DrMyers’s Blog

May 1, 2009

Day 102 – Robert Gibbs Interupted: Appointments, Appointments, Appointments!

 

The job of the White House Press Secretary is not an easy one.  Every statement made by this individual reflects directly as the viewpoint of the Administration and even the President.  George Akerson, the first appointed press secretary under President Herbert Hoover, felt the blunt-end of criticism by both the President and Press Corps, consequently being blamed for the Republican president’s deteriorating relations with the Washington Press Corps. Unfortunately, he received his appointment right after the 1929 Stock Market Crash, which subsequently was the beginning of the Great Depression.  Press Secretaries over the last 10 years, usually stay in office (or can only undertake the stress that comes along with job) for only two or four years.  Stephen Early, press secretary under President Roosevelt, stayed in his position for 12 years, which could be attributed to the America’s entrance into the Second World War.  

The Whitehouse Press Secretary becomes the “messenger” that usually fields questions from the members of the Press Corps.  Depending on the recent actions coming from the White House, the daily press conference can be either very lively and intense, or dull and overlooked; but the Press Conference held today will be one that will make history and mark the beginning for a major milestone within the life of a young administration.

 

Justice David Souter

Justice David Souter

 

Today, President Obama interrupted the daily White House Press Brief, to tell reporters that he had just got off of the phone with David Souter, and that Souter would be leaving the US Supreme Court at the end of this session.  The President stated that, “I am extremely thankful for his extraordinary service” speaking admirably of Souter and his service to the Court, also stating that he is looking to make sure the new Justice will be “Seated by the 1st Monday of October”.  

Leaving the briefing room, Robert Gibbs again took the stage, and began the task many of his predecessors had grown to master…the task and skill of “Playing by Ear”!

The power vested to the President in Article 2 of the Constitution, giving him the authority to appoint a Justice to the Supreme Court is considered to be the most important task of the President, and it is a task that has not been taken lightly or for granted by the former Presidents.  The art of choosing the right candidate can have a long lasting effect on how our justice system interprets the Law.  Being that Justices are confirmed to Life Long terms, the appointment of a Justice could affect the way laws are interpreted long after the President has left office (Such as John Paul Stevens who was appointed by Late President Ford).  

A great example of the long lasting effects of a court starts within the court under Chief Justice John Jay.  John Jay was the first Chief Justice of the five members Supreme Court, appointed in 1791 during the presidency of George Washington.  The case was Chisholm v. Georgia, and the Plaintiff Alexander Chisholm, the executor of the estate of Robert Farquhar, attempted to sue the state of Georgia in the Supreme Court over payments due him for goods that Farquhar had supplied Georgia during the American Revolutionary War.   The defendant, Georgia, refused to appear, claiming that as a “sovereign”, a state did not have to appear in court to hear a suit against it to which it did not consent.  This resulted in the Court 4–1 decision, found in favor of the plaintiff.  The constitutional interpretation handed down by that court argued that Article 3, Section 2, of the Constitution abrogated the States’ sovereign immunity and granted federal courts the affirmative power to hear disputes between private citizens and States.  As a result of this decision, Congress proposed the Eleventh Amendment, which granted states immunity from certain types of lawsuits in federal courts. This Amendment was ratified in 1795.

Only on day 102 of his presidency, Barack Obama now has the opportunity to start his “Justice Search”.  The eyes of America are pointed directly upon the 9 member court, knowing that President Obama’s choice could lean the court in a liberal direction.  The nine-member court has often split in 5-4 votes between conservative and liberal factions on a range of issues. 

Many are concerned upon the racial/gender representation in the Supreme Court, with Justice Clarence Thomas serving as the only African American on the court and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg serving as the only woman.   

Regardless of the choice, The president has made clear that he is looking for someone who is ”Dedicated to the Rule of law…” and someone with a “Sharp independent mind”, with the latter giving insight towards a more conservative Justice that I anticipate will be disputed by the left.  The one thing we know, is that whoever President Obama nominates, if confirmed by the Senate, the issues of; Separation of Church and State, Same Sex Marriage, and Patriot Act, might lie within the vote of this future Justice! 

Perhaps, John Jay did have an interpretation we all should remember in times like this, and keep this statement close when choosing a representative of the people, to properly interpret the laws that  the people will have to abide by:

 

Chief Justice John Jay

Chief Justice John Jay

 

“The people who own the country, ought to govern it”

Chief Justice John Jay

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“Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”: The Secret Lives of Politicians on Display!

 

Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Growing up in a small town, one grows accustomed to certain “facts”.  The school district could all sit on one parcel of land, and if you are from the south, there is only one place to be on Friday night…the High School football game!  Neighboring families share history and when discussing family history, the family church must be also mentioned.  Dating can be awfully dreadful in a small town due to the fact that “blood relationships” are common among members of the opposite sex.  Feuds and Fights can last for generations, with no need for an explanation of why; that’s just how it’s always been.  

