Tag Archives: Joe Biden

‘This is not a game’

Donald John Trump keeps demonstrating something that many of his fellow Americans have believed since the moment he declared his candidacy for the presidency of the United States.

He doesn’t know — or chooses willfully to ignore — what it means to be leader of the world’s most powerful nation.

He now is taunting the leader of another nuclear-armed nation, telling North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un that the United States has a bigger nuclear button than the North Koreans have. “My button works,” Trump said in a tweet.

Good, ever-lovin’ grief, dude!

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who knows a thing or two about power and its consequences, said “This is not a game … This is not about, ‘Can I puff my chest out bigger than yours.’ It’s just not presidential.”

Trump has drawn intense criticism not just from Democrats, such as Vice President Biden, but from foreign-policy experts. They say Trump’s public boasting about the American nuclear arsenal dismisses decades of presidential protocol.

As Politico reports: “You don’t brandish these weapons. You allude to them, obliquely,” said Joe Cirincione, a former congressional aide and president of the pro-disarmament Ploughshares Fund.

Trump doesn’t have an “oblique” bone in his body. He doesn’t grasp the nature of nuance. He doesn’t understand the consequences of the rhetoric that flies out of his mouth.

He taunts Kim Jong Un as “little Rocket Man” and now declares what the entire world knows already, that the United States can obliterate the entire planet if it so chooses.

This is a dangerous game the president is playing. His itchy Twitter fingers along with his big and boastful pie hole are potentially placing all of his fellow Americans in grave peril.

But … his base keeps insisting: He’s just “telling it like it is.”

Frightening.

Former VPOTUS offers a teachable moment for all pols

Joe Biden has this way of comforting those who are in pain.

The former vice president demonstrated that remarkable skill the other morning on a live TV show I was watching with my wife.

Vice President Biden was visiting the set of “The View,” the all-woman gabfest that features guests to talk about “hot topics” and other matters. One of the co-hosts happens to be Meghan McCain, daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who lost that presidential election to Biden’s running mate, Barack H. Obama.

Sen. McCain is fighting glioblastoma, a virulent form of brain cancer. The senator’s daughter began discussing Biden’s recent book in which he talks about the disease, which claimed his son, Beau, in 2015. Meghan started crying. She apologized to the former VP, who then swapped chairs with “View” co-host Sunny Hostin. He grasped Meghan McCain’s hands, offering her comfort as she told him how she thinks of Beau Biden daily while her father wages the fight of his life against cancer.

Biden told her to never give up hope. He urged her to follow her dad’s example of courage in the face of daunting challenge. He also sought to encourage Meghan by telling her of medical advancements that are being made in the fight to quell the disease Sen. McCain is battling.

What’s more, the vice president sought to tell Meghan McCain that her father is the politician who understands that political foes — such as Biden and McCain were during their time together in the Senate — need not be enemies. He told her his son, Beau, admired Sen. McCain’s “courage,” the type he demonstrated while being held captive during the Vietnam War.

Biden also reminded Meghan that her father was always there for those on the other side of the political divide. He spoke of his longstanding friendship with Sen. McCain.

The lesson here is obvious.

Democrats and Republicans in today’s political environment too often demonize each other. By that I mean they question their patriotism, their love of country, their motivation. Joe Biden sought to tell the daughter of one of his best Senate friends that her dad does not operate that way.

It’s a lesson I wish fervently would somehow sink in on both sides of the gaping chasm that separates the political parties operating in Washington — under the Capitol Hill dome and inside the walls of the White House.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

It pains me to say this, but I must reiterate what I believe remains the case to this day.

Democrats need not look to old warhorses to salvage their political fortunes, which means to me that former Vice President Joe Biden shouldn’t be a candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

I say this despite my affection and respect for the former vice president. I’ve long admired his tenacity, his passionate patriotism and his sense of collegiality and comity. He served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before joining the Democratic Party ticket led in 2008 by his Senate colleague, Barack H. Obama.

I believe still that Democrats need to find a newcomer to the national scene. I believe also that the nation has become afflicted with Clinton Fatigue, which means Hillary Clinton also is out of the presidential political game.

It appears to me that Democrats would do well to look for someone who is as unknown to the public as Jimmy Carter was in 1976. The nation was starved back then for a fresh face and they got one when the former Georgia governor climbed to the top of the party’s primary fight.

Vice President Biden has said publicly that he hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run. He was thought to be a possible candidate in 2016, but at the end had to stand down, given his intense grief over the death of his son Beau and his inability to commit fully to a presidential campaign.

Biden has been openly critical of Donald John Trump. Hmmm. Imagine that. So have many others. The ex-VP has spoken out strongly, much like another former veep — Dick Cheney — did during much of President Obama’s time in office.

But I don’t believe a Biden presidential campaign is going to serve the party well. Democrats would do well to find a fresh face, with fresh ideas to challenge a Republican Party that has been hijacked by a president who came into power knowing not a damn thing about how to govern the greatest nation on Earth.

