Readers pick up on fourth dimension

By Ken Feltman

This appeared in the June 1 issue of Inside Washington’s Headlines:

“Obama is subscribing to the political fourth dimension: If it happens on my watch, it’s because it can happen on anybody’s watch, or everybody’s watch, or nobody’s.”

The June 1 article quickly became the most-forwarded article in the 24 years of Radnor Reports. Dozens of readers have written to comment on those words. Generally, they agreed that President Obama wants to have it all ways. A North African wrote: “He is now promoting a corporate pay czar but he says he does not want to run the auto companies, but he runs them.”

A few divisions are becoming clear from the comments. Blacks outside the United States are confused and concerned by this statement: “African-Americans are divided, with a growing number concerned that Obama has either deserted black issues or put black concerns on a back burner.” They urge a wait-and-see attitude and stress that it is early.

African-American readers who commented recognize the concerns felt by many African-Americans but also urge patience. My conclusion: Those African-Americans who are disappointed with Obama’s performance are expressing deep and frustrating feelings. But those impressions are not universal. African-American leaders seem willing to give Obama more time. Therefore, he has more time to address black issues directly.

Many readers drew comparisons with former President Bill Clinton. A woman in Minnesota wrote: “Clinton was never responsible for anything, either.” Others welcomed Obama’s actions. People who identified themselves as Democrats were quick to attack the article. Republicans were cautious. My conclusion: Obama has time. But he has set the bar so high that he may not be able to clear it. No matter how much he accomplishes, his inability to do everything on his growing list may stall his presidency. Expectations are too high.

Reflecting their preoccupation with the European Parliamentary elections, several readers across Europe have an interesting perspective. Citing the likelihood that European voters will support the center-right in this election, dealing another defeat to the left (results will be available in a few hours), these readers point out that the right-leaning parties in several European Union countries have moved to the middle to capture more voters. They pose a practical question: Why do Republicans seem to be moving further right, letting Obama claim the center even as Obama moves left? My conclusion: The Republicans lack a Sarkozy or a Merkel.

A contrast to the European elections will take place in Virginia on Tuesday. Democrats have a hard fought three-way primary election that will decide their candidate for governor in November. The primary is attracting attention and new voters. Republicans do not have a primary election despite the fact that several moderate Republicans wanted to run for governor. They were all shut out of the process. The Republican leadership picked their candidate at a convention dominated by the party leaders. Naturally, a conservative was chosen.

The Democrats have an active party. The Republicans have a reactive party. The Republicans are aging reactionaries who seem to repel moderate or progressive ideas. A final conclusion: The Republicans will keep losing until they figure out that control of the Republican party is worthless without control of public offices. The first duty of any politician is to get elected. That’s the only way to get a place at the table when decisions are made.

About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Know as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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