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Obama: Obsessed with Infamy?

There's a saying: "You can never be too rich, too thin, or go too far too fast." Our current President seems to subscribe to the latter. Being the first African American to be elected to the White House doesn't appear to be good enough for Barack Obama. He's got to be ultra infamous, and that means going far-fast.

While many Presidents have laid out what they have believed to be "bold" policy plans for the future, it's typically a broad theme or two that echoes their campaign promises and is accepted as somewhat attainable. But Obama is making it his mission to address every issue this country faces by sounding the alarm of urgency to get his way. From greenhouse gas to healthcare to government contracts, he's made them all priorities. But are his initiatives really about us, or about his own obsession with infamy?

Obama says "this country can't afford to wait on healthcare." More like, this country can't afford universal healthcare. However, if Obama were to completely socialize medicine he'd surely earn his place in the history books while simultaneously thumbing his nose at the Clintons. If he can shove his cap and trade program through he'd be hailed an environmental savior, out greening even Al Gore. He's gone after executive pay, proposed a budget that seeks to grow government, cripple investment, and impose a host of punitive wealth transfer programs turning us into Europe.

Many economists are editorializing that what he's preaching isn't even possible due to our country's limited financial bandwidth. But Obama doesn't seem to care. He is charging ahead and planning to charge all of his proposals on the country's already maxed out credit card. Most puzzlingly, he is devoid of a plan to address the most pressing problem facing the nation: a credit crisis.

Is Obama's pathological narcissism and pursuit for unparalleled notoriety driving our nation into the ground?

Many politicians are egomaniacs from Nixon to Clinton. Samuel Vaknin, Ph.D., and a known expert on pathology and narcissism writes:

"David Koresh, Charles Manson, Joseph Koni, Shoko Asahara, Stalin, Saddam, Mao, Kim Jong Ill and Adolph Hitler; They created a personality cult around themselves and with their blazing speeches elevated their admirers, filled their hearts with enthusiasm and instilled in their minds a new zest for life. They gave them hope! They promised them the moon, but alas, invariably they brought them to their doom. When you are a victim of a cult of personality, you don't know it until it is too late."

The personalized emblems, the presumptuous presidential seals before he won office, the cultish iconography, the desire to silence any kind of dissent among his detractors, all of these things point to a man who seems to be obsessively driven by his own self interest.

With each policy push and passing day that Wall Street suffers, we are seeing that with Obama, reality and fantasy are intertwined. Let's hope the country wakes up in time, before his quest for greatness sacrifices the nation's best interests.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative political commentator and former Press Secretary to the House Republican Conference. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.com.

Two Obamas: Which Will Show Up Tonight?

When Barack Obama was a senator, he was much more upbeat. In fact, he was ultra-positive and almost too cheery and idealistic to be credible. We heard him on the campaign trail speaking incessantly about a gauzy vision of hope and change, while his supporters snorted his every amorphous and vague word in the quest for the euphoric Obama-high.

President Obama is a much different orator. He's replaced the flowery can-do language with a daily diatribe of doomsday. Like any drug, this one has given way to the harsh reality that coming down from his apex of hope isn't as fun as inhaling it was. "Yes we can!" has been replaced with "We can -- but only if we can make sacrifices NOW."

So which Obama will show up for tonight's address? The Obama who propagates the notion that our best days are ahead of us, or the one who invokes a melancholy vision and stresses that things will further decline before they improve?

After advice from the always helpful Bill Clinton and a market plunge, Obama likely knows he needs to stop accentuating the negative. But how else will he get his grand plans passed if he doesn't sound the alarm?
One thing Obama the senator and Obama the president have been consistent on is using "the fierce urgency of now" for whatever it is he wants. He has mastered the art of invoking gravity and extremity to manipulate popular opinion so he can either get elected, or pass his policy initiatives. Whether he is lambasting the last eight years to spur change or stoking panic about our current economic calamity to move the masses -- capitalizing on a crisis is one of his core competencies.

No matter which Obama shows up to speak to before Congress and the nations, one thing is certain: he must explain why things haven't gotten better. He will make excuses for why we've yet to see the rainbow-colored bunting, gold-encrusted streets and sugar-coated dreams he promised us from the stump. He can't blame all our ills on George Bush, but he'll try.

Here's my advice: If anyone is planning a drinking game tonight don't take a sip each time he says "the last eight years" unless you're looking to get sauced.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative political commentator and former Press Secretary to the House Republican Conference. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.com.

