Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

Trump’s absence: the ‘new normal’?

As I have sought to process the day’s big event, the funeral of civil rights hero/icon/legend John Lewis, I pondered the absence of one individual who one could have presumed should have been there.

Donald J. Trump was not in Atlanta today to pay tribute to John Lewis, the former congressman and human rights activist who died at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. Oh, no. Trump was in Washington, tweeting messages seeking to undermine the voting rights gains for which Lewis fought, and bled.

It’s becoming something of a “new normal” in this Age of Trump as president of the United States. He was disinvited to the funeral of U.S. Sen. John McCain. Trump attended the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, but we didn’t hear a word from him. Now, the Lewis funeral. Trump declared he had no intention of honoring Lewis while he lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

I thought about past funerals of high-profile political figures. I recalled the presence of President Lyndon Johnson at the funeral of a man he hated beyond measure, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. I remembered the funeral of President Richard Nixon and recalled one of the tributes paid to him by President Bill Clinton, who told us that we must not judge his predecessor’s public life by just one episode, but by its entire history. I remember, too, when former Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower patched up their bitter differences while attending the funeral of their successor, President John F. Kennedy. The two old war horses realized in that moment that life was too short and too precious for them to continue hating each other.

Donald Trump clearly would not have been welcomed at John Lewis’s funeral. He once chided Lewis for supposedly being “all talk and no action.” Trump ignored the beatings that Lewis endured while seeking to guarantee the rights of black Americans to vote in free and fair elections.

So it fell to three of Trump’s predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to speak of their friend and a man who will be remembered as a legend in his own time … and beyond. 

Donald Trump? He was left to sulk in the background.

Trump reaps what he has sown

I had to laugh out loud when right-wing media began criticizing former President Obama’s discreetly worded criticism of the way Donald Trump has responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why, the right-wing pundits just couldn’t understand how a former president would dare criticize a sitting president, particularly as he is up to his armpits (supposedly) fighting the pandemic.

Indeed, Obama has been quiet about Trump until only recently, when he took a couple of verbal pot shots at Trump during two virtual graduation commencement speeches he delivered via television to a national audience.

The three other living presidential predecessors — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — have remained quiet.

But here’s the deal. Donald Trump has expended more verbal energy, not to mention Twitter characters, vilifying the efforts of Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton.

If it’s fair to criticize President Obama for talking trash about Donald Trump, it’s also fair to criticize Trump for the profound disrespect he has shown to the men who preceded him in the nation’s highest office.

Did Barack Obama ever criticize George W. Bush specifically, by name, with epithets while he struggled to rebuild an economy in free fall right after he took over as president? Yes, he has talked about the economic peril he inherited, but he also has thanked President Bush for his many years of service to the nation.

Did George W. Bush ever say a word publicly about Bill Clinton, who he succeeded in 2001?

And did Bill Clinton ever criticize his immediate predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, after taking over from him in 1993? Indeed, the two of them became dear friends, with Clinton declaring that he became a sort of “wayward son” to George and Barbara Bush.

Instead, with the current president, we hear a constant drumbeat of profound disrespect and denigration of the effort his predecessors all devoted to the oath they took to defend and protect Americans.

So what, then, if Barack Obama had offered some veiled criticism of Donald Trump? He had it coming.

This is how you reflect on national crisis

Twenty-five years ago a madman ignited a bomb at a federal courthouse in Oklahoma City.

The blast killed 167 men, women … and children. It tore at the nation’s soul. It broke our hearts. The madman would be arrested soon afterward. He was put on trial, convicted and then executed for his crime against humanity.

I want to share this video of President Bill Clinton, who went to OKC five years ago to mark the 20th year since that horrifying event. I ask you to take a few moments to listen to the former president’s remarks.

I also want to call your attention to a story he told of a former Oklahoma governor, on whose watch this tragedy occurred. The governor is a Republican; the former president is a Democrat. They are dear friends who made each other’s acquaintance in college many years ago.

They had a partisan political beef that lasted until, as President Clinton said, “Oklahoma City” occurred. Then their differences disappeared, Clinton said, amid the heartbreak, leaving all Americans to deal only with each other’s “humanity.”

There’s a profound lesson to be learned from these remarks.

Trying to connect seemingly disconnected dots

Three issues are swirling about that seem on the surface as though they might be disconnected, but they are hooked up in curious and confusing ways.

They are the coronavirus pandemic, the state of the U.S. economy and the 2020 presidential election.

Let’s see where this brief trip takes us.

