Politics 2012: Making lemonade from lemons

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  Aug. 5, 2012 at 5:04 AM
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No love ... A party invitation ... Endurance, not experience, necessary ... PAC-ing it in ... A first on the first day of the DNC ...

Say it ain't so

Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., hasn't been invited to either the Republican or the Democratic national conventions.

Lieberman still has clout -- he was the floor manager of the cybersecurity bill in the Senate, The Hill reported.

But when Democrats and Republicans gather in Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., Lieberman apparently will be on the outside looking in. This is the man who was Al Gore's running mate in 2000 and was chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Some Democrats flat-out think it's flat-out wrong to exclude Lieberman, who caucuses with the party.

"Even though he's no longer a member of the Democratic Party, he caucuses with the Senate Democrats and provides a vote for their majority. It would be a good thing to invite him," Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who was a senior adviser to Gore's campaign, told The Hill. "He doesn't have to be invited to give a speech. He doesn't have to have Clinton's time slot."

Lieberman told The Hill he hasn't received an invitation to the GOP convention either, even though he gave a high-profile address at the party's 2008 get-together.

"This is one of the benefits of being an independent -- you don't have to go to either convention," he said.

Other prominent independents will likewise skip the conventions.

Sen. Bernie Sanders. Ind-Vt., a liberal who caucuses with Democrats, does not plan to attend the Democratic convention, a spokesman said.

Angus King, an independent and front-runner to succeed retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, hasn't received an invitation to either convention, a campaign spokeswoman said.

Come to the party

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., invited freshman Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of New York to switch parties recently after Hanna commented that the House GOP leadership was becoming "incapable of governing."

Hanna complemented his Democratic friends in Congress in an interview with The Syracuse Post-Standard editorial board, saying Democrats were a "much more congenial" bunch and Republicans are "angry."

"If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there's not a lot of value there," he said.

House Republicans, he said, were becoming "incapable of governing" by habitually deferring to "extremes."

McDermott tweeted that he agrees with Hanna, The Hill reported.

"Does this count as bipartisan?" McDermott asked, then extended an invitation for Hanna to switch parties.

Experience preferred, not required

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been repeatedly saying America needs a leader with strong business chops.

But history shows private-sector successes tend to tank when it comes to running the country, Vanity Fair said.

Among those considered the greatest leaders of the country, Abraham Lincoln had so many unpaid bills during his stint as storekeeper in New Salem, Ill., that he referred to the obligations as his "national debt."

Harry Truman was still trying to pay off his creditors 15 years after his store in Kansas City shuttered and was strapped for money until well into his tenure as a U.S. senator.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who led the nation through the Depression and World War II, never really worked even if he did spend time as a Wall Street lawyer, historians have argued.

Yes, successful businessmen did become president and gained notoriety, Vanity Fair said. Among them, Warren G. Harding, a newspaper publisher and editor; Herbert Hoover, a multi-millionaire mining engineer, investor, and consultant; and Jimmy Carter, a Georgia peanut farmer and warehouse owner.

Vanity Fair offers several theories about why business acumen may not translate into a successful presidency. It notes, for one, the basic goals of business aren't necessarily in sync with those of national office.

All of the most successful presidents have faced adversity and overcome it, Vanity Fair said.

So maybe "conquering adversity" could be considered a presidential qualification, the article said, since the job requires the ability to multitask, exhibit grace under pressure and deal with clever personalities who work on Capitol Hill.

Super knowledge about super PACs largely absent

About 75 percent of Americans say they've either heard only a little or nothing at all about the so-called super PACs, outside organizations pumping tons of money into the 2012 presidential campaign, a Pew Center Research Center-Washington Post poll indicated.

The Post said only four in 10 respondents, when prompted with four choices about what a super PAC actually was, selected the correct answer that it was "a group able to accept unlimited political donations."

Forty-six percent had no opinion or didn't know what a super PAC was, results indicated. Nine percent said it was the informal name for the congressional panel tasked with reducing the deficit -- that would be supercommittee. And 4 percent defined super PACs as the government cleanup of hazardous waste sites. That term is superfund.

When asked an open-ended question about the effect of greater outside spending on the election, 48 percent expressed no opinion, while 27 percent said the effect would be neutral and 24 percent said it would be negative, Pew said. Two percent said the result of more outside political spending was positive.

Fifty-one percent of those polled said super PACs didn't help one candidate any more than the other.

Results are based on a national telephone survey of 1,010 adults July 26-29. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

DNC taps San Antonio mayor for first day's keynote speaker

Rising star San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will deliver the keynote address on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention -- the first Latino to get that assignment.

Castro has some heady company on Sept. 4: first lady Michelle Obama.

Former President Bill Clinton and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren are slated for Sept. 5, followed by and Vice President Joseph Biden and President Barack Obama on Sept. 6.

Roll Call said the announcement of Castro's prominent role at the convention provides more evidence that the mayor and his twin brother, Texas state Rep. Joaquin Castro, are considered rising stars in the Democratic Party.

Joaquin Castro, who is running to replace retiring Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas, is likely headed to Congress next year.

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