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For Georgia

Wanted: Elected Agitators

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jun• 22•14

JIMMYSTEWARTThere’s a great scene in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” where, after having insulted his daughter Zuzu’s schoolteacher for sending her home in winter in an unbuttoned coat, Jimmy Stewart gets on the phone with the teacher’s irate husband. The man promptly gives him an earful. “Oh yeah …,” Stewart replies, moving the phone a few inches from his face in preparation to blow, “ … well let me tell you what I really think of your wife.”

That’s pretty much how I feel after a dustup last week with some former colleagues in the State Senate, whom I took to task for what I believe is their lack of vision and backbone. But I suppose that instinct has to be suppressed for now, because in my day job I speak for other people. Besides, Stewart ended up on his back at a local watering hole later in the film after running across that very same husband’s right hand.

But words like “catharsis” wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a very real human need every now and then to put it all out there, to stop being polite and to say what you really think about things. It’s rarely pretty.

I get the sense that just under the surface of the American body politic an extraordinary catharsis is building. I can hear it brewing every day. Whenever the subjects of Washington or Albany come up — for political consultants they come up a lot — people’s faces change. What used to be an eye-roll has turned into real anger, bordering on rage. I genuinely worry about it.

Two politically cathartic movements already have emerged in America, the tea party movement and Occupy Wall Street. The tea party is still growing, as far as I can tell. Occupy Wall Street burned itself out. But it left behind a new and powerful movement of committed leftists.

Both reflect the powerlessness ordinary people feel over their ability to improve their lot in life or to halt the downward spiral of their nation. Both express anger and frustration with political and business elites who appear oblivious to what’s going on in mainstreet America. As long as campaign contributions keep coming in and the stock market keeps going up, those people seem happy.

But despite their successes, neither the tea party nor Occupy Wall Street have moved the dial in any measurable way in this country, and so the cauldron boils a little hotter each day. The credit card bills still come in with 29 percent interest rates; college costs continue to outpace inflation; property taxes keep rising, as do gas and food prices; and politicians continue arguing over nonsense like, in New York, whether to ban e-cigarettes indoors or exterminate mute swans. In Washington, it’s the 24/7 blame game.

What people don’t see within legislatures or corporate board rooms are the Jerry Maguire’s — the insiders speaking the truth, bucking the system and challenging the powers that be. It’s no wonder people feel abandoned.

My favorite line from Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign was his promise to be “that grain of sand to the oyster.” It captures exactly what is needed in American legislatures today. There is a time for cooperation and a time for agitation. To get to the former, we need much more of the latter.

Moved to Newsday

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 01•14

Newsday_logoTheBlackberryAlarmclock has effectively moved to Newsday and AM New York, where the editors have been kind and brave enough to let me spout off twice a week. 

Columns are available here

Huge thanks for your indulgence over the past few years. Will return to this page when they have had enough of me. 

Best ’til then, 

Bill

 

Feminism on Trial in Albany

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jun• 10•13

pow_1109_01-03“Last January I walked down the aisle…not to get married, but to take the oath of office as a woman and a member of the United…States…Congress!”

I must have heard that line 500 times during the summer and autumn of 1994.

It was delivered by then freshman congresswoman Carolyn Maloney at every debate and Manhattan subway whistle stop in her first House re-election campaign, and it always drew applause.

I secretly hated it — as I clapped, obligatorily, each time she used it.  I was working for Maloney’s challenger, a talented liberal Republican Council Member named Charles Millard, and the overuse of Maloney’s chromosome card, as we called it, seemed cheap.  She expected — and received — credit just because of her gender, although I suppose we would have used it too if Millard had been baptised a Charlene instead of a Charlie.

I disliked Maloney’s smart mailpiece even more, the one later picked up by other campaigns, which featured a cover photo showing five sets of legs, four in charcoal gray suit trousers and one in a bright red skirt.  It read something along the lines of, “Who would you trust to fight for women?” Pure genius.

