Thursday, September 05, 2013

Quick Hits: Volume LXXV

- Say, does anyone recall the 2012 campaign when GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney called Russia "our number one geopolitical foe?" How about Romney continually pointing out that the monstrosity known as Obamacare would not be implemented in the timetable the Obama administration had set and that more and more Americans supported the law's repeal? And Mr. Romney also suggested that the auto industry in his home state of Michigan would be better off going through a structured bankruptcy as opposed to accepting government bailouts. Remember all that?

Many of Romney's friends, staff and supporters certainly do.

Ten months after Mitt Romney shuffled off the national stage in defeat — consigned, many predicted, to a fate of instant irrelevance and permanent obscurity — Republicans are suddenly celebrating the presidential also-ran as a political prophet.

From his widely mocked warnings about a hostile Russia to his adamant opposition to the increasingly unpopular implementation of Obamacare, the ex-candidate’s canon of campaign rhetoric now offers cause for vindication — and remorse — to Romney’s friends, supporters, and former advisers.

“I think about the campaign every single day, and what a shame it is who we have in the White House,” said Spencer Zwick, who worked as Romney’s finance director and is a close friend to his family. “I look at things happening and I say, you know what? Mitt was actually right when he talked about Russia, and he was actually right when he talked about how hard it was going to be to implement Obamacare, and he was actually right when he talked about the economy. I think there are a lot of everyday Americans who are now feeling the effects of what [Romney] said was going to happen, unfortunately.”

I clearly recall President Obama mocking Romney's stance on Russia by saying that his foreign policy was stuck in the 1980s. By the way, what's the progress on extraditing Edward Snowden from Russia, Mr. President? And how about those deadlines for certain facets of Obamacare? Oh, and bailing out the auto industry has revitalized Detroit, right?

Speaking of the October foreign policy debate, I pretty much had forgotten about another concern Romney raised that evening.

(Romney) briefly expressed concern over Islamic extremists taking control of northern Mali — an obscure reference that was mocked on Twitter at the time, including by liberal comedian Bill Maher. Three months later, France sent troops into the country at the behest of the Malian president, bringing the conflict to front pages around the world.

Sure, Romney may have been vindicated on a lot of key issues impacting the U.S. But until he's able to defend his 1960s high school prank when he cut a high school classmate's hair or the fact his wife Ann had the audacity to eschew working outside the home in order to raise five sons or driving a car with a dog-occupied kennel strapped atop the vehicle, he's not fit to be Commander in Chief or something.

- As a rabid Minnesota Vikings fan, I, by default, root feverishly against the Green Bay Packers nearly every time they play. But on the rare occasion where a Packers victory would benefit the Vikings? Sure, I suck it up and become a Packer backer for a day (sans wearing a foam block of cheese on my head; I have my limits).

With all that said, the Green Bay Packers may well have my unconditional support on October 13 when they take on the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Why?

The NFL may have spiked the White House’s request for Obamacare PR help — but the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens just called an audible.

The team has signed onto efforts to market the health law to Marylanders, according to an announcement from Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and officials running the state’s Obamacare insurance exchange, known as Maryland Health Connection.

I'm sure Matt Birk is grateful he retired from the Ravens after last season.

- I was saddened by the news that former Minnesota GOP senator Rod Grams has entered home hospice care. I was told last year that Grams was battling cancer and that his prognosis was up in the air. Sadly, the chemotherapy used to treat his colon cancer has since proven ineffective due to the disease metastasizing in his liver.

As a life long Twin Cities native, I remember Grams well as co-anchor of the KMSP Channel 9 evening news from 1982 thru 1991. He left KMSP and made a successful bid for U.S. House in 1992. Two years later, upon the retirement of Senator Dave Durenberger, Grams defeated Democrat Ann Wynia in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race. At the time, Grams had become the first House freshman to be elected to the Senate in 22 years. In fact, Grams and former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback (elected to the Senate in 1996) are the only two politicians to hold that distinction over the past 40 years. Unfortunately, Grams lost his reelection bid in 2000 to Mark Dayton. He would never again hold elected office.

The majority of people I know who have associated with Grams consider him one of the more genuinely decent human beings around. Even in a nasty business like politics, Grams somehow stayed dignified even when hitting an opponent on his/her questionable record. The last time Grams ran for political office was in 2006, when he took on long time incumbent Congressman Jim Oberstar. In a solid blue Minnesota congressional district in what turned out to be a miserable electoral year for Republicans, Grams still came out swinging as only he could. At the end of a debate with Oberstar, Grams calmly questioned the Congressman's residential status, going so far as to produce a property tax statement indicating a Potomac, MD home as his "permanent residence." The reaction from Oberstar was epic.

As Grams enters his final days on this earth, he appears ready to leave with his dignity intact.

"The decision became evident, as far as my faith and where I'm going from here," Grams said by phone. "I always feel my last breath here is my first breath in heaven, and I'm very comfortable with that."

Is it strange that I will miss someone whom I've spoken to for maybe 60 seconds in my entire life?


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