Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Gates, hardly a flaming lib, weighs in on ‘case closed’ claim

Robert Gates is no one’s flaming liberal. He’s a lifelong Republican who served as defense secretary for — get set! — Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack H. Obama.

Gates’ bipartisan credentials are, thus, set. So, when he says that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration that it’s “case closed” regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system is flat wrong, well, I’m inclined to listen to him.

Gates has suggested that the Trump administration’s response to the Russian attack has been tepid and weak-kneed.

He said this on “Face the Nation” today: “And frankly, I think elected officials who depend on honest elections to get elected ought to place as a very high priority measures to protect the American electoral system against interference by foreigners.”

Gates doesn’t believe the Trump team has made those measures a “very high priority.” Gee! Do ya think?

I remained baffled and astonished that Donald Trump would stand next to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and actually disparage U.S. intelligence analyses that Russians interfered in our election in 2016, and then went on to say he didn’t see “why they would.”

The president was wrong. Stubbornly wrong at that.

Robert Gates has served at the pinnacle of power in administrations governed by presidents of both major parties. He is not the partisan hack that clearly fits the description of the Senate majority leader.

This case is not “closed.” Nor is the matter involving the obstruction of justice charge that special counsel Robert Mueller left wide open in his 448-page report.

Case closed? Not . . . even . . . close!

Trump presents Medal of Freedom to Tiger, but … wait!

This is what happens when a president of the United States refuses to divest himself of his vast business interests prior to taking the nation’s most exalted public office.

Donald Trump presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods, honoring the greatest golfer of his generation — and perhaps of all time — for winning his fifth Masters Tournament and his 15th major professional golf championship.

Woods becomes the fourth pro golfer to be awarded in this fashion. President George W. Bush presented Presidential Medals of Freedom to a pair of golf legends, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus; President Obama awarded one to Charlie Sifford.

No one questioned those presidents’ motives. Trump brings another element to this ceremony.

He and Woods have a business relationship. Woods has been a highly visible promoter of golf at Trump Organization properties. Some have wondered about the president’s motive in honoring Woods. Is he doing so in an altruistic fashion or is he seeking to promote his own business in association with Tiger Woods? That’s the question of the moment.

Donald Trump declined to divest himself of his business interests upon becoming president. He remains associated with the Trump Organization, although he reportedly turned over day-to-day operations to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric.

I don’t know what motivates Donald Trump, although I have my suspicions and my beliefs. I merely am left to wonder and to echo the questions that have come from many quarters about whether the president occupies his high office for the right reasons.

Now he might be sullying the reputation of a pro golfer, Tiger Woods, who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his immense contribution to our national culture.

If only the president who awarded it wasn’t so, um, compromised.

Biden should channel G.W. Bush?

Mark Shields is well-known to watchers of PBS’s “NewsHour” as a regular commentator and pundit who, along with his pal David Brooks, regularly assesses the week’s political goings-on.

Shields had some good advice for Vice President Joe Biden: Don’t talk too much when trying to explain yourself over questions regarding how you “invade others’ space” by getting too touch-feely.

Biden entered the 2020 presidential race amid questions and complaints from those who said he was a bit too, um, ebullient in his treatment of them.

Even now, the former VP tends to over-talk himself while explaining his actions. Shields had a reasonable option for Biden to consider: Model your response after former President George W. Bush’s manner in dealing with some of his own past behavior.

Shields noted (and it’s in the video attached to this blog post) that when Bush ran for president in 2000, he was dogged by questions from the media about his drunk driving arrest, how he drank too much alcohol and about how he found religion and sobriety at the age of 40.

Bush developed a pat answer, Shields said, which was: “When I was young and foolish, I was young and foolish.” 

Shields said that the future president recited that mantra with such regularity and frequency that reporters got tired of asking him about it. The issue effectively faded away during the course of the 2000 campaign.

Good advice to follow? Oh, sure . . . but only if the media still lack the staying power to keep harping on an issue that can be explained in a single sentence or two.

Mauro’s beach cleanup legacy lives on

SEA RIM STATE PARK, Texas — Dang it, anyhow! I missed the chance today to visit with volunteers who flocked to this part of the Texas Gulf Coast to take part in an annual beach cleanup event.

My wife and I had a brunch date with friends. When we returned to our RV camp site, the Gulf of Mexico was at high tide, splashing all the way to the beach grass bordering the sand. The volunteers were gone.

But I want to offer a good word to the Texas General Land Office for continuing the program that began in 1986.

“The Adopt-a-Beach annual spring cleanup is always an amazing turnout for Texans to join together and volunteer their time to keep our Texas beaches beautiful. What better way to serve our great state than by spending the day at the beach? It is because of our wonderful volunteers that our annual spring cleanup provides the Texas coast with the care it deserves. The dedication of our fellow Texans to help keep our coast in pristine condition never ceases to amazes me,” said Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

I recall when the cleanup program began under the watch of one of Bush’s predecessors at the General Land Office. Garry Mauro had a vision and a drive to protect our state’s fragile coastline. He made coastal protection against erosion a top priority during his time as land commissioner. The cleanup was part of his overall strategy to emphasize coastal issues. I was a vocal and enthusiastic supporter of Mauro’s effort during my time as editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise.

