Chaos. Things seemed to be spinning out of control on many fronts this week.
Starting, of course, with the Boston Marathon bombing Monday. The bombers chose a significantly festive time and place for their attack.
The marathon is held every year on Patriots Day, the Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. Even before the identity of the bombers became known, it seemed likely that they were enemies of America.
And their attack was a reminder that this free and open country remains a soft target. There is no way we can be entirely safe.
If the marathon bombings brought back memories of the Sept. 11 attacks, the news on Tuesday and Wednesday that letters containing the poison ricin were sent to Sen. Roger Wicker and President Obama brought back memories of the anthrax-laden letters discovered the week after 9/11.
It was a comfort to see how well bystanders and first responders reacted to the marathon bombings and how law enforcement personnel, led by the FBI, were careful to avoid premature announcements.
Comforting also were Barack Obama's appropriate remarks in Boston on Thursday and the release by the FBI, after his departure, of photos of the two suspects.
Law enforcement invited the public to supply information and identify the killers. This contrasted favorably with the way law enforcement quarantined information about the Beltway snipers in October 2002.
But in the meantime, other things spun out of control.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted down gun control proposals, with the closest vote coming on the background check provision sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.
In the Rose Garden, Obama spoke angrily and called the votes “pretty shameful.” But they were an inevitable response to his cynical exploitation of the grief of parents of the Newtown victims to get votes for measures that would not have prevented that or other mass killings.
Obama made much of polls showing 90 percent support for background checks. But those polls didn't measure the response to arguments against those measures.
This was a test of Organizing for America, the offspring of the Obama presidential campaign. The idea is that OFA could pressure members of Congress just as it had turned out voters for Obama last fall.
But that ignored some relevant political numbers. The Obama campaign did motivate enough voters to carry 332 electoral votes. But those votes were heavily clustered in central cities and university towns.
Obama carried only 26 states. They elect only 52 senators, well under the 60 votes he needed in the Senate on gun control. And he carried only 209 congressional districts, less than a majority of the House.
Wednesday also saw an extraordinary outburst in the Senate Finance Committee's hearings on Obamacare, as committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “I just see a train wreck coming down.”
HHS, he noted, is way behind schedule on issuing regulations implementing the health care law. Small businessmen in Montana, he said, don't know how they can comply.
“The administration's public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade,” he told Sebelius. “You haven't given me any data. You just give me concepts, frankly.”
Liberals grumbled that Baucus was skittish about 2014, when he is up for re-election in a state that voted 55 to 42 percent for Mitt Romney, and threatened to run ads against him.
Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo pointed out that Baucus was one of the chief authors of the law whose implementation he was now criticizing. Nonetheless, Obamacare seemed to be spinning out of control.
Similar disarray was apparent on foreign policy in hearings Thursday, as noted by the American Interest's Walter Russell Mead.
Secretary of State John Kerry testified that we are working “very, very closely” with “the moderate legitimate opposition” to the Assad regime in Syria. But Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey testified that it was getting harder to “clearly identify the right people” in the opposition than it was six months ago.
George W. Bush and his party suffered at the polls in his second term after things seemed to be spinning out of control in New Orleans and Iraq.
Things aren't that far out of control, yet. But this hasn't been a good week for Obama or for America.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.
© 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Chaos. Things seemed to be spinning out of control on many fronts this week.
Farming Misunderstood and Under-appreciated
As you look at your (I hope) full plate this Thanksgiving, take a guess at what percentage of your annual income you spend on food.
Whatever you guessed, you probably guessed too high.
“We pay as low as 6 percent,” Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, tells me at a conference table in his office. “In most other industrialized countries, it’s 20-25 percent.”
And if you were spending that much on food in America, Vilsack asks, “how big a house would you have? How nice a car?”
Recalling the day JKF died
This is written on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. A year ago I demonstrated my exquisite sense of timing: I wrote my personal remembrance of that dark day in Dallas last year on the 49th anniversary of the horrific events in Dealey Plaza.
Is the pipeline to career advancement broken?
“Honey, have you checked our financials this month?” An individual asks their spouse.
“Yes, and it’s not looking good. Our investments aren’t growing like we’d hoped, and the healthcare crisis is affecting the premiums and co-pays we’re paying every month,” replies the spouse.
The individual asks another question, “Do you think we’ll ever be able to retire?”
The spouse shakes their head and replies, “It doesn’t appear we’ll have that option anytime soon, especially if we want to maintain the lifestyle we have now.”
Life Lessons from lawyers, journalists and 10 years as a columnist
I have little in common with Walter White, the chemistry teacher turned drug lord in the TV series Breaking Bad, but the line about his motivation hit me.
In the decade that I wrote a weekly column, I touched a lot of lives.
At least one man stopped his planned suicide and got help after reading my column. (I still hear from him and he is doing fine.)
Register columnists share room for a day at Telford rehab center
So here we are, coming to you still alive from Telford Terrace Rehabilitation Center in Richmond where I am recovering from two strokes that kept me in St. Joseph’s Lexington Hospital for the better part of last week.
I was transferred to Telford where I intend to learn to walk again.
Memo to Merkel: Tell Obama to Take a Hike
Chutzpah. I believe that’s the word for it.
Just days after learning the Americans have been tapping her phones and taping her conversations, Angela Merkel has been publicly upbraided by the U.S. Treasury for being a bad global citizen.
What did she do to deserve this?
Congressionally Duped Americans
Last week’s column, “Is There a Way Out?”, generated quite a few responses, some a bit angry. Some people were offended by my reference to Social Security and Medicare as entitlements or handouts. They said that they worked for 45 years and paid into Social Security and Medicare and how dare I refer to the money they now receive as an entitlement. These people have been duped by Congress and shouldn’t be held totally accountable for such a belief. Let’s examine the plethora of congressional Social Security lies. I’ll leave the Medicare lies for another column.
Needed: Consumer-driven reform, not Obamacare
Supporters of the insufferable Obama administration’s misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continue to rope low-information Americans into believing that needed health care reform will be achieved only by a policy like “Obamacare,” which forces healthy individuals to pay for policies filled with services – and costs – they neither want nor need in order to provide lower-cost coverage to the sick.
Does anyone think before speaking?
I wonder sometimes if politicians ever listen to what they’re saying. If it weren’t so depressing, it might be funny.
Start with that maverick, Republican Sen. John McCain, who has of late taken on the tea party members of Congress, calling them “wacko birds” and the government shutdown engineered by people like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee “shameful.” Except for the wacko birds, who would disagree?
The Case of the shapely partner
Sam was the victim of a blisskrieg. After meeting the shapely Helen, he couldn't sleep, eat or even think about playing the ponies, his favorite pastime.
He was so smitten with her, in fact, that he finally packed his bags, left his wife and set up housekeeping with his Helen of Joy. As security for her future, he promised her that she would be his equal partner in any business venture in which he might engage.
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