Mixed News For GOP Moderate Conservatives:
Radical Nordquist Fades, Tea Partyists Resurge

Both good and bad news for moderate conservative Republicans who don’t want to see the party taken over by the radical right.

The good news:  an increasing number of Republicans are repudiating—or questioning—the pledge which they made to far-right tax-limitation ideologue Grover Nordquist.

Apparently afraid to displease the would-be tax and spending policy dictator, a very high percentage of Republican political hopefuls signed a pledge to support Nordquist’s policy of holding federal spending to no more than 18% of the gross national product through a constitutional amendment.

Getting an 18% limitation written into the Federal constitution was—and is—a preposterous proposition, requiring approval by three-fifths of the Congress and three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.

So good news in the increasing number of pledge-signers who now are withdrawing their pledge.

(Incidentally but importantly to Nebraskans, Senator-elect Deb Fischer, who signed the pledge some time ago along with a lot of other Republicans aspiring to higher office, should acknowledge her mistake and withdraw her support of the proposition as should the rest of the Nebraska Congressional officeholders who also signed the Nordquist pledge.)

The bad news for moderate conservatives in the GOP is the fact that the Tea Party activists are active again, possibly leading on to substantial influence or even balance-of-power influence—in the GOP.

You may recall some of the Tea Party leaders:  Texas Representative Ron Paul, who sometimes sounds as if he mistrusts any governmental unit above the county level, and Tea Party heroine Michele Bachmann, who narrowly retained her Minnesota seat in the House of Representatives.

Bachmann will be remembered as the presidential candidate who couldn’t decide which hairstyle she preferred on the campaign trail and once had to leave that trail for brief hospitalization because of severe headaches which she blamed on wearing high heels on the campaign trail.

Both the Grover Nordquist and Tea Party brand of conservatism, as I see it, is so far from political reality that they and like-minded party members should be of little influence.  But that won’t keep them from fanatically trying.

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Democrats Have Leadership Challenges, Too
Nancy Pelosi, 72, Among The Biggest

The Democratic Party is having leadership problems of its own, involving in one sense some of the same kind of problem facing the Republicans—that is, the continuing, if not growing, influence of extreme elements within the party—in this case, the far-left influence reflected by President Obama and perhaps best typified by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

As I see it, the failure of the Democrats to gain control of the House of Representatives reflects the continuing national disapproval of the liberal-left leaning of the Democratic Party leadership.

Also a problem for the Democrats is the aging of a significant part of the party leadership.  Not Obama himself, of course.  He actually could have used more years of political experience, more maturity than he brought to the presidency.

But House Minority Leader Pelosi—perhaps the most valuable asset the Republicans have in either party—is 72.  And various other past-70 Democratic Party leaders hold important Congressional positions because of their seniority.

Then there is the matter of who succeeds Obama as the presidential nominee.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who I believe would have made a better president than Barack Obama, is soon to leave her Secretary of State’s position at age 65.  This means she would be setting foot in the Oval Office at age 69.

I believe it is questionable public policy for anyone to start in such an important position as President of the United States at age 69.

Then there is the matter of Vice President Joe Biden.  As I see it, the man is something of a buffoon, who would be a potential disaster in the presidency at any age.  But there are reports are that Biden, 70, nurses ambitions for the presidential nomination four years from now.

If control of “only” two-thirds of the three branches of the national government poses a problem for the Democratic Party, how about the party-control problem at the state government level?

In its multi-paged Sunday opinion section, where conservative views are rarely allowed to intrude, The New York Times offered an article suggesting there is a threat of “two Americas” being created with Republicans in control of such a high percentage of state governments.  The figures:

In the number of states where one party controls both the state legislature and the governorship, the Republican Party outnumbers the Democratic Party 20 states to 13—the greatest one-party advantage over the other since 1952.

The Times deplores this development as raising the prospect of “two Americas.”  One might ask whether The Times considers that Democrat Barack Obama’s 3.1 percentage points victory over Republican Mitt Romney reflects the nation’s choice to go forward for the next four years as “one America” united behind President Obama.  If so, why didn’t Democratic candidates win a majority in the House of Representatives, which has been described as “the people’s chamber”?

* * *

Spend Less Competing For Philanthropic Dollars,
Use The Savings For More Philanthropy

The flow of mail that reaches our home seems to me to raise the question as to whether Omaha has too many philanthropic agencies which duplicate the work of other philanthropic agencies.

