As the deadline to $85 billion dollars in mandatory spending reductions approaches, the federal government is split down party lines. Meanwhile, President Obama has placed troops in Niger to support France in their battle against militants in Mali.
President Obama – Loser – The president is a wonderful speaker, and he has a great deal of charisma. However, I don’t see any way that he could possibly not take a political loss for his announcement on Friday that U.S. troops had already landed in the West African nation of Niger, in an effort to help support French forces in Mali. The French themselves are already preparing to leave the nation, beginning next month. The announcement by the president claimed that just 100 or so troops would be sent there, and his administration and the Pentagon stated that American forces would be operating drone aircraft. Generally, sending troops somewhere in the world will boost the popularity of a president, but with the budget sequester on the front burner of the news, combined with American troops becoming involved in a war that most Americans don’t even realize is happening, there is almost no good way for the president to handle this, except to hope the news goes away. By sending in American troops to assist a fleeing French military in a third world nation, the President has also given political opponents the ability to use bad memories of Dien Bien Phu in attacks.
Ted Cruz – Winner – Last week, I said that Ted Cruz’ actions, coming directly after the nomination of John Kerry and Chuck Hagel to fill posts in Obama’s administration, just weeks after taking office, were going to be either a big win or loss for the senator. I also predicted it was going to be a win for him, and indeed, early response appears to be favorable for the freshman legislator from Texas. It is tradition for lawmakers in their first terms to lay low and be quiet – Cruz has done anything but, becoming a firebrand in the Senate, less than two months into his first term. During an Austin event sponsored by a gun-manufacturing business, Cruz was greeted with cheers and homemade signs welcoming him back to the Lone Star State.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. – Loser – he and his wife pled guilty last week to misappropriating campaign funds over the course of years, even using donations to buy Michael Jackson memorabilia. The 47-year-old former house member could face up to five years in prison for the misuse of around $750,000. He will be sentenced June 28.
Big Bird – Winner – After last year’s popular forays into the world of politics, Big Bird is taking part in fitness education commercials with Michelle Obama. One has to wonder if the 43-year old avian has plans for 2016.
We will see what sort of financial deal, if any, will come out of the negotiations around the sequester. That could produce a string of winners and losers for next week’s column.