Tag Archives: Joe Biden

Paul Ryan: big-time letdown

I had high hopes for Paul Ryan when he was dragged kicking and screaming into the speakership of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Wisconsin Republican reportedly didn’t want to become the Man of the House when John Boehner resigned his speakership and left public office in 2015. Ryan had to be talked into it.

He took the job. I was hopeful that this policy wonk, a serious young man who knows the ins and outs of public policy would be able to manage the House effectively and work to enact meaningful legislation. I had hoped he could work effectively with the Democratic minority in the House chamber.

Then I had hope that after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 that he could resist some of the new president’s more bizarre impulses.

Well, he didn’t deliver the goods. He didn’t work well with the other party. He certainly didn’t resist the president. He became a Trump Man. Not a Republican Party Man. But a Trump Man. He became the president’s enabler.

Ryan ran on the 2012 GOP ticket for vice president. He and Mitt Romney lost that election to President Obama and Vice President Biden. He went back to the House, resumed his post as Budget Committee chairman. Then fate — and Speaker Boehner’s frustration with the TEA Party wing of his party — delivered him to the House’s highest post.

If only he could have shown a bit of spine as the Republican In Name Only president proceeded to hijack a great political party. There were faint signs of spine-stiffening, such as when he would offer mild criticism of some crazy Trump utterances.

But then he would roll over as Trump pushed through the House a tax cut that over time will benefit only the wealthiest of Americans.

Speaker Ryan gave a farewell speech today, bidding goodbye to the House where he served for two decades. He lamented the “broken politics” that afflicts the House. Uh, hello, Mr. Speaker? You helped break it.

I, of course, live far away from Janesville, Wis., from where Ryan hails. However, given that he managed the legislative body that approves legislation that affects all Americans, I have a significant stake in the job he did.

Thus, I shall declare that I won’t miss Paul Ryan.

Pence’s stony silence most disturbing image

Look at the picture. The person to Donald Trump’s right is none other than the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence.

Of all the chatter we’ve heard about that meeting, the one image that continues to stick in my craw is of Pence sitting there, silent, not saying a single word. Meanwhile, the president argues with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer about the federal budget and financing construction of The Wall on our southern border.

The image of Pence sitting there mute reminds me of what President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden said of their relationship during their eight years in power.

Obama has made it abundantly clear, and Biden has affirmed it, that Biden was the last person to leave any room where the two men were present. Biden would argue with Obama, telling him — sometimes with great emphasis — where he believed the president was wrong. The president would fire back. The two men would go at it tooth and nail.

But through it all, as the former president has recounted their service together, they forged a lasting friendship and partnership.

Do you think the current vice president and the current president have anything approaching that kind of relationship, let alone any semblance of a friendship? Of course not!

Trump comes from a world where he was The Boss. He made decisions. Those who worked for him did what they were told to do. If they didn’t, they were out. Indeed, we’ve seen evidence of that background even as he has morphed into what passes for the chief executive of the federal government.

Thus, when Trump, Pelosi and Schumer were haranguing each other in the Oval Office, one couldn’t possibly expect VP Pence to chime in with his own view. I mean, after all, he’s only the No. 2 man in the executive branch of government. He was elected right along with Donald Trump to lead the nation. Isn’t that right?

Doesn’t that by itself give him any “cred” to say what he believes, to tell the president anything at all that might contradict whatever passes for the president’s world view?

One would think. Except that we are talking about Donald Trump, who is unfit for the office he holds. He wanted an obsequious lap dog to serve as VP and, by golly, he got one.

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.

Don’t run, Joe; leave the 2020 race to the young’ns.

Readers of this blog know it already, but I’ll restate it: I am a big fan of former Vice President Joe Biden.

There. I’ve got that out of the way. Now I want to declare that I do not want the former VPOTUS to run for president in 2020. It’s not that he can’t do the job. It’s not that he is incapable.

It is that I want new blood, new ideas, new faces, new voices to be seen and heard.

This will sound as though I’m an ageist. Believe me, I know what ageism looks like. I believe I’ve been victimized by it in recent years, so I say this next piece with a good bit of caution.

Biden’s age is going to work against him. He will be 77 years of age in 2020. He would be the oldest man ever elected to the nation’s highest office were that to occur. That would mean he would be 81 in 2024. Would he seek a second term, which would put him into his mid-80s were he to win?

Or … would a President Biden declare himself to be a one-termer, thus making him a lame duck the moment he takes his hand off the Bible at his inauguration in January 2021?

