by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
(Syracuse, New York) – "The Brunch" is traveling this weekend, but there is so much to chew on in the world of politics! So, let's dine:
"Obamaweb" – The Obamacare website meltdown saga continues. As I predicted, the chorus of Democrats now going on the attack is growing. Why? Because they are up for election next year; the President is not. Many don't want to have to defend the health care sign-up mess. Back in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was passed – with a launch date of 2014 – I suggested the date gave the President political cover, by removing it as an issue in the 2012 election cycle. Can you imagine if the website had launched on October 1, 2012, instead of 2013? Timing is everything – in comedy; and in politics. Wow, even Saturday Night Live is doing parodies on this!
"Downside of Social Media" – During the impeachment of President Clinton, I had some interesting debates with conservative colleagues who felt the media was too easy on Mr. Clinton. I disagreed. To me, it was the worst coverage any President ever received in my lifetime and here's why. I know things were bad for President Nixon during Watergate, but The Washington Post and New York Times hammered him in the morning, while ABC, NBC and CBS hit hard on the 5:30 pm network news. Then the daily coverage ended. By the time Clinton was President, there was CNN, Fox, C-SPAN and MSNBC, covering the scandal 24/7. Now, President Obama is getting all that, plus the around-the-clock Internet and social media buzz over the Obamacare website failure. The man, who was once the master of social media is now getting hammered 24/7 in the very medium that helped to put him in the White House. Talk about a turnabout!
"Election 2013" – New Jersey and Virginia elect Governors in the odd number year, so every four years the national pundits do this weird contortion that somehow these races are a precursor of what is to come in the midterm elections, next up in 2014. If they do this, shut your TV off and scream! The "off-year" elections have never been a predictor of what's to come in the next year, ever. New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie will win Tuesday in a landslide, but Virginia's race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli could be surprisingly close. Again, it means zero for 2014, but it should be interesting nonetheless.
"Hillary Swap" – A fascinating book out this week chronicles what many of us suspected (and some, in fact, knew) during campaign 2012. There was an active and influential group of Democrats and White House and campaign staffers plotting to urge President Obama to dump Vice President Biden and replace him with Hillary Clinton. But internal polling showed it gave the President no boost, so the idea was scrapped.
"Pat Down; Shout Down" – New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was to give a lecture at Brown University this past week, but once on campus he was shouted down for thirty minutes and the lecture was canceled. Protesters did so because they object to New York City's controversial "stop and frisk" policy that some feel is racist. It's too bad we did not get to hear Kelly and students debate the issue. Universities should be the "town square" of the 21st century, where all sides of an issue can be discussed and vetted. Rudely shouting to silence someone you don't agree with is a great public disservice, and shows your argument to be weak, not strong. In an unrelated but timely gesture, the next day a Court of Appeals reinstated "stop and frisk" after a lower Court ordered it halted.
"KKK Not OK" – I am an ardent defender of the First Amendment, especially as it pertains to free speech and free expression, as distasteful as the message may sometimes be. And I think censorship (and even self-censorship) is the antithesis of that. I bring this up because a middle school teacher in Barrington, Rhode Island was pressured into "editing" a play she wrote, in which a few of the students wore white sheets and hoods, to depict the Ku Klux Klan, in a post-Civil War vignette. The play as been put on for years, but this year one parent complained and the scene was scrapped. The teacher, as I understand it, used this opportunity to teach the kids about the horrors brought on by the Klan. So why censor it now? The arts - whether books, plays, movies and music – have often been used to reflect and comment on history. To interfere with that, removes an important lesson from the classroom. What's next, World War II lectures with no reference to Hitler?
"The Politics of Giving" – I am at Syracuse University this weekend as the Student Association here wrapped up Impact Week, a series of activities in which students, (including my daughter), helped serve local charities, non-profits and community organizations. It's a way for students to give back and help the community, including a local high school that received a grant to help fund drama and arts programs (see photo above). It's an important lesson for student government – with some of these young leaders having political ambitions down the road – to learn the power of charitable giving and community service. We could use more of these at all levels of government!
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© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.