The difference between Rand Paul and Ted Cruz

March 25, 2015

So what’s the difference between presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz is running against Barack Obama.  Rand Paul is running against Hillary Clinton.  One represents the past.  The other represents the future.

Both men are U.S. Senators running for president in 2016.  Rand Paul is from Kentucky, Ted Cruz is from Texas. (Rand Paul is expected to announce on April 7, 2015.)

Both men are conservatives whose careers were launched during the rise of the Tea Party.  Both are born again Christians. And both signed the controversial Senate letter supporting Israel.  So if they have the same base of support, what’s the difference?

Rand Paul excites that base and motivates them to action.  Ted Cruz has all but given up on that base and is focusing exclusively and only on born again Christians.  He is betting that he will take that vote, and only that vote, and win it all.  It is a high stakes gamble that counts on driving out of the way born again Christians such as Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and yes even Rand Paul.

Bottom line, Rand Paul can win a national election.  Ted Cruz cannot.  Early polling bears that out.  Polls can be fickle and don’t always reflect reality this far in advance but most polls show only Rand Paul close to Hillary Clinton in any of the battleground states.  Not Bush, Christie, Rubio, Perry, Huckabee and not Cruz.

There is more bad news. Ted Cruz, like Rand Paul, once championed the cause of the growing Libertarian wing of the GOP, taking on the corruption of the free enterprise system with its corporate welfare and calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve.  Now Libertarians charge that after arriving in the U.S. Senate Ted Cruz sold out fast and cheaply.  It seems that his wife was hired by Goldman Sachs.  It is the banking firm that has become the poster child for insider, establishment, power. Goldman Sachs was the major donor to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the last election.

The day after announcing for president, Ted Cruz openly attacked Goldman Sachs and said his wife would take a leave of absence from her job to help on his campaign but the damage was done.  Whatever hope Ted Cruz had to lead the Libertarian Wing of the Republican Party is now dead.  “Mrs. Cruz,” a Libertarian leader told me, “Is the Claire Underwood of this campaign cycle.”  She will leave behind Hillary Clinton’s son-in-law who works for the same Goldman Sachs firm.

Meanwhile, the Ted Cruz announcement brought fierce reaction from Hispanics who see the Senator as having betrayed his own roots.  “His family got their freedom,” said one Hispanic evangelical leader, “Now they want everybody else to do it strictly by the book.”

Rand Paul has real, organic support from the young, from Hispanics from African Americans and from Liberal Democrats.  The latter care about civil liberties.  African Americans care about Rand Paul’s criminal justice reform.  Many Hispanics who support Paul care about insiders gaming the system and the loss of the American dream for the new American.  Under both Democrat and Republican presidents the poor continue to get poorer and the rich richer.  The young now see “free markets” as “fixed” by advantages created by powerful lobbies.  The young care about a free Internet and Rand Paul has become the guardian of the Internet.

The Ted Cruz presidential launch at Liberty University last Monday may have been a metaphor for the coming campaign.  Cruz, who cannot attract the crowds of a Rand Paul, choose the only forum that could guarantee a large audience, a university convocation with mandatory student attendance.  Nevertheless, sitting very visibly behind the Senator, in their red shirts declaring, “Stand with Rand”, were quietly defiant students.  They were not rude like the Libertarians one sometimes sees online.  They represent the new Christian Liberty Movement. This week RandPac will mail out thousands of their videos with Senator Rand Paul’s born again testimony.

The Cruz machine was careful to point to spectacular fund raising after his event.  It was a calculated attempt to shore up a very real weakness.  “Evangelical only” candidates cannot raise money.  Ask Mike Huckabee.  Christian leaders will give verbal support but they need their people’s money for their own projects.  Sorry.  Meanwhile, Rand Paul with his diverse, motivated base will have money and a ground game.

The message is clear for Ted Cruz.  His path is fatally blocked by those young people in the red shirts standing before him.  They can be made to hear him speak but they will get to vote the way they want.

Here is the video produced by the American Liberty Association, going out this week.


