Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

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.

Fox media analyst needs a reality check . . . seriously!

I get that Howard Kurtz, who once worked for the Washington Post, now is a media analyst for a pro-Donald Trump cable news outlet, the Fox News Channel. Thus, he is inclined to speak more kindly of the president and those close to him than others who tend to look more critically at the Trump Era.

But, c’mon, Howard! Get a grip!

He told Laura Ingraham, another Fox News “contributor,” that first lady Melania Trump has gotten the worst media treatment of any first lady in modern times. He said: “Melania is subjected to a particularly brutal kind of treatment and mockery . . . No other modern first lady has been treated like this.” 

Kurtz cannot be serious. Can he? I guess he can — in his own mind.

Let me offer a couple of examples that I submit would contradict his view of Melania Trump’s media treatment: Michelle Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I’ll stipulate that first ladies as a rule deserve some cushion from the pounding that the media deliver to their husbands. To that extent, Melania Trump is no different from any of her predecessors.

However, do I really need to remind Kurtz of the hideous racially tinged, defamatory insults that those on the right hurled at Michelle Obama during her eight years as first lady? And, yes, the media reported it. I do not want to restate some of the monstrous epithets she endured. You know what they are. Michelle Obama damn sure does.

As for Hillary Clinton, has Kurtz forgotten how the media reported on the far right’s accusations that Hillary and Bill Clinton were actually living as husband and wife, or that the two of them actually ordered the murder of their political opponents in the years prior to President Clinton’s election in 1992?

Have the media gone that far in their treatment of Melania Trump?

I do not believe that is the case. Thus, Howard Kurtz needs to re-calibrate his media-analyst antennae. Dial it back, Howie, on your criticism of the media as it relates to Donald and Melania Trump.

Impeachment: full of land mines, ready to explode

Our nation’s founders had plenty of flaws. They were damn smart, though, when crafting a governing document that sought to create a “more perfect Union.”

One of their nearly perfect notions was to set the bar for impeaching and removing a president quite high. It’s a two-step process.

The U.S. House of Representatives can impeach a president with a simple majority. Then it gets a lot harder.

The U.S. Senate would put the president on trial, but to convict a president the Senate needs 67 out of 100 votes.

That’s a high bar . . . by design.

Thus, I respect the presumed next House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to argue against impeachment. Why? Because the Senate seems to lack the votes to convict Donald Trump of anything the House would argue. Therefore, Pelosi — as shrewd a vote counter as anyone — isn’t going to put her reputation on the line by stampeding an impeachment proceeding through the House without some assurance that the Senate would follow up with a conviction.

Trump reportedly is telling aides he believes the next House — to be controlled by Democrats — will launch a bum’s rush toward impeachment in 2019. I am not so sure about that.

Pelosi is not going to follow the exhibit shown by another former speaker who whipsawed the House into impeaching a president. Newt Gingrich was speaker in 1998 when the House impeached President Clinton. The Senate acquitted Clinton on all the charges. Gingrich was left looking like a fool.

Nancy Pelosi does not want history to repeat itself.

Trump to attend 41’s funeral . . . won’t offer eulogy

I am tempted sorely to break my pledge to go soft on Donald Trump while the nation mourns the death of a great and good man, former President George H.W. Bush.

I’ll resist the urge.

However, I am compelled to take note that Trump will attend his predecessor’s funeral but won’t be one of the eulogists. It seems only natural that the current president would stand and pay public tribute to a former president. Not this time.

The late president’s family has asked former President George W. Bush, the great man’s son, to deliver one of the eulogies; also slated to talk will be former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, a Wyoming Republican along with former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and presidential historian Jon Meacham.

Donald Trump will be in the pew watching and listening.

It’s unusual for the current president to be passed over for such an event. However, I should note that the late Sen. John McCain made it abundantly clear he didn’t want Trump even to attend his funeral. The president stayed away.

There have been instances where political adversaries have honored their opponent. Perhaps one of the more fascinating tributes came in 1994 at the funeral of President Richard Nixon. One of the eulogists was President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary, worked on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee staff as the panel was considering articles of impeachment against President Nixon — who I hasten to add asked President Clinton to speak about him at his funeral.

Trump and the Bush family have — to put it mildly — issues. The president has disparaged Jeb Bush as “low energy Jeb.” He has been harshly critical of Bush 43’s prosecution of the Iraq War. Most stunning of all, he actually mocked Bush 41’s signature “Points of Light” program that encourages voluntarism among citizens to do good work.

