Tag Archives: Democratic Party

Texas set to take political center stage

It hasn’t been often of late that Texas has drawn the nation’s political attention. This big ol’ state is about to do that in just a few hours.

Texans are casting their primary votes and national pundits are looking at how the state votes not just in the Republican Party primary, but also in the Democratic primary.

Election officials report a significant surge in Democratic early voting, suggesting that Texas Democrats — for the first time since The Flood — are more energized than Texas Republicans. Democratic voting numbers are outstripping GOP early voters in places such as Dallas, Harris, Bexar and Travis counties.

Might there be a Donald Trump backlash developing in a state the president carried in 2016 by nearly 10 percentage points?

This is merely anecdotal evidence, but if the plethora of campaign signs is any indication, then I am inclined to believe the pundits are on to something with regard to voter interest in this year’s primary.

In Allen, Texas, where my wife and I have been visiting for the past few days, several corners along Bethany Road are festooned with signage proclaiming the virtues of candidates. Hey, I’ve even seen some Democratic candidates’ signs alongside the Republicans who usually dominate the discussion.

So, the first round of campaigning is about to conclude. Our mailboxes have been stuffed to the brim with campaign flyers and assorted forms of propaganda.

I am looking forward to the end of this round. I also am looking hopefully toward some outcomes I want to come true in the Texas Panhandle.

There will be plenty to say about those races once the results come in. You’ll be the first to hear from me.

Meanwhile, let’s all bite our fingernails and watch our cherished representative democracy do its work.

This is ‘winning,’ Mr. President?

Happy New Year, White House staff. They’re seemingly filled with anxiety about their future and the future, possibly, of the Man in Charge — the president of the United States.

Donald Trump has returned to the White House from his “working vacation” at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. He is sunny, upbeat and ready for the challenges that 2018 will bring him.

I hope he’s really ready for what could be a rough year, as if 2017 wasn’t rough enough.

Sure, he got that tax cut through Congress and signed it into law before Christmas. But … that was it, legislatively. Of course, the president had a different take on it, calling his first year the most successful in the history of Planet Earth.

A new year is now upon us all. The White House reportedly is getting ready for more senior staff shakeups. I guess they’re getting used to it by now. Trump has let one White House chief of staff go; he canned the White House communications director, who replaced the guy who resigned; he fired his first national security adviser; the first White House press secretary quit in a huff.

Deputy Cabinet officials have yet to be named in many departments. The secretary of state might be on the bubble; but then again, maybe not.

And, yes, we have the special counsel’s investigation into that “Russia thing.”

Against all that backdrop, there is a concern among White House staffers about a potential Democratic onslaught in the upcoming midterm election. “They absolutely should worry about 2018,” said Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary to President George W. Bush. “I do fear a wave election. Democrats are highly motivated to vote against Trump and all Republicans. Trump has got to grow beyond the base, and he has got to make himself less hated among a group in the middle.”

Anxiety abounds

Yet the president keeps talking about “winning” and saying all is good, all is bright, all is just plain peachy within the White House.

I, um, don’t think that’s the case.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

It pains me to say this, but I must reiterate what I believe remains the case to this day.

Democrats need not look to old warhorses to salvage their political fortunes, which means to me that former Vice President Joe Biden shouldn’t be a candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

I say this despite my affection and respect for the former vice president. I’ve long admired his tenacity, his passionate patriotism and his sense of collegiality and comity. He served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before joining the Democratic Party ticket led in 2008 by his Senate colleague, Barack H. Obama.

I believe still that Democrats need to find a newcomer to the national scene. I believe also that the nation has become afflicted with Clinton Fatigue, which means Hillary Clinton also is out of the presidential political game.

It appears to me that Democrats would do well to look for someone who is as unknown to the public as Jimmy Carter was in 1976. The nation was starved back then for a fresh face and they got one when the former Georgia governor climbed to the top of the party’s primary fight.

Vice President Biden has said publicly that he hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run. He was thought to be a possible candidate in 2016, but at the end had to stand down, given his intense grief over the death of his son Beau and his inability to commit fully to a presidential campaign.

Biden has been openly critical of Donald John Trump. Hmmm. Imagine that. So have many others. The ex-VP has spoken out strongly, much like another former veep — Dick Cheney — did during much of President Obama’s time in office.

But I don’t believe a Biden presidential campaign is going to serve the party well. Democrats would do well to find a fresh face, with fresh ideas to challenge a Republican Party that has been hijacked by a president who came into power knowing not a damn thing about how to govern the greatest nation on Earth.

‘We all make mistakes?’ Seriously?

Harvey Weinstein hasn’t said much in public since these allegations surfaced about sexual harassment and rape.

The longtime film producer, mentor to many of the film industry’s superstars and a deep-pocketed Democratic Party financial donor, is in serious trouble. Stars are dropping him like a bad habit; politicians are donating money Weinstein sent them to charities relating to sexual harassment.

