Friday, February 27, 2009

Kennedy, Reagan and Obama

A loyal reader asked me to compare the ideas reflected in the most famous quotes of Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan with Barak Obama's beliefs.

Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." Kennedy's emphasis was on the second clause of his sentence, where he was making an invitation to public service. Government would do good through voluntary pubic service, even to the point of self-sacrifice. Kennedy's Peace Corps was the most famous and enduring example of his belief. Nonetheless, conservatives are right to recognize in the first clause of Kennedy's quote an implicit rejection of welfare statism: people ought not to expect the government to do for them what they can do for themselves.

Ronald Reagan observed in his First Inaugural that "Government is not the solution. Government is the problem." Reagan was being somewhat hyperbolic to make his point that government must get out of the way so that people could do for themselves. Heavy-handed government is inefficient and ineffective in accomplishing its intended purpose of doing good, so government should stick to focusing on defending liberty so that the American people could do good themselves without being inhibited by government bureaucracy.

Though a gifted orator, Barak Obama offered no memorable quote from his Inaugural Address, but his overall approach is a return to the idea that government can and should do good. However, unlike Kennedy, Obama believes that government service should be compulsory instead of voluntary. Ever more confiscatory taxation would fund all sorts of programs and projects for the greater good. Indeed, Obama's latest proposed income tax increase on “the wealthiest” Americans would reduce the tax deduction for charitable giving. His proposal would thus likely produce a decrease in charitable contributions. Instead of inspiring charity, government would supplant charity.

Not only is Obama departing from Kennedy and Reagan, but even from Bill Clinton, who claimed in one of his State of the Union Addresses that “the Era of Big Government is over.” Apparently, Clinton was wrong.

The Hussein and Bin Laden Myth

One liberal myth that is often repeated is that the United States is responsible for both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. It is part of a pattern with the blame-America-firsters that every evil in the world is America's fault. Even in those cases in which the U.S. appears to be the victim, liberals imply that America is getting what it deserves. The liberal point is the U.S. should not fight its enemies around the world because it created them in the first place, as if the threat can safely be ignored if only Americans become more self-righteous. I should note that sometimes isolationists make similar arguments.

I recall that the left tried to blame Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on the U.S., for example, just because he had once been a CIA informant, ignoring the fact that he had been associated with the anti-American regime that extorted the Panama Canal from the U.S. under Jimmy Carter.

A brief history of Hussein and bin Laden dispels the myth that the U.S. is responsible for them. Saddam Hussein rose to power with the Baath Socialist Party in 1969 as the powerful and feared vice president of Iraq, becoming president a decade later. The Baathists were anti-American. Indeed, Baathist Iraq was a Soviet client state, which is why most of its weapons were Soviet-made or French-made (as France was its former colonial master), not American-made. The Reagan Administration did provide a limited amount of intelligence and military aid to Hussein in the late 1980s in order to prevent Iran, America's mortal enemy, from winning its war with Iraq. Reagan succeeded in ending that long, bloody war, which was disrupting the shipment of oil in the Persian Gulf, without either side winning. It is important to note that, at the time, Hussein had stopped actively sponsoring terrorism and toned down his anti-American rhetoric. There was the hope that Iraq would turn out similar to Egypt, which had left the Soviet orbit and become an American client state under Anwar Sadat. But the hope was dashed just two years later when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Hussein reverted to his anti-American rhetoric and sponsorship of terrorism. In short, Hussein's
rise to power was in spite of the U.S., and not because of it. The only support the U.S. gave him was not out of fondness but out of expedience, as the old Arab saying goes: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The myth about bin Laden arises because he rose to prominence during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan while the U.S. aided the Mujaheddin, the Muslim holy warriors, whom the Saudi bin Laden was also aiding. The assumption is that because the U.S. was aiding the Mujaheddin and so was bin Laden simultaneously, therefore, the U.S. must have aided bin Laden. But the U.S. did not aid all of the Mujaheddin; it provided no aid to bin Laden's warriors. Bin Laden was so anti-American that he would never have accepted U.S. aid if it had been offered. Indeed, it has been said that he would have killed any American with whom he came into contact even then, which is why he considered the mere presence of American troops in some other part of Saudi Arabia as a desecration of the holy sites of Islam. He provided funding for his warriors on his own. Therefore, the U.S. did not "create" bin Laden.

