Tag Archives: GOP

An open letter from Colin Powell to the Republican party

Dear Sirs and a Madam or two:

There are many in the party who have expressed shock, outrage, disappointment, and feelings of betrayal over my decision to break with Party lines and endorse Senator Barack Obama.  Well, let me tell you, I can sympathize!

You see, a number of years ago, I was given some information and a vial of fake anthrax and asked to plead a case for war in front of the U.N.  I was somewhat dubious, but I was assured that the information and intelligence upon which I was making our plea was solid, and that this was a just and necessary war.  It turned out, you all were full of crap.  Years of war have proven that our primary reason for starting that trillion-dollar mess was based on unsubstantiated intelligence from questionable sources, and nary a weapon of mass destruction has been found.  Oh I know, some of you are claiming all the WMDs hauled ass into Syria, but you’re full of it.  We’ve got dozens of high-tech spy satellites with their eyes trained on that region; if any sort of mass shipment of weapons happened we would have seen it.

You used me.  You used my name and my good reputation in the world to make your case, and it blew up in all our faces.  To say I felt betrayed, disappointed, shocked and outraged is putting it mildly.  I wanted to drop a bus on you frigging people, since you so symbolically dropped one on me, on my good reputation, and on my honor as a soldier and a man.  I was a shining example of nonpartisanship, of leadership, of integrity.  Nearly overnight you made me into another worthless Bush lackey.  Not only that, but I had a pretty good shot at becoming the first black president.  And as a Republican!  It wasn’t something I actively aspired to, but I’ve dedicated my life to service to my country, and had the calls for me to run been compelling and resounding, I would have.  I would have run with honor and sincerity and honesty and I probably would have won, because I’m pretty moderate and cool and the American people frigging loved me.  Now people on the left lump me in as just another chump in the administration, and people on the right… well, some of you have just gone stark raving mad, and while you may like me I really don’t want to have much to do with you.

However, it would be unfair to say I endorsed Barack Obama out of spite.  I hope you know me enough to know that I’m bigger than that.  I mean, let’s just take a look at the guy — he’s got charm, and charisma, and brains, and if I were a woman I would be madly in love with him.  Heck, even as a guy I have a bit of a man-crush on the dude.  He’s a light in the fog these days in a country craving some leadership and calm in a storm of woes.  And it’s not like the guy the Republican party nominated makes me quiver with excitement.  Sure, I like him, the way you like that crazy uncle that mumbles conspiracy theories at Christmas dinner and tells off your grandpa for being a pinko commie who never understood him.

And of course there are the people who are already saying I’m backing him because he’s a brother.  Come on.  I’m the same color as George W. for chrissake, and Obama ain’t much darker.  But if there’s one thing about his outward appearance that sways me, it’s his ears.  I know they look pretty dorky but you know what?  He uses them for more than holding up a frigging cowboy hat.  He listens.  He seeks knowledge and advice and wisdom, and wants you to tell him what he doesn’t know.  That’s a drink of water in the desert, man, especially after so many years of the administration not giving a damn about what I might have to say, and then the American public mostly despising me for helping make the case for war.  Not only is this guy smart enough to take advice, but he’s so awesome and transformational that maybe he can help me regain at least a little of the respect and credibility I lost because of you.

It is certainly fair to say you didn’t exactly make it hard for me to choose which horse I wanted to back.  You eviscerated all the party loyalty I had when you threw my reputation under a bus to further your pet project in Iraq.  So, I may have sounded my own political death knell, but it was frigging worth it, you assholes.

********************

OK, so maybe Gen. Powell didn’t really write that.  But it’s certainly fun for me to imagine him thinking it.

Does executive experience make a good president? The results!

I spent many an evening compiling all my results. All the links for all the individual detailed presidential analysis are here.

Now I acknowledge before I go any further that this exercise was purely subjective. If a hundred people did the same thing I did, they numbers would turn out a hundred different ways. Different presidents would be good, or not good, and the presidents’ experience could be counted as “executive” in ways I didn’t consider or excluded. This isn’t fact, it’s simply my opinion. My overtired, worn-out, bleeding-heart liberal (but fiscally somewhat conservative) opinion. I also want to thank the internet, without which I could never have put this together. Specifically, Wikipedia and all the relevant cited sources in each president’s article, and the excellent essays of the Miller Center of Public Affairs were especially helpful.

To review and sum up, I wanted to look at each president and see if their “executive experience” was a strong predictor of their success as president … or if their lack of executive experience was a predictor of a poor presidency. I had a null hypothesis — that being that more presidents that had executive experience (or lacked it) would be good presidents (or not good, if they didn’t have executive experience). The alternative hypothesis would be non-expected results… more presidents who didn’t have executive experience being good presidents (or with executive experience being bad presidents). I decided “executive experience” would be someone who’d served in the executive branch as a governor, but not vice president. A general in the armed forces counted, as did entrepreneurial experience by running a company, or presiding over a college. I went president by president, summing up their experience and whether history has shown them to be a good president.

