Battle For White House Going On Forever?
Not Really; It Just Seems Like It

How long has it been going on?  Ten years?  Twenty years?  Longer?

No, it just seems like that.  Actually it’s been going on for the three years, seven weeks and six days since President Obama was sworn into office on January 20, 2009.

I’m referring, of course, to the political warfare to see who will occupy the White House starting next January 21.

I was one of a good many Americans who were hoping that Mitt Romney victories in primary balloting in Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday would make his nomination more likely and perhaps hurry the end of the GOP civil war.

But Rick Santorum—who keeps hinting that God would be his co-pilot, or more likely that he would be God’s co-pilot, in the White House—won the primary balloting in those two Deep South states on Tuesday.

The reaction of CNN commentators—of whom there must be several hundred either on staff or volunteers—ranged from Romney is still the most likely to win the Republican nomination to not-so-fast reactions from commentators who said don’t count Santorum out.

Meanwhile, of course, President Obama has been touring the country in Air Force One, trying to leave the impression that he is tending to public business but actively campaigning, raising mega millions of dollars and I’m sure, enjoying watching the GOP civil war.

All this might be more bearable but further prospect that it will start gaining momentum again next January 21, with a revised cast of characters but the same type of scenario.

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Kerrey’s Approach To Pipeline Issue
Any Indication Of Path He Will Follow?

Former Senator Bob Kerrey is just beginning his effort to become reacquainted with Nebraska after a 12 year absence in New York City, but his initial indecision on the Keystone Pipeline issue, as I see it, underscores a question which Kerrey is going to have to answer, clearly and decisively, before Nebraskans vote next November:

Is Kerrey’s return to Nebraska based on a belief that he is especially qualified to represent Nebraskans’ generally conservative political views, or does he believe he has a self-assigned mission to convince conservative Nebraskans that the political truth lies closer to the left on the political spectrum?

However Kerrey finally decides his stand on the Keystone Pipeline issue, his chances for election next November depend on his success in persuading a large number of Republicans to reject the more conservative Republican nominee and vote for the 12-year absentee who answered a call to return to Nebraska—a call which was essentially inaudible except to Kerrey and perhaps a few Nebraskans who have not been identified publicly.  (The most audible call for Kerrey’s return came not from Nebraska but rather from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada who hopes Kerrey can help maintain Democrat control of the Senate.)

If Kerrey hesitates now on the Keystone Pipeline issue—which has been thoroughly debated in the Nebraska Legislature and decided in favor of an eastern Nebraska route which avoids the Sand Hills—there is still time, of course, for him to come to a pro-pipeline decision which reflects the clearly-indicated wishes of a majority of Nebraskans.  How will he stand on other issues where his views may be more liberal than those of a great many Nebraskans?  Stay tuned.

Would “Bold Nebraska” Support Hurt More Than Help?

One of the more interesting reactions to Kerrey’s hesitancy on the Keystone issue was the enthusiastic greeting from the most liberal political figure currently trying to gain attention in Nebraska.  I refer, of course, to Jane Kleeb, organizer of a political task force called Bold Nebraska.

Kleeb, you may recall, came to the state a few years ago with her husband, who moved to Nebraska to run, unsuccessfully, for the Third Congressional District seat.  The Kleebs decided to remain in Nebraska, with Jane Kleeb expressing the announced purpose of shaking Nebraskans from their conservative ways.

Jane Kleeb is a fierce opponent of the Keystone Pipeline or any other pipeline that helps in the development of petroleum from Canadian tar sands.  Kleeb said opposition by Kerrey to the Keystone Pipeline, which would carry petroleum from the Canadian tar sand pits to petroleum processing plants in the United States, could energize a base of enthusiastic supporters for Kerrey.

Flat-out opposition to the pipeline on environmental grounds would put Kerrey in interesting company—Jane Kleeb, the Dali Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and some others who oppose not only the Keystone Pipeline but any development of the Canadian tar sands petroleum source.

