J. KARL MILLER: In elections, actions speak louder than words

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Elections have consequences — I learned this firsthand in the 1964 presidential campaigns of the incumbent, Lyndon B. Johnson, and his opponent, Barry Goldwater. The LBJ faction's famous "Daisy" ad painted Sen. Goldwater as reckless and impulsively unstable — that a vote for the Republican would virtually guarantee going to war in Vietnam.

I ignored this sage counsel and voted for the senator and, as promised, I found myself serving in Vietnam — twice in fact, for a total of 26 months.

I use this obviously ridiculous example to make the point that much of the campaign rhetoric is equally foolish, aimed at the most gullible of the electorate. Otto von Bismarck, "Iron" Chancellor of Germany from 1871 to 1890, stated it best when he opined, "People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election."

During my 77 years, presidents and legislators have come and gone with scheduled regularity, accompanied by overly ambitious campaign promises and, in the last 20 years, increasingly shrill and malicious personal attacks. If there is a trend that Democrats, Republicans and independents might agree upon, it is that political civility is dead.

One area that never seems to change is the maddeningly repetitive cliches. Democrats are subjected to bromides of being soft on crime, anti-military and defense, pro-big government, anti-Second Amendment and the party of tax and spend.

Conversely, Republicans are deemed pro-wealth, war mongers, racist, anti-women and generally opposed to any programs favoring the elderly, disabled, young, poor and middle class. It is remarkable that after so many years of being the undisputed champions of the poor, the disadvantaged and the minorities, that the Democrats have discovered the middle class.

These stereotypes are based on innuendo, half-truths and exaggeration, as the notion that up to one-half of the population believes the other to be its sworn enemy is absurd. There are political differences, normal and necessary, as neither side has a monopoly on ideas — nevertheless "united we stand, divided we fall" is a good judgment to follow.

In past elections, while making no secret of my conservative Republican bent, I have refrained from endorsing either major party candidate. My reasons were twofold — first, I knew my opinion would not move the electorate one iota. Secondly, my faith in the strength of our system of checks and balances provided by the Constitution has made me comfortable with the knowledge that we would not stray from those attributes that keep us strong.

Sadly, I am no longer of that opinion. Four years ago, following the election of President Barack Obama, I wrote: "On Nov. 4, the people elected Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama president. As your resident evil, mean-spirited and conservative Republican, I am disappointed; however, as an American, I accept and respect the voters' decision. He is my president-elect."

I still accept and respect that as the decision of the electorate. Mr. Obama was swept into office with an aura of good feeling and optimism at home as well as abroad. His inaugural contained the following: "On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics."

That this did not come to pass is history; however, I will not waste time on the determination of "who shot John." Neither will I dwell on the various campaign attack ads nor "who won the debates." Actions speak louder than words.

Instead, I will keep it short and sweet. Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have traded charges that the other has not provided a plan for the future. However, the president's four-year, less-than-successful record augurs little optimism for the future. We cannot afford more years of the same as "leading from behind" violates every principle of leadership that I learned.

Additionally, I am not comfortable with his tactic of bypassing Congress and the Constitution in choosing which laws he will enforce. Whether by not enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, selectively enforcing immigration laws or making recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, he has violated the separation of powers doctrine.

Finally, I offer the following quote from the late Peter Jennings, an ABC News anchor with whom I seldom found agreement.

"Do we elect a man because of what he stands for, because of where he stands on the issues, because how he makes the nation feel?" The answer establishes Gov. Romney as the better candidate.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Christopher Foote October 24, 2012 | 10:24 a.m.

I think Obama has done a competent job in his four years in office.
First, he greatly reduced the duration of the recession and possibly prevented a depression, by enacting the stimulus.
His private jobs record is far better than his predecessors at the same time into each's first term (there are more private sector jobs than when he was inaugurated).
Though the deficit has grown significantly, it is not due to any long-term spending measures passed by Obama, i.e. the structural deficit has not increased.
He passed a comprehensive health reform plan, and did so in an ostensibly revenue neutral manner.
In the foreign policy arena, he has greatly enhanced the US's position in the world (passed 3 trade deals, nabbed Osama, oversaw democratic uprisings in the middle-east without significant increases in US troops to the region).
I think Romney's budget alone is enough to disqualify him as a non serious candidate, as it simply does not add up. He says his plan will:
1)lower taxes for the middle class
2)have the top 20% pay the same share of taxes by lowering their taxes and reducing their deductions
3)reduce the deficit
Option 3 is incompatible with options 1 and 2, unless you believe in magical thinking. The whole plan is simply a bait and switch to further lower taxes and increase our deficits. Our problems are not due to excessively high taxes, thus now is not the time for a Romney presidency.

(Report Comment)
frank christian October 24, 2012 | 11:27 a.m.

Chris's missive or "misinformative", as usual deals will the health and wealth of the Government. Health and wealth (more aptly: plight!) of the people, is as usual, expressed only in the "records". Here is a somewhat more in depth look at the shape of our people after 4 of Obama.

Romney plans to help us work our way out of this Democrat caused mess, with measures to create extreme growth in our economy. The Obama, Soros. Democrat bunch are not concerned with any improvement in the plight of our people,but only with the collection of the trillions of dollars made available to them by OBAMA and the DEMOCRATS.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black October 24, 2012 | 11:52 a.m.

