Category Archives: 2016 election

Manafort holds one of the keys to Trump survival

Let’s concede Norm Eisen’s partisan leaning: He served as ethics chief for President Barack H. Obama.

So, when he predicts that Donald J. Trump “won’t survive” whatever his former campaign chairman tells special counsel Robert Mueller, it is good to take it with a bit of a grain of salt.

However … the man might know something the rest of us don’t know.

Will the president survive?

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller after pleading guilty to two felony counts; he’s already been convicted of eight felony charges and faces a lengthy prison term.

Manafort is near the top of the Trump campaign’s chain of command. There ain’t much room between him and the very top 00 which would be Donald Trump.

Manafort is reportedly planning to talk — if he hasn’t already — to Mueller’s legal eagles who are trying to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Mueller’s probe is a wide-ranging — but totally legal and appropriate — examination of this troublesome issue.

He’s already reeled in some big fish. He’s gotten guilty pleas and has persuaded some big campaign hitters to cooperate with his probe.

Manafort clearly is the biggest fish to date.

Sure, the White House says it has “nothing to fear” from a Manafort guilty plea. You expect that kind of thing from the White House and from those associated with the president. They, too, are partisans.

Given my own bias, though, I’m going to go with Norm Eisen’s view that Trump might not “survive” whatever Manafort spills to Robert Mueller.

More voters means better government … always!

Barack H. Obama gave a speech today that touched on a subject I have tried to make over many years while I worked as a print journalist in Amarillo and Beaumont, Texas and back in my home state of Oregon.

I won’t presume to believe the 44th president of the United States got the idea directly from me. Nevertheless, I’ll take a bit of ownership of the idea he put forward.

He implored young people in his audience to “vote,” to take part in the political process if only just be ensuring that they cast their ballots. “Don’t think your vote doesn’t matter,” Obama said, noting that he he was able to win two presidential elections by narrowly carrying many voting precincts or congressional districts across the land.

I’m going to steer away from the partisan nature of what the former president said, concentrating instead on the bigger picture.

For decades I sought to boost voter turnout by imploring voters to follow this simple creed: Don’t let your neighbor — who might or not agree with your political leanings — decide who should represent you in government. I ran out of ways to say the same thing. Yes, I repeated myself. I’m likely doing so here … right now!

Texas remains one of the nation’s most miserable examples of representative democracy. Our voter turnout at every level — from the presidential level on down — habitually ranks at or near the bottom of all 50 states. Think of that: Texans protect the right to vote on many issues and for many candidates; yet when given the chance to vote, too many of us stay home.

The former president spoke a tremendous truth today to those students in Illinois. They need to take part. They need to become the solution to what they believe is wrong with our political system today. The simplest way to do so, in the former president’s words, is to exercise their right to vote. Cast a ballot, man!

So, thank you, Mr. President, for elevating my message to the national stage.

Get ready for a serious ‘witch hunt’

Donald John Trump has been calling a detailed investigation into possible collusion with Russian operatives seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election a “rigged witch hunt.”

Of course … special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive and meticulous investigation is no such thing.

However, we might be getting ready to watch the real thing unfold. A serious witch hunt emanating from within the White House as an enraged president seeks to find the identity of the “senior White House official” who wrote an op-ed column published today in The New York Times.

Of course, I have no way of knowing this, but I strongly suspect that Trump has released the proverbial hounds to find the source of the essay. He or White House chief of staff John Kelly will confront everyone they can imagine who might have written such a thing; my money is on Kelly doing the heavy lift, given the president’s inability/unwillingness to confront someone directly.

However, I am quite sure we’re going to witness a serious “witch hunt” that seeks to reveal who has spoken a truth about the Trump administration that many of us have suspected all along.

Speaking of endorsements …

Here it comes. Donald Trump has announced his total support for Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He’s planning a major campaign rally for the Cruz Missile, who is fighting for re-election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Then we have Twitter posts such as the one that appeared in February 2016, when Trump and Cruz were rivals for the GOP presidential nomination.

Cruz is “another all talk, no action pol,” Trump said at the time.

Now he is giving Cruz his blessing?

This is the kind of flip-flopping that gives politics a bad name. In my humble view.

Oh sure, Democrats do it, too. But you are welcome to spare me the “both-siderism” argument that emerges in these partisan political discussions.

We’re talking in this instance about a particular contest that now includes the president of the United States of America, the head of state, head of government, commander in chief, leader of the Free World … blah, blah, blah.

The public domain is full of this kind of thing that will require some explaining. I do not expect the president to come clean on whether he was speaking the truth then, or whether he has re-defined the truth to fit the moment.

Are we entering Watergate 2.0?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m beginning to sense a certain frenzy developing around the White House that — if memory serves — resembles the climate that fell over the place during the Watergate scandal.

Yes, Watergate happened a long time ago. President Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974 just as he was about to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. As Carl Bernstein — one of the Washington Post reporters who covered the story — noted the other day, the “real heroes” of the Watergate saga turned out to be congressional Republicans — led by Sen. Barry Goldwater — who told the president he had no Senate support were the impeachment to go to trial.

That kind of “heroism” is missing at the moment.

