Divorce is hard. Feelings remain raw for years over the broken dreams and plans that had been made that will now never be. It’s one thing if a couple can just go their own separate ways, building separate lives and building little walls and fences that can protect the heart. But when the couple shares children and both want to be active participants in those kids’ lives, the lives remain intertwined, the protective barriers prove to be porous.
And so it seems to be the case with the divorced lives of Mark and Jenny Sanford. But even with their attempts to find a family harmony, a way for them all to feel happy and fulfilled, they’re doing so in a fishbowl despite their best efforts to work things out privately. I feel for them, having every stumble put under a microscope of people who don’t know them and would prefer to use their pain and struggles for their own political benefit.
Out of that fishbowl sloshed news on Tuesday that the Sanfords would be going to family court in May to address an alleged trespassing charge arising out of the home visitation limits set by their sealeddivorce decree. Two things are evident: one, none of the Sanfords–Jenny, Mark nor the four children–wanted the public sticking their noses into their private lives; and two, someone for political purposes with no concern for the Sanfords obtained (possibly illegally) the sealed family court record and released it to the public (again possibly illegally) to harm the Sanfords as much as possible.
In her statements, Jenny Sanford said: “It is a private matter. The documents are real, but it was my understanding that the documents would remain sealed, along with our divorce agreement….I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race. I want him to sink or swim on his own. For the sake of my children, I’m trying my best not to get in the way, but he makes things difficult for me when he does things like trespassing.
In his statement, Mark Sanford said: “I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened….out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I’m not going to have any further comment at this time.”
I feel for Jenny and I feel for Mark. I can see both of their sides, but most of all, I can see it’s none of my business how they decide to work it out. I just wish them all comfort and peace, happiness and health–and I wish them privacy in their private lives.
I’ve been pleased to see that Elizabeth Colbert Busch herself has had the integrity to only say “no comment” in response to media inquiries to the content of the Sanfords’ sealed divorce and family court records. Breitbart.com reports: “Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch was herself party to a very contentious divorce years ago. She was even found in contempt of court for “willfully” ignoring court orders and held in a county jail for 6 hours. Divorces do not often bring out our inner-angels.”
But as with Mark Sanford’s struggles with divorce and custody, I don’t care about Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s travails in the same arena. It’s their private business that has little to nothing to do with how they will serve the Constitution and the voters of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
It’s obvious that the opponents of Sanford have nothing beyond slime-ridden, ill-gotten personal attacks to combat his stellar public voting record. None of the despicably leaked contents of the sealed family court records alter my opinion that Mark Sanford is by far the superior candidate to represent the Lowcountry. It does not shake my belief that I can count on him to vote to save America from debts and deficits and weak defenses. I will still vote for Mark Sanford for Congress on May 7, and I urge all other 1st District voters to do the same.
All right. Let’s just jump straight to the main—seemingly only—argument against electing Mark Sanford: his affair. I’m not going to rehash all the details or make excuses for him. I was devastated. But the statehouse press conference where he stepped up to the plate and poured his heart out and out and out planted a kernel of forgiveness in my heart, because unlike other politicians that give a made-for-camera bite-the-lip-and-give-a-sniffle apology, I knew Mark Sanford was completely sincere and extremely humbled. No one could possibly have given that presser and been acting. It wasn’t typical politician.
I was willing to wait and see if his words of sincerity would translate into action—and what I saw was Sanford try to ease out of the limelight as much as possible, letting everyone take potshots at him unanswered, letting everyone vent their venom, anger and disappointment, as he went about what was important to him: trying to repair and resolve the relationships in his life out of public view. When he would emerge into the spotlight, however briefly, he would be asked the inevitable question about the affair, how could he have done it, and every time, he would answer anew with deep reflection, sincerity and humility—never lashing out at others or trying to make excuses, never acting like “c’mon, I’ve already answered this.” Time and again, his actions matched his words. Over time, I fully forgave him.
Here is a man that has had a very public fall from grace, such a spectacular fall and with such circumstances that I believe it was a once-in-a-lifetime screw-up. I actually trust that he has worked to put his life back together in a way that assures me it won’t happen again. He is ready to move on, and so am I along with a multitude of #SC1 voters.
