Category Archives: political news

Trump’s troubles have nothing to do with ideology

Michael Dukakis once was derided when he said while accepting the 1988 Democratic Party nomination for president that the election was “about competence.”

His foes shredded him for that suggestion and he lost the election huge to Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Three decades later, another president is facing crises of his own. They relate in some measure to his own competence. Or lack thereof. They also concern his fitness for the job and whether he actually is of sound mind.

A former Republican U.S. senator — a member of Donald Trump’s own party — is urging his former colleagues and members of his home state of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to remove the president from office as soon as possible. Gordon Humphrey said that Trump is of a “sick mind.” He calls him “seriously sick” and “dangerous.” Sen. Humphrey’s concern stems from that reckless statement about “fire and fury” that Trump threatened to bring to North Korea over that country’s threats to the United States.

There’s a good chance we’re going to hear more of that kind of talk as Trump continues to exhibit an absolute disregard for anything approaching diplomatic protocol or decorum. He reportedly ad-libbed the “fire and fury” threat while on vacation in New Jersey — and it is continuing to reverberate around the world.

The curious aspect of all this anti-Trump fever/fervor is that it seems to have nothing to do with ideology. Why? It’s because, in my view, Trump lacks an ideology. He doesn’t have a guiding principle on which he seeks to govern. His interests lie solely in “winning” at all costs. It matters not one damn bit whether a policy fits into a neat ideological niche.

He shows his incompetence daily by refusing to reach across the aisle to Democrats, with whom he must govern in a cooperative manner. For that matter, he’s swatting away the hands of many leading Republicans, too, the guys on his team.

Then he inflames all of it with his utterly frightening threat to North Korea. “Donald Trump is impaired by a seriously sick psyche,” Humphrey wrote. “His sick mind and reckless conduct could consume the lives of millions.”

Will any of this result in some sort of removal strategy? I haven’t a clue. I am of the opinion that we are going to hear much more of this kind of talk coming from within the Republican Party, which might be awakening finally to the mistake that occurred when Donald Trump got elected president of the United States.

Now for Main Event: The Donald vs. Mitch

It’s a rare event indeed when a president beset with unanimous opposition from the “other party” decides to declare virtual political war on someone who’s aligned with him in the same political party.

Donald John Trump Sr. is now tweeting his angry thoughts about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Here’s the best part: McConnell offered a perfectly reasonable, rational critique of the president’s difficulty in enacting legislation, while the president responds with a typically juvenile tweet.

I’m shaking and scratching my head at the same time.

McConnell noted that Trump is “new” to the political process, and said he set “excessive expectations” about how quickly he could enact his legislative agenda. The president’s newness is an honest assessment; the man had zero public service experience prior to running for president. He doesn’t understand government and doesn’t grasp the notion that effective governance is a team sport, that it requires the executive branch of government to work hand-in-glove with the legislative branch. It also requires pols from both parties to compromise while searching for common ground.

Good grief! McConnell could have said it much more harshly than he did. He sought instead to be the diplomat.

Trump fired back with that tweet reminding us that Congress had seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but still hadn’t gotten the job done. Trump’s allies in the right-wing media — namely Fox News commentator Sean Hannity — weighed in, calling for the Senate majority leader to resign.

The utterly ridiculous aspect of this is that Trump and McConnell supposedly are on the same team. The president needs McConnell to assist him in furthering his agenda. Is this how he intends to harvest that help, by continuing these attacks?

Meanwhile, the loyal opposition on the other side of the political chasm — congressional Democrats — are remaining quiet.

Smart.

Will POTUS serve out his term?

The question came to me today at lunch from a fellow I’ve known for more than two decades and who I consider to be one of the smartest men in Amarillo, Texas.

“Do you think Donald Trump is going to serve his entire term as president?” asked my friend, who’s been involved in local government for four decades.

My quick answer was “I think it’s 70-30 that he does but those odds are shrinking.” By that I mean the gap between survival and non-survival is going to become narrow as the special counsel assigned to investigate matters involving the president continues his probe.

I have not a single thing on which to base that percentage estimate, other than my gut and my proverbial trick knee.

I am watching along with millions of Americans the flailing of the president as he tries to achieve his objectives — whatever the hell they might be. The dysfunction is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in a presidential administration.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, meanwhile, is examining the Russia matter and his probe well might delve into other issues not related directly to whether the Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election or whether the Trump campaign colluded with them.

