Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm moving to Wordpress!

I have been on Blogger for 20 months and have learned a lot. The world has changed within even this brief time frame, and new opportunities await in other forums.

I have done some investigation and found that Wordpress offers more possibilities in terms of blogging methods, tactics, etc. than Blogger seems to afford at present. So I have opened my blog today at Wordpress. It looks rather plain at the moment, but I hope to change that very soon.

I hope you'll join me at! Thanks for participating here and let's keep the conversation going!

Friday, October 30, 2009

One more item from the Gerson lunch

I really wanted to write more last night, but exhaustion overcame me and my brain just shut down.

In the ensuing 24 hours, I have thought as much about the overarching message that Gerson sent as I have about the interesting anecdotes he shared about his former boss (George W. Bush). I wrote last night that Gerson is not a militant conservative. I don't mean to imply by such wording that he is not a real conservative; for that reason, I chose my terminology carefully, even through my post-midnight fatigue!

To elaborate: Gerson relayed strong concern about the subtext that he feels the GOP is sending to certain demographic groups, especially Hispanics. His fear, as best I could discern it, is that the indiscriminate message that Hispanics are receiving from Republicans is that they are not welcome in this country and therefore, not in the GOP. In other words, the way we craft what we say and the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) in which we reach out to people must change. Gerson specifically named Tom Tancredo as a representative of the element of extremism (and probably nativism, although Gerson did not use the term) that Gerson feels endangers the party and its chances of dominance in the future.

I have several thoughts that I humbly offer in response to someone with the keen intellect, penetrating rhetoric and experience in the corridors of power that Michael Gerson possesses.

I would first acknowledge that there is a strain of racism against Mexicans that does exist in our country. That is a shameful stain that must be erased, but I don't think there is any proof that it is limited to adherents of my party as opposed to the other. Racism is an ugly, equal opportunity offender and is grossly unfair, undesirable and unhealthy.

The fact that I never hear the easy immigration advocates own up to, though, is that there are legitimate security concerns on the Mexican border. Beyond that, what about the rule of law? If more Mexicans should be allowed to emigrate to this country, then make the legal case for that. No one except a few fringe nutcases is out there protesting that no one should be allowed to immigrate from Mexico.

The fact is that the bulk of Hispanics tend to ally strongly with many of the values that conservatives hold dear. As Ronald Reagan put it, "Hispanic voters are Republicans. They just don't know it yet." I'll be the first to admit that Republicans can be clunky communicators at times (though with a mainstream media that exponentially magnifies every misstep, perhaps the slips of the tongue that occur are exaggerated). So perhaps Gerson has a point when it comes to tone, but I disagree with what I fear is his underlying philosophy, governed more by his view of what constitutes compassion and charity than the colder realm of logic.

I would like to clarify that in this post, I have zeroed in on a point of divergence with Michael Gerson, out of an hour of very stimulating information and Q&A. He is a fine man with a humble, gracious spirit. I have seen a lot of political speakers, especially in the last year or two and Michael Gerson's ability with words and recall of political arcana is almost unparalleled. (Karl Rove and George Will come to mind when contemplating comparative figures.) If I had taken better notes, I would remember other points of commonality that I could pass along. But I didn't...there were only about 30 of us in the room and space was tight and I was chowing down and whispering to my seatmates...need more excuses?

If I ever get to hear Michael Gerson again, I would like to ask him how he would address my belief that yes, you must compromise in politics in order to garner accomplishments, BUT what about the times when compromise cannot be achieved without betrayal of principle? After all, the same Master that both Michael Gerson and I seek to serve once rhetorically questioned his followers: "What is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lunch with Michael Gerson

Today's big event was a classic example of how I really need to get my game on when it comes to blogging properly. I didn't even think to take my camera with me so I could post some pictures later, which would have lent immeasurable gravitas to my write-up of the lunch. (OK, I'm exaggerating, but it would have been more fun to read. Is that better?)

I need a Blackberry or an iPhone; I really do. Then I would always have photographic equipment with me and would not be forced to make myself remember to cart along the handheld. And that would totally justify the extra $30+ a month (at least) that I would have to dish out in order to brag about being a Blackberry patron. At least, that's what I tell myself.

I learned two things today. One is that McCormick & Schmick's is a very classy place with tasty cuisine. I shall return. Every bite of the seared salmon in (some kind of) berry sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetable medley was mouthwatering. Not to mention the upside down apple pie.