The left refuses to accept that there are evil people in the world, but because they have no trouble believing that we conservatives are evil, any evil people in the world they believe must be the creation of conservativism. But the U.S. is not the root of most evil in the world. It has been one of the greatest forces for good in history, which is why it is worth defending, no matter why our enemies exist.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Obama's First Month as Wartime President

Barak Obama campaigned for president on the rationale of change from President George W. Bush, which will be the standard upon which he will be judged. Yet Bush's War on Terrorism had succeeded in preventing any terrorist attack on the United States after September 11, 2001, the standard upon which he will be judged.

Obama was sworn in as president a month ago. Although he has weakened Bush's policies in the war, he has continued many of them, and not only the ones that Obama had voted for while a senator, which is a tremendous validation for Bush from the man who was the anti-Bush candidate. Obama has extended the attack-free streak to over 89 months. Just as Bush deserves our gratitude for having kept us safe, so to does Obama, thus far.

Obama's performance overall has been mixed, but the most important issue confronting his Administration is the fight against militant Islam. We must continue to demand that he keep up the fight, despite all of his campaign talk about "change."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Partisan and Bipartisan

As promised, I am posting about the misuse of the words partisan and bipartisan, as suggested by a loyal reader. I suspect the reader was concerned about how liberal politicians and media correctly describe straight party-line votes in legislative bodies (when all the members of one party vote one way and all the members of another party vote the other way) as "partisan." However, if a few Democrats vote with the Republicans, the position for which the Republicans voted is nevertheless called a "partisan," vote and not a "bipartisan" one. Yet if a few Republicans join with the Democrats, the vote is hailed as "bipartisan." In short, Democrats who join with Republicans are never praised for bipartisanship, like those Republicans who join with the Democrats are. Conversely, Republicans are often described as voting in a "partisan" manner, even when joined with a few Democrats, whereas Democrats are routinely credited with bipartisanship for picking up token Republican support. This example is only one of many double standards that reveal liberal media bias.

But there is a broader misuse of the word partisan. When Republicans vote the opposite of Democrats, "partisanship" is often blamed by the media as the GOP's motive, even though ideology is the true motive. Yet Democratic motivations are seldom ascribed to partisanship, but to principled beliefs. There are times when partisanship occurs and is even reasonable (in regard to the Census or reapportionment, in appointments to bipartisan panels, etc.), although there perhaps are some times when the members of one party do not wish to see the other party receive blame or wish to deny it credit. But usually the motive of politicians on substantive matters is based, at least in part, upon their beliefs, and not merely in order to take an opposite position just for the sake of opposing the other party in order to advance their own.

Indeed, the reason the two parties are so sharply divided (and in Congress, in particular, why the votes on controversial matters tend to be nearly party-line) is because they have such different beliefs on the issues.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Representative for D.C. Would Violate the Constitution

I must alert you of a bill before the U.S. Senate that would grant a representative in Congress to the District of Columbia, which would violate the Constitution flagrantly. The Constitution requires that only states be represented in the House of Representatives with voting members.

Territories like the federal district have only ever been represented by non-voting delegates. Moreover, the District was established so that no state would dominate the federal government. Because the main industry of Washington, D.C. is the federal government, the district has an interest in expanding that government.

Although this bill would likely be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, it is nonetheless being seriously considered by the Democratic-controlled Congress. A congressional seat for the District of Columbia would add a Democrat to the House of Representatives until a court could rule on the matter. As a compromise, the Congressional Democrats also have proposed giving Utah, a solidly Republican state, an extra House seat, even though the Census will likely require an additional seat for that state in four years anyway.