As for the late president himself, he once said he didn’t like Trump. He called him a “blowhard” and according to one of GHW Bush’s closest aides, the former president voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

So, you can get the picture that Trump and the Bushes are, um, not particularly close. Correct?

However, I am glad that Donald Trump will attend President Bush’s funeral. It’s the least he can do.

Foes can, and do, become friends

I have been listening intently to the testimony of a former foe of the late President George H.W. Bush about how they became friends.

Former President Bill Clinton defeated President Bush in 1992. Bush was seeking re-election, but a faltering economy and a broken campaign pledge to never raise taxes did him in.

Clinton and Bush went nose-to-nose — along with the banty rooster Dallas billionaire Ross Perot. Clinton won with 43 percent of the popular vote, but also with a substantial Electoral College majority.

Bush and Clinton were drawn together in 2004 when President George W. Bush assigned them to raise money for tsunami relief for Southeast Asia. That was when their friendship formed. It grew over time and cemented itself indelibly.

Theirs is not the only friendship formed out of political adversity.

I think also of how two earlier adversaries became BFFs over time. President Gerald Ford lost his bid for election to Jimmy Carter in 1976. That campaign was equally harsh and ferocious. Moments after taking the oath of office on Jan. 20, 1977, President Carter turned to his predecessor and thanked for “all he did to heal the country” after the Watergate scandal of 1972-74.

The two men forged a close friendship that lasted until President Ford’s death in 2006.

These friendships, I am saddened to say, seem to be too rare of an occurrence.

President George W. Bush isn’t exactly best of pals with Al Gore and John Kerry, the men he defeated in 2000 and 2004. One didn’t see President Carter and President Reagan chumming around after Reagan defeated Carter’s bid for re-election in 1980. President Obama did deliver some touching and heartfelt remarks at Sen. John McCain’s funeral earlier this year, but those 2008 foes didn’t spend a lot of time off the clock with each other; nor do President Obama and Mitt Romney, his defeated 2012 opponent.

I’ll add that George W. Bush and Clinton have become friendly over the years, given Clinton’s professed “love” of Bush 41 and the notion that the elder Bushes “adopted” Clinton as another of their sons; that means “W” and Clinton see themselves as brothers with different mothers.

That brings me to the current president. What kind of relationship can Donald J. Trump ever have with the foe he vanquished in 2016, the woman he calls “Crooked Hillary” Clinton? Indeed, how many political friends has the president cultivated during his time in office and will those relationships last after he leaves the presidency?

Still, I take pleasure in listening to the tales of how political foes can become friends. It’s one of the shining virtues of our nation’s extraordinary political makeup.

Putting politics aside, let’s honor a great life

It won’t surprise those who read this blog carefully to realize that I didn’t vote either time — in 1988 or 1992 — for the late George H.W. Bush when he ran for president of the United States.

However, despite my own partisan leanings and admitted bias, I want to devote the next bit of time to honor this man’s life.

Long before he died last night at the age of 94, I grew to appreciate the profound public service that President Bush gave to the nation he served with such nobility, grace and grit. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate that service back when he was an active politician seeking election and re-election as president. Time, though, enables all of us to view people and instances through a different prism than we do in the moment.

Bush 41’s campaign for the presidency in 1988 was not his shining moment. He brutalized his opponent, Michael Dukakis, with a campaign that called Dukakis soft on crime and soft on love of country. Four years later, the economy was faltering and I felt we needed a change in direction.

OK, that all said, I believe it is important to honor the arc of this man’s life. Good heavens, President Bush led the fullest life one could possibly imagine.

He was born into privilege. He enlisted in the Navy right after Pearl Harbor, became the youngest aviator in the Navy during World War II; he was shot down and plucked from the ocean by a submarine crew. He came home, married Barbara Pierce, the love of his life. He finished college and went into business in West Texas. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, lost two races for the Senate. Bush was appointed head of the CIA, special envoy to China, ambassador to the United Nations, he chaired the Republican National Committee, was elected vice president and finally as president.

He helped shepherd the end of communism in Europe. He watched the Berlin Wall come down in 1989. Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He led an international coalition against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait.

Even after he left office, he remained active and on call when the need arose. He teamed with his old adversary, Bill Clinton, to lead an effort to raise money in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004, killing hundreds of thousands of people. The two men then became the best of friends.

This man’s life is worthy of honor by every American. President Bush devoted so much of his adult life to public service. That’s how I choose to remember this great — and good — man.

The other stuff that troubles us in the moment, the hideousness surrounding the current president? That can wait.

This is President George H.W. Bush’s time.