Since that time, Congresswoman Maloney has enjoyed a good run; she’s built a career positioning herself as a clarion female voice in a cacophony of Washington baritones. In 2008, she penned a book, Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Why Women’s Lives Aren’t Getting Any Easier—and How We Can Make Real Progress for Ourselves and Our Daughters.

During the 2012 election season, Maloney became a short-lived YouTube sensation by ridiculing an all-male House panel gathered to discuss birth control by demanding to know, “Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don’t see one single woman representing the tens of millions of women across the country…”, she said.

It’s all the more disappointing, then, that Congresswoman Maloney has remained silent when her feminist voice is most needed in New York.  State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver should be forced to step down after repeatedly protecting male colleagues who sexually assaulted junior female staff members, but Maloney’s conviction seems to peter out when it’s the bad actions of a political colleague she needs to address. Maloney even joined a standing ovation for Silver at a Democratic National Convention breakfast for New York delegates after the sex harrassment coverup story first broke. 

Where are the women?, indeed.   

Where is New York’s junior senator Kirsten Gillibrand?  I somehow found myself on her email list and I get bombarded with notes from her all the time demanding proper treatment of women. But not a peep from her on Shelly Silver.

Just this month, On CBS’s “Face the Nation” Gillibrand blasted sexual harassment and assaults in the military: “What we have here is a crisis,” she said.  “This is a cultural problem from top to bottom.”

Is the senator sure she wasn’t referring to Albany?

State Senator Liz Kruger from Manhattan, a respected feminist in her own right, attended a news conference in Albany Monday to criticize Senate leaders for not voting on a women’s bill that, among other things, would supposedly stop sexual harassment “in all workplaces,” presumably including the state legislature.

When given the opportunity by reporters at the news conference to join the call for Silver’s resignation, she balked, too.  That’s up to the members of the Assembly she said, which is exactly the talking point feminist groups have been sticking to. And what of those members, particularly female democrats in the Assembly? All but one have apparently caught Spring laryngitis.

The Maloneys, Gillibrands and Kruegers of the world have an extraordinary opportunity right now to show bravery — and to prove that their years of feminist remonstrances have been genuine, not electioneering stunts.  But if they continue to do nothing, they will be causing irreparable harm to a cause they have long purported to lead.

It’s gut check time.


 

Thoughts for the GOP

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 28•13

O’Reilly: How the Republican Party can rebrand itself

January 25, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY /

Chairman of the Republican National Convention Reince Priebus

Daniel Boone was asked, near the end of his life, if he had ever been lost in his travels.

“No, I can’t say I was ever lost,” the American frontiersman replied, “but I was bewildered once for three days.”

Good ol’ Daniel Boone kept things in perspective.

It’s good to see thatRepublican National Committee chairmanReince Priebus has similar sensibilities. He’s admitted to some bewilderment from the 2012 elections, but never to being lost. And with that firm mindset, the former Wisconsin attorney is convening the 168-member RNC in Charlotte, N.C., this week to discuss a rebranding of their party.

It’s been a long time coming. The Party of Lincoln — a party steeped in the notion of equal rights under the law and the transcendence of the individual over the collective — has become a party of exclusionary “angry white men” in the eyes of millions. That’s an existential threat in a nation where “minority” births now outweigh white births and where 51 percent of the population is female.

Priebus has tapped some sharp minds — Henry Barbour, Sally Bradshaw, Ari Fleischer, Zori Fonalledas and Glenn McCall — to help him in his effort, which is now formally known as “The Growth and Opportunity Project.” The nation should wish them well, because we all benefit from a healthy two-party system.

Voter outreach technology will constitute the lion’s share of the discussion in Charlotte– the Democratic Party has a strong competitive edge in that category — but it’s the content of what is being delivered to those voters that matters most. And Republican messaging in the last few presidential cycles has been pretty stinky.

There are a lot smarter people than me meeting in Charlotte, but just for fun, here are a half dozen thoughts I am willing southward. One or two may actually be worth considering.

