Saturday, June 21, 2008

Better than Andy Shaw w/Granholm and Mike Flannery w/Strickland: Berkowitz w/Governors Sebelius and Granholm on Iraq, Obama and VP

Does Senator Obama stand for old time pump priming, Keynesian economics and bigger government in the non-national defense sector?

In a meeting yesterday morning at the Chicago History Museum (previously the Chicago Historical Society) with sixteen Democratic Governors, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for President, Senator Barack Obama, heard pleas for help with infrastructure, healthcare, college costs, mortgage assistance, new green technology and job creation.

Presidential candidate Obama seemed to say he would meet every plea for help, even as Senator Obama reminded Bishop Brazier last Sunday in his Father's Day talk at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago that he was the same state senator who got the church a parking lot-- after all, this is Chicago and as Kass would remind us, Obama learned his politics from those well familiar with, if not a part of, the Chicago Machine. Yet, Senator Obama appears to many to have come of age in politics as a Hyde Park reformer--welcome to the contradictions of Barack Obama.

It might sound to some as if, under an Obama Presidency, the era of Big Government is about to return; to others this is simply a reallocation of Iraq War spending and tax cuts for the wealthy to more spending by the states and by the federal government on non-national defense matters. Obama might call it a re-allocation of spending from a “dumb war,” and unconscionable tax cuts to needed public investment, job creation and assistance for the middle class.

Eye on some Democratic Veep hopefuls

In the crowd were at least three VP hopefuls on the Obama A list: Governors Ed Rendell (PA), Bill Richardson (NM) and Kathleen Sebelius (Kansas). Of the three, Rendell got the most media attention yesterday morning—perhaps because his name is getting a great deal of VEEP attention. Richardson got little attention from the media and he left the post game show early. Sebelius got some media play but nothing like Rendell. Gov. Ted Strickland (OH) reiterated that he has taken himself off the Veep List.

Chatting with Governors Sebelius, Strickland and Granholm

This reporter spent some time one on one with (a) Gov. Sebelius, testing her a bit on her approach to and fluency with the Iraq War and (b) with Gov. Granholm (MI), discussing Obama and whether the era of Big Government is about to return. [See below]. Gov. Granholm was one of the better and more personable speakers in the crowd and would probably be on Obama’s short list for VEEP, but for the fact that she was born in Canada and thus, as she put it, has a “constitutional ceiling.”

Take a listen to the post-game show:


Another reporter: Let me ask you a question about Iraq…do you think if events on the ground start to improve [Obama’s] going to have to really think about his position or is he locked in politically to promising to get out [of Iraq] for the duration of this campaign?

Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kansas): Well, I don’t think there is any question that if we put additional troops on the ground, we hope that violence will go down, that’s what the surge was about.

Jeff Berkowitz: Has that happened, though? Has violence gone down?

Governor Kathleen Sebelius: My understanding is it has gone down and that’s good news, that fewer-

Jeff Berkowitz: Would you say it’s working, the surge?

Governor Kathleen Sebelius: Well, the surge is working in that more American folks in Iraq for longer periods of time have lessened [violence] but what is not working is the Iraqis have not stepped up to take over and I think that’s really what is the problem and having those additional troops on the ground at surge capacity indefinitely, which seems to be the goal of the McCain platform, is unacceptable. It is the wrong war at the wrong place. It uses our treasure which we need here. It risks the lives of Americans and we’re not focused on where terrorism is occurring-- in Afghanistan and on the borders of Pakistan. It makes us less able to keep our country secure. So, could we put, you know, thousands of troops in any place and probably lower the level of violence? Yes, but I don’t think that’s the point. We can’t do that as a country.

Jeff Berkowitz: Have the Democrats now accepted that in the [U. S.] House because as you know there’s been a compromise, they’ve extended [Iraq War] funding for a year and apparently the Democratic majority in the House has agreed—they’re not going to require a deadline, they’re not going to require a date certain for troop withdrawal.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius: I think they are going to work for a new President.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, for the next year, there is no date certain [for troop withdrawal] and the Democrats have accepted that.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius: The Democratic majority, I can guarantee you, hopes that there will be a Democratic President, Barack Obama, taking the oath of office in January of ’09 and he has laid out a very clear plan of what he intends to do in consultation with—

Jeff Berkowitz: Would you be ready to serve with Barack Obama as Vice-President, if offered?