(It should be acknowledged that Kerrey already recognizes the possibility, if not the likelihood, that blocking the Keystone Pipeline would not necessarily block developments of the tar sand oil resources since China has expressed an interest in petroleum imports from Canada.)

Did Kerrey Find Governor’s Job Not Challenging Enough?

Last week I indicated that I would this week share some examples of Kerrey’s long-time history of changing his mind—or seriously considering changing his mind—on how he thinks he can best serve the public and also serve his own political ambitions.  Some examples of Kerrey’s mind-changing.

Kerrey was elected governor in 1982 and decided against running for re-election four years later.  This made him the first governor not to seek a second term—except for one who stepped down in order to run for the Senate and one who died in office—in a succession of 19 governors starting with Democrat Keith Neville in 1918.

One widely-held opinion among observers who follow such things is that it was simply a case of “Cosmic Bob” getting bored in an office which he considered not challenging enough for his interests and capabilities.

(One example of Kerrey’s mind changes occurred during his gubernatorial term when he announced one day that he would call a special session of the Legislature, then announced a few days later that he had changed his mind.)

More next week about some additional—and more fundamental—Bob Kerrey mind changes.

Why all the attention to Kerrey’s political history?

Because, as I see it, Bob Kerrey has invited a close perusal of his career, including the substantial number of examples of changes of career course—a record appropriate for consideration by Nebraskans as Kerrey returns to try to regain political stature in a state from which he has been absent for 12 years.

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Santorum’s Religious Dedication Properly An Issue
In His Campaign To Be Our President?

Credit The New York Times for an extensive look into the religious background which former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum brings with him as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

I’ll recount what The Times has learned and leave it to you to decide whether this background would appeal to a majority of  non-Catholics and to political moderates who, most observers believe, make their decisions in the frequently decisive “middle ground” where neither extreme conservatism or extreme liberalism is popular.

The Times story begins:  Rick Santorum was, in his own words, a “nominal Catholic” when he met Karen Garver, a neonatal nurse and law student in 1988.

The Santorums were married and, largely due to this wife’s influence, Santorum converted to a highly traditional form of Catholicism.  The Washington parish to which the Santorums belong, for example, offers Mass in Latin every Sunday at noon—most parishes have Mass only in English.

Each Wednesday, parishioners take turns praying non-stop for 24 hours before a consecrated communion wafer, a demanding practice known as Eucharistic adoration, The Times reported.

‘Pope Looks At Six Children, Calls Santorum Great’

The Santorums traveled to Rome after his re-election to the Senate in 2000.  There they had a private audience with Pope John Paul II. A friend of Santorum familiar with the details of that visit reported:

“He said to the Pope, ‘Father, you’re a great man…’  And the Pope turned to him, because Rick at that point had all six children sitting there, and he said, ‘No, you’re a great man.’”

The Times story reported that Santorum made another trip to Rome, in 2002, this time to speak at a centennial celebration of the birth of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.  The Times said that in a little-noticed interview with The National Catholic Review on this visit to Rome, Santorum said that President John F. Kennedy had caused “much harm to America” with his 1960 speech calling for strict separation of church and state.

While on the subject of all that Rick Santorum would bring to the White House beside his experience in public office (he lost his bid for a third Senate term by one of the largest margins in Pennsylvania political history), one might wish for a better understanding of the  history of the foundation of our American government.

Santorum Confused On Our Government’s Foundation

On the campaign trail he repeatedly refers to the Declaration of Independence—with its language about men “being endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”—as the founding document of our government.  (He also refers to the “men and women” who signed the Declaration.  It’s pretty well known that only men signed that historic document.)

The truth is that the document which is the foundation of the American government is the United States Constitution, in which there was no reference to God or religion.  The First Amendment includes freedom of religion along with freedom of speech and the press but includes no language suggesting that religion is part of the foundation of our government.

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Smorgasbord:  Columnist Gives Orders To Osborne;
Rush Limbaugh Not Worth All The Attention;
Brown Obviously Speaking For Self, Not NU

Another of my frequent servings of a smorgasbord of comment, again hoping that you find something to your reading taste:

A commentator/columnist who spends a good deal of ink telling University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials how to run Husker athletic programs started a column on the basketball coaching vacancy with 23 paragraphs which clearly appeared to be building a case for UNL Athletic Director Tom Osborne to consider, if not hire, former Creighton Coach Dana Altman, a Nebraska native.

