Tag Archives: GOP

The 2020 horse race has begun

Candidates say they dislike it. So do journalists who cover these events.

But bet on it! The 2020 presidential campaign/horse race has commenced. The media are all over themselves in covering who’s up and who’s down in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primary campaign.

MoveOn.org, the left-leaning political action group, now has Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke narrowly ahead in the race to become the Democrats’ next presidential nominee. Former Vice President Joe Biden is right behind him.

Beto’s fans are no doubt going nuts. Fine. Let ’em whoop and holler!

I find this kind of coverage annoying in the extreme. Why?

For starters, Beto O’Rourke’s poll standing doesn’t mean a damn thing. It won’t matter at the end of this week, let alone next week. It could change overnight. These polls are as fluid as running water.

The 2016 Republican primary campaign revealed the same kind of shallowness of the media coverage of these issues. The media become fixated on the “horse race” element, not the issues on which the candidates are running.

So it is shaping up for the 2020 Democratic primary campaign.

Beto is up this week. Last week it was Joe Biden. Sen. Kamala Harris might emerge as next week’s media favorite. Then there’s former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has formed an exploratory committee to assess whether he wants to run for president in 2020.

The media are going to be all over this horse race matter.

I tend to tune this stuff out fairly quickly once the coverage begins. The media — the very people who say they detest this sort of political coverage — are forcing me to close my ears early.

You go, Mme. Speaker . . . to-be

Nancy Pelosi has delivered a message to Donald Trump.

It is that the president of the United States is going to face a formidable adversary when the next Congress convenes in January 2019. The presumptive speaker of the House delivered that message in a face-to-face smackdown with the president in an Oval Office meeting the two of them had with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Oh, Vice President Mike Pence was in the room, too, but he had a “non-speaking” role in this idiotic and awkward exchange.

Pelosi, a California Democrat, informed Trump he doesn’t have the votes in the House to finance the “big beautiful wall” along our southern border. Trump sought to tell her that he does; she responded — immediately — no, Mr. President . . . you do not!

Pelosi is an expert at vote-counting, which was one of the hallmarks of her first stint as speaker from 2009 to 2011.

Trump, meanwhile, doesn’t know how the legislative process works. He has no background in congressional relationships. He doesn’t understand the importance of seeking to cooperate with the legislative branch of government.

The president’s modus operandi is to dictate his desires and then expect everyone to follow him over the cliff.

The new speaker isn’t wired that way. She’s tough and she is asserting herself as she should.

Let us remember something else: The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the speaker of the House is No. 3 in succession to the presidency. It’s good to remember that as we enter the new year — and a new era — in Washington, D.C.

Tough to bid farewell to icons

Americans have had a busy year bidding farewell to iconic public figures.

We’ve just bid adieu to our nation’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, who in just a few days will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Barbara, and their first-born child, who died at age 3.

We have given President Bush the kind of sendoff he deserves, but which reportedly he would have disliked intensely. His son, Neil, noted that “Dad” would be embarrassed by “all the nice things people have said about him.” Nice things?

Good, gracious. Those “nice things” do not even begin to do justice to the service Bush 41 gave to the nation he cherished. It has been well-chronicled certainly since his death this past Friday at age 94. It was well-known already.

I have declared my belief on numerous occasions that Bush 41 was arguably the most qualified man ever to hold the office of president. As I have listened to the tributes, that belief has been shored up.

As for his wife, “Bar,” she left us in the spring. She and George H.W. Bush shared a 73-year marriage that produced six children. Five of them grew to adulthood, with their first child, Robin, dying as a toddler of leukemia.

Barbara Bush didn’t aspire to pursue a career other than being a homemaker and devoted spouse to a great man. She, however, achieved greatness, too, as first lady. She promoted literacy and always, without fail, carried herself with dignity and grace.

The tributes paid to the former first lady served as well to remind us that love truly does conquer all.

As for the third icon, he ventured to the gates of hell and returned to build a political life devoted to serving his nation.

John McCain died in August of brain cancer. He served for three decades as a U.S. senator from Arizona. And, yes, he was a bona fide, true-blue war hero. He was shot down over Hanoi during the Vietnam War, taken captive and held as a POW for more than five years.

Donald J. Trump sought to disparage McCain’s war service by denigrating his hero status, how he was a “hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured.” That despicable utterance stands as a testament to the complete absence of character from the man who uttered it.

