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Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10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

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 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.)

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‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy

July 31, 2008

I had planned to write on several other topics today, but they can wait.  Senator Barack Obama’s carefully-orchestrated nine-day publicity-seeking presidential campaign swing through the Middle East and Europe pushed more important issues off the political stage and resulted in a deluge of political and news media commentary, in which I decided to join.

First, my basic reaction to the Obama candidacy, an opinion certainly not ameliorated by his performance in Europe:

I don’t believe there has been a presidential nominee as lacking in demonstrated leadership capability and significant political experience since Republican Warren G. Harding was elected president 88 years ago.

Harding, with an undistinguished record as an Ohio newspaper publisher and equally undistinguished record as a United States Senator for six years, won with 60 percent of the vote in 1920.  One of his biographies refers to his “vibrant speaking voice.”  Undistinguished Senate record, vibrant speaking voice.  Does that description bring any current political figure to mind?

More personal opinions: 

I wonder whether Obama and his handlers realize that his public-appearance-dominated, egocentric, nine-day journey to the Middle East and Europe may actually cost him votes?  I believe this will certainly be the case if Republicans—whose campaign for Senator John McCain has been something less than inventive—can find ways to keep Obama’s lack of experience—not significantly ameliorated by a nine-day sprint through the Middle East and Europe—and his overweening ego alive as legitimate, major issues.

Germany An Old U.S. Ally?

Obama’s speechwriters had to be quite busy, of course, to draft remarks for his nine-day journey, so perhaps an occasional blooper was inevitable.  For example:  Obama’s speech to that much-publicized crowd of 200,000 in Berlin included these words:  “The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand.”

Was the “old allies” language supposed to apply to the United States and Germany?  Americans were willing to establish a supportive foreign aid program and military cooperation with West Germany following World War II, at least in part to keep all of Germany from falling behind the communist iron curtain.  But it’s hard to think of a European country as an “old ally” when you recall that America was twice engaged in bloody warfare with that country in a 28-year-span in World War I and World War II.  Some “old ally”!

I really can’t see how a hero’s welcome by a worshipful crowd of Germans will turn on rather than turn off a good many Americans who think that Obama should be running for president of the United States, not president of the world.

Another example of speechwriting subject to challenge:  “Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen—a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.”  Excusable exaggeration for political effect?  Or simply an outright falsehood?

Do you suppose that Obama’s campaign team had arranged the rally, provided an overhead crane to allow photographers to take pictures of the ground and a giant TV screen projecting Obama’s image for all in the crowd to see—did all of these things to persuade the Berlin crowd that Obama was appearing simply as “a fellow citizen of the world”? 

If you believe that, be sure to put out milk and cookies by the fireplace next Christmas Eve.

And Then He Rested

The Los Angeles Times account included this summary of the speech:  “The all-but-certain Democratic nominee for president voiced aspirations for a world that abolishes nuclear arms, banishes ‘the scourge of AIDS,’ feeds the poor in Chad and Bangladesh, unites against Muslim extremism and stops global warming.” 

One wonders whether, after leading the world to solutions of these formidable problems, Obama will rest on the figurative seventh day.

President Nicholas Sarkozy of France declared after meeting with Obama:  “Good luck to Barack Obama.  If he is chosen, then France will be delighted.”

France, it should be remembered, is the same country which has long been unpopular with a good many Americans—a country which America helped save from German domination in two world wars and which then repaid the United States with non-cooperation on global security issues following World War II.

With so little in the way of significant experience, how account for the fact that Obama is running strongly in the polls?  Several factors are involved here, I believe. 

One frequently heard explanation:  He’s not Bush. 

Then there is John McCain’s age.  At 72, he would be the oldest president ever to take office. 

Another factor in Obama’s showing is, of course, the fact that he is good looking, relatively young, and eloquent—all of which have led some not unfriendly commentators to say that he has a sort of rock-star appeal to younger voters.

