Tag Archives: 2008 election

Mitt weighs in on Trump’s McCain derangement syndrome

“I can’t understand why the president would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: Heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country and God.”

So wrote Utah’s junior U.S. senator, Mitt Romney, about Donald Trump’s obvious fixation with the late senator from Arizona.

Honestly, Sen. Romney, few of us out here can grasp what in the name of human decency has infected Trump.

I didn’t vote for Sen. McCain when he ran for president in 2008. That does not diminish my respect for the exemplary and heroic service he delivered to this nation in war and later in political service.

Indeed, for the president to say what he has said in these months since McCain died of brain cancer speaks so graphically about that individual’s absence of character.

I’m with you, Sen. Romney.

I hasten to add that you were right in 2016 when you called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud.” He demonstrates both qualities damn near every day.

Former VP Biden looks like he’s in . . . sigh

Joe Biden is sounding increasingly like someone who’s decided to make yet another run for the presidency of the United States.

Oh . . . my. This situation fills me with great emotional conflict.

I admire the former vice president greatly. He has served in public life with distinction. He has occupied a large spot on the national stage, starting with his election to the U.S. Senate in 1972.

Have there been missteps, hiccups, embarrassing moments along the way? Yes. He was caught plagiarizing remarks from a British politician; he has been prone to assorted verbal gaffes throughout his public life.

He ran for president in 1988 and again in 2008. The plagiarism rap torpedoed his earlier run. He lost to Sen. Barack Obama two decades later and then ran with the future president to two historic election victories.

Biden also has endured tragedy. His wife and daughter were killed in that horrific traffic accident prior to his taking office in the Senate. His elder son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. The VP wore his emotions on his sleeve. He endured and has carved out a largely successful public service career.

He’s now 77 years of age. I want a fresher face to run for president and to challenge Donald Trump in 2020.

That all said, if it comes down to a Trump-Biden contest next year, there’s no doubt who would get my support.

I just want someone else to go for the gusto.

Time of My Life, Part 6: Kudos to NPR

There once was a time — and it wasn’t that long ago — when newspaper editors’ opinions were of some value, that others actually sought them out.

I got to play the part of a media “expert,” but I use the term loosely, as in quite loosely.

The 2008 presidential campaigned exposed me to the marvels of radio editing and the magic that radio hands perform with raw audio “copy.”

National Public Radio was looking for two newspaper editors who plied their craft in politically disparate parts of the country. They settled on Kevin Riley, editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News and, um, yours truly . . . me!

Dayton is a heavily unionized community in southern Ohio. In 2008 it was considered to be part of the electoral “battleground” where U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain were fighting in their quest to become the next president of the United States. Riley was editor of the paper. I don’t know the fellow.

I was editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, deep in the heart of McCain Country. There wouldn’t be any fight in the Texas Panhandle over voters’ preferences. Our readers were solidly behind Sen. McCain.

NPR wanted to talk to the two of us to get our take on how our communities viewed the upcoming election.

I showed up at the High Plains Public Radio studio in downtown Amarillo, got comfortable sitting amid all this radio equipment. My good friend Mark Haslett — who worked for HPPR at the time — set up the studio nicely. The call came from NPR, I introduced myself to Liane Hansen, the NPR host, and to Riley, who was on the other end of the line in Dayton.

We chatted for about 30 minutes or so. I was terribly nervous, more so than Riley; at least that’s how I figured it, given that he stammered and stuttered far less than I did when he was answering questions from Hansen.

The bottom line was that Riley said the race in Ohio between Obama and McCain would be tight; meanwhile, I told NPR that McCain was likely to win the contest in the High Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas in a walk.

NPR boiled the interview down to about a 4-minute presentation on its “Morning Edition” broadcast on Sunday.

Here’s the most astounding part of it: NPR’s editing team made me sound much smarter and erudite than I am. They edited out the fits and starts, the “uhs” and “ums” and the occasional mangled sentence structure.

