Tag Archives: JFK

Go hard after him, Mr. Biden

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I wasn’t quite 11 years of age in 1960 when Vice President Richard Nixon faced off against Sen. John F. Kennedy in that history-making first-ever televised presidential debate.

Those who watched the debate deemed Kennedy the winner; those who heard it on the radio declared Nixon the winner. The TV version proved decisive and Kennedy went on to win the presidency.

We’re going to have another possibly history-making joint appearance Tuesday. It will feature former Vice President Joseph Biden against Donald Trump, the current president of the United States.

Were the Biden team ask my advice I would tell them simply this: Go hard after Trump but do not get caught up by the insults and innuendo that Trump is sure to fire at you regarding the business dealings of your son, Hunter.

Donald Trump has provided a treasure trove of hideous declarations, assertions and lies that Biden to fire back at him. I would encourage the former VP to go on the attack. Do not let up. Do not give Trump an opening to launch into one of those riffs that his “base” just eats up.

I don’t expect this debate to have quite the gravitas as that first Nixon-Kennedy encounter. Those men had two more debates in 1960; they became increasingly contentious. Biden and Trump will meet three times as well. I expect fully that their encounters will become angry to the point of bordering on outright rage.

My fondest hope is that Biden keeps his cool, stays focused on Trump’s hideous record compiled during his term in office and remains … and exposes Trump to be the phony so many of us know him to be.

Not so strange after all

Media pundits continue to make something of a ruckus over the recent political history involving Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris, that Harris roughed up Biden in a couple of debates before she dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest.

They’re now on the same Democratic ticket. So I am left to wonder: Why the fascination? It’s hardly the first time political rivals have hooked up, buried the hatchet and locked arms in the fight against a common opponent.

In 1960, Sens. Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy fought for the Democratic nomination. They spoke harshly of each other. LBJ pulled out at the end of that primary fight. JFK was looking for someone to help strengthen him in the South. So he turned to Sen. Johnson. They won that race. Fate, though, tragically intervened when JFK died from an assassin’s bullet in November 1963.

In 1980, former Gov. Ronald Reagan and former CIA director/U.N. ambassador/former congressman/former special envoy to China George H.W. Bush butted heads for the Republican nomination. Bush chided Reagan’s fiscal policy as “voodoo economics.” Reagan survived and then selected Bush to be his VP. The two of them served together through two successful terms.

In 2008, for heaven’s sake, Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden fought for their party’s nomination. Biden didn’t last long. He took his shots at Obama, who fired back at his foe. Obama got nominated and had Biden at his side for two terms.

So now it’s Sen. Harris who’s being examined. Is she loyal enough? Does the presumptive nominee trust her to be a team player?

Biden has been through the VP vetting process. He knows what to ask, where to look.

Harris’s selection is historic. Many have made much of that fact, given her racial and ethnic background. Biden’s decision to select her, though, doesn’t look like much of a gamble. LBJ, George H.W. Bush and Biden himself already have blazed recent trails that led them all to the vice presidency.

Let’s worry less about the recent past between these two politicians and concern ourselves more with the policy positions they share and will take to the fight against Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

It’s game on, man!

This question is vital

David Gergen has hobnobbed at the center of power for decades, going back all the way during the Ford administration.

He has served Republican and Democratic presidents. The CNN political analyst has crystallized the Big Question that Joe Biden must be able to answer as he ponders who he wants to run with him on the Democratic ticket against Donald Trump. According to CNN.com, it goes like this:

But the Biden campaign should be paying the most attention to this question: If history calls, will his vice president have the capacity and talent to become a first-class president?

There you have it. Compatibility with the presidential nominee is important; so is personal chemistry; same for whether she will be a political asset.

The threshold question must be whether the VP is ready from Day One to step into the big job.

Look, let’s be candid. Joe Biden will be 78 years of age were he to take the oath of office next January. He will be the oldest president by a good bit ever to assume the office. That does not mean that the vice presidential nominee should start preparing for the job.

Lyndon Johnson was selected by John Kennedy to run for VP in 1960. Kennedy was 43 years old, the youngest man ever elected president. Fate intervened on Nov. 22, 1963. JFK chose well, as it turned out.

Joe Biden will have to choose equally well as he selects the person to run with him in what figures to be the nastiest, filthiest campaign in modern history … maybe of all time!