Then There Is The Race Issue

And perhaps the most important factor of all working in Obama’s favor 14 weeks before Election Day:  McCain and his staff have not yet developed an effective campaign strategy and tactics.

How about the fact that Obama is half black?  Definitely an appeal to liberals and some younger voters, who see his election as atonement for slavery and racial discrimination. 

We may never know with certainty whether the appeal of his color to some voters will be offset and possibly turned into a negative when other voters can express their opinions in the privacy of the voting booth. 

Switching from my opinions to those of others, let’s start with the views of Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe.  Vennochi wrote: 

“Barack Obama always was a larger-than-life candidate with a healthy ego.  Now he’s turning into the A-Rod of politics.  It’s all about him.

“He’s giving his opponent something other than issues to attack him on:  narcissism.”

My recollection of Greek mythology was good enough to call up an image of the mythological character named Narcissus, a handsome youth so in love with his own image that he stared at it in a pool of water until he fell in and drowned. 

A look at my Columbia Encyclopedia produced this more precise version of the myth:  “Narcissus, in Greek mythology, beautiful youth who refused all offers of love, including that of Echo.  As punishment for his indifference he was made to fall in love with his own image in a mountain pool.  Unable to possess the image, he pined away and was turned into a flower.”

A description of Obama as infatuated with his own image is, I think, appropriate.  But, unlike Narcissus, he is certainly eager to accept the love of others—which, ironically, is made less likely as his ego (or “messianic complex,” in the words of a blogger for left-leaning Mother Jones magazine) becomes more and more a part of his public persona.

‘Show For The Rock Concert Masses’

Columnist Vennochi also offered this cutting comment: 

“Before a vote is cast at the convention, he has gone on a foreign policy tour that will use cheering Europeans—and America’s top news anchors—as extras in his campaign. 

“What do you expect from a candidate who already has auditioned a quasi-presidential seal with a Latin inscription Vero possumus—‘Yes, we can’”?  (Obama did drop that “just call me the president-elect” pseudo presidential seal after three days of ridicule.) 

David Brooks of The New York Times said of Obama’s Berlin-performance:  “But he has grown accustomed to putting on this sort of saccharine show for the rock-concert masses…his words drift far from reality…Obama has been benefited from a week of good images.  But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence.  It’s Disney.”

Brooks pointed out that when John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan made memorable speeches in Berlin, “their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices.

“Kennedy didn’t dream of the universal brotherhood of man.  He drew lines that reflected hard realities:  ‘There are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists.  Let them come to Berlin.’

“Reagan didn’t call for a kumbaya moment.  He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements—the deployment of U.S. missiles in response to the Soviet SS-20s—but still worked.”

Arrogant, Taking Election For Granted?

David Gergen, who seems to lean towards Obama, in a CNN commentary indicated he was turned off by Obama’s show of negotiating with the president of Iraq about U.S. troop withdrawal.  Gergen said America has only one president at a time.  A presidential candidate shouldn’t be negotiating foreign policy with the head of a foreign government. 

The former French foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, said that Obama indulged in “some pro-German demagogy on nuclear weapons to get applause.”

The large-circulation German daily newspaper Bild referred to Obama as a “political pop star.”

A front-page story in The New York Times carried this headline:  “Obama, vague on issues, is a crowd pleaser in Europe.”  The Times story told of the enthusiastic popular reception which Obama received in Europe but added that European governments and politicians “are not so sure” that his rhetoric makes sound political sense.  The Times of London, while praising Obama, said that his European tour “loses him ground back home.”

A typical example of the staged show business that accompanied Obama’s nine days in Europe and the Middle East was his press conference in front of Number 10 Downing Street, where he had just met with British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

Number 10 Downing Street is, of course, the well-known British equivalent of our White House. 

A New York Times “news analysis” said Obama’s European tour was a masterful public relations performance but “it also fueled the questions his critics have used to try to undercut him:  whether he is arrogant and taking his election for granted.”

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