Donald Trump is at the center of all this. He’s not used to this kind of scrutiny. Nor is he accustomed to being challenged at every turn by political foes or by the media.

I told my friend that every human being has his or her limits. We don’t yet know where those limits exist with Donald Trump. Does the president have a limitless capacity to suffer the indignities that governing in a complicated political system inflict on him? After all, this self-proclaimed business genius is new to this game of politics, government and public service.

My buddy is as aghast as I am, moreover, that this man even got elected in the first place. “What have we done?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.

We exchanged a few more thoughts on this totally unpleasant subject before heading back to our lives.

Bear in mind this, though, about the “prediction” I made. One is that I no longer predict seriously political outcomes. I never thought, for instance, that Hillary Clinton would run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 at the end of her husband’s two terms as president; she did.

Nor did I ever think Donald John Trump Sr. would be nominated by the Republican Party and then be elected president in 2016. He was.

Many Americans were wrong about the outcome of this past year’s election, which makes me quiver at the thought of predicting with any kind of certainty whether this clown will survive the ongoing onslaught that awaits.

GOP turning on its own guy in the White House

Ana Navarro is a well-known Republican “strategist” who makes no secret of her disdain for Donald John Trump Sr., the nation’s top Republican and the president of the United States of America.

Navarro is a frequent guest on TV news shows. She said on CNN this morning that Trump needs to stop lying, stop tweeting and start acting like a president. He demeans the office and disrespects the majesty of the position he holds, according to Navarro.

Why is this noteworthy? It’s because Navarro appears to be echoing a growing number of Republicans who are fed up to here with the president’s antics, his petulance and his constant harangues against the media and his political opposition.

Read more about Navarro’s rant here.

Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard is another prominent Republican who simply cannot stomach the president’s behavior. Other notable GOP stalwarts — such as columnist George Will and former congressman/turned TV host Joe Scarborough — have abandoned their party because of Trump.

What do these individuals have in common with each other and with millions of other Americans? They’re all political conservatives who seek to adhere to the principles they’ve believed in. Trump has no guiding principle. All he wants is to “win.”

The fight over replacing the Affordable Care Act provides a sparkling example. The president didn’t know what was in the GOP plan to replace. He never discussed its details. He couldn’t parse the differences between the ACA and whatever it was the GOP wanted to enact in its place. All he wanted was a bill sent to his desk; Trump said he had “pen in hand” to sign it.

When it wasn’t forthcoming, he tore into Congress. He eviscerated the Republican leadership for its failure to enact a law. Did he take ownership of his own failure? Not in the least!

Now he is facing growing hostility among his “base.” Polls show his support among his most loyal supporters is shrinking. Trump won’t acknowledge those survey results, though, because they portray him in a negative light. He calls them “fake news,” as if he has any understanding of his own role in promoting real-life fake news at every turn.

GOP “strategists” and other party activists seem to have had their fill. As Ana Navarro has said: “Start telling the truth. Start taking your job seriously. Stop exaggerating, stop outright lying and then repeating it.”

Why such anger, Mr. Vice President?

Why, oh why is Vice President Mike Pence so darn angry at The New York Times?

The allegedly “failing” newspaper has published a story revealing that Pence’s political team is working behind the scenes to mount a presidential campaign in 2020. Pence is simply outraged, I tell you. Outraged that the Times would report such a thing.

Pence is like all the other men who have preceded him in the second-highest office in the land. They all want to be the Top Dog, the Big Man, Numero Uno. Is Pence so different? I doubt it. Seriously.

To be sure, the NY Times said Pence is planning a primary campaign against Donald J. Trump Sr. His plans presume that the president won’t seek re-election, or that he will be otherwise, um, unavailable to run for a second term.

What might prevent Trump from running in 2020? Let’s see:

* He could be impeached and tossed out of office over allegations that he obstructed justice in the Russia investigation or that his campaign colluded with the Russians. There might be some financial issues that arise from special counsel Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation. Will it happen? I ain’t projecting such a thing. Or … the president might resign.

* The incessant armchair psychoanalysis might determine that the president suffers from some sort of serious personality disorder that compels him to tweet so often and with so much damaging effectiveness. I won’t join that debate, either.

* Trump might figure he cannot stand the incessant failure to get anything done. He’s not used to working with those who resist him at every turn. Trump’s business background has placed him at the top of the ladder. He’s got to share that standing now with Congress and the courts.