While he has been a big enough man to bear all the slings and arrows hurled at him, he hasn’t been too big to still humble himself before us and ask for a second chance, in an extremely personal way. Mark Sanford needs us. He needs us to give him the chance to fully redeem himself, and I think that makes him even more beholden to us in a deep, almost spiritual way. I believe he has something to prove to us now, to make things as right as he can possibly make them in this lifetime. We could be vindictive and withhold redemption from him, make it so that no amount of effort to regain our trust would ever be good enough, but I don’t think his sin comes anywhere close to deserving that punishment. I’m willing to give him the chance to go the next step and make amends to us, because South Carolina’s 1st district needs him. America needs him.
When he was in Congress from 1995 to 2001, he actually returned a quarter of a million dollars to the US Treasury every year, which he had personally slashed out of his Congressional office’s operating budget. This was money allocated to him, approved by voters to spend, but he took it upon himself to protect the voters further, pinching every penny and looking after voter wallets.
This attitude was also reflected in his Congressional voting record, making him ranked as the most fiscally conservative member of Congress by both Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union.
Then, as a two-term Governor of South Carolina, when Obama came to office and was shoveling our money out of the doors of the White House, Sanford was the first governor to reject the stimulus money–$700 million of it. This is important not only because he was standing on his fiscal conservatism principles (and withstanding the onslaught of leftist and media howling), but by his very act of stepping forward and having the courage to lead on it, other governors around the country were emboldened to follow his lead, to compete to see who could be declared the most fiscally conservative of the fiscal conservatives.
Wouldn’t it be a great thing to have that repeated over and again in Washington–contests to see who can spend less instead of the quest, even by Republicans, to spend more? It takes bold leadership, someone that can withstand the pressure to cave, to do this. It’s something Bostic has no record of doing, and no record of even claiming to be interested in doing it. (His campaign mantra has become “Sometimes you just have to say yes” as they jeeringly call Sanford “Mr. No.” When it comes to the insatiable appetite that Congress has for spending our grandchildren’s tax dollars and Chinese loans, I want Mr. No casting my vote any day.)
And Sanford is not afraid to take on his own party. While Boehner and the House leadership keep telling us that they’ll get us a better deal next time every time they cave, Sanford is one that won’t cave. The Republican-dominated South Carolina legislature and he had some mighty famous battles, with Sanford constantly vetoing their spending bills and forcing them to override them to pry the money out of the SC coffers. (Understand that and you’ll understand the background of the trumped-up “ethics charges” his opponents love to tout.)
Due to Sanford’s storybook record of reigning in state spending, the CATO Institute ranked him as the most fiscally conservative governor in America. (Can Bostic come anywhere close to these prestigious accolades? No.)
And the Tea Party needs Sanford in their ranks. Not only because he would be a solid vote with them, if not a leader. They have had difficulty in getting leadership to go their way, mainly because so many are freshmen and sophomore backbenchers. Sanford, however, by virtue of his previous three terms in the US House of Representatives will immediately reenter Congress with seniority over nearly 60% of his colleagues. He will be hard to ignore, and in a position to press the Tea Party perspective.
The Bostic Record
Personal injury lawyer Bostic presents himself as a Christian family man. I believe him. Most of Bostic’s support is coming from the extreme-wing of the religious right, whose sole focus is on Sanford’s divorce with much less concern about spending reductions and liberty issues. In fact, their tactics have been cause for alarm by some, including the leader of a local Tea Party group. (As noted in today’s Morning Jolt from Jim Geraghty at National Review, Bostic describes himself as a creationist, but declines to elaborate on how he defines that. If some GOP are worried about Sanford being promoted to the general election because of the national media jokes about the Appalachian Trail, just wait till they sink their teeth in on creationism.)
As you can tell from the above, I’ll leave people’s faiths to themselves. My focus is on our country’s debt and spending, and it is in those areas that things give me pause with Bostic.
First, while Bostic served on Charleston County Council from 2000 to 2008, its spending increased 25%–significantly outpacing inflation and population increase. Bostic argues that Charleston County voters themselves voted for the increase. I reply, yes, but he went along with it and voted for every single big-spending budget. He championed no cost-cutting measures, and some complain that he even added in projects such as the long-running I-526 extension boondoggle without subjecting it to voter comment or diverted tax revenues to his own pet projects, such as the Greenbelt Plan.
Bostic has also refused to timely file his FEC disclosure form indicating the amount and sources of his income. He has filed for an extension that will put this knowledge out of reach for the runoff Republican voters but will be laid bare for general election purposes. How do voters know what’s in it, especially since he deems it too complicated for his CPAs and law firm to be able to figure out? What kinds of nasty surprises await us? Both Sanford and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert-Busch managed to get their forms in on time.
