Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Donald Trump and Barack Obama: Examining off-the-cuff American history lessons from our two most recent presidents

May 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 3, 2017

I was tickled to my cynical core Monday morning when I learned that President Donald Trump had bloviated about Andrew Jackson, one of his antecedents in the Oval Office, and the Civil War. After all, who better than Trump — who in February became the first to discover, regarding health care policy, “It’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” — to lecture the American public on history?

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Salena Zito that aired Monday, Trump said the following about the nation’s seventh president:

I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, “There’s no reason for this.” People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?

There are plenty of analyses of (this edition of) Trump’s dunderheaded comments; see, for instance, this Jeet Heer joint at The New Republic. But it got me wondering: Did Trump’s predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama, ever speak extemporaneously about Andrew Jackson or the Civil War? And if so, had he ever made such dumbfounding remarks?

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Trump, unchecked: The president-elect tilts hard right as his elevation to office approaches

December 17, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 17, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, unless something unprecedented occurs, the electoral college will officially designate Donald Trump Sr. the winner of the 2016 United States presidential election.

I expect this to happen, although it should be noted that an incredible number of things about this election have been unprecedented. For instance, Hillary Clinton was the first female presidential candidate to be nominated by a major American political party, and Trump was the candidate with the thinnest (read: a nonexistent) record of public or military service.

I’ve experienced a number of emotions since Trump’s election, including disbelief, disappointment, anger, resignation and sorrow. I also felt, for a time, something unexpected: hope.

Trump’s victory speech was unexpectedly magnanimous, given the harsh nature of his campaign. The man who during the second presidential debate had threatened to jail his opponent over missing emails from her tenure as secretary of state struck a gracious note early in the address that he delivered around 3 a.m. on the East Coast on Nov. 9:

Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.

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Cheeps and Chirps for July 15, 2016

July 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 15, 2016

Presenting more recent odds and ends from my Twitter feed.

• Comedy!

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Regarding Sen. Rubio’s attempt to quit the race on a high note

March 19, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 19, 2016

On Tuesday night, I was surprised neither that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lost the Florida primary to businessman Donald Trump nor that he subsequently dropped out of the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination as a result.

As it happened, I caught Rubio’s concession speech while I was listening to National Public Radio primary election coverage in my car. He gave a good speech and he delivered it well; I can easily understand why some pundits thought that he would be Obama 2.0, a conservative political wunderkind who would energize American youth and minorities in a way no Republican presidential candidate has since — well, perhaps since Ronald Reagan… or maybe it’s more accurate to say in a way that no Republican presidential candidate ever has.

Unfortunately, as so often happens in politics, the lofty rhetoric of Rubio’s farewell speech didn’t match up very well with the cold, hard facts of reality. On Tuesday evening, Rubio said:

[T]his is the campaign we’ve run, a campaign that is realistic about the challenges we face but optimistic about the opportunities before us. A campaign that recognizes the difficulties we face, but also one that believes that we truly are on the verge of a new American century. And a campaign to be president, a campaign to be a president that would love all of the American people, even the ones that don’t love you back.

Compare that with a foreign-policy speech that Rubio delivered in New Hampshire in early January:

What became abundantly clear was this: Barack Obama was deliberately weakening America. He made an intentional effort to humble us back to size, as if to say, “We no longer need to be so powerful because our power has done more harm than good.”

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U.S. budget deficits: Numbers past, present and future

November 12, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 12, 2015

Earlier this week, I wrote about an analysis from the Tax Foundation that indicated that the tax-reform plans of seven Republican candidates each might increase the deficit by more than a trillion of dollars over a 10-year period. I want to explore the details a little further.

Allow me to set the stage with a brief history of federal budget deficits. The first time the U.S. budget was in the red for more than $75 billion was in fiscal year 1981, when it hit $79 billion under a plan enacted in what turned out to be the last year of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The first time the federal deficit exceeded $100 billion was the very next year, under Ronald Reagan, when it reached $128 billion. Between 1983 and 1995, the budgetary gap ranged from a low of roughly $150 billion to a high of $290 billion.

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Voters don’t always care very much about policy details when it comes to picking a president

December 12, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 12, 2013

Recently, Robert Mann, a mass communications professor at Louisiana State University, wrote a Times-Picayune column panning Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chances of winning the Republican nomination for president in 2016. The crux of Mann’s argument is telegraphed in the headline, “Jindal’s meager record at home won’t get him to the White House.”

Referring to America Next, a new organization affiliated with the Louisiana governor, Mann writes:

The group hasn’t yet proposed a single policy innovation, so it’s not clear exactly what specific programs Jindal will tout.

