Tag Archives: 2012 election

Political differences need not destroy friendships

I sent a letter via snail mail to a friend of mine this week.

His name is Ernie Houdashell. He is a devoted Republican Party elected official. He serves as Randall County, Texas, judge. Houdashell is as devoted a partisan as anyone I know.

He and I differ fundamentally on politics. We’ve actually argued a time or two over the years, particularly since my departure from the Amarillo Globe-News in August 2012.

But here’s the deal: He and I remain friends. I have great respect for this good man. I wrote him a note just to give him an update on where my wife and I have relocated. He’ll likely have received the letter, and I hope he takes to heart the way I ended it. I told him I am “proud” that he and I have maintained our friendship.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I want to illustrate how easy it can be for people with vastly different philosophical outlooks to retain their personal affection for each other. They can be friends, just as Ernie and I are friends. I believe in my heart that my friend feels the same way I do.

We hear too much these days on social media and in other media about those who have seen their friendships shattered in this toxic and divisive political climate.

I keep reading Facebook posts from individuals who admit to losing friends because of disagreements over policy matters. Man, that kind of news really saddens me!

I worked for more than two decades in a region known for its severe rightward tilt. The Texas Panhandle arguably is the birthplace of the modern conservative Republican movement. I lived for that entire time in Randall County, where Democratic elected officials have gone dormant since 1995.

I won’t belabor the point that I have many good friends in Amarillo who happen to view the world differently than I do. I’ve said it and I’ll leave it at that.

I just wish the current bitterness that infects our atmosphere wasn’t so destructive to so many other people’s relationships.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said of his opponent that year, President Barack Obama, that the two men had little time for personal animus toward each other. “There more to life,” Romney said, “than politics.”

Indeed.

Mea culpa: Mitt was right about Russia

It’s time to admit I was wrong about something back in 2012.

Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney — the freshman U.S. senator from Utah — declared that Russia was the nation’s No. 1 “geopolitical foe.”

I was among the Americans who scoffed at Sen. Romney’s assertion. I supported President Obama’s re-election and the president was seeking to make the case that Russia didn’t pose the threat that Romney said it did.

Obama was wrong. So was I. However, I take little comfort in knowing that millions of other Americans also were wrong.

We now are learning the hard truth about what Romney said in 2012. Russia has cemented its role as the nation’s premier threat.

Yes, we also have international terror organizations that pose serious and dire danger to this country. President Obama sought to tell Sen. Romney in 2012 during a presidential campaign debate that the “cold war has been over for 20 years.” While that is true, the Russia that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union has threatened the integrity of our electoral system.

The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, doesn’t act as if he believes it. He gives Russian strongman/tyrant Vladimir Putin a pass on Russia’s 2016 electoral assault. He denigrates our nation’s intelligence network in the process.

None of us who criticized Mitt Romney in 2012 should be as blasé as Trump is about Russia. I am concerned about what Russia is capable of doing.

Does Russia pose a direct military threat to this country? I do not believe that is the case, although they do possess a substantial nuclear arsenal developed by the USSR.

Russia, though, is a third- or perhaps fourth-rate economic power.

However, the Russians are capable of inflicting significant damage via their cyber capabilities. They have done so already. They will do so again.

Thus, they pose the most serious threat to this nation.

Mitt Romney was right.

What? No outcry over the national debt?

This just in: The U.S. debt has just jumped past the $22 trillion mark, rising more than $2 trillion during the first two years of Donald J. Trump’s administration.

I have to ask: Where is the outcry? Why hasn’t the far right raised holy hell about that? Why are acquiring all this additional debt without anyone raising a stink about it?

Didn’t the 2012 Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney once chide President Obama at a charity dinner that the event was sponsored by “the letter ‘O’ and the number 16 trillion”? He was referring to the size of the debt during the 2012 presidential campaign. The quip drew lots of laughs — and a few groans.

However, the GOP was simply aghast at the national debt back then.

This time? Pfftt! Who cares?

Oh, I almost forgot! Donald Trump has referred to himself as the “King of Debt.” All hail the king!

McConnell wants what? Bipartisanship? For real?

I gave myself one of those proverbial forehead slaps when I heard this tidbit: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants there to be more “bipartisanship” in the next Congress.

