Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Trump’s absence: the ‘new normal’?

As I have sought to process the day’s big event, the funeral of civil rights hero/icon/legend John Lewis, I pondered the absence of one individual who one could have presumed should have been there.

Donald J. Trump was not in Atlanta today to pay tribute to John Lewis, the former congressman and human rights activist who died at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. Oh, no. Trump was in Washington, tweeting messages seeking to undermine the voting rights gains for which Lewis fought, and bled.

It’s becoming something of a “new normal” in this Age of Trump as president of the United States. He was disinvited to the funeral of U.S. Sen. John McCain. Trump attended the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, but we didn’t hear a word from him. Now, the Lewis funeral. Trump declared he had no intention of honoring Lewis while he lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

I thought about past funerals of high-profile political figures. I recalled the presence of President Lyndon Johnson at the funeral of a man he hated beyond measure, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. I remembered the funeral of President Richard Nixon and recalled one of the tributes paid to him by President Bill Clinton, who told us that we must not judge his predecessor’s public life by just one episode, but by its entire history. I remember, too, when former Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower patched up their bitter differences while attending the funeral of their successor, President John F. Kennedy. The two old war horses realized in that moment that life was too short and too precious for them to continue hating each other.

Donald Trump clearly would not have been welcomed at John Lewis’s funeral. He once chided Lewis for supposedly being “all talk and no action.” Trump ignored the beatings that Lewis endured while seeking to guarantee the rights of black Americans to vote in free and fair elections.

So it fell to three of Trump’s predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to speak of their friend and a man who will be remembered as a legend in his own time … and beyond. 

Donald Trump? He was left to sulk in the background.

Is this kind of transition possible?

I invite you to spend the next three or so minutes of your time watching the video I have attached to this blog post.

Then I want to invite you to imagine Donald John Trump issuing the same kind of statement to the individual who will succeed him as president of the United States.

Oh, how I want it to be Joseph R. Biden Jr., who will face Trump in this year’s presidential election. If it’s not, then we’ll get to wait until November 2024 — and, yes, I shudder at that thought — to hear Donald Trump begin to hand over power to the next president.

I just thought I would post this video to show you how a president is supposed to conduct himself when he prepares to leave the White House in the hands of someone he no doubt opposed philosophically, but who won a fair-and-square free election.

I do not expect this kind of grace from Donald Trump.

While I’m on the subject, take a look at the next video. It’s a bit longer but it depicts President Obama talking about Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

What you see in this video, as in the first one, is an example of a president calling the nation to put its differences aside, to wish the new president success and to assure a smooth transition.

Once again, just try to imagine Donald Trump offering this to the individual who will succeed him.

Trump reaps what he has sown

I had to laugh out loud when right-wing media began criticizing former President Obama’s discreetly worded criticism of the way Donald Trump has responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why, the right-wing pundits just couldn’t understand how a former president would dare criticize a sitting president, particularly as he is up to his armpits (supposedly) fighting the pandemic.

Indeed, Obama has been quiet about Trump until only recently, when he took a couple of verbal pot shots at Trump during two virtual graduation commencement speeches he delivered via television to a national audience.

The three other living presidential predecessors — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — have remained quiet.

But here’s the deal. Donald Trump has expended more verbal energy, not to mention Twitter characters, vilifying the efforts of Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton.

If it’s fair to criticize President Obama for talking trash about Donald Trump, it’s also fair to criticize Trump for the profound disrespect he has shown to the men who preceded him in the nation’s highest office.

Did Barack Obama ever criticize George W. Bush specifically, by name, with epithets while he struggled to rebuild an economy in free fall right after he took over as president? Yes, he has talked about the economic peril he inherited, but he also has thanked President Bush for his many years of service to the nation.

Did George W. Bush ever say a word publicly about Bill Clinton, who he succeeded in 2001?

And did Bill Clinton ever criticize his immediate predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, after taking over from him in 1993? Indeed, the two of them became dear friends, with Clinton declaring that he became a sort of “wayward son” to George and Barbara Bush.

Instead, with the current president, we hear a constant drumbeat of profound disrespect and denigration of the effort his predecessors all devoted to the oath they took to defend and protect Americans.