Memo to GOP: Don't Cave on the Stimulus

House and Senate Republicans should back away from the bloated, pork filled spending bill that Democrats are masking as a stimulus. New computers for State Department bureaucrats? Food stamps? $335 million to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (someone please tell me how preventing the clap is going to revive the economy)?

The New York Times, likely in jubilation, reveals exactly what many opponents have been arguing (and fearing) for a long time in a front page headline today: "Stimulus Plan Offers Road to Retooling Social Policy." With expanded entitlements and experiments in socialized medicine -- don't forget the family planning money that was recently stripped -- the bill is the largest, liberal spending boon this nation has ever seen.

The key to a successful stimulus is one that puts money directly into the hands of the people, not borderline bankrupt states and the bureaucrats who run them to pay off debt. Besides creating a lobbyist feeding frenzy, the bill does little to create long term jobs. It might create short term work, but that is what we saw with the New Deal, and that is why it failed. While new roads are nice, you can't rebuild a road five times.

While it's true the bill doesn't contain earmarks -- as Obama likes to boast -- the money gets directly funneled to the states and the bureaucrats decide how to best spend it (with the help of overzealous and overpaid lobbyists). This makes it extremely challenging for the American people to maintain oversight, something we desperately need. The Democrats have perpetrated a fraud: there is nothing that remotely resembles change in this excessive, leftist boondoggle. As the Wall Street Journal said today: "only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus" and that it appears to be comprised of "every pent up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years."

Almost as troubling as the contents of the package and how it will be spent is the speed at which the left is attempting to jam it down the throats of the American people. "It's urgent," they howl. What's urgent is the need for Democrats to ram this thing through so Republicans have little time to publicly oppose it. Whenever the opposition starts obstructing, the media gets involved and constituents begin to pay attention, giving the opposition -- and their arguments -- traction. The bill was written in the House under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, with zero Republican input.

I caution Republicans: do not fall for Obama's eleventh hour plea to get on board. You might appreciate his overtures to you but his motives are transparent. To Obama, GOP support is only ideal so Democrats aren't solely to blame when voters see that almost $1 trillion of their taxpayer money was used to lavishly reward our new president's supporters and advance a radical agenda instead of helping struggling businesses and families.

The crux of our problem is a credit crisis. This bill does absolutely nothing to fix that. And though what's about to happen on Capitol Hill is frightening, it presents an opportunity for the GOP. We were thrown out of the White House because we acted like Democrats. It's time to stand up, stand strong and return to our principles of low taxes for everyone, private sector growth, and long term job creation through incentives that aren't handouts for a select few. There is no better time than now.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative commentator and Fox News.com contributor. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.com and www.FoxNews.com/opinion.

The True Bush Legacy

As I watched President Bush say his final farewell to the nation last night, my emotions were mixed. Though I admired the humility of his speech, I was left to wonder where that President Bush, and that tone, had been hiding for the last eight years. Puzzlingly, there was no real acknowledgement of our economic calamity, or at minimum a reassurance that the situation was top of mind, and that he and President-elect Obama were working together to ensure a seamless switch. Many of the points he did hit were noteworthy and noble, but he wouldn't have had to argue his case if his communications team had been articulating it all along. Disappointingly, I saw a man desperately trying to promote his Presidency in the eleventh hour.

While he still remains a somewhat popular figure in the Republican Party, Bush has angered many in the GOP, including me. That is not to say I don't respect my President. I do. But Bush and I have something in common: we both are always going to tell you exactly what we think - politically correct or not - no matter whom we piss off.

President Bush will largely be known for two things: the decision to invade Iraq and for presiding over the largest and most dramatic expansion of government this country has ever seen, which is a long term threat to liberty. While his compassionate conservatism produced positive results like an unprecedented level of funding to combat AIDS in Africa, it also bought into the notion that it is the federal government's job to provide material success to people - a terrible premise to operate from.

On foreign policy, he rightly supported Israel and refused to back down to radical Islamic Jihadists. His tough-talkin', cavalier character put the fundamentalists who seek to destroy us on notice, but his second inaugural was an ideological orgy of democracy promotion. As a conservative, I do not want the United States to be a crusader for democracy. That is Napoleonic.