1. Speak the truth, regardless of political consideration.

Republicans need to be talking about things that ring true in people’s hearts, even if that means angering political allies.

Take business. Americans rightly feel shortchanged by the way a lot of companies are being run today. The GOP needs to acknowledge that.

Yes, Republicans believe in free markets and limited regulation, but that doesn’t mean they should be muzzled when usurious business practices are uncovered. Where in the Republican platform, for example, does it say its members need to defend 29-percent-plus interest rates on credit cards?

2. Seize the Reform Mantle

A new Gallup poll finds that 75 percent of Americans now support term limits in Congress. What an opportunity.

Republican candidates — all Republican candidates — should pledge to voluntarily limit the number of terms they will serve. Republicans should also pledge to abolish pensions for political office holders. That should reshuffle the deck.

3. Return to the party’s core convictions

The Republican Party was founded on the core premise of equal opportunity under the law (not equal outcomes, asPresident Barack Obama seems to believe.) That principle, which led to the abolishment of slavery, should logically extend to the right of gays and lesbians to marry under government contract. Religious institutions are free to maintain traditional views. At a minimum, the GOP should take a big tent approach on this issue.

On the abortion issue, too, the party should maintain a big tent. Libertarian pro-choicers should feel welcome in the party, and pro-lifers should be confident that science and ever-improving 3-D ultrasound technology will ultimately swell their ranks.

4. Double down against public employee union abuse

There is a clear structural imbalance between the salaries and benefit packages of public and private employees. Private-sector taxpayers are losing out in the exchange, and there are a lot more of them. Pounding away at this imbalance is a political winner.

5. Educate young voters

The generation coming of age today is being called “Generation Screwed” for good reason. The nation’s debt will hurt them more than anyone. Republicans should be speaking about this at every college campus in America.

6. Don’t panic

A half million or so votes in the right states would have put Mitt Romney in office.

This column originally appeared at Newsday. 

 

The Dreamer President

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 21•13

O’Reilly: Barack Obama: the dreamer president

January 22, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as the presidential

Barack Obama is feeling his mojo.

He’s never sounded more like himself than he did Monday; and he’s never looked more presidential.

It wasn’t the graying hair around his temples or the seasoned confidence of a president entering his second term, although those things helped. It was the words of his speech. They fit him like a Savile Row dinner jacket.

Make no mistake about it, our 44th president has found his ideological groove.

For liberals in this country that’s a wonderful thing. And I couldn’t help feeling happy for friends of that persuasion as I watched the president’s 20-minute address, held outside the Capitol Building on a cold, crisp Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Because this is the speech they’ve waited for — the one they’ve felt cheated out of — since two Kennedys and a King were felled by bullets two generations ago. This was progressivism on proud display, coming from a man with the power to deliver it.

This Barack Obama is believable, too. The one who remained silent on guns, opposed gay marriage and punted on the illegal immigration issue was phony. This Obama is better — for liberals, conservatives and everyone in between. We now have a president in the Oval Office with a clear and consistent vision, whether we like that vision or not.

But even as the president was planting the flag of progressivism on the Capitol steps, he was ensuring the rebound of conservatism in America.

It was made clear when he touched — ever so briefly — on reform of our entitlement programs, which are on a certain pathto bankruptcy. “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” he said.

In other words, don’t expect entitlement reform from me.

In that moment, Obama made it clear that tackling federal debt will not be a priority of his presidency; that mess will be left to successors. History may not forgive him for that.

If current spending estimates are correct, this president will double our national debt in eight short years, from $10 to $20 trillion. That debt — a quarter of which will be on the head of President George W. Bush – may critically hamper job growth and the economic competitiveness of this and future generations. It may also doom the very social safety net for which so many American liberals cheered yesterday.

Liberals in America almost realized this moment when they elected Bill Clinton to office. But then he “triangulated” (remember that word?), stealing the Republican‘s fiscal reform mantle right from under their feet. Where Obama is showing himself a dreamer, Clinton proved to be a clever pragmatist. Pressed by a Republican Congress, he took care of the economic business at hand and balanced a budget for the first time in years.

