Tag Archive: Believer


“She kind of likes my sense of humor. Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.” — Former President George W. Bush.

“Bush’s friendship with Obama, a confident, smart and elegant woman whose integrity is impeccable, gives him credence. Around her, he is humble, playful and comfortable. She allows him to be the lighthearted person he is, without judgment.” —   Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton

Almost DailyBrett has heard all of the rhetoric about championing diversity and accepting other points of view.

Sounds good … until it’s time for most people to practice what they preach.

Turn on any of your devices – from first screen digital television to second screen social media – and it won’t be long until the talking heads start name calling, literally screaming at each other.

Your author has written blogs – many which have not been read — and yet the respondents troll each other on Facebook about a headline and/or a photo.

Long-time friendships and relationships quickly come to an end. Many are blocked; others are outright unfriended. People who hold different points of view are inwardly or outwardly regarded as Unmensch.

Forget about passing candy (or throat lozenges) to any of them.

Some will claim all of this vitriol began in 2016. Almost DailyBrett begs to differ, pegging the beginning of the end of civility to the 1998 Clintonian impeachment process. Instead of attacks against Robert Mueller, the arrows and barbs were directed against Kenneth Starr.

And now some are talking about impeaching yet another president (i.e., Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton before) only with the Senate most likely failing to muster the two-third-votes required to convict.

What’s the point?

Instead, shouldn’t we all reflect upon the public examples exemplified by two prominent individuals – hailing from opposite parties — who not only continue to talk the talk, but walk the walk?

Wasn’t it Michelle Obama who said: “When they go low, we go high”?

And wasn’t George W. Bush one of the most consequential, and as a result one of most reviled presidents in history?

And yet starting with the peaceful transfer of power in fall 2008 through the present day, Michelle Obama and George W. Bush have demonstrated to the world how we should treat each other, regardless of competing philosophies.

Maybe we should be doing less competing, and more understanding of other points of view.

Back to Jefferson/Back to Lincoln

The world’s most successful Democracy features two competing political parties with proud histories.

The Democrats hail from the days of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. Besides the aforementioned, the party has provided America with great presidents including James K. Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.

The Republicans were born as an abolitionist party and fielded giants including Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett has made this suggestion before and will make it again: Try reading two straight-forward books featuring a prominent Democrat and Republican.

For your author most recently, it was David Axelrod’s Believer and Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence. These two gents served as presidential campaign managers, electing and then re-electing Barack Obama and George W. Bush respectively to the White House.

Both lost parents to suicide. Both tell harrowing tales of state politics, Illinois and Texas. Both share candid insider looks into the strengths and all-too-human weaknesses of their bosses. Both provide solid commentary today on CNN and Fox News.

#Candygate?

Some may want to simply dismiss the Michelle Obama/George W. Bush relationship to protocol.

Time and time again, Michelle and Dubya sit next to each because protocol dictates that the spouse of #44 (Barack Obama) sits next to #43 (George W. Bush), who in turn is paired with Laura Bush.

The ever-present cameras caught Laura asking her hubby to pass a throat lozenge to Michelle during the Memorial Service for the late Senator John McCain. The mistaken candy-for-lozenge exchange/return smile instantly received a Twitter hashtag: #Candygate.

What should be the national normal (e.g., civility) has become the extraordinary (e.g., genuine Michelle/Dubya friendship) in today’s divisive, polarized society.

Does the national reaction to this unlikely friendship between a former First Lady and a former POTUS say more about them, or does it point to our own widespread lack of respect and decency for any view that conflicts with our own?

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a22979284/george-w-bush-michelle-obama-friendship-history/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/glanton/ct-met-dahleen-glanton-michelle-george-friendship-20180903-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/page/ct-perspec-page-mccain-funeral-michelle-obama-george-bush-donald-trump-0905-20180904-story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/lets-all-pull-one-punch-this-week/

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.DSC01433

Can we have a national chill-out … even for a day?

Can we respond affirmatively to the question Rodney King posed a generation ago?

Can we truly embrace the marketplace of ideas?

Can we reject the coarsening of America?rodneyking

As an eternally optimistic blog, Almost DailyBrett believes we can do all of these things … but first we have to climb out of our filter bubbles. We were all given two ears and only one mouth for a reason.

