The Rise Of Independents

31 03 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The job for Republicans between now and November of 2010 will be to elect opponents of ObamaCare—which means opponents of Barack Obama—and undo the election results of 2008 and what they wrought.  A growing number of Americans believe they were sold a far-Leftist in “sheep’s clothing,” instead of a relatively-moderate centrist[2], so the task should not be a daunting one at all.

Independents comprise about 35 percent of the American electorate[3], and their ranks may grow even larger in the years to come. They do not care much about either the Republican or Democrat parties. Enough of them hated George W. Bush, and were not enamored with John McCain, that they gave the White House to Obama. Now, enough may turn against the Democrats and Obama to hand victories of a similar magnitude to the GOP.

Obama and the Democrats misread the election results of 2008.  The price they pay in the future may be staggering—and reminiscent of the sea changes that took place in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson was effectively run out of the White House and prevented from seeking reelection, and in 1980 when the Reagan “Revolution” swept into Washington and threw out Jimmy Carter and his ilk.

For many Americans, Ross Perot’s candidacy in 1992 was a breath of fresh air; however, he turned out to be nothing more than a flash in the pan, and he failed to produce anything lasting.  He seemed more enamored with himself than in building a viable and sustainable Independent movement.  In the final analysis, all he accomplished was to deny George H.W. Bush a second term—for deep-seated reasons that are best known to Perot and Bush—and hand the presidency to Bill Clinton.

As the ranks of Independents continue to grow if not swell, it is unlikely that they will be driven by another “savior” like Perot. Most Independents do not have lasting allegiances to either party, albeit most have come from one party or the other—or perhaps both, as I did. They will be seeking like-minded candidates from the “Tea Party” movement or wherever they can be found; and ultimately politicians will not be afraid of running as Independents and defying both established parties.

Some day in the not too distant future, we will see an Independent president; and both houses of Congress will have more and more Independents who are proud to identify themselves as such.  In turn, this may draw both the Republican and Democrat parties toward the center, as they vie for the support of voters, and jettison the extremist elements in their ranks.

First, we witnessed a turning away from the GOP because of Bush, the war in Iraq and the economy. Next, we may witness the abandonment of Obama and the Dems.[4] At some point, there will be a breakdown of our two-party political system; and ObamaCare may have served as an important stepping stone toward achieving that result, and thrusting Independents into the forefront of American politics.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See, e.g.https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/is-barack-obama-a-racist/

[3] See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_(voter)

[4] See also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/obama-in-afghanistan-doomed-from-the-start and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/barack-obama-america’s-second-emperor and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/the-end-of-barack-obama/





Jefferson, Lincoln And America

22 03 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Three books are worth reading about Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and America: the “Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson,” which was edited by his great-granddaughter, Sarah N. Randolph[2]; “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald[3]; and “A History of the American People” by Paul M. Johnson.[4]

Jefferson was a giant, and the first book chronicles his extraordinary life through his letters and the letters of others, lovingly assembled and edited by Randolph.  At various points, the book is moving and tearful; elsewhere it is joyous and humorous. At all times, Jefferson’s seemingly-unlimited talents and brilliance, as well as his qualities as a decent human being and his erudition, shine forth.

The greats of American history come alive through their correspondence and Jefferson’s letters to George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Patrick Henry and Alexander Hamilton, to name just a few—along with the Marquis de Lafayette and Napoleon Bonaparte of France.  We witness firsthand the American Revolution, this nation’s founding, Jefferson’s years in Paris, the French Revolution, and his presidency.

Perhaps three things stand out most of all: the depth of his love for his family and the meticulous care with which he nurtured each family member; his love for Monticello and his desire to return there and be rid of the burdens of public office; and his relationship with Adams that, once breached, is finally restored at the end of their lives.

Remarkably, both presidents died on the 4th of July, 1826.  To paraphrase the words of Jefferson, two “Argonauts” sailed on, leaving this country forever changed and better because they had passed here.  “I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern,” Jefferson wrote to Adams in 1816.  From being Secretary of State and Vice President to two terms in the presidency, involving the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Jefferson never lost his love for or his belief in this great country.

He was a farmer, scholar, scientist, diplomat, a leader and a politician.  He was an accomplished horseman who was faithful to his belief in the need for at least two hours of exercise each day.  He was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather; and he loved music, birds and his gardens in Albemarle County, Virginia.  And he was an American.

In the second book, “Lincoln,” Donald writes brilliantly, and truly spans Lincoln’s life and gives one a sense of being there.  Perhaps most striking is how the tide of events carried Lincoln and changed his views (e.g., with respect to the slavery issue alone, from colonization to emancipation).  Also, Donald describes Lincoln as a master, very calculating politician, not unlike the politicians of today.  He was certainly not the folksy backwoods caricature that often is presented, although he used that to his advantage (e.g., to disarm opponents and garner support).

