Tag Archives: George HW Bush

Jeb calls for a return to ‘civility’ in political life … yes!

Jeb Bush has been in the fight for a long time. The former two-term Florida governor has had his share of wins and losses.

On Presidents Day, the Republican offered a wish for the country: a return to a more civil tone as politicians argue over policy matters.

Hmm. Yeah. Don’t you wish? I certainly do.

Bush, who lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP presidential primary contest, laments the hostile tone we’re hearing these days from the president and others in the arena.

He noted something interesting about his late father, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: George H.W. Bush, he said, could have claimed credit when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Instead, he stepped back and let the German people celebrate the accomplishment, he said of his father.

Try for just a moment to imagine how the 45th POTUS would handle such a monumental event. Imagine Donald Trump “stepping back” and letting “the German people celebrate the accomplishment.”

It wouldn’t happen, any more than one can expect a return to political civility for as long as Donald Trump is in the arena.

Still, Jeb Bush’s call is worth noting. It’s also worth wishing it can come true.

R.I.P., Texas GOP trailblazer

I never thought of Clayton Williams as a political trailblazer.

Then comes word today that Claytie — a Midland oil and natural gas tycoon who ran for Texas governor in 1990 — has died at age 88.

I extend my condolences to Williams’ friends and family. I do want to offer a comment on his single, but futile run for public office.

He sought the governorship running against the late Texas Treasurer Ann Richards — who had rocketed to national notoriety with her stellar 1988 Democratic National Convention keynote speech in which she declared that then-GOP Vice President George H.W. Bush “can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Richards and Williams, a Republican, faced off two years later. Williams was poised to win. Then he started committing a series of gaffes. He compared inclement weather to rape, urging Texans to “relax and enjoy it”; he refused to shake Richards’ hand at an event, a gesture that rankled many Texans who believe a gentleman shouldn’t act that way toward a woman; then he revealed he didn’t pay federal taxes when the oil industry was collapsing in the 1980s.

Richards won the governorship. She served a single term before losing in 1994 to the “silver-footed” VP’s son, George W. Bush.

The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey makes a fascinating point, though, about Williams’ political legacy. He notes that Bill Clements was the lone Republican to win the governorship since the Civil War Reconstruction era. Williams lost in 1990, but well might have paved the way for “W” to win in 1994.

Since then, according to Ramsey, Republicans have clamped a vise grip on the governorship, as well as every statewide office.

The things you can learn …

Rest in peace, Claytie.

Yearning for a return to civility

I am a fan of civil political discourse, and of compromise when it can produce a common good, and of political adversaries remaining friends when the battle of the day has concluded.

Thus, I am yearning for a return — please pardon my borrowing a phrase coined by a former U.S. president — to a “kinder, gentler time” in American political life.

The late George H.W. Bush sought such a return when he took office in 1989. It was there, then it was gone.

It’s gotten much worse since Donald Trump entered political life in the summer of 2015. Indeed, he helped foment some of the intense anger even before then, feeding the Big Lie about President Barack Obama’s citizenship status, becoming the de facto godfather of the “birther” movement.

OK, he’s now the current president. The House of Representatives has impeached him. Trump is now getting ready to stand trial in the  Senate.

I won’t venture off the conventional wisdom trail here. I believe he will survive the trial. He will stay in office. Trump then will run for re-election and he will feed the intense anger that will continue to simmer and boil until Election Day 2020.

It’s my desire for a return to political civility, collegiality and comity that makes me yearn for his defeat next year. Trump has shown an unwillingness to bridge the divide among disparate Americans. Indeed, he seeks to widen it.

Thus, as he campaigns for re-election I fully expect the president to keep reminding us of the impeachment drama that is playing out at this moment. He will continue to hurl epithets at his foes. Trump will attach sophomoric nicknames to them. The president will seek to fuel the rage at the system that got him elected in the first place.

What if he wins? Oh, my! We’ll get four more years of practically everything I have just described. There likely will be a new wrinkle or three thrown in for good measure.

I’ll try to do my part to dial it back by refraining from some of the harsh rhetoric I have spouted in this forum since Trump crashed onto the political scene. Trump is a lead-pipe cinch, though, to test that pledge with what he is likely to say out loud over the course of the next year.

Take note: I haven’t hurled a single epithet at him in this post.

Hey, it’s a start. My hope springs eternal that we’ll be able to return sooner rather than later to a kinder, gentler political era.

AG disputes IG … WTF?

William Barr continues to be a profound disappointment to me as the nation’s attorney general.

He took office after Donald J. Trump fired Jeff Sessions as AG. I had high hopes that Barr, who served as attorney general in President Bush 41’s administration, would bring his Washington experience to the job.

Well, he has turned out to be a toadie for Trump. Get this: The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, reportedly has determined that the FBI did not spy on Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, despite allegations leveled by the president that the FBI spied on him.