During his eight years on Charleston County Council, Bostic also missed an average of 20% of its twice-monthly meetings. The Bostic campaign took great offense to Sanford’s noting this during their first one-on-one debate, with Bostic saying that his wife suffered from cancer twice during his tenure, implying he had to miss county business in order to tend to her needs. Quite understandable, of course.
Patch reviewed the minutes from 11 of the meetings during Bostic’s time on council. Those minutes are attached to this article. On nine occasions he was either was out of state, out of the country or out of town. On two occasions his absence was unexplained.
His attendance ranges from 67 percent in 2005 to 93 percent in 2001. Most years on council it ranged around 80 percent.
When another media outlet asked the Bostic campaign to confirm the absences were directly related to Mrs. Bostic’s illness, they declined to respond. The Huffington Post also notes that the indignant tweets that his son, actor Daniel Bostic, tweeted after the debate (and served as fodder for various right-wing blog attacks on Sanford) have since been deleted.
North Charleston Patch added that his son, Daniel Bostic, tweeted: “Not gonna lie – I’m still infuriated over Sanford attacking my dad for missing council when my mom was dying.” As of Friday afternoon, the tweet was no longer on Daniel Bostic’s account.
The broad picture here is that Bostic has left the #SC1 voters with many questions: on his finances, on the issues, his beliefs and principles, on whether he can withstand the withering attacks that would come his way should he advance to the general election. He’s asking us to just blindly trust him. Bostic’s record is full of secrets. With Sanford, we know all his secrets.
On top of that, Bostic has a history of not showing up, and when he has shown up, he has voted for bigger budgets and said he would support background check gun legislation and a Constitutional amendment to make traditional marriage the law of the land (does he really believe that, with some states already approving gay marriage, an amendment could ever get ratified? or does he just think it sounds pretty to low-info voters?). Worst of all, he’s said he wants to be non-partisan and work across the aisle.
If he’s been so fearful to let the voters see how his positions contrast with Sanford’s, how will he stand up to politicians in Washington that are going to want him to just shut up, sit down and vote the way they tell him to?
We know Sanford will have the fortitude to stand up for us, against both Democrats and Republicans. He’s been there in the heat and glitz of Washington; he knows the games played and how not to get played. This is no time to be sending a rookie in during the middle of the game. We need someone that can be a strong voice, have some seniority and lead others to vote the right way.
The Closing Argument
There’s an old story about the 1884 presidential race between anti-corruption fiscal-conservative New York Governor Grover Cleveland and the Republican Senator from Maine, James G. Blaine. Blaine made his status as a devoted family man a centerpiece in his campaign, and his campaign had the dirt on Cleveland and an illegitimate child Grover had fathered out-of-wedlock years before but had supported financially.
The Blaine campaign taunted him with the slogan “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha.” The scandal was embarrassing indeed.
Yet, when it came to soberly assessing the race with logic instead of emotion, one observer noted (as related in Irving Copi’s classic text Introduction to Logic):
Since Cleveland has a terrific public record but a blemished private life, and Blaine has a storybook private life but a checkered public record, why not put them both where they perform best—return Blaine to private life and keep Cleveland in public life.
The lousy reporting on the congressional race in South Carolina’s 1st District for the seat vacated by Tim Scott (whom Governor Nikki Haley named to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who retired to head the Heritage Foundation) has reached a nadir of facts and truthfulness. In place of honest reporting, national audiences are treated to half-truths, innuendos and outright lies. Reporters and bloggers that have little knowledge of South Carolina politics or Lowcountry issues repeatedly pop off with downright laughably misconstrued “facts” to arrive at opinions that have little basis in reality.
Let’s take just one example to illustrate my point. From the illustrious Slate Magazine, we have king of the Journolist, Dave Weigel, doing his darnedest to tear down Mark Sanford’s whopping 53 to 40 lead over challenger Curtis Bostic.
Here’s the opening paragraph to Weigel’s gem of corrupt, lying propaganda:
Last night, the two Republican contenders for South Carolina’s open House seat finally debated one-on-one. Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate. He had a clear path to a runoff berth, and he eventually won 37 percent of the vote as a team of munchkins split the rest. But Curtis Bostic, the conservative former Charleston councilman who eked into the runoff, had worked all of the GOP’s low-profile events and debates. He was tested, ready.