That became Clinton’s enduring legacy, and it swayed millions of socially liberal Republicans to enroll as Democrats, which they remain today. Clinton showed them that a Democrat could be fiscally responsible.

If Obama the Dreamer pursues the promises he made yesterday — while ignoring the fiscal realities of our time — he may fulfill many people’s dreams, including those of a lot of Republicans.

This column was originally published by Newsday

Impure Thoughts on Guns

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 17•13

O’Reilly: Impure thoughts on guns from a Republican

January 18, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY

Gerald A. O'Reilly in training exercises for mountain

As a kid growing up in Manhattan, there was nothing I wanted more than a BB gun — the same one 9-year-old Ralphie pined for in “A Christmas Story”: The Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle — but I couldn’t get one. It wasn’t just the city’s gun laws I had to contend with. It was my father.

He’s a combat veteran — a decorated combat veteran — and there would be no guns in our home. It didn’t matter that a good half of the 45 cousins on my mother’s side lived in “the country” and had rifles, or that several aunts and uncles were accomplished hunters. Any gun I had would be limited to the cap variety.

My father fought in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy duringWorld War II, which suffered some of the highest casualty rates in the European theater. At 89, he’s the last survivor of his mortar company (85th Infantry, Company M), and after being wounded twice by Nazi artillery and seeing the horrors of what guns did to his friends and enemies in the Po Valley in winter and spring of 1945, he had seen enough of guns. (The last firearm my father handled was an Italian Beretta pistol stripped from a German officer. He traded it for something he could actually use as a returning junior at Notre Dame — a cashmere sports jacket that he still talks about.)

In time, my father’s sensibilities on firearms wore off on my siblings and me — or so I thought, although I did manage to take a shooting lesson or two some years back.

Shortly after moving out of the city in 2007, I heard words I never expected, and from the unlikeliest source — my wife. “I really think you should teach the girls how to shoot,” she said.

It didn’t have to be suggested twice. Within 24 hours, I found myself at a local gun shop looking up at an arsenal on a wall.

These were not the beautiful polished rifles I had seen hanging in the gun room of my grandparent’s house as a child. These looked like prop pieces for the filming of “Rambo, Part Nine.” I purchased two of the more modest rifles available.

If the gun shop was unsettling, the range was downright unnerving. The look of the weapons being fired there was menacing in the extreme. The vast majority, regardless of caliber, were modeled to look like military weapons. I felt embarrassed to be there. There is something deeply juvenileabout suburban men and women playing soldier.

None were fully automatic rifles, mind you. Civilians cannot own those in the United States; only law enforcement officers can. But these single-shot and semiautomatic weapons were made to look like people killers, not sportsmen rifles. And to me, there’s a big difference there.

The NRA correctly argues that changes being proposed to U.S.gun laws would be largely cosmetic. A rifle without a pistol grip or a flash suppressor is still a rifle, and two 10-shot ammunition clips pack as much firepower as a 20-round magazine, although the seconds it takes to swap out a clip could be lifesaving ones. I would argue, though, that cosmetic changes are exactly what is needed in U.S. gun culture.

Look at Bushmaster AR-15 sales following the Newtown massacre. That’s the weapon Adam Lanza used to slaughtertwo classrooms full of first graders. It sold out across America within days of the shooting.

There’s something deeply disturbing about that. Who on Earth would want to touch, much less own, the weapon that did that? And yet thousands of Americans apparently do.

That’s something that needs to be addressed.

I am a libertarian-leaning Republican. I get the arguments the gun lobby is making — the right to bear arms and the whole slippery slope argument. But I am my father’s son first, I suppose, and I just can’t understand American gun culture today.

Maybe it’s not new laws that we need. Maybe we all just need to grow up a little.

This column was originally published in Newsday

What’s the Plan, Mr, President?

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 15•13

O’Reilly: What’s the plan, Mr. President?

January 15, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY

Barack Obama is an infuriating man.