* Or, maybe the president can just declare victory — say “mission accomplished” — and pack it all up and head back to Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster or some other posh digs that will remove him and his family from that “real dump” where they live part time in Washington, D.C.

Is it so wrong to believe the vice president is getting ready for any eventuality? Is it wrong to presume that the No. 2 guy wants to ascend to the No. 1 spot?

The media have done a great job of keeping the public informed about the goings-on related to the Trump administration. The New York Times has just racked up another scoop.

Pipe down, Mr. Vice President.

Welcome back, Beto!

I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but Beto O’Rourke is making himself quite at home in what might be considered “enemy territory.”

O’Rourke is the Democratic member of Congress who wants to succeed Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at the end of next year.

He keeps coming back to the Texas Panhandle. He’ll be here Tuesday, conducting a town hall meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Austin Middle School in Amarillo.

What’s the deal? O’Rourke represents an El Paso district in Congress. He’s got a Democratic Party primary yet to win. He has returned back home to Texas during the August recess to resume his full-time campaign for the Senate seat occupied by Cruz.

O’Rourke has developed quite a fan following among local Democrats — yes, there are actually living, breathing Democrats in the Panhandle. They can’t get enough of this young man.

I’m curious about a couple of things regarding Rep. O’Rourke.

First, how much time is he going to spend mining a limited number of Democratic primary votes when there exist so many more in larger urban regions in, say, Dallas and Tarrant counties, in Bexar County, in Travis County, Harris County and, oh yes, El Paso County? Hey, it’s a big state and he’s got to get from place to place in a big hurry.

Second, if the young congressman gets nominated by Democrats next spring, will he come back to the Panhandle when the general election campaign kicks into high gear?

You and I know the rule of thumb regarding partisan Texas politics: Democrats generally have given up on the Panhandle, while Republicans take this region for granted. Just as national politicians campaigning for president focus on “battleground states” and ignore the trusty Red and Blue states, the same can be said for the intrastate campaign in Texas.

Do candidates for statewide office spend as much time in regions where the outcome is preordained? If I would run a Texas-wide campaign, I would focus my attention on those “swing regions” and seek to gin up turnout among my own partisans, be they Democrats in Austin and the Hill Country or Republicans in Amarillo and throughout West Texas.

I hope I’m wrong about Beto O’Rourke. Just maybe the young man will possess the energy and pizzazz to spend more general-election time far from his base of support.

You know, too, that I am no fan of the Cruz Missile.

Enough said.

POTUS remains an angry man

Donald John Trump is an angry old man. The 71-year-old president of the United States marked his 200th day in office with a series of tweets.

He blasted Democrats, the “fake” media, turncoat Republicans, Congress in general. The only folks who escaped his Twitter tirade it seems are his kin and Vladimir Putin.

What gives with this guy? The honeymoon period presidents traditionally get never materialized with this buffoon. Perhaps it was the tone of his inaugural speech, the one that talked about vowing to end the “American carnage” and painted a dark portrait of the world’s greatest, most powerful nation. There was no high-minded prose coming from the president. There was plenty of anger.

It’s gone downhill … from there!

He hasn’t filled a huge number of key staff posts. Judgeships remain vacant. Federal prosecutors need to be named. He’s changed his White House chief of staff, booted out his press secretary, fired the FBI director and the acting attorney general, tossed his national security adviser, kicked out his communications director. Am I missing anyone? Whatever.

My point is that the president is an unhappy man who this morning decided to torch a Democratic senator over an issue for which the senator has apologized. Take a bow, Richard Blumenthal.

Nothing of consequence has been accomplished — legislatively. Yes, he issued those executive orders removing the United States from the Transpacific Partnership and from the Paris climate accords. He tweeted something about banning transgendered Americans from serving in the military, only to get push back from the Pentagon brass at the highest levels of all the military branches.

Trump keeps getting caught in lies and duplicitous comments, thanks to the “leakers” inside the White House who are exposing his countless shortcomings as the head of state and government.

Those “easy” tasks, such as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act? Not done! The leader of the party that controls the Congress and the White House couldn’t get that one pushed across the finish line. So … he blames Congress for his own failures.

Getting Mexico to build a wall along our nations’ shared border? Forget about it. Tossing out the North American Free Trade Agreement? Pfftt!

Here’s the best part of all of this: We’re at Day 200 of the Trump administration. That means we’ve only got 1,261 more days of this ahead.

Maybe.