Frank, are you denying any republican involvement in our financial mess? Just need to clarify your comments. I think Christopher hit it right on the head. And by the way, yes I am doing much better than I was when Obama was inaugurated.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote October 24, 2012 | 12:59 p.m.

Jan. 2009 Nonfarm payroll = -598,000 jobs
Sept. 2012 Nonfarm payroll = + 114,000 jobs
(Numbers from the BLS)
Those are the monthly jobs numbers Frank. Please explain to me how our economic situation was better in Jan. 2009 than it is today.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 24, 2012 | 2:15 p.m.

What's this I hear about Patrick Moran (son of Virginia Rep. Jim Moran (D)) discussing fraudulent voting with an undercover reporter? Something about using Microsoft Word to create false utility bills for voters.

I'm also hearing about voting machines in Florida that ring up Obama when a voter tries to ring up Romney. The explanation was that the machines needed recalibration.


I guess voting fraud is limited only to east of the Mississippi. I'm suspecting there is some sort of invisible "fraud wall" that keeps it from spreading in westerly directions.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 24, 2012 | 2:32 p.m.

This from CNN:

CNN fact-checking says there has been "a net increase of just 300,000 nonfarm payroll jobs since Obama took office. And if you count government jobs, there are actually 400,000 fewer people working today than in January 2009.

When Democrats use the 4.5 million jobs number, they're referring to jobs created after the economy bottomed out in January 2010, one year after Obama took office. That time frame excludes the worst job losses, which took place in 2009, and which many Democrats argue were the result of Bush policies...The figure of 4.5 million jobs is accurate if you look at the most favorable period and category for the administration. But overall, there are still fewer people working now than when Obama took office at the height of the recession."

This was all supposed to be fixed by 2009.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson October 24, 2012 | 3:38 p.m.

Colonel: "actions speak louder than words"

Not if you are Akin or Mourdock.

(Report Comment)
frank christian October 24, 2012 | 3:49 p.m.

Tony Black - I know you are dying to point out Republican involvement in the Clinton.Dodd, Frank real estate mortgage debacle. Please do so. I found information on at least 4 legislative attempts by W. Bush, J. McCain and other
R's to stop the silly approval of loans to applicants with no means to repay them, before 2008. I found them, I'm sure you could too.

Chris says, "He passed a comprehensive health reform plan," Which 70% of Americans have told him,poll after poll, that they want nothing to do with!

"(passed 3 trade deals, nabbed Osama, oversaw democratic uprisings in the middle-east without significant increases in US troops to the region). The 3 trade deals were ready for him when he took office. He particularly refused the Colombian ( the government has helped immensely with the drug trade and is in economic straits) because BO not satisfied with their treatment of unions. Colombia had turned to Hugo Chavez, before BO just recently ok'd the agreement. BO has vacated the ME for all practical purpose and as we have seen little but, chaos may be expected there.

The "magical thinking" Chris refers to is the fact that allowing Americans to keep more of their own money, creates financial action that not only creates jobs but more revenue for the government. All that is necessary for this to be an all around success is for Congress to control the new income in regard to their spending as did the 1994 Congressional Republicans. Such control has never been achieved, nor even tried (the phoney "pay as you go" rules, notwithstanding), by any Democrat Congress. This why we Must turn out Obama and Democrats, next month.

(Report Comment)
frank christian October 24, 2012 | 4:00 p.m.

Tony B. - I forgot to add, that every attempt by Republicans to change the mortgage lending rules we are discussing, was killed by minority Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Why would anyone back these people?

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller October 24, 2012 | 7:16 p.m.

Mr Foote,

And others who believe we are better off today than when President Obama took office-- since Obama took office in January 2009, the median income has fallen 8.2 percent, from $55,198 to its present figure,$50,678.

Can we really afford four more years of President Obama?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams October 24, 2012 | 10:38 p.m.

Hmmmm, looks like the Patrick Moran vote fraud story is getting some legs...........

He apparently quit his dad's campaign.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote October 25, 2012 | 12:39 a.m.

@Mr. Miller,

Not sure where you are getting your numbers.
According to the US census (, for 2008 the median household income was $52,546 (in 2011 dollars). For the last available year, 2011, the median household income was $50,054.
$50,054/$52,546 = a 4.7% decline. Recessions depress household incomes, thus it is not surprising that incomes would go down following a severe recession.
One of the driving forces behind stagnant/declining median incomes is income inequality. If you look at GDP per capita and compare it to median household income they track rather nicely until the late 70s, and than they suddenly diverge:
This is not a new problem that has arisen due to Mr. Obama's policies. In fact, incomes declined by roughly the same amount from 2000-2008 when the Republicans were in control of the economy. What has occurred is that as the economy has grown, the wealth generated from that growth has increasingly gone to those at the top of the income distribution. Thus, middle class incomes have grown at a much slower rate than their historical average. If you were concerned about median household incomes you would support economic policies that favor the middle class and aim to decrease income inequality. This may come as a surprise to you, but Mitt Romney's proposed economic policies emphatically do not benefit the middle class. In fact they will most likely increase income inequality. Here's a graph comparing income growth by income distribution for Democrats and Republicans from 1948-2005:
Any ideas why the middle class fair so poorly with respect to income growth under Republican presidents?

(Report Comment)
frank christian October 25, 2012 | 7:04 a.m.


(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller October 26, 2012 | 5:34 p.m.

Mr Foote,

Here are my sources--go to Household income declines 8.2 percent and you will find a number of examples..
Have a nice day.

(Report Comment)

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