This policy matters to coastal states such as Texas. I am delighted to see Mauro’s initiative continue through successive land commissioners.

Mauro’s public life as a politician ended in 1998 when he got thumped by George P. Bush’s uncle, George W. Bush, who cruised to re-election as Texas governor over Mauro.

The effort to care for the state’s coastline remains one of Garry Mauro’s enduring legacies.

There he goes again: disparaging another beloved American

I am shaking my head yet again at something the president of the United States has said.

Donald Trump told the Washington Times that he understands why the late former first lady, Barbara Bush, disliked him so much. “Look what I did to her sons,” Trump said.

Yeah. Look at that.

It won’t happen, ever, but a tiny part of still wishes the president could exhibit the tiniest sense of public decency when responding to critics.

Mrs. Bush died this past year a few months before her husband, the 41st president, George H.W. Bush, passed away. She made her feelings known in a new book, “The Matriarch,” written by USA Today reporter Susan Page. She disliked Donald Trump. That, ladies and gents, is no secret.

As for Trump’s response, he denigrated Jeb Bush as “low-energy Jeb” while they competed for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Trump boasted to the Times that Jeb was supposed to win, but was eliminated early. Trump also was highly critical of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the Iraq War; I get that criticism, but then again he did use some inflammatory language to challenge the former president.

It’s not in Trump’s DNA to keep his trap shut. Or at least to offering akin to a statesmanlike acknowledgement that a beloved former first lady is entitled to her opinion.

Oh, no. He has to mock her.

Classless.

How does Trump plan to make his re-election case?

Donald J. Trump is going to ask Americans to re-elect him to another term as president of the United States. I am baffled to the max over this question: How is he going to make the case that he has earned a second term?

Trump got elected in 2016 by demonizing his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton and by stoking fear of enemies outside of our borders and of those within them. He promised to vanquish them all. He told us that “I, alone” can repair all that ailed the nation.

Well, he hasn’t.

He has been bedeviled by questions concerning his relationships — business, personal and political — with foreign governments. He claims today that he has been “exonerated.” He hasn’t been cleared of anything. That’s another story.

As he ramps up his re-election campaign, Donald Trump is facing a critical question. How is he going to sell himself for another four years in the White House?

I am reminded a bit of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who ran for re-election as governor in 1994 against a political novice, a fellow named George W. Bush. Richards was thought of at the time to be highly popular. She had good — if not great — public approval ratings.

She made a critical error during her first term. She vetoed legislation that would have referred a concealed handgun carry bill to the voters for their endorsement. The veto enraged gun enthusiasts.

More than that, though, Richards hardly spoke of how she would govern during a second term. She spent a lot of public time blasting George W. Bush, calling him a lightweight and a “jerk.” Bush remained focused on his campaign themes.

Bush ended up winning. Richards was gone.

There ought to be a lesson for Trump here. Except that he won’t accept it. He won’t campaign on a second-term vision because, in my view, he doesn’t have one. Heck, he didn’t have a first-term vision, other than banning Muslims from traveling to this country, building The Wall along our southern border and eliminating the Affordable Care Act.

He stoked fear and loathing. He appealed to our darker instincts.

Is he going to brighten his vision for the future? Hah! Hardly! A 70-something-year-old man isn’t likely to change the strategy that won him election to the first public office he ever sought.

In my humble view, these basic tenets remain the same today as they were when Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his presidential candidacy:

  • Donald Trump is unfit at every level imaginable to be president.
  • Trump will continue to be the fear monger in chief.
  • He will continue to lie incessantly.
  • Trump will demonize his opponents in the most venal, disgusting, disgraceful, personal terms.

Donald Trump doesn’t deserve re-election any more than he deserved election in the first place. I intend to do everything within my meager power — through this forum — to make that case.

‘I was never a fan’ of John McCain

Oh, Mr. President. Can’t you just end this bashing John McCain idiocy?

A reporter asks you to comment on your repeated attacks on the late Arizona senator and you have to say you’ve “never been a fan” of your fellow Republican and that you “never will” be a fan.

And of course it only escalates the feud you’re having with the senator’s family, notably his daughter, Meghan, who continues to pile-drive you with comments about how you cannot measure up as a man to her beloved father.

Mr. President, you can stop this right now. When reporters ask you to comment, just ignore ’em. Or, you can say something like this:

“I am no longer going to comment on Sen. John McCain. I have said all I intend to say. You know how I feel. I am done commenting. I now intend to move on. I am going to make America great again.”

OK, the last part is a joke. But you get my drift, Mr. President.