He is at times larger than life and at others embarrassingly small-minded.

He can console a nation when its children are gunned down, yet he is utterly careless when spending money belonging to the children who live on.

Our president is physically graceful, but he lacks grace entirely when victorious. Then, he is a bully and a braggart.

He can be lovable or deeply unlikable, depending on his mood.

Negotiating withRepublicans seems to trigger Obama’s unflattering side, and that side has been on full display during the discussions leading up to the February debt ceiling vote.

On Monday, the president suggested that Republicans are “deadbeats” for wanting spending cuts commensurate with the amount of new borrowing they are being asked to rubber stamp.

“We are not a deadbeat nation,” the president sniffed. “And so there’s a very simple solution to this: Congress authorizes us to pay our bills.”

Republicans “have two choices here,” continued the man who is spending the nation into bankruptcy. “They can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.”

That ransom, presumably, would be reductions in the amount of money we are stealing from our children each and every day.

The audacity of those tea party Republicans!

One wonders if Obama ever meant what he said about changing the tone in Washington. The way he is acting now suggests he did not.

Nothing is more maddening about this president, though, than his propensity to evade responsibility on the fundamental issue of our times — the gargantuan federal debt — and then seek to humiliate those earnestly trying to address it.

Actually there is one thing — his evident glee in knowing that hisRepublican opponents will dash themselves against the rocks in an effort to slow the growth of spending. Indeed, how doRepublicans win a rhetorical battle when the president of the United States, with all the trappings of his office, is willing to say things like: “If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans benefits will be delayed” — as though there is no other option.

These are tactics unbecoming of a Chicago alderman, much less the POTUS. Obama would rather terrify 56 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits and retired U.S. military veterans than negotiate a single spending cut — at a time when we are borrowing about a third of what we spend.

That’s unconscionable, and beneath a man as blessed as this president.

President Obama has now made it clear that he intends to do nothing during his presidency about the debt, other than to double it from just over $10 trillion at the end of 2008 to just over $20 trillion in 2016, according to current estimates by theSenate Budget Committee minority.

And heaven help anyone in Washington who stands in the way of this president’s spending. Those poor unfortunates will feel the full weight of his office, if not the weight of the bills we are accumulating. It’s our kids who will feel those.

The president is bullying his way to a win with the debt ceilingvote, but he is diminishing his stature as a leader in the process.

 This piece was originally published by Newsday

State of the State speech reveals the great liberal lie

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 11•13

O’Reilly: Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech reveals the great liberal lie

January 11, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY

Republicans are already calling it his Hugo Chavez Speech.

Indeed, Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address Wednesday was remarkable as much for its stridency as for its content.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was based on a lie.

For an hour and a quarter, Mr. Cuomo hammered away at today’s liberal touchpoints — a minimum-wage increase, public campaign financing, gender pay equity, gun control – in order to shore up his credentials with the political left.

“It’s her body; it’s her choice!,” he thundered three times consecutively — to a legislative body that legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade.

The governor anointed New York “the progressive capital” of America. (Folks in San Francisco will surely have something to say about that). He promised a billion dollars in new spending on affordable housing and billions more in infrastructure improvements. Our subways will be floodproofed; our harbors storm-surge-proofed and our gas stations blackout-proofed. There will be casinos and tax-free zones to revitalize the upstate economy.

Everything New York and national Democrats wanted to hear was crammed into 78 minutes of pure political goo.

But nowhere in his speech did the governor mention the difficult but essential things that have to be done in order to save New York from its downward spiral. Not a word was spoken about the state mandates squeezing counties and local governments to death, or the exorbitant state pension costs gobbling up dollars that used to go to services.

He spoke about those things when he first came into office, but not on Tuesday.

In November, I wrote nice things about Cuomo here in Newsday, but warned that ambition might prove to be his Achilles’ heel. That has borne out faster than I feared.