What’s more, they did it without changing any context! They broadcast my remarks completely and correctly, but without the mess I made of it.

I tell you all this to make two points: First, given the decline in print journalism and the explosive growth in other forms of media, newspaper editors no longer are deemed to be as valuable a resource as they once were; I am proud to have taken part in that discussion. Second, National Public Radio comprises geniuses who are very good at what they do . . . and I was proud to be a part of NPR’s broadcast.

Tough to bid farewell to icons

Americans have had a busy year bidding farewell to iconic public figures.

We’ve just bid adieu to our nation’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, who in just a few days will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Barbara, and their first-born child, who died at age 3.

We have given President Bush the kind of sendoff he deserves, but which reportedly he would have disliked intensely. His son, Neil, noted that “Dad” would be embarrassed by “all the nice things people have said about him.” Nice things?

Good, gracious. Those “nice things” do not even begin to do justice to the service Bush 41 gave to the nation he cherished. It has been well-chronicled certainly since his death this past Friday at age 94. It was well-known already.

I have declared my belief on numerous occasions that Bush 41 was arguably the most qualified man ever to hold the office of president. As I have listened to the tributes, that belief has been shored up.

As for his wife, “Bar,” she left us in the spring. She and George H.W. Bush shared a 73-year marriage that produced six children. Five of them grew to adulthood, with their first child, Robin, dying as a toddler of leukemia.

Barbara Bush didn’t aspire to pursue a career other than being a homemaker and devoted spouse to a great man. She, however, achieved greatness, too, as first lady. She promoted literacy and always, without fail, carried herself with dignity and grace.

The tributes paid to the former first lady served as well to remind us that love truly does conquer all.

As for the third icon, he ventured to the gates of hell and returned to build a political life devoted to serving his nation.

John McCain died in August of brain cancer. He served for three decades as a U.S. senator from Arizona. And, yes, he was a bona fide, true-blue war hero. He was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War, taken captive and held as a POW for more than five years.

Donald J. Trump sought to disparage McCain’s war service by denigrating his hero status, how he was a “hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured.” That despicable utterance stands as a testament to the complete absence of character from the man who uttered it.

McCain would serve in the House and then the Senate with distinction. He rose to the level of icon during his years in Congress. His years as a POW elevated his profile immediately upon being elected to Congress.

He ran twice for president, losing the Republican nomination in 2000 to Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then losing the 2008 election to Sen. Barack H. Obama.

All three of these individuals sought in their ways to achieve a “more perfect Union.” They are worthy of every single ounce of tribute they have received.

‘Comity’ in Washington is MIA

Few of us ever use the word “comity” in everyday speech. It is a word used by media and politicians to describe a sense of togetherness and civility among public officials.

That word might get a comeback today as the nation bids farewell to U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who preached a return to “order” in politics and sought to reach across to Democrats who served with him and who shared a love of country.

McCain died the other day after a yearlong battle with cancer. His Earthly voice has been stilled, but I surely hope his legacy will remain and that it will include his call for “comity” in the halls of power.

With that, here is a clip from the 2008 Al Smith Memorial Dinner, when Sen. McCain shared a podium with fellow Sen. Barack Obama as the men fought for the presidency.

It gives you a good look at what politics can become and what many of us hope will return … one day.

McCain’s magic moment: shutting down Obama critic

Of all the acts of class that the late Sen. John McCain performed, one stands out. It occurred during his failed 2008 campaign for the presidency of the United States.

The Republican from Arizona was conducting a town hall meeting with supporters. One of them, a middle-aged woman, stood up to suggest that Sen. Barack Obama, McCain’s Democratic opponent in that year’s campaign, is a Muslim and couldn’t be trusted to protect Americans.

McCain shut her down immediately. He shook his head and told her Obama is an “American citizen,” a “patriotic American.” He said he and his foe had profound differences in policy, but said they both loved their country.