Pure baloney, from start to finish. One of the chief complaints against Bostic in #SC1 is that he has not been showing up to events, and has been refusing to debate. Mark Sanford has been at these events, eager to answer any and all questions. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the publicly available record (easily searchable by esteemed journolisters such as Weigel himself) at the Charleston daily newspaper, The Post and Courier. Here’s the newspaper’s archive search engine. (Unfortunately the search results use temporary one-time URLs, otherwise I would provide convenient links to each article for you.)
Regarding a candidate forum on February 12th before 150 members of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, just as the quick sprint race was starting, the paper notes: “16 of 20 candidates – from the Republican, Democratic and Green parties – sat elbow to elbow on a stage inside a Charleston hotel.” The paper reports what attendee Mark Sanford said about “the one issue where [the candidates] diverged the most,” immigration, especially on Lindsey Graham’s amnesty plan:
Former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford said he didn’t support the plan.
But we never got to hear the position Curtis “Sometimes You Have to Say Yes” Bostic took on Grahamnesty that day. Why? Because, as Weigel could have seen in the paper: “Those candidates who didn’t appear Tuesday include Sullivan’s Island businessman Keith Blandford, former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, state Rep. Peter McCoy and Democratic candidate Ben Frasier.”
Okay, maybe Weigel’s opening could have just been a minor error, if Sanford then hid the rest of the campaign, resting on his name recognition, as Weigel implies. But no. Let’s check in on the other two forums to see who was there. If you took Weigel at his word, I think you’ll be surprised:
In the Post and Courier story on March 1, regarding the forum attended by both candidates Sanford and Bostic, it was a good thing Bostic showed up because in the midst of much agreement by all 15 candidates there, “Only engineer Jeff King and former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic indicated clear support for instant background checks for gun purchases.” So if Bostic’s wildest dreams were realized and he made it to the floor of the US House, he would be Mr. Yes and vote with the Democrats against the NRA and Lowcountry gun owners.
Then we have the March 7th forum hosted by the Republican Liberty Caucus. Fifteen of the 16 GOP primary candidates appeared. Guess who showed up? Mark Sanford. Guess who didn’t? That’s right. “Only former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic did not appear.”
That was the last debate prior to last night’s post-primary debate. Clearly someone gave Weigel intentionally wrong facts that he lapped up without bothering to check, or he made them up out of whole cloth, weaving a little fantasy tale for low-information voters.
[Update 3/29/13 6:20pm: I forgot to mention that Bostic has also declined to participate in a couple other one-on-one post-primary debates, including a second one by the RLC.]
Now, let’s move down in Weigel’s piece of fiction. He rates Bostic’s performance as just “okay,” while noting Sanford’s was superior. But this is just the setup to smack Sanford down again:
He was okay. Sanford absolutely outplayed him. It took nearly an hour, past a long digression about whether the candidates should do a Lincoln-Douglas style debate (the primary is in four days!), for an audience member to ask about “the elephant in the room.”
“In 2009, you broke the trust of the people of South Carolina,” said the questioner. “How do you reconcile redemption with the costs of your personal decision, which could have compromised the state and/or the party?
I don’t know what debate Weigel watched, but it wasn’t the one last night at Porter-Gaud School, where moderator David Webb, not an audience member, asked Sanford the question, as noted by the Post and Courier, The State and local journalists on Twitter. (Oddly, Weigel still repeats Webb’s quote verbatim, while attributing it to someone else.)
He closes his short and bloody piece by bookending Sanford’s response with this:
This was a friendly way to ask the question. An unfriendly way might bring up the scandal (pretty much forgotten now) of South Carolina paying for Sanford trips that turned into trysts. But a “how can we trust you” question? Easy for Sanford.
Important question, and I suspect one that I’ll wrestle with at one level or another for the rest of my life. An old timer took me aside and said, you know, if you live long enough, you’re fonna fail at something. And I failed. I failed very publicly. But, you know, in the light of failure, you know, I guess you have a choice to make. This sermon, this Sunday, he said: Do the events of your life define or refine your life? And so, in the wake of my failure, you sort of push through to finish your term. I went down to our family farm, about an hour south of here, and I had an awfully quiet and very spiritual year. And to a degree I refined it. I wallowed in it. I struggled with it. And you go through this incredible soul-searching. You probably do more soul-searching on the way down than on the way up.
Well, of course you do! This string of Dale Carnegie blather got Sanford some mild applause.
One can only presume he’s being sarcastic with his parenthetical saying the Sanford scandal has been largely forgotten. Otherwise, he must be living on another planet.
