ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" Decemb - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" December 22, 2013

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

(Providence, Rhode Island) – We call this a "brunch" every week, but I am not sure that applies this week. Brunch usually has a consistent theme or direction. This is more like a smorgasbord or a cafeteria spread. Anyway, here goes!  

"Popularity Contest" – I will admit, I am not a big fan of Presidential approval polls. I never thought they were much of an indicator – let alone a predictor – of anything. President Obama's approval rating dropped to 41 percent this month – his lowest ever recorded. Just eleven months ago when he was sworn in to his second term, it was at 55 percent. That's quite a drop! But he's termed out. He's not on the ballot again. The political punching bag might be his fellow Democrats in Congress who are up for reelection in 2014. The President's plummeting poll numbers are mainly due to the botched health care roll out, and he conceded that in Friday's news conference.  

"Walk the Plank?" – President Obama is not the only one dealing with popularity issues. House Speaker John Boehner's approval is down, especially from the far right after the recent bipartisan budget deal. Republicans are likely to remain in power in the House, but you have to wonder if the rank and file (especially the Tea Party wing), might choose another Speaker. Stay tuned. 

"64 Bills; Good or Bad?" -- CNN had a story over the weekend suggesting this was the most unproductive year in the history of Congress, because it only passed 64 bills – the lowest yearly number ever. The story made the assumption this was a bad thing. Really? Is Congressional success measured purely on the number of bills passed, or the number of pages of legislation in a particular bill? Those advocating for less government have a different view, especially after the health care meltdown. They might argue the old saying, "Less is more!" 

"The Too Fat Polka!" – Yes, that's the name of a popular old song and dance! This week radio commentator Glenn Beck said, "Chris Christie is a fat nightmare. He is a nightmare." The suggestion has been made by others, too, that Christie's obesity will prevent him from being elected President. Let's revisit history. William Howard Taft weighed in at 350 pounds yet served four years as President and nine years as Chief Justice of the United States (the only person in history to hold both posts). Taft was also Secretary of Defense, and served as provisional Governor of Cuba and the Philippines, with one of the most storied political resumes in U.S. history. And he lived in a time that did not have the medicines and health care that might help Christie. Taft was 72 when he died. Glenn Beck needs to pick a different issue; if people like Christie, they will elect him (as they've done twice in New Jersey).

"Too Old?" -- Along the same lines as Christie, some are wondering if Vice President Joe Biden is too old to run for President. Biden will be 73 when Campaign 2016 begins. Hillary Clinton will be 68. So what? I think we are beyond the weight and age issues. Ronald Reagan took the oath of office at 69 and John McCain ran a tough campaign in 2008 at the age of 72.  If a person is competent – and that's what people want – then who cares about their age or weight? Many people are living longer and healthier. Look, the campaign is a grueling gauntlet. If someone can't cut it, we will know – in a heartbeat! 

"Who's In; Who's Out" – The last real item with any chance passing in the Obama administration is immigration reform. Don't count on it; but don't count it out. Why is this issue so important to both parties? Democrats are hoping for more voters; Republicans are hoping for more workers. Democrats need those voters here legally to vote in large numbers; but Republican constituencies - especially in the hospitality and agribusiness industries - count on illegals to help fuel a low-wage underground economy. The two sides can't have it both ways, thus the stand off. Democrats are also wary, because many Hispanic voters (40% plus in some states, lean Republican), so legalizing them doesn't necessarily help the Democratic-backed voter base; nor the Republican-backed cheap labor workforce. A bill that gives concessions to both sides might pass, but barely. 

"Remember and Honor" – Saturday December 21 was the 25th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, which killed 270 innocent people. Of those killed 189 were Americans, including 35 students from Syracuse University. A Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack brought down the 747. As time goes on, I worry that the memory of major events such as this, fade and are forgotten. Fortunately memorial events were held Saturday at Arlington National Cemetery, Westminster Abbey, and Syracuse University and at other locales. These events and memorials remind us that the war on terrorism is far from over. 

What are your thoughts on all of these topics? Please click the comment button at

© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC. 

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