Tag Archives: politics

If Barack Obama decided to change his vice president in the run-up to the 2012 election, who would make a good VP choice?

My response to question posted on Quora . . .

The only way Obama would dump Biden if Biden got caught in some salacious scandal or Biden was suffering from a major medical illness that would impede his ability to do his job or the job of the president if something happened to Obama.

Joseph Biden, Vice President of the United States (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

The ramifications for Obama dumping Biden for some other reason(s) than the above would be serious. Obama would constantly face questions such as “Did you dump Biden because you were afraid that you would lose the upcoming 2012 election?” or “Did you replace Biden because it was politically expedient to do so?” Obama would end up spending so much time defending his VP switcheroo that it would be even harder to stick to his campaign agenda while fighting off the GOP presidential ticket. Replacing his VP would be a sign of weakness, no matter how Obama and his campaign team would try to spin it.

Also, Biden seems to still have pull with traditional/long-standing democrats (whites, blacks, etc.), independents, progressives, women, the 50+ crowd and those who appreciate that he’s not a slick-looking, smooth-acting politician (the under 40 crowd). That’s a lot to give up (replacing your VP) for one who might be able to attract the Latino vote and/or those small, iffy pockets of conservative democrats and moderate republicans.

Link to more answers to Quora question: If Barack Obama decides to change his vice president in the run-up to the 2012 election, who would make a good VP choice?

Grant Memorial: The ‘Ugly Betty’ of U.S. Presidential Monuments

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Vietnam Memorial. Arlington Cemetery. Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument. Jefferson Memorial.  When standing in front these memorials, visitors experience a range of emotions. Awe. Hurt. Sadness. Respect.

The United States National Parks Services (NPS) the government bureau responsible for the maintenance of these memorials, wants visitors to notice and feel the beauty of these memorials – not any aesthetic bruises that would detract from the experience.

However, not every Washington, D.C. memorial is viewed with excitement and reverence by its visitors.

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is classified as a presidential memorial, like the Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR, but in terms of recognition it is the poor stepchild of local memorials.

Visitors congregate in front of the memorial on a daily basis, but have no knowledge of Grant or his history. Dennis Montagna, Director of National Park Services’ Monument Research and Preservation Program said that it is a “very anonymous memorial” whose site is mainly used as a place for high school classes to get their picture taken because the U.S. Capitol building is right behind it. Kirk Savage, author of Monument Wars: Washington D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape said that “it’s amazing how little is known” about the memorial or the man.

The Grant Memorial is located at between Pennsylvania and Maryland Ave, near the west side of the U.S. Capitol Building. It was dedicated in 1921 in honor of Ulysses S. Grant the 18th president of the United States. It is one of twenty-seven presidential memorials in the United States. It is also the first memorial to be constructed on the National Mall.

Unlike other presidential memorials such as the Lincoln or the Jefferson, Grant’s statue was not in honor of his presidential legacy.  Unfortunately, President Grant’s administration from 1869 to 1877 was full of governmental mischief from start to finish. Staff members resigned over a host of scandals such as bribery, extortion, financial kickbacks, embezzlement and causing the gold market to crash.

Grant the President

Grant had a bad habit of hiring the wrong people. He also had an even worse habit of remaining loyal to these malcontents who were steadfastly throwing his presidential administration under the bus, to use a current vernacular.

Grant’s presidency did have some accomplishments such as the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment that allowed African-American males over the age of twenty-one the right to vote, the 1875 Civil Rights Act which prohibited discrimination and segregation against African-Americans in public settings, his “Peace Policy” for Native Americans and establishment of the U.S. Department of Justice. However, it’s hard to point to your triumphs when your failures are more pronounced and politically salacious.

President Ulysses S. Grant (Photo/History.com)

President Ulysses S. Grant (Photo/History.com)

After his presidency Grant tried to settle back into a normal life, but it was hard due to financial missteps on his part.  However, Grant used this time to write his memoirs, which provided the public with its first insight into the presidency. When he died of throat cancer in 1885 over one million people gathered in New York City to watch Grant’s funeral procession and burial ceremonies.

According to Joan Waugh, author of Pageantry of Woe: The Funeral of Ulysses S. Grant, Grant’s funeral was a “spectacle, replete with religious, patriotic, and nationalistic imagery and rhetoric” and that across the country thousands of eulogies and obituaries for Grant “stressed his Christian moral character” and military role in “preserving the Union.” Not much was said about his presidency, which was to be expected.

In the years after his presidency there was a movement to honor Grant with a statue in honor of his work for his country. Though his presidency practically drowned in scandal, Grant’s reputation was saved by one major historical fact. Prior to his presidency, Grant was the magnificent general who led the Union Army to victory against the Confederates in the American Civil War. Grant supporters’ arguments carried the day and the Grant Memorial was built after his death, just like all the other presidential memorials.