Barr’s response? He said he questions the IG’s findings. He continues to believe the specious allegation that Trump has leveled against the FBI, that it sought to launch its investigation into Russian interference in our electoral process after spying on the Trump campaign.

Horowitz’s office operates independently of the attorney general, which means that Barr cannot change the IG’s finding.

Still, the attorney general’s continued shilling for the president is disturbing to many of us, me included.

Horowitz is going to release his finding to the public in a few days. My hope would be for the attorney general to let the report stand on its own. That’s my hope. My fear is that the attorney general will seek to undermine it, quite likely at Donald Trump’s bidding.

Et tu, Fox News Channel?

You can quibble till the paint dries about the quality of Fox News Channel’s political coverage. I do on occasion. The network that calls itself “fair and balance” is neither of those things.

However, news hands at FNC are capable of doing good work. They conduct public opinion polling on occasion that raises an eyebrow or two, such as a recent poll showing how Donald Trump matches up against his Democratic opponents.

The most recent Fox poll shows the president, for instance, trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by a margin well outside the margin of error.

The president’s response? He went after the “friendly” network, suggesting it has gone to the dark side by casting him in a negative light. The poll has him “losing big to Sleepy Joe,” Trump said on Twitter.

Good grief, dude. Take a rest from the Twitter machine. I mean, you’ve got important work to do. You are seeking to make America great again, isn’t that right, Mr. President? These constant Twitter tirades make America laughable.

As for what the polls are saying more than a year away from the next election, I’ll answer with two words: President Dukakis.

In 1988, polling had the Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis about 17 points ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush heading into that year’s election campaign season. The election, um, didn’t turn out that way … you know?

Don’t misunderstand me. I do not want Trump to turn those polls around. If anything, I hope whoever he faces next fall widens the gap and trounces the incumbent badly. He needs to back to … wherever.

So, the president needs to chill out. Get to work. Quit busying yourself with idiotic tweets and assorted blathering about polls with which you disagree.

Trump ends radio addresses … does anyone care?

First, I will make an admission.

I rarely listened to a presidential radio speech as it was being broadcast. I do so maybe twice dating back to the Reagan administration (1981-89).

Presidents dating back to Franklin Roosevelt — who revived the tradition when he took office in 1933 — would record these messages to be broadcast across the country.

President George H.W. Bush didn’t follow up on President Reagan’s consistent delivery of the message. Then came Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, all of whom were faithful to the habit of talking to Americans directly over the radio airwaves about policy matters.

Donald Trump, though, has tossed the practice aside. Are you surprised? Neither am I.

He relies on Twitter to announce policy decisions, usually with mangled syntax, misspelled words, lots of capitalization and extraneous punctuation.

I find it mildly distressing that Trump would discontinue the weekly radio speechmaking. After all, they have been known to make a bit of news. Media report on what the president says and on occasion they might say something newsworthy enough to make us sit up and pay careful attention.

Trump sees, I’ll presume, as a waste of time. Probably like those daily presidential national security briefings he once told us he didn’t need to hear. He asked, rhetorically, “What’s the point?” He had no need to listen to someone on his national security team tell him something he said he already knew, Trump said.

I mean, he did tell us he knew “more about ISIS than the generals.” Isn’t that what he said?

Being something of a presidential traditionalist, I would prefer a return to the weekly radio speeches, rather than the Twitter tirades that are replete with misspellings, assorted nonsensical rants and, oh yeah, a total absence of credibility.

Ross Perot: This man stood tall

My journalism career enabled me to cross paths with a lot of interesting, provocative and even great people over the length of its time. I want to include Ross Perot as being among the great individuals I had the pleasure to meet.

Perot died today of leukemia. He was 89 years of age. He died peacefully in Dallas, where he built his fortune and lived most of his adult life.

He wouldn’t have remembered me had anyone thought to ask. But I surely remember the time I had the pleasure of meeting him and visiting with him about one of his pet issues in that moment: the quality of public education.

He had mouthed off about how Texas was more interested in producing blue-chip athletes than blue-chip students. The Texas governor at the time, the late Mark White, challenged Perot to craft a better education system for Texas. Perot took up the challenge and led the Perot Commission to create a system that set certain achievement standards for all Texas public school students.

He then launched a statewide barnstorming tour to pitch his findings to business leaders, politicians, civic leaders and, yes, media representatives; I was among the media types Perot met.

He came to Beaumont and delivered a stemwinder of a speech to a roomful of the city’s movers and shakers.

As an editorial writer and editor for the Beaumont Enterprise, I had the high honor of meeting later with Perot along with other media reps at Lamar University.

That was in 1984. Little did we know at the time he would become a political force of nature as well, running for president twice in 1992 and 1996. At one time prior to the 1992 fall election, Perot actually led public opinion polling that included President George H.W. Bush and a young Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton.