Although this bill would increase the size of the House of Representatives for the first time in decades -- an overdue step -- this bill is not the right way to do so. Although I oppose statehood for the District of Columbia, a constitutional amendment to grant it statehood would at least be the more legally proper course. Another constitutional solution would be to include the District's residents with Maryland's for apportionment of Representatives and voting for senators, although this solution would give Maryland relatively undue influence over the federal government, even though it would be less than if the federal district were granted statehood.

A better solution -- and one that would not require a constitutional amendment -- would be to retro-cede the residential parts of the District to Maryland, just as parts of the District were ceded back to Virginia. Another simple solution to the problem of the District's "taxation without representation," which is not a totally true charge because the District is represented by a delegate who can speak, offer motions, bills and amendments, vote in committee and even vote on procedural matters, is to eliminate federal taxes on residents of the District of Columbia, much as the residents of other territories are exempt from federal taxation.

We must resist this blatant partisan power grab on the part of the Congressional Democrats now and resist any temptation to let the courts settle the matter. In the meantime, we can continue to offer better solutions. Perhaps conservatives can develop other good solutions. Please post any ideas here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

George Washington the Great

I have been resisting the temptation to spoil Presidents' Day (which is in its last few minutes as I begin to write this post, despite whatever the apparently-random posting times listed on my blog seem to indicate) by discussing the question of presidential ratings, both in terms of the process the raters use and the often rediculous results they produce. In fact, I do not even want to limit my focus on George Washington to his presidency for the reason I mentioned in my post on restoring his birthday as a holiday that we should honor his entire contribution to America. But I do find it necessary to post something about Washington, including his presidency, at least partly in response to all the nonsense about which presidents were best and which were worst.

Washington is a rare figure in human events. He was the first leader since the ancient Roman Cincinnatus to give up the opportunity to become king and return to farming -- and Washington did it twice, at that. He was the first head of state to retire since the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the Fourth Century A.D.. Washington has the unusual distinction of being a wealthy, conservative man who led a Revolution -- the only successful revolution in world history (with the possible exception of the Iranian Revolution).

As a wealthy Virginian in colonial times, Washington received a classic education. His moral virtue was unquestionable. Washington came to believe that God favored him and the cause of liberty he supported. Subsequent events seem to have proven him correct.

Washington was 21-year old colonel in the British army when he was entrusted by his governor in 1753 on a mission to check French encroachment in the Appalachian wilderness. He touched off the French and Indian War, which later became a world war known worldwide as the Seven Year's War. But Washington's military experience prepared him for his leadership of the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

It is worth remembering that only a minority of Americans supported the Revolution against British rule, and even fewer supported independence. The American Patriots, along with some American Indian allies and later the French, would have to battle Loyalists and other American Indians besides the British and their mercenaries. The British were the greatest military power in the world at the time, while few Americans had any significant military experience. The Americans had only militia, and no regular army, until Washington was entrusted with the command of the fledgling Continental Army in 1775. The Continental Congress would struggle throughout the long war to fund and supply it. Other states around the world were reluctant to support a revolution based upon liberty and representative republican government. In 1776, Washington pledged his life, his fortune and his sacred honor in signing the Declaration of Independence, which he had read to his troops upon its approval.

At times during the Revolutionary War, the cause General Washington served and embodied seemed all but lost. In his first major battle at Long Island, his entire army was nearly destroyed but for his skillful retreat across the Sound. By Christmas of 1776, with his army dwindling from desertion and lack of supplies, Washington revived his recruitment effort with his famous Crossing of the Delaware and surprise defeat of the Hessians at Trenton, followed by his victory at the Battle of Princeton. His army famously endured the bitter winter of 1778 at Valley Forge. When the Commander of the Continental Army arrived on the battlefield at Monmouth that spring, he averted a potentially-disastrous defeat by halting the retreat of his advance guard and fending of the Redcoats long enough to escape the destruction of his army once again.

