Tag Archives: 2016 election

Farewell, Weekly Standard

As he is prone to do, Donald Trump gave a raspberry to a mainstream publication that announced it is shutting down its operation.

The Weekly Standard, a mainstream conservative media outlet, is buttoning itself up and is going away. Why did Trump trash the publication? Because it has been an unfriendly outlet toward the president. He doesn’t like that its co-founder and editor at large, William Kristol, is a “never Trump” advocate.

However, Kristol is a known political conservative, who stands behind his conservative principles, which happens to be at the heart of why he opposes Trump.

What did the president say? He said this via Twitter: The pathetic and dishonest Weekly Standard, run by failed prognosticator Bill Kristol (who like many others, never had a clue), is flat broke and out of business. Too bad. May it rest in peace!

What class. What grace. What, um, whatever . . .

Kristol once served as chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. He founded the Weekly Standard in 1995, becoming one of conservative mainstream media’s leading voices. The publication dogged the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It praised President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Afghanistan and later, in Iraq. One can argue with the Weekly Standard’s editorial policy, its philosophy. One cannot question the publication’s commitment to a principle.

That’s no longer viable in this Age of Trump, where opinions are formed by insult and innuendo. Kristol saw it coming when Trump entered the political world with that showy escalator ride in Trump Tower, when he announced his decision to seek the presidency.

I haven’t agreed much over the years with Kristol. However, I happen to be on his side in his view of the presidency of Donald Trump.

His publication is now gone. Yet its record contains a rich history of crisp writing, incisive and often insightful analysis.

It’s now a victim of the changing media climate, one that relies too little on smart reporting and too much on gut-level opinion.

I’m sorry to see it disappear.

Feel sorry for The Fixer? Nope, can’t go there

Try as I tend to do, I cannot muster up sympathy for Donald Trump’s former friend, former confidant, former lawyer, former “fixer” — Michael Cohen.

A judge gave him a three-year prison sentence for lying to everyone under the sun about the payments he made to shut women up who allegedly had sexual encounters with the future president of the United States.

Cohen is now trying to atone for his greed by saying he was duped into blind fealty to Donald Trump. No, he wasn’t duped. He wasn’t fooled. He had his eyes and ears open. He knew with whom he was dealing. Trump’s reputation has been well-known ever since he got into the real estate and skyscraper building business.

Cohen’s latest admission came in an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos.

See the story here

Cohen was motivated by the same self-serving goal that fueled Trump’s entire professional existence prior to his shocking election to the presidency in 2016.

He well might parlay his guilt into an even lighter sentence eventually by spilling even more beans about what he did for Trump. That will be up to the prosecutors and to the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who has benefited from Cohen’s turning on Trump.

However, Michael Cohen doesn’t deserve pity from the public that also is paying a grievous price for the election of a charlatan, a phony, a disgrace. Cohen was a party to that egregious mistake.

One more stark difference between Trump and Bush 41

Americans have just bade farewell to a great and good man, George Herbert Walker Bush, with tributes and praise that brought instantaneous comparisons to one of his presidential successors, Donald John Trump Sr.

The tributes honored the former president’s empathy, compassion, the size of his heart, wisdom and coolness under the most extreme pressure imaginable. Many of us drew a straight line between the 41st president and the 45th president and found the latter man lacking in all those categories.

What has gotten almost no attention has been the qualifications chasm that exists between the men.

We went from electing arguably the most qualified man ever as president to electing — without question, in my mind — the most fundamentally unqualified man. Yes, we made that leap between 1988 and 2016. In just 28 years we reset the standard for electing the leader of the free world and the commander in chief of the world’s greatest military machine.

Bush served as a U.S. Navy aviator in World War II (who came within a whisker of dying in combat), successful West Texas businessman, two-term member of Congress, CIA director, special envoy to China, Republican Party chairman, ambassador to the United Nations and then vice president of the United States. All that occurred before his smashing election as POTUS in 1988. He also was married to the same woman for 73 years, with whom he produced six children.

And Trump? His business record has been, shall we say, mixed. He had zero public service experience. His entire professional life was aimed at self-enrichment. He has filed multiple bankruptcies. The only public office he ever has sought is the presidency of the United States. The personal part? He’s been married three times and has admitted to cheating on his first two wives — with evidence mounting that he did the same thing to his current wife.

President Bush brought honor and an enormous well-spring of commitment to public service to the world’s most powerful office. Donald Trump has brought — um, let me think — not a single shred of any of it to the office to which he was elected. We have turned the presidency into an office where the occupant can receive on-the-job training. No experience necessary. How utterly astonishing!