Sen. Flake speaks hard truth to fellow conservatives

Political conservatives have been scolded by one of their own.

Are they listening? Are they taking heed? Will they act differently in the future?

The scolding comes from U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, a lifelong Arizona Republican, who says conservatives were shamefully silent while the man who would become president told the ongoing lie about Barack Obama’s place of birth.

Flake also turned his fire on conservatives who chanted “Lock her up!” at Donald J. Trump’s campaign rallies.

Conservatives have misbehaved and have failed to follow in the footsteps of Flake’s political mentor, the late U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater. Indeed, Flake’s new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” mirrors the title of Goldwater’s 1960 book.

Flake is concerned about the fate and future of the Republican Party, which is now being led by a president with no apparent ideological compass. Flake wants Donald Trump to settle down, to demonstrate some discipline, to allow the White House staff operation to function as it should — and to curb his use of Twitter to make policy pronouncements.

Flake said he’ll continue to criticize Trump when he deserves and will support him when he deserves that, too.

He does pose a fascinating question about the conservative movement. He wonders how actual conservatives can continue to support someone who espouses “protectionist” trade policies, seeks to isolate the nation from the rest of the world and wants to spend enormous amounts of public money with funds that are missing from the federal Treasury.

I’ll add as well that conservatives ought to re-examine their support for someone who has spoken so crassly and profanely about his political opponents and behaved so boorishly in his own personal life.

My hope is they would look inward. My fear — which is being demonstrated daily — is that they’ll continue to stand by their man.

Mr. VP? Bush won, you lost in 2000

Al Gore has returned to the public arena in a big way.

He’s pitching a documentary film, a sequel to “An Inconvenient Truth.” The former vice president also has suggested something quite provocative about the 2000 election, which he lost by the narrowest margin possible to George W. Bush.

“I think I carried Florida,” Gore told Bill Maher on Maher’s TV show the other night.

Yep, Gore thinks he won the state that decided the election.

Bush won, Gore lost.

Actually, Mr. Vice President, you didn’t win it. Bush did. The former Texas governor won Florida by 537 votes, giving him enough Electoral College votes to be elected. The final electoral vote total was Bush 271, Gore 266; Bush needed 270 electoral votes to win. Game over.

Yes, we know the story about the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that stopped the recount of ballots in Florida. The five Republican-appointed justices voted to end the count; the four Democratic appointees wanted it to continue.

Moreover, a Knight-Ridder/Miami Herald study suggested later that Bush would have won Florida by an even wider margin had the recount continued.

I’ll stipulate here that I wanted Gore to be elected president in 2000. I was dismayed that the court ruled as it did.

However, the system worked precisely as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution. Although I wanted a different outcome, I never have challenged the legitimacy of President Bush’s election.

Neither should the man he defeated.

More to say about those ‘leaks’

The White House is leaking like a sieve. It’s “bad” and “sad,” to quote the common flourish at the end of Donald J. Trump’s tweets.

But are they illegal? Have they put the nation’s security at risk? Have they compromised strategic and tactical operations … anywhere in the world?

No. No. And no!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats have issued a stern warning: Leakers will be hunted down and prosecuted.

For what? For exposing fallibility within the administration, in the president, in his top aides?

I point to transcripts of two phone calls the president made shortly after taking office. One of them went to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto; the other went to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Pena Nieto transcript revealed that Trump spoke out of both sides of his mouth about whether Mexico would “pay for the wall” he wants to build our countries’ shared border. Trump has been telling U.S. audiences that they will; he told Pena Nieto, according to the transcript, that the wall wasn’t all that important to him. What gives, Mr. President?

The Turnbull transcript revealed the president’s stunning ignorance about foreign policy and about a deal struck between former President Barack Obama and the Australian government regarding the disposition of 1,250 refugees. Turnbull sought to explain it to Trump in elemental terms; Trump didn’t get it. He hung up on Turnbull.

Did either incident reveal anything regarding our national security? Did they disclose operational data? Did either of them do anything more than simply embarrass — if that’s possible with this president — Donald Trump?

Let’s all settle down about these leaks. I get that the president hates them. No president in the history of the Republic likes them. No president wants key staff or senior advisers stabbing them in the back.

Just maybe the cause of the leaks ought to be the president’s focus, rather than seeking to punish the leakers.

Might it be that these aides are talking to the media out of their own concern over the quality of leadership that’s being exhibited in the Oval Office?