Sen. McCain ‘tells it like it is’

U.S. Sen. John McCain received a great and much-deserved award today and said this:

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century,” the Arizona Republican said, “to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

Sen. McCain received the Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center. The person who gave him the medal was former Vice President Joe Biden, a former Senate colleague and longtime McCain friend.

The Liberty Medal was given to McCain to honor him for his career in public service, which included heroic service as a Navy aviator and more than five years in captivity as a Vietnam War prisoner.

McCain speaks with profound knowledge and understanding of this nation’s role as the world’s remaining military superpower and the world’s leading economic power.

McCain stands tall

I saw the remarks and understood immediately to whom he was directing his remarks about “scapegoats” and “spurious nationalism.”

Listen up, Donald John Trump Sr. The senator, the man you disparaged disgracefully during your presidential campaign, is talking about you.

Biden paid tribute to McCain’s service during his remarks. According to CNN: “John, you have broken many times, physically and otherwise, and you have always grown stronger, but what you don’t really understand in my humble opinion is how much courage you give the rest of us looking at you,” Biden said. 

If only one prominent American, the president of the United States, could grasp the message this brave man is delivering.

A moment of civility and honor

I feel the need to share this video before it recedes too far into the nation’s political background.

U.S. Sen. John McCain pays tribute in this brief video to his longtime friend and colleague, Vice President Joe Biden.

Why show this clip here? Today?

These are seriously contentious times. The vice president was about to leave office after nearly four decades serving in the Senate and as the nation’s No. 2 elected official. Sen. McCain acknowledges that he and Biden didn’t always agree on public policy. They argued, sometimes vigorously.

But it serves us all well to know that men who were political opponents could remain friends, a sentiment that McCain expresses with stunning eloquence in his Senate floor speech.

He was among many senators who rose to pay tribute to Biden as the VP prepared to leave public life.

It remains my hope — to which I’ll cling stubbornly — that we can find a way back to a more genteel era on Capitol Hill. Some of the current cast of characters in the spotlight today make it difficult to imagine such a return occurring any time soon — if ever!

I will admit to getting pretty damn worked up myself over the conduct of many of those characters. I’ve said some harsh things in this blog. I won’t retract them, but I’ll seek to do a better job moving ahead at maintaining a more civil tone, even though I sit way out here in the proverbial peanut gallery, far from where the action is.

Recalling the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s one-time campaign battle cry, I’ll continue to “keep hope alive” that decorum will return to the political debate.

Sen. McCain — the Vietnam War hero and a ferocious advocate for his own public policy views — offers us an example of what we need in the halls of power.

DOJ shoots down another Trump lie

I cannot shake this feeling that Donald J. Trump is furious at the Department of Justice.

He selected the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, perhaps believing the AG and his team would pledge fealty to the president of the United States.

So, what does DOJ do? It files a court brief that says it can find no evidence that former President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump’s campaign office at Trump Tower in late 2016.

Do you know what that means? It means Trump’s defamatory lie was exposed for what it was — by members of the president’s own Justice Department team!

Man, the boss must be spittin’ mad, right?

Well, maybe not.

Trump keeps yapping about becoming more “presidential.” He’s going in the opposite direction. I do have one suggestion for the Man at the Top to ponder if he’s ever going to turn that “more presidential” corner: own up to your lying, prevaricating ways.

I’m not suggesting he needs to say “I’m a liar.” He can acknowledge in more fanciful language that he has been known to pop off without thinking, which is about the most charitable thing I can suggest about the wiretap lie.

It’s just that when the president’s handpicked attorney general’s Department of Justice has exposed this accusation as the lie most of us know it to be, then — to paraphrase former Vice President Joe Biden — that’s kind of a big … deal.

It requires an out-of-the-ordinary response … at least for this president it would be totally unexpected.

I will keep breathing normally, though, given we all know this president is incapable of admitting to doing a single thing wrong.

So many lessons to learn from health care failure

Where in this world does one start to sort through the wreckage created by the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with … something else?

Most of know the story by now. Donald J. Trump got elected president and promised to “repeal and replace” the ACA. Congressional Republicans, having retained control of both legislative chambers, finally had a president on their side. Repeal and replacement were slam dunks.

Or so they thought.

Then they cobbled together something that didn’t pass conservative and progressive muster. They couldn’t round up the votes to repeal the ACA, let alone approve something called the American Health Care Act.

Arm-twisting, threats and last-second negotiation resulted in the president’s first major legislative failure. House  Speaker Paul Ryan — a partner with the president on this fiasco — canceled the vote today.

Lessons learned here? Let’s take a peek at some of them.

* Trump bitched today at the White House that he had “no Democrat votes.” Really! He said that out loud to a room full of “enemy of the people” reporters. Well, irony apparently isn’t something that’s on Trump’s radar. President Obama didn’t have a single Republican vote when he got Congress to enact the ACA in 2010; but he damn sure tried to get some GOP support.

