The Father of the Year. . .

. . .is Bill Clinton.

Clinton was named the “Father of the Year” by the National Father’s Day Council on Wednesday.

The group selected Clinton for his “profound generosity, leadership and tireless dedication to both his public office and many philanthropic organizations,” Dan Orwig, chairman of the National Father’s Day Committee, said in the announcement.

via Bill Clinton named ‘Father of the Year’ – POLITICO.com.

Profound generosity, tireless dedication to his public office and the rest of it are well and good.  But what do they specifically have to do with Fatherhood?  “Tireless dedication” to one’s work can well mean neglecting one’s children.  No disrespect to the former president, but his one daughter is all grown up now, so what made him such a good dad this particular year?

Who might be better candidates for Father of the Year?

Obama vs. Clintons

A feud is erupting between President Obama and Bill & Hillary Clinton.  As we saw during the Vice Presidential debate, the Obama administration is trying to blame the debacle in Libya on our intelligence agencies and the State Department.  Bill, having given Obama a big boost with his convention speech, is furious that Obama is trying to throw Hillary under the bus.  An account of the feud and what it might do from Tony Lee:

A nasty rift has opened up between President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the fallout from the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. This feud may undermine and threaten Obama’s reelection chances.

Obama and Clinton both do not want to be held responsible for the negligence before and the cover-up after the Libya attacks. Clinton biographer Ed Klein on Friday reported that Bill Clinton, sensing Obama’s political team wants to pin legal and political blame on the State Department and Hillary Clinton, has been working on doomsday and contingency scenarios “to avoid having Benghazi become a stain on her political fortunes should she decide to run for president in 2016.”

“If relations between Obama’s White House and Hillary’s State Department rupture publicly over the growing Benghazi scandal, that could damage the Democratic ticket and dim Obama’s chances for re-election,” Klein writes.

According to Klein’s sources, Bill Clinton has assembled an informal legal team in case there are cables or other evidence that would legally implicate Hillary. Klein also told The Daily Caller that Bill has even considered advising Hillary to resign if the Obama administration tries to make her the “scapegoat.”

On Friday, there were signs the White House was preparing to do to throw Hillary Clinton and the State Department under the bus.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, when asked if Obama and Biden had “never been briefed” about the fact that more security was needed in Libya, essentially blamed the State Department, saying, “matters of security personnel are appropriately discussed and decided upon at the State Department by those responsible for it.”

Carney repeated a variation of this line throughout the press briefing.

Carney’s comments came a day after Vice President Joe Biden not only contradicted State Department officials but himself threw the intelligence community under the bus when he said the Obama administration did not know U.S. interests in Libya needed more security before the attacks and that the intelligence community changed its story after. . . .

Klein writes that the long-simmering feud between Obama and the Clintons has only gotten worse after the Democratic National Convention. The bad blood between Obama and the Clinton family dates back to the 2008 Democratic primary, and Obama’s advisers had to convince Obama to give Clinton a prominent role at the convention.

Klein writes “the latest quarrel began when Clinton heard that Obama was behaving so cocky about his first debate against Mitt Romney that he wasn’t taking his debate prep seriously.”

Clinton offered to give Obama some advice, and Obama brushed him off.

Klein writes “the former president was dumbfounded that Obama had ignored his offer, and his hurt feelings quickly boiled over into anger.”

“Bill thought that he and Obama were on friendly terms after the convention,” a source told Klein. “He couldn’t believe that the White House didn’t even extend him the courtesy of a return phone call. He concluded that Obama’s arrogance knows no bounds.”

There is no love lost between Obama and the Clintons, and they could mutually destroy their political futures in the days ahead. Team Obama could destroy Hillary Clinton’s 2016 prospects by scapegoating her for the Libya attacks. But Hillary Clinton, by potentially resigning or pointing to evidence that implicates Obama and Biden, can just as easily torpedo Obama’s chances at getting reelected.

via Libya Fallout Gives Rise to Obama-Clinton Feud.

Look for this to come out in some way in tomorrow’s presidential debate, which is supposed to focus on foreign policy.

“But it’s not really adultery!”

My old friend Karen Swallow Prior has some interesting observations about the excuses of both Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner and their underlying gnostic assumptions.  The good news is that the public is no longer buying it:

Media coverage of the story and the public’s reaction seems to indicate that we’ve come a long way in our professed sexual ethics since the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, circa 1998. At that time, then-President Bill Clinton insisted that oral sex did not constitute actual sex, and that he had therefore not committed adultery. Although 87 percent of Americans disagreed with Mr. Clinton then, much public discussion at that time centered on the exact definition of adultery, and which particular sex acts crossed the line (fellatio?) and which ones didn’t (cigars?).

However, with Weinergate (as the case, naturally, has been dubbed), the discussion is a bit more morally sophisticated. For the moral debate swirling around this scandal, besides whether or not Weiner should resign, centers not on the merely technical definition of adultery but on the more holistic, and even more biblical, idea of fidelity. If the Clinton sex scandal focused on the letter of the law, the Weiner situation seems to be more centered on the spirit of the law.

Neither the public nor the proliferating experts and bloggers seem to be buying into a bright line between actual physical contact (which Weiner denies) and online liaisons, despite Weiner’s attempt to cop that plea in his confession. In fact, a quick poll done by the Associated Press in the wake of his Monday confession found that many Americans say that it doesn’t have to be physical to be cheating. In another poll, “60 percent considered sending lewd photos over the Internet ‘to people other than your partner’ to be cheating.”

