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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

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.

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left

November 13, 2008

Some political commentators were, predictably, quick to suggest that Barack Obama’s victory meant a sharp turn in the road for American politics—a turn to the liberal or left side of the road, of course.  They may be right, but I don’t think so.

While Americans were electing their first black president, with the support of other black Americans a decisive factor, presumably color-blind voting on issues, not personalities, produced a quite different picture across the nation. 

Bans on “marriage” between lesbians or between homosexuals was supported by 52% of voters in California, by 57% in Arizona and by 62% in Florida.  Arkansas voters approved a measure that bars unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents.

In Arizona voters buried (65% to 35%) a proposal that would have raised state legislator’s annual salary from $24,000 to $30,000.  A clean energy proposal—requiring utilities to generate 20% of power from renewable energy by 2010—was turned down,  65%/35% in California.  Also in California, a proposal to reduce penalties for non-violent drug crimes was rejected, 60% to 40%. 

Colorado voters declined to lower the age of eligibility for serving in the Legislature from 25 to 21 and voted nearly 2 to 1 to reject a two-year increase of one-tenth of a percent in the state sales tax.

In South Dakota, a 76% majority voted to continue legislative term limits.  South Dakotans voted also against repeal of the five-cents per mile limit on reimbursement of legislator’s traveling to and from a legislative session.  The rate was set in 1891.

On the non-conservative side, proposals to ban or limit abortions were rejected in California, Colorado and South Dakota and Colorado voters narrowly defeated a proposed ban on race-based or gender-based “affirmative action” programs.  Nebraska voters decisively approved such a ban.  Maryland voters approved allowing 15,000 slot machines to be operated, Arkansas voters approved state lotteries.  But Maine voters said no to casino gambling, Missouri increased gambling taxes and froze the number of casinos.  Massachusetts voters banned betting on dog races, which will have the effect of closing this state’s two dog tracks.

Thus, the pattern of special issue voting across the country was predominantly conservative.

* * *

Figures Confirm Black Votes
A Decisive Factor For Obama

It’s human nature.  When a significant event has just happened, whether the general reaction is positive or negative, rationality is mixed with—or dominated by—emotion.  We lose historical perspective and talk about the closest-to-hand event results—talk which often doesn’t stand the test of unemotional consideration.

I’m talking, of course, about Obama’s truly historic election as the first black to serve as President of the United States.  But much of the emotional reaction to his election and an increase in the Democratic majority in Congress deserves more rational analysis than the American news media have provided.  For example: 

One projection based on interviews with voters who had left the polls Tuesday included these estimates:  95% to 96% of blacks voted for Obama and blacks made up 12% of the electorate.  This would indicate some 14 million votes for Obama from blacks.  Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain was some eight million votes.

(Other exit interview projections had higher estimates of the black vote for Obama.)

One exit poll projection produced an estimate that 41% of white men and 46% of white women voted for Obama. 

Surely, like John McCain himself, the great majority of the more 52 million Americans who voted for McCain recognize the historic nature of Obama’s victory and wish him well.  But the facts are that Obama’s victory, understandably, had decisive support from other blacks, raising again the question which I asked a couple of times during the campaign:  Did Obama’s margin of victory come from people who considered him an eminently qualified candidate who happened to be black or did the margin of victory, finally, come from people who voted for him primarily because he is black?

Some other quick reactions which seemed based more on emotion than rationality, including reactions which simply don’t stand up compared with the actual election results and in comparison with past presidential elections:

There was a USA Today headline which read:  “Democratic advances put Republicans on the ropes.”  The facts are that Democrats last Tuesday took control of Congress with majorities smaller than was the case in six elections in the past 50 years.

So Republicans have “come off the ropes” before, just as have the Democrats.  (Remember that in 1972, the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, carried exactly one state—Massachusetts—and that certainly didn’t knock the Democrats out of the national political ring.)

* * *

Percentagewise, It Wasn’t Record Turnout

Additional perspective on last week’s election results:

One news story said that voters across the nation surged to the polls in historic numbers.  While the total numbers of voters set a record, it should be remembered that the potential voters pool has increased every year as the nation’s population increases.