We have to accept that everyone is entitled to express their own opinion. It’s this First Amendment Freedom of Speech thing. Have you ever contemplated why the very first mod to our Constitution guaranteed the right to speak out, and even to offer dissent?

One has to wonder why violence is breaking out at campaign rallies, fights are more common than ever at American sporting events, and obscene F-bombs and sexist C-words are flying across movies and digital screens without any consideration whether anyone is hurt in the process. And don’t think for a second the racist N-word is finally dead and buried.

Can We All Get Along?

Governing Party and Loyal Opposition

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” – John Maynard Keynesfilterbubble

The author of Almost DailyBrett is not campaigning for a medal.

Considering that yours truly is a political animal (and has always been one), it probably would not surprise anyone that I devour political books (e.g., one of my first: Theodore H. White’s The Making of the President, 1960).

Recently, I read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer. Needless to say the two gents, one on the right and the other on the left, have a different take on American politics. Why read both, if one’s politics lean to the left or conversely to the right?

Why not?

These two overachievers were the architects of the last four successful presidential campaigns. They made presidents. Besides Rove’s accounts of Texas wheeling and dealing, and Axelrod’s stories about Chicago politics are downright fascinating.

And yet when I posted on Facebook that I had read both books, I received either silence or negative comments about one gent or the other.

Ladies and gentlemen, why are we so insecure or downright scared to entertain someone else’s point of view?

Didn’t our Founding Fathers envision three branches of government with the requisite checks and balances? My experience is that Americans are much more comfortable with divided government with a governing party and a loyal opposition.

Does the public embrace the bickering and name calling that seems to be out of control? Of course not.

There was overpromising and underperforming. The optimism that flourished on the cold January day in 2009 has been transformed into anguish, angst and despair, if not downright anger.

Maybe instead of demanding perfection in our own eyes, maybe we should settle for good for a while and actually see some positives in others?

If there is class warfare, it is still war. And what is it good for? Nothing.

Let’s see the Republican National Convention is July 18-21 in Cleveland. The Democratic National Convention is set for July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

How about a National Chill-Out Day on Sunday, July 31?chillout

In fact, every last Sunday in July should be National Chill-Out Day. No political ads. No mean-spirited discourse. No name calling. No fights. Actually listening to another point of view for a change? Let the Marketplace of Ideas reign.

Just one day to Chill-Out. How ‘bout it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_King

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/thinking-the-unthinkable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/is-the-c-word-the-equivalent-of-the-n-word/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_H._White

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:John_Maynard_Keynes

Ich bin ein Berliner.” – President John F. Kennedy address beside the Brandenburg Gate in 1963

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” – President Ronald Reagan address in the shadow of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987

Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze Berlin.” – Soviet leader Nikita KhrushchevJFKberlin1

There is no place on earth that is more emblematic of the Cold War than the Brandenburg Gate in the geographic center of Berlin. For almost 30 years, absolutely no one could walk through its arches because of the ugly scar of the Berlin Wall (Die Mauer).

The author of Almost DailyBrett travelled to Germany’s capital nearly 20 years ago to walk through the Brandenburg Gate and to secure his piece of the wall (mein Stück der Mauer). Those mature enough remember exactly where they were when the magic word spread in 1989 that the Wall had come down and East Germany’s (a.k.a. German Democratic Republic) repressed citizens were now free and the end of the Cold War was near.brandenburggate

One of those citizens was the daughter of a Lutheran minister and a Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Angela Merkel. Today, she is the third-longest serving Chancellor of Germany and Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The periodical described her as the “Chancellor of the Free World.”

As the most visible leader of not only Europe’s largest economy, Germany, and the European Union, even Merkel cannot avoid consternation.

One such controversy involved a young American Senator by the name of Barack Obama, running for president in the summer of 2008. His aides suggested a Kennedyesque/Reaganesque campaign speech beside the Brandenburg Gate.

Her response was nein. True to form of American politics, not everyone remembers the dispute that way.

A Little Bid “Odd”?