Huh? He said what? This comes in the form of an op-ed column from the obstructionist in chief on Capitol Hill?

It took my breath away.

This is the fellow who said in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Uh, huh. He said that. The 2012 presidential election, of course, dashed Leader McConnell’s dream. President Obama won re-election.

Then came the congressional Republican caucuses singular effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They staged countless votes in the Senate and the House. They came up short. Who led the charge? Mitch did, that’s who.

And then we had the obstruction to end all obstructions in early 2016. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon on the court, died suddenly in Texas. Justice Scalia’s body had barely gotten cold when McConnell declared that President Obama would not get the chance to replace him.

Oh sure, the president can nominate someone, McConnell said, but Republicans were not going to move the nomination forward. Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland — a supremely qualified man — only to watch his nomination wither and die. We had a presidential election to conclude and McConnell banked on the hope that a Republican would be elected. His gamble paid off with Donald Trump’s election.

Now the majority leader wants a more bipartisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

Pardon me while I bust out laughing.

The next Congress will be split. Democrats will control the House; Republicans will lead the Senate. Bipartisanship certainly is the preferred way to govern.

That such a call would come from the U.S. Senate’s leading obstructionist gives “gall” a bad name.

Wishing a Sen. Romney stays true

Mitt Romney doesn’t likely give a rip what a blogger in Texas thinks about his pending new role as a U.S. senator.

He should. He is going to be elected to the Senate from Utah, one of the nation’s most Republican of states. He wiped out his GOP primary foe Tuesday night and will campaign this fall for a seat in the Senate, where he will vote on laws that affect all Americans, including this blogger from Texas.

I have only a single wish for Sen.-to-be Romney. It is that he stays true to his belief that Donald John Trump is a “phony” and a “fraud.” And that he holds the president accountable for the lies he keeps blurting. And … that he makes sure that he won’t roll over for the president because of some fear of political retribution.

Mitt didn’t get my vote for president in 2012 when he ran against Barack H. Obama. That doesn’t mean I dishonor him. He had an uphill climb against an incumbent president and he lost the popular vote by roughly 5 million ballots and the Electoral College vote 332-206.

However, Romney was spot on in his critique of Trump during the 2016 election. He told the truth about the GOP nominee.

I know he’s a good party man. I also know that as a newly minted resident of Utah, he has to be sure to protect his new constituents’ interests. Nothing he says about the president should endanger any federal program that benefits Utahns.

But I do not want him to play dead in front of a president who — in my mind — is exactly how Mitt Romney has described him … as a “phony” and a “fraud.”

National debt? Hey, it’s still growing!

Donald Trump made a lot of promises when he ran for president of the United States.

Many of them were bold and audacious. One of them involved the national debt. He reaffirmed to the Washington Post in April 2017 that he would wipe it out over eight years, presuming he would be re-elected in 2020.

Let’s see. How’s he doing? Not too well. The national debt has, um, exploded in the first year and a half of his presidency. It has surged past the $21 trillion mark and is proceeding at a breakneck pace well beyond that total.

The Congressional Budget Office is reporting that the national debt, fueled by tax cuts and immense increases in government spending, is on a fast track into deep outer space.

According to CBS News: “At 78 percent of gross domestic product, federal debt held by the public is now at its highest level since shortly after World War II,” the CBO found. “If current laws generally remained unchanged, the Congressional Budget Office projects, growing budget deficits would boost that debt sharply over the next 30 years; it would approach 100 percent of GDP by the end of the next decade and 152 percent by 2048. That amount would be the highest in the nation’s history by far.” 

Republicans were so very quick to excoriate Democratic President Barack H. Obama over the national debt. The GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney sought to make the debt one of the centerpieces of his effort to defeat Obama. Then came Trump, the dealmaker in chief, the business tycoon and, oh yes, the self-proclaimed “King of Debt,” to tell us he would eliminate the national debt by the end of his presidency.

Well, at this rate, Mr. President, you have to get busy.

I mean, real busy.

Hoping for a ‘Sen. Romney’

I cannot believe I am about to write this blog post.

No kidding, I am excited about Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate from Utah.

The 2012 Republican Party’s presidential nominee didn’t get my vote when he ran against President Barack H. Obama. That was then. Six years later, he now stands as a possible deterrent to another Republican, the current president of the United States, Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump.

