Saturday, October 27, 2012

Finally, Forward: The Song

Finally there's a 2012 song.  I'm so old that the only voice I recognize in this is Obama, but I'm liking it.

Lie, Hide and Spend: GOP Strategy

It's the Romneyryan strategy for the rest of the campaign: lie, hide and spend.

Lie: Romney can barely open his mouth without lying.  They are tactical lies, as when he said in Ohio on Friday that Jeep was thinking of sending all its American production jobs to China.  It's a lie.  Jeep is actually hiring more Ohio workers, and is exploring opening production plants in China for cars to be bought in China. 

The Romney campaign strategy is to lie, and later "correct" the lie by an officially issued campaign statement that nobody but the media sees.  In the above case, the lie hasn't been corrected, because Romney prefaced it with "I read someplace..." and indeed he might have.  Some right wing blog misinterpreted another report and made this allegation, which Chrysler (owner of the Jeep brand) immediately denied, calling it a fantasy.  As Rachel pointed out, if Romney believed what he read in a right wing blog without further checking, that's even scarier for a potential president than a deliberate lie.

The second part of the strategy is to hide.  Vp candidate Ryan, the most extreme and least qualified vp candidate since--well, Sarah Palin-- is being hidden in fundraisers and rabble-raising in the deep South.  Romney does an event or two a day, and hides from media interviews.  That way he gets to sound his packaged themes without explaining or defending them, or aspects of his campaign, or anything about his policies, and certainly nothing about his lies.

Spend is the third element.  The Romney campaign and its superpacs are finally going to unleash their unprecedented ad barrage in the final week.

Their conceptual strategy from the beginning was to make President Obama the issue, and Romney as the empty suit alternative.  Thanks to a poll that showed a large percentage in favor of major change, they've found a theme: big change.  They're banking on people wanting  a new product without caring very much what it is.  And this at least isn't a lie.  Romney would be a big change.  A change back to Bush, and beyond.

So there are two questions out there now.  First, can Romney sway enough undecided voters--enough low-information white and largely women voters--to win enough states to win?  Second, will enough of the much larger potential Obama support translate into actual votes, and sweep him to reelection?

We won't know until after election day, because we won't know the effect of this Romneyryan strategy, which is all carefully calibrated to peak on November 6.  Right now it is pretty clear that President Obama is ahead.  Swing state polls released on Friday are favorable.  And there's this:

  [E]xperts predict that at least 35% of those who vote in this election will cast an early vote this year, up from 30% in 2008. And in crucial swing states like Florida, Colorado, Iowa and Ohio, that number might be much higher. "Colorado is one where 85% of the votes are going to be cast prior to election day," says Michael McDonald, an associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University. "Florida is going to be close to two-thirds. In Ohio, they're on pace for 40-45% early voting."

Ezra Klein is more blunt:
Absolutely everything I’ve heard suggests the Obama campaign is meeting and exceeding its early voting targets. You can see some on-the-ground evidence of this from Jon Ralston’s look at early voting in Nevada, which is showing huge numbers for the Democrats, and the Time poll of Ohio, which showed a huge lead for Democrats among early voters. Democrats also appear to lead in early voting in North Carolina.
 Nate Silver has increased President Obama's likelihood of winning to about 75%.  President Obama is campaigning feverishly, I think mostly to reignite the enthusiasm of his voters as well as to remind those previously for him but tempted by Romney, why they were right in the first place.

Apart from all this, there are the decisions to make on the better candidate to be President of the United States, and why.  The Chicago Tribune has endorsed only one Democrat in its long history: Barack Obama in 2008.  And it does so again in 2012:

 Bolstered by his steadiness in office, cognizant of the vast unfinished business before him, we endorse the re-election of Barack Obama.

Friday, October 26, 2012


It was always going to come down to this.  Much of the GOP is full of hate.  Much of their hate is racial. 

The top GOPers may not express it directly--they just play to it.  Like top Romney surrogate and former Bushie John Sununu, who has made racially tinged remarks in the past, (Obama is lazy, was the latest) said Thursday that Colin Powell endorsed President Obama because they are both black.   Or Sarah Palin saying that President Obama was shucking and jiving on Libya. 