“Standing between him and the nomination,” I wrote, “are public employee union leaders who can make or break Democratic presidential aspirants — the same union bosses who have been trying to stall the governor’s Albany reform agenda for the past two years. They have the money, troops and organizational ability to turn the tide in huge primary states like Florida, Illinois,MichiganNevada and California. They are no doubt reminding the governor’s political team of that daily.”

Those union leaders must have been top of mind when the governor and his handlers conspicuously omitted in his speech any mention of the fiscal reforms that he pledged to pursue just 24 months ago.

Here’s the rub: If pension and mandate reform isn’t delivered in New York, the very social safety net that New York Democratslove so much is going to be severely compromised going forward. It’s already happening, and that’s where the lie of Gov. Cuomo’s speech becomes apparent.

With each passing budget, school districts are feeling the squeeze of Cuomo’s 2 percent property tax cap, which was passed sans mandate relief. That means fewer school programs for struggling districts. Not-for-profits that relied on local government funding are being gutted, too, and if you look at New York’s pension actuarial charts, the pain is only beginning.

The tax cap was a great idea, but only if Albany stopped forcing counties, municipalities and school districts to pay for state programs that Albany won’t fund. The governor promised that mandate relief was coming next when he signed the tax cap into law, but now he seems to have walked away from that.

He’s also apparently walked away from meaningful pension reform. These are the costs that are bleeding New York dry. AsMayor Mike Bloomberg has repeatedly pointed out, we are now paying more for trash picked up years ago through pension payments than for trash picked up today. Those public employee pensions are guaranteed, so when the money runs low, it’s the social safety net programs that get the ax.

California pension adviser David Crane spelled it out perfectly a couple of years back. “I have a special word for my fellowDemocrats,” he wrote. “One cannot both be a progressive and be opposed to pension reform. The math is irrefutable that the losers from excessive and unfunded pensions are precisely the programs progressive Democrats tend to applaud.”

Cuomo’s speech Wednesday signaled an abrupt, but not unexpected, end to his promise as a fiscal reformer. It marked the day he chose his own political career over the best interests of his state.

This piece was originally published by Newsday

Let the Freshman Negotiate

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 08•13

O’Reilly: Let the freshmen negotiate in Congress

January 8, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY

LaGuardia Airport, early Sunday morning.

Two young men, identical twins in smart tortoise shell glasses, directly face me at an open counter, each deeply absorbed in aniPad.

“Stop kicking your leg,” the one to my right mutters, without so much as looking up from his device.

“I’m not kicking,” the one on my left snaps back, zipping through his Web pages as he does. “You’re always kicking,” his brother says.

The exchange went on from there, with neither raising his eyes once from his reading, or, seemingly, thinking anything of the volley. The petty complaints and retorts were automatic, part of an exchange that may very well have begun in the womb.

The scene made me recall a half-baked proposal I read about in the late 1990s as a possible fix to the enduring conflict inNorthern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants.

Hong Kong was about to be reabsorbed by the mainland Chinese government under a treaty with Britain. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong Chinese were alarmed and seeking to emigrate somewhere, anywhere.

An inventive British minister proposed that England grant 50,000 visas to Hong Kong Chinese willing to relocate to Northern Ireland. The theory was that it would inject money into Northern Ireland and dilute the hatred between the Irish sects living there.

“You don’t understand Northern Ireland,” someone quipped in response. “In 10 years you’ll have 25,000 Hong Kong Chinese lined up with the Protestants and 25,000 with the Catholics.”

Resentments left to fester can consume nations.

If you ask anyone in Washington — or Albany or any state capital — why some obvious need cannot be met, they will usually say one of two things: “It’s not that simple,” or “It’s a lot more complicated than that.”

I’m sure that’s exactly what my neighbors at LaGuardia would say.

But is it really? Or is half the problem in Washington that the players have annoyed the living bejeezus out of one another over a period of years and now hate to concede anything?

The challenges facing governments today are enormous, but let’s get real; they’re not complicated. The average apolitical American almost certainly could chart a course, within days, to lower our national debt burden better than the one we’re on now. (Are we on one now?) America is borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Let’s stop doing that, the rational person might say. And if tweaking entitlement programs, closing tax loopholes and pulling some troops out of Europe will get our budgets in balance, then let’s do that, too.