But that last line of his post is the most preposterous. “Mild” applause. See, Weigel and company would prefer that Elizabeth Colbert-Busch face a weak, relatively unknown candidate (especially outside of Charleston County, and the congressional district spreads over five counties, from the upper reaches of Berkeley County down to near the Georgia line at Beaufort). But even they know that it is extremely unlikely that Bostic could win, so when it comes down to the one issue they can use against Sanford, they are desperate to hide the deep reservoir of forgiveness that Sanford has from Lowcountry voters, stemming not just from his past political record of service to them but in his humble approach to them since his fall.
How odd that local media (no cheering section for Sanford) found it worthy to note the rousing, loud, approving sustained applause that Sanford’s answer generated:
Sanford gets rousing applause for answer to trust question. #sc01debate
There you have it. Four short paragraphs and two quotes, and Weigel gets it all wrong. Well, except for his assessment that Sanford outdebated Bostic. The rest is pure hackery and lies.
So if you read other similar tales of Sanford not giving it his all to reach out to voters or not getting a good reception in response, be very, very skeptical. Check to see if it’s written by anyone that knows South Carolina, the Lowcountry and its people. If not, they may just be weaving you a fairy tale to suit their political purposes.
Update 3/29/12 8:15pm: David Weigel has conceded that he made errors in his Slate article and says that he will make corrections. The Slate post currently reflects a very small, but still very wrong update, which Weigel tweeted to me that he had made “earlier” but took a long time to show up.
@prupaine Corrected that earlier today, took a while to show up.
In it, you’ll note that in the original post, he merely ripped out the second sentence that had said Sanford hadn’t shown up: “Mark Sanford hadn’t bothered to attend every primary debate.” As a result, his post now begins by only referring to Sanford as “he,” without saying who “he” is. [And he left in the sentence saying Bostic went to all of them.]
In his italicized update, Weigel says “Bostic, too, skipped forums,” still directly implying Sanford missed some (I’ve asked him to name which ones, as I am unaware of any). His clever wording also implies that Bostic showed up more often than not. He went to one, and skipped all the rest until last night.
I’ve had to temporarily disable the post that contains all of the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest official entries because I’m having server issues and am having to test various things to locate the cause of the problem. That post contains over a hundred images, so it’s taxing the system while I’m testing.
I hope to have it back up shortly. I may divide it into multiple posts to allow for easier viewing too.
In the meantime, I’ll be back in a few minutes with a chart added here for you…if all goes well and I don’t accidentally take the whole site down again. *fingers crossed*
Here is a chart of all of the official entries, sorted according to Romney electoral vote estimates, in descending order.
Below are the officially registered entries for the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest. (For information on how you can enter and win, please click here. UPDATE: The entry deadline has now passed.) The entries are presented in their official forms, in the order in which they were submitted. Check back for new entries as they are added, and for a new post coming soon, which will sort the entries into table form for your convenient viewing.
UPDATE: The final electoral vote total of 2012 (not counting faithless electors or unexpectedly discovered warehouses stuffed with ballots) is 332 for Barack Obama and 206 for Mitt Romney. The closest entry in the #JustABlogger Electoral Votes Contest was submitted by Alex Moff (@alexmoff) with 305 for Obama and 233 for Romney. Congratulations, Alex. You may pick your prize.
Many of mainstream media pundits have gone on the record with their predictions on how many electoral votes Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will receive. The only problem is that the vast majority are picking Obama to win. Their exaggerated turn-out models tells them so. This is what happens when we leave it to the #RealJournalists (in the words of Juan Williams) to tell us what is going on.
From the ground level, from the people that aren’t creating turn-out models but actually turning out, it looks a whole lot different. Professor Glenn Reynolds, aka @Instapundit, has dubbed this the Ground-Glass Election (as in, we will crawl across ground glass to vote to evict Obama from the White House).
So here’s the opportunity for the #JustABlogger population*, the hoi polloi, to go on record and show the elite how it should be done…and you can win a prize while you’re at it.
WHO CAN ENTER
Anyone but a #RealJournalist. Bloggers, tweeters, school kids, Walmart moms, Latinos with forks, cats with videos. Anyone!
WHAT TO DO
Go to RealClearPolitics.com and use their map tool to create your Electoral Vote (EV) map. [You are welcome to use other sites' electoral map tools, if you prefer. I've just found this one easy.]
Take a picture/screenshot of it and upload the picture to the photo service of your choice (such as Twitpic.com, Yfrog.com or Instagram.com).