But the real hate breaks through all too often.  Like the Ohio state rep that introduced Romney at an event Thursday who called President Obama "disgusting."  Or this guy, at a Romney rally last week.

The haters are going to be in their most malicious frenzy from now until election day.  I hope fair minded undecided voters are listening.

Take Two Giant Steps

The San Francisco Giants won the second game of the World Series 2-0 with the return of Madison Bumgarner to epic form in a two-hitter.  The Giants played classic baseball on offense, getting their two runs on a double play and a sacrifice fly, excelling again in fielding and base running.

Here's a good story on the game and what's been involved in the Giants peaking at this moment.   It's on to Detroit Saturday for the third game with the Giants leading the best of 7 series, 2 games to none.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Shoe Drops

On Monday I wrote: The shoe that hasn't dropped: Apart from the primary endorsements of the Kennedys, probably the most important endorsement in 2008 for Obama was Colin Powell. It's not clear he has the influence four years later that he did then, but he has not endorsed this year. He's criticized Romney's foreign policy statements. He could be waiting until after the foreign policy debate tonight. But in a race perceived to be this close, a Colin Powell endorsement of President Obama could help."

I'm not aware of anyone else who noted this.  But today, it happened:

"Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell endorsed President Obama’s re-election campaign this morning on CBS This Morning. Powell — who served as the top U.S. diplomat during the Bush administration — said the president would be better on the economy but he also had harsh criticism of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy, reiterating his concern about Romney’s neocon advisers and that the GOP presidential nominee essentially threw out all his past hawkish positions and played a moderate during this week’s foreign policy debate.

POWELL: Not only am I uncomfortable with what Governor Romney is proposing for his economic plan, I have concerns about his views on foreign policy. The governor who was speaking on Monday night at the debate was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier so I’m not quite sure which governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy.

As several analysts have pointed out, the big news would have been if Powell had endorsed Romney, and that might have echoed.  But at this point in the campaign any good story for Obama is good for Obama, and any bad story for Romney--like the continuing Mourdock story, as the GOP flails around it--is bad for Romney.  None of it may be calculable, but sometimes it is what it is.  As a very respected centrist Republican, Colin Powell still can sway voters, especially older ones.  Maybe that's why the right is reacting so rabidly to this endorsement.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's chief deputy, also endorsed President Obama today.  On Hardball he pointed out that the GOPer neocons, with all their bureaucratic and political experience, could push an inexperienced President into war--they did it with GW, they could easily do it with Romney.  "If you liked Iraq, you'll love Romney."  Pretty powerful, and needs to be said.

Meanwhile, Romney's momentum has officially stopped, and President Obama holds on to leads in most swing states, and has leads in the others in some polls.  There's a BIG Obama rally in Cleveland today.


It's Get Out the Vote time, especially in the swing states--early voting, mail-in, absentee, etc.  The Obama campaign has been through this before and in places where it counts most--like Ohio--there's reason for optimism.  The new Time poll which shows Obama ahead in Ohio by 5 points also shows the spread in early voting is 30%: Obama 60 Romney 30.  These assessments--and this one--suggest the Obama ground game is superior.

But except for the early voting already banked (only 17% nationwide, and Obama's lead there is only about 11 points) none of it counts until the ballots get counted.  So a little history lesson for those who have forgotten--or weren't old enough--the catastrophic year 2000.  Some of us of course have that seared on our synapses, which is making for a couple of more weeks of nightmares and general sleep deprivation.  


Here's the beauty of cable--they're still replaying pre-game predictions for game 1 of the World Series.  And they were all the same: Justin Verlander is a dominant pitcher, the Detroit lineup is loaded with heavy hitters, the Giants don't have a chance.

Verlander didn't make it to the fifth.  The Giants sparkled, the Giants shined in every way: Barry Zito and Lincecum pitching, great fielding, smart managing and base-running, timely hitting.  Scutaro continues his incredible hitting, and in a great sign for future games in the series, Buster Posey was 2 for 4.  But of course, it's Pablo.  It's the Panda.

