By Colleen Flanagan
Tomorrow decides the fate of the next four years of our country, who will be occupying the White House come January, as well as numerous state and local issues included on the ballot. The polls will be open from 7:00am to 8:00pm at various voting locations in D.C. and Maryland. In Virginia, polls will open an hour earlier at 6:00am and close likewise at 7:00pm.
This year’s election is unique because a record number of residents in the area took advantage of Early Voting. Over the past week, residents waited in lines for up to two-hours long to cast their ballot. The New Jersey government is allowing residents to email or fax in ballots due to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Today you can research ballot issues and follow Washington Post’s comprehensive guide to local and national elections. Tomorrow we here at Focus Washington urge you to get out and vote.
There are many ways to celebrate Election Day in D.C. including events at Busboys & Poets, The National Press Club, and various restaurants and venues around town. The Kennedy Center is featuring Election Night Jam to ring in the Election. One thing’s for sure, no matter where you go the live results will be prominently displayed.
Bob Cusack, editor of “The Hill” stops by Focus Washington to sit down with Qorvis’ Chuck Conconi to discuss the fundraising efforts of both Mitt Romney and President Obama, and Cusack weighs in on the 2012 congressional race.
Dr. Ron Faucheux, president of Clarus Research Group, stops by Focus Washington to discuss Mitt Romney’s win in New Hampshire and what the future of the GOP race may look like in the upcoming months.
Dr. Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group and Washington pollster, talks to Chuck Conconi about the results of the Iowa caucus.
As it turns out Samantha Sault, deputy online editor and fashion columnist for the Weekly Standard, also knows a thing or two about men’s fashion. Today, we had the opportunity to chat about men’s fashion in Washington DC. President Obama, Tucker Carlson and Mayor Fenty made Samantha’s list of “the best dressed.”
Be sure to visit Samantha’s blog…
I had the opportunity to talk with well-known Washington DC pollster, Ron Faucheux, President of Clarus Research Group, about the dramatic drop in President Obama’s approval numbers.
Welcome to the Inauguration
I know that all the Washington insiders have said it is a waste of money and time to attend the Inauguration day festivities, especially the balls. There is something to that advice, but if you’ve never been to an Inauguration, this is certainly the one to attend. It doesn’t need to be emphasized that this is an historic event.
While it is true that the estimated two to four million coming to Washington for the Inauguration won’t actually see as much as those who remain in the comfort of their living rooms watching on television, there is still the factor of being able to say, “I was in Washington for Barak Obama’s Inauguration.”
I want to offer some words of advice to surviving an Inauguration for all those people coming into town for the festivities. In the years I’ve lived and worked here, I’ve been to several Inaugurations as a reporter. I’ve sat in an icy rain covering the Inaugural Address and stood in the cold reporting along the Pennsylvania parade route. I’ve also been to a few of the official balls at Union Station and the Sheridan Park Hotel. For those who want to be there for the Inaugural Address and parade, the best advice is dress warm and wear comfortable shoes, or boots. Nearly everyone has read about the big snowfall the day before the John F. Kennedy Inaugural and the bitter cold that caused the cancellation of Ronald Reagan’s second Inauguration. It’s the middle of January in Washington, so expect the worst.
It can be a painful experience to attend one of the official Inaugural Balls. The balls are always crowded and uncomfortable. In the ones I’ve attended, there is no place to sit, it is too crowded to dance, there is nothing to eat, and it is virtually impossible to get a drink. People beautifully dressed, mill about the ballroom and wait for the President and First Lady to arrive. When they come they walk onto the stage, wave and do a brief dance and then rush off to the next ball. With the street traffic the disaster it usually is and probably will be worse this time, it is difficult for even the President to get to the 10 or 11 balls he needs to visit. Once the visit is over there is little reason to stay at the ball.
If you are fortunate enough to be invited to one of the private balls, sponsored by one of the state societies or a lobbying or legal firm, those can be elegant and fun. It should be pointed out the President is highly unlikely to attend any of these, but the private functions take on the luster missing from the official events.
For those of us who are Inaugural Ball veterans, there are survival lessons. For example: wear comfortable shoes — women should avoid high heels; hire a car and driver or take metro – don’t drive. If you can avoid checking a winter coat or expensive fur, do so. It is also advisable to not wear that expensive Neimann Marcus gown or mink that could easily be ruined or lost in the crush. If you have spent the money for a car and driver, leave the coat in the car. There were almost riots at one of the Reagan Inaugural Balls at the coat check with long lines and people jumping over the counter to find their own coats. Plan to have dinner before or after the ball, because you won’t get food there. Don’t expect to see any political stars or even media celebrities. They will be at the private events, although a few congressmen and senators will often stop by at balls where they know constituents will be.
All that aside, if you have never attended an Inaugural Ball, this is the year to attend one. If I had never attended one and receive an invitation to attend one this year, I would go. It costs thousands of dollars on travel, hotel, transportation, clothing, and meals for an out-of-town couple to attend one of these events, but in attending, the couple becomes is a witness to history for one of the most historic Inauguration in American history. When you get back home you can regale your friends on what it was like to be part of President Barak Obama’s 2009 Inauguration. Expect annoying problems and discomfort, but don’t pass up the opportunity to be part of it.
It was April 3rd, more than 40 years ago, that Dr. Martin Luther King told a Memphis audience that he had been to the mountain top. He prophetically said, “…I’ve looked over and seen the Promised Land. I may not get there. But I want you to know … we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” The next day he was killed by an assassin’s bullet.
What Dr. King could never have predicted or even dreamed, was that all these years later Barack Obama, a black man, would be elected president of the United States – nothing could have been more indicative of reaching the Promised Land to Dr. King. In one of the most troubled times in American history, with an economic collapse and escalating wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, Obama will be sworn in on January 20th, as president. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt has a president come to office facing such domestic and international dilemmas.