Tweet @PruPaine a link to the photo, along with your tie-breaker prediction of the Popular Vote (PV) percentages Obama and Romney will receive.
Example: My contest entry submission tweet to @PruPaine would say…
All entries must be tweeted to @PruPaine by 9pm EST on Monday, November 5, 2012. The final tie-breaker is based on whichever entry is received first, so enter early…but not often! (See Fine Print.)
All entries will be posted here at PrudencePaine.com, linked to your Twitter handle. If you also have a blog and/or a post about your prediction, I’ll be happy to link to it as well. (Just include the link in your tweet, or send it to me when your post is up.)
Because of the fabulous prize! You can choose to receive one of the following (in either Kindle or print):
or a book from the Prudy personal library (I’ve got lots of books on the disaster that Obama has been!).
The winner will be the contestant whose prediction comes closest to the actual electoral vote (EV) outcome of the 2012 United States presidential election. If the winning EV total was submitted by more than one contestant, the winner will be the contestant who correctly predicted the outcome of the most states. A tie in the number of correctly predicted states will go to the contestant who comes closest to predicting the popular vote percentages for each candidate (to two decimal places). If a tie still exists, the earliest submitted tying entry will be the winner.
Void where prohibited by law. One entry per person. Not responsible for lost, spindled or mutilated entries. Entries will not be returned. Consumption may cause racing pulse and increased levels of optimism. No need to see your doctor if this condition persists.
So far, nearly all the #JustABlogger entries are indicating a Romney win. A new post will be started soon to show the entries received.
When you submit your map, you’ll get a tweet letting you know you are officially entered, or that there is a missing component to your entry. Your entry hasn’t been registered in the contest until you get a “you’re entered” tweet. If you don’t receive a reply tweet within an hour or two, feel free to ask if it has been accepted.
Note: Retweets of other persons’ entries do not constitute a separate entry.
Here’s two great videos heading to the final showdown next week.
First up, a quick response to anyone in favor of the Obama administration’s shredding of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion in forcing religious groups to offer products and services that are morally opposed by that religion:
Then there’s a parody of the Obama campaign video by actress Lena Dunham, in which she told young women that voting for Obama is like having sex for the first time…and that it’s uncool not to do it. Here’s Julie Borowski’s spot-on impersonation of it:
In the race to fill the Massachusetts 4th Congressional seat being vacated by Barney Frank (D-MA), trust fund Democrat Joe Kennedy III is pitting his name, inexperience and ignorance against Marine and small businessman Sean Bielat.
So far, Kennedy has had problems in knowing that Jerusalem (not Tel Aviv, as he proclaimed) is the capital of Israel. Nor could he name a current military program that he wishes to cut, despite that being a primary area he’d like to slash in the federal budget. (The two programs he did name are either nonexistent or already cut.)
But his utter lack of fundamental knowledge in all things foreign policy and military defense became crystal clear in a recent debate at Wellesley College. A man in the audience asks Kennedy whether he supports the drone program. His jaw-dropping response is, “I am a supporter of the President’s drone initiatives. I am a supporter of certainly the strike that the President launched to, that ended up in the killing of Osama bin Laden.”
[The clip cuts off quickly, but Kennedy doesn't attempt to correct his reply. For those thinking it is impossible that he simply misspoke, the entire question and Kennedy response is at the end of this clip, and Bielat's response to the question is at the beginning of this clip.]
It’s no wonder that Kennedy wants to dodge the issues when he’s just running on his name. Catch the clip from the Today show here where they follow Kennedy to knock on voters’ doors. The woman can’t get out her entire question before he interrupts her to inform her his grandfather was Robert Kennedy:
Bielat makes an excellent point, in that the trust fund kid is utterly unqualified for a Congressional seat.
In a conference call, Bielat and his senior media consultant Sarah Rumpf said the campaign’s internal polling has been showing Kennedy’s numbers as steadily declining, noting that even among those that support Kennedy, one-half of them say they are not sure about him.
Rumpf offered other anecdotal evidence that Kennedy’s leading, but diminishing, support is soft by noting that Scott Brown for Senate signs tend to have a Sean for Congress sign next to it, but the Elizabeth Warren for Senate signs often stand alone.
The campaign has also found that when they approach supposedly committed Kennedy voters and provide them with information on Bielat’s positions, the voters are frequently willing to switch their position.
The campaign is feeling very optimistic about their chances, if they can just reach enough voters in time. “Not only is it winnable,” said Bielat, “but we will win this race.”