But more importantly, of course...I knew Michael Gerson was a gifted wordsmith. I have followed his efforts for quite some time now, both during the Bush administration and then subsequently, since he began authoring 2 weekly op-ed columns for the Washington Post. But it is spectacularly impressive in person to see how effortlessly he can verbalize such prolific prose in addition to writing it. Not everyone can do both equally well.

Gerson is not a dominantly charismatic figure, in the sense of lighting up a room with his presence, but he is extremely brilliant in a friendly Harvard scholar fashion. (This description turns out to be more apt than I knew. Harvard's 2007 Institute of Politics Series billed Gerson in a promotion as "the 'perfect storm' of speechwriting skills...a man of purpose and policy with a powerful gift for words.")

Indiana Family Institute President Curt Smith introduced him. If I heard correctly, he brought Gerson into Senator Dan Coats' speechwriting shop back in the '90's, which launched Gerson's political involvement. So in a sense, Indiana gave Michael Gerson to President Bush?

Gerson spoke for 35-40 minutes, then took questions for probably another 20. There were a number of noteworthy moments, but as would be expected, his stories about the former President were highly memorable. I wish I could remember the verbatim term he used to describe George W., but it was something along these lines: "the most unmasked person I have ever known." He clarified further; the former President takes no pains, ever, to try to hide from his countenance the emotions he is feeling at any moment, whether sadness, happiness, boredom or pleasure. He described George W. as gregarious and outgoing, whereas he (Gerson) is quiet and withdrawn. In that vein, the most hilarious story he told occurred back in the days when then-Governor George W. Bush was still in his first presidential campaign, sometime in 1999. Somehow, Gerson found himself alone in the Governor's mansion with the future President, and in an extremely rare development, both of them had some time on their hands. Mr. Bush asked Michael, "Would you like to just hang out for a while?" Gerson related that "in what now seems a completely crazed answer," he responded, "Not really" (to the future President of the United States and current Governor of Texas AND his boss, no less). Bush just chuckled and draped his arm around Gerson and replied, "Oh, that's right; you don't DO that, do you?"

Surprisingly, he really did not have a whole lot to say about specific Bush policies and convictions and he said very little about the speeches he wrote. He did note that he helped craft the address Bush gave to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, September 20, 2001 (9 days after 9/11) and that it was all done in 1 day. (This was the speech that contained the phrase "We will not turn, we will not falter and we will not fail." At the time, it was pretty much universally acclaimed by politicians and pundits of both parties and all persuasions.)

Gerson referenced the assistance Bush provided for AIDS victims in Africa more than once. I did not realize until today that he became an Assistant Policy Advisor to the President in Bush's second term. This gave the leverage he used to urge the President to act as he did in providing help for Africa and increasing the financial outlays of other social programs.

Gerson also addressed the current political scene for both Republicans and Democrats. He stated that Obama had prevailed in every age and demographic in the election from 18 to 85. He also won 7 states that Bush had taken twice. Gerson characterized Obama's victory as the most convincing one in decades for these very reasons. Yet today, it is difficult to make the case that Republicans are not on the ascendancy, in spite of the fact that a year ago, James Carville was writing about 40 years of Democrat majority.

The only time when I saw Gerson's face clench in visible emotion (anger) was when he referred at about this point in his talk to President Obama's continued criticism of former President Bush, even after now being in office for 9 months. Gerson used the term "bitterness" to describe this habit on the current President's part.

However, he quickly went on to observe that Republicans have tone problems of their own. One of the most dramatic points he made concerned the ascendancy of Hispanics among the electorate. We must make encroachments here if we are to win future elections.

I am exhausted so I am going to save further analysis of this for another time. Suffice it to say that it was a highly enjoyable hour and a half that most of us would not have been at all reluctant to extend for an even longer period. However, Gerson is not at all a militant fighter for the conservative cause, even though he is committed to most ideas that the movement would consider conservative. More on this next time, not only as applies to Gerson, but others on the public scene today.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm back...but should this blog be?

As of 2:30 AM Sunday, October 18, I felt like a free man. I submitted my final paper in my last Liberty University course, Systematic Theology II. If I get even a decent grade for it, I will be finished with the Master's in Religion program. Thus, my 12-day absence from blogging, now to be recommenced. My studies have impacted the frequency with which I have been able to blog and the depths that I have been able to explore while doing so. I hope that changes now...I think.

This blog has accomplished the purposes for which I started it about a year and a half ago. I wanted to 1) air my political views, 2) practice my writing and 3) interact with others on political issues of the day.