When Barack heard about this plan, he was incredulous. ‘You think we’re setting expectations a little high? Let’s find another spot.’” – Campaign manager David Axelrod recalling Barack Obama’s reaction to a proposed presidential campaign speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in his book, Believer

(German Chancellor Angela) Merkel has “little sympathy for the Brandenburg Gate being used for electioneering and has expressed her doubts about the idea.” – Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg in 2008.

Hmmm … the two above quotes contradict each other.

Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover story makes direct reference to Merkel’s government turning down the request of the Obama campaign to burnish the senator’s foreign policy credentials at the Brandenburg Gate on June 24, 2008. Die Kanzerlin believed the gate should be reserved for heads of state (e.g., Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Kohl …). Sitting members of Congress did not rise to that level.

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time’s Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, understood the reason why the Obama campaign wanted the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop. Very few places project the healing of the East-West divide and speaking at das Brandenburger Tor would project foreign policy gravitas for the young senator. Alas, Merkel’s office found the Obama campaign request to be a tad, “odd.”

Despite this decision, Time concluded the relationship between Obama and Merkel has improved since that time. Having said that, Time’s revisiting this issue brings into question Axelrod’s contention that it was Obama … not Merkel … who made the decision to move the speech two kilometers west of the Brandenburg Gate to the other side of the Tiergarten where the Victory Column (Siegessäule) is located.

A legitimate question posed by Almost DailyBrett is why does this case of faulty memories or worse, revisionist history, matter nearly eight years later? The answer is we are heading into a presidential election year and with it comes the pressures to exaggerate, to amplify and to engage in revisionist history.

Age of Pinocchios

The Washington Post awards Pinocchios for those in public life who utter as Winston Churchill would say, “terminological inexactitudes.” Using that standard, Axelrod (Believer, page 292) may be accorded at least one Pinocchio for this description of how Obama … not Merkel … decided against a campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate.obamaberlin

As those enthrusted to build and enhance brands, guard reputations and be ready to prevent and respond crisis communications situations, public relations professionals must be on guard for terminological inexactitudes (an euphemism for a direct lie).

Sometimes they start as small, little fibs. Let the young senator in your own mind choose the Victory Column instead of the Brandenburg Gate.

But what happens when fibs escalate into bold unsubstantiated claims of Mexico flooding this country with murderers and rapists? Where’s the beef?

What happens when one candidate charges that ISIS is using another candidate’s speeches for recruitment videos? Where are the videos? They exist of they do not exist.

As we move from the presidential campaign Silly Season, defined by subjective judgments by the political class, to the Serious Season when real voters with real results get into the mix, the pressure will be on to push the envelope in terms of personal credentials or worse, the opposition’s perceived missteps.

A little terminological inexactitude here and a little terminological inexactitude there, pretty soon you are talking about whole boat load of Pinocchios.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/brandenburg-gate-controversy-obama-reacts-to-debate-in-berlin-a-565080.html

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Brandenburg-Gate

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/terminological-inexactitude

 

 

 

There was a decade when giants walked.

These were days when governments and societies for the most part worked. These were days when a wall came down, and the guns went silent. These were the days when 19 million jobs were created, the greatest peacetime employment expansion in American history. These were days when just plain living was a “good thing” as Martha would say.G7worldleaders

Almost DailyBrett will never be accused of being warm and fuzzy, romantic or even nostalgic. There is no desire to turn back the clock, but there is an almost daily longing to go Back to the Future (1985 film) and see what we can learn from the 1980s.

The 1980s began with 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran and ended with the Berlin Wall coming down and the successful culmination of the Cold War.

Some closer to home even dared to utter that it was “Morning in America.” Can you imagine saying that today?

There is no such thing as a perfect society and there never will be, but the 1980s gave us a peek into what we can do, if we can compromise, respect other opinions and work together.

“Bygone Bipartisanship”

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.reagantip

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wrote his 2013 best seller, “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” about the relationship between a Republican president and a Democratic speaker of the house that were mirror philosophical opposites of each other, but managed to work together to improve America.

Even with Paul Ryan coming aboard as Speaker of the House are we in any way more confident that Congress and the incumbent president can put together enough votes and good will to do anything other than raising the debt limit to $20 trillion?

Going back to the future, to the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was president, Margaret Thatcher was prime minster, Mikhail Gorbachev was general secretary and Helmut Kohl was Kanzler. Would we trade Barack Obama, David Cameron, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel for their aforementioned predecessors?