So what, then, if Barack Obama had offered some veiled criticism of Donald Trump? He had it coming.

Stop declaring ‘victory’ over COVID-19

President George W. Bush had his infamous “Mission Accomplished” moment aboard the aircraft carrier during the Iraq War.

The president landed on the deck of the carrier, climbed out of the jet, changed into his civvies, stood under that big sign hanging off the conning tower and then said he had accomplished our mission after we captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Well, it turned out we didn’t accomplish our mission. Many more Americans have died in Iraq.

Fast-forward to this week. Donald Trump stood in front of a banner that says “America Leads the World in Testing.” No. We do not.

At issue is the testing regimen being implemented to fight to coronavirus. It has killed more than 80,000 Americans.

Trump, though, keeps telling lies about our testing program. Yes, we have tested more people than any other country that is fighting the pandemic. However, the total number of tests is irrelevant.

The operative number must be the percentage of population that has been tested for the COVID-19 virus.

Donald Trump’s press briefing Monday was an exercise in deception, deflection and misdirection. He keeps boasting about the testing procedures that the administration has been ramping up. Yes, it is good that we’re getting more Americans tested for the coronavirus. However, we are way behind the curve.

This country comprises 330 million (give or take) individuals. Roughly 2 percent of them have been tested for the viral infection. How does that 2 percent figure stack up against other nations that have suffered from the virus? Not good, man.

Still, Donald Trump continues to foment yet another lie. It’s part of his modus operandi. He cannot tell the truth. It’s either a genetic disposition or a willful act. I’ll go with the latter, because I believe that Trump knows he is lying but he thinks he can get away with it.

So it goes with this idiocy about coronavirus testing.

The raw numbers tell only part of the story. This large, prosperous, powerful nation is — to borrow a phrase — leading from behind on a crisis remedy where we should be lapping the field.

Time to look kindly on W’s words of wisdom

(Photo by Paul McErlane/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

I am not inclined to think of former President George W. Bush as a reasoned, rational statesman, but Donald J. Trump’s daily ration of petty partisan petulance puts the former president in yet another perspective.

Consider this Twitter message that came out May 2 from George W. Bush: “Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat. In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants, we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”

President Bush sought to rally the nation that continues to be torn asunder by Trump’s blatant partisanship in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 80,000 Americans have died from the killer virus that has infected nearly 2 million of us.

President Bush, of course, is correct to assert that now — given the horrific crisis that has befallen us — is not the time for partisanship.

Oh, and Trump’s response to the 43rd president’s message drove home an unspoken point of his tweet. He whined that Bush didn’t rise to Trump’s defense while the U.S. House of Representatives was impeaching him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Point made, President Bush.

Our differences are indeed “small,” as the former president notes. This is the time for unity. It is time for the only president we have to step up, to speak to all of us as one nation in distress. It is time for the whining, carping, griping to cease.

None of this will occur while Donald Trump is sitting behind that big desk in the Oval Office.

Bush calls for end to ‘partisanship’; Trump blasts Bush … wow!

Leave it to Donald John “Partisan Hack in Chief” Trump to find some way to trash a fellow Republican for saying what needed to be said about the political climate in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Former President George W. Bush issued a video statement this weekend that called for an end to partisanship. “In the end we are not partisan combatants,” President Bush noted in his message about the fight against a shared “invisible enemy.” He said the pandemic only illustrates “how small” our political differences have become.

Trump, of course, fired back. He tweeted some idiocy about how Bush didn’t call for an end to partisanship while Trump was being impeached by the House of Representatives and put on trial by the Senate.

Here’s my guess on that: I am guessing that Bush believes that Trump should have been convicted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and removed from office. He just didn’t have the guts to say so out loud. Indeed, the former president’s silence during that entire ordeal spoke volumes to me.

However, the ex-president is correct to assert that the pandemic should overshadow partisan concerns. If only Donald Trump would understand the need to focus exclusively on a dire matter and ignore the partisanship that keeps getting in the way.

That won’t happen. Not with this president. Not … ever!

George W. Bush: pandemic visionary

(Photo by Paul McErlane/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

If we’re candid about our own beliefs, we would acknowledge that we don’t usually think of President George W. Bush as a visionary politician.