The fact of the matter is that, in terms of the percentage of eligible voters actually going to the polls, last week’s turnout of approximately 62.5% is slightly less than the percentages of eligible voters who turned out for the John Kennedy/Richard Nixon presidential election in 1960 and the Lyndon Johnson/Barry Goldwater election in 1964.

Interestingly, while blacks turned out in record numbers and voted 95 to 96% for Obama, one exit interview survey indicated that young voters didn’t show up in anticipated numbers.  Others disagreed with this appraisal.

* * *

Obama Victory Was Helped
By Economic Mess Dems Created

Perhaps the greatest irony of the Democratic victory last week was the fact that Democrats, including particularly Obama, were helped by an economic crisis for which, the record is clear but too little recognized, Democratic leaders bear a heavy responsibility.

The consensus of so-called expert opinion, I believe, is clear that the bad economic news hurt John McCain.  After all, it happened while a Republican, the unpopular George W. Bush, was in the White House (which enabled Obama to continue hammering McCain with the argument that McCain’s election would constitute four more years of Bush policies). 

The truth, never conceded by the Democrats or widely recognized by the news media:  Democrats from President Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton to Congressional leaders like Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, were largely responsible for pushing federal agencies to encourage the loaning of bargain-rate mortgage money to prospective homeowners with weak credit ratings. 

To their credit, President Bush and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska attempted to do something about it, urging tighter regulation over federally-subsidized mortgage-guarantee agencies.  But Democrats in Congress successfully blocked reform efforts, in which John McCain had joined by signing on as a co-sponsor of a bill which had been introduced by Senator Hagel. 

The Democrats’ opposition to curbing of the high-risk mortgage lending spree included a statement by Senator Dodd, then ranking minority member of the Senate Banking Committee, that the high-risk (my words, not his) mortgage lending program was “one of the great success stories of all time.”

* * *

Every Baby A Potential President?

There were, predictably, numerous examples of emotional rather than rational reaction to what was a truly historic event but, I believe, not all that it has been represented to be.  One such example:

One newspaper account described Obama’s election as an event which “says any child, no matter how humble his birth, could one day grow up to be president.”

I doubt that “any child” born in America can, or will in the future, be able to follow the path to the White House so successfully traveled by a bright, eloquent, good-looking ambitious black named Barack Obama.

* * *

Final Win Total Uncertain
But NU On The Road Back?

I’ve been writing about politics since 1946 (I’ll save you the calculating; that’s 62 years) but I’ve been going to Nebraska Cornhusker footballs games since 1933 (75 years).  So enough about politics today.  Let’s talk briefly about the Cornhuskers.

After last Saturday’s 45-35 win over Kansas had added that longed-for sixth victory to Nebraska’s season record, my thoughts went back to a pre-season conversation with a rabid (is there any other kind?) Husker fan. 

This fan/friend said that as the new Husker head coach, Bo Pelini, deserved some time to bring his aggressive coaching style to bear on the Husker program.  A six-win first season would be a reasonable start, this rabid fan said.  I agreed.

Any second thoughts about a fan-happy (and team-happy and Bo-happy) season now that the Huskers have built a six-four record with two regular-season games and a bowl game left to play?  You bet.  Let’s make it at least an 8-5 and better yet a 9-4 season.  That surely is the goal of Coach Bo and his team.

But whatever the final won-lost tally, Pelini and his first Husker team will have, I believe, started the Huskers on a road that could make “Nebraska” a name to be respected again whenever the subject is college football.

Another thought prompted by my attendance at last Saturday’s NU/KU game: 

Why don’t marching bands concentrate on playing stirring march music instead of the kind of musical shows which both the NU and visiting Kansas “marching” bands presented last Saturday. 

The Cornhusker band played a medley of non-familiar (to me and, I’d wager, a lot of other fans) tunes, including something called “Birdland.”  The KU band offered a medley of tunes announced as a tribute to Michael Jackson.  Is there something about Michael Jackson’s non-musical performances that the KU band director is unfamiliar with?

As the Cornhusker “marching” band left the field, the public address announcer described the band as “the pride of all Nebraska.” 

When it comes to pride in the Cornhusker band—at least as it performed last Saturday—“include me out,” as the master of malaprops, the late moviemaker Sam Goldwyn, is said to have said.

# # #

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