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.
May 7, 2009
What’s going on here?
During his campaign for president, one of Barack Obama’s campaign themes was his opposition to what Bush-bashers—the kind that helped elect Obama—called “Bush’s War” in Iraq.
Obama promised to pull out American fighting forces in an orderly but firmly-committed withdrawal.
Fast forward to early April, 2009. Obama is addressing 600 American troops in a carefully-staged appearance at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Here is President Obama telling what American fighting forces helped achieve in what—during his presidential campaign—Obama supporters had condemned as “Bush’s War.” Obama told the troops:
“Under enormous strain and under enormous sacrifice, through controversy and difficulty in politics, you’ve kept your eyes focused on just doing your job. And because of that, every mission that’s been assigned—from getting rid of Suddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections—you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement, and for that you have the thanks of the American people.”
Obama asked additional sacrificial service from the troops to assure that the gains are not lost as American combat unites are withdrawn. He said:
“And so just as we thank you for what you already accomplished, I want to say thank you because you will be critical in terms of us being able to make sure that Iraq is stable, that it is not a haven for terrorists, that it is a good neighbor and a good ally, and we can start bringing our troops home.”
Again, what’s going on here?
Understandable effort of the new commander-in-chief to bond with the troops?
Typical political hypocrisy, working the side of the street which seems to best serve the politician at the time?
In any case, unintentional or not, welcome if belated recognition that the history of “Bush’s War” included significant positive results.
* * *
There is, I believe, fresh evidence that the outcome of the Democrat Jim Suttle/Republican Hal Daub contest for mayor of Omaha may well depend on the size of the voter turnout in Northeast Omaha, where Suttle has tied his campaign to the popularity of his fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama.
What seems to me to be fresh evidence of the potential appeal of Suttle in Northeast Omaha showed up in a recent World-Herald poll. Overall, the poll produced what was described as a “statistical tie” in voter preference for Daub or Suttle. But significant was the fact that more than half of the voters who make less than $25,000 a year backed Suttle (Daub scored with half the voters who made $100,000 or more). And a good many less-than-$25,000 potential voters live in Northeast Omaha.
So watch closely the early election returns from Northeast Omaha Tuesday night. The size of the turnout there may help answer whether a sort of Suttle/Obama ticket (Suttle has sent out campaign mailers including pictures of Obama as well as Suttle himself) can provide a winning margin over Daub (who, for his part, has sought and received the public endorsement of prominent Republicans).
* * *
It was certainly a proper decision by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Tom Osborne. And, I strongly believe, a popular decision, too.
I’m referring to Osborne’s decision that renters of skybox suites in UNL’s Memorial Stadium will face stricter enforcement of the regulation banning alcoholic beverages.
One wonders why it took so long for a UNL official to take such a public position.
Osborne indicated that his decision was prompted by his receiving word of a case of alcohol poisoning during a game last fall.
Knowledge that alcohol was being served in some of the skyboxes certainly was widespread for years before the case of alcohol poisoning occurred last season. Following that incident, a letter was sent last October to skybox renters reminding them of the ban on alcoholic beverages. Now, skybox suite renters have again been reminded of the ban.
Another poorly kept UNL campus secret has also been spotlighted in recent days in a comprehensive World-Herald story which started with this headline: “Fraternity hazing definitely not the best-kept secret on campus.”
The story gave details of a hazing scandal involving the Lincoln chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity.
Eight fraternity members have been ticketed on suspicion of hazing, procuring alcohol for minors or both. The hazing incidents allegedly included sodomy and forced alcohol consumption.
A ban on fraternity hazing ought to be rigorously enforced. The Sigma Chi chapter, if further investigation confirms the allegations, should be banned from the campus, perhaps permanently but for at least five years.
Clear public notice should be given that any proven cases of such juvenile behavior will result in at least a five-year suspension or (preferably, I would think) permanent expulsion from the campus.
* * *
A reporter who seemed obviously attracted to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge between Omaha and Council Bluffs tried to soften the figures somewhat. But there they were:
In a recent World-Herald poll of 400 Omahans, 62% said they believed the new bridge “enhances Omaha” only “a little” (the reaction of 27% of the respondents) or “not at all” (the reaction of 35%). Eleven percent said they thought the bridge enhances Omaha a lot and 26% said they thought it enhances Omaha “somewhat.”
The figures were even more lopsided when this question was asked: “How good of a tax dollar investment” was the more than $20 million spent to build the bridge. Thirty percent said the money was only “marginally well invested” and 48% said the money was “very poorly invested.”
Three percent of those polled said the tax dollars were “very well invested.” Sixteen percent said they were “pretty well invested.”
The reporter given the job of reporting those figures started by saying that the bridge might turn out to be like the expensive dress you have hanging in your closet and you take it out and wear it for the first time and everyone tells you how fantastic you look, “then maybe you say it was worth it.” I’m not sure I understood the imagery there, but I do think I understood what the reporter was driving at when she wrote:
“Had the poll been conducted at the bridge over the weekend, there might have been different results.” Then the story told of the bridge “humming” with two days of activity.
In other words, “Come see it, walk on it, you’ll like it.”
Much more sensible reaction, it seems to me, came from former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, who routed $19 million in federal “earmark” funds to construction of the bridge.
As to the ultimate public judgment of the bridge and its financing with more than 20 million tax dollars, Kerrey’s opinion: “Time will tell.”
* * *
Of the comments which I’ve seen or heard on Senator Arlen Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat, the best came in a humorous yet perceptive column by Mark Leibovich of The New York Times who wrote:
“We’re living in a time when bipartisanship and independence are supposedly virtues. Yet allegiance to party never seems more sacred than when people decide to leave theirs.
“This came to mind again last week after Senator Arlen Specter (rhymes with “defector”) turned from the R’s to the D’s.”
Leibovich wrote that Specter’s decision (made after polls showed him almost certain not to survive the Republican primary next year in his bid for a sixth term in the Senate) set off one of those Washington stirs “that seems to drown out everything else for approximately 11 hours until the next spectacle,” like the story reporting that Michelle Obama’s effort to build a wardrobe mixing high fashion with off-the-rack clothing includes a pair of $540 sneakers.
Mixed with the humor was this wise bottom-line judgment of the motivation of a senator who at age 79 decided he really wants to be a Democrat rather than a Republican:
“Self-preservation is the ultimate motivator for switching parties.”
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