Once upon a time I was having dinner with a friend in the music biz in some New York City restaurant--probably the record company was picking up the tab.  It was typically crowded, especially because the bar was right behind the restaurant area, it was to my back.  The World Series was on TV, I wasn't much interested that year.  The Yankees were in it.  I kept hearing cheers and the announcer talking about Reggie Jackson's home run.  I thought--enough about his home run.  I know these are the Yankees but come on, can't you find something else in the game to talk about?

Well, as it turned out that was the night that Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in a World Series game.  It's only been done once since.  Until tonight.

Pablo Sandoval hit a home run in each of his first three at-bats. He hit 2 homers in the previous series.  And all of 12 homers in the regular season.  He hit a quarter of his season total in one World Series game!   He kind of blew the fourth at bat, just a sharp single.  He gave the Giants fans there something to talk about the rest of their lives.  And the San Francisco Giants remain a joy to watch.  They are officially a magic team.     

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mr. Slick Goes to Washington?

Who is this guy?  The one that almost half of likely voters say they want to be President.  Who in the world are they voting for?

Is it Newt Mitt, the severe conservative?  Is it Mr. Slick, the Etch-a-Sketchy man?  David Brooks, a conservative (though perhaps not severely conservative) columnist for the New York Times offers this opinion in his Wednesday conversation with Gail Collins:

 There are 37 different Mitt Romneys. Once in the White House, they are scheduled to appear sequentially, day-by-day, depending on the lunar calendar, with adjustments made for leap years, months that begin with the letter “M,” and the forthcoming primary schedule.

There will be rotating White House staffs to go with each different Mitt. For example, Treasury Secretary Robert Zoellick will alternate with Treasury Secretaries Donald Trump and Ralph Reed.

It's funny, but it's not.  He has changed position on almost everything, and often enough changed back, usually denying that he's changed at all.  Much of what he has specifically promised to do, he can't do.  He can't get rid of Obamacare on Day One--it can't be done.  His tax plan is a joke.  It's all smoke and mirrors. 

Who is he?  How would he respond in a crisis?  We don't know.  What will he do on issues of church and state separation?  We don't know--we certainly don't know what the effect of his religion will be on him--and its discrimination and other questionable doctrines.

So what will he do?  Will he bomb Iran or won't he?  Will he be Cheney Lite?  Will he kill Medicare--that's pretty likely--and functionally destroy Medicaid--even more likely.  But he'll do it in a nice way.  With a saleman's smile.

Just about the only thing we know for sure is that he will appoint a Supreme Court Justice who will be the vote necessary to criminalize abortion in the United States. 

Something else we know: he doesn't care about the Climate Crisis.  He's just not interested.  He's not much interested in green energy, which is the same as saying he's not much interested in the American economic future or more particularly, the future of civilization.

This is not a reality show anymore, you voters at home.  This is about the most powerful office in the world.  And way too many voters seem to be flirting with hiring an empty suit for the job.  And ditching a President who, if not already among the great Presidents, easily could be. 

And what a message that would be.  Keep your promises, save Detroit, stop bin Laden and cripple al queda, save the American economy and probably the world economy in the process, re-set America's role in the world after the Bush-Cheney disaster, end one war and start ending the other, end torture, enact something very close to universal healthcare that will saves lives and boost the economy,  provide more to jumpstart green energy than in all the presidencies of the past combined while still increasing domestic oil production, reduce the debt, and in many other ways start turning this huge ship of state around in a better direction--and for all that get turned out of office because somebody new showed up who lies with every breath, and every nod of his spray-tanned hair-dyed head.  A good example for future candidates.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Day After--and the Beginning

The day after the third debate, the preliminary numbers confirm that the audience was down, about 5 million from the second debate, but still more watched than the third debate last time around.  And it's still 59 million people.

The foreign policy debate probably only confirmed the puzzlement in the rest of the world that Romney isn't seen as the clown candidate.  From many on and off record statements, it's clear he is unliked and not respected, even (or especially) among allies.  And this BBC poll confirms that if he were on the ballot anywhere else in the world (except Pakistan) he would lose very very badly to President Obama.  The average in the 21 countries surveyed is Obama 50 Romney 9.