Benjamin Netanyahu’s Dark Prophesy

March 3, 2015

There have been more than 100 speeches by heads of state before joint sessions of congress.  But none like the one today by Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Doug Wead talks about the speech and compares it to other moments in history.  Wead says Netanyahu’s  warnings about “an Iran with all the nuclear weapons it want in ten years” is a sobering prophesy that deserves discussion.


The Difference between Rand Paul and Ron Paul

February 25, 2015
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      Rand Paul is the U.S. Senator from Kentucky who is favored by many to win the 2016 Republican nomination for president.  He appeals to a broad range of constituents from the Tea Party to Evangelical Christians, African Americans, Gays, Independents and Democrats concerned about Civil Liberties.  He has picked up the Civil Rights torch and now leads the most active effort to reform criminal justice.  His father, Ron Paul, was a U.S. Congressman from Texas, who ran for president three times.
      Here’s how they differ.
      The father, congressman, Ron Paul, is a classic Libertarian.
      The son, Senator, Rand Paul, is a practical Libertarian.
      The father believes in the personal freedom of the individual.  The son recognizes that there are times when the needs of the wider community must be considered. For example, the father would allow local communities to decide for themselves about legalizing marijuana. The son agrees but openly favors laws against marijuana – for the greater good.
      In foreign policy there is a big difference.  Both men believe that the nation should not go to war without congressional approval.  They both believe it is a mistake for Congress to forfeit war making powers to the president alone.  Both men believe that the United States should not assume the role of policeman of the world.  But the difference is in degrees.  And it is huge.  The father, Ron Paul, would prefer that American stay out of everybody else’s business.  For example, he does not see Iran as a threat to American security.  In an ideal world, Senator Rand Paul would agree but in a world of terrorism and nuclear weapons he sees genuine danger.
      Rand Paul sees Israel as one of America’s most important allies.
      The best example of a Rand Paul foreign policy would be that of former President Ronald Reagan.  For Reagan, the security of the United States was the paramount concern and thus his focus was on the Soviet Union and the threat it posed.  Reagan’s wars were always proxy wars against the Soviets.  For example, Reagan did not go after Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, the man who killed half of his own people in a nationwide genocide.  Reagan did not go after Idi Amin, who had slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Africa and had just been driven from office when Reagan arrived in the White House.  Both of these despotic leaders, left untouched by Reagan, were far more evil than Saddam Hussein.
      When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 and it resulted in the death of 241 marines, he withdrew our forces.  He decided that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the intractable problems of the Middle East.  How wise that seems in retrospect.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul has refused to support the endless calls for international adventures from his colleagues in the Senate. And yet, when the ISIS threat emerged Paul had razor sharp focus.  He was the first public figure to call for a declaration of war.  He saw ISIS as a threat to America’s national security.
      Both men, father and son, would like to see Foreign Aid reformed. Both men believe that the process has become corrupted. The father, Ron Paul, would eliminate it immediately. “Why should we borrow money from China and give it to Pakistan?” he asks.
      Likewise, Senator Rand Paul would move to end the corruption in Foreign Aid, where money really comes back to American lobbyists and their interests, but would see even that process of reform as an ongoing process.  He would start by ending aid to countries that allow the killing of Christians simply because of their religion. Or persecute women.  He would end aid that is going to terrorists groups that target Americans and Jews, such as Palestinian aid now being passed through to the terrorist group Hamas.
      Perhaps the most striking issue associated with Senator Paul has been his call for reform in criminal justice. He favors strict incarceration of violent criminals but is appalled by the unfair application of the law which allows for young African Americans to be disproportionately sentenced for the same drug related crimes as white youth.  Rand Paul sees this as unjust.
      Then there is the Federal Reserve and the study by UC Berkeley where the rich continue to get richer and the poor get poorer.  He would like to see us return to free markets, away from corporate competition to game the system by upping their government subsidies and upping their money supply from the FED.  Let in more of the natural forces of supply and demand.  Let the 99% have a chance to play.
      Finally, there is style.  The father was a great provocateur and a born teacher.  The son is a superb politician, a natural pleaser.
      Here is a CBS report on the Rand Paul balancing act.