McCain would serve in the House and then the Senate with distinction. He rose to the level of icon during his years in Congress. His years as a POW elevated his profile immediately upon being elected to Congress.

He ran twice for president, losing the Republican nomination in 2000 to Texas Gov. George W. Bush and then losing the 2008 election to Sen. Barack H. Obama.

All three of these individuals sought in their ways to achieve a “more perfect Union.” They are worthy of every single ounce of tribute they have received.

Tough to watch Sen. Dole

The scene was almost too much to bear.

Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, a World War II hero of the first order, needed help to stand while he saluted the casket carrying his one time political rival, former President (and fellow World War II hero) George H.W. Bush.

Dole is a very old man now. His body is betraying him. He was pushed in a wheelchair toward the 41st president’s casket. To watch this great man struggle to stand — at attention! — while he paid tribute to the president tore hard at my heart.

Oh, I remember the day when Sen. Dole was known as a political pit bull. He ran as vice presidential running mate to President Ford on the 1976 Republican ticket. Do you remember when he referred –during a vice-presidential debate with Sen. Walter Mondale — to World War II, Korea and Vietnam as “Democrat wars”?

Then in 1988, he competed for the GOP presidential nomination against Vice President Bush, the same man he saluted today under the Capitol Dome. On a split TV screen, he said through a scowl that the VP should “stop lying about my record.”

In 1996, Dole became the Republican presidential nominee but lost in a landslide to President Clinton, who won re-election that year.

But before all that, Sen. Dole was a young soldier fighting for his country against the Nazis. In 1945, near the end of World War II, the young soldier was wounded grievously while trying to rescue another Army infantryman. He would lose the use of his right arm as a result of his wound. It didn’t stop him from pursuing a long and distinguished career in politics.

To watch him, then, struggle today and then lift his left hand to salute his former rival, well . . . it broke my heart.

Sen. Dole, too, is part of the Greatest Generation. He is a man to whom we all owe a debt of eternal gratitude for helping turn back the tyrants and for his decades of continued public service for the nation he cherishes.

No need to dwell on the negative

I can’t help myself. I cannot stop writing good things about a man I opposed when he was living, but who deserves the tributes and salutes he is receiving now that he is gone.

President George H.W. Bush didn’t get my vote when he ran twice for election and re-election. You know that already.

However, I keep seeing some commentary from liberals/progressives who believe that the 41st president somehow needs to be placed in some sort of “proper context.” They want to shove the negative things about his public life next to the positivity he brought.

I won’t go there. I might, over time, write more critically of Bush 41. Just not now.

I am struck by the notion that his goodness, his decency and his empathy for others stands in the sharpest contrast possible to what we’re seeing and hearing from one of his presidential successors. I refer, of course, to Donald John Trump. But . . . I am going to resist piling on the current president for the time being.

I want to remember the political life that George H.W. Bush represented. He symbolized compromise. Some of his best political friends were — heaven forbid! — Democrats. Yes, this quintessential “establishment Republican” would be seen in the company after hours of Democratic politicians such as, oh, Sonny Montgomery or Dan Rostenkowski. He made friends of all political stripes, not unlike, I should say, the way former Vice President Joe Biden has been able to befriend Republicans as well as his fellow Democrats.

President Bush pledged during the 1988 Republican presidential nominating convention to create a “kinder and gentler nation.” He was only partly successful in achieving that noble goal. It wasn’t for lack of effort on his part. He was a “kind and gentle” man — as well as a gentleman.

The anecdotes and recollections of the late president’s friends tell us so much about the man. Even those who disagreed with him can find plenty of kindness to spread around when remembering his lifetime of service to the nation to which he was so deeply devoted.

Bush 41’s death means end of ‘old’ GOP? Let’s hope not

More than a few talking heads have ruminated since the death of former President George H.W. Bush about the future of the Republican Party and whether the party of which Bush was a proud member will return in its former image.

Some have said “no.” I don’t subscribe to that idea.

Today’s Republican Party has been taken over by those loyal to a president who doesn’t define his own ideology — such as it is — by anything resembling traditional GOP values.

