Tag Archives: George HW Bush

POTUSes 41 and 43 ‘tell it like it is’

Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush are pulling no punches as it regards one of their successors, Donald John Trump.

Bush 41 calls Trump a “blowhard”; Bush 43 says Trump doesn’t understand the impact of occupying the world’s most powerful public office.

They are actual Republicans. Trump, as I understand their interpretation, is a quintessential Republican In Name Only, a RINO. The former presidents believe the GOP is in trouble with Trump as its titular party leader.

A new book, “The Last Republicans” by Mark Updegrove, details the views of the former presidents regarding the current Oval Office occupant. It’s rare, indeed, to hear ex-presidents comment at all on their successors, but this is no ordinary time in American politics.

I mean, the country elected someone to the presidency in 2016 with no prior public service. None! He came from the world of big business, beauty pageants and reality TV. His entire professional career was aimed at self-enrichment and self-promotion.

And that gets to the heart of Bush 43’s critique of Trump as someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be president. Trump spoke during the campaign of being his own best adviser, as he touted his intelligence and steel-trap memory. President Bush 43 sees that as a serious indicator of Trump’s lack of understanding of the office he occupies.

The interviews were conducted before Trump even became the Republican nominee for president. Bush 41 was leery of Trump from the beginning and has said in blunt terms that “I don’t like him.”

The White House, of course, has returned the volley, saying that the Bushes’ concern about the future of the GOP is more of an indictment on their leadership than it is about Donald Trump.

Sure thing. Except that the guy in the White House ran as a Republican only because he saw it as providing the path of least resistance to his form of populism/nativism/isolationism.

The guy who was elected because he “tells it like it is” is now getting a serious dose of his own rhetorical medicine by two seasoned Republicans who know the ropes, know about the office they held between them for 12 years and who understand the consequences of electing someone with no knowledge of how to govern.

Trump-Schumer bromance hits the skids

I guess Donald John Trump and Charles Schumer aren’t such good New York City pals after all.

The president of the United States and the U.S. Senate’s Democratic leader are now exchanging barbs over Trump’s comments in the wake of the NYC tragedy that killed eight people in a terrorist attack.

I’ll take Sen. Schumer’s side in this dispute. Are you surprised? I didn’t think so.

Trump, Schumer trade barbs

Trump went after Schumer immediately after the Uzbek immigrant was taken into custody after running into a crowd. He blamed Schumer for endorsing an immigration bill that allowed the Uzbek to enter the country on a special visa.

Schumer responded that “I guess it’s not too early to politicize a tragedy,” blasting the president for taking the low road while the nation’s largest city deals with the grief brought by the madman.

Schumer played a role in the enactment of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. He was a junior member of Congress at the time. The program, incidentally, was signed into law by then-President George H.W. Bush, a Republican … just like Donald Trump.

But still …

If only the president could simply limit his public comments in the wake of such tragedy to concern for the victims and to speak to the resolve of a nation that won’t be terrorized.

Imagine seeing Trump with his five living predecessors

Try as hard as I do, I cannot wrap my arms around a certain scenario involving Donald J. Trump and five of the men who preceded him as president of the United States.

History has provided opportunities for the living for presidents to gather along with the current POTUS. They have appeared at ribbon-cuttings, at funerals, at various and sundry public functions.

Try to imagine Trump sharing a stage with Presidents Carter, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama. Imagine these men all setting aside the humiliating insults that Trump has hurled at them collectively and individually. Let’s not forget the insults and name-calling he has hurled at the wife of one of those men, referring to the 2016 Democratic nominee as “Crooked Hillary” Clinton.

Of all of the former presidents I could imagine possibly showing up at a Trump event I can think only of President Carter taking that leap. I guess it’s because of the former president’s deep Christian faith and the grace he embodies even where it involves those who have sought to humiliate him.

I won’t bet the farm, though, on President Carter doing it.

