- While I don't have strong feelings about President Obama's failed plea to get the 2016 Olympics held in Chicago, I do perceive the sequence of events, unfortunately, as a metaphor for some of Obama's struggles lately. Why? As I wrote in my last blog, there is an appearance - whether accurate or not - that the Obama team has an enlarged view of the President's personal powers and charisma. The President is always out making speeches, for example, because, it seems, the White House thinks his performances make SUCH a difference that they have to keep him on that schedule. Well, when Obama's efforts to persuade the International Olympic Committee didn't lead to the desired result, to me, it's a message the White House ought to reflect on for a day - or, a week, or two. It's time for the President and his advisors to come down to Earth. It's time to get more realistic, to re-connect with real people and to look in the mirror more often. The Obama White House has seemed a bit out of touch the past few months. Maybe this Olympics episode will help in the long run.
- Talk about bad timing. Obama returns to the White House from the bad Olympics news on the same day that unemployment figures actually got worse. That's bad luck.
- I happened to watch David Letterman's weird, confessional "story" he told on his show last night about being the victim of an extortion plot relating to his affairs with women on the "Late Show" staff. He began by trying to mix humor in with the story-telling, but, I wondered immediately: "Why is he trying to be funny at all about something so serious?" When the audience kept laughing, and, clearly didn't understand that Letterman was relating the truth about an awful personal episode, Letterman didn't stop to clarify things. Rather, he kept going, taking turns between disclosing serious facts and jokes. In my view, it was fairly typical for Letterman. For a long time, I've had mixed feelings about Letterman. Sometimes, I just think he's not that funny. (His "Top Ten" list can seem over-rated, to me). Other times, he can be very funny, especially when he's relaxed and joking around with his celebrity guests, who he's refreshingly unfazed by. Still, other times, I find Letterman seems to have sort of a mean streak. He sometimes picks on people. For example, and some will disagree, I'm sure, but, when Joaquin Phoenix was a guest on his show earlier this year and behaved very strangely, acting completely unresponsive to Dave, Letterman turned on Phoenix -- big-time and took some shots at him, and, did nothing to stop the avalanche of criticism leveled at Phoenix in the days afterward. Now, I admit Phoenix wasn't a cooperative guest, but, we never found out why he acted as he did. (Was it part of a practical joke? Was he in an altered state for some reason?) Whatever it was, I didn't like the way Letterman treated Phoenix -- and I don't like it when he picks on people when they're down. He's got a glib, negative aura sometimes -- and acts like he's a bit "above" others. Well, maybe this recent personal difficulty will humble him a bit - in a good way.
- I am not a resident of Boston, but, I find it amazing that incumbent Mayor Tom Menino is even allowed to run for a fifth term. I think it's wrong. I think there should be a term limit for the mayor - at perhaps three. While I respect a few things about Menino, (like his resilience) he is not the least bit inspirational and displays no imagination in his vision or leadership for Boston. I'd like to see a mayor more like Kevin White - the EARLY Kevin White, that is, before his ethics spiraled downward as he continued in office for a third and fourth term. You see? (White should've been limited in terms too). Menino is a tremendous favorite to win re-election in Nov.
- Speaking of elections in Massachusetts, I am trying to gather information on candidates to replace the late US Sen Edward Kennedy. I'm considering Martha Coakley and Michael Capuano right now. I badly want a woman to become a US senator from this state and I like Coakley, but, she seems a bit centrist and cautious to me. Capuano, who has always seemed a bit rough on the edges; nevertheless, seems to have retained a scrappiness that I admire during his time in Congress. I was struck by Barney Frank's early endorsement of Capuano. I've always liked Frank and if he's endorsing Capuano, that tells me that Barney appreciates Capuano fighting for progressive positions in Congress, and, I must say, Capuano strikes me as being unafraid to take on tough adversaries. We'll see.
- I remain bothered that President Obama does not appear to have a better relationship with members of the US Congress - the House and the Senate. I think Speaker Nancy Pelosi has done him few favors. Harry Reid offers little. So, who is Obama's staff person who acts as his main liaison to Congress? I don't know the name or names. I do know that I've read repeatedly about his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, having many "important" meetings with members of Congress - and, that worries me. I know Emanuel, a former Congressman, has many contacts and institutional knowledge, but, I've also read that Emanuel is disliked by many House members, and, that he's an arrogant guy with a style that rubs many the wrong way. So, wouldn't it make sense for Obama to tell Emanuel to spend less time worrying about Congress (He does have a lot to do already) and find some, excellent, high-profile, respected, tough, experienced person to serve as his new liaison to Congress?" I'd say so -- He should do something to build new bridges there.
I post opinions at least once a week here. Often I write about politics or media coverage of politics -- two subjects I have followed closely for more than 30 years.