General Washington lost more battles than he won, yet he nevertheless managed to defeat the British after a six-year struggle. He did so by avoiding any major defeats after Long Island. Washington maintained the initiative and outmaneuvered his enemy. He avoided any unintentional direct engagements with the British Army, but harassed the Redcoats and hid before they could find and destroy the whole of his army. Thus, when Washington lost battles, he did so barely, but when he won, he did so decisively, most importantly at Yorktown in 1781.

During the war, General Washington outperformed potential rivals to his command and put down an insurrection. The Treaty of Paris that ended the war was not signed and ratified until 1783. Therefore, the Continental Army remained in the field two years after Washington defeated Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Resentment over the lack of pay caused some officers to plot a rebellion against Continental Congress, but Washington gracefully persuaded them to remain patient and loyal.

After the war, Washington observed in retirement the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and discussed with other leaders the need for a better union of the colonies. Chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he was elected its president. Washington helped guide the process that produced the United States of America. Indeed, the presidency was created by the delegates with him in mind as Commander in Chief.

Washington was elected president in 1789 without opposition. When he took office, there were only 11 states in the Union, there were still British troops on American soil, the Spanish were blocking American access to the port of New Orleans and the debt from the American Revolution remained staggering. During his presidency, he was pressured to side with either the British or the French in Napoleonic Wars. Not only did Washington establish "the precedent," as he put it, who had to establish everything as First President from diplomatic relations with foreign states to coinage, but by the end of his presidency, there were 15 states in the Union, no British troops on American soil, Americans has access to New Orleans and the debt was retired. And President Washington maintained neutrality, which allowed the United States to avoid a potentially-ruinous war at a time of vulnerability. Meanwhile, he achieved domestic tranquilty through relative peace with the American Indians and by supressing the Whiskey Rebellion. The First President, reelected without opposition, gave his vision to the new city that would become the capital of the United States that also bears his name. President Washington's eloquence remains inspirational to this day.

Even after he retired in 1797 until his death in 1799, George Washington continued to serve in various ways, most notably in founding what became known as Washington and Lee University.

As a general, as a Founding Father, as president, and as citizen, George Washington's greatness was abundantly manifest. Indeed, Washington was the greatest American. May we ever be grateful to him and continue his legacy of liberty. God bless George Washington and God bless America.

Obama's Spending Spree

Barak Obama won congressional passage Friday of his spending plan (I am not going to call it a "stimulus" plan because it is mostly just a spending spree). He implored its urgent passage, yet is waiting until Tuesday to sign it.

As with the original House bill, no Republican representatives voted in favor of it and a few Democrats even voted against it. But Obama won victory in the Senate when three liberal Republicans joined with the Democrats and provided 60 votes in favor -- the requisite number to avoid a filibuster that would have killed the bill.

These liberal Republicans (Olympia Snow and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania) were able to extract a few spending cuts and increased tax cuts, but the bill still amounted to over $780 billion -- the largest in American history -- with little of the so-called stimulus occurring in the first year or two, if at all. Obama had dropped the Buy American provision in order to avoid an economically damaging trade war with our allies. But the radical group ACORN, infamous for voter fraud, still received $2 billion, although the figure was half the original amount. In short, Obama won a token amount of bipartisan support, despite some bipartisan opposition in the House, by making a just a few concessions.

There is little protection against illegal aliens receiving some of the money from this plan. The health insurance bureaucracy that would ration health care will be established by this legislation. The work requirements that were essential to the Clinton/Republican Congress welfare reform are essentially repealed, and even apart from the welfare aspect of Obama's tax rebates that would exceed workers' taxable incomes, making the rebates a net welfare check. States will once again be rewarded for how many people they add to the welfare rolls instead of how many they are able to remove from them. Obama has quietly won the debate on welfare reform that hardly arose during the presidential campaign through legislative legerdemain. Obama seems intent on buying off the lower economic classes -- at the expense of those who pay most of the taxes -- with targeted tax cuts or rebates.

