Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
First, a reminder:
Attractive, hardbound copies of “Life With Marian”—a book which a good many readers have said they would be interested in owning—are still available for purchase (for $22.50) at The Bookworm in Countryside Village. If more convenient, you can now also send a check payable to Harold W. Andersen for $26.66 (includes tax and postage) and mail to me at P.O. Box 27347, Omaha, NE, 68127. A copy will be sent by return mail.
April 23, 2009
When does a political office seeker—or at least his campaign—deserve to be described as “two-faced”?
It seems to me the question logically suggests itself when you analyze the strategy which Jim Suttle used in the campaign which won the nomination (lagging fewer than a thousand votes behind former Mayor Hal Daub) in the recent primary to pick the two nominees for next month’s general election to choose the new mayor of Omaha.
My dictionary defines “two-faced” as “deceitful” and lists among the synonyms: “devious, dishonest.” Let me describe Suttle’s campaign strategy and leave it up to you to decide whether any of those adjectives fit.
In the campaign message which he spread broadly throughout the city, Suttle concentrated on a well-done television message which stressed what he described as his 30 years experience in business. (Suttle was not explicit about his business experience.)
But it was quite another image which Jim Suttle presented to potential voters in northeast Omaha, the area where 15 paid, fulltime Obama campaign staff members worked successfully for weeks to register and get to the polls a substantially increased number of voters in support of the first major-party black nominee for president.
In northeast Omaha, Suttle’s campaign tactics were to identify himself as a Democrat and tie himself, in effect, to the coattails of the Obama-generated voter registration increases in an area of Omaha where the voter turnout had customarily been well below the city average.
In late mailings (I’ve seen examples of three of them) which didn’t come to light until after the primary voting, Suttle stressed the fact that he is a Democrat, a member of the same party as the new president. One of the mailings included a picture of Obama and this language: “As President Obama works to restore the national economy, we need a Democratic Mayor.”
On one of the other mailings was a picture of a shirt-sleeved Suttle accompanied by the description “Your Democratic Candidate for Mayor.” The reverse side included some of the typical campaign pitches that all political candidates use but included also a picture of Obama and a pledge to “work with Obama Administration in fighting for Omaha’s share of stimulus dollars.”
You decide. Does one campaign message aimed at the entire city and another campaign intensively targeted at only one part of the city make Jim Suttle’s primary campaign two-faced? If so, would any of the following definitions and synonyms fairly apply? “Deceitful” or “devious” or “dishonest”?
Some, of course, might say that the better description is “clever” or “smart” or “just politics.”
There is, of course, the question of the propriety of so emphasizing a party label (you do that when your party has more available voters than the other candidate’s) when supposedly the voters are electing a mayor to serve on a nonpartisan basis.
But the appropriate way to election Omaha’s mayors—free of significant if not decisive party involvement—may have become only an impractical ideal. An ideal replaced by a reality which this year raises an interesting question:
Will Omaha voters next month be asked to choose between Republican Hal Daub and what might be called a Democratic Suttle/Obama ticket?
* * *
Once again we encounter an erroneous description of the combination of athletic teams which the University of Nebraska at Lincoln sponsors in intercollegiate competition.
A sports commentator who is customarily long on opinion and short on research has written that UNL continues to field a “full complement of sports.”
UNL continues to support a lopsided complement of intercollegiate sports—certainly not “full” so far as men’s teams are concerned. Consider:
UNL offers scholarship-supported intercollegiate athletic competition for a total of 19 teams. In five sports, only women’s teams are supported (swimming, soccer, volleyball, riflery and bowling).
In only two sports (football and wrestling) are there men’s-only Husker teams—for obvious reasons.
There are no women’s intercollegiate athletic programs which compare with football, and female high school wrestlers have not reached the numbers where all-female wrestling teams are even close to reality—if, indeed, they will ever be.
In every sport in which men’s and women’s teams are fielded by UNL, more scholarships are allocated to women athletes than to men. For example, twelve gymnastic scholarships compared 6.2 for male gymnasts; 18 women’s track and field scholarships compared to 12.6 scholarships for the men’s team.
