Tag Archives: GOP

SOTU won’t fill us with warm, fuzzy feelings

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It never really had to be this way.

Barack H. Obama took office in January 2009 as the 44th president of the United States after an election that many had hoped would be a “transformational” political event for a country that had just elected its first African-American president.

Not long afterward, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his top priority would be to make Obama a one-term president. Yes, that’s right. McConnell said that defeating the president’s re-election effort would be his No. 1 priority.

That set the tone — right off the top — for the kind of relationship that the White House would have with Congress.

It hasn’t gotten any better, even as President Obama prepares to deliver his final State of the Union speech to a joint congressional session.

Ugly relationship coming to an end

To be blunt, the president didn’t do his part to develop a good working relationship with Congress. I’ve lamented before how the young president never learned how to build upon those relations with his congressional friends. To be honest, the president arguably served too little time in the Senate to have crafted a lot of friendships and political alliances among his fellow legislators.

I had hoped the president could have followed the Lyndon Johnson model of transferring his Senate experience into effective legislative accomplishment.

He didn’t.

However, Congress made it clear that it had no intention of giving any quarter to the president.

So, the president’s final State of the Union speech — which the White House says will be an “unconventional” presentation — isn’t expected to produce any bright lights of hope for a smooth and successful final year of the Obama presidency.

Republicans almost unanimously say that next to nothing will get done in this final full year of Barack Obama’s administration.

Perhaps, then, it will be left to the president simply to declare victory on the accomplishments that his presidency has delivered.

I’m wondering now if the president is going to remind us that Sen. McConnell’s top priority never came to pass.

 

Trump gives ‘credit’ where it isn’t due

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World leaders of all stripes have said essentially the same thing about North Korean dictator/madman/goofball Kim Jong Un.

He’s nuts, unpredictable, dangerous.

Now comes Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States, to give Kim “credit” for the ruthless manner in which he disposes of his political enemies.

Does the GOP White House hopeful include the way Kim had his uncle executed? There were reports that he fed his uncle to starving dogs, which then, well . . .  you know.

I’ll repeat once again: Being the leader of the world’s greatest nation requires a certain understanding of diplomatic nuance. Trump keeps revealing that he has no concept — none, zero — of that notion.

He wants to “make America great again”? How is he going to do that? By offering ill-timed words of encouragement to dangerous despots like Kim Jong Un?

 

Obama vetoes ACA repeal bill; what now?

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Who didn’t see this one coming?

Nobody. That’s who.

President Barack Obama today vetoed a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and cut federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

This was the mother of political statements. And I’m not talking necessarily about the president’s veto.

I’m referring to Congress’s insistence that the ACA — also known as Obamacare — isn’t working, that it’s an albatross, that it represents a government overreach.

It’s also the president’s signature domestic policy achievement. He said all along — going back to other efforts by Republicans in Congress to repeal the law — that he’d veto any such bill if it got to his desk. It did . . . and he did.

I believe Congress needs at this time to cut its losses. It doesn’t have the votes to override the president’s veto, even with its GOP majority in both legislative chambers. Republicans need a two-thirds majority to override; they don’t have it in the Senate.

We’ve got an election coming up. We’ll have a new president a year from now. Depending on who the parties nominate, Congress might have a dramatically different look than it does today — particularly if the Republican presidential nominee happens to have the name Donald J. Trump.

The current Congress still must work with a Democratic president who — on this issue — has drawn a line deep into the dirt between the White House and Capitol Hill.

The Affordable Care Act is going to stay; moreover, the government will continue to provide public money to Planned Parenthood. Don’t mess with either of them.

Let’s get on to the many other complex issues facing the nation.

Benghazi boss reveals his political preference

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Trey Gowdy has endorsed Marco Rubio for president of the United States.

Not a big deal, you say?

It might be. Here’s why …

Gowdy is chairman of the House Select Benghazi Committee. He keeps saying he isn’t driven by political motives, seeking to harm former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s quest to become the next president. Clinton, of course, ran the State Department when the terrorists stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

But wait. Rubio is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Gowdy’s also a Republican. Clinton is a Democrat.

Is Gowdy motivated by politics? Democrats are asking that question in the wake of Gowdy’s endorsement of his buddy Rubio.

I think it’s fair to ask why Gowdy chose to endorse a Republican candidate so early in the nominating process.

It’s also fair to wonder whether the chairman has developed a political tin ear to how this kind of endorsement might look to those who have been wondering all along whether the Benghazi hearings were tainted by more than just a touch with politics.