Definitely, the first two have come to pass, but I'm not sure how much this blog impacts #3 anymore. The cyberworld has changed, even in the last 18 months. When I started this blog, I probably had 10 Facebook friends. I closed in on the 700th last week, not as many as some I know, but higher than the average, which, according to Facebook itself is somewhere around 130. I can post a brief status update (max 420 characters) and almost instantly receive several hits in response; I can then continue that conversation for days if I want to. (That happened last week with a discussion on Anita Dunn.)

More importantly, though, Twitter has..."exploded" is the best term I can come up with. I had a Twitter account for several months, but never got serious about it until about 9 weeks ago. As of today, I have well over 300 followers and am following over 500 myself, all of whom are avid political junkies.

So do most people really read blogs anymore? To be honest, I hardly do...and I have one that I claim to hope others will patronize. Yet, I'm mostly not returning the favor; I just don't think to do it after Facebook and Twitter. And I can't remember when the last time was that I left a comment!

I do read Red State every day and go to Townhall several times a week. Red State, though, is more like a daily activist news feed and their Editor, Erick Erickson, sends a Morning Briefing out every day with the top stories, which are invariably timely. (Erick is also on Facebook and Twitter. Just in case you wondered. He Retweeted one of my Tweets today. Are you impressed?)

So I'm going to keep doing this for a while and see where it goes. But I wonder how much longer blogging will be something that much of anyone sticks with for a significant period of time.

I want to try a couple of things and see if they work, doing some things with graphics and photos and video...more than just text, to kind of spice it up a bit. So we'll see...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Defending the Dream Summit 2009, Part II

I used my time between the rally and the Tribute to Ronald Reagan Dinner Friday night to check out the sponsor displays (Heritage Foundation, Leadership Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, among many others) and also stuck my head inside Blogger Row a few times to see what was going on. I texted one of my Tweeps (Twitter buddies), Katy Benningfield from North Carolina, and found out that she was on Blogger Row, so went in and met her and her husband, Rob for the first time, even though we already felt like we were pretty well acquainted!

The Tribute to Ronald Reagan Dinner was a perfectly stellar affair. My intrepid new Hoosier friends, James and Lisa Deaton, had gotten to the head of the line into the Arlington Ballroom and most of our group from the Senate office visits that afternoon was able to sit together, at a very decently situated table.

I am still somewhat nonplussed (but in a good way) that there were actually two prominent dinner keynoters. I don't know that I have ever attended a political dinner before where that was the case, so it was definitely a benefit that they were both highly gifted speakers. Radio host Laura Ingraham was first. I heard via Twitter later on that evening that she gave her entire speech with a 100+ degree fever; I imagine that was probably true since she had spoken about losing her voice earlier that day on her radio show. She had a good time discussing the big event of the day, namely, the Olympic news.

Laura, if anything, is probably an even more effective speaker than Ann Coulter is. This would stand to reason since Ann's gift lies in the power of her pen and Laura is the most successful female talk show host on the radio today.

But the true star of the evening was Indiana's own Congressman Mike Pence, who, come to think of it, also used to be a talk show host. I have seen Pence on a few occasions and been on a conference call with him, but this was a venue that allowed Mike Pence to demonstrate his formidable communication skills. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the very beginning; it was something beautiful to behold! The speech was a perfect mix of inspiring anecdotes, stirring challenges and scintillating wit. That probably sounds effusive, but you would have to have been there. I heard a lot of buzz on the way out to the Metro that night about Presidential possibilities and for the first time, I began to take this possibility seriously. (I saw a news story later this week about Pence paying a visit to South Carolina; I have no clue whether this means anything or not.)

Saturday followed the same format as Day 2 of Right Online: celebrity speakers in the morning followed by an afternoon full of panel workshops.

Newt Gingrich kicked things off. I have heard Newt in person a number of times now. Tim Phillips introduced him as "the best mind in the conservative movement." Hard to argue with that, love him or diss him. He never seems to use any notes and seemingly pulls this brilliant analysis out of thin air over and over again. The most memorable analogy that he drew that morning once again addressed Obama's failure to secure the Olympics for Chicago. Newt reminded us all that as a Georgia resident, he was invested in the struggle to bring the Olympics to Atlanta in 1996. But, in a bipartisan gesture, he paid full credit to Andrew Young, at that time the (Democrat) mayor of Atlanta. Young, recollected Newt, worked tirelessly for months, lobbying each member of the Olympic committee, making the case for Atlanta. We all know how the story turned out. Newt then moved in for the rhetorical sucker punch, stating that the Chicago Olympic attempt by Obama is emblematic of his whole approach to just about anything. Smile a lot, give a nice speech and hope everything works out OK, rather than doing the hard work necessary to bring about real accomplishment. Newt asserted that if Obama had laid the proper groundwork, as Andrew Young did, Chicago would probably be lighting the torch in 7 years.

