Congratulations, Mr. President

Way back in the 20th century, before journalists could write their copy on the commuter train, click an icon,  and have it arrive at the newsroom before they did, important, time-sensitive stories were written in advance.  In those days, the unforgiving mechanics of producing an early edition newspaper or the Evening News etched all deadlines in stone.   Miss a deadline, and your career could be written on a tombstone – sometimes literally.  So things like celebrity births, obituaries and most anything else that was invariably going to happen, were written, sometimes weeks, sometimes even months before the event.  In fact, one of the first assignments any junior, junior copywriter, with nothing to do, was given was obituaries (not writing them, updating them; the second-most boring job in the world*.)  Then, when the inevitable happened, the completed copy was hauled out, tweaked to reflect whatever current conditions applied, and published — as if it were fresh off the presses.    Even sports championships — and, yes, presidential elections results — were written long before the outcome was ever decided.  Obviously, since there are winners and losers to such things and two sides to every story, good journalists would have copy ready for whatever outcome.  Therefore, and with a tip of the hat to the Chicago Tribune, I wrote two blogs last week to cover yesterday’s presidential election.

In one of the closest elections in US history, Republican challenger Mitt Romney managed to squeak out a victory over President Barack Obama and take over the White House.  Even in a deeply divided nation, it’s clear that the American people did not trust President Obama for another four years.  Mitt Romney’s increasingly moderate stance was enough to unseat the incumbent.  Now, the real work can begin.

The president faces some severe challenges.

The American economy is still faltering.  The #1 priority must be jobs.  The unemployment rate is hovering close to double digits in some places: this is unacceptable.  There must be a clear and immediate strategy that not only kick-starts the market place but also instills long-term confidence.  Therefore, the first thing the president needs to do is author a budget that deals with the fiscal cliff that America now faces.  America can no longer think it can borrow itself out of debt.  It must control its own trade, reduce the trade deficit, abandon the worn-out smokestack industries of the 20th century and educate its young people to fill the needs of the 21st.  And right now, as of yesterday, the president must convince an overtly conservative congress to set aside its social agenda and resolve to solve this economic crisis — now.  If he doesn’t do that nothing else matters.

So, Mr. President, it’s time to get on with it.  Good luck!

In one of the closest elections in US history, President Barack Obama managed to fend off Republican challenger Mitt Romney to remain in the White House.  Even in a deeply divided nation, it’s clear that the American people trust President Obama for another four years.  Mitt Romney’s increasingly moderate stance was not enough to unseat the incumbent.  Now, the real work can begin.

The president faces some severe challenges.

The American economy is still faltering.  The #1 priority must be jobs.  The unemployment rate is hovering close to double digits in some places: this is unacceptable.  There must be a clear and immediate strategy that not only kick-starts the market place but also instills long-term confidence.  Therefore, the first thing the president needs to do is author a budget that deals with the fiscal cliff that America now faces.  America can no longer think it can borrow itself out of debt.  It must control its own trade, reduce the trade deficit, abandon the worn-out smokestack industries of the 20th century and educate its young people to fill the needs of the 21st.  And right now, as of yesterday, the president must convince an overtly conservative congress to set aside its social agenda and resolve to solve this economic crisis — now.  If he doesn’t do that nothing else matters.

So, Mr. President, it’s time to get on with it.  Good luck!

*To keep their insanity, one of the universal activities of junior, junior copywriters was to produce humourous future obituaries of the rich and famous, that got hilariously passed around the newsroom.  Unfortunately, sometimes these Twainesque gems found their way into print.  Once, in the 1980s, Arizona Senator, Barry Goldwater, was admitted to hospital for routine surgery.  In the rush to make the Early Edition, nobody bothered to read the single-column, front page, puff-piece which erroneously reported that “Barry” had been eaten by a lost colony of hippies. The results were national embarrassment for a self-conscious desert newspaper and a spectacular career in investigative reporting stalled (Read “fired”) before it ever got started.