The Legacy of Barack Obama

February 16, 2015

Thoughts on the legacy of President Barack Obama 2-16-15

The election of Barack Obama

President Obama’s legacy will be inextricably linked to the fact that he was the first African American to be elected president.  A Black man in the White House.  The Founding Fathers, including those who wrote the words “All men are created equal” owned slaves.  So the election, in itself, will always be a great moment in our nation’s history and part of the Obama legacy.

That’s why they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize before he had even done anything.  His election alone was stunning.

How will he be immediately judged?

If his current media treatment is any indication he will be immediately praised to the heavens by liberals and critiqued by conservatives.   Liberal think tanks of historians will immediately say he is one of America’s greatest presidents.  I should point out, shortly after he was elected president the Sienna Institute named him as the 15th greatest president in history.  So get ready for a healthy debate.

What will he do?

I’ve always argued that his post presidency will be hugely eventful.  In some respects his legacy will be in his hands.  More than any other president in history his post White House years may define him.  He could be a “Jesse Jackson on steroids, with companies seeking to have his approval and putting him, or his surrogates, on their boards of directors.  Expect his team to bully the television executives to give him good coverage.  His NGO will rival Bill Clinton’s and raise billions of dollars.  He will be an international sensation.

What will it mean long term?

Long term?  The quick answer is – we don’t know.

A more prosaic answer is that it depends on the kind of America we have in the future.

If American swings back to a more constitutional form of government and to a more free market economy, your grandchildren will hear history teachers say we almost lost it all under Barack Obama.  That the whole American experiment was almost cashed in.  But don’t count on it.

It is much more likely that American continues to move toward a more government managed economy and government managed education and society, then our grandchildren will hear history teachers say that America is today what it is, because of Barack Obama.  Not FDR, not Lincoln… but Barack Obama.

So the future legacy of Obama will depend on the future of America.

And some would say that the combination of numbers, including those in the general public who benefit from a more socialist form of government and corporations who have their own government subsidies or special insider laws or contracts that give them an advantage, that those numbers mean that it is already too late.  That is, the people who are now gaming the system outnumber and outvote the people who are living under its rules – trying to make a living without any special advantage.

What was his greatest moment?

Getting Osama Bin Laden.  He made a gutsy call and it worked.

What will be seen as his greatest failure?

It has to the plight of the poor.  According to a groundbreaking study at UC Berkley, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer on a massive scale under Barak Obama.  That has to be a disappointment for him and it is a terrible legacy for a liberal president to carry.  It is causing a lot of people to rethink.

Conclusions?

Either way, this presidency of Barak Obama has been a linchpin and will be one of the most significant in all of American history.  It was set up by 9-11 and by the failed economy of the Bush presidency but the final responsibility for what happened in his two terms is his.  Whether he is seen as a good or bad leader will be partly determined by how good and bad is defined in the future.

And in 100 years?

My guess is that like Reagan, he will gain in respect.  I have liberal friends who hated Reagan who now speak respectfully because he is gone and no longer a threat. I think that will happen with Obama for different reasons,  partly because he is African American and we are still living down a legacy of slavery in our history.  People will find other ways to argue policies and even conservatives will treat him nicely when he is gone and no longer a threat. That’s my suspicion.


Why Jeb Bush is Running For President? Is it really for George P.?

February 8, 2015

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. You don’t really believe that the American people are going to elect three out of the last five presidents from the same immediate family do you?  Ain’t gonna happen.  The American people are in a somnolent trance right now.  It hasn’t registered..

Yes, it’s true that there might have been three presidents from the Adams family. (See how Charles Francis Adams might have been elected president.)  But that stretched out over 100 years.