The health crisis has erupted across the globe, affecting economies on every inhabited continent on Earth. The United States is not immune from the pain.

Today’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed a shedding of 700,000 non-farm jobs in March. If you think that number hurts, wait’ll the April figures come out in early May.

Americans are hunkering down. States are issuing stay-at-home orders; all but 10 states have done so, I believe. The federal government hasn’t done so. Indeed, the feds at this moment still appear to be playing a supporting role in this national crisis, which leads me to the third issue: the election.

Donald Trump surely didn’t cause the coronavirus outbreak. He is not responsible for the crisis that began in China and then swallowed Planet Earth whole. The president’s responsibility begins with his cavalier initial response to the crisis as it was worsening before our eyes. Therein lies what might become the signature issue of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Is the president doing enough to lead the nation in this fight against the “invisible enemy” known as COVID-19? Has Donald Trump actually donned the mantle of “wartime president” and is he acting like the leader he professes to be? No and … no again!

I’ve wanted this fraud off the nation’s political stage since the moment he rode down that escalator with Melania to announce he was running for president. He has done not a single thing to persuade me he deserves a second term.

On top of that, this buffoon has bluffed, blundered and blathered his way all over the coronavirus crisis. He contradicts the health geniuses with whom he has surrounded himself. He said the virus was not a big deal, then he changed his tone. All the while, Trump keeps congratulating himself for doing a “fantastic job” of coordinating the federal effort. He hasn’t done jack-diddley-squat!

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign guru James Carville once made famous the quip that “It’s the economy, stupid.” It well might be the economy once again that drives this upcoming election.

To think it all began when the current president once told the nation that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems. He’s got his hands full.

Sen. Romney makes a historic decision

Sen. Mitt Romney made history today. To be honest, I was unaware of it in the moment I was watching him make it.

He became the only U.S. senator to vote to convict a president of his own party at the end of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president.

No Democrat bolted when the Senate put President Clinton on trial in 1999. Neither did a Democrat vote to convict President Andrew Johnson during his Senate trial in 1868.

Mitt Romney now stands alone as the only Republican to vote today to convict Donald Trump of abuse of power. He voted immediately afterward to acquit Trump of obstruction of Congress.

The Utah Republican has demonstrated that there really is honor in politics. I was proud of him today as I listened to his speech. He stood with the sacred oath he took, with the U.S. Constitution, with his conscience.

Sen. Romney, you may count me as one American who is immensely proud of the courage you demonstrated. If only it would have been contagious when he made his momentous decision.

Will there be any expression of regret? Hah! Hardly!

On the day the U.S. Senate acquitted him in an impeachment trial in 1999, President Bill Clinton expressed regret.

“I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they imposed on the Congress and on the American people,” the president said.

Donald Trump is likely to be acquitted next week when the Senate polls its members on the two counts for which the House of Representatives impeached him.

Some of the Republicans who have stood with him now say that Trump did solicit foreign government help. They opposed his impeachment and they will vote to acquit him. Bill Clinton’s foes in the House and Senate expressed disdain, disgust and disappointment over what he did: lying to a grand jury about the affair he had with the White House intern.

For that, Clinton expressed regret.

Do not hold your breath waiting for a similar expression from Donald Trump. Oh, no. He’ll prance and preen and declare it was all a witch hunt, a hoax, a vendetta, a coup, an attempt to negate the 2016 election.

We likely will get to witness in real time a lesson in political boorishness … as if we could expect any better from the current president of the United States.

Impeachment about overturning election? No-o-o-o-o! Really?

Can we dispense with the tired — and patently ridiculous — notion that Donald John Trump’s impeachment is meant to “overturn” the results of the last election?

That goofy argument is part of the White House response to the articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate, which on Tuesday will commence the trial that will determine whether the current president of the United States keep his job.

I believe I shall remind everyone of a couple of historical facts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9 of that year. He had won re-election in 1972 in a smashing landslide: 49 states, 520 electoral votes, 60 percent of the ballots cast. That impeachment effort would have reversed the outcome of that election, too.

The House impeached President Clinton in 1998. He stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted. Clinton won re-election in 1996 with a handsome margin: 379 electoral votes and a healthy plurality of actual votes. And, yes, that impeachment was intended to overturn an election result, too.

Presidential impeachment by definition are intended to do the very thing that the White House is now accusing the House of doing. I know that House members who voted to impeach the president stand behind high-minded rhetoric about “defending the Constitution.” I believe that is the case here.

