It’s time to Break It Down!
HAPPY 15th ANNIVERSARY “BREAK IT DOWN!”
Before launching into the post, it’s certainly appropriate to contextualize my original blog within the parameters of our contemporary timeframe. To do that, I note that post was about a young lion, Barack Obama, coming into what would become his era. Two years ago, the Democratic Party, via virtual Convention, officially installed Joe Biden as its nominee. Whereas Obama was one of the youngest to ever carry the banner, Biden is the oldest. That bit of history/trivia was augmented by his selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. She was the fourth woman to be part of a Presidential Ticket, the third as a VP Candidate, and the first woman of color. Biden had two previous unsuccessful runs. His 2020 effort determined that he was able to register the third time as the charm, while Senator Harris broke the proverbial glass ceiling for women on a ticket.
By contrast, the GOP conducted its Convention, part virtual, part in person, part in Charlotte, and part at the White House. The virtual aspects of the Conventions were necessitated due to COVID-19. Donald Trump, of course, was the Party’s nominee, as expected (at least by me) he retained Mike Pence, his first term VP, as his running mate. I mention it in passing, because there was speculation in some corners that Trump would replace Pence, perhaps with a woman. While Trump and his loyalists like to brand him as an anti-establishmentarian, the thought that he’d engage in such a high risk, low reward gambit struck me as unlikely. If there were any present-day pol that was unlikely to elevate a woman to his second-in-command, the name Donald Trump leapt out at me. Maybe next time. Enough about the conventions.
Tempus fugit (Time Flies)! Saturday marked a significant milestone in the life and development of “Break It Down!” I initiated this blog August 20, 2007, on a lark…almost a dare. That was fifteen years (and 782 editions) ago. Having related the story several times over the past several years, I will not repeat the complete details today.
I will note, however, that on that summer’s eve, I contemplated and discussed, in five paragraphs, the experience, or in reality the lack thereof, of then Senator Barack Obama, as he navigated the early stages of his historic Presidential Campaign.
So, this was the message in Post #1; five brisk paragraphs and a sign-off:
In an apparent calculated act of derring-do, Obama declares the virtue of inexperience. Gotta love it!
Personal footnote of recollection: I recall Jimmy Carter running the classic “anti-Washington” (i.e., lack of Capitol Hill experience) campaign in ’75-76. You know what, it worked.
The problem was, once JC sent all the reigning bureaucrats & policy wonks home, he was left with an assembly of newbies who didn’t understand how to get things done in DC. The result was that a very smart guy, genuine humanitarian, and erstwhile successful leader presided over what was widely perceived as a disastrous presidency. President Carter’s solitary term was fraught with innumerable policy failures (see the Shah of Iran, double-digit inflation, runaway gas prices, & the outrageous Interest/Mortgage rate morass) and public relations gaffes (remember the killer rabbit, and the failed helicopter gambit).
Fortunately for him he was able to live long enough and subsequently do enough good deeds to distance himself from most of an unremarkable tenure as a one-term president, followed by a resounding defeat by that cowboy actor Teflon guy.
Of course, none of that has anything to do with Obama…except in the unlikely event he prevails. If he does, let’s hope he doesn’t take that inexperience thing too far. As W constantly reminds us, getting to the White House is one thing (after all, he’s done it twice), providing prudent and effective leadership once there is quite another.
Posted on Mon, Aug. 20, 2007
As I wrap this up in 2022, it is with a completely different appreciation for what an inexperienced Barack Obama brought to his job, vis-à-vis what an even more politically inexperienced Donald Trump brought to the job for eight years later. Mr. Obama inherited a fragile country with a downward spiraling economy, a nearly double-digit employment rate, and a foreboding 700,000+ job losses per month. By the time he left 8 years later, the unemployment rate had been halved, to less than 5%, the country enjoyed the longest period of consecutive job gains, 75 months, in history, over 11 million jobs had been added, including 1.2 million in his last 6 months in office, while the Dow Jones rose from a slumping 7,949 when he took office to 19, 887 when he exited. No President controls every single lever that triggers all that happens during his (it has been all men so far) tenure. When things go south, POTUS occupies the space where the proverbial buck stops. Conversely, when things trend rosy, the occupant at 1600 PA Ave. gets a fair amount of the accrued shine.
In that light, Mr. Trump entered office in a much different environment, benefiting from what can rightfully be called the Obama Recovery. Let’s be clear. There remains work to be done. But anyone who suggests that Obama didn’t bequeath more and better than he inherited is full of bovine excrement. Full stop!
With that said, in the salad days of the Trump Administration, he surely delighted his base. At least the ones with whom I have spoken believe he’s the cat’s meow, and they say (whether they believe it or not) he did exactly what they hoped for when they voted for him. I would suggest that anyone who didn’t vote for, or support him, or who is undecided about supporting him, should let that sink in for a moment or two, or twenty.
Team Trump contended Democrats, liberals, the Main-Stream Media, and some nebulous ill-defined entity referred to as the deep state, were solely responsible for all that stymied or delayed even potential successes by the Trump Administration. So, healthcare, travel ban (or whatever appellation one cares to affix to it), Transgender Military Policy, Charlottesville Messaging, the Obama wiretapping claim, the Flynn firing, the Comey firing, the Spicer firing, the Priebus firing, the Scaramucci firing, the Bannon firing, and oh by the way dare I say, his tweets…Can we really blame all that on the Party that held a minority in both Houses for two years, and that held only one House of Congress for the latter two years, or on a media that has no votes, and presumably no say in who Trump hires in the first place, or fires for that matter, or on the deep state, wherever the Sam Hill that is located?