Election 2012: How To … Not Lose

It`s an open secret that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can win the 2012 American presidential election.  Both parties are such damaged goods that nobody beyond the diehards wants anything to do with either of them.  Unfortunately, they both can’t lose.  And remember what happened last time there was a tie?  They had to give Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar just to get that world class whiner to shut up about it.  Meanwhile, the pundits are all stating the obvious and pronouncing that a small percentage of undecided voters in critical swing states and a Cleveland cab driver named Rajinder Gomez will wake up November 6th and hand somebody the keys to unlimited world power.  Not since the days of “Jerry” Ford — who became king of the world on the say-so of Michigan’s 5th district and Richard Nixon — have the needs of so many been pushed around by the whims of so few.   Alas!  If it ‘twere only that simple!  It isn’t.  Thus, with victory no longer an option, how can either party not lose an unwinnable election?  I thought you’d never ask.

I’ll start with the Republicans for no other reason than back in a more civilized time, I was one.  Call it old man nostalgia, but like David Frum, I live in hope of change.  For the GOP, the road to not getting kicked to the curb in November is basically a tricycle of awareness.

First of all, they have to figure out a way to get rid of George W. Bush.  The party handlers are doing a reasonably good job of channeling Ronny Reagan over top the Bushes (pere and fils) but Dubya’s still hanging around Romney’s neck like a Flavor Flav clock.  As an elder statesman, the guy’s an albatross, and, not to mix too many metaphors, he needs to be put out to stud or something.

Next, they have to start talking serious numbers — not that gabillion trillion crap that Ryan trots out every time he’s cornered, but real, everyday down-at-the-Piggly-Wiggly dollars and cents.  Everybody knows that even Congress doesn’t understand money after it gets to a billion.  Those numbers are just too big.  What local people want to hear is what’s in it for them.  The Republicans need to tell people just exactly how much extra folding money tax cuts will put on individual pay cheques.  And for those individuals who aren’t getting pay cheques these days, the GOP needs to specifically explain how there are going to be a lot more of those available in a Republican future.

Finally, the GOP needs to stay away from the cultural wars.  Let’s be honest: Republicans aren’t cool.  Every time they try to be, it just looks lame.  If this were high school, they’d be running the Science Fair and explaining the Latvian Gambit to the Chess Club.  The third wheel on the tricycle is — Don’t Go There – if you do, Jon Stewart, SNL and the girls on The View are going to beat your brains out.  The Republicans need to acknowledge they’re nerds — full stop — and hope that, in the end, everybody remembers to Vote for Pedro.

For the Democrats, keeping the Obamas at 1600 is a Yellow Brick Road of simplicity.  The powers that be need to gather everybody — from Barack on down — and say, “Shut up!  This isn’t rocket surgery or brain science, so don’t get confused.  We have one message — period.  Don’t deviate!  ‘All Republicans are crazy old white men who talk to chairs.’”  If the Dems do this and stay away from the economy, Obama’s drone wars, the leakiest White House since Richard Nixon and foreign policy, they can’t lose.  They need to round up the usual suspects — racism, sexism and homophobia — and play Pin The Tail On The Republican with them.  (Just as an aside, whereas racism and sexism are merely totally screwed-up attitudes homophobia is an actual illness.  Well played, Gay Rights!  Well played!)  This strategy has worked for the Democrats ever since Lyndon Johnson ambushed Barry Goldwater’s presidential ambitions in 1964 with a nuclear attack on that little girl’s daisy*.  Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to throw a few hater remarks around.  For example, Michael Moore (I don’t even have a simile for this guy) has already called the 2010 Republican Congressional victories a “tsunami of hate.”  Yes, I know.  It’s a pretty broad brush (even for Mikey) but labels stick, especially if they’re repeated often enough.  (Who said that?)  The Democrats need to hammer away at just how despicable the Republicans really are…all of them…in their souls…if they even have any.  If they do that, it’s guaranteed: four more years.

As I’ve said before, this is the weirdest election ever but somebody’s got to wi..wi..wi…not lose.

*For those of you who don’t remember 1964 you can see the TV ad here.