The other stuff is window dressing. The first and last criterion must be presidential readiness.

Read Gergen’s essay here.

The man knows his stuff. Pay attention to the advice this guy offers, Mr. Biden.

Follow the Nixon lead, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump just cannot commit to accepting the election results in November … if he loses to Joe Biden.

He sought to justify his skepticism of the results, casting doubt on their legitimacy, in an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

Simply by refusing to accept those results, Donald Trump is seeking to undermine the work done at the state and local levels of government to ensure that our elections are safe, free and secure. That’s how the president rolls. He said the same thing prior to the 2016 election, that he might challenge the results if Hillary Clinton won that contest. It turned out that Trump won; I don’t recall Clinton holding out for a possible challenge after she conceded defeat to Trump.

This is part and parcel of Trump’s background, starting with the obvious lack of public service experience. He was bred on the notion that everyone in business is out to cut someone else’s throat; therefore, they weren’t to be trusted. Had he an ounce of public service experience, Trump might take a different, more magnanimous approach to election results.

I harken to the 1960 presidential election. Vice President Richard Nixon lost that contest by a whisker to Sen. John F. Kennedy. JFK’s plurality totaled 112,000 votes nationally. Questions arose about the vote count in Illinois, where Kennedy won that state’s 27 electoral votes by just a handful. Republican operatives urged the VP to challenge the Illinois vote count, to tally up the ballots all over again. Nixon chose instead to let the vote count stand, to allow the president-elect to begin his transition to the most exalted office in the land.

Nixon put the country ahead of any personal political gain. To be sure, had Illinois’ electoral votes gone to Nixon, he still would have lost the electoral vote. But my point is that the vice president didn’t want to subject the nation to additional and, to his mind, pointless turmoil. His eight years as VP in the Eisenhower administration and his time in Congress taught him something about the value of public service.

Donald Trump has zero understanding of that need and will do all he can to sow seeds of doubt and discord in an electoral process that we all cherish.

The ‘carnage,’ Mr. POTUS?

Presidential inaugurals often produce  signature lines.

Franklin Roosevelt told us the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”; John F. Kennedy implored the nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”;  Gerald R. Ford — the nation’s only unelected president — told us “our long national nightmare is over.”

Donald John Trump’s signature line? “The American carnage stops right now.”

Well, dude, it hasn’t stopped. Yeah, he was referring to crime … but that hasn’t abated, either. The new “American carnage” came to us via the coronavirus pandemic. OK, he didn’t cause it. His dawdling, dithering and delay in acting initially to it has resulted in tens of thousands of more deaths than it otherwise might have produced had the president acted decisively at the front end of the pandemic.

But he didn’t.

Thus, the American carnage he vowed to stop only has worsened on his watch.

The pandemic continues to rampage across the land. It is producing greater rates of infection and death in many communities, all while the president continues to push state and local governments to speed up the reopening of the economy that has stalled because of the pandemic.

It ain’t working, Mr. President. I will just chalk this “American carnage will end” pledge to be another broken promise.

How stirring, Mr. POTUS

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, so I thought I would share it here.

This message comes to us from the 45th president of the United States, Donald John Trump. They just make you want to stand up and cheer … don’t they? Well, no!

  • President Abraham Lincoln stirred us in 1865 at his second presidential inaugural when he declared “with malice toward none and charity for all” he would seek to heal the wounds inflicted by the Civil War.
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president and in 1933 told us during the Great Depression that “the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself.”
  • President John F. Kennedy stood before the nation in 1961 and implored us to serve our country, that we should “ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country.”
  • President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall in 1987 and demanded that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, if he intended to work toward creating a better world, to “tear down this wall.”

This president has reduced such soaring rhetoric to utter nonsense such as what he said this week about whether testing for the COVID-19 virus was helpful in stemming the rate of infection by the worldwide pandemic.

Yep, this is what we got when we elected this clown.

I am shaking my head in disgust.

White House leadership is MIA

President Harry Truman had that sign on his desk that said “The Buck Stops Here.”

President John F. Kennedy told the nation after the failed Bay of Pigs, Cuba, military operation that “Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when he commanded Allied forces in Europe during World War II, planned the D-Day landing at Normandy and wrote a letter he would read to the world if the mission failed; he would take full responsibility for its failure … which thankfully he never had to read.

These men were leaders of the first magnitude. The current president of the United States, Donald John Trump, has demonstrated what I have to label as a “fair weather style of leadership.”