The GOP has taken a dramatically different course from where it used to travel. I’ll offer three examples

  • President Bush was a supreme coalition builder. He did that very thing when assessing how to kick Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in the late summer of 1990. He brought together more than 30 nations to (a) provide fighting forces on the field or (b) give money to finance the military initiative that became known as Operation Desert Storm; some nations, of course, did both.
  • The Republican Party of old once touted fiscal responsibility. It loathed a federal budget deficit. It preferred to curb spending and, yes, curb taxes. The current GOP has enacted a tax cut but has done damn little to curb spending. Thus, the deficit is ballooning again.
  • The Party of Lincoln used to be an inclusive outfit. It welcomed people of all races, ethnicities, creeds. It has become another kind of party these days. It is seeking to shut the door on those seeking asylum from tyranny in their homelands. Politicians who belonged the former Republican Party helped a Democratic president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, enact the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of the mid-1960s over the objection of many southern Senate Democrats who clung to their segregationist history. Imagine that happening today.

I cannot predict whether the old Republican Party will return, let alone when that might occur. I try like the dickens to avoid cynicism. My hope still springs forth that there will be a better day ahead.

President George H.W. Bush — although he was far from perfect — still in many ways embodied the ideals of a once-great political party. Those ideals have been pushed aside. We’ll bury Bush 41 in a few days. While we’re at it, how about trying to exhume the remains of a Republican Party that he represented?

Hating the political climate

Mom always taught me that hating anyone was a step too far. One shouldn’t hate, she said.

OK, Mom, but you won’t mind if I declare my unabashed, unapologetic hatred for the political climate that has infected the atmosphere. I’m glad Mom and Dad aren’t around to see what has happened to our nation . . . not that either of them were particularly political.

Who’s to blame for this? I’m going to lay most of it at the feet of the man elected to “unify” the country. The president of the United States promised to be a unifier once he took office. Donald Trump touts his “promises made, promises kept.” Mr. President, you have failed miserably at keeping this promise.

Trump doesn’t own this poisonous atmosphere exclusively. I’ll concede readily that his political foes continue to whip up the frenzy against him. I also will concede that many of them — I include myself — were stunned speechless Election Night 2016 when the TV networks and other news outlets declared Trump the winner over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At one level, it’s hard to fathom that event happening. Thus, it well might be that we haven’t gotten over it.

So, Trump knows that. Has he done anything to reach out? Has he sought to mollify the concerns of those who opposed him at the ballot box, those who comprise a solid plurality of Americans who voted for the candidate who lost the Electoral College?

No. He hasn’t. Indeed, he has fanned the embers, whipping them into a firestorm. He speaks only to his “base,” the roughly 38 percent of Americans who stand by their guy. He fires ’em up! He speaks of waves of criminals pouring into the country to commit mayhem; he talks about building that damn wall across our southern border; he threatens to shut the government down if Congress doesn’t pay for it (he has given up trying to get Mexico to pay for it).

The president had the utter gall to say that there were “good people on both sides” of a riot in Charlottesville, Va., in which one of the sides comprised Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists. How in the world does that unify anyone?

The debate atmosphere has become toxic to the max. There appears to be no end to it. Democrats and Republicans detest each other. The president detests Democrats, accusing them of wanting a nation full of lawbreakers, of wanting to take people’s guns away from them.

Donald J. Trump is largely responsible for fomenting an atmosphere of poisonous rhetoric.

It is worth every ounce of hate I can muster.

‘W,’ Clinton showed us how divided government can work

Since I’ve already noted the arrival in Washington this coming January of a form of “divided government,” I feel the need to offer a two brief examples of how it works.

One party controls one branch of government, the other party controls the other. Such a circumstance doesn’t guarantee gridlock or incessant bickering, bitching and backbiting.

Donald J. Trump is going to report for work in January with Democrats controlling the U.S. House of Representatives; his fellow Republicans will retain control of the Senate. It won’t be a fun time to govern. It doesn’t need to be this way.

I give you two examples, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Before he became president, Bush was governor of Texas. He was elected in 1994. The Republican governor took office with a solidly Democratic Legislature in power. Unlike the man who now is president, he didn’t insult, defame or denigrate legislative Democrats. He learned quickly how to forge alliances — even friendships — with those on the other side.

Two men became his BFFs — before the term became widely accepted. They were the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, the crotchety, curmudgeonly Democrat who controlled the Texas Senate and House Speaker Pete Laney of Hale Center, the affable Democrat who ran the People’s House.

They formed a trio who respected each other’s skill and who managed to notch some notable legislative victories among them. They sought to give public school teachers a pay raise and increase test scores among students, they dipped into the state’s budget surplus to enact a tax cut, they furthered the push to invest in renewable energy resources.