So if it is an impossible task why is Jeb Bush running?  Ahhh.  I’m glad you asked..
Here are six reasons why Jeb Bush is entering the fray..
1.) He just might win. Maybe he only has a 1-500 chance but would you throw away a lottery ticket with such odds?  He has name recognition, money out the kazoo and the American people are a fickle, unpredictable lot. He could win the GOP nomination and Hillary could slip on a banana peel..
2.) The polls say he is a factor.  Some polls even have him leading among Republican voters. It is irresponsible for him to ignore those numbers.  He probably entertains that Platonic idea, “If you refuse to lead you are destined to be led by someone worse than yourself.”.
3.) The Republican field is crowded with candidates which means he can consolidate his considerable experience, name recognition, money and contacts to win against a divided field.  And if Bush isn’t the favorite, those factors alone might be enough to beat anybody else..
4.) Ironically, Hillary Clinton is his best opponent in a general election.  She may be his only chance to win and that may be why he jumped in.  Why wait and have as your opponent some new, sexy face in 2020 and be labelled the old establishment guy with Washington connections?  If he faces Hillary Clinton now, it will be a choice between two old, establishment “guys” with Washington connections and Hillary won’t be able to play the dynasty card against him..
5.) He can do anything else he was going to do better by running for president anyway..
Does he want to raise money for an NGO?  Promote a cause?  Change the Republican Party? Champion an issue? Promote an agenda? Be on a slew of board of directors and get paid for it? Get a job as president of a university? Be the next NFL Commissioner? Start a company with billionaire investors? Be a television commentator or have his own show?  Write a book people will read? He can do any and all of those things better if he runs for president than if he doesn’t..
Maybe, like Charles Francis Adams or Robert Todd Lincoln, he wants to be a cabinet member in the next administration?  Every debate will be a chance to audition for the next president.  Hey, even Hillary Clinton may want him in her cabinet to unite the country.  Like JFK and Barack Obama, who appointed Republicans in their administrations..
And finally there is this, the big reason…..
6.) By running now he can clean up the Bush image to prepare the way for his son..
In case you haven’t noticed, George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, is on his way to the position of Texas Land Commissioner.  It’s a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion..
George P. has been groomed for a long time.  In 1987 I co-authored a book with George H.W. Bush and while it was dedicated to wife, Barbara, then Vice President Bush insisted that it open with one of his famous letters to his grandson George P.
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Imagine? A governor from Texas, who just happens to be Hispanic, with name recognition and the most powerful fundraising machine in modern politics?  Look out..
But there is one big problem and that is the Bush brand has been severely damaged.  America’s last impression of a Bush president was one who led us into a questionable war with Iraq, under what many argue was false pretenses, with borrowed money, which led to the second worst financial depression in American history.  Not to mention, the ongoing residual effects of that war which has led to mayhem across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with the wholesale slaughter of Christians..
If Jeb Bush runs for president he will come off as a reasonable, kind, bright man with strong principles.  He will have plenty of Souljah moments, such as immigration, where he resists the Republican brand.  One would think that this will almost certainly lose him the nomination but if he does all of this with grace and humility he resets the brand and George P. can start fresh.  Besides it might actually work.  Americans like a leader, even if they disagree with him.  He has nothing to lose.  And he just might win.  Though probably not.  And therein lies another plus.  The national media always fawns over a Republican that they know can’t actually win.  It makes them look bi-partisan.  All the better for George P. Bush and the future..
If this is what is going on – and it is surely a factor – then Jeb Bush may be one of the most selfless men in the famous Bush family.  He stood aside for his father.  He stood aside for his brother.  And now, by running for president, he may just be doing the same thing for his son..
See this CNN interview: Bush Family Dynasty: The long range plan that is now years in the making.


What’s with Rand Paul’s blue jeans?

February 2, 2015

Doug Wead on Neil Cavuto, February 2, 2015.


Presidents in the Movies

January 31, 2015

Each president is different.  In their own way, each has impacted the office.  What may be an accurate theatrical representation of one president will differ greatly from another and both may be right or wrong.  In recent years, the office has become forced into a more consistent template, this because of the demands of security and technology.