Still, the current president has demonstrated a seemingly limitless capacity to re-litigate the 2016 election. He keeps seeking to rub in the faces of his political foes the fact that he won an election. C’mon, Mr. President! We get it, dude!

His defamation of President Obama sticks in the craw of millions of Americans. He perpetuated the lie that Obama was born abroad and was somehow unqualified to serve as president.

The idiotic insults he hurled at President George W. Bush and his family members cannot possibly have gone down well with the 43rd president.

Trump’s overblown insults at Bill Clinton — not to mention his wife — have been shameful in the extreme.

The only thing that has kept Trump, in my view, from tossing barbs at Bush 41 has been the former president’s health … although I would put nothing past Trump if he chose to offer a snarky comment about the 90-something former commander in chief.

The presidency occasionally offers these individuals opportunities to gather for ceremonial functions. I encourage you to picture any or all of them agreeing to speak publicly about the clown in chief who occupies this venerated office.

Ex-presidents look so, so relaxed

This picture makes me happy.

It shows the three most immediate past presidents of the United States of America: Barack H. Obama, George W. Bush and William J. Clinton.

Look at those men. Don’t they look happy? Relaxed? Chummy?

They opened the President’s Cup golf tournament today in Jersey City, N.J., the first time three ex-presidents have opened the event that pits American golfers against an international team.

It’s a big deal.

For some time after he left office, I was left pining for former President Obama. I missed him terribly. At one or two levels, I still do. But seeing this picture reminds me of how much he and Presidents Bush and Clinton have earned the right to look so damn relaxed.

The same can be said of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. They weren’t there. President Bush is in poor health. President Carter is likely building a house somewhere for Habitat for Humanity; indeed, President Carter hasn’t stopped working since he left office … in 1981!

And, oh how I wish I could be a fly on the wall as these three former heads of state talk about the guy who holds the office these days.

A-Team steps up to help Harvey victims

These five men belong to an exclusive club, with an exclusivity exceeded only by the former pope’s club.

They are the five men who’ve been elected president of the United States. They have gathered for a joint fundraising effort to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which savaged the Texas coast in late August.

They are collaborating on a One America Appeal website that asks Americans to donate what they can to aid those who are stricken by the pummeling delivered by Harvey.

Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have recorded a video that kicks off the fundraising effort. My hunch is that it might be updated as soon as Hurricane Irma finishes delivering more destruction to Florida in the next few days.

But this is bipartisanhip to the max. Two Republicans and three Democrats have locked arms in a call to aid our fellow Americans.

See the video here.

As President Bush 43 noted, “We’ve got more love in Texas than water.”

Considering the amount of rain — 50 inches of it! — that fell on Texas during Harvey’s unwelcome visit, that’s really saying something.

Thank you, Messrs. President.

Presidents make powerful statement, but it needs more

There you go. A powerful statement from the two most recent Republican presidents of the United States, father and son, George H.W. and George W. Bush.

Their reaction to the Charlottesville riot and the tragic death of Heather Heyer speaks volumes about their decency and compassion.

However …

There’s an element missing from this statement. What is missing is a specific condemnation of their successor, Donald John Trump.

It’s the kind of rebuke and denunciation that must come from members of the president’s own party. They must condemn not just the acts of hate that transpired in Charlottesville, but also the president who — in a stunning display of ignorance and arrogance on Tuesday — equated the hate merchants with those who oppose them.

Indeed, the silence from the GOP political high command has been deafening in its own right. House and Senate leaders have spoken eloquently about their loathing of intolerance, bigotry and racism. Good for them!

But the rest of the condemnation also must single out the president of the United States who tossed aside the proverbial “dog whistle” he has used to incite his political base and replaced it with a bullhorn. We all heard what he meant when he said “both sides” are to blame for the tragedy that unfolded in Charlottesville.

No, Mr. President. There is no “both sides do it” moral equivalence here. The riot was provoked by the presence of white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis who protested the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee. They marched under the lights of tiki torches, which symbolize the terror tactics used by the Klan and, yes, by the Nazis in Europe prior to World War II.