Biden is ruminating yet again about whether to run for president.

His pondering is the subject of an article in Atlantic. Read it here.

My hope for the country is that Donald Trump is defeated in 2020. I didn’t want him elected in 2016 and was shocked along with most political observers when he squeaked out that Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton.

He remains more unfit for the high office than any man who has ever held it. I want him gone. Defeated either in the GOP primary or in the general election.

Joe Biden isn’t the man to do it. I want him to remain active in the political discourse. He can lend plenty to the discussion of the issues of the day.

However, he needs to let the next generation of Democratic politicians have their time. Let them seek to take hold of the levers of power.

The former veep has had his day. It was a great run through 36 years as a U.S. senator and then as the second-in-command of the greatest nation on Earth.

Let it go, Mr. Vice President.

How will Cruz explain his change of heart toward POTUS?

Whenever the two major candidates for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Ted Cruz meet in a joint appearance, I am hoping whoever questions them will ask Cruz a critical question about his relationship with Donald John Trump Sr.

If it were me, I would ask him: Senator, you once called Donald Trump a pathological liar; you called him amoral; you called him gutless coward. How is it that you now welcome him to Texas to campaign for you? How do you justify this remarkable change in attitude toward a man you seemed to loathe when you both were campaigning for the GOP nomination in 2016?

If given a chance for a follow up, I might ask him to explain the president’s loathsome comments about Cruz: You took them personally, senator. Do you no longer feel the intense anger you expressed in the moment?

I also am thinking that Cruz’s opponent, Democrat Beto O’Rourke, is likely to ask the incumbent a lot of questions along those lines himself.

OK, I know what many of you are thinking. This isn’t new. Political foes for many years have buried the hatchet. Team of rivals, anyone?

To wit:

  • Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigned against each other in 2008; they said some incredibly mean things about each other. Obama got nominated, then elected and selected Clinton to be secretary of state.
  • Obama also ran hard and aggressively against Sen. Joe Biden in 2008 and then named Biden as his vice presidential running mate.
  • Sens. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson didn’t care for each other when they ran for the Democratic nomination in 1960. Then they teamed up and won the election.

That was then. The here and now presents another set of questions.

Trump disparaged Cruz’s father, suggesting he might have been complicit in JFK’s murder; he ridiculed the senator’s wife, Heidi. He called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.”

Sen. Cruz’s response to all of that was intense and seemingly visceral anger — and justifiably so.

But … the men have let bygones be bygones. Yes?

I am left to wonder what it takes for a politician to tell us what they really think. I also have to wonder if Cruz’s outrage was feigned or was it for real.

As for the president, well, I don’t believe a single thing that flies out of his mouth.

Sen. McCain got the sendoff he deserves

It’s been said over the past few days that the pomp, circumstance and pageantry associated with U.S. Sen. John McCain’s funeral is reserved usually for presidents of the United States.

Well, to my mind, the senator deserved all the tributes — and the accompanying ritual — that he received.

The great man’s six decades of public service all alone was worthy of the salute bestowed to him.

The eulogies delivered in Phoenix by former Vice President Joe Biden and in Washington by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush spoke volumes about the nature of the ceremony that the late U.S. senator planned for his farewell.

It was Vice President Biden who introduced himself to the crowd assembled by saying, “I’m Joe Biden; I am a Democrat: and I loved John McCain.”

And so it went as the nation poured out its heart to memorialize the iconic Republican lawmaker.

I was glad that the ceremonies didn’t dwell too heavily on the single aspect of McCain’s service to the country — his five-plus years as a Vietnam War prisoner. But it was there. It was impossible to set that part of his sacrifice aside.

The last public figure to get this kind of sendoff was President Ford, who died in 2006. Then it fell to others to deliver such a heartfelt salute to a man who fought a valiant battle against disease.

He already had battled his wartime captors. And he won that fight.

Sen. John McCain was the rare public figure who emerged even bigger after he lost the toughest political battles of his life: his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 and his losing bid for the office in the 2008 election against Barack Obama.

With that, the nation has bid farewell to a gallant warrior and a true-blue American hero.

May this sometimes irascible man rest in peace.

As he said of himself, Sen. McCain “lived and died a proud American.”

The country he loved and served with honor and distinction is better because he came along.

McCain tributes remind us of what has gone wrong

As I have watched the various tributes pouring in to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. John McCain, I am reminded of what some folks might say is the obvious.

