Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

POTUS interview proved to be a ratings bust? Who knew?

I guess I was one of the few and the proud who decided to watch Donald Trump make an utter a** of himself on national TV. I’m glad I tuned in to the special ABC News “20/20” special with George Stephanopoulos.

Stephanopoulos obtained a 30-hour visit with Trump. He interviewed him at length over a wide range of topics. And, to no one’s surprise, the president managed to make a good bit of news.

  • He revealed he would “look at” intelligence that would come to him from a foreign source that might have “information” about a political opponent.
  •  Trump said he’s leading “everywhere” and disputed the polling data that indicates he is in serious trouble against about six of the Democrats running for president.
  •  The president revealed design plans he has drawn up for a newly reconstituted Air Force One jet.
  •  Trump said something about releasing his “financial records,” but said that decision rests solely with “the lawyers.” He said he wants the country to see the documents, calling them “fantastic.”

Trump keeps demonstrating that he doesn’t have a clue as to what he is doing in the nation’s highest office. I’m certain he lied dozens of times during the hour-long program.

He chastised Stephanopoulos, suggesting he is a purveyor of “fake news,” to which the ABC News anchor didn’t flinch, didn’t blink, didn’t take the bait.

I think my favorite part was when Trump talked down to Stephanopoulos, seeming to lecture him about “oppo research,” which is the material he would “look at” were it to come from a foreign source.

As if Stephanopoulos, a former Bill Clinton campaign and White House aide wouldn’t know what he’s talking about. Good grief!

I was a bit disheartened to hear that the ratings tanked on the “20/20” special. I found it edifying, although I doubt it changed any minds.

The Trumpsters no doubt cheered the president. The rest of us simply jeered him.

Always good to separate the person from the institution

Maybe I have learned how to “compartmentalize” the way Bill Clinton demonstrated he was able to do during his eight years as president of the United States, from 1993 to 2001.

President Clinton taught us how he was able to set aside his political opponents’ personal loathing for him — and work with them anyway. He was able to put his own personal loathing for individuals into, um, compartments while doing business on behalf of the public.

So it is that form of compartmentalization that I am able to look at the presidency without much regard for the individual who inhabits the office in the moment. Donald Trump is president of the United States. I recently posted a blog item that mentioned how thrilled I was to see the White House with my wife, niece and nephew a couple of years ago. It didn’t matter to me in the moment that Donald Trump is the person who has taken up residence in that magnificent residence.

Later in the day after we stood outside the White House, we happened to see Marine One, the helicopter carrying the president flying overhead. We were in Georgetown at that moment and the chopper was en route to the White House; I don’t remember where the president had been, but he was returning to “my house” where he lives with his wife and youngest son. And, yes, it was a thrill to see the helicopter, too!

My point here is to reiterate that my respect for the presidency and all the trappings of that office are not diminished by the individual who seemingly seeks to sully it. All he does is shame himself.

The office and the institution of the presidency is too damn big even for Donald J. Trump to do permanent damage.

That “compartmentalization” thing comes in handy. Don’t you think?

Chairman Nadler: We are in a constitutional crisis

I believe I will stand with U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who today declared that the United States of America has become ensnared in a “constitutional crisis.”

Is it worse than, say, the crisis that led to President Clinton’s impeachment in 1999? Or worse than the Watergate matter that came within one House vote of impeaching President Nixon, before the president resigned in 1974?

I do not know how bad this has gotten.

However, I believe Chairman Nadler is correct. We are in a crisis of a highly serious nature. The Judiciary Committee had just voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress before Nadler made his “constitutional crisis” declaration.

Donald John Trump has stuck it in the ear of Congress, invoking “executive privilege” and denying lawmakers access to anything — or anyone — involved in matters relating to The Russia Thing.

The president is suggesting Congress has no power to carry out its constitutional duties. Attorney General William Barr has refused to release the complete and unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert Mueller — and has refused to testify before Nadler’s committee.

The fight is on!

Where it goes remains anyone’s guess at this point. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to oppose immediate impeachment procedures against the president. Why? She knows the danger of impeaching the president, only to have him walk away with an acquittal in a Senate trial. Pelosi can count votes as well as — or better than — most members of Congress. I happen to concur with her view about the impossibility of an impeachment, at least at this juncture.

None of that lessens the dangerous territory into which the nation is heading, according to Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

House Democrats are furious. Trump is angry with them. It has become a monumental game of chicken between the two co-equal branches of government. Neither side is likely to blink.

The end game well could produce the ugliest battle any of us have ever witnessed.

I don’t know about you, but I do not yet have the stomach to witness it. The potential for permanent damage to our system of government is scaring me sh**less.

Take your MAGA … and shove it!

You have to hand it to Donald J. Trump. He has produced a slogan that has morphed into an all-purpose acronym that one can use in more than one fashion.

I refer to “Make America Great Again,” which has become MAGA to those of us who comment frequently about the president’s campaign mantra.

Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 while vowing to MAGA.

He uses it all the time to remind his adoring throngs that he is MAGA — or “making America great again.”