Then, in a typical 180-degree change of direction, the commentator/columnist offered eight names of other coaches in language like this directed to Tom Osborne:  “You talk to (fill in here the name of the coach Osborne should talk to).”  In two cases, names were offered without any explanation of where they currently are in the coaching world.

Most astounding of all was this next to last paragraph the commentator/columnist directions to Tom Osborne:

“Osborne needs to sell the idea that NU is an athletic machine that cares as much for hoops as it does football, baseball, volleyball or the other sports it excels in.  Coaches want to coach where people care.”

The truth, of course, is that Nebraska fans would like to have winning teams in all sports.  But the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is clearly something more than “an athletic machine” and to suggest that there is much fan support for basketball as there is for football is simply preposterous.

Maureen Dowd Hardly One to Criticize Limbaugh

Is there any open-minded American who really takes Rush Limbaugh seriously?  I recognize that the question suggests that there are too many Americans out there who aren’t open-minded and do take Rush Limbaugh seriously, for which, as I see it, they should be ashamed of themselves.

My comments are prompted by the recent flap over Limbaugh’s going too far—even for a right-wing demagogue—in calling a woman with whom he disagreed a “slut” and a “prostitute.”  Limbaugh apologized—sort of—but the fact he would use such language is further evidence, as I see it, that no open-minded American should pay any serious attention to him.

One of the ironies of the storm of criticism which greeted this extreme example of Limbaugh’s irrational ravings was criticism from Maureen Dowd of The New York Times.

Dowd, on too frequent occasion, is an upscale liberal version of Limbaugh in her irrationality and her vicious language in her criticism of conservative targets.  But at least she doesn’t stoop to language of the gutter.

Criticism Of Ron Brown Went Too Far

The flap over widely-known and widely-respected Nebraska Cornhusker Assistant Football Coach Ron Brown’s testimony before the Omaha City Council was vastly overplayed by the news media and over-emphasized by UNL officials.

Brown was speaking as a concerned Nebraskan when he testified before the Omaha City Council in opposition to that controversial proposal to ban discrimination against homosexuals and others whose sexual practices don’t follow the norm.

Brown admits he made a mistake in giving his address as his Husker Athletic Department office when he signed in as a witness.

But for anyone, including Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Athletic Director Tom Osborne, to suggest this could have misled the City Council and the public into thinking that Brown was speaking for the university was far-fetched, to put it mildly.

Much ado about very little, as I see it.

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Contribution Requests Go Coast-To-Coast

I suppose one way to look at it is that my reputation for generosity extends from coast to coast.

A more likely explanation, I believe, is that there is an exchange—or perhaps a sale—of mailing lists to which your name is added because you have contributed to this or that worthy cause over a period of years.

I’m referring today to a contribution request which came from Washington, D.C. and another which came from Los Angeles—coast to coast, you see.

The request from Washington came from a Catholic Archbishop there whose worthy cause serves members of the military, including providing Catholic chaplains for troops overseas.  The letter referred to support from “faithful, patriotic, and generous Catholics just like you.”  I’m not Catholic, but I suppose my name got on some mailing list or other because I have frequently contributed in support of worthy Catholic-sponsored causes.

The request from Los Angeles was to help the American Film Institute in its mission of preserving “the history of the motion picture.”  Now I go to the movies from time to time (not as often as Marian does) but I’ve never given my name to the ticker-seller or ticket-taker, so I don’t know how my name got on this particular mailing list.

I decided not to contribute to either of these two worthy causes.  The Andersen family contribution budget is already fully committed to other causes, most of them much closer to home.

Incidentally, the American Film Institute somehow acquired a mailing list which spelled my last name “Anderson” instead of “Andersen.”  That particular mailing list needs correction.  We Danish-Americans are pretty sensitive about the misspelling of our last names.

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