SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 15, 2013

Benton: Warren up, Obama down

Nelson Benton
The Salem News

---- — There’s been lots of speculation this week about Bay State Sen. Elizabeth Warren possibly seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. The prospect of Warren in the White House, no doubt, sends shudders through Wall Street, but on the other hand, her candidacy could be a godsend for the ailing Republican Party.

In fact, a shift to the left on the part of Democrats might be just what the doctor ordered for a Grand Old Party that’s been tarred by the extremism of its tea party cohort.

Warren herself is a darling of Big Labor who favors tightening the leash on banks and stockbrokers. But there’s also speculation that her entry in the race could force a move from the middle by current front-runner Hillary Clinton if the two were to face off in a battle for the hearts and minds of more liberal Democratic voters most likely to vote in that party’s pre-election contests.

You might recall how Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both moderates in their former lives, were forced to the right as they sought to appeal to the more conservative voters who show up for Republican caucuses and primaries. The result was annihilation at the polls when they had to defend their more radical views before voters at large in the general election.

Are Democrats capable of making the same mistake by shifting too far to the left?

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Talk about turning your PR victory into an unqualified catastrophe.

This week’s New Yorker cover depicting President Barack Obama wielding an ancient cellphone while trying to troubleshoot the Affordable Care Act’s wacky website shows just how devastating the administration’s lack of preparation has been.

On Tuesday came news that fewer than 50,000 people have succeeded in signing up for insurance through the HealthCare.gov website. (Sources said the administration had anticipated having more than 500,000 on the rolls as of Oct. 31.) And that same day, former president Bill Clinton joined the rollout’s chorus of critics, challenging Obama to make good on his pledge that those already insured would see no difference in the cost or quality of their plans.

In hindsight, the administration might have forced more concessions from the House majority on the fiscal front — and at the same time saved itself a considerable amount of angst — by agreeing to Republican demands that it delay implementation of the new law.

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Few could have been prouder of Heather Famico’s victory in the race for the Ward 2 seat on the Salem City Council than her aunt, Frances Grace. The latter, a school bus driver at the time, became one of the first women to serve on that body when she was elected in 1975.

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One can only imagine the pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth that would be taking place among Peabody’s education leadership had voters elected a charter-school administrator to that city’s school board, as happened in Salem earlier this month.

With the election of Salem Academy Charter School founder Rachel Hunt and former high-school teacher Patrick Schultz, change is definitely coming to Salem’s schools. Peabody parents, on the other hand, will have to suffer through at least two more years of the status quo.

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Gotta say I like the new Viking statue that went up recently near the entrance to Salem State University’s O’Keefe Athletic Center. But this amateur art critic was also one of the early admirers of the Bewitched statue in Town House Square.

Wonder when someone will see fit to honor one of our local pols with a likeness in bronze.