Domestically, Bush created a massive fault line in the Republican Party with his proposal for easy immigration. He saw successes with Medicare Part D and CAFTA, but the back story to each was filled with late night votes and congressional cloakroom arm twisting. By the time Hurricane Katrina had rolled around it seemed as though he given up. He politicized his decision making by having Rove in all his policy meetings, and he put allegiance above ability when it came to selecting a staff whose modus operandi was insular, bullish, close-minded and off putting. Sadly, this has left the Republican Party badly bruised, divided and disoriented.

While he deserves enormous credit for keeping this country safe, his most overlooked achievements were his admirable positions on the judiciary and the social issues. He genuinely struggled to formulate an ethical position on stem cells. He picked outstanding justices, and that is his biggest, most untold legacy. He also picked a wife that could arguably be the most gracious and respected First Lady in United States' history. Moreover, as a person, he is a man of class and grace, a role model as a father and a man with a genuine conscience. It is hard not to admire him for that reason.

When it comes to his legacy, President Bush deserves more credit than he will get, especially when it comes to the mainstream media. In order for Obama to be a success, they must paint Bush as a failure. However, no president is perfect. Bush's biggest downfall was not that his intentions were malevolent, it was that he forgot how to communicate with the American people. The last week of one's presidency is a terrible time to remember.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator and Fox News.com contributor. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.com and www.FoxNews.com/opinion.

Obama's Stimulus Package: A Pricey Experiment

President-elect Barack Obama is prepping to jam another massive stimulus plan down our throats. Lately, the president-elect has been hitting the media circuit to sell this monstrosity and each time he launches into his pitch he proves that what he lacks in actual specifics he makes up for in vocabulary. But is this bloated bill just a ruse for another big, federally funded bailout for struggling states?

According to Obama, his road and sewer stimulus package would pump billions into things like "infrastructure" and "green jobs." Wait a minute: nobody is saying that the failure to spend over $700 billion on roads and sewers created this mess, and no one saying that new sewers will get us out of it. Obama has insisted that we must invest in what works. How do we know green jobs will work and provide a return? We don't. And it's quite a pricey experiment to find out.

What's most troubling is the notion that more taxpayer money is heading right for states that are in the red. Just a few weeks ago, governors and mayors made their way to Washington, DC to hound Obama for a handout. Now mayors across America have submitted over 11,000 proposals for some bailout cash including one to fund a mob museum in Vegas. Talk about a real gamble in Sin City. Is Tony "The Ant" Spilotro really our best bet?

Take New York for example, a state that's in financial ruin. The Empire State is facing a $15 billion budget deficit. Why would we encourage a state that spent itself into disaster to spend more? There are workers already repairing sewers and roads around the Big Apple and America. Will Obama give money that will be spent on existing jobs or hire thousands of new sewer workers?

According to Obama, "only government can break the vicious cycles that are crippling our economy...where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit." What our future president doesn't understand is that the vicious cycles were caused by the government through the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the refusal to regulate, in part because there was a belief that a regulation would prevent the prosperity associated with owning a home. How do we expect government to be part of the solution? According to CNBC we have allocated 7 trillion to fix our economic crisis and there is $300 billion currently left in TARP. Is that not enough?

Obama is refusing to ask the same question that homeowners didn't answer when the mortgage mess was going on: Can we afford to borrow this money? At some point we are mortgaging our national security by letting developing countries buy our debt. The more we spend the less we have to spend on our national defense. What if China develops distaste for buying our debt? Maybe refusing to borrow more money might be the best thing for us. Sort of like the way parents cut off a frivolous child's allowance.

On the campaign trail Obama campaigned for balanced budgets. This might be his first broken promise. While we wait to hear answers about what this massive deficit spending will do to our currency, to inflation and to our national security even Obama admits that his recovery plan alone will not solve all the problems that led us into this crisis.

But for a trillion dollars, it better.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator and Fox News columnist. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.com.

If Caroline's Last Name Was Palin

What has she done in her career? Does she have the experience to govern? Isn't she just a name and a pretty face in expensive clothes? All of these and more were the questions asked by Democrats regarding Sarah Palin as McCain's pick for Vice President.

But Caroline Kennedy - a similarly intriguing and attractive outsider decked in designer duds and a thin resume - isn't put under the same kind of scrutiny.

The left is just plain giddy with excitement over a return to Camelot, and the New York press corps, the most selectively tough in the business, is following suit. One thing is certain: if Kennedy's last name were Palin she wouldn't even be a consideration for Hillary Clinton's vacant senate seat.