If familiarity is half the problem, then the special interest machine is the other half. Members are hamstrung by pledges and candidate questionnaires from unions and other interest groups locking them into positions. They are left no room for nuance or compromise. Those interest groups come with lobbyists, PR teams and lots of advertising dollars. God help you if you cross them.

Long-term elected officials have become so entangled in relationships with special interests and their lobbyists that nothing will ever be simple for them again. Just look at the lard stuffed into the so-called fiscal cliff deal. Somehow rum producers in the U.S. Virgin Islands got involved in it, getting a generous tax break in the final arrangement.

Rum producers?

Maybe the problem in Washington is that the decision-makers have been around too long. Maybe for the debt ceiling talks we should let the newly elected freshman put a plan on the table. Things may not be so complicated for them.

This column was originally published in Newsday. 

Republicans Need a New PR Plan

Written By: Bill O'Reilly - Jan• 04•13

O’Reilly: The Republicans need a new PR plan

 January 4, 2013 by WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY /

The Republican Party may be the only entity worse at public relations than the Israeli government.

Israel can be shelled daily for a year by its neighbors without notice or concern from the outside world, but as soon as she retaliates, it’s an international outrage.

The GOP can hold a winning poker hand, only to learn after the final round of betting that the game has been changed to pinochle. Such was the case in 2011′s debt-ceiling negotiations and in the recent “fiscal cliff” deal, where Republicans capitulated on tax increases without getting any meaningful spending cuts in return. The GOP thought the debate was to be about debt, when it was really about greedy millionaires.

Who knew?

Republicans were correct on the merits in both cases. The real problem in this country is overspending, not undertaxing, and no amount of taxing can fill the hole we’ve dug. But the GOP was made to look like a pack of asses by members of a party whose mascot is a donkey, a neat trick on the Democrats‘ part.

It’s never been easy selling Republican messages. Democrats promise voters shiny objects; Republicans typically don’t — yet fail to properly explain why they don’t.

Built in public relations challenges for the GOP can be daunting, but there can be no excuse for bad press year after year. A major political party must learn how to communicate its messages to voters no matter what. If it can’t, it won’t remain major for long.

The central message Republicans should be communicating today is the need for urgent action on the national debt. But the party’s leaders are reticent to go full bore on the issue for fear of being chewed up by a Democratic PR machine, expert at portraying Republicans as heartless and greedy whenever they propose spending less money.

Mitt Romney ducked the debt issue almost entirely, muzzling his fiscally prudent running mate, Paul Ryan, for the final month of the 2012 presidential campaign.

But the Republican Party is right about the debt. How right?

A friend and former client, Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin, puts it this way: “The Republican Party hasn’t been so right on an issue, and the Democrats so wrong, since slavery.”

That’s an audacious statement, but one that’s probably correct. The GOP’s attempts to spare future generations from fiscal ruin is downright virtuous, right up there with its unwavering anti-communist stance, which helped free millions from totalitarianism.

So why can’t the GOP get over the hump on debt? Why do Republicans always end up looking like they want to push grandma from the train?

I’m no public relations genius. I’ve lost more than my share of fights over the years. But one thing I’ve learned in politics is that you rarely win a battle from a defensive posture. A winning party is a party on offense, and I can’t remember the last time the Republicans controlled the national dialogue.

If the Republican Party is to convince the American public that debt poses an existential crisis to the country, it needs to indict Democrats in a publicly engaging way for recklessly stealing from our children. It needs to convince voters of all generations — even liberal voters who cherish the social safety net — that theDemocratic Party in America today is leading us to ruin. The social safety net will, in fact, collapse if we keep doing what we’re doing.

Most importantly, the Republican Party must be willing to lose in the short term in order to survive in the long term as a party true to its convictions — and to its duty to the American public.

This piece originally appeared in Newsday