However, selling his vision to the nation may be a challenge. That’s partly because the policy-cautious Jindal really hasn’t revealed much vision unless, by “vision,” one means serving up warmed-over, off-the-shelf conservative ideas. As for leadership, his modest job approval ratings provide no evidence of a deep well of affection or enthusiastic support at home.

The problem is that whatever ideas Jindal ultimately champions will emerge near the end of his tenure as governor. Republican primary voters and the news media would be justified in asking, “If your ideas are so new and compelling, why didn’t you try them in Louisiana?”

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Emblem or footnote? The spate of health insurance policy cancellations is contrary to President Obama’s explicit promises. But it remains to be seen whether it will matter.

October 31, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2013

It turns out that, for hundreds of thousands of Americans, despite what the president pledged, they can’t keep their health plans.

That’s the stark truth about Obamacare — a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act — that has come into sharp focus over the past few days.

President Barack Obama has a verbal habit of insisting on clarity in many of his speeches and off-the-cuff remarks. He could hardly have been clearer when he said, multiple times, that Americans who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it under his health-care reform plan.

Only that isn’t true. CBS reports that 2 million Americans have had their policies canceled by insurance companies because they aren’t compatible with various provisions of Obamacare. Understandably, lots of people are unhappy about this, and Republican and conservative critics have jumped all over this broken promise.

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Yes, the opposition to Obama is fierce and often ugly — but no, racism is not the primary factor behind it

October 16, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 16, 2013

As the latest Washington imbroglio, Congress’ wrangling over the debt ceiling, rolls toward what will almost certainly be a messy last-minute resolution, I wanted to comment on one corner of America’s not-so-civil discourse.

Specifically, I wanted to examine a fairly widely held contention on the left: That much of the animus toward President Obama is rooted in racism.

Now, I have no doubt that a not-insignificant tranche of opposition to the former senator from Kenya — er, I mean Illinois — is motivated by bigotry. (Search Twitter for the president’s last name and the extremely offensive slur nigger if you feel the need to prove that point, or to shake your faith in the character of the American people.) But there are many conservatives who gainsay Obama based on a panoply of other far less objectionable motivations.

The best way to demonstrate that much of the fervent conservative hatred of Barack Hussein Obama has no basis in racism is to look at the rhetoric toward prominent white Democrats.

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‘Mr. President, tear down this law’: Considering conservatives’ hostility toward Obamacare

August 22, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 22, 2013

With key deadlines for implementing President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act approaching — except for when the president himself puts them off, that is — a subgenre of conservative punditry has arisen. The theme that unites this new category of opinionating is that its authors all call for Republicans to unite around a replacement set of health care reforms.

It’s long been clear that Americans on the right dislike, if not outright despise, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. Their opposition is ironic for at least two reasons. One is that the conservative Heritage Foundation devised the individual mandate to purchase health insurance that is at the heart of the plan.

The other is that Obamacare is predicated, through that very same individual mandate, upon expanding the customer base of health insurance companies. In other words, the Affordable Care Act is simply not a single-payer system, in which the government assures every citizen a minimal level of health care. And Obamacare really isn’t much of a step toward socialized medicine, which significantly increase government control or regulation of the people and institutions that actually dispense health care.

Back in June, Ramesh Ponnuru published a lengthy essay on the National Review’s website that took conservatives to task for

increasingly embracing [this] theory about Obamacare: It’s going to collapse of its own weight, and its failure could yield a sharp right turn in the 2014 and 2016 elections. That theory is probably wrong, and dangerously so. To be rid of Obamacare, Republicans will have to do more than just wait for it to go away — and more than they have done so far.

Recent public remarks by Obama reinforced Ponnuru’s criticism that GOPers need to get more specific about enacting a replacement for Obamacare. Read the rest of this entry »

One Wondrous Sentence: Chuck Hagel and the right-leaning GOP

January 17, 2013

This one wondrous sentence, by left-wing novelist and political commentator Steve Erickson, indicates one subtle strategy that President Barack Obama is using to marginalize his Republican opponents.

The more that supposedly seasoned members of the GOP claim that Hagel is out of the mainstream for challenging the buildup in Iraq and potential war with Iran (skepticism with which the public agrees on both counts by large margins), then the more that Republicans lurch rightward in the eyes of the public at large and, in particular, two-fisted guys sitting in front of their televisions curling beer cans into furious fistfuls of metal every time Lindsey Graham opens his mouth.

Source: Steve Erickson, “Obama’s Genius Defense Pick,” The American Prospect, Jan. 14, 2013.

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