I have found the acronym to be a rather creative item to toss around.

I prefer using MAGA as a verb. You know, kind of like this: Hey, let’s MAGA, you and me. We can do this!

MAGA as a noun is a bit more problematic, but it’s not without its uses. Try this on: I am proud to be a MAGA.

Or, how about as an adjective? We MAGA supporters are going to keep the White House when the president is re-elected. Surely, too, you’ve seen the “MAGA hats” sitting atop people’s heads or the “MAGA shirts” that cover their torsos.

I must acknowledge something about MAGA: Trump isn’t the first recent presidential candidate to make such a vow. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton declared during their 1980 and 1992 campaigns to win the White House to “make America great again.” The slogan didn’t morph into acronym form, though, when they said it.

OK, that all said, the president’s re-election slogan presumes he already has MAGA. So now he’s going to run on his vow to “Keep America Great.”

KAG, though, just doesn’t have the same ring.

Sen. Graham embodies GOP hypocrisy on impeachment

I want to stipulate up front that I do not favor impeaching Donald J. Trump, at least not at this moment. I need more “proof” that he has committed an impeachable offense than what we’ve seen to date.

However, I am laughing out loud at the talk we’re hearing from Republican members of Congress who are performing a remarkable act of duplicity while ignoring the issues surrounding Trump’s troubles. These matters mirror in many instances the same issues that drove them to impeach President Bill Clinton in 1999.

The star of this duplicitous comedy is Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Two decades ago, he was a House member from South Carolina. He “managed” the GOP impeachment effort on the floor of the House; Graham, after all, is a lawyer who at the time of President Clinton’s impeachment served as a judge advocate attorney in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

He argued passionately that lying was an impeachable offense. Yes, the president committed perjury by swearing to tell a grand jury the truth, but then lied about his relationship with what’s-her-name.

The much younger Rep. Graham, though, took it farther. He said that efforts to block congressional inquiry into those matters were impeachable. Yes, he said that the Clinton team’s alleged effort to impede the congressional inquiry constituted a “high crime and misdemeanor” worthy of impeachment.

Isn’t that precisely what is happening now? Donald Trump has instructed his entire White House team to resist subpoenas being issued by various House committees. He even is seeking to block someone who no longer works in the White House — former WH counsel Don McGahn — from testifying. The president — to borrow a time-honored term born during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s — is “stonewalling” Congress on various matters that lawmakers deem important.

Where does Sen. Graham and most of his GOP colleagues stand on all of that?

Huh? Oh! The silence is deafening.

Long live The King of Debt!

Donald John Trump once boasted that he is the King of Debt.

He also bragged that as president he would eliminate the national debt after eight years.

The King of Debt is even farther from fulfilling his pledge make the nation debt-free. But, by golly, he remains the King of Debt.

The president’s latest proposed budget is a doozy. It’s a record-setting $4.75 trillion. The debt? It stands at $22 trillion. It’s growing too, right along with the size of the annual budget deficit.

Those of us who call ourselves “deficit hawks” must be twisting ourselves into knots. I am.

Deficits endanger the nation

I don’t like my government running up so much debt. I didn’t like it when George W. Bush did it after inheriting a balanced budget from Bill Clinton. Then President Bush handed the presidency over to Barack Obama, who then rang up even more staggering debt, even while whittling down the annual deficit by roughly two-thirds before he handed the White House keys over to Donald Trump.

Trump, of course, had made many bodacious boasts about what he would do as president.

He cut taxes for a lot of rich Americans. The job growth, which has been stellar during his two years as president, hasn’t yet produced enough revenue to counteract the revenue lost by the tax reductions.

Now comes a proposed budget. He wants to slice domestic spending by 5 percent across the board while increasing defense spending.

Trump is going to hand out blame to congressional Democrats. He won’t accept any of it himself for the debt that continues to zoom into the budgetary stratosphere. That’s not his modus operandi. He is hard wired to take credit he doesn’t deserve and pass of blame when he should step up and take responsibility.

The King of Debt is alive and well. The debt destroyer is long gone.

House doesn’t need a criminal charge to impeach, however . . .

Donald J. Trump put his cheesy side on full display at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting today. He hugged Old Glory as he walked onto the stage before delivering a two-hour harangue filled with four-letter words and assorted demagogic statements about his foes.

OK, I say all that as a predicate for what I want to say next.

It is that Michael Cohen’s testimony this week before the House Oversight and Reform Committee opened the door to possible criminal charges being brought against the president of the United States. The president’s former lawyer/confidant dropped the names of individuals who might know a lot about Trump’s financial dealings and whether they involve possible criminality.

Why is that a big deal?

Let’s revisit an earlier inquiry into whether to impeach a president. In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach President Nixon on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges related to the Watergate scandal.

I want to note that the committee did not impeach the president on the basis of any criminal charges. None had been brought. President Nixon did not break any laws before the House panel approved the articles of impeachment.

Republican lawmakers scurried to the White House and informed the president that he had no support in the Senate, where he would stand trial once the full House impeached him.

Nixon quit the presidency.