Bob Schieffer is getting generally good reviews for how he moderated the debate.  But apart from the scandalous overlooking of the actual world crisis--the climate crisis--he failed to ask a very key question: who are your foreign policy advisors?  So Romney got away without noting that most of his are Bush's.  And in fact another debate goes by with Bush not being mentioned except in passing.

On the campaign trail the day after, President Obama diagnosed new attacks of Romnesia at the debate (which others call myths and lies)  but also started the last phase of his campaign by introducing a new summary of his second term agenda.  He's been talking about these items all along, but now they're packaged for this final push emphasis.  The ad posted above is a 60 second summary.

Tuesday's polls show a slight Obama trend.  The Obama campaign pushed back on the talk that it was conceding North Carolina or any other swing state, and backed that up with cash.  But there was this interesting and much noticed post by Jonathan Chiat headlined:   Romney Says He’s Winning — It’s a Bluff:

 In recent days, the vibe emanating from Mitt Romney’s campaign has grown downright giddy. Despite a lack of any evident positive momentum over the last week — indeed, in the face of a slight decline from its post-Denver high — the Romney camp is suddenly bursting with talk that it will not only win but win handily. (“We’re going to win,” said one of the former Massachusetts governor’s closest advisers. “Seriously, 305 electoral votes.”)

This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Not only is it a bluff, it is backed up by deliberately deceptive evidence, as Chiat shows.  And as he says, it's a classic Karl Rove tactic.

The polls tell a different story.  And this poll tells a very different story:

The latest Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll finds President Obama moving slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, 47% to 46%. However, Obama "maintains a larger advantage in the state-by-state battle that will determine the outcome of the election. Ipsos projects that Obama holds an edge in the most hotly contested states, including Florida, Virginia and Ohio, and is likely to win by a relatively comfortable margin of 322 electoral votes to 206 electoral votes."

And this, which continues the smart money is on Obama.  Nate Silver has upped President Obama's chances of winning to over 70%.  Two weeks to go.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Winners!

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, National League champions! ( won 4 of 7)

Congratulations to President Obama, presidential debate champion! (won 2 of 3)

For the third debate, President Obama won all the instant polls.  Perhaps the most significant was the CBS poll of uncommitted voters: Obama 53%  Romney 23%  This 30 point margin was 10 points more than this poll gave to Romney for the first debate.

The PPP swing state poll of those who watched the debate: Obama 53%  Romney 42.  Although both men and women agreed on Obama, women by a much larger margin.  Women also said the debate made it less likely they would vote for Romney.

The pundits:

Taegan Goddard:

The third and final presidential debate was President Obama's best moment in the campaign so far. He was prepared on every issue and knew Mitt Romney's record of past statements just as well.
Obama succeeded because he conveyed his unique view of the world from the Oval Office. For undecided voters watching, all they probably heard was that he's the commander-in-chief. And that's what Team Obama wanted.

For the most part, Romney made an effort to look presidential by not attacking. He was exceedingly careful and desperately tried not to make a mistake. In fact, despite his rhetoric for the last two years, he now apparently agrees with most of the Obama administration's foreign policy.

As a result, Romney's biggest opponent was not the president, it was his own words. Obama did a brilliant job of bringing up past Romney statements -- on Iraq, on the nation's biggest adversary, on Afghanistan, on Osama bin Laden -- to make him look unprepared for the presidency.
As the debate went on, Romney tried many times to move the international affairs discussion back to the economy where he was more comfortable. It was as if he had only 30 minutes of foreign policy talking points for a 90 minute debate. As a result he seemed to string together random thoughts which often made him sound incoherent.

Obama won the debate hands down.

Joe Klein, who wrote he didn't know who has won the second debate, this time wrote:

President Obama won the foreign policy debate, cleanly and decisively, on both style and substance. .. Obama didn’t have a single weak or unconvincing moment.