No small town can be a “true” small town, without a little taste of Gossip.  Some of the best Gossip takes place ironically after church, and typically about the people who attended church that Sunday.  “How could she show her face in service after what SHE’S done” or “it’s a wonder he could even stay awake during service, he was out all night!”.  Fashion critics, Music critic, Oratory Critics, show their expertise over the dinner table with always a disclaimer coming from the person with the juiciest person.  This disclaimer came as a warning that simply stated, “If I hear this again, I’ll know EXACTLY where it came from”!  With this staunch warning, one would not dare repeat the information shared over that dinner table;  because if he/her did, they would be nothing more than an idle gossiper, and heaven forbid anyone view them as nothing more than a “Gossiper”.

Believe it or not, there is an old adage about the origin of the word Gossip.  As it was told to me, “Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what was considered important to the people.  Since there were no telephones, TVs or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars, instructing them to ‘go sip some ale’ and listen to people’s conversations and political concerns. When assistants were dispatched, they were told, ‘You go sip here’ and ‘You go sip there.’  The two words ‘go sip’ were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and thus we have the term ‘gossip.”  Now whether or not this adage is really how the word Gossip was formed, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Although the adage has been questioned in years past, the irony lies, in that the lives of Politicians have been notoriously the root of much gossip.  This is most evident during campaign season, as we just experienced with this last election.  The number houses held by one politician and “Who’s the Mama” from his running mate, ran a hard race against a man who we were not sure was born in America, and with a running mate who was going to drop out of the race at any minute.  The gossip surrounding the last election is child’s play if we take a look back in history.

During the presidential campaign of 1800, the Federalists attacked Jefferson as an infidel and a Deist, claiming that Jefferson’s intoxication with the religious and political extremism of the French Revolution disqualified him from public office.  President Andrew Jackson dealt with much sorrow, when his wife was viciously attacked by his opposition after it was discovered that she was not divorced from her first husband when she married Jackson.  Although he won the election, his wife died of a heart attack after shopping for an inaugural dress; for the rest of his life he blamed the opposition’s attacks on his wife for her death.  But NONE of these compare with the gossip surrounding the “Bachelor President”…James Buchanan.

Not much now is discussed about James Buchanan, but when he was in office, scandalous rumors circulated about Buchanan, his “bachelorhood”…and his roommate Senator William R King, who would go on to be the shortest serving Vice-President in our nation’s history, due to his death only 45 days after taking office.  Buchanan and King were inseparable while in Washington.   President Andrew Jackson, known for speaking his mind, would begin referring to King as “Miss Nancy” and “Aunt Fancy”, while Aaron V. Brown (Governor of Tennessee) spoke of the two as “Buchanan and his wife”.  Below is an excerpt of a letter from Buchanan to King:

“I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them. I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection.”

In hindsight, we must remember that men spoke in very classical and endearing ways at that time.  It is very possible that this letter was just a simple letter to a friend he missed while he was away.  Nonetheless, with all the other correspondents between the two gentlemen burned by their descendents, we will never know; but there is a video documentary that will is threatening to “Out” some modern day politicians who have advocated against gay rights in their respective offices.

Directed by Kirby Dick, “Outrage” premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.  One of the politicians targeted by this film is Charlie Crist, Florida Governor, and a viable candidate for the 2012 election on the Republican Ticket.  As summed up by the director, he views this film a way to expose those politicians who live outwardly as straight men for political gain, advocating against issues that would help advance the Gay Community in achieving equal rights; while secretly living as homosexual men.  He hopes by making this film, these politicians will be bold enough to see that this is a bad decision both personally and politically.  Rallying around the fact that this is the 21st century, he hopes that this film will encourage politicians to know that they can run in their districts and win by honestly portraying their sexuality, whether on the Republican or Democratic ticket.

Now in regards to if the adage I told earlier is true…it too is mere Gossip.  The word “Gossip” spans far before our political system was in place, deriving from the old English word godsibb, a combination of god and sib, the term which was used for what we call Godparent.  In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, mostly a woman, one who delights in idle talk and chatter.  The verb to gossip, meaning “to be a gossip”, first appears in the classical work of William Shakespeare.

In regards the reaction the documentary “Outrage” might receive, it’s almost certain to make friends and enemies; this I am sure of.  But maybe this will finally open an honest dialog that will address whether the American people should be more concerned with whom a politician takes to his/her bedroom, or the policies they are introducing in the Halls of Congress, which directly affects their lives.   Maybe James Buchanan had some feedback about the inner thought of a man, who might feel less of a man, because of his/her sexuality and how others view him or her.

James Buchanan 15th President of the United States

James Buchanan 15th President of the United States

“The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.

~James Buchanan

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