Silent Archimedes

Posts Tagged ‘George H.W. Bush’

When should a family be off-limits for a politician?

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 4, 2008

The Palin Family

The Palin Family

This whole public vetting of Sarah Palin has lead to a discussion on whether a family should be off-limits to the media and public in determining if she is a good candidate for the vice presidency. The opinions range from completely off-limits to everything should be on the table as public figures to in-betweens like only if it affects her as a candidate. However, the in-betweens are the ones that are subjective and difficult to determine. To determines what is allowed or not? Are children allowed? At what age are they allowed?

Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber

Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber

History has shown us that just because you are related to someone does not mean your personalities and actions are related to each other. Take the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, for example. It was his brother, David, who turned in his own brother, albeit reluctantly. Although their similar genetics led them to have strong intellectual careers (David went to Columbia University and Ted went to Harvard and had a PhD from UMich), their personalities and reactions to society (David was a praciticing Buddhist and a vegetarian while Ted was, well, the Unabomber) were night and day.

However, history has also shown that blood relationships can lead to very very similar careers and lives. As a matter of fact, this has been very apparent in the presidential history of the United States. John Adams, second president, is the father of John Qunicy Adams, sixth president. And, we can’t forget the George Bushes and their similar presidencies.  Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd president, were fifth cousins, but that relationship is too far removed to include here.

Jamie Lynn Spears

Jamie Lynn Spears

What history has shown us is inconclusive. What we need to do is look at a more recent phenomenon of public figures and families, Hollywood. As we know, the paparazzi is incessantly looking for any skeletons in the closet of public figures. Families are completely game. One very recent example is the revelation that Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16 year old younger sister of Britney Spears, was pregnant. On first glance, one can say that her pregnancy is her own life and has nothing to do with Britney Spears’ life. However, when you couple the pregnancy with Britney’s own two children at a young age, and Britney’s dramaticfall from fame, one can’t help but notice that Britney must have had a strong influence on Jamie Lynn, whether directly or indirectly. Also, one can’t help conclude that the parents either did a horrible job raising them or they lost control of them.

What the paparazzi has taught us is that society is infatuated with the personal lives of public figures. The death of Princess Diana is a prime example of the paparazzi going to far. However, the problem with the paparazzi is that the public figures they are usually focused on are actors and actresses, most of whom are morally liberal to begin with, and have no bearing on the personal lives of the general public.

Teen pregnancy

Teen pregnancy

However, when it comes to politicians, I believe it’s fair to investigate the skeletons in their closets, even if it means the immediate family members’ closets. The reason is because they represent society. They make the decisions that influence our daily lives and the lives of future generations. Politicians already have stereotypes of corruption and abuses of power. It is premature to say that family is off-limits. Obviously, if a major politician’s daughter committed murder, society should know and it should have an impact on how we view the character and background of the politician. However, if a politician’s daughter becomes pregnant at age 17, is that legitimate news? Should this have an impact on how we judge the politician’s character? To me, that is up for the public to decide. I do not believe it is the media’s job to determine that. They report the news. In other words, don’t shoot the messengers. All I know is if I had a daughter that became pregnant at 17, I would be judged unfavorably by my peers. I also know that in my old high school, students that became pregnant were also looked upon very unfavorably. The pregnancy is another piece in the puzzle of how I judge a politician. Obviously, if the daughter received a D in her Biology class, I would consider that too inconsequential to the character of the politician. But a teen pregnancy?

Palin Family at RNC

Palin Family at RNC

What I find hypocritical about the whole Palin situation with the teen pregnancy and Down Syndrome baby is the parading of the kids on stage at the end of her speech at the convention last night. Or the video they showed of the 7-year old daughter on their website. If family is off-limits then they too should leave the family out of it. If they decide to introduce the family to the public, then they too become public figures, and are thus game.

This is what makes politics so frustrating. Even though Obama and Biden publicly say that family is off-limits, I’m sure internally they are jumping for joy at the skeletons coming out of the Palin family closet. Both sides appear hypocritical at the expense of trying to take the higher ground.

Bush signs the Patriot Act

Bush signs the Patriot Act

In this day and age of the internet and 24-hour media, nothing is off-limits. Whether right or wrong, this is what both parties want. The flow of information, either good or bad, is deemed being one of the most basic democratic values. Otherwise, our freedom of speech would be impinged. Otherwise, pornography on the internet would be illegal. Otherwise, we would become a big brother state like China or Russia where information is monitored and limited. Is this what we want? The past 8 years has seen the passing of the Patriot Act, which has increased big brotherhood in America. In the end, it is up to each and every individual to decide what to believe and what to read. For example, the US government can make recommendations, such as film ratings, but it is up to the parents and children to decide what they do with that information.