It took four years, two impeachments, the country’s most successful election (by the numbers), and an attempted coup, but Joseph Robinette Biden unseated Donald John Trump. He inherited a global pandemic, a crippled economy, a near 20-year war, and a country more polarized than it’s been in decades. The transition has created a space to exhale, even though the Big Lie still echoes in many corners of our country. Freedom won on November 3, 2020. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the on-going national catastrophe that began January 6, 2020, and still ravages our national psyche. As we continue to see the fruits of a continuously unfurling fact pattern, Trump supporters are increasingly forced to resort to evermore creative renditions of what happened that day. As I like to say, “slowly, surely, inexorably, it’s coming into focus. I don’t know whether it will matter…but we will come to know the fine details of what happened; and why.
Meanwhile, with an evenly divided Senate, if one charitably views Senators Manchin and Sinema as Democrats, and a slim advantage in the people’s House, President Biden’s first two years netted low unemployment, high job numbers support for Ukraine, SCOTUS’s first Black female Justice, the American Rescue Plan, a new gun law, the Inflation Reduction Act, an infrastructure law, renewed support for NATO, a veterans act, 70+ days in a row of falling gas prices (and yes, they were too high to begin with, but that is a global phenomenon), and the elimination of Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. It’s not perfect, but two months ago, there was probably not a Democrat or Republican operative who’d have believed you, were you to assert that Biden and the Dems would be able to check off that litany of items before the midterms.
With that I mind, I am inclined to look back on the first time I wrote, “Obama Plays the Experience Card,” and conclude that we (who should be a grateful nation) were very well served by that guy from Honolulu. So today, my emphasis is…“Obama Plays the Inexperience Card Redux ’22!
I’m done; holla back!
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You know I’m not going to let the above comment on Carter go uncontested. 🙂 Presidential Historical Michael Beschloss does not agree with your assessment of Carter’s presidency. Beschloss has assured Carter, based on Beschloss knowledge, of Carter’s place in history. The former President is happy with the assessment.
Like Biden, the press never gave Carter a break. We messed up congressionally (specifically with Tip O’Neill) initially by not respecting his rules and Carter was an outsider. Tip was the ultimate insider. Carter tried to pass a number of legislative items too quickly and Tip rebelled. Despite perception of legislative ineptitude, Carter’s success rate in getting presidential initiatives through Congress was higher than Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush…surprising I bet…perception versus reality. UVA Miller Center is a good source for facts.
Despite the one year term, and the hostage situation (which coincidentally they were released at the moment Air Force One took off with Carter and the new President was sworn in……..hmmmm…do I smell a skunk..:), Carter did accomplish quite a bit – more than most realize – even some of my brightest friends..:)
On the foreign policy side – the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union, and the establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. He championed human rights throughout the world.
On the domestic side – a comprehensive energy program conducted by a new Department of Energy; deregulation in energy, transportation, communications, and finance; major educational programs under a new Department of Education; and major environmental protection legislation, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Carter created 11 national parks which doubled the size of the national park system.
Carter also appointed more women and minorities to the federal judiciary than all the previous President’s combined…just sayin…and he pardoned the Vietnam War draft evaders.
The malaise speech was a disaster and left a lingering public perception.
And after leaving, he established the Carter Center.
Gotta defend “my guy.”
PS did you see the pic of Michelle visiting Rosalynn last week? It was Mrs Cater’s 95th birthday.
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Thx Patti. I really appreciate your checking it out, & for taking the time to respond. I smiled several times as I was reading.
I confess I felt I was putting the finishing touches on the perfect reply…when my iPad died, and sent it floating aimlessly into the ether word. I won’t even attempt to recall it all. I’ll just try to hit the highlights.
First, your explanatory notes sound a lot like my summary. But hey, what’s a little variance in interpretation between friends? 😎
Second, I have great respect for President Carter. Moreover, I have never-ever said or implied, nor have I thought, any of those GOPers were as good or better than the Patriot from Plains.
However, as has been said a time or two, or a thousand, about people and their circumstances, were it not for bad luck, he’d have had no luck at all. When one combines that with the dastardly GOP sabotage in the hostage crisis (It was clear Reagan & Co. made a back channel deal with the Ayatollah), and throw in the instances he or his staff shot him in the foot; self-inflicted wounds, if you will, the results were about what I described, and caveats notwithstanding, about what you did. I do concede, enumerating his wins would have been fair and appropriate. But let’s be clear, to do so would have warranted a fuller accounting of his misses. I had no interest in going there.
I get that as part of his team, you take the sleights personally. Since I alluded to him, only to make a point, I opted to make that part a higher level discussion, versus getting into the weeds. In the final analysis, suffice it to say, I believe he’s probably the kindest person to ever occupy the office. I’ll leave it there.
I did see the pic of Michelle visiting Mrs. Carter. Very nice gesture.
The year is speeding by. I do hope we’ll have an opportunity to catch up before it’s over.
Have a great remainder of the week.