Category Archives: national news

Listen carefully to the thumping: Biden might run once more

BOCA RATON, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Century Village Clubhouse on September 28, 2012 in Boca Raton, Florida. Biden continues to campaign across the country before the general election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Put your head to the ground and listen intently.

Those of us who are interested in such things are beginning to hear the faint thumping of feet. They’re the soldiers, so to speak, who want to see one more prominent Democrat enter the 2016 presidential primary campaign.

That would be Vice President Joe Biden.

Before you dismiss it as so much mindless chatter, I’d like to remind you of a few things about the vice president.

* First, he’s not a young man. He’s 72 and will be 73 when the campaign gets revved up next year, the same age that President Reagan was when he was re-elected in 1984. Biden has always wanted to be president and this represents his last chance to go for the gusto.

* Second, he and the president, Barack Obama, have formed a remarkable relationship during their two terms together. Did you notice their embrace during the memorial service for the vice president’s son, Beau, who died a few weeks ago of brain cancer? Did you also notice the kiss-on-their-cheeks the men exchanged after that man-hug? Only true friends do that in public.

* Third, their relationship puts the president in a highly unusual bind. Then again, it’s been stated time and again that Barack Obama and the Clintons — Hillary and Bill — aren’t exactly close. Yes, the president has spoken highly of Hillary Clinton’s work as secretary of state and, yes again, President Clinton delivered that stirring 2012 oration in Charlotte, N.C., extolling the president’s signature domestic accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act. But you get the feeling deep down there’s a reservoir of mistrust. Might that feeling get in the way of the president endorsing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination?

* Fourth, the vice president — for all his well-known tendency to speak a little too freely and casually at times — is a foreign policy expert. He has built tremendous relationships with foreign dignitaries — from kings and queens on down to minister-level functionaries. He knows the ropes.

* Fifth, Joe Biden also has great friendships with many members of Congress — in both chambers and on both sides of the political divide. Those lawmakers with whom he has these friendships is dwindling, as many of them are retiring and are being replaced by whippersnappers with zero institutional knowledge of the relationships built between Congress and the White House. Thirty-six years in the U.S. Senate bought the vice president a lot of clout in the upper congressional chamber.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times recounts a moment near the end of Beau Biden’s life that perhaps speaks to the urges that might be pushing the vice president toward one more effort to reach the brass ring.

I, of course, have no knowledge of what the vice president will do. Others are reporting that his team is “ramping up” its activities with the hope of launching a presidential campaign.

But from my perch out here in Flyover Country — where a Biden candidacy wouldn’t necessarily be welcomed — I think I would enjoy seeing this man mix it up with his party’s presumed 2016 frontrunner and the three men seeking to have their voices heard.

Run, Joe, run!

Pulling for Gov. Perry to make the debate stage

Go, Rick, go!

I want to see former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on the Fox News Channel Republican presidential debate stage next week.

His poll numbers are pretty anemic. Fox says only the Top 10 contenders will take part in the joint appearance.

Perry is on the bubble.

C’mon, Rick. Say something really provocative to boost those poll numbers!

In truth, my desire is to see if Perry can redeem himself from the 2012 debate debacle in which he said “Oops” upon forgetting the third of three federal agencies he’d cut if he were elected president. The moment produced arguably the most talked-about sound bite of the 2012 GOP primary campaign.

Everyone says Perry is better prepared this time. He’s gotten plenty of rest. He’s boned up on the issues. He’s healthy.

But the GOP faithful doesn’t seem to love him as much as it did four years ago.

It’s not that I actually support Gov. Perry. It’s just that I believe in redemption.

He’s got the chance to redeem himself — but he’s got to show up on that debate stage in Cleveland.

‘Southern heritage’ surfaces yet again

Can there be a more profound demonstration of what the Confederate battle flag means to most Americans than what transpired recently at a famous Atlanta, Ga., church?

Surveillance video captured images of a couple of men placing the flag around Ebeneezer Baptist Church, where the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — one of the 20th century’s greatest Americans — used to preach.

Hmm. Very interesting, don’t you agree?

Why do you suppose the individuals seen on the video were doing that? Was it because they wanted to demonstrate their “pride” in their “Southern heritage”?

Or, perhaps they wanted to send some other kind of message to the congregants at the church, the vast majority of whom are African-American.

Here, folks, is why the Confederate battle flag has become such a symbol of hate.

It’s been in the news lately. Nine African-Americans were murdered by a white gunman as they studied the Bible together in Charleston, S.C. A young suspect arrested and charged with the crime is known to have hatred toward African-Americans and he, too, has been photographed displaying with great pride the Confederate battle flag.