Romney wants to succeed Orrin Hatch in the U.S. Senate. He has some Utah connection, although he will face the “carpetbagger” charge from those who might oppose his candidacy. Romney ran for the Senate in Massachusetts, losing in 1994 to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He then was elected governor of the Bay State. Mitt has lived most recently in southern California.

But in 2002, he did step in to rescue the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Plus, he has strong ties to the Mormon Church — which is headquartered in Utah — and is arguably the nation’s most well-known Mormon.

A Sen. Romney would take office as a leading lawmaker. There will be no “getting acquainted” with this guy. He’s a known quantity, a national political figure of considerable renown.

He also has had his run-ins with Donald Trump. Romney famously called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony” during the  2016 presidential campaign. Thus, Romney potentially could serve as a check on the president’s sometimes-weird instincts.

Yes, I realize he auditioned for a secretary of state appointment in the Trump administration. I also know he likely groveled a bit to get the nod. I don’t hold it against him.

To be honest, I think I would like Mitt Romney if I ever got the chance to meet him. For starters, a Republican who would challenge Trump’s legitimacy as a serious politician is OK in my book.

Mitt Romney becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed Sen. Hatch. I now will hope he can win this seat — and turn up the heat under the president.

Is this the work of a ‘fraud’?

I wasn’t looking for proof of a political accusation, but one has presented itself anyway.

In 2016, former Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney peeled the bark off the party’s primary frontrunner when he called Donald John Trump Sr. a “fraud” and a “phony.”

I thought at the time that the 2012 GOP nominee was talking exclusively about Trump’s penchant for bellicosity and insults. However, in the past few days, some things have come into sharper focus.

The president campaigned for office proclaiming his immense skill as a deal maker. He promised time and time again on the stump that he’d make the “best deals” in the history of humankind … or words to that effect. He vowed that the nation no longer would be snookered into falling for “bad deals.”

Well, here we are. One year into Trump’s time in office, the nation’s government is shut down. The president has been unable to deliver on one of those fundamental promises of his winning presidential campaign. He hasn’t cut any deal at all, let alone any bad deals.

I guess I can presume that’s what Mitt meant when he called Trump a “fraud.”

The late, great heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali used to say about his predictions about when he’d knock his foes out that “It ain’t braggin’ if you do it.”

Donald Trump needs to quit braggin’ if he can’t deliver the goods.

GOP turns wacky, man!

Just how crazy has the modern Republican Party become?

Get a load of this …

According to an essay in RealClearPolitics, Mitt Romney — the 2012 GOP nominee for president of the United States — is considered an “outlier” should he win election to the U.S. Senate later this year.

You might ask: Why is that?

The Republican Party has become the party of a man who not long ago wasn’t even considered a Republican. I refer to Donald J. Trump, the current president and a man who Mitt Romney has criticized with extreme prejudice.

Romney is considered the odds-on favorite to win the open U.S. Senate in Utah; Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, is bowing out at the end of the year. Romney hasn’t yet announced his candidacy, but virtually everyone thinks he will.

He also was considered to be the epitome of establishment GOP principle. Romney was considered a fiscal and social conservative, a pro-business sort of fellow. He campaigned for president in 2012 calling himself a “severe conservative.”

That might have been enough for doctrinaire Republicans to embrace him.

However, he has taken Donald Trump to task with, um, severe vigor.

In 2016, he called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud.” He delivered his anti-Trump mantra in a 17-minute speech that raised plenty of hackles among the Republican “base” that had endorsed Trump’s presidential candidacy.

And just recently, Romney labeled the president’s description of African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as “sh**hole countries” as “antithetical to American values.” The RealClearPolitics essay found that fascinating because “most of Trump’s Republican denouncers are either comfortably outside of Congress or on their way out.”

Romney, meanwhile, is likely on his way in, heading for a sure-fire electoral victory in the U.S. Senate contest in Utah.

All of this to my mind paints a picture of a major political party in a state of serious disarray. It has attached itself to an individual, rather than a set of principles.

Thus, I welcome Mitt Romney’s return to public life. My hope is that he continues to remind us that the president really and truly is a “phony” and a “fraud.”

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.