Tag Archives: 1992 election

2020 could produce The (Actual) Year of the Woman

The Year of the Woman was thought to be 1992.

Clarence Thomas had to fend off allegations of sexual harassment from Anita Hill at his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The controversy produced an outcry from those who said Hill was treated badly by the all-male U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

So the next presidential election was thought to produce an electoral backlash against President Bush, who lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

Here we are now, 27 years later and we’re going to see another Year of the Woman. Indeed, more women than men so far have announced their candidacies for president of the United States. Why do you suppose is bringing out all these women who want to succeed Donald Trump as president?

Gosh, it might be that Trump has denigrated women since the moment he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015. It might be the way he has acknowledged how his status as a “celebrity” and a “star” allowed him to grab women by their genital area.

The plethora of female candidates for POTUS might be a result of the #MeToo movement that has brought serious national attention to the way women have been dismissed and disrespected — and sexually assaulted — by men in power.

The Year of the Woman in 1992 was a preliminary event to what well might be the main event coming up in 2020.

Time of My Life, Part 5: Conventions bring serious tasks

Every now and then journalists get to see the most serious tasks imaginable in a totally new context, especially when you’re thrust into a front-row seat.

I had a couple of those experiences while working for the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise. I want to share them with you briefly here.

In 1988 and again in 1992 I was privileged to attend two Republican National Committee presidential nominating conventions. Beaumont lies between two major cities — New Orleans to the east and Houston to the west. The GOP nominated Vice President George H.W. Bush as president in 1988 in New Orleans; then the party nominated him again for re-election in 1992 in Houston.

I got to witness all of the hubbub, the whoopin’ and hollerin’ up close both times.

The 1988 convention placed me behind the speaker’s podium inside the Superdome in New Orleans, where I witnessed President Reagan deliver a stirring speech to the faithful crowd. After the president finished his speech — and as the crowd cheered the Gipper — he and his wife, Nancy, turned and walked off the stage and so help me as God is my witness, he looked straight at me as we made eye contact. I have to say that was quite a thrill.

I worked in the same media room with some fine reporters and columnists. One of them is Chris Matthews, who at both conventions was a “mere” columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, which was owned by the same Hearst Corporation that owns the Beaumont Enterprise. I got to know Matthews, I like to say, “before he became ‘Chris Matthews,'” the current star of prime-time cable TV coverage on MSBNC. He and I enjoyed a cup of coffee at the Houston convention, chatted for a few minutes. He wouldn’t remember it, but it happened.

The 1992 gathering in the Houston Astrodome was notable as well for a couple of speeches. Conservative firebrand Pat Buchanan sought to wrest the GOP nomination from President Bush and delivered the frightening speech in which he implored the delegates to “take our country back” from some nefarious evil forces Buchanan thought had hijacked the nation. I also got to hear former President Reagan bring down the house when he mentioned the Democrats’ nominee, Bill Clinton, who Reagan said fancied himself to be another Thomas Jefferson. He responded, “Let me tell you, governor. I knew Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Thomas Jefferson.”

The former president’s timing was picture perfect, owing to his well-known skill as a film and TV actor.

The biggest takeaway from both conventions was the sight of serious men and women doing the most serious work imaginable — nominating candidates for president and vice president of the United States — while wearing goofy elephant hats, with vests festooned with buttons and labels and generally carrying on like children at a birthday party.

I simply had to suspend my disbelief as I watched these individuals performing this most serious of tasks.

Yes, it was representative democracy in its raw form. It was a joy to watch and to cover it for the newspaper that employed me.

Putting politics aside, let’s honor a great life

It won’t surprise those who read this blog carefully to realize that I didn’t vote either time — in 1988 or 1992 — for the late George H.W. Bush when he ran for president of the United States.

However, despite my own partisan leanings and admitted bias, I want to devote the next bit of time to honor this man’s life.

Long before he died last night at the age of 94, I grew to appreciate the profound public service that President Bush gave to the nation he served with such nobility, grace and grit. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate that service back when he was an active politician seeking election and re-election as president. Time, though, enables all of us to view people and instances through a different prism than we do in the moment.

Bush 41’s campaign for the presidency in 1988 was not his shining moment. He brutalized his opponent, Michael Dukakis, with a campaign that called Dukakis soft on crime and soft on love of country. Four years later, the economy was faltering and I felt we needed a change in direction.

OK, that all said, I believe it is important to honor the arc of this man’s life. Good heavens, President Bush led the fullest life one could possibly imagine.

He was born into privilege. He enlisted in the Navy right after Pearl Harbor, became the youngest aviator in the Navy during World War II; he was shot down and plucked from the ocean by a submarine crew. He came home, married Barbara Pierce, the love of his life. He finished college and went into business in West Texas. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, lost two races for the Senate. Bush was appointed head of the CIA, special envoy to China, ambassador to the United Nations, he chaired the Republican National Committee, was elected vice president and finally as president.