Governor Kathleen Sebelius: I am going to do whatever I can to help Senator Obama be elected.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, would you make a good Vice-President, do you think?

Governor Kathleen Sebelius: I think he is a great leader for the country. I am going to do whatever I can.

Jeff Berkowitz: Which would be serving as Vice-President, if offered?

Governor Jennifer Granholm [D-MI]: Are you set? You’re on it, man [Big laugh, this followed a series of other questions from Berkowitz].

Jeff Berkowitz: Talk just a bit about Barack Obama…is he ready to be President of the United States. He’s had essentially two years in the U. S. Senate because he was running in the third year and eight years in the State Senate; is America going to look at this person and say he is ready to be there in terms of national security because the whole morning was spent on domestic policy and working with the states. Talk to us about national security and why you think Barack Obama is ready to be leader of the Free World.

Governor Granholm: Let me just say that I don’t know that it is years as a politician that is the best requirement for being President. I think that you have to have great judgment and you have to be a person of great character and you have to be intelligent and you have to know how to bring people along and he has all of those qualities. You see how the world responded when he became the [Democratic] nominee. There was great enthusiasm in other countries and I think because of his intelligence and because he has this ability to connect with people and he’s got tremendous people around him, he is gong to be a tremendous leader, both domestically and internationally.

Mike Flannery [CBS-2 News Political Editor]: Did you favor Yucca Mountain? Burying the [nuclear waste there]. [ Go here to watch Mike Flannery's nicely put together video clip].

Governor Ted Strickland [D-OH]: I did. As a congressman, I did.
Another Reporter: One last thing, Governor, are you still out of the running for Vice-President?

Governor Ted Strickland [D-OH]: I am.

Andy Shaw [ABC-7 News Political Editor]: And one more, if I may, Our Governor, Rod Blagojevich, is not here today— [Go here to watch Andy Shaw's well put together video clip].

Governor Granholm [D-MI]: He was here last night.

Andy Shaw: Right and a number of Republicans in Illinois are chomping at the bit to point out that this is a fairly dysfunctional Democratic state, at least legislatively and governmentally, what would you say to them as they look at the irony of Obama meeting with Democratic governors in Chicago and Illinois’ Governor is not here, in part because there is a certain embarrassment factor with the federal investigation and the dysfunctional government here?

Governor Granholm: Well, I am not here so I don’t know what is going on in this state—

Andy Shaw: We’re close, though.

Governor Granholm: Yeah, you’re close by, but I can tell you Democrats are really proud of this candidate. It is like a balm for the soul to hear a Presidential candidate talking about investing in our people and our infrastructure and our education system, making sure people have access to health care. These are things we have not heard; it’s been like we have been in the dessert and now when he speaks, it’s like we want to soak [Obama] up because it’s exactly the language governors want to hear. We know we’ve been feeling and our people have been feeling—

Andy Shaw: You don’t think the Governor of Illinois is conspicuous by his absence?

Governor Granholm: I don’t- I have no idea what his schedule was, I didn’t have a conversation with him about that, but I can tell you for us, the rest of us governors here and I’m sure for [Gov. Blagojevich] as well, having a partner in the White House, we’re going to help people in Illinois, and in Michigan and in Kansas and in Ohio, it is a tremendous relief and sense of excitement.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," can be reached at *************************************************************
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include this past Monday night's show in Chicago and Aurora with Sen. Kwame Raoul(D-Chicago), this past week's show in the Chicago Metro suburbs and this coming Monday night's show in Chicago and Aurora with Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago)- watch here; our prior shows with State Rep. candidate Joan Solms (R-Aurora), Comm. Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) on the Obama Presidential campaign and shows with many other pols