Josh Marshall:

"The first half hour was a draw, though President Obama scored by default when Romney either didn’t or couldn’t attack on Libya. After that though Romney began to falter as Obama became more direct, organized and declarative. Romney seemed increasingly lost. Obama seemed comfortable, happy. The visuals told the story. Romney was sweating a lot and looked like he was in pain. Into the second half of the debate Romney’s answers seemed more jumbled and unfocused. There was even that rambling and generally uncontroversial digression on Pakistan. Why? He seemed lost.
Translated into Romney visuals he had what President Obama had in the first debate: that look of someone who wanted to be anywhere but on that stage."

James Fallows wrote a reaction echoed elsewhere: " Obama did very well this evening, and Romney put up his worst showing."

Ambinder agree that the Romney strategy was to do no harm, seem harmless, but he isn't sure it turned out to be such a good idea:

"Deciding to let Obama once again be the aggressor carries real risks, because of the large audience, and because the contrasts in tone between the two candidates could be large enough that some voters who initially thought Romney crossed the credibility threshold might have second thoughts."

The New York Times

"Mitt Romney has nothing really coherent or substantive to say about domestic policy, but at least he can sound energetic and confident about it. On foreign policy, the subject of Monday night’s final presidential debate, he had little coherent to say and often sounded completely lost. That’s because he has no original ideas of substance on most world issues, including Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

During the debate, on issue after issue, Mr. Romney sounded as if he had read the boldfaced headings in a briefing book — or a freshman global history textbook — and had not gone much further than that."

My summary argument: I'll be interested in the viewing numbers for the third debate, especially after the first half hour.  It was up against the NCLS 7th game (though it lacked actual drama after the 3rd inning) and Monday Night Football.  But the audience for this particular debate may be less important than the stories about it, and about Romney's latest lies, reversals and expressions of ignorance.  People probably still defer to informed opinion on foreign affairs more than they do on domestic issues. So the size of the audience for the debate may not matter as much as the stories about it over the next few days.  As for overall impressions for viewers who aren't policy experts, President Obama has come across very well in two debates in a week now.   


A few nervous late afternoon notes before the debate...

Reports out of CNN say the Romney camp is forecasting what I suggested Romney should do if he's smart: be bland.  Or in their words, presidential.  He may be playing for a draw.  So it's going to be up to the questions and to President Obama to make the differences clear. 

The debate is the last event on the campaign schedule.  Apparently President Obama did not get a bump out of the second debate, which polls show that he won comfortably. So what's driving us nuts is that the tightening of the polls has no real world reason to it. The Romney campaign now seems predicated on a national move towards Romney that has no event or rhyme or reason behind it.  He continues to change positions to muddy the waters and appear more electable.  It's a sales job, and I'm sure the money is being poured into those swing states.

Today's polls show a popular vote race that is essentially tied, and it's below 50-50, so some4- 6% of the electorate that intends to vote, doesn't know yet who they are voting for, according to these polls.  The polls are tightening in the swing states, too, including Ohio, though President Obama still leads there.  The NBC poll that shows a 47-47 tie (the 47% indeed!)with likely voters also shows President Obama with an electoral vote lead sufficient to retain the presidency. Nate Silver is still giving President Obama a 67% chance.  But the key for everybody remains Ohio.  Today's standard pundit line is that if the polls remain this close they aren't going to tell us much anymore, and it's going to be a very long election night.

The shoe that hasn't dropped:  Apart from the primary endorsements of the Kennedys, probably the most important endorsement in 2008 for Obama was Colin Powell.  It's not clear he has the influence four years later that he did then, but he has not endorsed this year.  He's criticized Romney's foreign policy statements.  He could be waiting until after the foreign policy debate tonight.  But in a race perceived to be this close, a Colin Powell endorsement of President Obama could help.

The ABC poll shows Romney drawing even on foreign policy, which is mind-boggling, not to mention highly dangerous.  Even though his Gerald Ford moment on Libya hasn't seemed to hurt him, let's hope it becomes clear tonight just how dangerous he is. 

Conflict Monday

Setting up a conflict I suspect will be widespread, the San Francisco Giants forced a seventh game in the NLCS, to be played Monday night, with the crucial innings very likely conflicting with the third presidential debate.  Although the weather may mess with any predictable scenario--for the game, that is.