He helped shepherd the end of communism in Europe. He watched the Berlin Wall come down in 1989. Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He led an international coalition against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait.

Even after he left office, he remained active and on call when the need arose. He teamed with his old adversary, Bill Clinton, to lead an effort to raise money in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004, killing hundreds of thousands of people. The two men then became the best of friends.

This man’s life is worthy of honor by every American. President Bush devoted so much of his adult life to public service. That’s how I choose to remember this great — and good — man.

The other stuff that troubles us in the moment, the hideousness surrounding the current president? That can wait.

This is President George H.W. Bush’s time.

Bush 41’s legacy contains considerable irony

George Herbert Walker Bush’s presidency was cut short by perhaps one of the more ironic twists of political fate in recent U.S. history.

President Bush, who died Friday at age 94, was elected in 1988 and sought re-election in 1992. He was victimized by the wisdom of a decision to back away from an ill-considered promise delivered from the podium of the Republican National Convention in New Orleans.

“Read my lips,” the then-vice president intoned at the ’88 GOP convention, “no new taxes.” The crowd erupted. They cheered. They whooped and hollered.

But wait! After he took office in 1989, the economy began to slow down. It fell into a fairly deep recession. What was the president going to do about it? He retracted his “no new taxes” pledge and got Congress to do the very thing he said he wouldn’t do . . . ever!

The 1990 deficit reduction act proved to be a fiscally sound — and politically dangerous — policy decision. It created a rebellion among the Republican Party caucus in Congress. As USA Today noted in its editorial, the measure laid the groundwork for the budget surpluses that would follow.

The irony of it is that the economy began sputtering back to life in early 1992. By then the die had been cast, to Bush’s ultimate dismay. The Democrats ran a young governor, Bill Clinton, against him. Then in jumped the Dallas billionaire H. Ross Perot to muddy it up some more.

Clinton was elected in 1992. Bush blamed Perot for costing him re-election, but in truth Clinton was likely to win without a third candidate in the contest.

President Bush’s decision to renege on his tax pledge — if only modestly — proved to be his undoing. The voters rendered a harsh, and arguably unfair, decision in 1992. They said a promise made from a convention podium should be as good as gold.

It saddens me as I look back on that time.

It also saddens me that another decision, to end the Persian Gulf War without toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, led to a horrendous decision by one of Bush 41’s successors, his own son, President George W. Bush.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. President Bush declared the aggressive “will not stand.” He went to the United Nations, gathered up an international alliance of nations, directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to craft a strategy to evict the Iraqis from Kuwait. Then we went to war.

It ended quickly. The Iraqis fled from the mighty onslaught led by U.S. forces. Then the commander in chief made the decision to end it. Mission accomplished. The Iraqis had been tossed out. Saddam Hussein remained in power.

But the decision to end the war, to keep faith with the U.N. resolution authorizing it resulted in total containment of Iraq and of Saddam Hussein. There appeared to be a semblance of stability settling in the region.

But then Bush left office. Bill Clinton served two terms and he left office in 2001. We got hit by the terrorists on 9/11, and President Bush 43 sent us to war against the terrorists.

Then, for reasons that still baffle many of us, President Bush decided to topple Saddam Hussein. We invaded Iraq in March 2003. We captured Saddam Hussein, put him on trial and executed him. We were looking for weapons of mass destruction, but didn’t find any.

The question persists to this day: Why did we go to war against Saddam Hussein? Yes, I know international intelligence agencies said the Iraqis possessed WMD. They were tragically wrong.

Oh, the stability that Bush 41 forged with his decision to not invade Iraq? It was gone. The Islamic State emerged from the chaos. We’re still at war.

History has delivered some judgments already on Bush 41’s presidency. I trust historians will take note of the irony that befell this good man’s time as leader of the world’s greatest nation.

Hoping that Hillary calls it a career

Hillary Rodham Clinton is beginning to resurface.

Her book is out, the one that “explains” why she lost a presidential election she should have won. I’ll stipulate that I haven’t read “What Happened.” I have every intention of doing so. I’m curious as to what this candidate who should have been elected in 2016 says about her stunning election loss.

I’ll simply fall back to a position I took not long after Donald J. Trump got elected president of the United States.

My hope for the Democratic Party is that they find a fresh face, a novice to the national political stage, a rookie to run against whomever the Republicans nominate for president in 2020.

It shouldn’t be Hillary Clinton. And if the Republican Party honchos were to ask for my opinion, I’d say they shouldn’t renominate the incumbent president. Hey, I just told ’em that very thing. Imagine that!

Hillary will lay a lot of blame on FBI Director James Comey and his strange reopening of the e-mail probe late in the campaign. She’ll blame the Russians for hacking into our electoral system. She will blame the media for the way they covered her campaign. Sure, she also is going to take a lot of the blame herself.