The few tax cuts contained within Obama's spending plan are more Keynsian in their emphasis on encouraging spending by the poor and lower middle class instead of the proven Reaganesque supply-side tax cuts that spur people to work, invest and hire more. Obama did not cut taxes for upper-middle class workers. Because proprietorships usually file taxes as individuals, tax cuts for the upper classes would have included small businesses, who will receive a relatively paltry $4 billion in cuts, even though small businesses have been responsible for all of the job growth this decade (Obama, Congressional Democrats and their liberal allies in the media would like us to forget the 8 million jobs created after George W. Bush cut income tax rates across the board). Unlike Bush, Obama offered no capital gains tax cuts, nor even any reduction in the corporate tax, which is among the highest in the world -- a rate that is making the United States increasingly less competitive in attracting or retaining businesses. Indeed, Obama still plans to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, which is part of the reason the stock market has decreased 2,000 points since Election Day -- hardly a policy intended to inspire confidence to invest.

In short, public opposition to parts of the plan, as well as the successful buy-off of a few liberal Republican Senators, improved the bill slightly. Yet the massive increase in budget deficits the legislation will cause, despite the lack of stimulative tax cuts and the kind of rapid stimulative spending (e.g. such as on infrastructure) that even some conservatives could have supported, deprived Obama of the broad bipartisan support he wanted for his plan. In fact, it was more of a congressional Democratic plan than even an Obama plan.

Thus, Obama and the Democrats will have to accept the responsibility for the effects of the plan. Although there might be some slight positive stimulative effect in the short term from the legislation, the long-term cost in debt will be fiscally and economically harmful. The greater disappointment is in the lost opportunity to have passed a more effective stimulus, at least for now. It is likely that the economy will recover on its own and thanks in part to the policies set in place by the Bush Administration (i.e. the financial rescue plan in particular) and the Federal Reserve, instead of because of Obama's record spending spree. Yet he and the Congressional Democrats will try to take the credit for any recovery. We must remind the American people of the facts.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Presidents' Day vs. Washington's Birthday

The federal government of the United States should eliminate the Presidents' Day Holiday and restore Washington's Birthday in its place. The holiday, originally intended to honor the Father of our Country on his February 22 birthday, in addition to the celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12, has been diluted through focus on all of the presidents.

First of all, the holiday for George Washington's birthday commemorated Washington's whole contribution to American history, not only as president, but also as the general who won the American Revolution by defeating the greatest power in the world at the time, and as the Founding Father who helped develop the Constitution of the United States of America. Washington was the indispensable man of the Revolution, one of the most significant events in world history, without which there would have been no Lincoln. Even though Washington is revered by the American people, I believe that he is underrated by them as a general, as a Founding Father and as president.

The commemoration of Lincoln's birthday, however, usually focuses primarily on his presidency. Although it is convenient to combine Washington and Lincoln's birthdays into one holiday, the name of that holiday is not "Washington and Lincoln's Birthdays," but "Presidents' Day," which invites focus on which Presidents were the best and which were the worst. Therefore, any attention paid to our First President on Presidents' Day primarily focuses on his presidency instead of his overall contribution to the United States of America. The fact that Ronald Reagan's birthday is February 6 added to making February the month to honor all the Presidents, but honoring all of the presidents diminishes honoring the greatest ones.

Washington is a uniting figure because of his widely-perceived greatness, but Lincoln remains relatively polarizing because of the unresolved controversy of secession. Yet although most Americans admire Lincoln, the annual focus every Presidents' Day on presidential ratings is even more divisive. These dreaded ratings usually reflect the liberal bias of the raters, if not ignorance or stupidity. The attention on the worst-ranked Presidents, who seldom get much credit for the good they did, even were there is agreement about their ranking, is uninspiring. Indeed, two years ago, the media's main Presidents' Day story was on which presidential blunders were the worst. It was a terrible way to commemorate a holiday intended to inspire. Washington, however, is the most inspiring figure in American history.

