Obama Must Be Pleased–
Could ‘Rule Or Ruin’ Be The Effect
Of Angry, Ego-Driven Gingrich Strategy?

Newt Gingrich made it abundantly clear, at times emotionally and irrationally clear, that he will fight on for the Republican presidential nomination despite his decisive defeat in Florida.

The tone of irrationality, as I see it, came when, in his post-defeat speech, Gingrich raced through a long list of important policy changes he would put in place in a few hours between his inauguration next January 20 and the inaugural balls that evening.

His rapid-fire edicts would include policy changes which would appeal to Jewish Americans (moving the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem) and anti-abortion policies which would appeal to Catholics.  He included a promise to sign a first-hours-in-office order approving construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

Rather than offering the customary words of congratulation to the winner, as both rival candidates Rick Santorum and Ron Paul did, Gingrich’s only reference to the victorious Mitt Romney was a description of  him as a “Massachusetts moderate,” in contrast to a true conservative like Gingrich himself.

Gingrich also took another crack at the “elite media” and suggested a Newt Gingrich linkage with such American greats as Abraham Lincoln (this time with quotations from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address) and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  He managed this linkage with the Founding Fathers by ending his remarks by pledging his followers to serve the cause of conservatism with “my life, my fortune and my sacred honor,” a paraphrase of the pledge of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Would Gingrich Try To Be A “Superman” President?

Respected journalistic commentator David Gergen was critical of Gingrich’s failure to congratulate Romney and said he found it strange that after his defeat in Florida, Gingrich pledged “to be sort of a Superman president.”

Gingrich’s pledge to continue his fight for the Republican nomination with undiminished vigor makes it pertinent, I believe, to continue examination of his credentials, including some newly-reported examples of the kind of people supporting him publicly and with, in one case, a good many millions of dollars.

Among those recently rallying to Newt’s support are such characters as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Herman Cain.  (Perhaps Cain can at least sympathize with Newt—I doubt that he will bring very many votes with him—in regard to the damage to a candidate’s reputation resulting from continuing reports of sexual misconduct.)

Then there is the issue of where Newt has been getting most of his financial support—a multi-billionaire casino owner named Sheldon Adelson, described in a New York Times headline in these words:  “Casino Mogul Is Friend To Israel And Boon To Campaign.”

Details of the reasons for Adelson’s support of Gingrich do nothing to enhance the Gingrich image.  The Times report Sunday included these details regarding Adelson’s background:

Sons Accused Adelson Of Cheating Them But Lost Lawsuits

He owns the Venetian Hotel (a symbol of architectural bad taste and tremendous gambling profits) in Las Vegas, which is Adelson’s hometown, although The Times noted that he spends a good deal of time in Israel and at one time considered establishing a residence there, where he started a free-circulation newspaper publicizing his views.

Adelson’s controversy-marked private and business life has included lawsuits filed by his two sons who accused him of cheating them (although they lost the lawsuits) and an allegation by a former casino executive that Adelson’s operation of a casino in Macau (a former Portuguese colony now a part of China) may have violated federal laws barring corrupt payments to foreign officials.  And a Chinese businessman has accused Adelson of reneging on an agreement to share profits from the Macau project.

Also in Adelson’s interesting life history is a very close friendship with Newt Gingrich, dating to 1995 when the newly-elected Speaker of the House caused a stir when he called for moving the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  From then on, Adelson was among a cadre of pro-Israel advocates with whom Gingrich had regular interaction.  The casino magnet also reportedly lent his Gulf Stream jet to Gingrich on occasion, The Times story said.

Adelson was particularly impressed with Gingrich’s statement late last year that the Palestinians have no historic claim to a homeland.  Adelson told a crowd at an event for a charity which he supports in Israel:

“Read the history of those that call themselves Palestinians and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people.”

Truth:  Palestine And Palestinians Date Back To Biblical Times

Gingrich’s statement was, of course, outrageously untrue, especially irresponsible coming from a man who prides himself on being so smart and so knowledgeable about history.  (Especially the history of Ronald Regan’s presidency.)

The truth, as my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary indicates with this definition:  Palestine is an “ancient country in southwest Asia,” a country also sometimes called “The Holy Land,” divided now among Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Israel exists as a state because of a United Nations mandate enacted in 1948 promising homeland statehood to both the Palestinians and to the Jewish people.  The Palestinians, whom Gingrich has described as “an invented people,” are still waiting for the statehood promised them in 1948.

At the time of the United Nations mandate designed to create both a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, there were more Arabs than Jews residing in the area which has historically been known as The Holy Land or Palestine.

Jeb Bush Offers No Profile In Political Courage

Enough about Newt and his friends and his principal bankroller.  Let’s turn to the disappointing case of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has, at least until now, been given high marks as an enlightened Republican.

Jeb Bush, despite efforts to persuade him to publicly disown Gingrich and endorse Romney, has been silent.

Bush didn’t do anything for his reputation—nor for a possible presidential bid in the future—when he told a TV interviewer:  “I’ve already voted.  I voted absentee.  And thank God it’s a secret ballot.”

* * *

President’s “I” Takes “Bully Pulpit” Airborne
On Air Force One; The Public Pays.
But Romney Makes The Same “I” Mistake

Final political notes for today:

It seems to me that President Obama would do well to use the “I” a lot less, with more frequent use of “we” or “I’ll ask the Congress to cooperate with me on this…”

(Mitt Romney made the same “I” overemphasis mistake in his Florida victory speech.  He also made a mistake in saying he would produce a balanced budget without a tax increase.)

