Tag Archives: 2008 election

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.

McCain to Hillary: Cool it with the criticism

John McCain knows the pain of losing a presidential election.

Accordingly, he has offered the most recent presidential election loser a bit of solid advice, although I disagree with the manner in which he delivered it.

The Arizona Republican U.S. senator has told Hillary Rodham Clinton to clam up, that she shouldn’t be so highly critical of the man who defeated her for the presidency. “One of the almost irresistible impulses you have when you lose is to somehow justify why you lost and how you were mistreated: ‘I did the right thing! I did!’” Trump told Esquire Magazine. “The hardest thing to do is to just shut up.”

He added: “What’s the f—–g point? Keep the fight up? History will judge that campaign, and it’s always a period of time before they do. You’ve got to move on. This is Hillary’s problem right now: She doesn’t have anything to do.”

Ouch, man!

McCain can’t claim to have remained silent about the man who beat him in 2008. He returned to the Senate after Barack Obama thumped in the race for the White House. He used his public office to criticize the president’s policies. To me, he did sound a little sour-grapy at times, but I understand his position as a member of the “opposing party” while sharing governing responsibility with the president.

Clinton’s situation is drastically different. She isn’t holding a public office. Sen. McCain notes that, too, suggesting that she could have waited a good while before publishing her book — “What Happened” — that chronicles her version of why she lost the 2016 election.

I say all this without apologizing for a moment that I supported her election as president — and I would do so again if she were to face Donald Trump a second time in a presidential election.

I just hope she doesn’t run again.

As for John McCain, he is in the midst of the fight of his life and it has not a damn thing to do with politics or policy. By my reckoning, his battle against cancer gives his remarks even more gravitas.

Health always an issue for national candidates

Rich Lowry is a smart young man.

His essay, published on Politico.com, states clearly an obvious truth about the upcoming presidential campaign. It is that Hillary Clinton’s health will be an issue.

I get that. Indeed, Americans always should have assurances that the commander in chief will be in tip-top shape when he or she takes the reins of government.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/rove-is-right-106694.html?hp=l3#.U3QprFJOWt8

Lowry, smart conservative that he is, defends fellow Republican Karl Rove’s assertion that Clinton might have serious “brain injury” stemming from a fall she suffered in 2012. That’s where I part company with Lowry.

To his fundamental point about the health of candidates, let’s flash back a few election cycles.

Wasn’t Ronald Reagan’s health an issue when he ran for election the first time in 1980? He was nearly 70. When he ran for re-election in 1984, he stumbled badly in his first debate with Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, fueling open discussion that he had “lost it.” President Reagan quelled that talk immediately at the next debate when he said he “would not make my opponent’s age an issue by exploiting his youth and inexperience.”

Sen. John McCain faced similar questions about his health when he ran against Sen. Barack Obama in 2008. Let’s remember that there was some ghastly whispering going on about whether he suffered too much emotional trauma as a Vietnam War prisoner for more than five years. Plus, he had been treated for cancer. His health became an issue.

Hillary Clinton will be roughly the same age as Reagan and McCain when they ran for president. Let’s keep these health issues in their proper perspective. Igniting mean-spirited gossip about potential “brain injury” isn’t the way to examine an important issue.

Voters have decided: ‘Obamacare’ should stay

It occurs to me that congressional Republicans’ attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act flies directly against the prevailing political winds that blew fairly strongly nearly a year ago.

That was when President Barack Obama won re-election to a second term in the White House after fending off a relentless campaign against the ACA by the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney.

Thus, the ACA was on the ballot in 2012. It arguably was Romney’s signature issue in his campaign against the president.

How did it turn out?

* Barack Obama won re-election with 332 electoral votes; Romney captured 206.

* Obama’s popular vote totaled 65,915,257 votes; Romney garnered 60,932,235 votes. That’s a margin of nearly 5 million ballots.

* The president failed to carry only two states that he won in 2008, North Carolina and Indiana. The rest of them remained in his camp.

I’ll certainly concede that the president’s electoral vote margin and his popular vote margin both were less than when he was elected to his first term in 2008. For that I blame the economy, which was in free fall when Obama took office and didn’t turn around quickly enough to suit many Americans. It has turned, though, thanks in part to some aggressive efforts from the Obama economics team to jump-start it.

All of this occurred after Romney kept pledging to repeal the ACA on his first day in office. Didn’t the former Massachusetts governor say he’d issue an executive order suspending “Obamacare” right after he took office this past January? Didn’t he make that firm pledge repeatedly along the campaign trail?

Well, it didn’t work out for him.

Yes, some have said Romney wasn’t the best messenger to deliver that pledge for Republicans, given that he signed a similar law that guaranteed health insurance for residents of the state he governed.

The larger point, however, is that American voters had a chance to send the president packing this past November but chose to keep him on the job. His legislative accomplishment remains the Affordable Care Act and the voters, with their ballots, have affirmed a law that is just about to take effect.