I just know I am going to catch grief from critics of this blog … but, what the heck. I am going to say this anyway.
I miss seeing this kind of funny display of affection from the first couple of the United States.
These pictures showed up on my Facebook news feed. I figure they were snapped in January, when Michelle Obama celebrated her 56th birthday. She and her husband were goofing off, exhibiting a good natured public display of affection.
I vaguely recall the occasional stuffed-shirt criticism that came at them when Barack Obama was president and Michelle Obama was first lady.
Their White House successors haven’t shown this kind of public affection for each other that I can remember.
Pictures such as these demonstrate a level of humanity in our elected leader and his spouse. It’s a refreshing sight to see, even from a former POTUS and FLOTUS.
Well now … just how divided is the United States of America?
It’s pretty damn divided, based on the performance that took place in the House of Representatives chamber full of lawmakers, about half of whom want the nation’s current president removed from office.
There he was, Donald John Trump during his State of the Union speech, awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a highly controversial radio talker, Rush Limbaugh — who I have acknowledged is battling an advanced form of lung cancer. I stand by my good wishes in his fight against the disease. However, watching the first lady hang the medal around Limbaugh’s neck made me cringe.
He has spewed hate speech for as long as I can remember. He has done not a single thing to earn the nation’s highest civilian honor. There he was, though, soaking up the love from the side of the House chamber that endorses his fiery rhetoric.
And then there was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House impeachment movement against Trump, tearing up the text of Trump’s speech in a dramatic show of petulance at the end of POTUS’s remarks.
Mme. Speaker, you did not need to do that in such a dramatic display. Yes, we all get that she is angry at Trump, but these public demonstrations lend nothing to the effort we all should seek to heal this country’s deep — and I hope not mortal — political wounds.
Trump fed his political base a healthy dose of the red meat it craves. He blasted the criminals who enter the country illegally without ever mentioning all the undocumented immigrants who have contributed to our nation while living in fear of deportation. He stood strong for the Second Amendment. He blasted socialism as a failed ideology.
And, of course, he took the expected digs at the “previous administration,” continuing his ongoing campaign to denigrate the work of President Obama and his team, who rescued the nation from its economic free-fall when they took office in 2009.
Donald John Trump has shown us once again that he intends to keep seeking to divide us. I wasn’t proud of what I witnessed.
Donald Trump must have been kidding when he issued that Christmas statement calling on Americans to treat each other with “respect” and “understanding.”
That’s all I can think when I read the Twitter rant he fired off about California and New York’s homeless problems and how the governors of those states should ask the federal government “politely” for help in dealing with the problem.
Trump said this, for instance: “If their governors can’t handle the situation, which they should be able to do very easily, they must call and ‘politely’ ask for help. Would be so easy with competence.”
That’s the Christmas spirit, Mr. President.
He called Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsom of California “incompetent.” He said the homeless populations in both states are setting records. The president implied that the feds won’t lift a finger unless the governors show some manners in seeking help.
I don’t mean to suggest that I actually took Trump’s Christmas message all that seriously. He doesn’t exhibit any semblance of sincerity when he makes such proclamations. How can anyone believe he means those words when the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign against bullying ignores the president’s incessant bullying via his Twitter account?
He’s doing it again and again, this time aiming his ire at the governors of two of our United States.
I should point out that homelessness is not unique to those two states. Texas also has a big-time homeless problem. The difference? Texas is governed by a Republican; New York and California are governed by Democrats. Therefore, Democratic governors become fair game while Republican governors are protected by their party affiliation.
Perhaps we should just implore the president to dispense with the shallow holiday messages about “respect” and “understanding.” He doesn’t mean what he says, so … why bother?
This picture well might provide one of the most glaring examples I can imagine of Donald Trump’s unfitness for the presidency of the United States.