The South Carolina legislature voted to take the battle flag down from the statehouse grounds where it had flown since the 1960s to protest landmark civil rights legislation enacted by Congress.

Now this, at Ebeneezer Baptist Church.

“To place Confederate flags on the campus of Ebenezer Baptist Church – after this horrific act in Charleston [and] in the wake of all that’s happening in our country – whatever the message was it clearly was not about heritage,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock said. “It was about hate.”

Do you think?

GOP field now appears complete

Pssst. I’m about to let you in on a secret.

The Republican Party’s presidential field now appears set. Sixteen men and one women are running for the White House.

The final candidate — I hope! — announced his candidacy today. It’s former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. I know, I know. Your enthusiasm is boiling over.

Gov. Gilmore’s message: We’re heading in the wrong direction. He’s going to strengthen our place in the world. He’s going to reverse the “Obama-Clinton” foreign policy debacles.

The problem with Gilmore’s announcement was that no one heard it. Donald Trump, the party frontrunner, was in Scotland today, of all places. And the public is still talking about him.

The rest of the field? It doesn’t matter, apparently. The Donald is sucking up all the attention — as if that’s a surprise.

Meanwhile, Jim Gilmore has climbed into the arena.

Does this complete the field? Let’s hope so.

Waiting with bated breath for GOP debate

It’s time for an admission.

I am waiting anxiously for Aug. 6. That’s the day 10 of the seemingly endless list of Republican presidential candidates will line up to debate each other.

I now will admit something else. My eyes will be riveted on Donald Trump. I am anxious to watch how he reacts to the barrage I know he’s expecting to get from his GOP opponents.

I’d call them “rivals,” but the term connotes a level of competitiveness among them. So far, it’s been Trump by a mile, according to the polls.

I still believe Trump will flame out. I believe he won’t hold up under intense examination. I think it is quite possible he can say something so outrageous, so inflammatory, so shocking that even hard-core Republicans will toss Trump aside.

Trump’s statement about John McCain’s war record ought to have been enough. So should his blanket denigration of illegal immigrants coming here from Mexico — all 11 million or so of whom he says he’ll deport if he’s elected president.

But the guy doesn’t talk like a regular politician. He talks like the showman he is. He boasts about his wealth, seemingly not believing that such boastfulness is anathema to the ears of millions of Americans.

I get that many of us find this guy “refreshing.” It’s just going to be a fascinating bit of political theater this coming Thursday watching him juxtaposed with nine other more typical candidates for the highest office in the land.

Trump vows to be “nice” when he takes the stage for the Fox News-sponsored joint appearance.

We’ll  see about that.

Trump to young mother: You’re disgusting!

Is this what we can expect from the Donald Trump for president campaign?

More quibbling about things such as a lawyer wanting to take a break from a deposition to feed her baby?

Honestly, I am quite unnerved by this latest kerfuffle.

A lawyer, Elizabeth Beck, was questioning Trump about a real estate deal gone bad. She wanted to take a break to operate a breast pump to feed her infant child. Trump reportedly went ballistic, calling her “disgusting.”

The New York Times reported the 2011 dispute. Trump’s response? Beck supposedly wanted to feed her daughter in front of him, which made him uncomfortable.

So, how are we supposed to react to these kinds of stories involving a man seeking to become leader of the Free World and commander in chief of the world’s greatest military apparatus?

This is sideshow material. I’d rather concentrate on hearing Trump explain how he intends to keep the economy moving, how he intends to keep working to save the environment, how he intends to repair relations with Russia and how he intends to keep fighting the war against international terror.

And there’s lots of other issues as well.

This thing with Elizabeth Beck? It likely could speak to how he views women’s issues and women in general, which are important. They seem more appropriate for one of those daytime “talk shows,” rather than issues for discussion in the heat of a presidential campaign.

Have a good time on vacation, Congress?

This brief rant from Democratic Party loyalist Bill Press is too good not to share.

So, I’ll do so today, and will let Press speak for himself.


Don’t you wish you were a member of Congress? We pay them $175,000 a year to work for us. And what do we get for it?

Well, consider this. Yesterday, John Boehner announced that the House would recess this afternoon, two days early, for its August recess – and they won’t be back in town until after Labor Day. But, of course, they’ll still get paid.

And what about that Highway bill? Oh, no. That’ll have to wait until September.

What about that Iran nuclear deal? Sorry, no time now. They’ll get around to that sometime after Labor Day.

Well, what about climate change, immigration reform, minimum wage, criminal justice reform, gun safety, or all those other pressing issues we’ve been waiting for them to do something about?

Sorry, no time for them now, either. According to Boehner, members of Congress have more important things to do. Like going to the beach. Or going on taxpayer-subsidized Codels.