Hillary has been telling her supporters to stop trashing Kennedy, but not because she wants to do Caroline any favors. Caroline and her Uncle Judas Iscariot Kennedy turned on the former first lady in her hour of need, arguably a turning point in the Democratic primary process. The last thing Hillary wants is a discussion and comparison to her lack of experience when she ran for the Senate in the Empire State almost a decade ago.

Obama is certainly pushing for his ally, no doubt. It could only benefit him to have a high-profile advocate on the Hill and Kennedy will certainly be more malleable than Clinton.

And what about this concept of change? The Kennedy family is an institution. They've been around for decades and have been consistently plagued by scandal and drama. Hardly what I'd call a new viewpoint.

As Kennedy travels around the state of New York, not saying much and refusing to answer questions about her lack of experience, I'm curious if she'll sit down with some prominent Big Apple media fixtures like ABC's Charlie Gibson or CBS's Katie Couric and subject herself to their murder boards. As a resident New Yorker I would like to hear Couric ask Kennedy about her feelings on the Peace Bridge in Western New York or Indian gaming in the Catskills. I suspect there would be some stuttering and stammering in her responses, but she'd hardly be called a fool as Palin was.

We always knew the Democrats had a double standard. They nominated the most inexperienced candidate in nearly a century to run for president, while they sought to destroy the Republican nominee for vice president because she wasn't elitist or experienced enough. What they need to learn is that stature is not a substitute for substance, even in New York. But apparently, qualifications don't matter to the left as long as you don't hunt moose.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican Political Commentator and Fox News Channel columnist. You can find her commentary at www.andreatantaros.com.

Keep Your Friends Close (and Your Enemies Under Your Thumb)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? That's what reports are saying. According to officials, Obama has narrowed the possibilities for secretary of state and Senator Hillary Clinton is among those being strongly considered. Some officials are even calling her the favorite.

Obama offering Clinton the position of secretary of state exemplifies the notion of keeping your friends close and your enemies -- not just close -- but under your thumb. The last thing Barack Obama wants is a supercharged Hillary Clinton potentially causing trouble in the Senate. (The last thing Hillary wants is to be under a man's thumb, I thought). If she accepts the job, she's shackled to his administration, which is smart if he wants to fend off attacks from the Clintons in 2012 -- a win for Obama and Democratic Party unity.

It's all politics, shrewd politics. So is Obama's upcoming meeting with John McCain. The President elect ran on bi-partisanship. Now the onus is on him to deliver. But most importantly, he wants shore up two terms early. And he can do that by mollifying his detractors and appeasing potential opponents.

If Hillary doesn't accept the job she looks like a sore loser, unwilling to cooperate. But Obama is smart enough not to publicly ask her without knowing she'll accept.

I'm not sure why she would want the position. Sure it's prestigious, but if she signs on Obama will own her. She will serve at his pleasure. In the Senate, nobody owns Hillary, especially now. She is poised to assume the role of lioness in the Senate in Ted Kennedy's absence. And secretary of state may seem old hat for the former First Lady. She likely considered herself Madeline Albright's boss when Bill was Commander in Chief.

To the Senator's credit, she is the most hawkish out of the names being floated thus far.

My hunch is the Clintons have already brokered a deal with President elect Obama. The question is, is this it?

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator and Foxnews.com contributor. Her commentary can be a found at Foxnews.com and www.andreatantaros.com.

Palin is the Future of the GOP

The next generation of the Republican Party is Governor Sarah Palin, despite the political malpractice of the McCain camp, and the current rumblings of the old guard (emphasis on old) of the GOP establishment.
 
In this year's election she was our most valuable player, and like any MVP her political athletic ability is a force to be reckoned with. She has youth on her side which will make her viable for the next two decades (at least). She possesses the supernatural ability to draw tens of thousands to a rally.  Her fundraising potential is boundless and her biography is politically seductive. 
 
She is slightly damaged from the Presidential election, not by anything she did, which is why it is possible to overcome the hurdles, the naysayers and heal her two biggest bruises:
 
First, the one trick ponies on the McCain campaign tried to staff her as they did George W. Bush: as a propped up, stilted, artificial attack dog and full throated conservative, because McCain needed that base to succeed. But this is not the real Sarah Palin.  Most Alaskans will vouch for that, especially the Republicans.
 