You started this feud in 2015 with that ghastly denigration of Sen. McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War when he was taken captive and tortured for more than five years. That you — who avoided military service during that time — would stoop to such hideous criticism is repulsive in the extreme.

Enough is enough, Mr. President.

We all get that you’re mad that Sen. McCain voted “no” on repealing the Affordable Care Act. We get that his insistence that you stay away from his funeral chaps your hide. We also get that you’re doubly incensed that he asked Presidents Obama and Bush to eulogize him.

I, for one, have heard enough from you regarding Sen. McCain.

His daughter is right. You cannot measure up to the man he was. He stood at the gates of hell and survived to serve the country he loved while you served yourself and your quest for more personal enrichment.

Just end this idiocy.

Immigrants are a ‘blessing and a strength’

George W. Bush hasn’t lost his voice in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

The former president of the United States spoke today at an event at his presidential library and museum in Dallas about the value that immigrants bring to American life and the texture they add to our diverse American culture.

The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been a good bit less welcoming in his rhetoric about illegal and even legal immigrants. He wants to raise the bar to establish a form of merit-based immigration and, of course, has implied that the majority of illegal immigrants are pouring into the country to commit all manner of violent crimes.

That’s not how President Bush is wired.

“I hope those responsible in Washington can dial down the rhetoric, put politics aside and modernize our immigration laws soon,” the former president said in Dallas.

He speaks as someone with experience governing a border state, which he did from 1995 to 2000 in Texas. President Bush understands the value that immigrants bring to the United States and has sought since his time as Texas governor to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

If only the current White House resident would listen.

Long live The King of Debt!

Donald John Trump once boasted that he is the King of Debt.

He also bragged that as president he would eliminate the national debt after eight years.

The King of Debt is even farther from fulfilling his pledge make the nation debt-free. But, by golly, he remains the King of Debt.

The president’s latest proposed budget is a doozy. It’s a record-setting $4.75 trillion. The debt? It stands at $22 trillion. It’s growing too, right along with the size of the annual budget deficit.

Those of us who call ourselves “deficit hawks” must be twisting ourselves into knots. I am.

Deficits endanger the nation

I don’t like my government running up so much debt. I didn’t like it when George W. Bush did it after inheriting a balanced budget from Bill Clinton. Then President Bush handed the presidency over to Barack Obama, who then rang up even more staggering debt, even while whittling down the annual deficit by roughly two-thirds before he handed the White House keys over to Donald Trump.

Trump, of course, had made many bodacious boasts about what he would do as president.

He cut taxes for a lot of rich Americans. The job growth, which has been stellar during his two years as president, hasn’t yet produced enough revenue to counteract the revenue lost by the tax reductions.

Now comes a proposed budget. He wants to slice domestic spending by 5 percent across the board while increasing defense spending.

Trump is going to hand out blame to congressional Democrats. He won’t accept any of it himself for the debt that continues to zoom into the budgetary stratosphere. That’s not his modus operandi. He is hard wired to take credit he doesn’t deserve and pass of blame when he should step up and take responsibility.

The King of Debt is alive and well. The debt destroyer is long gone.

Don’t mess with Electoral College

I am a blue voter who lives in a red state. I tilt toward Democratic candidates for president while residing in heavily Republican Texas.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I want to redeclare my view that efforts to circumvent the Electoral College are counterproductive. They shouldn’t go forward.

However, it appears that Democrats in states that lean blue are intent on monkeying around with the Electoral College with legislation that bypasses the system codified in the U.S. Constitution by the nation’s founders.

They want their states to cast their electoral votes for whichever candidate wins the popular vote. It’s part of what is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Is the nation’s electoral system in peril of breaking down? I don’t believe that is the case.

We have had 59 presidenti

al elections in this country since its founding. Only five times has the candidate with fewer votes been elected president.

However, what has alarmed those who want to overhaul the electoral system insist that such a trend is in danger of escalating. They point out that it’s happened twice just since 2000! George W. Bush was elected that year despite getting about a half-million fewer votes than Al Gore. Then in 2016 Donald Trump was elected with nearly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

It fascinates me to know that the move to tinker with the Electoral College is coming from aggrieved Democrats, given that the 2000 and 2016 elections went to the Republican nominee for president.

We are witnessing what I believe is a knee-jerk reaction to an overblown issue. It kind of reminds of me how Republicans in Congress pushed for enactment of the 22nd Amendment limiting presidents to two elected terms; they did so after Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt won election to four consecutive terms as president.

Let me reiterate an essential point. If we’re going to change the electoral system, then eliminate the Electoral College. It is an absurd notion to tweak and tug at the edges of the system.

I happen to still believe in the Electoral College system of choosing our president. I endorse the idea that it helps spread the power among more states, giving less-populated states a stronger voice in choosing our head of state.

If we’re going to mess with the Electoral College, then go all the way.

Or else leave it the hell alone!