Senator Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, was the recipient this year of the George Washington Award from Americans for Prosperity, for his tireless championing of genuine conservative principles. He accepted the award and gave a short speech, as well, in which he stated that he "fears" the reproach of the American people far more than anything the inside-the-Beltway crowd can do to him or say about him. His leadership of the Senate Conservative Fund, with its early endorsement of Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and its backing of Marco Rubio in Florida is one of many efforts that bears out the truth of what he told us.

Steve Moore, from the Wall Street Journal, gave basically the same speech that I had heard at Right Online. Good stuff; it just all sounded familiar, but then again, that may be because hardly a day goes by when he isn't featured in a segment on Fox. Smart guy, so it figures.

John Fund also appeared briefly at Dream '09, another very intelligent author and commentator from the Wall Street Journal. He has done major work exposing the fraudulent shell game that ACORN represents.

But the real red meat that morning came from radio host Herman Cain. WOW. This guy was on fire. I had heard him fill in for Neal Boortz a couple of times, but again, had never had occasion to watch him in a setting such as this. He had the crowd going with a SIN acronym that represents liberals who are not worth trying to convert: Liberals who Shift the subject, Ignore facts and finally, Namecall are "unsaveable", so it is time to move on to someone else who is actually willing to think. Not the most sophisticated material, but it was only part of the whole and in any event, Cain's talk was more of a pep rally than a serious speech. I know he is more than capable of giving the latter and would like to hear him do it sometime; Cain, after all, is a former chairman and CEO of Godfather Pizza, which was close to bankruptcy at the time he took it over. (He subsequently restored it to profitability in a mere 14 months.)

The morning rally ran long and most of us left for lunch before Larry Kudlow was up. This was, again, my first time to see Kudlow, but I hope it won't be the last. Kudlow has his own TV show on CNBC, unseen by me to date. I didn't know there was still a reason to watch CNBC with the advent of Fox Business, but I will be checking it out. Kudlow is an avid supply-side economist and a capable speaker; all in all, this may very well have been my favorite presentation of the day. I just wish I had taken better notes. I had forgotten that Kudlow was among the 8 or 9 conservatives at George Will's home when Will hosted President-elect Barack Obama back in January. Kudlow regaled us with a bit of atmospheric description of the evening, stating that Obama was a very nice and charming young man, "but let me tell you something: He doesn't know a bloody thing about the economy." The crowd roared.

I went to three workshops that afternoon and by far, the best was the one on Social Media Networking, hosted by Melissa Clouthier, Aaron Marks and Katie Favazza. Melissa is a contributor at Right Wing News (John Hawkins' site), Aaron is a social media consultant in Pittsburgh and Katie has blogged in the past for Townhall and now has her own blog at All 3 emphasized the absolute essentiality of networking online as the wave of the future, through Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Ning groups and a number of other venues.

Miscellaneous favorite moments of Dream '09:

1. Exchanging a few words with Jim Miller, AFP board member and former Budget Director in the Reagan administration. I told him that Reagan is the first President I remember and that if it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't even be attending an event like Dream '09. I'm sure he had heard this before, but he was extremely gracious.

2. Getting acquainted with other activists from different key think tanks and grassroots organizations. As I stated yesterday, it feels like a family after a while...very much a happy warrior atmosphere. It was good to briefly see Elizabeth Terrell from the "Not Evil, Just Wrong" team, as well as her boss, film director Phelim McAleer, after talking with them at Right Online. Also Amy Menefee from AFP and my friends Kurt & Kristen Luidhart (who live within 60 miles of me, but whom I seem to see more often out of state lately than otherwise) and a number of Tweeps whom I met in person for the first time.

3. Seeing all the young kids that aren't caught up in the mush of liberalism, but are eager to advance the conservative, free-market cause. It is encouraging, beyond words.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Defending the Dream Summit 2009, Part I

#DAD09 was the Twitter hashtag this year for the 2009 Defending the Dream Summit, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity--a factoid of which I would have been completely unaware had I not already attended the Right Online conference in Pittsburgh last August, also sponsored by AFP. I went into Right Online with perhaps 7 people following me on Twitter; I arrived at Dream '09 with around 250. (In the last week, I've continued to tick upward, now trending at 276.) What a difference a weekend can make, no?