But the thing that will help Bielat the most is a campaign contribution. He’d like to raise $500,000 more to pound the airwaves in Boston this week. (He is already on air in the Providence media market.) His internal polling indicates that they have significantly closed the gap, and a blast of ads could push him to victory.
Go here to view the Final Surge video (with great tidbits such as Joe Kennedy the Third has only worked 27 months in his entire life, and up until 10 months ago, he was still living with his mother). That’s where you can contribute to the campaign as well, or visit SeanForCongress.com for more information on keeping this House seat Kennedy-free.
For a bit of fun, Bielat’s campaign has put together a clever website KardashianOrKennedy.com illustrating the banality of the Kennedy campaign through a “Kardashian or Kennedy: Guess Who Sent the Tweet” quiz.
In the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, President Barack Obama tried to score points by lampooning Governor Mitt Romney’s criticism that under the Obama administration, our US Navy had fallen to levels not seen since 1916.
In doing so, Obama sneered that we don’t have many bayonets or horses in the military either because times change.
Yet, our Marines are indeed equipped with bayonets. And the soldiers serving in Afghanistan use military horses.
In fact, Vice President Joe Biden was in New York City at Ground Zero for the dedication ceremony for a statue heralding the proud service of our horse-mounted soldiers.
A statue honoring soldiers who served in Afghanistan on horseback was rededicated Friday at the World Trade Center site. The 16-foot-tall Special Operations Horse Soldiers statue, located on Greenwich Street near the Path Station, commemorates when U.S. Special Operations team members rode horses into combat during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Riding with and advising Northern Alliance warlords fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on steep terrain in Northern Afghanistan, it was the first time U.S. troops rode horses in a military operation since 1942.
“Having the terrorist attacks here, bringing this back home, it’s priceless, words can’t describe the pride and honor we all feel,” said U.S. Army “Horse Soldier” Master Sergeant Michael Elmore.
“Only one had ever been on a horse in his life. He is a no kidding cowboy. The other men had never been on a horse. In the spirit of great Special Forces guys they adapted and began to conduct a horse-mounted operation with their Afghan counterparts,” said Special Operations Deputy Commanding General Lieutenant General John Mulholland Jr.
The statue was made possible by private donations, with $750,000 raised in six weeks.
“Mulholland and his guys would never ask for anything and that’s the beauty of it. They’re the quiet professionals so we wanted to do something to recognize them and all those who went and served to fight the battle of 9/11,” said Constellations Group CEO Bill White.
“The message is that military service to your country is an honorable thing,” said Sculptor Douwe Blumberg.
Among those on hand for the ceremony was Johnny Spann, whose son Mike was the first American to die during the invasion while working with the CIA.
“Hopefully the dedication of this Horse Soldier Monument will make people more aware and maybe they will get interested in reading about it or whatever. It’s a part of our history, and it’s important people know exactly what took place,” Spann said.
The statue was first dedicated by Vice President Joe Biden on Veteran’s Day.
During the debate, Obama also noted that he’d been at Ground Zero. Apparently he paid no attention to the statue there. Or perhaps he walked by it and just laughed at how preposterous he thought it was—just like he did in the debate.
It’s even odder to know that celebrity-obsessed Obama didn’t know about the horse soldiers because Hollywood knows. According to a special report at the Daily Caller, “Secret Mission: The Horse Soldiers of 9/11,” “producer Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a future movie about America’s ‘Horse Soldiers.’”
The Daily Caller story begins:
It was the news the world breathlessly waited for immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks: a report of the first American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
All at once the world’s attention focused on an iconic photo of those Special Operations Forces doing something no American military had done in nearly a century: They rode horses into combat.
Their secret mission: secure northern Afghanistan by advising the warring tribal factions that formed the Northern Alliance. During the 2011 Veterans Day Parade on November 11, a new monument to these men — and to all Americans in uniform — made its way down New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue on the way to its final home, a stone’s throw from Ground Zero.
What a fascinating, uplifting story. One that our President should never belittle with derision dripping from his lips to score political points. In trying to make Romney look small, he mocked our heroes.
And in doing so, he proved he is a very small man with a large ignorance of military equipment.
(hat tip to @LifeOnAHorse for alerting me to the statue story. Follow the retired Navy man. And thanks to @MissSaraEliza for alerting me to the Daily Caller story.)
