the Democratic candidates I prefer Hillary Clinton but that my first choice would be John McCain, although I thought he was too old to win approval of the majority of the voters. (McCain will be 73 on the day a new president takes office.) One friend responded that, at 84, I should show more respect for senior citizens. (I prefer to refer to us as “mature citizens.”)
* * *
The flood of pre-Super Tuesday endorsements, especially for Obama or Clinton, seemed to me to finally reach the point of, “Who cares?” But to me perhaps the two most interesting aspects of the endorsements were these:
The news media’s slant towards Obama, evident in a number of ways, resulted in headlines and news stories stressing John F. Kennedy family members’ endorsement of Obama, with considerably less attention to endorsements of Hillary Clinton by an almost equal number of members of the family of John Kennedy’s brother, Robert.
The other aspect of the endorsements which I considered noteworthy was Oprah Winfrey going on the stump in support of Obama.
Winfrey’s enthusiastic high-profile support of a fellow black (can anyone imagine Winfrey campaigning for a white candidate in a contest involving a black?) helps build an image of Obama deserving support as being a credible black candidate with a chance of being elected president rather than an image of a credible candidate who happens to be black.
A candidate embraced by some vocal supporters primarily because he is black is less likely to appeal to a great many whites and Hispanics whose votes could be decisive, in my opinion.
Final thought (for today) on endorsements: Lane Filler of the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal was right on target when he wrote:
“What is the theory behind the celebrity endorsement? How uncertain would you have to be to let your vote hinge on the opinion of Harry Belafonte (pro-Edwards) or porn star Jenna Jameson, who says she likes Clinton?”
* * *
In case you might have been wondering, let me assure you that there are members other than David Sokol on the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board of directors.
To date, in the controversy over whether one of the Qwest Center parking lots might be converted into a site for a new downtown ballpark—part of the vitally-important civic effort to assure that the College World Series remains in Omaha for up to 20 or 25 years—MECA chairman David Sokol has done all the public commenting in support of MECA’s objections to losing a Qwest Center parking lot.
Perhaps the MECA board has agreed to let chairman Sokol do all the talking. But there are other civic leaders on the MECA. One hopes that they at least are listening to the arguments for continued discussion—and I don’t mean angry discussion—between the MECA board and Mayor Fahey’s committee which is seeking a solution which will: result in “the road to Omaha” continuing to be the goal of every college baseball team in America.
Over the past half century, Omaha’s image of a friendly, attractive city has grown nationwide as a result of the way Omahans have played the role of splendid hosts to the College World Series.
One would hope that all members of the MECA board will support continued discussions in an effort to reach an agreement that will keep the College World Series in Omaha for a good many years to come—an agreement which all parties, no matter their negotiating base, can support in good faith.
Those other MECA board members are Terry Moore, president of the Omaha Federation of Labor; Hal Daub, attorney and normally an outspoken public official who has served Omaha well as mayor and the state and country well as Second District Representative in Congress; Gail Werner-Robertson, founder and CEO of GWR Wealth Management, LLC; and David Kramer, an Omaha attorney and former state chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party.
* * *
Speaking of prospects for reaching a reasonable accommodation between various local interests in finding for the best way to assure that the College World Series will remain in Omaha for a good many years:
No one should expect the Legislature to enter the controversy on the side of those who think the right answer is to spend up to $80 million to renovate the traditional College World Series home, Rosenblatt Stadium.
Senator John Synowiecki, whose South Omaha district includes Rosenblatt Stadium, has introduced a bill which would inject the Legislature to the College World Series site controversy by appropriating $20 million to help pay for renovation of Rosenblatt. Forget it.
The Legislature has enough problems of statewide impact to become involved in a controversy over an issue which has primary importance to the Omaha metropolitan area.
There are, of course, a number of other “non-starters” among the more than four hundred new bills introduced in a session which is limited to 60 legislative days. Among the bills which, I believe, surely aren’t going anywhere.
Omaha Senator Mike Friend’s bill which would violate the spirit if not the letter of Nebraska’s “right to work” state constitutional amendment won’t pass legislative muster. Friend’s LB936 would require employees who choose not to be represented by a labor union to pay a “fair share representation contribution.” The theory is that non-union employees benefit from the wages and working conditions negotiated by union representatives.
The facts are that the union has not been able to convince such non-union members that membership in a union is worth their joining. The power of the state legislature simply should not be evoked to force non-union members to subsidize a union they have chosen not to join.
Another bill likely to go nowhere is Senator DiAnna Schimek’s LB824, which would require “a gender balance” on all appointive boards, commissions, committees and councils of state government.
Senator Schimek is this year finishing 20 years of service in the Legisalture. She has served conscientiously and capably. But as to “gender equity” requirements, why not just let the governor and other appointing authorities choose the most qualified available appointees instead of enforcing “gender equity” which may or may not better serve the public interest?
Another bill that I believe has no chance of passage—because there is no reason for its passage—is LB1050, introduced by Senator Phillip Erdman of Bayard. The bill would create something called the “Game and Parks Commission Advisory Board.”
The advisory board would consist of eight members whose districts would parallel those of the eight members of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The advisory board would meet quarterly and advise the Game and Parks commissioners on the way they discharge their statutory duties.
The commission now appoints a chief executive who is officially called the secretary but is customarily referred to as the director. LB1050 would change the title from “secretary” to “director” and provide that the director shall be appointed by the governor. The secretary/director is now appointed by the Game and Parks commissioners.
This proposed administrative monstrosity doesn’t have a change. One wonders why this and other obvious “non-starters” are introduced in a session which clearly has much more important business to deal with
* * *
Still on the subject of “non-starters,” I would say that Tony Raimondo’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate falls into that category of things that just aren’t going to end in success.
Over the years, I have written about a political phenomenon which I have named “Politicus Incurabilis.” Sometimes it goes into remission, sometime it appears and strikes relatively late in life, as in the case of Raimondo, highly respected Columbus businessman who had been a lifelong Republican and now has filed for the Democratic nomination for United States senator.
Raimondo, a likeable fellow with impressive credentials in the business field, faces a possible Democratic primary contest with Scott Kleeb, who ran a respectable campaign for Third District congressman in 2006, and, if he survives the primary a general election contest with former Gov. Mike Johanns, predictably Republican senatorial nominee.
After either the primary or the general election, Tony Raimondo’s late-developing case of Politicus Incurabilis should go into remission.
* * *
You and I have seen all manner of fanaticism—caps, jackets, t-shirts, license plates, whatever—when it comes to ways that Nebraskans express their support—well, most of the time—for their beloved Cornhusker football team.
But I hadn’t seen or heard a pledge of eternal, everlasting devotion more emphatically and publicly displayed than this license plate which I encountered the other day:
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