Americans for Prosperity is a grassroots activist organization that feels as though it has burst onto the scene with a dynamite explosion of intensity and passion for conservatism, seasoned with humor and a family atmosphere. This lends a kind of contagious joy to their conferences; I enjoyed the last one so much that I immediately began to make plans to attend this one. (Not that I ever need an excuse to either visit Washington, DC or attend a political activism type of event.)

I arrived at the Courtyard by Marriott in Alexandria around 12:30 last Friday (10/2), having just heard the news on Laura Ingraham's show that Chicago had been cut from consideration for the Olympics during the first round. By the time I checked in, changed into casual/dress clothes and Metro'd over to the Marriott Gateway in Arlington, it was around 1:30; I barely made the last AFP bus from the Marriott to the Capitol for the 2:00 PM anti-Obamacare rally that kicked the event off. I had been on the ground on the Senate side of the Capitol for all of 5 minutes when I ran into my buddy Kurt Luidhart from back home in Indiana. He had work to do so wasn't sticking around and gave me the "Indiana" sign to hold up high when it was time to split into state delegations for our visits to our Senators' offices.

The rally lasted probably 30 minutes; Shona Holmes, a brain tumor patient from Canada and Tracy Walsh, a breast cancer survivor and mother of 5, presented very compelling personal stories of their own struggles and how the current American health care system was the boon that led to their eventual overcoming of their particular adversities. (Google "Americans for Prosperity" and either one of their names for more details.) Congressman Bob Goodlott, R-Virginia, also briefly addressed the rally participants.

All told, there were 8 of us from Indiana who marched from the Capitol to the office of Senator Evan Bayh in the Russell Office Building, with zilch expectation of actually seeing him. O we of little faith! We had nosed around his office for about 3 minutes, complete with an offer of help from his apple-cheeked young staffer when the Senator came around a corner in khakis and sneakers. We introduced ourselves to the Senator and snapped some photos, then the Senator asked us how he could help us. James Deaton, from "We the People", a 501(c)3 in Columbus, IN, explained that we were there to ask Senator Bayh not to support a government takeover in any healthcare legislation that might pass. He calmly replied that he didn't think that type of bill would pass (I believe he qualified it, though, by adding "this year" to his remark).

James went on to ask him about tort reform. Bayh responded that he probably wouldn't be pursuing this as an agenda item since "those who support it probably wouldn't vote for it anyway" (meaning the final health care bill).

James' wife, Lisa, asked the Senator to please consider what the proper approach would be for Indiana, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Bayh replied that he often was the only one to buck his own party on issues and was known as consensus builder rather than a partisan. (Not his exact words, but I believe I'm faithful here to the spirit of what he said.)

One other remark the Senator made stands out in my memory. Lisa Deaton mentioned California as an example of the type of morass that we want to avoid and Bayh candidly opined that "California's a mess!" This, I must admit, surprised me, but I suppose California is in such bad shape that all but the most overtly blinded can't help but admit it.

Evan Bayh is a very smooth, even-keeled type of personality; I mean no disrespect by stating that I'm sure he has purposefully cultivated this demeanor over the years. It is very effective in neutralizing dissent and is quite disarming, proof that the Biblical King Solomon was onto something with Proverbs 15:1. Though I don't believe Evan Bayh is quite the moderate voice of reason he portends to be (he voted for neither Roberts or Alito, among other positions), I have to admit the Senator was very cordial and listened as much as he talked, which is a rarity in today's rhetoric-based political climate. I hope our visit made at least something of an impressive dent in his consciousness as he faces the debate ahead on health care.

We were unsuccessful, however, in our attempt to speak with Senator Dick Lugar; he was "not available", according to his staff. Lugar's digs are in the Hart Building, the newest Senate office complex. It has more of a modern, less regal feel than the Russell, but is also a bit more plush. A fine, very courteous young woman (Liz) ushered us into Lugar's conference room, where we discussed both health care and energy for the next 20 minutes or so. I did get one question in here, regarding Lugar's refusal to hold town hall meetings and meet with his constituents. Liz replied that most of Lugar's PR events around the state were open to the public and that he happily takes questions at all of them, so he didn't feel the need to hold town hall meetings in addition to his regular schedule. Lisa D. expressed dissatisfaction with this answer and Jim Brattan, a Tea Party leader from Evansville, added that Lugar had been in Evansville very recently, but 1) the event was closed and 2) there was very little advance notice for other visits he had made to the area. Liz indicated that this was duly noted, but there was not much she could do about it at the moment, which we, of course, understood. She did state that Lugar is opposed to both the public option in health care and the current cap & trade bill.