There he is, standing alongside first lady Melania Trump. They were visiting El Paso, Texas, on what was billed as a mission to lend aid and comfort to those who experienced the horrific massacre at the Wal-Mart shopping center this past weekend.
The moment demanded solemnity. It required the president to embrace family members. To tell them he supports them.
So … what does the first couple do? They pose for pictures that included an infant who was made an orphan when his parents were killed by the lunatic who opened fire at the Wal-Mart complex.
Don’t they look happy? Aren’t they just so darn full of good cheer? Is that the image they should project while the nation mourns the deaths inflicted in El Paso and also in Dayton, Ohio? I’ll answer the final question: Hell … no!
When the president’s critics talk about his lack of empathy, his inability — or unwillingness — to express authentic sorrow, this is the image they might use to illustrate the point.
The baby has no idea what has happened. That is not even close to the point! My point is that president and the first lady ventured to the latest “ground zero” of gun violence in the United States. Twenty-two people died at the hands of a madman. There is mounting evidence that the shooter was inspired by the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has come from the president.
Has the president owned any of that? Has he suggested even the slightest hint of remorse or regret at the things he has said that could have spawned such insanity? No. He has not done anything of the sort.
The job of president compels the president at times of national grief and shock to speak from his heart. It’s an unwritten part of his job description, but it’s there. Did the president deliver on that responsibility? No. He went to El Paso and Dayton and sought to turn the tours of both cities into self-serving testimonials.
Then he grins like a doofus in the presence of an infant who is going to grow up never remembering the man and woman who brought him into the world, two victims of gun violence gunned down in the worst slaughter ever inflicted on the Latino community.
The University of Virginia won the NCAA men’s basketball championship with a stunning victory over Texas Tech University. Then the White House invited the Cavaliers to be feted by Donald Trump.
The Cavs’ response? No can do, Mr. President.
They now join the University of North Carolina and Villanova University in declining to take part in what most of us thought was a part of D.C. normalcy. Teams win national championships, then travel to the nation’s capital to be honored by the president of the United States.
That was until Donald Trump became president of the United States. Now we find the president politicizing these events, criticizing pro football players for kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. He infuriates players, who then balk at coming to the White House. The Golden State Warriors this past year won the NBA title, chafed at going to the White House and then the president disinvited them.
Now the third straight men’s college basketball team has said “no thanks” to the White House, citing what school officials called “scheduling conflicts.” Sure thing, man.
When you think about it, what we’re seeing is an ongoing trend involving this president.
Donald and Melania Trump haven’t attended a Kennedy Center Honors event that pays tribute to artists who contribute to the world’s culture. The president refuses to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner, I presume because of his antipathy toward the “enemy of the American people.”
These once-pro forma events have become news in and of themselves because of the president’s clumsy relationships with national institutions.
So the drama continues.
The UVA Cavaliers won’t break bread with the president. I fully expect Donald Trump to say something inappropriate — if not downright stupid — in response to the NCAA men’s champs’ decision to stay away.
First lady Melania Trump makes a lot of sense when she says critics ought to “focus on what I do, not what I wear.”
Mrs. Trump has just concluded a brief solo jaunt to Africa, where she visited four countries while highlighting her concern for children and women’s rights and well-being.
But then she got photographed wearing a pith helmet, the kind of headgear popular during the era of colonization of Africa. Twitter trolls were all over it, criticizing the first lady for her poor choice of hats.
Her response sought to remind her critics that she is trying to do noble work on behalf of children and women. That should be their focus, not the style of hats she wears, which critics said are too much of a reminder of the oppression brought to Africa during the years of European empire-building.
That brings me to an element that fills me with mixed feelings.
The first lady’s staff ought to be dialed in, focused like lasers on the image she portrays whenever she is seen in public. I am wondering why Mrs. Trump’s staff couldn’t foresee this kind of blow back. She wore that jacket that caught people’s attention. It said, “I really don’t care, do u?” while she was touring immigration camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Then, of course, we have the first lady’s signature issue: bullying of children, including that which occurs via the Internet. That is a noble cause to promote, but the first lady seems blind and deaf to the bullying that occurs via Twitter — from her husband, the president of the United States of America.
