Tag Archives: Dan Quayle

Presidents don’t ‘demand’ things

I am not inclined usually to endorse thoughts expressed by William Kristol, publisher of the conservative publication The Weekly Standard.

I’ll make an exception by backing a tweet he put out regarding Donald J. Trump Sr.: In America, a president can order that a thing be done if he’s executing a law or acting within his discretion. And a president can urge or request something be done. But an American president doesn’t “demand” a thing be done. Demands are the way of autocrats, thugs and children.

Now I shall stipulate that Kristol is an ardent anti-Trump fellow. He opposed his election as president in 2016 and hasn’t let up since Trump took the oath of office.

The president has “demanded” that the Department of Justice launch a probe into whether the FBI spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump is looking for some affirmation of the allegation he has leveled against the FBI — again with no evidence — that it launched surveillance on his campaign in an effort to do harm to it.

Kristol, I shall remind you, once served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle from 1989 to 1993. Thus, he has government experience. He served quite close to the center of federal executive power.

His view of Trump’s demand, that it is the “way of autocrats, thugs and children” points out one of the many fundamental flaws in the manner that Trump seeks to govern.

He continues to misconstrue a truth about the president and the presidency, which is that the office isn’t his to act as he pleases. It carries two-plus centuries of tradition and custom. President John F. Kennedy once lamented shortly after taking office in 1961 how difficult it was to get anything done simply by presidential edict.

Donald Trump hasn’t yet made that discovery. I doubt he will. He has no knowledge of how government works, only some internal notion of how he wants it to work.

William Kristol, to borrow a phrase, has told it like it is.

Let’s flip these national tickets


In 1988, a Texan was running for vice president on the Democratic ticket led by Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.

The Texan was U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. The buzz in the Lone Star State was that many Texans wanted Bentsen to be the top man. They much preferred him to Dukakis. There was some of that feeling around the country, too, especially given Bentsen’s performance at the VP debate with then Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana.

“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” became one of the signature moments of that campaign as Bentsen skewered Quayle for comparing his Senate experience with what JFK brought to the 1960 presidential campaign.

Well, tonight two more No. 2s are going to square off.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia will joust with Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. They are their parties’ nominees for vice president.

They’re going to make the top-tier candidates — Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton — the issue tonight.

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least that we are going to hear a lot of lamenting when it’s all over from those who wish that Sen. Kaine and Gov. Pence were leading their respective tickets in 2016

Castro’s VP stakes on the rise

Julian Castro has the chops to be vice president of the United States.

I’ll lay that out right now. He’s as qualified to be VP as, say, Dan Quayle or Spiro Agnew. Heck, even Richard Nixon was considered a young buck when Dwight Eisenhower selected him to run as vice president in 1952; then again, Ike could have run with a trained chimpanzee and still been elected in a landslide that year.

Castro’s stock as a potential running mate on a Democratic ticket led by Hillary Rodham Clinton appears to be rising.

The Big Question: Does Castro’s presence on a Democratic presidential ticket deliver Texas to the Democrats? It’s not going to happen.

However, it could make Texas more competitive than it otherwise would be.


Castro is the highly charismatic former mayor of San Antonio who now serves as housing secretary. He’s had his federal job for less than a year and wasn’t mayor of Texas’s second-largest city all that long before moving to Washington.

He did light up the Democratic National Convention in 2012 with a stirring keynote speech.

Castro’s ties to the Hispanic community are quite obvious, given his name. What’s more, the name “Castro” doesn’t carry quite the negative political baggage it once did in this country, given that Fidel Castro is now out of power in Cuba and the United States is on the verge of establishing normal diplomatic relations with its former enemy. Sure, it’s still a commie state, but it poses no threat to the United States of America.

These things occasionally have a way of reversing themselves. Someone else could emerge from nowhere to become the next favorite to join Hillary Clinton. Heck, someone else also could emerge — from the same nowhere — to bump Clinton out of her shoo-in status to become the Democrats’ next presidential nominee. Do I think either event will occur? Umm, no — definitely not the latter.

For now, it’s fun to watch Julian Castro navigate his way through the treacherous world of political punditry and speculation.

The young man already is adept at dodging the obvious questions that keep coming at him.


Immigration reform = family values

Remember the early 1990s when “family values” became a mantra for politicians seeking to return to the core values of our nation?

Vice President Dan Quayle once chided the TV character “Murphy Brown” for having a child out of wedlock. The debate was joined.

Two decades later, the term “family values” has taken a new turn. It became part of President Barack Obama’s pitch to fix a broken immigration system.

The president’s pitch is nearly perfect.

Obama went on national TV today to tell the nation he would sign an executive order that keeps families together. Mom and Dad may have entered the nation illegally, but brought their children along when they were small — or perhaps bore their children in this country, an act that gave the kids instant U.S. citizenship.

The president’s order defers the deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants. His aim, among other things, is to keep families together. Obama told the nation that it’s impractical to deport all those who came here illegally. Must we deport their children? And what about those children who are citizens simply by virtue of their birth in the United States of America?

This won’t deter Republicans from challenging the president. The new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner are vowing unspecified actions to fight the president’s action.

Well, let’s have that fight and let’s allow the public to decide whether it’s right to separate families, or to uproot entire families after they’ve found a better life in the Land of Opportunity.


Semi-retirement beginning to sink in

Note: This is the first of an occasional series of blog posts discussing the onset of retirement.

I’m beginning to like being semi-retired.

It was nearly a year ago that my life was turned upside-down. I walked away from a career I had enjoyed beyond my wildest imagination. My journalism career had exposed me to some of the most interesting experiences possible. Not many folks can say they’ve attended presidential nominating conventions, interviewed a future president of the United States, a sitting vice president of the U.S., made a tailhook landing on nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (and been catapulted off the flight deck), covered stories in nearly a dozen countries around the world, exposed corruption in government, commented on a whole array of public policy issues or flown over an erupting volcano.

A management “reorganization” scheme this past summer forced me to make a decision I wasn’t prepared to make, which was to resign my job rather than seek a lesser-paying job at the company where I worked — with no guarantee I’d get even that.

My boss told me I no longer would be able to pursue my craft, which I had done for nearly four decades at three newspapers in two states. So I called it quits.

I’ve been working part-time ever since. And now my wife and I are relishing the role of semi-retired citizens. We recently purchased two vehicles: a 3/4-ton pickup and a 29-foot fifth wheel to pull behind it.

We’ve taken the fifth wheel out for a three-night “camping trip” across town, at an RV park — where we got acquainted with our new vehicle. We learned how the plumbing works, we’re getting quite good now at hooking and unhooking the fifth wheel to and from the pickup. Driving the assembly is a piece of cake.

We’re anxious to take our vehicle out for a real trip, which we’ll do in due course.

I’ve learned that we’re entering an exciting new world of discovery.

Our brand new granddaughter is growing up before our eyes, even though she lives with our son, daughter-in-law and her two big brothers a six-hour drive away. Our retirement travel plans include the kids, all of them. We’ll arrive at that point eventually.

For now, we’re both feeling better in our semi-retirement skin all the time.

I’m working three part-time jobs and enjoying all of them immensely. I’m betting we’re going to really enjoy full-time retirement even more when that day arrives.

We’re in no particular hurry for it to get here. As my late mother used to admonish my sisters and me when we were kids: Do not wish your life away.

Not going to do it, Mom. Life is pretty darn good as it is — right now.