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Susan Estrich - Obama: Act II

How can it be that with Washington simmering in scandals, with Republicans (not to mention talk-show hosts) using the "I" word (impeachment) with abandon, with calls to bring back Ken Starr (of Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky fame), President Obama's job approval rating is holding steady at around 50 percent, thank you very much?
It is unchanged from April, when no one was talking about any of those things.
The explanation is easy: Unemployment is down; home sales and prices are at five-year highs. As always, it's the economy.
The surveys don't tell us, at least not for sure, whether the president's approval rating would be even higher were it not for all the hearings and finger pointing under the Capitol Dome. But they do tell us this: While more Republicans than Democrats are paying attention to the coverage of the scandals, overall, 75 percent of us just aren't watching any of it very carefully. And it's not even Memorial Day.
As for the supposed "Second-Term Curse," which is also getting its share of ink, the fact is that Congress is making steady progress on immigration reform, which traditionally has been one of the trickiest public policy areas for any president, Republican or Democrat.
Is the government working despite itself? Maybe.
Have the rest of us grown so scandal-weary after so many years of partisan bickering and hyped-up hollering that we hardly know a real scandal from a look-alike? Maybe.
So should the president just relax and go play nine holes? Absolutely not.
For Barack Obama, the question is not whether he will win the next election. There is no next election. The question is whether his presidency will be judged a success, what his legacy will be, whether people will look back at his tenure and say that, all in all, the country was in good hands.
Obama was re-elected despite a still-struggling economy, for reasons that had as much to do with demographics and Republican mistakes as his own successes. His signal accomplishment — the passage of Obamacare — is about to face the acid test.
Will it "work"? Will Obamacare, like Medicare, soon be seen as an accepted (and essential) part of American life? The administration, in advance of the graduation speech season, was priming officials to emphasize to graduates and their parents how much Obamacare is already helping them. But allowing our kids to stay on our health plans after they graduate isn't enough to cause a wholesale embrace of "exchanges" and "mandates" and the rest — words that are on the verge of becoming reality.
Likewise, while the economy is improving, big problems loom. Today's college graduates face an uncertain future, to say the least. According to a study out last month from the Economic Policy Institute, unemployment among recent college grads (ages 21-24) has averaged just under 9 percent over the past year. But the "underemployment rate" — the number you get when you add in those working part time and those who have stopped looking for work — is more than twice that. After adjusting for inflation, young college grads working full time make about $3,200 a year less than they did in 2000.
Virtually every parent I know with kids in this age group is not just keeping them on their health plan; they're helping to support them one way or another. To quote Paul Ryan (of all people, I know): "College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life."
The challenge for the president is not simply to survive the "scandal du jour." It is to make Obamacare work. It is to help today's young people move forward. It is to move beyond the scandals to successes that are worth paying attention to.
Based on what we've heard to date, I feel confident that the president won't be impeached. But whether he will be celebrated as a great president is a question that ultimately will be answered by many of those underemployed college grads who are still staring at the old posters, as well as their parents, who are still paying the bills.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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90% in favor but we have no new gun violence legislation

To the editor,
Senator Ayotte sent me a long e-mail saying that she wanted to "fix" the problem of gun violence. She said that she wanted stronger background checks. Think that will happen?
I replied that we now have no new gun violence legislation, despite roughly 90 percent approval for stronger background checks. Nothing.
Ayotte supporters seem to have equal representation in letters to The Citizen of Laconia, but I feel that most readers are against her decision.
Dick Devens
Center Sandwich

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 12:04

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So where is that 76 acres of floodwater supposed to go now?

To the editor,
I'm watching the "progress" on Tenney Mountain highway bank and fast food restaurant relocation construction. So let me get this right — with recommendation of the Plymouth Planning Board, the Town of Plymouth voted to fill in (raise above flood stage) an additional 76 acres of flood plain, effectively removing 76 acres from the flood plain.
So now where will this 76 acres of floodwater go? I suppose the next big Baker River flood we can blame on global warming and not on the fact that we are filling in the flood plain.
David Lorman

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 12:00

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We're stuck in Victorian mind set, wanting tourists to pay our bills

To the editor,
The N.H. House voted down the casino bill last week giving as a reason that it would ruin the "New Hampshire Advantage". This is always brought up during public policy debates. Coined by a former governor of N.H., Steve Merrill (1993-1997), it means different things to different people. Most commonly, it refers to the state's business climate; lack of a sales or income tax; quality of life and a large citizen legislature, which I take it to mean that we here in New Hampshire like to take our time in deciding things!
I have a different take on the N.H. Advantage. We rank second only behind Maryland in the average median household income and second only to New Jersey in property taxes as a percentage of home value. This tells me one thing. We're stuck in a Victorian mind set where we want the tourists to pay all our bills.
In recent studies, the N.H. Advantage begins to dim a bit. Massachusetts added 41,000 jobs last year and Vermont added 3,000. By comparison, N.H. lost 2,000. An even more startling economic indicator is that the population growth is also slowing down. Thanks to the University of New Hampshire's high in-state tuition rate, we are easily one of the top three most expensive states to raise children.
Being a chess player, my next question to those purists who don't want a casino or income tax — what's your next gigantic move?
George Maloof