Wouldn’t we certainly like to see bare-chested Putin ride his horse into the sunset?

Reading Kohl’s Vom Mauerfall zur Weiderveinigung: Meine Erinnergungen, one is floored by how Kohl drew an inside straight with Gorbachev barely 50 years after Barbarossa commenced and the Panzers roared into Russia.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov) Êàðà÷àåâî-×åðêåññêàÿ àâòîíîìíàÿ îáëàñòü. 16 èþëÿ 1990 ãîäà â êóðîðòíîì ïîñåëêå Àðõûç ïðîøëè ïåðåãîâîðû ïðåçèäåíòà ÑÑÑÐ Ìèõàèëà Ñåðãååâè÷à Ãîðáà÷åâà ñ ôåäåðàëüíûì êàíöëåðîì ÔÐà Ãåëüìóòîì Êîëåì. Íà ñíèìêå: Ìèõàèë Ãîðáà÷åâ ñ æåíîé Ðàèñîé Ìàêñèìîâíîé è Ãåëüìóò Êîëü (ñïðàâà) âî âðåìÿ ïðîãóëêè ïåðåä íà÷àëîì ïåðåãîâîðîâ. Ôîòî Þðèÿ Ëèçóíîâà è Êîíñòàíòèíà Òàðóñîâà /Ôîòîõðîíèêà ÒÀÑÑ/.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov)

All Kohl wanted to do was reunify Germany, expel Soviet troops from former East Germany, enroll a united Germany in the NATO alliance, integrate Germany into the European Union and maintain a defense force of 370,000. Surprisingly, Gorbachev said “da” as Germany promised to monetarily assist with Russia’s perestroika or restructuring program.

One of the key ingredients for Kohl to secure what he wanted for Germany and his place in history was being able to provide Gorbachev with talking points he could use back home in the Rodina. Imagine putting yourself into the other leader’s shoes and helping her or him make the politically tough, but correct choice? Alas, Gorbachev paid the ultimate political price for his courage.

Can anyone conceivably imagine Putin signing off on any of the above or compromising on anything? Heck, Putin and Merkel won’t even speak the same language to each other when they meet. Courage seems to be in short supply these days (not suggesting that Merkel is a shrinking violet).

Looking back at the 1980s, Americans were notorious ticket splitters and reflecting the national mood, more times than naught they gladly re-elected incumbents. Almost DailyBrett can’t forget how Republican Governor George Deukmejian was re-elected with the greatest landslide in blue California’s history with a 61-37 percent margin in 1986, and Democratic Senator Alan Cranston won re-election by a 49-47 percent count on the very same day.

21st Century Filter Bubbles

Contrast the mood in the country and political climate in the mid-1980s with the widespread vitriol, anxiety and angst that is prevalent at this mid-point of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Many have asked the question, what happened (e.g., Chris Matthews)? The more important question is to ask: What can we collectively do to bring back the optimism and achievements of the 1980s?

Are we turning back the clock as the pessimistic pundits would say or are we applying the digital wizardry of the 21st Century to recapture the optimism and best hopes of a not-too-distant time?DSC01433

As PR practitioners, reputation managers, students of global society do we dare appreciate the other team’s point of view? Can political animals read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer and learn something from the two architects of the last four winning presidential campaigns?

Or do we selectively search on Google, Yahoo and Bing for news and information that serves to corroborate our own personal confirmation bias? Some even revert to their crayons, coloring books and play dough when some foreign thought is threatening the filter bubble? Vaccines are really bad; it says so right here on Wikipedia.

Even though the 1980s were not perfect, we know they were a better time, a much better time. Sometimes the best strategy is to take one step back before going two steps forward. Sounds like a tactical retreat, a period of reflection and then moving forward with great vigor to New Frontiers. A little compromise may be in order as well.

Do we have the makings of a 1980s plan?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Future

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/books/review/tip-and-the-gipper-by-chris-matthews.html?_r=0

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/alt-kanzler-auf-der-frankfurter-buchmesse-kohl-praesentiert-sein-neues-altes-buch-vom-mauerfall-zur-wiedervereinigung/10812422.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_California,_1986

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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