And, Obama, a man with a cool, seemingly unflappable demeanor, comes to office at the right time. He follows a disengaged President Bush whose cavalier international adventuring effectively destroyed much of this country’s stature abroad and stimulated the recruitment of radical Islamic terrorists. In the Arab word, the escalating Israeli war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is seen not an Israeli attack, but an American offensive. The heart-rending photographs on the front pages of most American newspapers and network television news programs of Palestinian children suffering and dying in the Israeli attacks are only a small sample of the proliferation of similar photographs and television reports of the carnage of non-combatants seen in the Arab world. These same photographs are perceived in the Arab world as another example of American perfidy in its war on Islam.
In addition to the seemingly insurmountable economic crisis, President Obama will have to deal with this deep-seeded hatred the Bush Administration’s Middle East policy has exacerbated. For Obama, the challenges seem insurmountable, while the expectations for success are dangerously high. This President will have a short honeymoon and will direct one of the busiest Administration’s in recent history that includes such festering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the growing threat of a nuclear Iran. It will help that President-elect Obama is a man of color with a decidedly non Anglo Saxon name. The simple fact of his unexpected election stunned much of the world and raised the esteem of the United States abroad in ways that are yet to be understood. But now, he has to deliver. He has an opportunity to succeed on the world stage, mostly because there is a desire that he will succeed. It is possible that desire will give him an edge that few incoming presidents have ever had. It remains to be seen if that will be enough of an edge.
On January 20th, a vast world audience will be watching and listening to President Obama’s Inaugural Address. There will most likely be a Kennedy-like call for national sacrifice, but he will also speak out across the assembled millions crowding the capital to that world audience, and talk of the need for a resolution to the Palestinian problem that has troubled the world since the creation of Israel in 1948. Like most of his speeches, it will undoubtedly be inspiring, but for many Americans who watched the painfully slow, often frightening and dangerous civil rights movement, there will be tears – tears of happiness in recognition of the accomplishment of Martin Luther King’s mountain top dream realized. It will not be the Promised Land of King’s soaring rhetoric, there is no such place, but it will be an affirmation of an America facing the reality of an ugly racial past with the realization that it can be better and that in such perilous times an inspirational, committed President Obama is a man who can speak to the world in a new and different way, and that in itself evokes some reassurance and comfort. And that may be part of what King meant that fateful night in Memphis.
It is fascinating to see so much concern Caroline Kennedy might be appointed to the New York senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. All of a sudden, a number of Clinton supporters who are still unhappy Kennedy supported Obama in the primaries against Hillary Clinton are questioning “what does she know” about New York beyond the Upper East Side. And the ominous warning against dynastic politics is being raised.
If you remember, it worked for the Adams family during the early years of our republic, and echoes down through state and local government. Now it may not be the correct way government should work, but it is the way it works and sometimes it even works well. John Quincy Adams was a pretty good president and Ted Kennedy is a highly respected senator. What really carries this debate along is the insatiable maw of 24-hour cable television which chews every story beyond its importance to fill all the time.
It is true that the Kennedy name resonates, and Kennedys have been a significant force since Caroline’s father was elected to the presidency in 1960. Her uncle Bobby Kennedy held the same New York senate seat; and her uncle, Ted Kennedy has represented Massachusetts in the senate since the 1960s.
It has hurt Caroline Kennedy, that President George W. Bush, with one of the lowest approval ratings in history, is a dynastic figure who would never have been considered for the office if it hadn’t been for his father, the first President Bush and his grandfather, Sen. Prescott Bush. This president Bush is a pretty good argument against family names running for office, and especially anymore Bush family attempts at the presidency, even though a movement is already underway for brother Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, to make a run in 2012.
Nobody has made much mention of the Western dynasty of the Udalls, with the sons of former Congressman Mo Udall and former congressman/Interior Department Secretary Stewart Udall, both being elected to the senate in November. They are simply not as famous as the Kennedys, but in Arizona and New Mexico the cousins are significant figures from a significant family. They were, of course, both already serving in the House of Representatives and are political figures that have had to run for office.
There is something disingenuous, however, about the Hillary supporters who seem to have forgotten that the senator, who also had never been elected to office, moved to New York and established residency so she could run for the senate and be elected. Her only political experience was as first lady of Arkansas and the United States. Some might call that carpet bagging. I guess it depends on whose carpet is being bagged. At least Caroline Kennedy has lived her life in New York. I won’t argue that there aren’t extremely qualified office holders who have a right to be considered for Clinton’s senate seat as she moves on to become Secretary of State, and it isn’t fair that Caroline Kennedy becomes the front runner without ever soiling her hands running for political office. But who ever said anything, especially in politics, was fair.
If Caroline Kennedy is appointed to the Senate to fill Hillary Clinton’s term, she will have to face the voters in two years. The political reality is that her name recognition is significant and that is one of the most important factors in politics. She will be a formidable fund-raiser and because of the Kennedy name, will have influence in the Senate far beyond that of a freshman senator. With that kind of power behind her, she will be a powerful advocate for New York, upstate as well as the Upper East Side.
Doug Poretz, a founding partner of Qorvis Communications, talks with me about the role of communications in the current economic crisis and the future role of communications in the Obama Administration.
With extensive experience on Capital Hill and considered one of the leading experts on the U.S. budget and congressional budget process in Washington, DC, I asked Stan Collender, one of the leading experts on federal fiscal and monetary policies, to discuss the U.S. economy and what to expect out of an Obama administration. His comments were spot on and eye-opening.
Stan is one of only a handful of people who has worked for the House and Senate Budget Committees and has worked for three U.S. representatives who served on the House Budget and Ways and Means Committees.