The debate is on foreign policy, supposedly, but it rarely stays there.  To win this debate President Obama should be able to say only two things: If you liked the Bush foreign policy, you'll love Romney's, and how many wars do you want to start?  But if Romney is smart he'll be as bland as possible, hoping for a tie while the polls show him very close.

The polls still show little or no bounce for President Obama from that much-watched second debate.  I really can't pretend to understand the dynamics of what's going on now.  It almost seems that as consumer confidence rises, people feel more willing to take a chance on Mr. Slick.  It just doesn't make sense, unless it's a lot of shadow chickens coming home to roost.  If so, we're really in for it.  Still, even with these very tight polls, the smart money remains on President Obama.

Nevertheless, the same pundits who were claiming the third debate was meaningless are now hyping its importance.  It does seem the last time to making the closing argument to a national audience.  If not a national league audience.

Meanwhile in matters less important than the fate of the future, Ryan Vogelsong pitched a great game 6 to keep the Giants alive. Now they'll need an equally great game from Matt Cain, and probably Buster Posey to come out of his hitting funk.  All for the privilege of facing an intimidating and well-rested roser of Detroit pitchers in the World Series starting Wednesday.

  Vogelsong unites the Giants and my hometown Pirates--he started his major league career in Pittsburgh, and even got married there.  Here he is. (And to complete Sunday, the Steelers actually looked like the Steelers, after the 1st quarter.)

R.I.P. George McGovern

George McGovern died Sunday at the age of 90.  I remain proud that my first vote for a presidential candidate was for him in 1972.  I covered aspects of his campaign for the Boston Phoenix, and met him briefly.  I've never seen as devastated an election night headquarters as I did in Boston, even though Massachusetts was the only state he won.

During that campaign I wrote about what reporters were digging up about Watergate, and about the Nixon administration which McGovern rightly called "the most corrupt in history."  Not that anybody listened, until later when everyone was forced to listen.  And so for years I proudly carried on my guitar case the bumper sticker, "Don't Blame Me, I'm From Massachusetts."

In his remembrance of George McGovern at Daily Kos, Meteor Blades (who is one of my touchstones for my generation) quoted this passage from McGovern's last book, which he published when nearing that age of 90:

"During my years in Congress and for the four decades since, I've been labeled a 'bleeding-heart liberal.' It was not meant as a compliment, but I gladly accept it. My heart does sometimes bleed for those who are hurting in my own country and abroad. A bleeding-heart liberal, by definition, is someone who shows enormous sympathy towards others, especially the least fortunate. Well, we ought to be stirred, even to tears, by society's ills. And sympathy is the first step toward action. Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction "Love the neighbor as thyself."
—George S. McGovern, What It Means to Be a Democrat (2011)

This was his faith, the faith of a liberal.  It's always seemed more than ironic to me that the original bleeding-heart liberal was Christ.  That's the source of the phrase--it's the bleeding heart of Christ.

George McGovern, a World War II bomber pilot from South Dakota, ran for president in 1972 to end the war in Vietnam.  Because of the extent of his electoral loss, he became something of a disgraced figure.  Yet he served honorably in the Senate--a stalwart public servant--for decades more.  He continued to represent a flinty goodness--a faith in the better aspects of our nature, which don't really need or depend on the religious imagery.  "You'd do the same for me" is a human faith, regardless of any injunction to love thy neighbor as thyself, which is psychologically dubious anyway. 

The other side of that leads to a vital sternness of principle.  There is nothing mamby-pamby about this 1970 McGovern statement in support of his Senate amendment to end the war, which MB also quotes:

"Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes.

There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure.  It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us."

Only Bobby Kennedy could have been so forthright and eloquent, and McGovern had been forced by his assassination to take up his banner.  It was a terrible time.  But his brave voice spoke for many in my generation, including me.  And for that especially I remember him.

Here's another interesting summation of his career and influence.

Rest in peace, George McGovern.You led an honorable, thoughtful and courageous public life, and this country is better for your service.