The PR Czar Fails

On October 2, 2009, in Obama, by Mark Ciavola

Chicago Eliminated from 2016 Bid, in First Round.

With any incoming administration, Americans are treated to a bevy of new faces, interesting characters and too many names to remember. Cabinet positions are filled, hundreds of judges appointed and so many support staffers it leaves one’s head spinning. President Obama has been raked over the coals by his critics for the sheer number of czars he has appointed to oversee a number of issues from green jobs to the auto industry and beyond. However you feel about the unprecedented number of czars in Obama’s arsenal, there is at least one that needs to be relieved of duty immediately. That czar is the PR Czar, Barack Obama.

When Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency, he promised to change the way Washington worked. Today Washington is working (although no differently) while Obama is in Denmark begging Olympic officials to give his hometown the 2016 games. Copenhagen is just the latest destination on his Obama Express campaign tour, which should have ended when he was elected last year. In fact, since taking office on January 20, 2009, just over eight months ago, he has done at least 40 full sit-down interviews (more in his first six months than his two immediate predecessors combined) with everyone from NBC and CBS to ESPN, Univision and even Al Jazeera. Not to be unfair, he even gave a sit-down interview to an 11-year old kid in Florida. He has pre-empted primetime television five times to address the nation, devoting most of his speeches to convincing the American people to get behind his policies. Obama also had time to sit down with David Letterman.

A quick look at how President Obama has dealt with the many issues plaguing our country these days will show that he prefers to delegate the messy job of fixing these problems to others. He outsourced the stimulus bill to the Apollo Alliance (founded by recently ousted Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones), a coalition of green groups, labor and social justice organizations that describes itself as “working to catalyze a clean energy revolution.” I guess we can all rest assured there was no underlying agenda in the bill. He has left health care reform entirely in the hands of the House and Senate, and brought on more than 35 czars, double that of the previous administration. While they are all operating in true Washington fashion, Obama is drinking beer with a belligerent Harvard professor and unfairly targeted cop, and gallivanting around on Air Force One holding health care rallies, touring Europe on the “American Apology Tour” and stopping in Saudi Arabia and Cairo to appease the Muslim world.

At what point do we as Americans demand that our President be our leader, and not our marketing firm? We don’t have the luxury of living in a time of peace and prosperity. We’re dealing with some very difficult issues, including the rising jobless numbers that came out today (9.8%), and perception is everything. With the country focused on the poor economic climate, the debate over health care reform, the future of Afghanistan (and Iraq), the impending nuclear threat of Iran and the destruction in American Samoa, you’d think Obama could’ve sent Michelle to lobby for the 2016 games. Plus, why were Valerie Jarrett and Oprah Winfrey invited? If Obama really wanted to gain some credibility as the “post-partisan president,” he would’ve sent Mitt Romney, the savior of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, to Denmark.

Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, white, black, Hispanic, gay, straight, political junkies or otherwise, we are all Americans. As Americans, we need to expect more from our president. The U.S. Presidency shouldn’t be like winning a Miss America pageant, where the victor is praised for making as many public appearances as possible until their crown is passed on. Barack Obama showed America that he was one of the best political campaigners in modern times, now he must show us that he can deliver on his promises and lead.


Waking Up In Vegas

On October 1, 2009, in Nevada, by Mark Ciavola

Over 700 same-sex couples in Nevada woke up today to find themselves in state-recognized relationships, as the state’s Domestic Partnership Law went into effect. Led by the only openly-gay elected official in Nevada, State Senator David R. Parks, the law was signed May 31st and survived a veto by Governor Jim Gibbons.

Opponents of the bill-turned-law believe domestic partnerships too closely resemble same-sex marriage, which was banned through a state constitutional amendment by voters in 2002 and 2004. Domestic partners in Nevada, both same-sex or opposite sex, will receive most of the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples in the state. The law does not require employers in Nevada to offer healthcare and other benefits to domestic partner couples, but many already do.

This is a step in the right direction for gays and lesbians in Nevada. Las Vegas is one of the top vacation destinations for gay travelers and many gays and lesbians work in the service and entertainment-based economy. The Secretary of State’s office in Nevada offered pre-registration for domestic partnerships between August 24th and September 24th, in order to ensure couples would receive their certificates on October 1st.

Congratulations to all of the newly domestically partnered couples in Nevada!