Like the public, experts, rather than being concerned with one specific sexual act, have been discussing the larger context of marital fidelity, one describing Weiner’s online behavior as “foreplay for an affair,” stating simply that “cheating is lying [to] and betraying your spouse.” Over and over, the experts are wisely identifying the litmus test for infidelity as the question, “Would you do this in front of your partner?” Many say the congressman’s conduct does constitute adultery or, at the very least, an “emotional affair.”

Both national sex scandals — first Clinton’s and now Anthony Weiner’s, with oodles more in between — reveal at work the old mind-body dualism that Christian tradition has worked hard to overcome. This dualism sees the human being not as an integrated whole self, but as a composite of warring elements, material vs. immaterial, physical vs. spiritual, and, in this brave new world of technology, “real” vs. “virtual.” The Clinton scandal emphasized the physical aspect, such as which kinds of bodily contact are considered adultery. Weiner, on the other hand, parses his transgressions according to this body-mind split: he acknowledges virtual liaisons, but suggests that his alleged lack of physical contact constitutes a difference in kind not degree.

In the space of a decade and a half, these two cases reflect a subtle transition of our cultural mindset away from a modernist way of thinking, one based in black and white classifications and definitions rooted in a scientific worldview, to a more nuanced (some would say postmodern) way of thinking that focuses more on the relationships and contexts that transcend the old categories.

via Her.meneutics: Anthony Weiner, Gnostic.

Shall we shut down the government? Again?

As of this moment, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are at an impasse over the 2011 budget.   Budget hawks in the Republican party have insisted on cutting President Obama’s spending plan.  Democrats have agreed to some $30 billion in cuts, but that is not enough for a key segment of Republicans.  If a budget doesn’t pass, the government shuts down on Friday.  (Well, “essential services” won’t, but still. . . .)

You may recall another time when Republicans scored a big Congressional victory over an unpopular Democratic president.  They demanded that the budget be cut and stood firm and uncompromising on that principle.  The government shut down.  Whereupon the public reacted against the Republicans, President Clinton’s popularity shot up, and he won re-election.

Is this a repeat of history?  Are the Republicans over-reaching, again? Will this mean the re-election of Barack Obama?  Is there anything different this time?

And here is a deeper question:  Will the American public tolerate a tough, trimmed down budget?  With so many Americans beholden in some way on federal money–getting social security, medicare, farm subsidies, business subsidies, government contracts, job-creating pork, federal programs, college loans, etc., etc.–even though they express worry about the deficit in the abstract, will they turn against any Republican or conservative who threatens to defund popular programs?

 

Government shutdown: Potential furloughs for 800k federal workers, disruption of D.C. services – The Washington Post.

How Obama can win a second term

The crushing rebuke of the Democrats in the recent election by no means finishes Barack Obama.  He can easily win a second term by emulating the last Democratic President who likewise lost a midterm election but came back to win a second term.  Bill Clinton simply played along with the Republicans to the point of co-opting their positions.  Welfare reform was a Republican issue, but Clinton made it his own.  He also won the public’s sympathy.

President Obama could take upon himself the reduction of the deficit.  (Yes, he caused a big part of it, but that doesn’t have to matter politically.)  He could drastically cut corporate welfare, farm subsidies and the military, thus pleasing his left flank.  The Republicans would co-operate with his other cuts, such as eliminating  whole departments and highly-visible programs.  He could reform social security, perhaps by not letting rich people get it.  He could increase his popularity by just leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, while keeping up the drone assassinations.

I’m not saying he SHOULD do any of this.  I’m just describing what might be successful tactics.  What else could he do?

Obama uses Clinton's 1994 speech

Pro-Obama pundit Dana Milbank notes a curious fact about the President’s campaign speeches:

As he barnstorms the country in these closing days before the midterms, he has borrowed Bill Clinton’s 1994 stump speech — in some cases, word for word.

“It’s up to you to remember that this election is a choice,” Obama said in a recent speech. “It’s a choice between the past and the future; a choice between hope and fear; a choice between falling backwards and moving forwards. And I don’t know about you, but I want to move forward. I don’t want to go backward.”

Compare that to this common Clinton passage from ’94: “Ladies and gentlemen, this election, all over America, represents a choice, a choice between hope and fear . . . between whether we’re going forward or we’re going to go back. I think I know the answer to that. You want to keep going forward.”

Obama has even extended Clinton’s automotive metaphor of ’94. Clinton’s model: “You know, if you drive your car and there’s a lot of stuff on the windshield, you could think it’s dark outside when the sun shining. . . . That’s what they’ve done. They’ve put a lot of dirt on America’s windshield. We got to clean it off between now and Tuesday. Will you help? Will you do your part? Will you go forward? . . . Think about it like this: Every one of you is in the driver’s seat.”

In Obama’s model, Republicans drove a car into a ditch and were “kicking dirt down into the ditch, kicking dirt in our faces, but we kept on pushing. Finally we got this car up on level ground. And, yes, it’s a little beat up. . . . But it’s pointing in the right direction. And now we’ve got the Republicans tapping us on the shoulder, saying, ‘we want the keys back.’ You can’t have the keys back. You don’t know how to drive. You can ride with us if you want, but you got to sit in the back seat. We’re going to put middle-class America in the front seat. . . . I’m going forwards, with all of you.”

via Dana Milbank – Obama isn’t ducking role in election reprise of ’94.

I don’t consider this plagiarism.  There are only so many cliches that one can use to describe both presidents’ dilemmas, and I’m sure they are in the public domain.


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