Two Democrats learned to work with a Republican governor who, after all, had defeated a Democratic incumbent, the late Ann Richards, in a bitter campaign.

But “W” didn’t denigrate his legislative foes. He worked with them, understanding the need to cooperate when possible. To their credit, Bullock and Laney¬† understood precisely the same thing.

Bill Clinton watched the Democrats lose control of Congress in 1994, two years after his election to his first term as president. Newt Gingrich became the speaker of the House, Bob Dole rose to majority leader in the Senate.

Did the president let that loss of congressional power dissuade him? Hardly. He, Gingrich and Dole managed over time to work together to accomplish a budgetary miracle: a balanced federal budget, the first one of them in about 30 years.

They understood each other, just as “W” understood his legislative partners in Austin.

What lies ahead for the next Congress and the president as they embark on the second half of the president’s term? The indications are that it’s going to be a rough and rocky ride. It doesn’t help that Donald Trump doesn’t have the political chops needed to navigate and manage a political agenda with discipline and finesse. Nor does it help that he has bruised and battered so many congressmen and women with his insults and nasty pronouncements on Twitter.

Oh, and he’s that got that “Russia thing” hanging over his head.

I wish it were different. I fear we’re headed down the slipperiest of slopes. It need not be this way.

Espy vs. Hyde-Smith: Race still matters . . . sadly

I do wish this weren’t the case, but race still matters in determining our elected leadership in many of our states.

I fear we’re going to see an example of it at the end of today when they count the ballots in Mississippi, a state long held up as an example where bigotry and racism run rampant.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running for election to a seat to which she was appointed. The Republican is facing Democrat Mike Espy, a former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a runoff election, with Hyde-Smith and Espy competing as the top two finishers in an open contest featuring candidates from both major parties.

It doesn’t look good for Espy at this moment. Why? Well, Espy is an African-American candidate. He also is known as a moderate Democrat, a thoughtful fellow with extensive government experience.

Hyde-Smith has been caught in a number of troubling incidents. She said just a few weeks ago that she would be on the front row if she were invited to a “public hanging.” Many substituted the term “hanging” with “lynching,” which of course sounds the siren to African-Americans who know what that entails.

She then offered one of those idiotic non-apologies, saying she is sorry to “anyone who was offended” by her remarks. She also had her picture taken in 2014 wearing a Confederate cap, packing a rifle under a caption that extolled the Confederacy’s glowing role in state history.

Sheesh, man!

Mississippi is a deeply Republican state. Espy is hoping to capture lightning with a record African-American turnout today, while winning roughly a quarter of the white vote. Will it happen? I hope it does.

Here, though, is one more kick in the gut: The third-place finisher in that earlier election was a Donald Trump sycophant, Chris McDaniel; most of the votes that McDaniel got are damn near a cinch to end up in Hyde-Smith’s column at day’s end.

Yes, we should all should be interested in this race, even though it’s down yonder in Mississippi. The winner will help write national laws that affect all of us.

Thus, I am pulling for Mike Espy.

Rep. Love throws no ‘Love’ back at POTUS

Donald J. Trump took an unusual and uncalled-for step after the midterm election by saying that those Republican candidates who kept their distance from him lost their bids for election and re-election.

The president’s singling out of those candidates, to be candid, was an unconscionable exercise in attention-diversion.

Well, one of those GOP candidates who lost a re-election effort, U.S. Rep. Mia Love of Utah, fired back at the president while conceding this week to her Democratic opponent.

“Mia Love gave me no love and she lost,” Trump said prematurely the day after the midterm election. “Sorry about that, Mia.”

They weren’t finished counting ballots. Rep. Love might have won. She didn’t. She conceded today to Ben McAdams, and then asked why the president would behave in such a crass manner toward her and her fellow Republicans.

“However, this gave me a clear vision of his world,” Love said in her concession. “No real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.”

I want to single out the phase “sincere service.” I know that Rep. Love is aware of this, but Donald Trump doesn’t have a sincere bone in his body, unless he’s talking about himself and his so-called success and the “tremendous difference” he says he has made on the nation.

The president exhibits a decided lack of class far more often than most of us want to see and hear. That moronic singling out of Republicans who didn’t give him sufficient “love” is yet another example of the man’s unfitness for public office.