We bade Liz farewell and headed back to the buses after thanking her for her valuable time.

My impressions? Visiting the Senators' offices was a worthwhile exercise for me on a couple of counts. First, this is citizen involvement in politics at its most basic; we walk right into their offices and tell them exactly what we think and they listen! How awesome (not using this term loosely in the slightest) is that and where else does this occur?!?! Additionally, though, the presence of power in those few square miles around the Capitol is palpable, and the high ceilings and lofty accoutrements of the Senate office buildings lend to that impression. Unless you come with a definite message to deliver from a heart of conviction, it is easy to become tongue-tied in the presence of such prestige.

(It is late and since I'm already a week past the summit, it won't hurt for me to hold over for another few hours before finishing my write-up. So toodles until tomorrow...or rather, later today...)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The UN speech I'd like to hear

This week, in President Obama's speech to the United Nations, he declared that he "took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust." He did not say anything in the remainder of the speech to indicate that this perspective was an invalid one. Nor would I expect that he would; after all, President Obama's wife told us all last year that for the first time in her life, she felt proud of her country (once it was clear that her husband was winning the Democratic Presidential nomination).

I would love, just once, to hear a President of either party go to the UN and offer some sentiments along this line:

"Messrs. Qaddafi, Castro, Chavez, et. al: You all have denounced the United States vociferously and fomentedly for years, if not decades...and, I might add, for jolly well long enough. If it weren't for this country, none of you could even afford a skyscraper with bright carpets and padded chairs such as the one we are convening in now, not to speak of the posh hotel suites you are occupying during your stays here. This country was built on the initiative of people who put their reputations, untold hours of hard work and their very livelihoods, in many cases, on the line to make it possible. It is called capitalism; it works and the whole world is more productive and better off because of it. We love freedom, we love the flag and we love God. No, our people aren't perfect; they have their weaknesses and their foibles, and we have some bad apples, but by and large we get up every day and go out and try to improve our lot in life, thereby creating more opportunities for those underneath us on the economic ladder to improve their status and standing. In the last 200 years, the world has progressed to a greater extent than the last 5,000 years of civilization have ever seen. We have left the buggy whip, the mule and plow and the institution of slavery behind forever and replaced them with jet planes, automobiles and central air conditioning. What a country! Welcome to the United States of America!"

Don't tell me it can never happen or I'll have to find another pipe dream.

The President went on to say to the assembled world leaders that going forward, no nation should seek to dominate another. I have heard a lot of commentary on this in the several days that have elapsed since then. Charles Krauthammer opined that this was one of the more naive statements to ever be uttered by a sitting President. I don't know if my reasons for agreeing with Krauthammer or synonymous with the ones he had for expressing this belief to begin with, but I do think Krauthammer's assessment was accurate. Krauthammer, however, tends to come from a more neoconservative position than I do, with a practiced defense of American empire. I do not share that outlook; I believe history shows that America has flourished when it has concentrated on sound fiscal policies domestically, combined with incentives for the kind of hard work, ingenuity and investment that lead to prosperity. This can be combined with a robust determination to defend our interests in the world at large, but it need not lead to an interventionist foreign policy.

I actually think that President Obama was even more dangerously wrong in another portion of the speech: "It is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 - more than at any point in human history - the interests of nations and peoples are shared." This sort of claptrap makes for a good applause line from the tinhorn dictators at the UN, but it is a ridiculous across-the-board formulation. The "interests" within our own country aren't even shared, beyond the most basic fundamentals of putting food on the table and bringing home a paycheck, by hook or crook. The philosophical and political differences within the United States have never been more pronounced, let alone across the rest of the globe. What the President is trying to tell us is that we should all care about and work for the same goals. But we cannot and will not; we see the world too differently. The President sees other countries that are more "compassionate" and "fair" and "socially just" than the United States because these countries maintain a higher output of tax dollars of which this portion of the population can take advantage. I and my fellow conservatives, on the other hand, see a country that has already moved much too far in this direction and needs to return more of its tax revenues to their rightful earners who made the money in the first place!!! This is genuine fairness, rather than the artificial equitability advocated by liberal politicans who want to pad their vote tallies with the ballots of grateful welfare recipients.