Yes, don’t you wish you were a member of Congress? We pay them $175,000 a year to work for us. And what do we get for it? Nothing.


I will add only this: Democrats did the same thing when they ran the place, too.

Huck stands by his fiery rhetoric … shocking!

Mike Huckabee could have used all kinds of strong language to condemn the nuclear arms deal hammered out by the United States and five world powers that seek to prevent Iran from developing an atomic bomb.

He didn’t. He instead decided to go all the way. He drew a direct comparison between President Barack Obama and the Nazi tyrant Adolf Hitler.

Huckabee, one of the herd of Republicans running for president, said the nuclear deal will walk Israel “to the door of the oven.”

It was a direct reference to the Holocaust, the most heinous of the many heinous deeds authorized by Hitler.

Did Huckabee back down? Oh, no. He went full throttle forward. He stands by his use of that hideous language.

Huckabee chose instead to offer up a sound bite that will stand for a lot longer than the usual stuff that pours out of candidates’ mouths at election time.

This is what we can expect. Offensive sound bites.

It has worked for Donald Trump, yes? Well, Huck thinks it can work for him, too.

Candidates looking like horses

horse race

Democrats’ symbol is the donkey.

Republicans’ is the elephant.

Both beasts are looking more like horses, especially as pundits discuss the upcoming 2016 presidential political campaign.

Since most of the chatter is on the GOP side, let’s focus on that one.

How much do we really know about all 16 people who are seeking the Republican nomination? My hunch is not much … at all, if anything. No, we’ve been hearing a lot about polls. Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s on the move — up or down? What happened to the formerly formidable candidates? How can they get themselves back up again?

Horse-race politics is back with a vengeance.

We keep hearing about it and about how much of a negative influence it has on the nature of the campaign to become leader of the Free World, commander in chief of the greatest military in world history, chief executive of the federal government — all that stuff.

We get fixated on the leaders. Can they keep their lead?

Then we zero in on the statements they make in order to become one of the leaders. That’s been at the top of the discussion list of late. I admit to joining that pack. I’m not proud of it. I’ll try to mend my ways.

But the commentary today must focus on why the media keep covering these campaigns as if they’re races to the finish line.

I’ll blame two of the major news networks for feeding the 2016 version of this frenzy. Fox and CNN are going to be hosts for the first two GOP joint appearances. They set down some ground rules that include poll-driven data: Only the top dogs are allowed.

Don’t all the candidates deserve to be heard? Don’t all of them have something of value to say? Aren’t the media obligated to give them all a chance to state their case before as many people as possible?

Isn’t that what our political system is supposed to foster, a free exchange among all the individuals running for the most important political office in the land — if not on the planet?

That’s not happening. We’re focusing instead on the horse race, which has been the norm of political coverage perhaps since the advent of television as a major information source.

I want to hear more from and about the candidates and how each of them intends to fight the war against terror, keep the country’s economy moving forward … you know, the stuff that matters.

The sound bites that seek to elevate candidates’ polling standing? The analysis from the talking heads about whether so-and-so will be in the debate based on his or her polling?

Honestly, I find it boring to the max.

I might need to take a vow to ignore the polls and concentrate on the policy statements. I now will ponder precisely that. I’ll get back to you.





Networks create GOP debate monster

Barack Obama is touring East Africa at the moment, seeking to build some common ground and alliances in the war against terrorism.

Meanwhile, back home, the thundering herd of Republicans are trying to outshout each other while seeking one of 10 spot on a debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio.

The president calls the GOP’s “ad hominem attacks” on U.S. foreign policy “ridiculous” and “sad.”–election.html#

I believe, Mr. President, what we’re seeing here is the result of a Fox- and CNN-inspired creation: The candidates are trying to one-up each other, seeking to boost their poll numbers among GOP primary voters so they can be seen and heard among the “top tier” candidates participating in the first two Republican primary debates.

Mike Huckabee said the president’s deal that seeks an end to Iran’s nuclear program will walk “Israelis to the oven,” an obvious reference to the Holocaust. Do you think the former Arkansas governor is trying to make some noise here, trying to become eligible to take part in the Fox-sponsored debate that will take place in a few days?

All the GOP contenders, of course, are trying to derail the current frontrunner — Donald Trump — who’s said so many outrageous things in so many equally outrageous contexts.

Fox said the top 10 candidates’ poll numbers will determine who stands on the debate stage. CNN, which hosts the second debate, is following more or less than same script.

The networks are going to determine who gets heard on national TV.

To get there, the networks are laying the groundwork for candidates to make outrageous statements designed to boost poll ratings, appealing to “the base” of their party.

The GOP campaign has devolved into name-calling, again in the interest of boosting poll numbers.

Oh, my. It’s just the beginning.