I am reminded that as the men and women spoke of the late senator’s principled passion that much of the principle has been decimated in the name of partisan passion.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke of his “love” for his political adversary. He spoke of a friendship that transcended partisan differences. The Democratic ex-VP talked about how McCain’s devotion to principle superseded his Republican credentials.

Indeed, the same message came from Senate Majority Leader (and fellow Republican) Mitch McConnell, who today echoed much of what Biden said the previous day. McConnell noted that McCain could be your strongest ally or your most ferocious political foe. Indeed, McConnell and McCain had their differences over campaign finance reform — for which McCain fought and McConnell opposed.

What is missing today? The sense that political opponents need not be “enemies.” McCain could be irascible, grouchy, in your face, profane. He assumed all those postures because he believed strongly in whatever principle for which he was fighting.

Almost to a person, those who memorialized Sen. McCain reminded us of how it used to be in Washington and how it could become once again. If only the late senator’s political descendants would follow his lead.

I have been uplifted by the tributes to this American hero and political titan. I also am saddened by the comparison to the political standards he set to what has become of them in the here and now.

President Biden? Not so fast

This just in: Early polls say former Vice President Joe Biden is the early favorite to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 2020.

Sigh. Oh, my. Please. No!

It’s not that I dislike Vice  President Biden. I happen to admire him. I have admired him for many years, dating back to when he served in the Senate. Even to when he was first elected to the Senate, only to suffer the loss of his wife and daughter in a tragic car crash before the start of his first term.

He thought about quitting before he took office. He stayed the course and served with honor.

Having sung his praises, I don’t think he’s the ticket for Democrats in 2020. I would much prefer someone no one knows about. I want a much younger individual to run for the presidency.

VP Biden is 76. He’d be 78 in 2020. He would be 82 at the end of his term in office. I have nothing against old people. After all, I’m one of ’em, too.

The Democratic Party needs a fresh outlook, a fresh voice, a fresh approach to governing.

However, if it turns out to be Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump in 2020, well … you know who gets my vote.

Spoiler art: It ain’t the incumbent.

This is how it should be on Capitol Hill

If you have a little less than 6 minutes of your time to spare, take that time to watch this brief video.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican, is paying tribute to Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, as Biden’s time as VP is nearing an end.

I cannot remember if I’ve shared this video here already. If so, I’d like to do so again to drive home the point that we are hearing damn little of this kind of comity coming from Capitol Hill.

These days we now are hearing snark and sass from Republicans leveling it against fellow Republicans.

Sen. McCain, of course, is seriously ill at the moment. He remains a glowing reminder nonetheless of an era when members of differing political parties could oppose each other without destroying friendships.

If only we could return to this time.

Sen. McCain shares good times and bad with his friends

I hate, despise, detest the thoughts I am about to express in this blog post, but it needs to be said that they’re talking openly about the end for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

His friends are gathering to wish the senator well as he battles a virulent and aggressive form of brain cancer. Sen. McCain is presenting a brave public front, but it is looking grim … or so it appears, according to recent media reporting.

His longtime friends, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, have visited him. McCain reportedly has told Biden to “not give up on politics,” in what appears to be something of a tacit endorsement of him to run for president in 2020.

He has written of his regret in not selecting another dear friend, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, to be his vice-presidential running mate in 2008 when he lost the presidential election to Sen. Barack H. Obama. Lieberman has visited his friend, too, in Arizona.

There have been many others, according to The New York Times.

Then there is this stunner, as reported by the Times: Sen. McCain’s “intimates” have informed the White House that the senator wants Vice President Mike Pence to attend his funeral, but not Donald Trump, with whom McCain “has had a rocky relationship.”

Hmm. Imagine that. Trump’s disparagement of McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War seems to have stuck in the senator’s craw since Trump declared that Sen. McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” by North Vietnamese. Trump, of course, didn’t acknowledge the torture McCain endured during his more than five years as a captive in Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Or that McCain refused an early release because he didn’t want to abandon his fellow POWs while giving the North Vietnamese a PR bonanza, given that McCain’s father commanded U.S. naval forces during that time.

I have grown to admire Sen. McCain over many years. I didn’t vote him for president. I don’t regret my decision to endorse his opponent in 2008, Barack Obama. Nor do I shy away from my view that McCain is an honorable man who has given far more in service to his country than almost anyone.

I want him to defeat the illness that has ravaged him. I fear he won’t.

Thus, I am preparing for some deep sadness.