Despite being wonderfully researched, and spreading out the facts for all to see, one gets the sense that what truly made Lincoln “tick” was unknowable, from a deeply personal standpoint.  Having worked on Capitol Hill, my sense is that most senators are that way, possibly because they have been compromised again and again to reach high offices, and to be all things to all people.

Also, it was interesting how Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman “saved” Lincoln politically, while many of his other generals were either indecisive or utter buffoons.  Lincoln knew that changes were needed, but he was often hesitant to “rock the boat” and make them.  After his reelection in 1864, he seemed much more self-confident, which was cut short by his tragic death.  The reader is left to wonder what he might have accomplished during his second term.

When the book ends somewhat abruptly, one’s interest has been whetted.  It is only too bad that Donald did not do an appraisal of “what might have been.”  There is no question that Lincoln was brilliant, and he was really maturing as a political leader when he was killed.  What a remarkable four years might have followed.  Also, with essentially no protection at all, it is surprising that more leaders of that time were not killed by the John Wilkes Booths of this world.  Lincoln, God love him, was fearless and a true fatalist—or at least that is how Donald depicts him.

One is led to think about Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, who was so important in Lincoln’s life, and his thoughts about Lincoln’s life and death.  Also, Grant’s memoirs—which are said to be the finest done by an American president—are wonderful to read, along with books about Reconstruction, the diaries of Lincoln’s two male “secretaries,” etc.

Years ago, I read an article about how one could only understand the Southern “mentality” by appreciating how conquered peoples—or the vanquished—have been able to survive throughout history under the rule of the victors; and Donald’s book sets the scene for that to take place.  Also, one cannot help but be impressed by what a monumental struggle the Civil War represented, and the human carnage that it left as well as the deep scars that remained.  This book is truly fascinating, and Donald provides a brilliant “birds-eye view,” which is well worth reading.

The third book is “A History of the American People” by Johnson.  For all of us whose ancestors came from distant shores, or however we ended up as “Americans,” this book is rich in details, events and trends that have been woven together to describe our history and what it means to be an American.  This reader gained a new sense of pride in what America is and how our history has evolved, and where we are apt to go as a people in the future.

The United States is a melting pot, or a rainbow of different colors, religions and ethnicities, and therein lies its soul, strength, creativity and diversity, and yes tensions.  Johnson’s weaving of minute facts into a tapestry that is “us” deserves to be read and reflected on by all.  We may not agree with each and every observation or conclusion, but we cannot help to be impressed by the sweep of history that Johnson chronicles and how he methodically marshals the facts into a remarkable and coherent whole, of which each of us is an integral part.

I only hated to see this book end—which was true of the other two books as well—and I wished that that I could read about the next 100 years of this “grand experiment” called democracy, but those pages are being written in history with each passing day, month and year.  While it took the arrival of a new millennium for Johnson to share this monumental undertaking with us, let us hope that similar brilliant works are forthcoming.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See http://www.amazon.com/Domestic-Thomas-Jefferson-American-Classics/dp/0804417598/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

[3] See http://www.amazon.com/Lincoln-David-Herbert-Donald/dp/068482535X/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

[4] See http://www.amazon.com/History-American-People-Paul-Johnson/dp/0060930349/ref=cm_cr-mr-title





Ulysses S. Grant: An American Hero

21 03 2010

By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

It is been said that Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs are the finest written by an American president, and this assessment may well be true, which is among the reasons why I wanted to read them.  Abraham Lincoln held Grant in very high regard, and credited both Grant and General William Tecumseh Sherman with winning the Civil War militarily and thereby preserving the Union.  Grant returned Lincoln’s respect and praise, both in the words that he wrote and in his decision not to become a presidential candidate in 1864—and probably become a very formidable rival, according to Lincoln’s keen political judgment.

It is a shame that Grant did not write about his own two-term presidency, and instead concluded his memoirs with the war’s end.  However, he died of throat cancer in 1885, twenty years after the “rebellion” ended and less than a week after completing work on the memoirs, which were written in large part to provide much-needed financial security for his beloved wife, Julia Dent Grant.  They accomplished their purpose, and were encouraged and edited by his friend, Mark Twain.

While I am not a student of the Civil War, nor of the other campaigns in which Grant served—all of which are discussed in great detail—his memoirs give the reader a window into the man and the war that wrenched and transformed this nation, and produced so much carnage on both sides.  Like Dwight D. Eisenhower and other famous generals, Grant concludes: “[T]his war was a fearful lesson, and should teach us the necessity of avoiding wars in the future.”

However, Grant adds: “To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war.  . . .  [U]nless we are prepared for it we may be in danger of a combined movement being some day made to crush us out.”  With respect to former slaves, Grant writes: “[H]e was brought to our shores by compulsion, and he now should be considered as having as good a right to remain here as any other class of our citizens.”

As to the future of our nation and the healing of its wounds, he concluded:

The war has made us a nation of great power and intelligence.  . . .  I feel we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the [North and South].  I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so.  The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”

The expressions of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section of the country, nor to a division of the people.  They came from individual citizens of all nationalities; from all denominations—the Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from various societies of the land—scientific, educational, religious, or otherwise.  Politics did not enter into the matter at all.