He takes credit when matters go well; he even takes credit when and where he doesn’t deserve it. When the strategy fails? He says he “takes no responsibility at all.”

We are witnessing how leadership becomes missing in action when the fecal matter hits the fan. Donald Trump keeps boasting about what he’s done to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Yet he denies the virtually proven instances when he fell short.

Trump’s leadership, such as it exists, has fallen far short of the kind of presidential leadership that an unprecedented health crisis of this scale requires. Trump can brag and boast all he wants. It doesn’t wipe out what we all know about the federal response to this crisis.

The nation needs focused, driven and dedicated leadership that presents itself at all levels. We are not getting it from this president, during this crisis.

Donald Trump’s mantra, unlike Harry Truman, is that the “buck stops … over there.” 

This man offers hope for our future

This video is about 30 minutes long. It was recorded in the summer of 2017.

I have nothing to add to this. I just want to encourage you to watch it and to listen to the message delivered by a newly former president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, as he accepted the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

It speaks volumes about the ideals we need to attain once again for this great country.

Trump tries to re-define political ‘disloyalty’

Donald Trump’s blathering about Jewish voters endorsing Democratic candidates brought to mind a nearly six-decade-old commitment stated by a previous president of the United States.

Trump’s statement has been taken by some to be an anti-Semitic utterance from someone who presumes political candidates must be “loyal” to Israel and to Israeli government policies. So the rationale — if you want to call it such — is that Jewish voters would be “disloyal” to Israel if they back candidates who might be not quite as friendly to Israeli policies as candidates from the other major political party.

This is utter hogwash, claptrap, bull corn — whatever you want to call it — from the president.

In 1960, Sen. John F. Kennedy was running for president as a practicing Catholic. There were whispers that turned into shouts about whether a Catholic president would take his marching orders from the Vatican. Sen. Kennedy sought to assuage those concerns and he did so in a most brazen manner.

He attended a Texas convention of Protestant clergy, stood before them and said categorically that he would take the oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. It would be to that document that the president would adhere.

Presidents do take an oath to defend the Constitution. They do not defend the Bible, or the Torah. Their loyalty first and foremost is to the secular document crafted by the nation’s founders in the late 18th century.

Donald Trump’s abject ignorance of the very oath he took in 2017 reveals the danger we face if we return this guy to office in 2020.

Hoping for a return of a can-do spirit and drive

Americans are looking back with some sort of fondness at an event that occurred 50 years ago.

Yes, we won that race to the moon. Two American astronauts landed on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong stepped off the lander’s ladder and declared that he was taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

For years I had thought that Armstrong’s transmission got garbled somehow, that he really did say it was one “small step for a man.” Alas, that was mistaken … apparently. Armstrong flubbed the line, or so I learned.

President Kennedy had laid down the marker in 1961. He declared that we should get to the moon by the end of the 1960s. The president rallied the nation to his dream. He ventured to Houston and said that “we don’t do these things because they are easy. We do them because they are hard.”

And so the race was on.

Hey, we had a geopolitical adversary that had rubbed our noses in it. The Soviet Union launched the first satellite. The USSR put the first man into space.

Meanwhile, as the nation’s prepared to launch humans into space, we couldn’t get a rocket off the pad. They were exploding. Our national psyche suffered.

But we got into space. We put two men into sub-orbital flight. We finally put a man into orbit with John Glenn’s historic three-orbit flight in February 1962.

President Kennedy, of course, didn’t live to see his dream come true. Still, the mission proceeded at full throttle.

The Apollo 11 mission was the culmination of a national task. The world held its breath. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left indelible prints on the dusty lunar surface. Those boot prints remain there to this day. There would be others, too.

Over the span of time our manned missions dissipated and all but disappeared. The Soviet Union vanished from Earth in 1991. Russian rockets are taking Americans into space these days. I wonder what President Kennedy would think of that development.

I suppose you could say that the Apollo 11 mission was the beginning of our exploration of another celestial body. It actually was the beginning of the end of our grand adventure.

However, I do hope we get back into space. Human beings need to explore. We are built and wired to do great things.

A half-century ago we cheered the heroism of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the third astronaut who orbited the moon while waiting for his shipmates to return. These men exemplified a can-do spirit that I am missing today.

I hope we can find it … and soon.