All those congressional hearings and the many hours of testimony have failed to prove a coverup by Clinton, as has been alleged by Republicans … including, by the way, Sen. Marco Rubio, Chairman Gowdy’s preferred choice for president of the United States.

Politics? Nahhh …

 

GOP turns on itself over immigration

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It’s fascinating to the max to watch what has happened to today’s Republican Party.

It is at war with itself. Immigration is the catalyst that has ignited the spark among the gaggle of GOP pols seeking the party’s presidential nomination.

There once was a time when Democrats were torching each other. The Vietnam War split Democrats between the Hawk Wing and the Dove Wing. Stay the course in ‘Nam or get the hell out of there … immediately if not sooner!

Well, the intraparty division sent Democrats into the presidential electoral wilderness for a time. Then Watergate occurred and the nation elected Democrat Jimmy Carter for a single term in 1976; Republican Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 launched a 12-year run of GOP White House control.

Democrats are relatively united these days.

Republicans? They’re fighting like the dickens over immigration.

Two of the main protagonists are Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio has accused Cruz of endorsing “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Cruz has fired back with his own allegations that Rubio has flip-flopped on the issue.

It’s all quite fun to watch, at least it is to me.

Cruz and Rubio both are playing semantics over what they — and each other — have said about immigration. Cruz seeks to become the most conservative of the Gang of 14 (GOP presidential candidates) on the issue. I don’t know what Rubio is trying to do, other than trying to muddy up Cruz’s stated positions on immigration.

They both share a common dislike of President Obama’s policies, which include granting temporary amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants while sparing the children who were brought here by their parents illegally the misery of being kicked out of the only country they’ve ever called home; that would be the United States of America.

I don’t know when the pendulum will swing back to the old ways of Democrats tearing each other’s lungs out. I guess it will … eventually. For now, though, leave it to those silly Republicans to provide the entertainment.

 

New polarization: pols vs. media

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I hear it from time to time. People I meet during a given week occasionally engage me in a conversation that begins: Do you think the nation is more polarized than ever  before?

My short answer generally goes like this: Well, maybe not since the Vietnam War. But we got through it. I believe we’ll be OK.

The polarization today, though, seem to be taking on another dimension.

Politicians, chiefly those on the right, now are taking dead aim at the media. Oh, I forgot: the mainstream media, those folks with the liberal bias.

Ted Cruz is the junior U.S. senator from Texas. He’s running for the Republican presidential nomination. He took some reporters pheasant hunting with him in Iowa this weekend.

Cruz scored plenty of points at the latest GOP presidential debate by taking aim not just at CNBC, which moderated the event, but at “all media.” The crowd in the Boulder, Colo., hall roared its approval — as did conservatives all across the nation.

The media now are seen as the enemy of the right. The left-wing, liberal media are out to “get” those who hold different views, say Cruz and other politicians on the right.

Cruz then took his beef an interesting step further. He suggested — with a straight face at that — that GOP debates should include “moderators” more friendly to their cause. He mentioned Fox New commentator Sean Hannity as one who he’d prefer to “moderate” a debate among GOP presidential candidates.

I agree with my pals on the right on this score: The establishment media — and I include conservative-leaning journalists in that group — have become legends in their own minds. They at times interject themselves into the stories they are covering. They become confrontational and snarky when neither is warranted. I believe we saw some of that from the CNBC moderators.

Then again, have our Republican friends forgotten — already! — what happened at the first GOP debate that Fox News sponsored. Fox’s Megyn Kelly got things started with a question to Donald Trump about the candidate’s history of anti-female statements. It went downhill rapidly from there.

The Republican presidential field of candidates has done a good job of demonizing the mainstream media as a tool of the left. It has cast the MSM as an institution to be loathed and mistrusted.

Are we polarized? Yes, we are. I’ll stand by my short answer: We’ll get past this … eventually.

 

Now it’s Dr. Carson’s faith drawing Trump barbs

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You might have heard Donald Trump score another one for the tasteless, tactless and thoughtless.

Will this latest insult doom his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination? I doubt it.

The object of Trump’s latest bit of scorn happened to be Dr. Ben Carson … specifically his faith.

Trump was rambling over the weekend about his being a Presbyterian. Then he launched into a brief riff wondering about Carson’s Seventh-day Adventist faith.

It was as if Trump didn’t think much of Carson’s belief.