Perhaps the best—or worst—examples of discrimination in favor of women athletes:
UNL supports women’s soccer (with 14 scholarships) and swimming (also with 14 scholarships) and does not sponsor men’s teams in either soccer or swimming. This despite the fact that a good number of Nebraska high schools have quality, spirited competition among high school male soccer and swimming teams.
One of the ironies of the “full complement of sports” supposedly offered by UNL is the fact that among men’s and women’s intercollegiate team members there are typically so few Nebraskans. Worst example: On the 10-member roster of the women’s tennis team, there is not a single Nebraskan. There are four from Germany, two from Sweden and one from Finland. (In tennis, UNL offers eight scholarships for the women’s team and 4 ½ scholarships for the men’s team.)
The sad truth is that UNL administrators for years have misinterpreted what Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act requires. Title IX says simply that at any school receiving federal aid for any program, there shall be no discrimination among students based on gender.
It does not—repeat NOT—require preferential treatment for female athletes in order to offset the substantial number of football scholarships for which women obviously can’t qualify.
In interpreting Title IX, federal officials and the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association have chosen to push universities to field more women’s teams than men’s teams to offset the football scholarship numbers (84 per Division I team).
But the feds and NCAA rule-makers made something of a bow to reality by allowing this exception:
A school can be held to be in compliance with the regulations if its women’s athletic program is meeting the expressed desires of female athletes capable of collegiate athletic competition in a sport where there is such competition between schools.
Rather than taking advantage of this sensible exception, schools like UNL have gone out to recruit female athletes in order to add to their student bodies females capable of intercollegiate competition.
The result has not been meeting the skill level and desires of a typical cross section of the student body but rather nationwide and worldwide recruitment to find female athletes to come to Nebraska to compete in sports—five of them—in which UNL supports no teams for male athletes.
* * *
As regular readers will perhaps remember, I have come to be an opponent of the death penalty, based not on what might be called moral grounds but rather on the fact that it is impossible to assure that the death penalty is uniformly applied within a given state or, certainly, on a national basis.
Given the same basic crime scenario, there can be no assurance of uniformity in the murder trial that follows. Different defendants, different victims, different defense attorneys, different prosecutors, different judges and, certainly, different jurors, make it literally impossible to assure uniform murder trial results. Remember, too, that several states, including Iowa, don’t authorize the death penalty.
Then there is the fact that so-called “death rows”—at least in states like Nebraska—could more accurately be called “longevity rows,” in view of the time lag between the crime and the sentencing and the (if ever) execution.
If “justice delayed is justice denied,” there is a tremendous amount of delayed justice piled up on so-called “death rows” across the nation. (In Nebraska, for example, 11 prisoners are on “death row,” theoretically awaiting execution for a total of 115 years, ranging from 2 years in one case to 29 years in another.)
This “justice delayed/justice denied” argument came to mind yet again when I saw a recent news item from Walla Walla, Washington reporting that four designated executioners had resigned, apparently worried that their names would become public as a result of litigation over whether lethal injections constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
One of the four prisoners supposedly awaiting execution in Washington was convicted of a torture slaying 18 years ago. That’s right—18 years ago. (Interestingly, the victim was 22-year-old Holly Washa of Ogallala, Nebraska.)
* * *
There are a couple of ways to look at the fact that Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada are leaders of the Democratic majorities in the United States Congress.
One way of evaluating the Pelosi/Reid team is as an example of the Congressional seniority system at work and what questionable results it sometimes produces. (Don’t forget that Rep. Charles Rangel of New York continues as chairman of the powerful House, Ways and Means Committee while under investigation for possible violation of ethics standards.)
Another way of evaluating Pelosi and Reid as Congressional leaders: If you don’t want President Obama’s multi-faceted $3.6 trillion 10-year tax and spending budget plans to move through Congress expeditiously and largely intact, you should be grateful that Democratic Congressional leadership is in such inept hands as those of Pelosi and Reid.
Incidentally, Pelosi is one of the reasons that I look more kindly on Vice President Joe Biden these days. I believe Biden is performing better as Vice President than a good many people had anticipated. Then there is an important added factor in evaluating Biden and wishing him as well as President Obama continued good health:
As Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is figuratively only two heartbeats away from the White House, since the House Speaker is next in line for the presidency if vacancies occur in the presidency and vice presidency.
Herewith a fervent wish for long life for President Obama and Vice President Biden.
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