So, what does this guy say about his hideous alleged behavior?

“Everyone makes mistakes,” he said this week while piling into an SUV. Yes, Harv, everyone makes mistakes. You know, things like bouncing a check, or being late with a credit card payment, or running a red light in a busy intersection.

Not “everyone” sexually harasses women or tries to rape them.

We aren’t talking about a simple “mistake,” dude. We are talking, though, about sexual predation.

Democrats made up ‘Russia’ because they lost?

That darn Donald J. Trump cannot accept with any sort of grace that he won an election. He keeps telling Democrats that they lost it and keep rubbing their face in it.

Now the president of the United States is telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Democrats concocted the “Russia thing” controversy because they lost the 2016 election. They can’t take losing, he said.

Holy moly, man! I’ve heard of sore losers. I don’t think I’m one of those, just because my presidential candidate lost the 2016 election.

Rarely have I seen as sore a winner as the man who won the election.

Do I need to remind the president of a fact or two about “the Russia thing”? Yes, I believe I do.

First of all, intelligence professionals have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. They comprise individuals who belong to the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party. There really is no dispute that the Russians sought to influence the election’s outcome.

Second, I don’t believe that whatever the Russians did — planted phony stories intended to put Hillary Clinton in a negative light, for instance — was ultimately decisive. I do believe Trump would have won anyway.

The fundamental point, though, is that the Russians did meddle in our electoral process. They sought to undermine our free and fair election. The Russians did it!

It isn’t a made-up story. It’s no Democratic Party conspiracy.

The president won the election. He ought to shut his pie hole and accept his victory with a modicum of grace.

Sordid past catches up with this mogul

Harvey Weinstein once was called “God” by award-winning actor Meryl Streep.

Well, it looks like Streep’s version of “God” has taken a mighty fall and he’s feeling it right where it hurts.

Weinstein is a once-notable agent to the stars and a big-time Democratic Party donor. It turns out the fellow’s got a seedy, sordid and salacious past.

Allegations of sexual harassment — and even rape — have emerged to sink this guy, who this week was actually fired from the company he co-founded. Actors have bailed on him left and right. Women have come forward to accuse him of seeking to do naughty things with and to them.

To make matters worse — and yes they can get worse — Weinstein’s wife has announced she’s leaving him.

Oh, and then there’s the political side of it. All those Democratic pols, particularly the women who run for or who currently occupy public office? They’re donating the cash that Weinstein gave to their political efforts to charities, notably those that deal with women who are abused or harassed.

I get that we’re talking virtually about allegations. I haven’t heard of anything that’s been proven.

But this big-time big hitter is paying the price he likely ought to pay. All those allegations — they appear to be countless — seem to add up to a disgusting and disgraceful past that has caught up with this guy.

Republicans become party of diverse thought

I want to offer a good word or three about today’s Republican Party.

Yes, I’ve been beating them up a good bit of late. The GOP has deserved the drubbing. However, I want to speak to something that became evident after Donald John Trump Sr. tweeted out his decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the armed forces.

The Republican Party has exhibited a profound sense of diverse thought on that issue.

On one side, we have heard some of the more predictable reactions. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who’s now energy secretary in the Trump administration — said he supports the president “totally” in his decision to ban transgender citizens from service in defense of the nation. Fellow Texan, state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — a fellow not known for thoughtful rhetoric — said the armed forces are “no place for social experimentation.”

Then came the push back from other notable Republican pols. Many members of Congress expressed disappointment and dismay that Trump would use Twitter to announce such a staggering policy shift.

Then came a highly personal statement from U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah lawmaker known as one of the Senate’s more conservative members. Transgender individuals do not “choose” to change their sexual identity, Hatch said. “They are born that way,” he added. Sen. Hatch said it is unfair to hold that against them.

The GOP has demonstrated considerable diversity as well in this debate over whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The moderate wing of the Republican caucus dislikes many of the provisions contained in the GOP-authored bill; it cuts too much from Medicaid, for example. The TEA Party/conservative wing of the caucus dislikes the overhaul because it doesn’t go far enough in repealing the ACA, the signature legislation authored by Democrats during the Obama administration.

Democrats, meanwhile, speak with a single voice on those and many other issues. It must be Democrats’ universal disdain for Trump and the fact that he managed to win the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Believe me, I understand their anger on that one!

However, the Republican Party has shown itself to be more willing to expose its differences in the months since Trump became president.

For that, I applaud Republicans.

Oh, and yes, the stalling of the Trump “agenda” — whatever it is — has played a key part in earning my praise.

Parties change, politicians don’t

One of the nation’s more well-known Republicans has bolted his party. I’m going to presume for the purposes of this blog post that it’s because the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump and Joe Scarborough no longer is comfortable with that association.