Still, my sense is that there is a growing tension beginning to develop in Washington, on Capitol Hill and the White House as special counsel Robert Mueller continues his work to determine if there was any “collusion” between the Trump campaign team and Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

I am in no position to know how this case will conclude. It well might end with Mueller saying, “I got nothin’, folks” — which I doubt will happen. He might recommend criminal proceedings against key White House aides, maybe even the president himself.

Or … he could scold the president and his team and leave all the political consequences up to the House of Representatives and the Senate.

However, those of us of a certain age — such as Americans, like me, who came of age politically during the Watergate era — might be feeling a bit of deja vu as we watch the current White House writhe and squirm as the special counsel goes about his complicated task.

I know I am.

Still can’t connect the words ‘President’ and ‘Trump’

It is with some measure of regret that I must announce that more than 18 months into Donald Trump’s term as president I remain unable to connect the words “President” and “Trump” consecutively.

I wish it were different. Honest. I do wish it! I am no closer to making that leap than I was when he won the election in November 2016.

It’s not the president’s policies that bother me to this extent. Heck, I disagreed with many of his predecessors repeatedly. I disagreed with President Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq; I have disagreed with President Obama’s seemingly personal ownership of public offices during his time in the White House; there was President Clinton’s perjury about over the Lewinsky relationship.

And on it goes.

All of those men, though, knew how to act. They behaved in a manner that lent dignity to their high and exalted office.

No, the problem I continue to have with Donald Trump remains of a personal nature. Yes, I disagree with his policy. However, were he ever to start acting, sounding and comporting himself like the head of state/head of government/commander in chief/leader of the free world, there would be a significant difference in the way I refer to him in his blog.

He does none of that.

Let’s just flash back a couple of days to that hideous re-election campaign rally in Pennsylvania. He pranced around the stage. He referred to a member of Congress as “a low IQ person”; he keeps referring to the media as the “enemy of the people” and purveyors of “fake, fake, disgusting news.”

He lies incessantly, to the point that I cannot take a single, solitary statement that flies out of his mouth at face value. Nothing! I am suspicious of every word he utters, every proclamation he makes.

How in the world can I refer to this individual by attaching his duly elected title directly in front of his name? I cannot.

I won’t give up every shred of hope that one day he’ll get it. That one day he’ll learn how to conduct himself with dignity and decorum. You see, I am an eternal optimist.

I want this guy to start acting  and sounding like a president. I just don’t expect it of him.

If there was nothing wrong …

It’s fair now to ask a key question.

It goes like this: If there was nothing wrong with Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russians who had “dirt” on Hillary Rodham Clinton, why did Don Jr. and his father, the president of the United States, lie about it?

We now at this moment that Don Jr.’s meeting with the Russians in 2016 was meant to deliver the goods on Hillary Rodham Clinton. Junior said at the time that there was nothing to it. He also said the meeting was called to discuss “Russian adoption.” Daddy Trump said the same thing. Oh, he also reportedly dictated the statement that Don Jr. released to the public declaring the phony Russian adoption dodge.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking carefully at all of this. He will tell us eventually where all this will lead.

I just need to say that the view from the cheap seats tells me there’s something quite fishy going on and that Mueller may be getting ready to hook “the big one.”

Conspiracy to collude, anyone?

Anyone?

Senate races decided by differing factors

As I watch the Beto O’Rourke-Ted Cruz race for the U.S. Senate from Texas, I am struck by what is missing in the debate over who Texans should elect.

I am not hearing much chatter on which of these men will do more for Texas.

Will it be Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic congressman from El Paso, or Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent from Houston? Which of them will work tirelessly on behalf of Texans’ specific needs, wants and desires?

Am I missing something here?

There once was a day when U.S. senatorial clout mattered to the home folks. I want to cite an example from my home state of Oregon.

For years, Oregon was represented by two moderate Republicans: Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood. They were joined at the hip on many issues. They were linked to each other so closely that we in the media used to refer them as “Sen. Hatwood” or Sen. “Packfield.”

They both attained influential committee chairmanships beginning in 1981 when the GOP took control of the upper congressional chamber after Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in the 1980 presidential election.

Hatfield and Packwood worked diligently to protect Oregon and Pacific Northwest interests.

Along the way, Sen. Packwood ran into ethical trouble relating to the way he treated women who worked on his staff; Packwood ended up resigning his seat. Sen. Hatfield remained the Boy Scout.

As we look at the current day, in Texas, I don’t hear the kind of chatter about Sen. Cruz or, how well he works with Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior U.S. senator. My sense is that the two Texans have a bit of a frosty relationship.

Cruz’s tenure in the Senate seems to have centered on his own future. He ran for president in 2016 and was among the final GOP primary candidates to hang in against the party’s nominee before bowing out.

Cruz’s theme so far appears aimed at ginning up GOP interest to counteract rage from the other side. According to the Texas Tribune: “The biggest challenge I have in this race … is complacency,” Cruz said. “People say all the time, ‘Oh, come on, it’s a Texas re-elect. How could you possibly lose?’ Well, in an ordinary cycle, that might be true. But this is not an ordinary cycle. The far left is filled with anger and rage and we underestimate that anger at our peril.”

O’Rourke has closed a once-gaping deficit to make it a race. I’ll stipulate once again that I am pulling for O’Rourke to defeat Cruz.

I’m just waiting to hear from the challenger — or from the incumbent, for that matter — what they’ll do to help Texans.