Yet the Grant Memorial is not like other presidential memorials. What makes it different is that it is a military memorial that honors a former president.

The Making of the Memorial

The Grant Memorial was made using bronze for the statues and white marble for the platforms. Sculptor Henry Shrady took over twenty years to finish it and died before the dedication ceremonies. Montagna said that Shrady never got a chance to “bask in the glow of adulation regarding the memorial.”

Shrady designed the Grant Memorial to include three sections consisting of Grant in the middle with images of a cavalry charge and an artillery unit on his left and right of Grant statue.

Ulysses S. Grant - Grant Memorial, Washington, D.C. (Photo/Nathan Culpepper)

Ulysses S. Grant – Grant Memorial, Washington, D.C. (Photo/Nathan Culpepper)

The largest section of the memorial statue at over seventeen feet is Grant posed on a horse with his sword sticking high in the air. The statue exudes strength of character and decisiveness, personality traits that probably served him well during the Civil War.  Savage said that Grant “looms above in majestic isolation” over his troops “in his own world, separated from the ordinary soldier. Montagna said that Grant looks “cool and unflappable while all hell is breaking loose around him.”

The ‘hell’ that Montagna is referring to is reflected in the faces of the artillery unit and cavalry charge statues that are next to Grant. These statues show a different side of war.

In the artillery group the men are readying for battle with their faces set in determination for the inevitable with their howitzer in tow. The leader of the artillery looks as if he was caught giving an order in mid-sentence. The horses are charging full steam ahead, necks arched almost prancing while they churn up water and mud as their hooves try to find traction in the land.

As for the cavalry group their determination has given way to fear and pain. The men are huddled together fighting off the cold as their cart takes them to another battle. A horse has lost his footing and is falling down. Unfortunately it has taken a soldier with him who most uncertainly will be trampled to death. The soldier’s face is crying out but no one seems to hear him. Savage said that if you didn’t know any better you would think that it’s an “anti-war” memorial.

The Grant Memorial was highly praised upon its dedication. It also was seen as a first step in the revitalization of Union Square, what is now the National Mall.  The goal (McMillan Plan), according to the Commission on the Arts (commonly known as the McMillan Commission) at the time was to have more gardens and parks surrounding the memorial. Instead something called the Lincoln Memorial, built to honor the sixteenth president was dedicated in May 1922, one month after the Grant Memorial dedication. Just like that – the dwarfing of the Grant Memorial had begun.

As more memorials and a reflecting pool popped up along the National Mall the view of the Grant Memorial became more obscure. Others such as Grant historian James Goode and the Washington Post’s Paul Richard have championed the Grant Memorial to raise its recognition, but not too much avail. Too add insult to injury the memorial was also getting worked over by the elements.

Rain and snow created a type of rust that coated the pristine bronze statues of Grant Memorial with a green-like coating that oozed its way down onto the marble. The marble platforms and ballasts have cracks and missing pieces. Not much was done about it until the 1980s when the National Parks Services began cleaning and waxing it again.

Catherine Dewey, Architectural Conservator at the National Park Service said in an “ideal world” the memorial would be cleaned at least once a year. However, she said that the cleaning of monuments and memorials are “partially based on need” and the “higher profile” of the monument.

“Sometimes it’s hard to pick and choose which memorials and monuments deserve funds and which will have to wait a while.” said Montagna.

Dewey said that the National Park Service is seeking funds for the restoration of the Grant in the next few years. In the interim, since the Grant Memorial is not the Lincoln, the Vietnam or the Jefferson it has to wait for its turn in the cleaning rotation.

It is highly unlikely that the Grant Memorial will ever see the number of visitors as the Lincoln or the Jefferson. Savage said the area around the memorial is not set-up for visitors, with the reflecting pool blocking access to the memorial. Plus he said “it’s Grant – not Lincoln” and that “each has a much different place in our memory.”

Yet there are people out there who think that the Grant Memorial still has a shot at recognition. Savage said that the memorial needs to be “interpreted for contemporary use” with kiosks, podcasts or audio and “create a whole new physical circulation to the Mall area” to include the Grant memorial in its foot traffic. Or maybe the memorial should be rebranded as a statue-like movie as described by Richards “offering horses at full gallop drama, ceaseless action, bugle calls, grunts and screams.” Also, Grant has become pretty popular in the publishing industry, with some authors saying that his presidency wasn’t all that bad. But is that enough?