George H.W. Bush was worthy of the praise he received. Donald J. Trump is equally worthy of the scorn he is receiving.

The 2020 horse race has begun

Candidates say they dislike it. So do journalists who cover these events.

But bet on it! The 2020 presidential campaign/horse race has commenced. The media are all over themselves in covering who’s up and who’s down in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primary campaign.

MoveOn.org, the left-leaning political action group, now has Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke narrowly ahead in the race to become the Democrats’ next presidential nominee. Former Vice President Joe Biden is right behind him.

Beto’s fans are no doubt going nuts. Fine. Let ’em whoop and holler!

I find this kind of coverage annoying in the extreme. Why?

For starters, Beto O’Rourke’s poll standing doesn’t mean a damn thing. It won’t matter at the end of this week, let alone next week. It could change overnight. These polls are as fluid as running water.

The 2016 Republican primary campaign revealed the same kind of shallowness of the media coverage of these issues. The media become fixated on the “horse race” element, not the issues on which the candidates are running.

So it is shaping up for the 2020 Democratic primary campaign.

Beto is up this week. Last week it was Joe Biden. Sen. Kamala Harris might emerge as next week’s media favorite. Then there’s former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has formed an exploratory committee to assess whether he wants to run for president in 2020.

The media are going to be all over this horse race matter.

I tend to tune this stuff out fairly quickly once the coverage begins. The media — the very people who say they detest this sort of political coverage — are forcing me to close my ears early.

Trump sounding more guilty by the hour

I long ago quit imploring Donald J. Trump to stop using Twitter the way he does. It’s now an accepted — in some circles — method the president uses to communicate with us more normal Americans.

I now am looking at those tweet tirades in another light.

The more furious they become, the angrier, the more outlandish the outbursts, the more it looks to me as though the president’s nervousness is on display.

To be honest, Trump’s seeming anxiety over the progress of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the “Russia thing” is making me nervous. It’s beginning to frighten me at some level.

I don’t want the president to do something foolish, such as, oh, throwing out pardons left and right; or ordering the acting attorney general to fire Robert Mueller; or, God forbid, send our troops into battle in a “wag the dog” scenario that would divert/deflect attention from his political trouble.

My view of the president’s unfitness for the office he holds only has strengthened as the nation and the world have watched him writhe in anger at the so-called “witch hunt” I hope is drawing to a close.

Despite all the comparisons we made over the past week between Trump and the late George H.W. Bush, I am more concerned about the comparison between Trump and Mueller.

Trump’s hysteria stands in stark and telling contrast to the buttoned-up, tight-lipped, totally secret conduct of Mueller and his legal team. That the president would take to Twitter to blast Mueller as a partisan hack, a closet Democrat, a “friend” of fired FBI boss James Comey and, thus, intent on destroying his presidency is both laughable and disgraceful on its face. Mueller is a pro, he’s  Republican, he is a man of impeccable character and he’s trying to get to the truth behind all the allegations that have swirled around Donald Trump’s campaign and administration.

I only can conclude that the more Trump rants and roars at Mueller, the more culpable he appears to Americans who need to know the truth about their president.

Trump’s delusion is accelerating

Donald J. Trump either really doesn’t read anything or has become increasingly delusional.

I’ll go with, um, both possibilities.

The Southern District of New York U.S. attorney’s office has said former Trump friend/Mr. Fixer Michael Cohen should serve prison time for his pattern of lies to federal authorities. Cohen might get four to five years in the slammer for his greed-driven felonies.

Trump responded immediately via Twitter — of course: Totally clears the President. Thank you!

Hmm. Let me think about that. OK, Mr. President. It doesn’t clear you in the least.

Nothing has cleared the president, certainly not his hysterical yammering about there being “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russian operatives to interfered in our 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a separate memo regarding Cohen, saying he has provided “substantial help” to the special counsel team that is investigating the allegations of collusion.

Does any of that imply — even tangentially — any “clearing” of the president? No. It doesn’t.

It tells me that Mueller is still at work, although I am among those Americans who hopes he is getting close to the conclusion of his exhaustive, meticulous and comprehensive investigation.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated this week that Trump refuses to read anything, that he acts impulsively, that he sought to commit illegal acts. Tillerson said he sought to advise the president of the illegality of what he wanted done; that was when the men’s relationship turned frosty.

Tillerson’s assertion about the president’s refusal to read anything rings even more true today as he comments in the wake of the sentencing memo regarding Michael Cohen “totally clears the president.”

Pay attention, Mr. President. Your delusions are getting the better of you. You are in deepening trouble, sir.

What if Trump had lost the election?

