Hold Their Feet to the Fire

Don't Fall In The Fireplace!

Don’t Fall In The Fireplace!

“I have no more campaigns to run.” [Republican applause] “I know, because I won both of them!” – President Barack Obama

To my dear Republican friends, you are wrong, but I still love you, in spite of yourselves. This sentence could apply summarize President Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union (STOU) address. It was an impassioned speech, a departure from the usual dry laundry list that these SOTU addresses have devolved into as of late. While his speech was overtly partisan at times, he also beseeched his Republican colleagues to join with him in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation. This is a plea that he has been making since he first came into office and it has consistently fallen on deaf GOP ears. Now that they control both houses of Congress, they will have to go through him, if they want to get anything done and he made it abundantly clear last night that he is not about to rollover for them, but rather he is fully prepared to hold their feet to the fire.

What does Bill Belichick and European central bankers have in common? They are both worried about deflation.

In addition to Republican legislators, another organization that should have their feet held to the fire are the New England Patriots. They are cheaters, plain and simple. Their latest scandal, dubbed deflate-gate, involves the leaked finding that 11 of the 12 Patriot supplied game balls to last Sunday’s AFC championship were under inflated, making them easier to pass and catch. The losing Colts later claimed that this was also the case in November, when the two teams last met. The Patriots were actually found guilty of cheating and subsequently penalized, in what was then dubbed spy-gate. They were convicted of filming the play signals of the New York Jets. They are also supposedly the reason that on field coaches now hold a card up in front of their mouths when speaking. This is done because it was suspected that the Patriots lip-read the opposing coach’s speech. Now everyone has to suspect and defend against this illegal practice. The list of allegations against Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t stop there though. The day before the Super Bowl both teams hold private practices on the field where the game will be played. Every time that the Patriots have won the Super Bowl, they were the second team to practice. In order to prepare for their practices, Patriot personnel were allowed to set up video equipment to tape their practice, while the opposing team was still running theirs on the field.

Game Changers

Powell Hall

Powell Hall

Towards the end of the interminable 2008 Democratic primary campaign, as Barack Obama was securing his party’s nomination, Hillary Clinton is reported to have said of Obama, “God wants him to win.” During the 2012 campaign, Bill Clinton repeatedly joked about President Obama, “He’s luckier than a dog with two dicks”, to describe his comeback in that year’s presidential election. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are both journalists and co-authors. In 2008 they teamed up to write the book “Game Change”, about the 2008 presidential campaign. They recently released their 2012 sequel, “Double Down: Game Change 2012”. Halperin is a senior political analyst for Time magazine, and Heilemann covers US politics for New York magazine; both are political analysts for MSNBC. We heard them both speak at the Saint Louis Speakers Series, which is held last night at Powell Hall. Anne and I were treated to tickets by Joanie and attended the speaker series with her and her friend Lynn. While the two author’s two books look at US politics in retrospect, their two talks looked forward over the political landscape. Halperin spoke first, followed by Heilemann and then they handled Q&A together. They predicted divided government to continue for some time to come. The Republicans will control the House at least until after the 2020 census and likely much longer. The Senate will flip-flop back-and-forth, while the Whitehouse will remain in Democratic hands. First, with the remainder of Obama’s term, but then with the election of Hillary Clinton. They were both very matter-of-fact about this prescription for government gridlock and also emphatic about its likelihood.