Consider the number of private agencies which solicit funds on the basis of their service to children.  (One such organization has already sent letters suggesting that contributors set aside a date next April—that’s right, next April—for a fund-raising event.)

Marian and I give to some 100 public (like some universities) or privately-financed good causes every year.  But we must be solicited for contributions to at least as many more privately-financed causes.

There was a time when the United Way of the Midlands, successor to what was once called the Community Chest, carried a major share of the private philanthropic load in this community, soliciting annual contributions with slogans like “One gift works many wonders.”

The Omaha Community Foundation entered the field as an attractive target for major gifts which can be divided among worthy causes.

But, as I see it, there has been an unnecessarily increasing number of privately-financed agencies, often duplicating other efforts, spending money for an office and staff, working to raise money for causes which other similarly-staffed private agencies are seeking to raise money for.

It would be informative, and potentially very useful, if some major philanthropic foundation would fund an intensive look at the multiplicity of private fund-raising agencies in our community.

Perhaps the bottom line would be that you can’t have too many organizations trying to raise funds for worthy causes.  Pretty obviously, I question that.

I would be quite willing—indeed, quite anxious—to give careful consideration to any results that such a comprehensive study would turn up.

* * *

Political Poll Results Are Irresponsibly Reported;
Why Don’t News Media Take Corrective Action?

Since polls of opinion—increasingly including so-called “exit” polls—are increasing in number and being offered as sweeping findings of the thinking of millions of American adults, instead of a sampling of opinion of a very small number of potential voters, shouldn’t we adopt some ground rules?

Some enterprising journalist or author might well take a detailed, analytical look at polls and suggest some ground rules for the way they are conducted and, even more importantly, reported in the news media.  Certainly a part of some such analysis should include the subject of so-called “exit” polls.

“Exit polls” are being increasingly cited as if they represented the opinions of every person who voted on Election Day.  This, of course, is preposterous, but it is offered to the public as gospel, without any indication of how many people are polled at which polling places without any effort to verify that the person being polled is telling the truth.  (There is a possibility, it seems to me, that a person being polled might simply be irritated at being asked how he cast his supposedly secret ballot and thus give less than an accurate answer to the pollster.)

Then there is the matter of millions upon millions of Americans—a steadily increasingly total each election year—who cast their ballots by mail or by showing up at the Election Commissioner’s office and thus aren’t available for exit polls.

I can think of no area of journalistic endeavor in regard to covering elections which is more irresponsibly handled than the matter of exit polls, the results of which are invariably reported as reflective of all those who went to the polls across this broad land on Election Day.

* * *

Wisconsin Loss Creates Surplus Of Disappointment
For Cornhusker Players, Coaches And Fans

As I wrote this week’s column last week in preparation for a trip which started last Sunday, I delayed writing a column-closer in anticipation of writing a final item which would deal with the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Big 10 championship game with Wisconsin last Saturday night.

I was hoping to—but not necessarily counting on—a column-closer about the 10-2 Huskers’ Big 10 conference championship victory over 7-5 Wisconsin.

How do you make an upbeat column-ender out of the 70-31 Wisconsin victory (unless you live in Wisconsin, where my readership, I believe, is very limited or non-existent).

Husker fans have had a number of occasions during the past 15 years to be losers—good or poor—when a potential conference championship is involved—and on other occasions, for that matter.  But being a good—or at least not a poor—loser shouldn’t require very often the tolerance of a 39 point loss as in last Saturday’s 70-31 loss to Wisconsin.

Or last October’s 38-63 loss against Ohio State.

Or last year’s 17-48 loss to Wisconsin.

Or last year’s 17-45 loss to Michigan.

The greatest disappointment, of course, is not on the part of the fans.  It is felt most keenly by coaches and players.  But there is enough disappointment to go around.

There is a chance for players and coaches to enjoy a measure of redemption—in which fans would certainly share—when the Huskers play Georgia in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.  But the odds are formidable.

Georgia, then ranked No. 3, was a few yards and seconds and just five points away from defeating Alabama for the Southeast Conference Championship last Saturday.  A victory for the Bulldogs would have had them rather than Alabama moving on to play Notre Dame for the national championship.

Against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, Georgia will have great incentive to show they would have been worthy contenders for the national championship.

The Capital One Bowl also allows Nebraska a chance for redemption.

Go Huskers!

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