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


ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: "The Sunday Political Brunch" September 15, 2013

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

(Providence, 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! 

"Seriously Syria" – 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 many votes. 

"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

© 2013, Mark Curtis Media, LLC. 

Photo Courtesy: ABC News


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