Chuck Todd, the moderator/host of “Meet the Press,” posed an interesting set of questions this week. Who would be happy had Donald Trump lost the 2016 presidential election?

He ticked off a series of folks who he said would have preferred a different electoral outcome:

Trump would be happy because he could have built his hotel in Moscow and no one would care; Melania would be smiling because she would be able to live in New York; several former Cabinet officials would be happy because their “reputations would be intact”; congressional Republicans would be happy because they would have gained seats in the midterm election instead of losing the House to the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton? Would she be happy? Probably not.

With a strengthened GOP majority in the House and Senate, a President Clinton would face the prospect of — you guessed it! — congressional hearings and potential impeachment measures taken against her. If you thought Democrats are on a vendetta against the GOP president, you wouldn’t have seen anything had the GOP been able to hound a Democratic president.

But let’s take note quickly of the biggest group of Americans who would be happy had Trump lost. That would be the nearly 66 million Americans who cast their ballots for Hillary.

I was one of them. I, too, would be happy had Trump lost.

If only . . .

It took a Russia-Ukraine confrontation to cancel a meeting . . . good!

Donald J. Trump has made precisely the right call in canceling a planned meeting in Argentina with Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin.

It wasn’t the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 that produced the abrupt cancellation. Nor was it Russia’s alliance with Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad in his civil war with insurgents.

The cancellation comes after Russian ships collided with Ukrainian ships and took Ukrainian sailors captive in the Black Sea. The president said the aggression cannot stand.

He had planned to meet with Putin one-on-one during the G20 meeting in Argentina. That’s now off.

I won’t speculate on the impact of all the other “Russia things” that might be hanging over the heads of both men. Nor will I wonder whether the president didn’t want to risk a repeat of that hideous summit in Helsinki where Trump sided with Putin’s denials on Russian interference in our elections, dismissing the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that, yes, they most certainly did interfere.

I’ll simply say the president need not meet with Vladimir Putin until the Russian strongman makes amends for his latest act of aggression. Accordingly, Donald Trump made the right decision.

Pay attention to me, Gov. Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich still wants to be president of the United States and says he is considering taking another run at the nation’s highest office in 2020.

I’m usually not in the mood to offer campaign advice to Republicans, but I believe Gov. Kasich, whose time in office ends in December, is an impressive fellow. I wanted him to win the GOP nomination in 2016. I well might have voted for him had the choice been Kasich or Hillary Clinton.

OK, now for the advice.

If he’s going to challenge Donald Trump for the GOP nomination, he needs to avoid the trap of being lured too far to the right. One of the more undersold aspects of Kasich’s 2016 candidacy was his role as chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee in forging a balanced federal budget in the late 1990s.

How did he do that? He worked with the Democratic president, Bill Clinton, in crafting a balanced budget that actually built surpluses during the final three years of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Yes, Kasich was a key player in achieving a stellar budgetary accomplishment. He chose not to tout that aspect of his public service career because it would have revealed his bipartisan tendencies. That ability to reach across the aisle is anathema to the hard-core, right-wing loony birds who call the shots these days in the Republican Party.

Are they going to keep calling the shots in 2020? I haven’t a clue at this moment in time. I hope not. Even if they do, though, I want to encourage John Kasich to shout it loudly and clearly: He believes in good government, which requires compromise and cooperation with everyone regardless of party affiliation.

I want this man to run yet again for president. He was one of the few GOP grownups running in 2016.

Did Trump really believe he would win in 2016?

I’m fairly deep into the “Fear,” the blockbuster book by Bob “Watergate Fame” Woodward.

The book touches on a theme I keep encountering as I read analyses of Donald Trump’s administration, his winning campaign in 2016 and the slipshod way he assembled his White House team after he won the election.

The theme is this: Trump didn’t actually expect to win the 2016 presidential election.

Woodward refers to the surprise that voters delivered to the Republican presidential nominee on Election Night. Noting that surprise time and again throughout the book, I keep wondering: Why did Trump actually run for this office? Was it a business deal to end all business deals?

I have noted in this blog that Trump — before becoming a politician — had spent his entire adult life seeking to attain personal wealth. He is the master of self-aggrandizement. Self-promotion is his MO. He is wired solely and exclusively to promote himself.

How in the world does someone with that sort of makeup sincerely believe he is capable of assuming a job that requires him to take an oath to look out for the interests of others?

I cannot possibly believe that such a man actually intends to set aside his entire adulthood existence for a life of public service. When I refer to “public service,” I intend to suggest that one who climbs into that arena is dedicated to others.

Does the 45th president of the United States strike you as someone who fills that bill . . . or even expected to find himself in the role he now plays?