The rocky terrain found in remote areas of Afghanistan isn’t easy to traverse, even by jeep. Native horses become a mode of transportation. Pack animals, especially donkeys, also become familiar partners. For some of America’s elite troops, however, knowledge of horses and their four-legged relatives isn’t familiar territory. The first time they actually halter a horse, saddle it and ride it may be at Smith Lake Stables.
“That’s why the only horses we get, that the government buys, are what we call dead broke,” Rossignol says. “We can’t afford to have anyone get hurt.”
But there’s more to it than just learning about tacking up and riding a horse, Rossignol says. The troops also learn herd management and how to treat common equine health issues affecting equines.
“We teach them about anatomy and basic vet care,” he says. “That’s because many times these troops are working with the local people.”
That’s one side of the Special Forces that isn’t often seen by the Americans at home. In order to establish a good rapport with an agrarian or nomadic society, a Special Forces member might offer to help care for sick or injured animals owned by local peoples. It’s all part of spreading goodwill.
Yet despite the benefits of maintaining a select group of horses for military training, the horses associated with Fort Bragg have faced some budget cuts. Land originally used for pasture was deemed too valuable for grazing, and horses were moved from the actual military base to their current home at Smith Lake Stables, a few miles away.
There the moderator sits. A member of the Gang of 500, the Washington journocrats, The Journocracy, appointed to their role by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Oh, the prestige, the honor, the gleeful stab at those who have held them in lesser esteem.
As the debate begins, most moderators believe they will be fair and impartial. But as time rolls on, the moderator’s irrepressible bias slowly emerges.
See, speaking now is the candidate for whom the journalist has a natural affinity. It’s okay if they let the guy ramble on, they think. Using the “my primary duty is to be a facilitator” excuse, they can generously permit the guy to fully explain his position and make a few attacks on the opposition.
But then it’s the other guy’s turn. Ugh, thinks the moderator, some of his positions are just untenable. How can anyone fall for this baloney?
In a normal interview, the journalist would rake the guy over the coals with a passel of hard-nosed questions. But here on the debate stage, the journalist-as-moderator must foster an appearance of a balanced approach. So they begin tensing up, hoping the guy will shut up soon.
Just as we try to watch Sunday morning news shows with an open mind, the other side’s talking points are often like nails on a chalkboard, rife with so many lies, distortions, naivete and meaningless babble. We just want to scream at the stupidity, tell them a thing or two, or change the channel if it becomes too inane to handle.
But journalist-moderator is stuck there on stage, having to smile and listen to stuff they dislike. Sooner or later, they interrupt. They can’t help it. “All right, all right, I think we’ve got that. Now let’s hear the better side.”
Then when their secretly preferred guys speaks, it’s like a soothing balm. Ah, yes. There’s the logic that America needs to hear, they think as their guy goes over the time limit and beyond. The moderator thinks it would be impolite to interrupt while he is on such a roll. The moderator knows where the candidate’s rambling point is leading and will, with cheerful, hearty forbearance, give him a chance to get there—or perhaps sneak in a little prompting word or two to refocus him on the proper argument if he gets lost.
[Recall when Jim Lehrer rescued a momentarily stumped Obama with the key word "balanced," to which Obama looked grateful and spilled out his stump speech on "balanced approach."]
If the other guy attempts to break in or complain, they get the stink eye the first time and then the verbal rebuke the next.
When it’s finally wrong guy’s turn to speak, again with the grating wrong arguments, the moderator feels they are doing the audience a favor by ending such babble. Surely everyone else must feel the same need to cut him short. But to be generous, the moderator permits a few more seconds, endures it all just a tad more to show how reasonable and balanced they are. And then smack! “Let’s move on.”
Yet, there’s an inherent flaw that goes beyond the impatience the liberal journalist will have for the conservative candidate: The seasoned journalist covers politics daily and has heard much of this information before, but many in the television audience are just now tuning in, and most of it is rather new to them.
By not giving equal time, by constantly interrupting one but not the other, is to give the other side a clear advantage. Time is money. If a candidate were to buy four minutes of national wall-to-wall channel television ad time, just how much would it cost them? This may be the only shot a candidate gets to connect with the audience.
The moderators need to get back to benign moderating. If journalists feel incapable of doing it without putting their stamp on it, let’s have non-journalists do it. How about a business man? Or a housewife? Someone who will just moderate and get out of the way and be fair about it.
If the Commission on Presidential Debates had clocks running showing the audience and the candidates the amount of time they are getting, the moderators would have a much better guide than their internal tolerance clocks to ration out the critical time allotted to each candidate to make his case to the American public.