Palin is a populist powerhouse who has spent years taking on her own party's corruption. She seemingly works better with Democrats to put points on the board for the benefit of her state rather than get locked in the partisan gridlock and posturing that cripples male politicians. She is razor sharp and savvy when it comes to maneuvering. (Too bad she outmaneuvered her McCain handlers too late).
 
Second, Team McCain was fairly anemic when it came to assets this election cycle, but one thing they did have on their side was time. Instead of choosing Palin earlier in the summer which would have given her weeks for preparation on issues like national security and the economy, they shoved her into the fray before she spent sufficient time grappling with complex national issues. Imagine the Couric murder board taking place in early summer and not late fall?
 
Time is now on her side. Here's what she needs to do:
 
Give major policy speeches. She dazzles the audience when she addresses the energy issue. This is a logical starting point.
 
Campaign and fundraise on behalf of Republicans. It will be imperative for her to build an army of allies. The next RNC Chair should be her first priority.
 
Begin to harness the power of her grassroots support. I'm fairly certain Palin doesn't have access to the McCain fundraising and grassroots lists of this past election, which is why she needs to create her own. Palin has millions of Americans at her beck and call. She needs to start organizing this asset by collecting names, emails and phone numbers.
 
Write a book (on substance, not moose chili). It's time to get serious. The snowmobiling was cute for a while but the current state of our nation requires thoughtful policy and real deal solutions. We're faced with crisis of ethics. As someone who cleaned up Alaska, she should write about the lessons she learned and apply them to kitchen table concerns.
 
Get some ink in her passport. Obama has very little but was somehow inoculated from criticism after he took a highly publicized trip east. She should do the same, frequently.
 
Do a weekly radio address. The topics should be major issues of national importance.  She should do the research and writing herself.
 
Appoint herself to the US Senate. If Senator Ted Stevens is elected -- and then kicked out of the Senate by his colleagues as is widely expected, which can be accomplished with a simple majority vote -- Stevens' temporary replacement would be appointed by Governor Palin.  Imagine Hillary, McCain and Palin on Capitol Hill and Obama and Biden in the White House? It would be Shakespearian! What better way for her to shake up the Senate, stay on the national stage and keep an eye on the party?
 
With the doom and gloom of the current economic climate and total Democratic rule set in place to govern, the ground will be seeded for a Palin comeback in 2012, though it won't be easy. She'll have the far right behind her, but she must run as herself this time, as the pragmatic, centrist reformer she is to truly be successful.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator and FoxNews.com contributor. Her commentary can be found at FoxNews.com and www.andreatantaros.com.

Obama Victory the GOP's Best Hope

Win or lose on Election Day, one truth is absolute: The Republican Party needs a rebirth. I'm not talking about a few deep breaths, a reboot or even a makeover; I'm proposing one giant housecleaning.

Our identity is lost. When it comes to fresh ideas, we're bankrupt. Our strategies are stale, our talking points robotic and regurgitated, and our direction is unclear. We've forgotten how to communicate with the American people. Our message is adrift and our messenger-in-chief, George W. Bush, is bloodied and badly bruised. Scratch that: We don't even have a messenger (thank God for Rush Limbaugh, our wise political Sherpa).

The future of the Republican Party depends on an Obama victory. There, I've said it. I waited this entire cycle to express my concern, and I'm glad I did, because I now believe more than ever that my hypothesis is true. Call it tough love, call it treason; I call it the truth.

The campaign of John McCain has only solidified my argument. From day one it has struggled to find a clear and rationally persuasive theme. It has operated under an outdated playbook that focuses on personal associations (bafflingly, even in the throes of an economic meltdown). These moves worked in 2004, but to take one's eyes off the ball--that being the economy--for one moment in this election was truly his gravest error.

Sadly, the campaign has operated with gimmicky stunts, a snarky tone and the most stomach-churning of sarcasm. What did we expect? McCain's advisors are Bush's old guard. They're tired, divorced from reality and devoid of creativity. They failed to capitalize on McCain's strengths and grossly mismanaged Palin.