It’s the kind of response one should expect from a candidate for president, let alone from the actual president. It’s a response we haven’t heard from the current president, who’s fomented the lie about President Obama’s place of birth.

During the Al Smith Memorial Dinner in 2008, Sen. McCain referred to his opponent as his “friend and colleague” in the U.S. Senate. He battled hard for the presidency but didn’t consider his foe to be his enemy.

The man was a champion of what he called “regular order” in the Senate and sought to restore a sense of decorum and dignity in what used to be considered the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.”

John McCain left a huge footprint on the American political landscape. He was a gentleman if not always a gentle man.

‘Beclowned’ becomes newest cool word

Steve Schmidt clearly is a “never Trump” Republican.

He once worked for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. He is a close personal friend of the stricken senator and no doubt has taken personally the insults that Donald J. Trump has tossed at Sen. McCain while the senator is battling a life-threatening illness.

Schmidt has coined perhaps the most interesting verb in recent political discourse. In a tweet, he wrote that the president has “beclowned” himself.

Beclowned? Yep. That’s the verb. Here is Schmidt’s entire tweet:

TRUMP disgraced the Presidency and the United States at the G-7 summit. From his slovenly appearance to his unpreparedness, ignorance and arrogance, he beclowned himself. The Republican majority is filled with cowards who are servile supplicants to the most unfit POTUS ever

I’ve never heard the term before. Let me know if you have.

My point here is that when you have a serious Republican saying such things about an ostensibly Republican president, then the target of these epithets would seem to have a problem. Except that such criticism not only rolls off Trump, it doesn’t register with those who continue to support this individual’s world view … such as it is!

Schmidt isn’t the world’s perfect political operative. He had a hand, after all, in persuading Sen. McCain to select Sarah Palin as his 2008 vice-presidential running mate. To his credit, Schmidt has owned up to the mistake he made.

However, Schmidt is making no mistake in asserting Donald Trump’s profound unfitness for the job he currently occupies.

Biden in ’20? Yes, but … why ?

Joseph R. Biden’s possible presidential candidacy in 2020 fills me with equal parts hope and dread.

Actually, the dread part might be a bit greater than the hope.

The former vice president reportedly is thinking hard about running for president in 2020. I presume he wants to challenge Donald John Trump Sr., who’s already formed a re-election campaign committee and has been speaking at political rallies almost from the first day of his presidency.

Biden is being coy, naturally. He says he is concentrating first in this year’s mid-term election that he hopes will elect more Democrats to public office.

Let me stipulate two points about hope and dread.

The Hope: I have admired Biden for decades, dating back to the horrific personal tragedy he endured in 1972 when he was first elected to the U.S. Senate. His wife and daughter died in a car accident shortly after the election that year and Biden wrestled with whether he wanted to become a senator.

His friends counseled him to serve. He took their advice and served in the Senate from 1973 until he was tapped by fellow Sen. Barack Obama to run with him on the 2008 Democratic ticket; Obama and Biden won that contest and Biden became a valuable member of the Obama administration.

Biden’s Senate career hit its share of bumps along the way. He was prone to talking too much. He got ensnared in a copycat scandal in which he lifted remarks from a British politician and used them as his own in telling his life story; that embarrassment cost him dearly and he had to pull out of his first run for president in 1987.

Then there was the time during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Biden had five minutes to ask a question, but he spent damn near all of it on a soliloquy about why he opposed Alito. Sheesh!

But the ex-VP is a patriot who loves this country and has given much in service to it. He might want one more tour of public service duty.

The Dread: As much as I admire Biden, I still believe Democrats need to reach out to the back bench to find a nominee to challenge Trump. I believe 2020 will provide an opportunity to find someone who is on no one’s political radar at the moment.

Barack Obama came out of nowhere in 2008. So did Jimmy Carter in 1976. I’m not saying Democrats should nominate another Obama or Carter, but rather they should find someone who is as unknown as they both were to the American public.