There were three presidents who I didn’t score because of the brevity of their term, and Grover Cleveland only got scored once, even though he served two non-successive terms. What that means is though there were 43 presidents so far, I’ve only got 39 actual presidencies represented here on out.

I ended up with a pretty even match-up — 21 good presidents and 18 not-good presidents. There were also 24 with executive experience and 15 without executive experience. You get a matrix that looks like this:

When it comes to the null and alternative hypothesis… well, things start getting interesting. Out of 39 presidencies, ones where either a good president had executive experience or a bad president didn’t have it, 16, or 41% of presidents, met the null hypothesis. That means 23, or about 59% of presidents, met the alternative hypothesis. If executive experience were a good predictor of success as a president, I’d expect the percentage of presidencies meeting the null hypothesis at LEAST over 50%… and we didn’t even get there! A very safe conclusion from these numbers is that executive experience is simply NOT a strong predictor of success as a president. If my statistical analysis skills weren’t so rusty, and if I had Excel on this laptop and not just MS Works (which is basically good for making a grocery list and not much else) I could attempt to slap some real statistics on this, but I frankly don’t have the energy and the numbers mostly speak for themselves anyway, in my opinion. If anyone WOULD like to work out some statistical conclusions, be my guest! I’d be happy to supply my original spreadsheet and anything else you may need.

Take a look at that 2×2 matrix by rows, focusing on the “executive experience” or “no executive experience” categorization. I’d say that based on this, if someone comes into office with executive experience, it’s basically a crap shoot whether or not they will be a good president. Without executive experience, however, odds are 2:1 that they WILL be a good president. I guess this is promising for both Obama and McCain, since neither have the executive experience the GOP is claiming makes Palin soooooo “qualified”. It would be interesting to do a multi-categorical analysis of all the presidents, looking at a number of factors to determine which factors were most predictive of presidential success. Maybe it’s a long congressional service. Or geography. Or education. Or personality traits. Or some combination therein. Or some other factor I am not thinking of.

Some interesting observations:

  • The largest of the four categories in the 2×2 is the category of presidents who had executive experience but were not good presidents. I don’t think with a proper statistical analysis that this category would stand out as significant in and of itself, but it just is interesting to look at and ponder.
  • Some of the most highly regarded “good” presidents were in the “no executive experience” category — Lincoln, Kennedy, and Truman stand out. So it’s not like the presidents with executive experience were all the really great presidents and the ones without were just OK.
  • Three of the most consistently ranked worst presidents — Pierce, Harding, and Buchanan — had no executive experience before entering office. So, while executive experience doesn’t mean any sort of guarantee of success, perhaps it at least helps ensure that a president isn’t going to be horribly, tremendously, stupendously awful.

In summary, I believe this executive experience talk is hogwash, and Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani and all the other Republiclones need to just shut their pieholes about it. Unless what they’re trying to say is “Hey, at least if Sarah Palin becomes president, she won’t be as terrible as Warren G. Harding.” (Wow, that would be a great campaign slogan!)

Czechoslovakia

John McCain referred to “Czechoslovakia” in a couple public statements recently, and a few people noticed.

He did it last year, too.

Problem is, as you may or may not realize, Czechoslovakia isn’t a country anymore, and hasn’t been for like 15 years. If he were making the reference in an historical context that would certainly be OK, but not when he’s talking about current events.

Now, I really don’t care much. I mean, GWB referred to people from Greece as “Grecians” and still got elected. The fact is that like 90% of Americans are probably saying “Czechoslovakia isn’t a country anymore? When did that happen?” (Linkified in case you care to learn more about it.) Normally I would probably really not care at all.

But it raises an interesting little scenario in my family. My husband is Czech. His parents are from the Czech Republic. They came here to escape Communism in the late 60s. Thus, Frank is the first of his whole family born in the U.S.

And they are all die-hard Republicans.

I showed Frank the story, and he read it with interest, but kept a good poker face (he very much dislikes talking politics and I mostly respect that and just make sure I vote to cancel out his vote). I’m not sure where his reaction fell. But his parents are HAPPY to talk politics. I’m so interested to ask them what they think. They get very offended when people don’t know that their country was dissolved and refer to them as Czechoslovakians. (Technically I guess they were born Czechoslovakians, and when they came here they were still Czechoslovakians, but even then, the Czech side and the Slovak side had very separate identities. The sides were further broken up into different regions – Moravia, Bohemia, etc. – and folks very much identify with their home regions. On a “Don’t Mess With Texas” level of allegiance.)

Anyway, we’re having dinner with them tomorrow so I shall report back. I doubt the gaffe will be enough to sway them away from the GOP camp, but it will be interesting to see how forgiving they are.