He finished third that year. Clinton got elected. Bush served his single term and disliked Perot for the rest of his life, blaming him for losing the 1992 election to Bill Clinton. President Bush is gone now, but my own view is that Perot — contrary to popular notions — did not deprive a chance at re-election. He took roughly the same number of votes from both Bush and Clinton, meaning that Bill Clinton was going to win the election anyway.

Still, Ross Perot was a player, although he was prone at times to acting a little squirrely. He also was a patriot who loved his country and gave back many millions of dollars of his immense personal wealth to make his community and country better.

I am grateful beyond measure that his path crossed mine if only for a brief moment in time. Take my word for it, this man made a serious impression on those he met along the way.

Harris scores big, but now faces some blowback

Kamala Harris pounded Joe Biden with some serious body blows at that debate this past week. The U.S. senator and former California attorney general caught the former senator and former vice president flat footed when she questioned him about his senatorial relationships with avowed segregationists.

Oh, my. Then came the initial response. Harris now is on the front rank of Democratic challengers to Donald Trump. Her fans think better of her, if that’s possible. Biden’s fans initially were somewhat dismayed.

Now, though, the senator is getting a bit of push back, some resistance from those who think she might have let her ambition get the better of her. She shouldn’t have gone low with that attack against the ex-VP, some are saying.

Let’s play this out for a moment.

Suppose Biden remains the favorite among Democrats. Suppose, too, he gets the party’s presidential nomination in the summer of 2020. Who would he choose as his running mate. One Biden anonymous supporter said, “That sh** ain’t happening.”

Really? Let’s see. George H.W. Bush called Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policy “voodoo economics” when the two of them ran for the Republican nomination in 1980. Reagan then selected Bush to run with him; they served as a team for two terms and Bush got elected president in 1988.

Oh, then we had Biden running against Barack Obama in 2008. They fought hard for as long as Biden was in the hunt. Then the Delaware U.S. senator dropped out. Democrats nominated Sen. Obama — who then chose Biden to run with him. You know the rest of it.

Moral of the story? If Biden gets nominated, do not count out Sen. Kamala Harris as a potential running mate.

Does ‘P’ really ‘like’ DJT? Seems doubtful

I didn’t really think of it as a lie when Donald Trump said it. I merely thought of it as, hmm, a serious misrepresentation of reality.

The president came to Texas this week to raise money for his re-election campaign and to stump for himself at a campaign rally. He signed a couple of executive orders.

But at one of his rallies, he called on Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, to join him on the podium. “This is the only Bush who likes me!” Trump bellowed while summoning “George!”

The misstatement? Oh, well, it happens that George P. Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the same Jeb Bush who campaigned for president against Donald Trump in 2016.

This also is the same Jeb Bush who Trump labeled as “Low Energy Jeb,” one of the many insults he tossed at Republican primary opponents, not to mention what he hurled at the Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton

It well might be that George P. Bush has smiled publicly in Donald Trump’s presence. I have difficulty believing that that the younger Bush has those same feelings privately.

“The only Bush who likes” Donald Trump quite possibly doesn’t “like” the president.

Not one bit.

Who in the world would blame him for harboring the same hard feelings his beloved “Gampy” and “Gammy” — the late 41st president and the late beloved first lady — felt, not to mention how his own parents are feeling to this very day?

Jimmy Carter: longevity record-setter

Jimmy Carter served a single term as president of the United States. He won the office in a bit of a nail-biter in 1976, defeating incumbent President Gerald Ford.

President Carter lost his re-election bid four years later in a landslide to Ronald Reagan.

He has lived with a decidedly mixed presidential legacy ever since. However, let it be here as the former president becomes the oldest living former president that his legacy is destined to improve as time continues to march on.

President Carter on Friday will surpass the late President George H.W. Bush as the oldest former president. The 39th president already holds the record for being having lived longer than anyone past the time he left the presidency.

I want to salute this good man because he stands in such a sharp contrast to what we are witnessing these days in the White House.

There was never a scandal to besmirch his administration. He vowed never to “lie” to us and as near as I can tell he kept that pledge. President Carter has lived a life according to the Scripture to which he has been devoted. He left office after a stunning landslide loss and then became arguably the most admired former president in recent history. He has built houses for underprivileged people worldwide for Habitat for Humanity. He founded the Carter Center in Atlanta, using the center as a forum to promote free and fair elections and to be a watchdog on behalf of human rights, one of the hallmark themes of his presidency.

I know the president had a mixed record as our head of state. He did, though, broker a permanent peace deal between Israel and Egypt. Yes, he launched that ill-fated mission to rescue Americans held captive in Iran and struggled for 444 days trying to negotiate those who were taken hostage by Iranian radicals in November 1979.

All of that and a floundering economy contributed to his crushing defeat. He left office as proud as he was when he entered it and has gone on to live a modest life in his beloved Plains, Ga. He is still teaching Sunday school at his church and has battled cancer.

He is a champion worthy of admiration of a nation he led.

Congratulations, Mr. President.