Put a television camera in front of Obama, and he talks as though he was some sort of imperial president with the power—or that he wished he had the power—to rule by edict.  A recent example:

Addressing a crowd consisting largely of students at the University of Michigan, as described by an Associated Press story, the president “fired a warning at the nation’s colleges and universities on Friday, threatening to strip their federal aid if they ‘jack up tuition’ every year, and to give the money instead to schools showing restraint and value.”

The AP pointed out that Obama couldn’t proceed without the approval of Congress.

It’s one thing to use the White House as a “bully pulpit,” in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Now, of course, the “bully pulpit” flies around the country in Air Force One, allowing the president to campaign nationwide at taxpayer expense.

Lest Obama supporters think I’m unfairly critical of the president, let me offer him this helpful advice:

On the campaign trail, never again make reference to the possibility that Democratic victory in November, resulting in recapture of a majority in the House of Representatives, will again make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.  Best Democratic strategy is to keep the San Francisco liberal as sort of a Democratic “closet girl,” to be brought out only after a Democratic victory.

* * *

The News Spotlight Falls On Six
Nebraskans Who Made A Difference

Let’s turn from politics to well-deserved salutes to Nebraskans who have recently been in the news:

–Sue and Walter Scott, whose long, long list of gifts to our community and our state includes $6.5 million for recent substantial improvements to the Scott Aquarium at Omaha’s world-class Henry Doorly Zoo.

–Lyn Wallin Ziegenbein, who received proper recognition in a World-Herald story which revealed that the Peter Kiewit Foundation will begin a search for a successor to Lyn in her role as executive director for more than 25 years.

It was good news that implementation of a succession plan will play out over several years, after which Ziegenbein will become executive director emeritus, staying with the foundation to help her successor adjust to the transition, while leading special projects herself.

–Bob Marcotte, the subject of a comprehensive story by World-Herald staffer David Hendee, recognizing that, at 86, Marcotte still talks sense about the importance of conserving the nation’s wetlands (as well as those in Mexico and Canada, where Marcotte’s Ducks Unlimited leadership also played a part).

Marcotte’s involvement with Ducks Unlimited goes back more than 50 years—from the days when he helped raise $25 by calling on five western Nebraskans, to the days when a good number of contributions come in the range of $100,000 or more and an estimated 2010 total of $898,924 from Nebraska and $1,172,729 from Iowa.

— Doctor Carlyle Wilson, whose death was reported in The World-Herald under a headline which described him, quite properly, as “a noted surgeon, teacher and golfer.”

Lyle, who died January 27 at 91 a few weeks after suffering a stroke was a dear friend who kept in telephone contact with me up until the time of his stroke.

Lyle was the first surgeon in this area to be certified in nuclear medicine, important to the opening of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Energy Station.

Lyle was Methodist Hospital’s first chief of surgery when the hospital opened in its new location at 83rd & Dodge Streets in 1965, among a number of other important positions which he held in the field of surgical practice.  Dr. Carol Angle of Omaha, a Wilson colleague, called him the “wisest, kindest and most charming of men—a polestar of Nebraska in the medical community.”

The World-Herald story included reference to Lyle setting a golf course record at the Omaha Country Club in 1971—a record that still stands.  In a single round, he shot a hole-in-one on No. 7, an eagle on 10 and another hole-in-one on the 11th.

Lyle will be greatly missed by those who knew him, including certainly me.

* * *

Laugh With Me—I Hope—As I
Recall Some Memorable Rounds Of Golf

Doctor Lyle Wilson’s death at age 91, on which I commented in the previous column item, prompts me to turn to a few of my golfing experiences as an upbeat—or at least offbeat—way to end today’s column.

I played golf occasionally with Lyle, including the day when I shot my best round ever—a 72 at the Omaha Country Club.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that the Omaha Country Club par is 71—35 on the front side, 36 on the back.)

Among OCC golfing experiences which also come to mind as I think of that memorable round in the company of Lyle Wilson are the 81 which I shot one day—45 on the front 9, 36 on the back.  I was proud of myself for not suffering a total collapse after going out 10 strokes over par on the front nine.

Then there was the day I started with birdies on the first three holes, a Labor Day outing with my father-in-law, the late Wheaton Battey of Lincoln.

Wheaton had a good golf game and looked forward to playing with his son-in-law.  To play with me with any degree of pleasure, Wheaton decided that he had to pay for lessons at the Lincoln Country Club under the tutelage of the late, great pro there, Bud Williamson.

But I digress from my story of those consecutive birdies on the first three holes.

Next came a double bogey on the well-known No. 4 at the OCC.  Things didn’t get much better after that, as best I recall (I really try to forget everything that happened after the first three birdies).  I finished somewhere in the 80s, I believe.

Perhaps the funniest story I can recall from my OCC golfing days—it wasn’t funny at the time—occurred on a day I three-putted No. 17, which had a tricky green which was finally revised to make it a bit more fairly puttable.

A three-putt on No. 17 so upset me that I flung my putter toward a nearby small grove of trees.  The putter stuck in the trees, and a caddie had to climb up to retrieve it.

The retrieval proved difficult, so I and the rest of my foursome had to stand by while we let three other foursomes through.  In each case, I had to offer an explanation, since there was no way to hide that caddie in the tree.

I never threw another club.

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