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Archive for October, 2012

Unbeknownst to most Americans, possibly the greatest horse in the history of thorougbred racing retired this past week. Frankel (named after the late horse trainer Bobby Frankel) won the Champion Stakes in the UK on Saturday and finished a perfect 14 for 14 in his racing career. Timeform (basically Europe’s answer to the Beyer Speed Figures) rated Frankel’s race in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot this past June as the single fastest performance by any European horse ever. Some say he was the best racehorse ever – better than Man o’ War, Native Dancer, Secretariat or anyone else on four hooves.

Sadly, no American horse ever challenged Frankel, so we will have to measure our horses against him indirectly. Among the horses he beat this year were Excelebration and St. Nicholas Abbey. Excelebration lost all five races he had against Frankel, but has won eight of the nine races he entered sans the great son of Galileo. He will compete against 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the Breeders Cup Mile. As for St. Nicholas Abbey, he already won the Breeders Cup Turf last year and is back to defend his title in the 12 furlong race.

So how good was Frankel? Considering all but two of his races were at a mile or less, that he never raced outside of England, that he usually ran with a pacesetter in his half-brother Bullet Train, and usually against only five or six horses with owners sporting enough to challenge him, there is some understandable skepticism (including from this writer) about whether he was indeed the best race horse ever. But if Excelebration and St. Nicholas Abbey both win against the best the Americans have to offer next Saturday, that claim will become hard to refute.

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The Stranger

If Barack Obama should lose the election in 13 days time, be prepared for liberals to claim whites voted against him because of southern white racism. While I have no doubt that a few people on margin may well vote based on race (and those votes will go both ways), I think it is a small number. What the media refuses to understand is this – many southern whites do see the president as somewhat ‘foreign’ – a stranger as it were – but it’s NOT because he’s black It’s because he is a northern, urban, secular, liberal. There just aren’t a lot of those people in the south and midwestand they’re not used to being ruled by one.

Our last president like this was John Kennedy, who was in office less than three years and and was neither as liberal or as outwardly secular as Mr. Obama. (While he was certainly no saint, Kennedy was a parishioner at St. Matthew’s Church while in the White House. Mr. Obama appears to have no spiritual home in DC.) Before that, it was FDR, who passed away 67 years ago. So on the day Mr. Obama walked into office, there had been a northern liberal in the White House for only three of the preceding 63 years. It was a new and rare thing and   the President would have been wise to tread lightly and humbly.  He could have pursued centrist and unifying policies to get Americans back to work.  Instead he chose to pursue the liberal holy grail of universal health insurance.  With a Democratic House and Senate in place, I can see how he would have thought the opportunity was too good for the liberals to pass up.  But the opportunity cost of that decision was a failure to unify the nation.  That’s when he started shedding voters and race had nothing to do with it.

This is a center-right nation in a center-right age being ruled by a genuinely liberal president. It should come as no surprise that so many southern and midwestern whites – including many who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 (what, did they suddenly become racist in the last four years?) – will be pulling the lever for change in 2012.

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Simply put, Governor Romney should pick his spots for disagreement with President Obama on foreign policy. By and large, most Americans are not displeased with Obama’s foreign policy. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were begun under his predecessor. His Libya actions, while arguably unconstitutional which is no small thing, resulted in Moammar Ghadafi’s removal with Libyans doing the hard work of ground fighting in their own revolution. On Iran, the President was late to the cause of reform, but he was right to understand that the U.S. had little leverage to create change there. In addition, to the degree Romney disagrees with Obama he should take every precaution to not look like a return to the policies of George W. Bush. Right or wrong, that is a vote-loser for Romney.

Where Romney can score points is in the following:
– Trade. He can make the case that Obama hasn’t worked hard enough on new trade policies, particularly with South America.
– Israel/Palestine. Obama has continued the Bush policy of waiting until Israel and Palestine are ready for peace before moving on it. That’s not unreasonable but it has yielded a predictible result. Romney should support 4-party talks, with Israel and the U.S. on side, Palestine and its state sponsor (e.g. Russia, Iran) on the other side and a neutral party (probably Norway or Sweden) in the role of facilitator, similar to the Oslo Agreement in 1993.
– Olympics. Mr. Obama will attack Romney’s comments in London. Romney should use that to pivot to his experience running the Salt Lake City games in the wake of 9/11. He dealt with serious financial and security challenges that Obama never did before entering the White House.
– Most importantly, Romney just needs to show he’s reasonable, empirical and pragmatic. I repeat – pragmatic. And remember, just because it’s a foreign policy debate doesn’t mean domestic politics won’t enter in. The President will try to toss abortion into the mix by talking about the Mexico City policy. Throw that back at him with Joe Biden’s statement that he wouldn’t question China’s morally bankrupt one-child policy. And above all, talk about how a stong defense relies on a strong economy. President Bush left us with a weak economy. This President promised he’s fix it “or this will be a one-term proposition.” Well, he didn’t fix it. This was the key to President Clinton’s finessing the foreign policy issues with President Bush, Sr. and it’s the key for Governor Romney.

People want to see a grownup running foreign policy. Governor Romney should agree with the President where he can, respectfully show his own knowledge, reason and experience on global issues, and drive home the point that a strong national defense depends on a strong national economy.

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