However, this act also carries with it a necessary political component, which is that it seeks to correct a ballot-box mistake. Let’s not be coy about this point as well: Trump did not win in anything approaching a landslide. He pulled in nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent in 2016 and won because of an adroit end-of-campaign tactic that saw him win three key Rust Belt states that put him over the top in the Electoral College count.

Impeachment is meant to overturn an election? Well, as we used to say in high school: No sh**, Sherlock!

Trump’s belittling of brass simply stinks beyond belief

The history of Donald Trump’s pre-business history is well-known.

He sought to avoid service in the military during the height of the Vietnam War. He received dubious medical deferments citing bone spurs or some such ailment that kept him out of being eligible for military service.

He went into business. Made a lot of money. Lost a lot of money. Had mixed success as a business mogul. Then he went into politics. He ran for president of the United States. He won!

So for this current president to dress down men who have served their country honorably, in combat, thrust themselves into harm’s way is insulting, degrading and astonishingly unpatriotic.

Two reporters for the Washington Post, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, have written a book that tells just how disgraceful Trump’s conduct has gotten with regard to the military high command. An excerpt from that book tells of a meeting in a Pentagon room called The Tank. The brass sought to explain the nuts and bolts of military matters to the commander in chief. He was having none of it.

He called the generals “babies and dopes.” He has told them they are “losers” and said he wouldn’t “go into battle” with them.

I am trying imagine, were I one of those decorated combat veterans, hearing such denigration coming from the commander in chief. The entire world knows this man’s history. We all know that, when he had the opportunity to serve his country, he chose another path.

Don’t misunderstand me on this score. I do not begrudge a president who’s never worn the nation’s military uniform. Two recent presidents did not serve: Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Neither did Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, both of whom led this country through two world wars.

What is so objectionable is the snarky attitude this president demonstrates to individuals who have done what he sought to avoid doing. That he would speak to these patriots in such a manner is disgraceful on its face.

What has become of Sen. Graham?

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I am going to presume there will be a trial in the U.S. Senate over the impeachment of Donald John Trump.

So, assuming the start of such a trial, I am compelled to ask: What in the world has happened to Sen. Lindsey Graham? Who captured this man’s brain and his heart and what have they done with either part of the senator’s body?

You see, Sen. Graham once was a House of Representatives manager sent into the Senate to prosecute another president over obstruction of charges. The House impeached President Clinton in1998 for lying to a grand jury about an affair he was having with a White House intern. Graham was a young House whippersnapper who insisted at the time that there be witnesses called and evidence heard in the Senate.

Then the South Carolina Republican got elected to the Senate. He’s now on the other side of the great partisan divide. A Republican president stands accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Graham’s position on witnesses? He doesn’t want to hear anything. He don’t need no stinkin’ witnesses. Nor does he need to hear any other evidence. He’s made up his mind. Done deal. The impeachment is a “sham,” he said, a partisan fishing expedition led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Holy smokes, man! He was right two decades ago in calling for witnesses for Bill Clinton’s trial. He is wrong now in saying witnesses aren’t necessary for Donald Trump’s pending trial.

In the annals of political flip-flops, this one might rank as No. 1 of all time.

Waiting to hear GOP condemnation of Trump’s conduct

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This much is becoming clear: Donald Trump will not be convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors in an upcoming U.S. Senate trial.

So is this much: Senate Republicans who are standing behind the president are remaining shamefully silent on what they think about the allegations that have been leveled against the president.

They aren’t arguing against the evidence. They aren’t saying the allegations that Trump are false, that he’d never do such a thing.

So, if they believe the allegations to be credible, why don’t they speak out against such conduct? They ought to declare that presidents shouldn’t solicit a foreign government for political help; that they shouldn’t withhold military aid until they get a “favor” from the foreign government; that they shouldn’t usurp congressional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch by barring White House aides from answering congressional subpoenas to testify.

Nope. We’re getting none of that.

A generation ago, another president, Bill Clinton, got impeached because of an affair he was having with a White House intern. He lied to a grand jury about that relationship. He handed congressional Republicans a gift-wrapped reason to impeach him.

President Clinton also received plenty of condemnation from his fellow Democrats, who were ashamed and aghast at his conduct. They said out loud that Clinton had besmirched the office with his affair. They also said the conduct didn’t rise to the level of a Senate conviction.

This time? Republicans are keeping their lips zipped.

It makes me wonder whether they are so frightened of what this president do, how he might react that they are cowed to remaining silent when they ought to speak out against his conduct.

Is it true, therefore, that Donald Trump has seized the Republican Party by the throat and is strangling it … possibly to death?