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 11:46

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You say scare tactics? I will tell you what scary really looks like

To the editor,
In response to L. J. Sidens remarks in The Daily Sun, dated Wednesday, May 15:
I respond to you as kindly as I know how. I kept thinking as I read your comments that the thoughts you have about Fox News, conservatives ET. Al. is the same thoughts I have about the main stream media, such as MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. You say Fox News, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes are not fair and balanced. You say, "They are quick to break any rumor, opinion, half-truth, distortion or lie as hard news." How about the media, hoping and intimating that the Boston bombing was done by a white supremacist or was a right wing person. How about the media trying to accuse conservative talk shows for the Gaby Gifford shooting and the Sandy Hook horror even before the facts were in. Please sir, would you please give me an example of this distortion of truth on the part of Fox News. It is one thing to make an accusation it is another to give proof of this criticism.
Proof of MSNBC's, etc. bias is that they did not cover Dr. Gosnel's abortion clinic trial and murder to which he received a lifetime prison sentence. I have heard Chris Matthews accuse conservatives' citizens as bigots, biased homophobes and racists; especially if we don't agree with Obama, and they accuse us only because we have conservative beliefs. That is so not true. We are NOT racist; we wholeheartedly disagree with President Obama's socialist form of government and his drastically changing our American way of life away from our Founding Fathers' and the Constitution. True many programs are in need of changing and revamping but not the socialist/communist way.
Chris Matthews constantly sings the praises of Barack Obama. You say of Fox "it's a megaphone for right wing propaganda". NO, it is the only news media allowing the conservative point of view. The liberal view is spread in all the other many channels. They get their talking points from the N.Y. Times. Fox does not spiel out propaganda. It is TRUTH. If they broadcast untruths about what is going on please, sir, tell me what it is. They do give the conservative point of view admittedly, but they give the opposite point of view as well. As I said they have Bob Beckel, Allan Coombs, Juan Williams, and others. When they have a Republican Senator to give their point of view or advocate a bill in question they also have a Democrat politician giving his or her opposition. That is fair and balanced. Please tell me the conservatives, I mean smart savvy Republicans rebutting the Democrat's point of view on MSNBC, ET. AL. Please the next time you make accusations of Fox News and its leadership gives examples.
I am so sorry that you are of the opinion that we use scare tactics by bringing God into the dynamics of news of what is happening today. God is so loving, kind and as I said patient. You apparently have not read the Old Testament where God's judgment is constantly mentioned by the disobedience of His people and their turning away from His commandments and precepts.
Of course you are going to call me a Bible thumper and yes I am. I am proud of it. I do believe that the Bible is God's Word and it is His instruction to us. Read it sir; it is very instructional and the way to follow. And yes, read the New Testament giving us the way of redemption for the human race through the sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. If I am narrow, so be it. Here are the words of Jesus "I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father but by me". King Jesus said that. If it is too narrow for you, take it up with Him.
God has been so patient with his creation. For years and years, He has put up with disobedience and a turning away from His commandments and His way. Read "Mere Christianity". The author C.S. Lewis was an atheist and he was so much so he said he was going to prove the Bible false. He proceeded to study it in a scholarly fashion. After which, he became an ardent Christian and one of the strongest proponents of Christianity today. "Mere Christianity", "Screwtape letters", "Joy" and his other books are truly classics.
You say the conservatives rely on scare tactics. Sir, I will tell you what scary is. I will tell you scare tactics by the left.
1. What is scarier than murdering innocent babies and leaving them to die on a table or flushing them down the toilet or drowning them in toxic liquid? That is darn right cruel and horrendous and more than scary. What kind of person is it who could do or allow such a thing and then use real baby's feet as a relic for his desk.
2. What is so very scary is targeting applicants to the IRS who are conservatives and a government denying them or making them wait an abnormal amount of time to become tax exempt because of their beliefs and asking inappropriate, and an inordinate amount of questions in order to become tax exempt. That is not a mistake that is tyranny.
3. What is scarier than the director of this Tax Exempt Department at the IRS, Sarah Ingram becoming the director of Obamacare. She will be in charge of our medical needs and procedures. Can we trust her to give conservatives or the elderly good medical care when needed? I don't think so and proof is the unscrupulous targeting of Tea Party folks and Christian organizations for non-tax exempt status. More tyranny. Obamacare MUST be repealed.
4. What is dreadfully scary is a government who won't give American citizens cover or protection when they are under attack in other lands as in the Benghazi murders because they didn't want America to think that terrorism is alive and still viable and who wanted to win an election. That sir is scary. Obama's election superseded any concern for the lives of these dedicated servants to America.
5. What is also scary is a political party that voted to take God out of their platform, I think three times.
So what are you saying? That government should reign supreme in the lives of people over and against our Creator who loves us so much He sent His son to die for us so we can have eternal life. Not only eternal life, but guidance in this world we live in. I choose The GOD of the Bible and His Salvation in a nano minute. That is not scary sir, that is the safest and the most common sense way for a person and or a country to live by. God bless the USA.
Florence Shealy

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 11:27

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