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Striking similarities between the two Bush presidencies

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 23, 2008

You would think that after the elder George Bush presidency ended in such economic turmoil and low approval ratings that the country would think twice about picking another Bush as president. Well, it happened. As the younger Bush’s two-term presidency comes to a close this year, one can’t help but look back at the eight years of chaos and controversy to see striking similarities between the two presidencies.

George H.W. Bush George W. Bush
George H.W. Bush George W. Bush

1. Approval ratings – Both Bush presidents saw very high approval ratings in the early part of their presidencies. However, this had more to do with patriotism at the start of wars rather than what the presidents had actually done. This point is supported by looking at Truman’s approval ratings during WWII.

What makes the Bushs similar is the precipitous drop of approval ratings for the rest of their presidencies.  Neither was able to transform early support to long-term success. The elder Bush was unable to transform a very popular and successful Persian Gulf War into domestic success. Note that the graph below shows younger Bush’s lowest approval above 30%. However, many polls had it in the 20s.

Approval Ratings of US Presidents since 1945

Approval Ratings of Past and Current Presidents

Iraq War

Iraq War

2. Iraq War – Both presidencies have been defined by a war in the middle East. Not just any war, but wars led by the United States against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The first Persian Gulf War was highly successful, both in terms of tactical combat and political endearment. The unprovoked invasion of Kuwait by Iraq led to a swift overwhelming response by the rest of the world, including most of the other Middle East countries. The second Gulf War has become a completely different story. A preemptive offensive led by W. and the United States against Iraq for its supposed burgeoning nuclear capabilities has led to far-reaching implications. The evidence for war has since proven highly exaggerated. The complications of ethnic fighting has drawn the war into its fifth year. With recent lowering of violence, the key issue now becomes how long the United States will have a presence in Baghdad.

3. Economic turmoil – The past two recessions in the United States have both been under the Bush presidencies. With a third, and a second in W.’s reign, possibly on the way. Although both have been relatively short, it can be argued that the irresponsible short-term actions of the Feds and Alan Greenspan prematurely moved the United States out of the recessions, but at the expense of future credit.  The Persian Gulf wars also took much needed domestic cash and credit to fund the wars, which led to huge increases in national debt.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle

3. Incompetent vice-president Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney? ‘Nuff said. The first was intellectually incompetent and had the foot-in-mouth disease. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, either one is fine. But potatoe?? What about Quayle comparing himself to JFK during the election campaign? Other funny sayings? “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward“, “The future will be better tomorrow“, “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix“, and “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system“. Although the country mostly knows him as the vice-president, another interesting question that needed to be asked, what were the people in Indiana thinking electing him to the House in1976 and 1978, and Senate in 1980 and 1986?

Richard Cheney

Richard Cheney

Then there’s Cheney. The ultra-hawk who is more inconspicuous than Ed Harris as a sniper in Enemy at the Gates. Actually, Cheney’s head is just a rounder version of Harris’. Cheney acted like a sniper, incognito, firing barbs from behind the scenes, or inside a bunker. Round after round of incidents, Cheney appeared impervious to controversy. He weathered the weak WMD evidence for attacking Iraq, the CIA leak scandal, the hunting incident, CDC global warming testimony deletions, health problems, and completely elitist, hawkish comments. Both supporters and detractors of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government. This is a major contributor to him weathering controversies.

Can you believe that both Quayle and Cheney were each one incident away from becoming president of the United States?

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

5. The Russian Bear – Both presidents had issues with Russia, although in differing directions. The elder Bush oversaw the end of the Cold War and the deconstruction of the Soviet Union. The younger Bush is seeing the return of the Russian Bear led by former KGB man, Vladimir Putin. As Russia’s fortunes increase due to expansive petroleum exports, it has steadfastly returned to old Moscow traditions and become more emboldened. The recent Russia-Georgia war shows its increasing power to defend and expand its circle of influence.

6. Supreme Court appointments – Both presidents oversaw the appointment of two Supreme Court justices. H.W. appointed David Souter and Clarence Thomas, to replace William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, respectively. W. appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to replace William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Although Bill Clinton also appointed two new justices, the appointment of four by the Bushs has kept the Supreme Court in a slight conservative slant.

7. Next president is young and new to national scene – If Barack Obama wins the 2008 presidential election, both Bushs will have been succeeded by young Democratic presidents in their 40’s, Bill Clinton and Obama. The Democratic presidents will both be elected on a change platform that invigorated the public. Both will also have been new to the national scene.

With such striking similarities between the Bush presidencies, a lot of people were a bit hesitant to support another candidate, Hillary Clinton, that would have led to comparisons to her husband’s presidency. Had that happened, the United States would have had either a Bush or Clinton in the top two positions of the country for atleast 32 years!

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