So, the pith helmet outcry seems on the surface to be overblown. Critics ought to concentrate on the first lady’s deeds, not her attire.
Then again, let’s take greater care, Mme. First Lady, to avoid these kinds of pitfalls.
Heartless public policy is an ugly thing to watch unfold.
Especially when it involves children, often young children … toddlers and infants.
Donald J. Trump actually said he hates the sight of children being taken from their parents at the nation’s southern border. Then the president blurted out yet another lie, that congressional Democrats are responsible for enacting a law that the administration is following.
Except that there is no law. What is unfolding in front of us is an administration directive under a “no-tolerance” immigration policy.
Now we hear that first lady Melania Trump has weighed in on this tragic event. As Politico reports: A spokeswoman for Melania Trump said Sunday that the first lady “hates to see children separated from their families” and hopes both parties can reach a solution. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart,” the statement said.
This is a heartless, callous and totally unnecessary policy. The administration enacted it to “deter” illegal immigrants from entering the country. It figures that undocumented immigrants will think twice or thrice about entering the United States if they face the prospect of their children being taken from them at the border.
But … seriously? Do we really want to be known around the world as the nation that separates children from their parents with no clear plan on when, where or how they will be reunited?
This isn’t the basis on which this country was founded. It isn’t the basis for the rest of the world pursuing the dream of hope, liberty and opportunity in the Land of the Free.
A nation that, in the words of the first lady, “governs with heart” can find a solution to this hideous public policy.
One way to start would be to persuade the president to stop lying while he blames this crisis on Democrats.
Donald Trump’s incessant use, overuse — and some of us have suggested misuse — of Twitter as a vehicle for his public statements produces moments such as what happened today.
The president sought to tweet a statement welcoming his wife home from the hospital after she underwent kidney surgery.
Except that he misspelled her name, referring to the first lady as “Melanie,” not Melania.
As a former Texas governor once said so (in)famously: Oops.
The president — or someone on his staff — deleted the mistake. Trump then issued the proper welcome with the proper spelling of the first lady’s name.
I have stopped criticizing Trump’s use of Twitter to make policy pronouncements, although his use of the social medium to fire Cabinet officials and others in his administration is troublesome, to say the very least.
I don’t even know if Trump himself is actually tweeting these messages or if it is being done by some intern. Whoever it is, Americans deserve at the very least to have their head of state, head of government and commander in chief being able to spell the name of his wife.
I am feeling mildly — but not totally — sorry for first lady Melania Trump.
She tweeted a message this weekend asking Americans to put forward a “random act of kindness.” Her intention was to call attention to Random Act of Kindness Day.
You would have thought she had just asked us all to eat our puppies for dinner. The Twitterverse exploded with recriminations against the first lady, but more notably as well against her husband, the president of the United States, Donald John Trump.
The tweets lambasted the president for his own bullying instincts and how he uses social media to insult, berate and condemn others.
It reminds me of when Mrs. Trump announced as her major goal as first lady would be to end cyber bullying. The response, as expected, was the same as this random act of kindness message. Many Americans — yours truly included — are appalled that Donald Trump uses Twitter to bully his opponents. We called on the first lady to look first toward her husband’s conduct.
Now she is facing this latest tempest.
I don’t feel totally sorry for Melania Trump. She was an adult when she married a twice-married man. She had to know what she was getting when she and Donald tied the knot. She surely knew about his behavior, his previous transgressions, his admitted philandering.
By virtue of her husband’s stunning victory in the 2016 presidential election, Melania Trump has assumed a role for which she might not have expected to assume.
Thus, I feel mildly sympathetic toward her as she seeks to convey a positive message.
If only her husband would follow his wife’s sound advice.