From where I sit out here in Flyover Country, it’s that last element that deserves the bulk of the cause for her stunning loss.

Clinton was a lousy candidate. She spent too much time down the stretch in states she had no prayer of winning and too little time in those battleground states that flipped from supporting Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to backing Trump.

Yes, I also believe in that malady called Clinton Fatigue. We had two terms of her husband, President Bill Clinton; and along the way, we got a big dose of first lady Hillary Clinton, too. Do you recall when candidate Bill told us in 1992 if we elect him, we’d get her as well in a sort of two-for-one deal?

She ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000 as she and her husband were to leave the White House and she served her new home state of New York with competence and some level of distinction.

She challenged Sen. Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and took him to the wire. The new president’s payback was to appoint her secretary of state, a post she held for Obama’s first term.

Clinton won the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination believing the election was hers for the taking. She wasn’t alone. I was among the millions of pseudo-experts who thought she’d win in a record-setting landslide. I’ve been eating crow ever since.

Her time has come and gone. She’s yesterday’s heroine.

I do not want her to run again. She had my support once already. I’m not sure I can back her a second time.

Her book is likely to produce some interesting reading. That is it. However, the future of her political party, I believe, belongs to someone who’s going to emerge from nowhere.

Trump to launch third-party bid? Oh, boy!

Donald Trump says the Republican National Committee had better treat him right at its presidential nominating convention, or else …

He’s going to run as a third-party candidate for president of the United States.

Wow! Where do I begin?

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/248910-exclusive-trump-threatens-third-party-run

Trump has been hammering the daylights out of his GOP foes. They, too, have returned the fire. The name-calling, insults and cheap shots are piling up all around the knees of the principals.

Trump, who will not be the nominee, is going to insist on a prime-time TV slot to make his speech. His Republican foes don’t want that. They’re going to insist he gets pushed aside, forced to speak at some pre-prime time spot, or perhaps not at all.

But truth be told, RNC officials must be shivering in fear at the prospect of a Trump third-party candidacy.

Trust me on this: He’ll take far more votes from the Republican electorate than he would from the Democratic side — unlike the 1992 independent candidacy of Ross Perot, who gets blamed by Republicans for costing President George H.W. Bush re-election that year and for handing the election to the young Arkansas governor, William J. Clinton.

Polling data from that election, though, suggests something quite different. It is that Perot took votes equally from both Clinton and Bush and that without the third man in the fight, Clinton would have been elected anyway.

Does anyone believe Trump would have a similar impact on a 2016 general election if the nominees are, say, Republican Jeb Bush and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton?

If the RNC is smart, it’s going to give Trump the prime-time spot he desires, let him yammer his nonsense, then show him off the stage, escort him out the door and then let the nominee accept his party’s nomination.

However, the RNC will have to determine which course of action will do the party the least harm.

Heck, it might decide that giving this guy maximum exposure at its nominating convention isn’t worth the reaction he’s going to get.

Let’s all stay tuned.

Bill Clinton’s rehab appears complete

It’s getting difficult to remember that the 42nd president of the United States was impeached by the House, tried in the Senate and then acquitted of the so-called “high crimes and misdemeanors” he was accused of committing.

The latest evidence of that is former President Clinton’s appearance in Kentucky of all places, where he is campaigning on behalf of a Democratic challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Allison Lundergan Grimes is seeking to unseat the veteran Republican senator, so she brought in the Big Dog to help her: William Jefferson Clinton.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/26/us/politics/ex-president-ventures-where-some-might-not.html?_r=0

Clinton is going where the current Democratic president, Barack Obama, dare not venture.

Let’s recall an important fact here. Clinton carried Kentucky twice in his two campaigns for the presidency. He won them both barely, but he won them. Yes, it can be argued that he had some help with the presence of Texas zillionaire H. Ross Perot on the ballot in 1992 and 1996, but I’ve never quite bought into the notion that Perot was responsible for Clinton’s two electoral victories, as national surveys indicated he took roughly equal numbers of votes from Republicans as well as Democrats.

The point, though, is that Clinton’s political rehabilitation now appears to be complete.

The man who was impeached for lying to a grand jury about a sexual affair with a White House intern has emerged as one of the more consequential ex-presidents in U.S. history. His Clinton Global Initiative targets crises around the world and lends support — and money — to nations and people in need. He remains politically active here at home. His wife, Hillary, is considering a run for the presidency again in 2016 and you can bet he’ll be hitting the stump for her as well.

It’s an amazing thing to see. A man who could have been kicked out of the presidency had he been convicted of those mostly partisan charges has come out burnished and all shiny on the other side.

Democrats with stars in their eyes want him to speak on their behalf.

So help me, they are going to write books on this incredible story of political redemption.