And yet the president drew a moral equivalence between the hate groups and the counter protesters. It was disgraceful in the extreme for Trump to do such a thing.

I’m glad the two former presidents have spoken out. They both have been quiet since leaving the presidency in 1993 and 2009.

I just wish they would have taken the final step and called out Donald Trump by name. Maybe that moment will arrive in due course. Let us hope.

These projects don’t pay for themselves

Donald J. Trump’s proposal to cut taxes — notably for the wealthiest Americans — is getting considerable play in conservative media and political circles.

The president thinks he’s on to something. He has pitched what his team has called the most sweeping “tax reform” package in U.S. history.

Now …

Let’s get real for a moment.

* The president also wants to enact a few big projects. He has proposed spending an additional $54 billion next year alone on the Department of Defense. He contends the military is depleted and, of course, blames the previous administration for all but rendering us defenseless against our enemies.

* He also wants to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges and airports. The price tag for that? A cool $1.2 trillion. This is a project worth doing, given the sorry state of our highways and airports. I’m still baffled as to how this plays among fiscal conservatives who (a) voted for Trump in 2016 and (b) say they dislike spending money the government doesn’t have in the bank.

* The president also wants to build that “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border. The price tag varies on this matter, but I’ll go with the bigger number that’s been floated: $25 billion. I do not believe the wall will be built. Nor should it be built. Still, the president insists that it will and he no longer is saying at every campaign-style rally that “Mexico will pay for it.”

These things do not pay for themselves. Thus, Americans across the land need to ask themselves: Are we willing to step up to shoulder the cost of all these projects or are we going to ignore the reality that the money must come from each of us?

The tax cut mantra has become standard Republican Party policy. President Reagan famously sought to cut taxes while “rebuilding” the military. He railed against President Carter’s budget deficits, only to preside over a skyrocketing deficit during his two terms in office. President George H.W. Bush challenged us to “read my lips” while vowing at the GOP convention in 1988 to never raise taxes; which helped get him elected. He then raised taxes — wisely, in my view — and it cost him votes among his conservative GOP base in 1992. President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, then went to war with international terrorists after the 9/11 attacks; the deficits exploded.

A new Republican president is now proposing another massive tax cut while at the same time seeking to do big things. With what, Mr. President? Where’s the money coming from?

I hate the wall idea. If the president wants to stem illegal immigration, then invest more money in better enforcement along both of our lengthy borders — north and south — and at ports of entry along all three coasts.

The defense buildup doesn’t need to cost nearly what Trump is proposing. Our military remains the strongest in the world.

Infrastructure improvement makes sense, but it’s going to cost Americans a lot of money to get it done.

Are we going to fall for the GOP tax-cut dodge because we don’t want to pay for the things we insist that government do for us? Or are we going to understand that our government requires us to spend a bit of our money to make it work?

Here’s a thought: Go after Assad’s house

U.S. military forces tonight launched a few dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian military targets.

Donald Trump ordered the strikes in retaliation for Syrian government forces’ use of chemical weapons on civilians, killing dozens of them, including children.

It was a reprehensible act. The thought occurs to me: The strikes hit military targets, but why not zero in on where the dictator, Bashar al-Assad, hangs his hat?

It’s not unprecedented. I recall when the Persian Gulf War started in late 1990. The first weapon was a Tomahawk cruise missile launched from the USS Wisconsin, the World War II-era battleship that had been brought back into active duty. The ship’s target? Saddam Hussein’s palace in Baghdad!

Saddam commanded the Iraqi military that had invaded Kuwait. He served two roles in Iraq: head of state and the supreme commander of the Iraqi military. President George H.W. Bush, thus, considered Saddam to be a military target.

Assad is just as ham-handed a dictator as Saddam Hussein had become. He also has a tight rein on his military forces. Therefore, he is a military — as well as a political — figure.

We should hit Syrian military targets. What the Syrian government has done is reprehensible in the extreme.

It does nothing, though, without the approval of the dictator who is in charge.

