Playing "Hardball" with Chris Matthews

20171025 1407530During a recent luncheon hosted by the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County, the packed crowd of more than 175 attendees was provided the opportunity to play a little “hardball” with MSNBC's host of Hardball, Chris Matthews. Chris served as luncheon guest speaker but not to discuss the usual politics.
Rather, he was there to discuss his new book “Bobby Kennedy – A Raging Spirit.” I had the pleasure of attending and listen to Chris talk admiringly about an individual I, too, admire greatly.
Interestingly, so much of what he covered has relevance in today's politics.


The election and the numbers


2016 Pres. Election Poll

The 2016 presidential election has got to be the most surprising upset in presidential election history and the most devastating to progressive politics.

On November 18, pollster Fred Yang, partner with Hart Research Associates, addressed the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County to attempt to shed some light on how so many pollsters could not have seen this disaster coming.

He made a valiant effort.


Off-the-mark yet insightful!

Womens Democratic Club of MoCo

As someone who doesn't shrink from offering his own political observations, I found the panel discussion on the 2016 presidential election hosted by the Woman's Democratic Club (WDC) of Montgomery County on October 28th to be insightful, informative and, now, in retrospect, as off the mark as every other prediction by the so-called pundits.
The panelists for this event were Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus and former Time Magazine columnist and current Bloomberg News columnist Margaret Carlson. The discussion was moderated by former local news reporter, former Congressional candidate and successful business woman the WDC's own Kathleen Matthews.
The discussion focused on the 2016 presidential election and having these experienced journalists provide their perspectives gave insight into how they viewed the 2016 campaign while also confirming how off the mark every so-called pundit was on this election.


And now pinch hitting...

Chris-van-hollenSenatorial candidate Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) COURTESY PHOTO

Montgomery County is quite fortunate to have a collection of outstanding political figures. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett was scheduled to serve as the guest speaker for the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County luncheon on May 18th, but had to cancel. Who steps in? None other than senatorial candidate, Chris Van Hollen.

The closest analogy I can come up with is Cate Blanchette having to drop out of a role only to be replaced by Meryl Streep.


Fight for District 8 is on


The most important ingredient to a democracy is the people's right to vote. To exercise that right most effectively requires an informed electorate. On Tuesday, November 17th, I attended a forum of candidates that was designed to provide just such an opportunity for voters. The Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC), in conjunction with the Montgomery County Democrats, hosted a forum of the seven Democratic candidates seeking to fill the 8th District Congressional seat that will soon be vacated by Congressman Chris Van Hollen as he seeks to win the Senate seat of retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski.


Trusting Iran isn't the point, Ben Cardin

I didn't think I would be visiting the issue of the Iran nuclear deal in my column so soon after writing about it as recently as Aug. 7. However, I recently had the opportunity to attend a luncheon hosted by the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County at which our own Sen. Ben Cardin served as the guest speaker.


A conversation with David Axelrod

axelrodI recently had the opportunity to listen to David Axelrod, long time advisor to President Obama and key strategist for both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, speak about his new book "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics". The event was sponsored by the Women's Democratic Club of Montgomery County and was quite enlightening.

Of particular interest to me was the issue of dealing with the rampant partisan politics within the beltway. In his book, Mr. Axelrod had indicated that one of the motivating factors convincing President Obama to run for the presidency was his sincere belief that he, as someone new to the "beltway", could have a significant impact on cutting through the partisan politics that so stymies the ability of the federal government to get anything accomplished. Regrettably, the reality that is all too apparent to anyone following President Obama's time in office is that this president has faced more blatant obstructionism than any other president in history, certainly any president in my own lifetime which goes back to the Truman Administration.

The election of the first minority candidate for president, rather than serve to indicate how far we have come as a nation, served all too often to awaken in too many the desire to take us backwards to where we once were...30, 50, 100 or even 200 years ago in areas such as race relations and how we react to the differences that exist among all of the various members of our society.

My question to Mr. Axelrod was simple: Knowing what we now know, how would you have advised President Obama differently in the early stages of his administration in dealing with the blatant partisan obstructionism intended to undermine any attempts by the president to move this country forward? I made it clear that this was not a trick question, Jeb Bush notwithstanding. His response was both extremely honest and, in my opinion, quite appropriate. His answer was "I don't know" and he didn't know, he went on to say, because there really is no surefire way to deal with an opposition that "won't take YES for an answer".

If I could find one positive thing to say about the intentions of the opposition it is that at least they didn't try to hide them. They were quite upfront with their plan from the beginning which was to win back the White House by blocking everything the President attempted to accomplish. As Mr. Axelrod indicated, Mitch McConnell made that strategy quite clear when he declared that his goal was to "make this President a one-term president". Regrettably, this strategy is still being adhered to in a second term.

So how do we break through the obstructionism that plagues today's "beltway politics" and all too often places party before the best interest of citizens? Mr. Axelrod did offer a solution, be it one that requires time and dedication. His solution is "bottom up" politics. Looking at local elections, whether for school board, City Council, and the like and working and voting for candidates who represent the best interests of citizens. It is local and state legislatures that serve as the breeding ground for the senators and representatives in the Congress of the future and it is an investment well worth taking.

Mr. Axelrod also referred to the strategy used by Ronald Reagan to curry favor with what is now known as the "Reagan Democrats" of the southern belt through social issues. He did so not to win back that specific voting bloc as much as to use as an example of rallying a group around a specific set of issues. As the middle class continues to shrink as a result of the policies of the current Congress, the rallying point for those of us who consider ourselves still part of the middle class must be, according to Mr. Axelrod, around economic issues.

These, of course, would include the earned benefits we worked for such as social security and Medicare but they should also include recognizing the need for investment in education and infrastructure. It should also include a tax structure that rewards hard work over making money off of the money others earn. That tax structure should also reward investment in creating jobs in America while penalizing those companies who ship jobs overseas. Supporting candidates who understand and support these middle class issues when they are running for office at the lower echelons of the political spectrum is the most effective way to ensure that they make their way to the upper echelons of the political spectrum down the road.

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