* Trump campaigned for the presidency on his record as a take-no-prisoners business mogul. He had no public service experience prior to running for president. His whole adult life had been geared toward personal enrichment. Then he discovered something about politics: It is that politicians have their own constituencies to worry about. If the voters who elect them don’t like what they’re doing, they have this annoying habit of voting them out of office.

Congressional Republicans didn’t like the AHCA because their voters back home didn’t like it. Do you get that, Mr. President? Your Republican colleagues don’t work for you; they work for the citizens in their congressional districts and in their states.

This ain’t reality TV, Mr. President. Politics is practiced by those who know what the hell they’re doing. Just because you’re the president doesn’t mean you get your way whenever you demand something of others.

* The ACA isn’t perfect. I’ll concede that along with anyone with half a brain. But as Speaker Ryan conceded today, it is “the law of the land.” Here’s a thought for the speaker and for the president: Why not try to tinker with the ACA? Fix what’s most egregiously wrong with it. If premiums are costing too much, find a method to cap them. If Americans are having trouble finding medical care within certain networks, find a way to streamline the process.

Throwing out a landmark health insurance overhaul simply because it was the creation of a president from the “other” party isn’t smart. What’s more, the ACA is patterned after a plan adopted in Massachusetts, which at the time was governed by a real Republican, Mitt Romney; you remember him, correct? The ACA in fact has Gov. Romney’s fingerprints all over it.

Ryan said today that “doing big things is hard.” No kidding, Mr. Speaker. Barack Obama learned that lesson, too. Indeed, as Vice President Joe Biden once said, “This is a big f****** deal.”

So … the Affordable Care Act remains on the books. Now the president and Congress can turn their attention to something else.

I just hope there aren’t more screw-ups on the horizon.

Biden deserves the high praise

A question came to me after my post about Vice President Joe Biden receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction today from President Barack Obama.

It came from a reader of this blog who asks, simply: “What were Vice President Biden’s accomplishments?” The reader recalled when Biden in 1991 chaired the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that decided whether to recommend Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. He called Biden a “duplicitous blowhard.”

My sense, though, that Biden brought a kind of maturity to Barack Obama’s inner circle. He brought decades — three decades’ worth — of Senate experience; moreover, he brought several years, before his election to the Senate in 1972, of public service in Delaware.

Was there a signature achievement? Did the vice president author a policy or a strategy that the president followed? Was Joe Biden singularly responsible for a public policy decision?

I don’t believe he was successful in an outwardly visible way that the public would recognize.

I’ll accept the president’s accolades as a testament to the guidance and wise — and private — counsel that the vice president gave him during the tough times.

The gentleman who asked the question likely knows all of this. He did ask it, though, and I believe it’s worth sharing a brief response here to others who read these musings.

I suspect a lot of Americans perhaps are wondering the same thing about what Joe Biden accomplished during his eight years as vice president. We might not see it with our own eyes, but the man with whom he served in the White House surely did.

That’s good enough for me.

Yes, Americans will miss this team

Presidents and vice presidents haven’t always had the kind of relationship that Barack Obama and Joseph Biden have developed.

Lyndon Johnson famously summoned Hubert Humphrey to the White House for a conference … while LBJ was sitting on a commode; Dwight Eisenhower once responded to a question about what Richard Nixon contributed to his administration by saying: “If you give me a week, I’ll think of something”; John Nance Garner once referred to the vice presidency as being worth “a bucket of warm piss.”

To watch the current president bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the current vice president is to witness a true friendship that doubled as a national governing partnership.

The president added a final “with distinction” honor to the presentation, noting that such an honor is bestowed only rarely. He noted that his three immediate predecessors honored Pope John Paul II, President Reagan and Gen. Colin Powell “with distinction.”

With that, Vice President Biden joins some heady company.

And he deserves to stand with them.

Their partnership and friendship no doubt will make me miss them once they leave the public stage.

POTUS pays glowing tribute to those ‘who do the work’

Barack Obama said it as well as it can possibly be said.

The president bid farewell this week to the men and women who serve and protect us. They wear the uniform of the “greatest military in the history of the world,” he said.

The president reminded them — and the rest of the nation — that he is the “front man.” As commander in chief of that awesome military establishment, he gets his share of the credit for the successes achieved in defense of the nation.

“You do the work,” he told the men and women who he served as commander in chief.

Americans heard a lot of rhetoric during the recent presidential campaign about a military establishment in decline. They heard from the president-elect, who declared he knows “more about ISIS than the general.” Americans were subjected to put-downs and insults of our military forces who fight every day against international terrorists.

That kind of characterization does them a profound disservice.

I was glad to hear the commander in chief say the things he said to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, to Vice President Joe Biden, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the service secretaries and to the warriors who take essentially the same oath taken by the president himself.

President Obama also stated correctly that the young Americans who answer the call to put themselves in harm’s way “are among the greatest generations.”

Let us never forget what they do.

Thank you as well, Mr. President, for your service to the country.