Maybe the Grant Memorial one day will get the recognition its supporters thinks it deserves. But as long as it is staring across the Lincoln Memorial that recognition will always be hard to find.

But hope springs eternal.

When the Long-suffering Wife Is Worse Than the Mistress

This week John Edwards’ former mistress, Rielle Hunter was on Oprah Winfrey. Hunter talked about the political scandal/affair that involved former 2008 democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, his wife Elizabeth and herself. She espoused about the lovechild she had with John, their relationship and its ramifications.

I didn’t actually watch the program since I was at work. Even if I had happened to be home that day I still wouldn’t have watched it. What’s the point? Would I have learned anything that I didn’t already know? We all know the media spin that was put on this story.  John is a cad who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife. Hunter is a slut who took advantage and along with John could have almost cost the Democrats the presidential election. Then there’s poor, sick, salt-of-the-earth Elizabeth Edwards (John’s wife) who has been embarrassed by her husband’s wayward penis.

I wish I could say that I felt sorry for Elizabeth when this whole sordid news came about, but I didn’t then and I don’t now. Call me cynical, but I just never bought the ‘Poor Elizabeth’ story. Yes, she has cancer. Yes, she had a child die in a car accident, but that does not mean that she is a saint. Let’s be honest, some of the empathy directed towards her is because she is a fat, frumpy and all-around not a very physically attractive person. Heck, her husband might as well have been a Greek god in the looks department when compared to her.

Elizabeth knew what people thought of her and played this hand of cards to its fullest, whether it was lying to the public, the Edwards’ campaign workers or the democratic party.  John was not the only narcissistic person in this relationship, she held her own as well. She wanted to be in the White House just as badly as John did – make no mistake about that. She was completely complicit in trying to keep John’s tryst with Hunter under wraps as long as possible. When the shit hit the fan she was pissed and let everyone know it in a very passive-aggressive manner. If she really cared about her family she would not have written a book or showed up on every talk show talking about her feelings about John’s philandering while never referring to Rielle or her husband’s lovechild by name. Sometimes she referred to John and Rielle’s daughter as “it.” What made the situation worse and downright mean was that during Elizabeth’s interviews John would be sitting next to her quietly, looking absolutely pathetic while his balls were being cut-off on national television. I actually felt sorry for him even though he could have caused the republicans to get back in the White House if Edwards had been the democrat’s presidential nominee when the Hunter-Edwards scandal hit the news world. I’m not saying that John Edwards’ downfall isn’t deserved because this incident shows that he is reckless and his decision-making skills are extremely faulty. Yet, Elizabeth’s behavior is not without fault.

Whenever I expressed my thoughts on Elizabeth Edwards I was told that I had no pity, that I was being harsh towards poor, poor Elizabeth. I must admit that I felt some vindication when Edwards’ former aide, Andrew Young wrote in his book about Elizabeth’s controlling and vindictive behavior. I’m not saying that Young is 100% right since he has his own agenda, but I believe that there is some truth to his allegations. As for Rielle Hunter, she is as clueless as the day is long. I’m not sure if she is in love with John Edwards or suffering from extreme infatuation. Unfortunately for John he allowed his dick to do his talking and he got run over by his wife and mistress. Yet I’m sure that he is surprised by the depth of the tread marks that Elizabeth has left on his back since stereotypically that is the mistress’ job. I guess he didn’t know when to fold them or when to hold them or when to walk away. Oh well.

Note: In January 2010 John and Elizabeth Edwards separated after 32 years of marriage. However, they were never legally divorced. The split could not be finalized until the couple lived apart for 12 months–Elizabeth Edwards’ died of metastatic breast cancer on December 7, 2010 one month shy of the requirement. In January 2011 Elizabeth Edward’s final will and testament revealed that she left nothing to John Edwards. He was not mentioned in her will. The couple’s oldest daughter was named executor and everything was left to the couple’s three children.

Longbox Graveyard

Marvel and DC comics and community

TIME

Current & Breaking News | National & World Updates

Black Girl in Maine

Musings of a black woman living in one of the nation's whitest states

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The World Commentary

An Asian American Perspective

Little by Listen

Breakin' it down one tune at a time

Splatter: on FILM

My view on films as I see them. Take it, laugh, share it, leave it. Above all, enjoy!

backtothemusic

time travelling through iTunes

the m0vie blog

an Irish nerd's eye look at the world of film

Hear! Hear!

Where there's more to "POP" than meets the ear!

O Totsy!

Ridiculously, It All Makes Sense

Tech

News and reviews from the world of gadgets, gear, apps and the web

The Thesis Whisperer

Just like the horse whisperer - but with more pages

Entertainment

What’s good, bad and happening, from pop culture to high culture