I find it all too perfect that it took a plumber to unclog the McCain machine's message constipation. Joe may have helped in the short term, but the need for major renovations remains. And here's how we'll do it:

As my Greek father always says: "The fish stinks from the head." If the Republican party is the stinky fish, then George Bush is its head. The nation doesn't have faith in how our party governs, thanks to its management - or perceived mismanagement - of Katrina and the war in Iraq. Republicans somehow got the black eye from a housing crisis that was caused by the Democrats' belief that every man, woman, child, dog, cat and goldfish has a right to a home, whether they can afford one or not. How did we get this black eye? Because we are the party in power - and the head stinks ... at communicating. Failing to correct the record would have been bad enough. But our inability to correct the record was a failure of monumental proportions.

The hybrid, hapless Bush/McCain operation isn't the only case for reform. Congressional Republicans are equally as guilty for our demise. To turn the ship around, Congress should be our starting point. All the bridges to nowhere, the support for bloated spending bills, entitlement expansion and unethical practices must be replaced with fiscal responsibility; a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and a one-strike-and-you're-out mantra. Yes, Senators Stevens, Craig and Vitter: I'm talking to you.

With McCain as President or back in the Senate, The Grand Old Party needs a new attitude, a new guard and a mobilization of the next generation. We must repackage our core values and ideals of limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. Into this platform, we must incorporate new planks on alternative energy and rising college tuition costs. And we must have the cajones to take on retirement security.

Our agenda should involve reviving seductive issues like medical malpractice and American exceptionalism in education. We must churn out the best, most educated workforce in the world, but not through greater federal involvement and tired singsong saw of mo' money, mo' money. It is also critical that we expand our outreach and invest in talent recruitment to harvest a new crop of diverse candidates to seek office. The party of the old, white male needs to finally be over - so over.

Republicans, if we lose this election we cannot run off and skulk. We must fight (much harder than we are fighting today) for what we believe, and be vigilant and focused on holding the Democrats accountable.

Our nation will suffer under the trio of doom: Pelosi, Reid and Obama. Their incompetence will be showcased very quickly to the electorate and because of it Republicans will re-emerge stronger than ever in four years. I've never been one to believe we must lose an election in order to win, but only if we recalibrate and regenerate will we have a chance to rise again and lead this great nation.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of Barack Obama. This is recognition of an opportunity for our party. I believe Senator Obama is troublingly unqualified. His punitive wealth-transfer dogma will lead our country into further economic ruin and his ingenuous, popularity-contest approach to foreign policy will jeopardize our global gravitas.

John McCain is tested and ready, and though I suspect he'd have a challenging time governing as President while simultaneously leading the Republican Party further into the wilderness, he is a much more comforting and sensible option.

The GOP has suffered from adversity, but lucky for us, adversity never leaves people where it finds them. It's up to us to control our fate. Now is the time to conduct an honest self-evaluation on the state of our union and stand ready to perform significant alterations, win or lose the White House.

The right's been getting it wrong. An Obama Presidency presents us with a chance to change, not our values, but our behavior and the way we govern. It's up to us to have the courage to do it.

Get ready. A renaissance is in order.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican Political Commentator and Fox News.com contributor. Her columns can be found at www.andreatantaros.com and at FoxNews.com.

McCain's Bailout Blunder

John McCain botched the biggest issue of this election cycle and passed up the most important way to differentiate himself from Barack Obama: the financial crisis.

First, suspending his campaign was strange. Heading back to Washington wasn't a bad idea, but if you're going to supposedly return to a town burdened by gridlock to help solve a crisis you still need a cogent message. The message should have been THIS BILL STINKS.  McCain didn't have one. All we saw was footage of him sitting silent at a White House meeting. And if he had an opinion on the bailout, we certainly didn't hear it. 

Then there was the notion McCain wouldn't debate unless a bill was passed.  That, too, seemed odd. Why wouldn't he want to address the nation with his opponent in front of millions of Americans? McCain has always been on the right side of this mess. In 2005 he called for a tough, independent regulator for Freddie and Fannie and he could have made the case on a national stage for proper regulation and personal responsibility. Unfortunately, the only pre-debate dialogue perpetuated on the cable news channels and in print was whether McCain was going to actually show up in Mississippi. Not fruitful, if you ask me.
When he did show up Senator McCain and Senator Obama were prodded by moderator Jim Lehrer on the rescue bill and current state of the U.S. economy. Neither one would address it head on, a giant blunder. Obama isn't known for his cajones. His shtick is ducking tough issues and taking the easy road as not to expend political capital and offend voters.  McCain is known for just the opposite. And at time when the country was looking for a hero like McCain to reassure them and display leadership and hope he did not.