There’s also the issue of age. Vice President Biden would be the oldest man ever elected president were he to win in 2020. He’s already on record saying he would serve a single term before bowing out — which would make him a lame-duck the minute he took his hand off the Bible at his swearing in.

I am reminded of something a late Clackamas County (Ore.) sheriff once told me after he took office when his predecessor resigned. Bill Brooks announced immediately he would run for election. “If I don’t run I become a lame duck,” Brooks said. “Lame ducks get bulldozed and I don’t bulldoze worth a s**t.”

A 78-year-old President Biden would get bulldozed, too.

Would I still support a Biden candidacy over Donald Trump?

Duh! What in the world do you think?

Hoping that Sarah remains MIA

Not quite five years ago, I posted a blog item that discussed the departure of former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin from the Fox News Channel.

That was in 2013. She is still missing in action.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t wish her to be found. I prefer the national discussion to be void of Sarah Palin’s voice.

Fox says, “So long, Sarah”

The government is shut down. Donald J. Trump — whom Palin endorsed early in his presidential run — is making a mess of the presidency.

The 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee has been silent. It’s not that I miss hearing her. It’s just that after Fox cut her loose I feared she wouldn’t go away quietly.

Silly me. I believe she has.

Yeah, some of her adult children continue to get mixed up in entanglements with the law on occasion. Her son, Track, recently got into a big-time beef with his father — Sarah’s husband — that allegedly involved a firearm.

Palin does hold a kind of special place in our recent political history. She made huge headlines when she joined Sen. John McCain on the GOP ticket in 2008. She became an immediate star. Her stardom lasted for just a little while and began to fade when it became apparent to millions of Americans that Sen. McCain’s desire to shake up his race for the presidency turned out to be, um, a big mistake.

The past is past. The present day has produced a different type of political climate dominated by another highly unconventional politician. I refer to the president of the United States.

My hunch is that Donald Trump wouldn’t dare tolerate another politician hogging the limelight. Just maybe, Sarah Palin has gotten the message.

Dear Mr. (Former) President …

We’ve entered the month that will mark the first year of the start of Donald John Trump’s term as president.

That day will occur on the 20th of January.

I thought I would mark that event a bit early with an open letter to the man he succeeded as president of the United States.

It goes like this:

***

Dear Barack:

I hope it’s OK if I call you by your first name, now that you’re no longer president.

As you know, it’s been a rough and rowdy year since you, your wife and daughters lifted off the White House lawn and took up status as private citizens.

I just wanted you to know a few things.

First, I wish you were still on the job. Yes, I know that you were anxious to leave. I also know you and your lovely wife chafed at times at being under the world’s microscope 24/7. But that’s what you signed on for when you took the oath twice. Still, I don’t begrudge you for being glad to be sleeping in, going where you want when you want and not being held to airtight scheduling.

I was proud to vote twice for you. You inspired me, even though I’m a good bit older than you are. You made me almost as proud of those two votes as I was the first time I voted for president in 1972. I cast that vote for George McGovern. It didn’t work out well that year for my guy. In 2008 and again in 2012, I was proud to count my votes among the 135 million ballots you collected in your two winning campaigns.

I know you get lots of these kinds of notes. I hope you see this one.

It’s been tough to watch your successor struggle just learning how to act presidential. To your immense credit, you had none of that kind of on-the-job  training. Then again, you at least brought some knowledge of government when you took the oath the first time.

I can’t let this opportunity pass without acknowledging that you weren’t the perfect president. You made some mistakes. I am particularly chagrined that you drew the “red line” in Syria, but then didn’t act on it when the Syrian military crossed the line and used chemical weapons on their citizens.

The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect. It needs fixing. At least you had the guts to say as much and offered to work with congressional Republicans to improve it. They weren’t having any of that. Shame on them.

That’s all water over the dam. You’re now in private life. I am glad for you. But damn, I sure wish there was a way we could get you back.

With that, young man, I’ll offer this final thought.

Yes, we did! Well done, Mr. President.