Twenty-five years later, the House of Representatives impeached President Clinton largely on the basis of a single criminal charge: perjury. The president lied to a grand jury that asked him about his relationship with the White House intern.

Donald Trump’s troubles appear to eclipse those that ensnared Clinton in an impeachment and a Senate trial (where he was acquitted). As for the Nixon impeachment inquiry, I just want to reiterate that the president was not charged with a criminal act.

This is my way of saying that Donald Trump might be wading into some mighty deep doo-doo.

No amount of flag-hugging is likely to do him any good.

Congressman goes from nobody to somebody . . . rapidly!

Matt Gaetz used to be a back-bench member of Congress from the Florida Panhandle. Few folks outside of his congressional district knew his name.

Then he does what a lot of back-benchers do: He says something quite outrageous and in a forum that is bound to gather maximum attention.

He tweeted a message that warns former Donald Trump friend/fixer/lawyer/confidant Michael Cohen about allegations of “girlfriends” that Cohen allegedly has on the side. Why this Twitter message now? Because Cohen is slated to talk publicly Wednesday before the House Government Operations Committee about what he knows regarding Donald Trump’s conduct as a businessman, politician and president.

Gaetz employed a time-honored scare tactic. Watch what you say or I’ll expose dirt on your background. President Clinton’s brother, Roger Clinton, did something similar two decades ago, threatening to expose naughty behavior among congressional Republicans if they proceeded with impeachment against the president.

Cohen is going to take center stage Wednesday in a drama that has been playing out for as long as Donald Trump has been president. Yes, Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress; thus, his credibility is being called into question. He’s not a good guy. He is facing a three-year prison term for lying to Congress.

However, for this congressional tinhorn — Gaetz — to toss out a horrendous accusation on the eve of Cohen’s testimony smacks of witness intimidation. If this were a legal proceeding, Gaetz would be indicted for committing a criminal act.

I do know this much: I intend to listen carefully Wednesday to what Michael Cohen has to say. The notion that he faces hard time in the slammer, it seems to me, might have this way of unleashing the truth-telling even in the most committed liars.

As for Gaetz, he ought to return to the end of the bench in the back of the room and keep his trap shut.

No ‘retribution,’ Mr. President; it’s not possible

How many times does one have to tell you, Mr. President, that you are not a monarch, or a dictator? You cannot bring “retribution” against a comedy show made famous by its parodies of powerful people.

But there you go again, threatening “Saturday Night Live” because it decided to spoof you yet again.

“SNL” trotted Alec Baldwin out to do that hilarious send-up of you and you just cannot stand being ridiculed. C’mon, Mr. President! Get a grip.

The comedy show has been doing this to presidents since 1975, when Chevy Chase poked fun at President Ford. It hasn’t stopped. They’ve all gotten the treatment. Not a single predecessor of yours has threatened “SNL” with any kind of political or legal payback.

And do I need to remind you once more, Mr. President, about that First Amendment matter? You truly need to read it, try to understand what it protects. It guarantees the right to worship as we please; it protects the press from government intervention; it says we can protest the government. It also says we can criticize the government without facing “retribution” from the government we are criticizing.

Your tweet about “SNL” was typically idiotic. As a reminder, you wrote:

Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!

Total Republican hit jobs? They “get away” with it the way “SNL” poked fun at Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama. Those Democrats didn’t bitch constantly about “SNL.” For that matter, neither did the Republican presidents who had to take the heat, too.

I am tiring of repeating myself, Mr. President. Still, it bears repeating that you need to understand that positions of power invite this kind of treatment from the entertainment industry and the media. You are the most powerful man in the country, Mr. President.

You can act like it simply by stopping these mindless, brainless and feckless threats against a TV comedy show.

Former POTUSes deny supporting The Wall

There he goes again: lying when he simply could remain silent, let alone tell the truth.

Donald Trump has said that every living former president supports his desire to build The Wall along our border with Mexico.

Oops! Except that they don’t.

Three of the four former presidents have declared that Trump hasn’t discussed the issue with him. Jimmy Carter has just joined Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in denying that they support building The Wall; Barack Obama has been quiet on this particular matter, but his views on The Wall already are well known.

“I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue,” President Carter said in a statement issued by the Carter Center in Atlanta.

So, I’ll ask the question once again: Why in the name of truth-telling does Donald Trump insist on tossing out these gratuitous lies?

Good grief! The guy can just keep his trap shut. He could simply that “others” support his goofy notion. But oh, no! He’s got to say that the former presidents of the United States have joined him in this idiocy. Except that all of them are of sound mind and are able to speak for themselves, and what do you know . . . they have disputed categorically what Trump has declared.

This is what I mean when I suggest that Donald Trump is so very indelicate and imprudent in his lying. He is a bad liar. He cannot control his impulse to lie when he doesn’t need to lie.

His lawyers all have questioned whether he should agree to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller about “The Russia Thing,” fearing that he could get caught in a “perjury trap.”

The president’s lying about the ex-presidents’ alleged “support” for The Wall now seems to affirm his counsels’ fear about the president committing perjury.