Grant dedicated his memoirs to the “American Soldier And Sailor”; and it seems true, as Geoffrey Perret has written, “he was modest, sensitive, generous, honest, and superlatively intelligent.  Grant’s courage, both moral and physical, was a matter of record.”  He lives on through his words and deeds, having saved a nation—albeit not being recognized fully as the American hero that he was.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele

Grant


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] See http://www.amazon.com/Personal-Memoirs-Ulysses-Modern-Library/dp/0375752285/ref=cm_cr-mr-title





Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy: A Question of Character

20 03 2010

With the passage of time, America’s greatest presidents prior to the 21st Century are apt to be viewed as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.  Gone from that list most certainly will be John F. Kennedy. Today, few young Americans even know who he was—or care about him—because less than a handful of his positive accomplishments had any lasting significance.

Reagan will be remembered, while Kennedy may be forgotten. This conclusion will surely offend those Kennedy disciples who are still pushing the myth of Camelot until its last gasp. Like William McKinley, the fact that an assassin cut short Kennedy’s life and presidency might be all that Americans recall about him 50 years from now.

It is striking how the death of Reagan . . . made one realize how great he was, and how small and inconsequential Kennedy’s accomplishments were. Aside from some flowery words—mostly written for him by Theodore Sorenson—and what remains of the once-vibrant Peace Corps, Kennedy’s legacy is almost nonexistent today.

Reagan was lucky and blessed to have survived an assassin’s bullet only 69 days after he took office on January 20, 1981, and America and the free world are fortunate that he did.  More than 40 years after Kennedy’s death, the full extent of his life-long medical problems is still being withheld from the American people and conservative scholars; and it is doubtful whether he would have lived to accomplish anything approaching what Reagan achieved.

Kennedy launched this nation into Vietnam; and his secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, was the architect of that lost war and the enormous suffering that it produced.  More than 50,000 brave Americans died, and it impaled this nation’s honor on the horns of a tragedy that still haunts policy makers and citizens alike.

Even before Vietnam, Kennedy was responsible for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, where Fidel Castro humiliated him completely. This led to more than 40 years of enslavement for the Cuban people. The Cuban Missile Crisis, or Kennedy’s confrontation with the Soviet Union, might have given rise to a nuclear winter.

Reagan is remembered for having brought down that “Evil Empire,” as well as the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, and for freeing the people of Eastern Europe. Today, America’s friends in “New Europe” are its partners in NATO and its allies in the EU—as free men, woman and children who are no longer enslaved by communism.

Reagan’s marriage to Nancy was special and they were blessed with love. There was no hiding of mistresses by the Secret Service, which took place during Kennedy’s presidency. His reckless affairs with women were only outdone by his irresponsible and dangerous relationships with mobsters such as Chicago crime boss Sam Giancana.

Reagan was a doer who had style. Kennedy had style; however, the bloom has even gone off that rose. His serial womanizing, relations with Mafioso figures like Giancana—through their sexual liaisons with Judith Campbell Exner, who was used as their go-between—and other serious character flaws marred it.

Reagan was elected and reelected by landslides, while it is doubtful whether Kennedy would have become president in 1960 if the Mob had not helped him in Illinois and West Virginia—and Giancana claimed credit for that. Kennedy was the son of a bootlegger, and the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The discrepancy between Camelot and the man himself has been laid bare; and there is a stark difference between the hype of Kennedy acolytes and the truth. Perhaps the debunking of his myth is similar to what happened to this country after Vietnam. Maybe Kennedy and America’s invincibility before that war both shared a similar fate, and this country’s naiveté somehow ended.

Kennedy was not someone to look up to, much less deify. Many of us came to that conclusion reluctantly, years ago, with a sense of sadness rather than anger. Like the potentate in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the myth about Kennedy and his feet of clay have become clear for all to see with the passage of time.

In a recent Discovery Channel poll, Reagan was chosen as the “Greatest American,” edging Lincoln by a small margin. When he left office, Reagan had fulfilled his 1980 campaign pledge to restore “the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism.” Also, greatness is often achieved in times of war, and Kennedy never won the war with Cuba, much less the Vietnam War that he started, nor did he win the Cold War—which Reagan won, as he implemented the policy of “peace through strength.”

Reagan will be remembered as one of America’s greatest presidents and a man of character. Kennedy was a tragic Shakespearean figure who may be forgotten and consigned to the dustheap of history. Perhaps this contrast between Reagan and Kennedy—this question of character that Thomas C. Reeves described in his terrific book about Kennedy—is what separates the men and underscores their differences, and ultimately will define their respective places in history.

© 2010, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass), the first black senator since Reconstruction after the U.S. Civil War.  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates (www.naegele.com).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years.  See, e.g.www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles

[2] This article was published first at MensNewsDaily.com on August 1, 2005.  See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ReaganJFK.pdf