Last week when it was time for a vote in the Senate John McCain folded and voted for the bill even though he had an opportunity to differentiate himself from Obama, congressional Democrats and his Achilles heel, President Bush, and be on the side of the American people by voting against this measure. The bill was also laden with what some called pork, but what were actually tax credits for such ridiculous things as wool research and wooden arrows for children. McCain has fundamentally been opposed to special interest legislation and this was his chance to show it and showcase that he is opposed to government spending. 
Voting against the bailout would have been risky, but worth it.  We don't even know if this bill will work.  Yesterday the market still looked bleak. What we do know is Americans are angry about it. They know government is the reason we're this mess.  We shouldn't give them more control or our tax payer dollars.  McCain could have stood out, and stood up, for the principles and people he is running to represent that echo this sentiment.  McCain appears to be puffing off the same pipe as the rest of them.

The Obama camp is now calling McCain a "big spender." McCain is a lot of things, but a big spender he is not.  But ever since he voted for the bailout he IS a big spender, so the label works. A pretty tough blow to the maverick just four weeks out. 

Tonight McCain needs to address the financial crisis and the economy head on while he toots his own horn on being right in 2005 on Freddie and Fannie.  He needs to debunk this highly propagated Democratic urban legend that deregulation is bad and call for proper regulation and responsibility going forward.  Channeling Reagan is essential: offer a clear, inspiration vision, and then draw contrasts with whatever and whoever disagrees.  The Mac needs to shoot holes through the misleading proposals of Barack Obama and explain why his Santa Claus like list of promises to the American people is a bunch of baloney.  He needs to reveal the most liberal candidates we've seen since Carter. Obama is the political equivalent of a new iPod - exceptionally well marketed and sold in cool packaging, entertaining, but empty.  Or in Obama's case just filled with some really bad tunes. Reveal it.
 
Finally, lose the grimace, McCain. And please give Obama some eye contact this time. You reminded us of a fuming father who would speak to you but not look at you when you're in trouble (I know the face well). I think you lost women, swing voters and Independents because of your mug in the last debate.
 
History is not on your side, but the facts are. Use them.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator, media consultant and columnist. Her writing can be found at www.andretantaros.com.

Lazarus in Lipstick

Sarah Palin won the debate because she exceeded expectations and connected with the American people on a personal level, but neither candidate crushed the other. I'm also not convinced either one reached out to sway the valuable undecided voter. Governor Palin breathed life into the McCain campaign and rectified public opinion about her competency, which was crucial.

Republicans, heave a sigh of relief.

Palin's strengths: Using Biden's own words about Obama and McCain against him. Brilliant. She was able to relate to a majority of Americans, and her body language was authentic, warm and direct. Like Obama, she spoke directly to the American people and came off much more likeable than her opponent. Unlike Hillary she has the gift of appearing shrewd without being shrill.

Palin's weakness: Failing to tell Americans the real deal on the housing crisis. Republicans are tiptoeing around this issue in order to avoid being called politically incorrect. It was a missed opportunity to go after the Democrats and their insistence to protect Freddie and Fannie and their belief that every man, woman, child, dog and goldfish should own their own home even if they cannot afford it.

Best line (with regard to the fiscal crisis) "Never again."

Biden's strength: He's polished (as anyone would be after spending the last three decades in the Senate). There is no question his handle on foreign policy is exceptional. He's smooth and a much better liar than Palin. Practice makes perfect, I suppose.

Biden's weakness: He is completely divorced from honesty. Either he knows he's lying and doesn't care or he isn't aware and is just plain ill informed. His body language was off-putting. Like McCain, he appeared angry and contemptuous. That phony smile is nauseating. Senator: watch a tape of Palin and Obama for pointers.

Worst line: "listen folks." That's what I call nuclear condescension.

Palin and McCain seem to relish in the underdog role and have the ability to deliver when the stakes are sky high. Though many cast doubt, I've called Palin McCain's secret weapon since the day he selected her. After tonight, should she be underestimated? Never again.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator, media consultant and columnist. Her columns can be found at www.andreatantaros.com.

Sarah: Speak Plainly, Carry a Big Stick

It's game time for Biden and Palin. Though it's been a rough couple of weeks for the Governor of Alaska, prompted by visceral attacks from the left and pockets of bias from the often slanted media, she's still standing. Tonight is a big test.

