Five Things That Caught My Eye Last Week – Some Good, Some Not
Whoever first said that “timing is everything” sure had a point. As we noted earlier, if the Infrastructure Bill had passed a month or two earlier, it’s possible that the incoming governor of VA would be a Democrat. Similarly, if the pandemic continues to stubbornly continue in several hot zones and if inflation stays at its current pace, the administration could run out of time to convince people the country is on a good course. Which reminds me:
The Biden administration has done a lot of things well but getting their message out has not been one of them. It appears a real effort is underway now, but this is one they cannot drop the ball on. It is good to see the president out more telling the story, but a lot more cabinet officers, mayors, and governors need to tell people clearly what good is happening in their lives and neighborhoods. Clearly, often, and repeatedly.
There has, of course, been a lot of focus of late on the Supreme Court, but a lot is happening at other judicial levels as well. Two things to watch. One, the most conservative courts, packed by Trump and McConnell are starting to bring home the bacon in making it harder for the administration to govern. Main case in point is the matter of mandates for large businesses.
The other thing to watch is whether the courts are mindful – or care- that their often snail-like pace plays into Republican plans to run out the clock until midterms, when they hope to shut down things like the JAN 6 Committee. The DC Court of Appeals seems aware of this, giving Trump only about a 10 day stay to make his case on the National Archives turning over documents (how Trump has any case at all on this is hard to imagine. Disappointed that the appeals court did not simply reject the appeal. Supreme Court next?
The National Guard
The US military has a powerful ethos of staying out of politics. Two Republican led states have damaged this standard with great long term risk to the country. I have spent a lot of time in countries wherein the military is politicized or feels inclined to “save the nation.” Trust me – you do not want to start down this path.
Example 1 of this stupidity was the governor of South Dakota sending a National Guard contingent to the Texas border to protect us all from swarming immigrants. This was paid for by a millionaire Republican donor. Your national guard – for rent to the highest bidder.
Example 2: When the Pentagon mandated COVID shots for the military, that means everyone, Guard and Reserve included. The Adjutant Genearl of the Oklahoma National Guard naturally begin implementing the directive, explaining to the governor this was not an optional course of action. The governor fired the AG, found one who would do his bidding over his professional requirements, in “cancelling” the mandate in Oklahoma. I expect DOD will (and certainly should) force the issue. This is clearly in DOD’s line of authority.
Running in 2024
Not surprisingly, speculation is already building on who will run for president in 2024, from both parties. Biden may well run for a second term, but he has not firmly declared this will be the case. With his current poll ratings, attention is building early for who else might run.
Not unexpectedly, the first person discussed in VP Harris, and much of the talk is not good. I confess that while I thought she was a good State Attorney General and a first-rate Senator, her presidential campaign was lackluster – I had a hard time seeing her as president. The Vice Presidency has not been great for either so far, but she has a tough portfolio and I expect a lot of what she does with Congress is out of sight. Time will tell how she fares. Whether she becomes the candidate or not, she needs better standings.
Somewhat to my pleasant surprise, the next most often raised name is that of Pete Buttigieg. Not surprisingly, he has been hitting home runs across the board as Secretary of Transportation. Whereas this is often a mundane, second tier cabinet post, Buttigieg has raised its budget, influence, and visibility. He is getting high marks from local officials, minority communities, industry, career professionals. Even Republican legislators give him credit for being a quick study and one who really works outreach across the aisle. Still probably too soon for America to make this leap, but wouldn’t it be something if we did? We are going to see and hear a lot more from this one.
The next few days will not lack for substance or drama. Signing the Infrastructure Bill, Steve Bannon getting sentenced, the jury in the Rittenhouse case is likely to render its verdict (with the National Guard on alert – see the earlier note about how important their professionalism and leadership are), more cooperation and compliance deadlines are coming due for the January 6 Committee, results of the global climate summit, and much more. Meanwhile, on the good news front, kids are getting COVID vaccinations at a blistering pace. Almost a million done in the first five days. I don’t see us getting bored and watching Hallmark Holidays movies out of boredom for the rest of the year.
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