The only American currently honored with a holiday for his birthday is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Columbus Day honors the Discoverer of America because it is named for him, but it is intended to honor the discovery of the New World itself, which is why it is celebrated on the anniversary of the discovery. Constitution Day is not even a holiday.

Washington alone deserves a holiday for his birthday. His contributions will ever outweigh those of any other American because he is the fountain of all that is American. The restoration of Washington's Birthday as a federal holiday would not only inspire and unite Americans, but educate them about one of the greatest figures in the history of the world.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Politics and Propaganda: Misused Words

A loyal reader asked me to post about the misuse or overuse of the words politics or political and propaganda. I already had some notes on those words, so I am posting my observation about them here. He also asked me to comment on the misuse of the words partisan and bipartisan, which I shall do in an upcoming post.


These words are being used instead of intrigue or Byzantine when used in a non-governmental setting (e.g. “it’s political” or “office politics”). Politics/political come from the Greek word polis for city. Politics literally means “the goings on in the city,” or more specifically, “citizenship,” as politics comes directly from the Greek politikos, which translates to “citizen.” Political means “of or relating to government” (especially in the making of, as distinguished from the administration of, governmental policy), or “of or relating to politics,” whereas intrigue refers to “plotting or scheming” and Byzantine means “of, relating to, or characterized by a devious and usually surreptitious manner of operation.” Other better alternatives to misusing the words politics or political might be (excessively) competitive or cutthroat.


This word is being misused as if it necessarily means falsehoods. Propaganda comes from the Latin Congregatio de propaganda fide, “the Congregation for Propagating the Faith,”an evangelistic organization established by Pope Gregory the XV in the early Sixteenth Century which had jurisdiction over missionary territories, and means “the spreading of ideas or information to advance a cause.” Although propaganda may include rumor or allegations, or even falsehoods, it does not necessarily include them. Therefore, to attempt to dismiss speech that spreads ideas or information to advance a cause as “propaganda” is merely to describe it correctly as speech intended to advance a cause without discrediting or refuting it whatsoever.


This word is being misused similarly to propaganda to imply false arguments, but rhetoric means “effective speech” and thus does not necessarily mean false speech; this word is being used as if it is unpersuasive (e.g. “That’s just rhetoric”), but it means the opposite, for if the speech is unpersuasive, it is not rhetoric, but ineffective rhetoric.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Conservative Language of Choice

In addition to avoiding poor language, we conservatives must continue to do a good job at using accurate, appealing language of our choice in debate, instead of allowing our opponents to define our terms. For example, conservatives have been saying “free market” instead of “capitalism,” “right to life” instead of “anti-choice,” “right to work” instead of “anti-union” and “school choice” instead of “anti-public education.” Liberals do the same thing effectively to describe their own terms (e.g. “pro-choice,” “pro-labor,” and “pro-public education”). These are examples of rhetoric, which is persuasive speech.

Calling Obama’s so-called economic “stimulus” plan the “porkulus” plan because of all the pork-barrel spending therein is a clever example of coining a word in order to make a rhetorical point.

Now, we just need to come up with a better term to describe the “Fairness Doctrine,” or opposition to it. Perhaps you could think of one. Please feel free to post a comment with your suggestions, thank you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Breaking News: Iraq is a Democracy

Iraq's provincial elections, the country's first national elections in four years, were peaceful and smooth. Turnout was relatively high, as even millions of Sunni Arabs participated, unlike in previous elections.

Although downplayed by the mainstream media, these elections appear to confirm that Iraq is the first major Arab democratic republic. Only tiny Lebanon could be regarded as also having recently become democratic among Arab states. Many critics in the media and elsewhere had stated that Arab culture in particular, and even Islam in general, was incompatible with democracy in Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Civilization.