Lo and behold, though, comes reporting that in the summer of 2005, while vacationing at his Central Texas ranch, President Bush was reading a book about the 1918 influenza pandemic, aka the Spanish Flu. He returned to Washington and told his top homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, about what he had read.

The book alarmed and alerted the president, who then told the nation that we needed to get and stay prepared to deal with the next pandemic, which he concluded occurs about every 100 years.

Hmm. Well, he was right. He wanted to re-double our efforts to fight a global pandemic.

President Bush left office in January 2009, handing the office over to Barack H. Obama, who would form a pandemic response team within the National Security Council.

Oh, but wait! President Obama turned the officer in January 2017 to Donald J. Trump. What did the new president do? He disbanded the NSC pandemic team.

So now we learn that Trump not only dismissed the efforts of his immediate predecessor but also of the man who preceded President Obama. Yes, it was George W. Bush who sounded the alarm that Donald Trump chose to ignore … until it was too late.

We’re caught now in the latest pandemic. The coronavirus crisis is killing thousands of human beings every day. The worst is still to come. Most of our states are reacting relatively quickly to the emergency. The feds? They are still trying to catch up. Heck, they’re still trying to get their message straight, which is a damn near impossible task, given Donald Trump’s inability to speak coherently, seriously and knowledgeably about the pandemic.

Do you feel safe now with Donald Trump in charge? You’re not alone. Neither do I.

Trump exhibits monumental leadership void

The reporting of Donald John Trump’s daily briefings dealing with the coronavirus pandemic depresses me terribly. It tells me plenty about the president’s inability or unwillingness to lead a nation in distress.

More than 150,000 Americans have been stricken by the virus; nearly 3,000 Americans have died. The death toll is approaching the number of those killed on 9/11.

Donald Trump’s response at the Q&A sessions that commence during these briefings? He has attacked the media for asking him “nasty” questions. Trump told a respected PBS reporter that she needs to be “nice” to him, wondering why Yamiche Alcindor was no longer working for the New York Times.

This is not how a leader of a nation in distressed is supposed to comport himself.

President Bush led the nation in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. He didn’t lash out at the media. He didn’t criticize his political foes. Bush talked candidly to us about the challenges that confronted us. The president reminded us that we weren’t at war with “Islam,” but were going to do battle with those who perverted that religion and brought destruction to our shores.

This president cannot rise to the level of a leader at war. He did call himself a “wartime president,” but has yet to demonstrate a single trait associated with that label. He exhibits pettiness, petulance, partisan pandering.

He attacks Democrats and the media. He denigrates governors who are on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus.

This is not how a president who seeks to lead and unify a nation under siege is supposed to act.

It doesn’t matter to this president. He cannot lead. This individual who brought not a single moment of public service experience to the only political office he ever sought is demonstrating what many of us feared all along … that he isn’t up to the job.

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.

SCOTUS chief to get his feet wet at the highest level imaginable

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts is a serious man who takes his responsibility as seriously as is humanly possible. Of that I have not a single, solitary doubt.

However, I heard something tonight that made my jaw drop. It was that Chief Justice Roberts, who today took an oath to preside over a U.S. Senate trial of the Donald John Trump, has never tried a case in court.

Yep, this will be the first trial over which he will preside.

President Bush appointed Roberts to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2003. An appellate court doesn’t hear witness testimony; it doesn’t rule on court objections. It hears lawyers argue their cases. Then the court decides which side wins the argument.

After that, Roberts got the nod in 2005 to become chief justice of the nation’s highest court. He does more of the same thing he did at the lower-court level.

Prior to the D.C. court appointment, Roberts worked in private practice, then went to work for the attorney general’s office during the time William French Smith was AG during the Reagan administration.

Trial court experience? None, man. Now he’s been dragged into the role of presiding judge in the U.S. Senate, where he will be charged with keeping order. He’ll get to rule on whether witnesses will be called, although the Senate can overturn whatever ruling he issues.

Still, it is mind-boggling to think that the chief justice’s first actual trial involves a case involving whether the president of the United States keeps his job.

I am certain the chief justice is up to the challenge that awaits him.