Let’s see, Trump has gone after:

John McCain’s war record; Carly Fiorina’s appearance; broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly’s line of questioning; Jeb Bush’s “lack of energy”; the media in general; talk-show host Hugh Hewitt’s so-called “gotcha” journalism; Hispanic immigrants.

Anyone else? Oh, probably. I just can’t think of them.

Will any of it doom him. One would think. But wait! This isn’t a normal election year.

Goofiness is what many of the GOP faithful seem to want.

Heaven help them … and the rest of us.

 

Sen. Cruz just isn’t ‘likeable’

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Readers of this blog know that I’ve spent a good bit of time over the past couple of years writing unflattering things about U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

I don’t apologize for any of it.

George W. Bush the other day more or less climbed on board with many of the rest of us when he said of the junior Republican senator from Texas, “I just don’t like the guy.”

The former president was speaking at a private fundraiser in Denver on behalf of his brother, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, against whom Cruz is competing for his party’s nomination.

Ah, likeability.

Mr. President, I don’t like him either.

I’ve struggled a bit to say precisely why I dislike Cruz. I’ve never met him; forgive me for saying this, but I have met President Bush and I find him amazingly likeable.

Cruz, though, presents a different situation. Maybe he’s a terrific fellow — in private. The public version of Cruz, though, is remarkably unlikeable.

He blew into the Senate in 2013 and immediately began hogging lots of TV time. The mainstream media love the guy. He’s what the media describe as “good copy.” He was everywhere, making pronouncements on this and that, speaking of the venerable Senate institution as if he’d been there since The Flood. The young man seems to lack any self-awareness of how it looks to some of us who have watched him pontificate about the Senate and his new colleagues.

He’s managed to antagonize even his fellow Republicans, such as John McCain, who chastised Cruz for questioning whether Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel — a fellow Republican, former senator and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War — was sufficiently loyal to the United States of America. He’s called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and liar.

It’s all about Cruz.

Then he launched that presidential campaign of his barely a year after becoming a senator. I get that he’s not the first rookie congressional politician to reach for the brass ring. Barack Obama did it. JFK did, too. Heck, you even could say George W. Bush did, too, after serving only a term and a half in the only elective office he’d ever held — Texas governor — before being elected president in 2000.

It’s Cruz’s brashness, though, that seems so … umm … unlikeable.

Bush had it right when he blurted out to the political donors that he doesn’t like Sen. Cruz.

Does it matter that a president is likeable?

It matters to me. How about you?

 

Who are ‘they,’ Donald?

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Donald Trump is taking undeserved credit — imagine that, will you? — for Kevin McCarthy’s stunning withdrawal last week from the contest to become the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The GOP presidential candidate said “They’re giving me a lot of credit” for McCarthy dropping out of the congressional campaign.

Who said it, Donald?

That’s all part and parcel of Trump’s modus operandi.

He takes credit where none is deserved, along with shuffling blame off on someone else — all while tossing a personal insult or three at various other individuals.

So help me, I never heard anyone giving Trump “credit” for McCarthy backing out of the House leadership race. That is, until Trump said so.

The fact is that McCarthy’s own intemperance got him booted out.

He muttered that amazing fact, er, gaffe about the Benghazi hearing under way in the House, suggesting the committee was formed for the expressed purpose of undercutting HRC’s presidential ambition.

As former Texas Gov. Rick Perry might say …

Oops.

Government shutdown looming … maybe

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Oh, how I wish I could be as serene as some of the pundits out there about the prospects of a government shutdown in the wake of John Boehner’s stunning resignation.

The speaker of the House is leaving office at the end of next month. Between now and then Congress is going to vote on some funding issues that involve possibly the very issue of a government shutdown.

The TEA Party wing of Boehner’s Republican Party won big with the speaker’s resignation. He’s been battling the yahoos on the far right for years. He’s had enough, so he bailed.

That empowers the TEA Party types. It strengthens their hand with the new speaker, believed to be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Does he want to wage war with the TEA Party faction? Hardly.

He might find it more difficult to resist them than his predecessor did.

Planned Parenthood is in the TEA Party sights. They think shutting down the federal government — which, by the way, does a lot of things for other people as well — is a good way to get back at the agency for what TEA Party lawmakers say is its callous disregard for human life; it’s the abortion thing, you know.

Government to shut down?

This kind of political hostage-taking is not in keeping with congressional responsibility. Given that so many of the TEA Party faithful in Congress are too young to have been around when the GOP tried this tactic before.

It blew up in their face. It will do so every time.

If only they’d realize the folly.