The presence of a free, democratic republic in the same land that is the origin of the Semitic peoples, marks a spectacular success of President George W. Bush's goal of replacing tyranny with freedom, in the belief that free peoples, unlike dictatorships, generally do not support aggression or terrorism, as Iraq's Baathist regime under Saddam Hussein had.

Moreover, Iraq's provincial elections reflected apparent contentment on the part of the Iraqi people. Whereas change has come to nearly every major democracy since September 11, 2001, the incumbent parties in Iraq did well at the ballot box. Apparently, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a secular Arab Shi'ite, has gained the confidence of a majority of Iraqis, including Sunnis, to provide security and prosperity.

It was noteworthy that the Iraqis themselves were in charge of security for these elections for the first time, which is further evidence that American troops, if their withdrawal is completed carefully, will be able to leave behind a peaceful Iraq than can defend itself, and continue to be an ally in the War on Terrorism. A withdrawal under such circumstances, as appears increasingly likely to occur, would be one with honor. Indeed, the Battle of Iraq would be a clear victory.

Obama Nominations and Spending Plan Update

Two of Barak Obama's nominees to his administration withdrew their names for consideration today -- both because of their failure to pay all of their taxes until their nomination -- including former Senator Tom Daschle for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle's nomination had come under increasing Republican pressure, even though Timothy Geithner was confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury, which includes the Internal Revenue Service, despite his failure to pay federal taxes and the related problem of his employment of an illegal alien. Geithner had received 34 votes in opposition, including from some Senators who were not members of the GOP. Apparently, Daschle's tax liability was larger and involved more specific instances than Geithner's.

Thus, although Eric Holder was confirmed last night as Attorney General, with 21 votes in opposition, Obama was unable to get all of his cabinet nominees confirmed because of opposition, not including Bill Richardson for Secretary of Commerce, who withdrew his name from consideration before the Senate began to consider it. All of the last four presidents now have suffered the same fate. The rejection of a cabinet nominee because of political pressure tends to embolden the opposition party that succeeded in rejecting the nominee or forcing the withdrawal.

This time, however, the Republicans in Congress have already been emboldened by their unity in opposition to Obama's pork-laden $800 billion spending plan. Already, as mentioned in a previous post, the House Republicans forced the removal from the so-called stimulus bill such provisions as funding for contraception and re-sodding the National Mall. Their principled conservative opposition even attracted the votes of 11 House Democrats, and encouraged Republican opposition in the Senate. In the upper chamber, too, Democrats are beginning to back away from the Obama spending plan the more some of its provisions are becoming known (i.e. money for ACORN and other radical left-wing groups, a Buy American provision that would inflate costs and spark retaliatory sanctions by our trading partners, tax rebates for illegal aliens, and tons of pork). Republicans have also pointed out that the plan would stimulate few jobs in its early years, when job creation is most needed before the economy recovers from the recession on its own, because the infrastructure spending Obama proposes, which the GOP does not seem to oppose in principle, would take too long to be ready in order to provide any short-term benefit.

Congressional Republicans, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY), have announced better ideas, instead of just opposing the Obama Administration's plan. They have proposed a government mortgage program, and, of course, targeted tax cuts. Instead of tax rebates for the working poor that amount to welfare because they amount of the rebate would be greater than the amount of taxes they would have had to have paid, some Republicans have proposed a payroll tax cut, or income tax rate cuts. Either kind of tax cut would provide economic stimulus more rapidly than Obama's long-term infrastructure spending. Additionally, conservatives and Republicans are promoting tax cuts that would stimulate investment and hiring, such as capital gains and corporate tax cuts.

Obama seems willing to modify his plan further in order to attract bipartisan support, as well as to staunch growing public opposition. Congressional Republicans seem eager to compromise: tax and spending cuts are the price of their support. If Obama trades these cuts for GOP support, he will not only retain, and probably even grow, his popularity. He also would have implemented policies that would benefit the economy. As with Bill Clinton, Congressional Republicans appear willing to let a Democratic president benefit politically from their proposals for the good of the country, as long as they get some of the credit, too.