Almost any movie or tv portrayal of a president is flawed.  but some are more accurate than others.  West Wing had some accurate moments.  Although the constant rushing about – shuffling paper – and the extra large, movie set offices were far-fetched and distracting.  The open, team oriented president is also unlikely.  Presidents quickly become corrupted and become more private.  Because of the nature of the office, all of them become isolated.  This leads to moments like Katrina for George W. Bush and Paris for Obama.  These are moments when presidents lose touch with reality.
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Some movies are literally scripted by history.  Oliver Stone’s W used many historical events and real life conversations, with some very notable exceptions. (They had Karl Rove advising GWB back in the 80’s.  I never saw Karl or even heard of him back them and was with GWB almost every day.)  But even with accurate conversations the movie still managed to portray GWB as “the dummy” characterized by Saturday Night Live, which was inaccurate.  I guess you would call that art mimicking art. Ha.
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The movie Lincoln also stuck to real events recorded by history and like a good newspaper editor, they didn’t use a conversation unless confirmed by more than one source.  The exception were the private conversations between Abe and Mary, which only Mary gives us in her recollections.
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It was a great movie that was ruined by one stark, totally unnecessary, inaccurate scene at the very beginning.  Lincoln is sitting with soldiers, black and white and they are reciting back to him the Gettysburg Address.  I promise you that nothing like that ever happened.  It would be like someone reciting back to President Obama or Reagan a speech they had just given a few months before.  At that time in history, no one memorized the Gettysburg Address.  Lincoln, himself, could not have quoted his own Gettysburg Address, let alone soldiers in his army.
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Kevin Costner played in Roger Donaldson’s Thirteen Days.  He was a special assistant to the president. The portrayal  of this character was too confident, too relaxed, to glib in the president’s presence.  He was the hero, not JFK.  In fact, a presidential assistant is in constant danger of the machinations of other staffers.  If he was anything other than servile and deferential to the president he would be gone fast.
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 Movie producers almost always underestimate the power of the president’s celebrity.  No one but the president can be the center of attention.  He dominates the room.  Every room.  And almost every conversation.
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Depictions of the sycophants around the president are almost always poorly done.  They are subtle and accomplished beyond anything one sees in the office or the corporate world.
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The most accurate theatrical moments, to me, have been in the House of Cards because they have captured the art of politics at work.  I have literally put the show on pause and told my children stories from real life that mimic exactly what is going on. The only thing that is different from real life, is that all of the players, not just Frank and Claire Underwood, can likewise be manipulative. (And, of course, presidents don’t personally commit murder.)  Picture the White House with 100 Frank and Claire Underwoods on staff and you get a little idea of what life is like there.
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And in the House of Cards, the media is often seen as the victim when they are just as likely the predator as the politician.
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Presidents of the nation, like presidents of corporations, never have to say what they want or spell it out.  Although, comically, sometimes it happens like the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who was wiretapped speculating on the sale of appointing a new Senator.  The staff is competing to please them and anticipating what they want.  The president can grunt or groan or role his eyes or sometimes just remain silent and wait and his staff will figure out what he wants.  And sometimes they will do it without his knowledge to protect him.  And they will all use lofty language, the good of the people, the nation comes first, etc.
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Power corrupts.
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Finally.  The best, recent, presidential movie, the most accurate from history, IMHO, is probably Hyde Park on the Hudson, starring Bill Murray.  It was a small but complicated piece of neglected history that I had been researching and it was done exceptionally well.  Historians, spoon fed from the FDR propaganda machine have usually portrayed him as sexually impotent. We now know better.
PostScript:  This blog was written before the third season of House of Cards in which the accuracy of life in the White House, especially the role of the Chief of Staff, was very much diminished.  It’s too bad.  That was a good part of its charm.  The theatrical appeal of the series is still somewhat compelling but the producers clearly decided to save some money by cutting much needed input from real live participants who have “been there and done that.”  The author of the original British series, who took great pains to get it right, was probably horrified.
Doug Wead presidential historian

Doug Wead

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