Make the dictator a target, too.

George W. Bush gets back into the game

Welcome back to the political arena, Mr. President … even if you remain on the edges of it.

George W. Bush, who maintained stone-cold silence during Barack Obama’s presidency, has now decided to weigh in on some of the issues dogging the current occupant of the White House.

He is being a gentleman about it, but one cannot help but believe that his genteel approach to criticism masks an attitude with a bit more bite.

NBC’s “Today” host Matt Lauer interviewed the 43rd president this morning. Bush made quite clear that he disagrees with Donald J. Trump’s view that the media are “the enemy of the people” and that the war against terrorists isn’t a war against Islam.

The former president had made a pact that he wouldn’t criticize President Obama. He said the job of being president is difficult enough without former presidents weighing in with their own view of how to run the country. If Obama wanted his help, Bush said he could pick up the phone, call and ask for it.

As National Public Radio reported: “Lauer noted that President Bush — who took the country to war in Iraq and who presided over an economic crisis — faced plenty of criticism from the media while in office. Lauer asked Bush, ‘Did you ever consider the media to be the enemy of the American people?’

“Bush chuckled and then answered: ‘I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.'”

As for Trump’s assertion that the enemy are “radical Islamic terrorists,” Bush said: “You see, I understood right off the bat, Matt, that this is an ideological conflict, and people who murder the innocent are not religious people. They want to advance an ideology, and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past.”

I cannot get past the personal aspect of what the former president might think of the current president. It was Trump, you’ll recall, who called the Iraq War a “disaster.” He also launched intensely personal insults at the ex-president’s brother, Jeb, who was one of 15 Republican Party primary opponents that Trump vanquished on his way to the GOP nomination.

Bush didn’t attend the GOP convention; neither did Jeb, nor did the men’s father, former President George H.W. Bush.

Blood, as they say, is thicker than, well, almost any other substance.

No one should expect George W. Bush to throttle up his return to politics into a full-time endeavor. Still, I happen to one who welcomes his world view while the current president struggles to get past serious questions about national security and whether the Russians helped him get elected.

Let’s set the record straight, Mr. President

I know it’s not a hu-u-u-u-ge deal.

However, I feel the need to set the record straight on another one of those prevarications that flew out of Donald J. Trump’s mouth.

The president called a press conference today and spoke — and jousted — with the media for more than an hour. Among the mistruths he spoke today dealt with his assertion that his Electoral College victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton was the biggest “since Ronald Reagan.”

Uh, Mr. President, no sir. It isn’t. Not by a long, long shot.

Let’s review, shall we?

1984: President Reagan was re-elected with 525 electoral votes.

1988: Vice President George H.W. Bush was elected with 426 electoral votes.

1992: Bill Clinton was elected with 370 electoral votes.

1996: President Clinton was re-elected with 379 electoral votes.

2008: Barack Obama won with 365 electoral votes.

2012: President Obama was re-elected with 332 electoral votes.

2016: Donald Trump won with 304 electoral votes.

There are the numbers. Trump’s victory wasn’t the biggest since Reagan. Oh, here are some more numbers to put Trump’s victory into, um, a little different perspective.

Clinton collected 2.8 million more popular votes than Trump. The president’s victory was sealed in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — which he won by a total of 77,000 votes, out of more than 120 million ballots cast nationally.

If Clinton had won those states, she would have been elected. She lost them to Trump. I am acutely aware that Trump won the contest where it counted, so please spare me the lecture and accusation that I’m still choking on all those sour grapes.

A reporter — NBC’s Peter Alexander — today challenged Trump’s statement about the size of his victory. The president said he was referring only to “Republican” presidents. Oh. I see. Then Bush 41’s victory didn’t count?

Trump’s bogus assertion about the size of his victory isn’t a big deal by itself. It does illustrate the man’s propensity for playing fast and loose with facts.

Perhaps, though, they merely are those “alternative facts” to which his senior policy adviser, Kellyanne Conway, referred.