Biden, on the other hand, hasn't made much news, though he should have. For every head scratch invoking comment the left has accused Palin of making, Biden has made his own. From his comments about Roosevelt being on television before the boob tube was invented, to his false gunfire hallucination, Biden's foot has been lodged in his jaw quite a few times; it's just not getting coverage.

As pollsters and pundits try and spin this evening's outcome, there is no question that Biden has more experience than Palin, though no real executive experience. The senator is lacking, however, in common sense. He's been on the wrong side of most issues since the start of his long career. An agent of change he is not. And relatable to most voters? Not quite. The Pennsylvania coal country shtick isn't fooling this Pennsylvania girl.  At the debate, Biden's most difficult hurdle will be using restraint not to act like an arrogant blowhard.

Palin, on the other hand,  has many hurdles to surmount. Governor, here's your to do list: 

Your plain talk is a strength. Embrace it.  The McCain campaign often suffers from message constipation.  As of late you've been a victim of this ailment, but it's not your modus operandi. Get back to what you do best: telling it like it is.  Obama might be comfortable pushing bull and spouting hot air, but you are not.  Make sure to can the baffling beltway jargon that McCain incessantly uses: earmarks, pork, DOD, etc.

Get Biden comfortable. The more relaxed you can get Joe Biden on that stage, the more he lies, babbles, reverts to old school politics, and let's be frank, says really, really dumb stuff.

Keep off defense.   Assail the top of the Obama ticket on his crushing tax plan, his gargantuan spending proposals that would ruin our already shaky economy and his nonsensical foreign affairs positions. Highlight his failure to lead in the Illinois Senate, the US Senate, and now, as a candidate for President. Obama's motto has always been: "when the going gets tough, the tough vote present." Expose it.

Mobilize your echo chamber.  If you say something unscholarly, have your campaign and their surrogates armed and ready to stop the bleeding. Liberals are better organized this time around and are ready to assault you en masse. You need your own army of staunch defenders willing to fight and explain that, like most Americans, you are more comfortable speaking to a local rotary club than to the Harvard alumni association.

Run against Washington. You are the only one on either ticket who can believably embrace the true political outsider mantra. Tie Washington to Obama/Biden and promote yourself as unscathed by the corruption and circus of Capitol Hill.  There is no better time to be out of the loop. By loop, I mean the beltway. Tout it.

Motivate by reason, persuade through emotion. The Palin family has been through tough times. Your husband has been out of a job. You've had difficulty affording healthcare and paying bills. Use your story to inspire.  Bring difficult questions back to a personal level. Give this nation the pep talk only a mom can give.

Be yourself.  Inject humor and charm. Be pithy and to the point. Never let them see you sweat. I understand you've been surrounded by some of the dullest, most defensive staffers on the planet. Ignore their tired talking points and blaze your own message trail.
I watched some footage from your debates in Alaska. You were a confident, capable candidate. I hope that woman shows up tonight. Carpe Diem, sister.

Andrea Tantaros is a Republican political commentator, media consultant and columnist. Her columns can be found at www.andreatantaros.com.

Obama's Iraq Checkmate

For months Republicans have been taunting Senator Barack Obama for not visiting Iraq. From press releases to countdown clocks, it's been a key theme and it's put Obama on the defensive. The GOP has also been hitting him hard for not supporting the McCain surge that has proved fruitful, though not originally popular.

So what does Obama do? He goes to Afghanistan. Then Iraq. He meets with leaders in these countries and talks with soldiers. His aides have scripted him carefully, positioned him wisely and kept him away from any goofy looking hats to prevent another Dukakis-tank photo gaffe.

In an interesting turn of events, German magazine Der Spiegel Saturday quoted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as giving apparent backing to the withdrawal plans discussed by Obama, who has pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months if he is elected. Though Ali al-Dabbagh, the chief spokesman for al-Maliki, said in a statement Sunday that the prime minister's comments were "not conveyed accurately," Der Spiegel is sticking to its story.

Al-Maliki has now given enormous cover to Obama and allowed him to pivot around McCain. The one issue Obama should be on the defensive about has effectively put McCain in a corner.

There's no question that Obama has altered his position on Iraq troop withdrawal. What was once a rigid promise to pull troops out is, well, still a rigid plan to pull troops out--with a new timetable. There's also no question Barry believed the surge would increase violence. He believed it would do the converse. But that conversation is now stale.

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