Scarborough — who says he’ll register as an independent — is now host of an MSNBC talk show, “Morning Joe,” which he co-hosts with Mika Brzezinski. They’ve been in the news of late, with Donald J. Trump tweeting some nasty comments about Brzezinski, who happens to be Scarborough’s fiancée. It’s complicated, yes?

But the Scarborough’s departure from the GOP is part of a trend that swings in both directions, involving both major parties. It happens when a particular political party veers into an dramatically different direction. Such is the case with the Republican Party that nominated an inexperienced entertainer as its presidential nominee who then has behaved like someone who is clueless about political decorum, norms and custom.

Oh, and he’s also someone who continues on the same insult and innuendo barrage that got him nominated and then elected.

Scarborough is no Republican In Name Only, although I’m sure the devoted Trumpkins out there will call him a RINO as often as possible. He once voted to impeach President Clinton when he was serving in the House of Representatives from Florida. He fancies himself as a serious conservative thinker and commentator. He joins a few other long time prominent Republicans who have left the party for essentially the same reason. The noted Washington Post columnist George Will is the most notable example.

Here in Texas, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the other direction over many years as the state shifted from true blue to deep red. Democrats became Republicans because of the shift in Democratic Party ideology. I can think of several individuals: former state Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa; the late former Gov. John Connally; former Gov. Rick Perry. They all were Democrats when they entered public life. They are far from the only Texas Democrats who would no longer feel comfortable with the party of their political “birth.”

So, now it’s Scarborough who’s bolted the GOP.

My hunch? We’re going to see more political out-migration.

Spinning losses into moral victories

Politics has this way of producing victories where none is apparent.

Democrats around the country, for instance, are seeking to turn electoral defeats into a form of winning. It’s a fascinating thing to watch — and it has me shaking my head.

A Kansas congressional district special election produced a Republican victory recently. The Fourth Congressional District seat once was held by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whom Donald Trump appointed to become the nation’s top spook. Trump won that district over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and it has been in GOP hands seemingly since The Flood.

The Republican who won the seat in the special election did so narrowly. Thus, Democrats are claiming some sort of victory.

Today, voters in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District are going to the polls. They’re going to choose a successor to Tom Price, who represented the GOP-friendly district before becoming secretary of health and human services; the Sixth District once was represented by none other than the inimitable Newt Gingrich.

A large field is running. It includes five Democrats and 11 Republicans. The top vote-getter needs to win with 50 percent plus one vote to win the election outright. The leader is a Democrat, a young man named Jon Ossoff. Polling indicates he is likely to fall short — barely — of the majority he needs to win. If he doesn’t make it, he needs to face the No. 2 finisher, likely one of the Republicans. The GOP hopes the party will rally behind their guy and elect him over Ossoff in the runoff election.

Still, Democrats — even if they lose this election — are likely to crow about how they damn near flipped that district.

Please.

As a progressive-leaning voter myself, I am pulling for an upset in Georgia. I would be glad to see Ossoff score an outright victory by day’s end. A win by the young Democrat clearly would send a message to the president and his Republican friends that they’re likely to have a serious fight on their hands in next year’s mid-term congressional elections.

However, elections determine winners and losers. Candidates need to get more votes than their opponent to actually win. Falling short of the total they need today in Georgia will not stop Democrats from spinning a loss into some sort of moral victory.

As the old saying goes, “Close counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

Hillary’s back? Please, no!

I have terribly mixed feelings about seeing Hillary Rodham Clinton climbing back into the arena.

First of all, she should have been elected president of the United States in 2016. She wasn’t. She squandered every single opportunity that stood before her, starting with the quality of the fellow to whom she lost the election.

Donald J. Trump is unfit for the office he occupies. But he’s occupying it. Not Hillary.

She shouldn’t run again … ever!

“She’s always been someone who gets out there and fights for what she thinks is right,” one former Clinton campaign staffer told The Hill.

“She’s striking an appropriate balance. She still has an appreciation that she’s not the face of the Democratic Party and people don’t want her to be … but having worked for her and having seen how hard she fights, I’d be disappointed if she spent the rest of her career in the woods.”

I get that she isn’t exactly positioning herself for another presidential run. That’s fine. She shouldn’t. She need not run for the highest office ever again.

Can she a voice of some sort? Can she speak on behalf of Americans — most of whom who voted in 2016 cast their ballots for her — who want to resist whatever it is that Trump wants to do? I suppose so.

I happen to subscribe to the prevailing political theory that the Democratic Party needs to find the freshest face it can find in 2020. I’m pretty sure the Democrats will find one.

As for Hillary, well, she has had a hell of a run in a lengthy public service career. First lady of Arkansas, then of the United States; a U.S. senator from New York; a consequential stint as secretary of state; then a major-party presidential nomination.

OK, so she didn’t win the big prize. Time should enable her to look back on her life and give her a chance to relish all that she was able to accomplish.

Maybe there’s more in store for her. I just hope it doesn’t include another run for the presidency.