by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
Rhode Island) – It was an unusual
week in the world of politics – okay, it was even weird at times – so that
gives us a few things to chat about. Here goes:
"A Third Act?" – Political junkies and comedians everywhere
wish to send their thanks to failed New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner
and failed New York Comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer, both of whom had to
resign from previous office due to sex scandals. Both men lost their political
comeback bids this week. The harsh New York press headlines were unforgiving
with the Daily News calling the voters' decisions, "Aversion to Perversion,"
and the New York Post calling it, "Sleazy Come; Sleazy Go!" Ouch!
– There is a tentative deal on the table concerning Syria surrendering its chemical
weapons (which it first denied every having). President Obama first said he
reserved the right to strike Syria; then he decided to ask Congress for
authorization; then he went on TV to explain why we should strike anyway; then
he asked Congress to postpone its vote, to see if Russia might work out a deal.
Now if it works, then he might be judged to have done the right thing. If it
doesn't work out, there'll be a firestorm. The public looks toward leaders to
be decisive and make tough, deliberate, and even unpopular choices. The
President main decision was – to simply decide, not to decide. A Reuters poll
gave the President a low approval rating of 39 percent this week. His only
solace is that the Congressional approval rating was at only 20 percent.
"Persuasive or Not?" – The President addressed the nation
and Congress Tuesday night, but was he convincing? The polls suggest he was not.
On Monday (a day before his speech), a Reuters poll indicated 26 percent of the
public favored a military strike on Syria, and 51 percent were opposed.
By Thursday (two days after his speech), approval for a military strike had
only inched up to 29 percent, while 52 percent opposed.
"Left Out" – Back in 2009, when I was on my book tour
following the 2008 campaign and election, I predicted that some of the most
disenchanted with President Obama would actually come from the left in his own
Democratic party. I said this because I predicted the President would not close
Guantanamo Bay (and he hasn't); and that he would
embrace the use of unmanned drones as a key military weapon (and he has).
Obviously I never foresaw the potential military strike in Syria, but I predicted U.S. foreign policy which protects Israel would be enforced (and his Syria policy is
part of that). Many aspects of foreign policy are simply American made and
don't change much regardless of the party in the White House.
"Conservative Pickle" – The bad political news is not just
limited to the White House. The Republicans are having some of their own
struggles between Tea Party factions and some entrenched party leaders. The
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New
Jersey is trailing badly in the polls, even though
Republican Governor Chris Christie's coattails should be helping. The
Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia just shook up his campaign staff,
as he, too, is behind in recent polls. Then you have Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), facing a primary challenge from within his own party. My
point is that Republicans had a very good chance of taking control of the U.S.
Senate next year, as well as keeping control of the House. They might let that
chance slip away.
"Oh, Christmas Tree, Part III" – I have often said that the
most severe political wounds are self-inflicted. Think Richard Nixon in Watergate;
and Bill Clinton during impeachment. I mention this because on Saturday I spoke
to a church group – about, among other things – the choice of Governor Lincoln
Chafee (D-RI) to not seek reelection. The Governor's ill-advised decision to
call the annual Christmas tree in the State House, a "holiday tree" for two
successive years, won him few friends. While his supporters defend the stand
has principled, it was off-putting to the public at large, tired of politicians
of all stripes playing semantic games. A Christmas tree - is just that - a
Christmas tree. Trying to make it something else probably cost the Governor
"Taking ‘Exception' to Putin" – So, Russian President Vladimir
Putin says Americans are not exceptional people and our politicians should quit
implying it. But I find it amusing that I am typing this article on a Dell laptop
computer; on Microsoft Word software; and am posting it to a Drupal-designed
website; with Cisco Internet conductivity; and with worldwide distribution
through social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. At last
check, all of those companies were either located in the Silicon Valley region,
Seattle, or Texas
– basically the "technical triangle" of the United States. All of the modern
tools that power worldwide communication these days, (almost all of which are
American made), do not qualify us as exceptional? I won't even bother bringing
up cancer research and modern medicine. What has Russia invented, other than Vodka?
Mr. Putin, give us a break!
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the
above topics. Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.
Photo Courtesy: ABC News