Tag Archives: Oval Office

Imagine this image with POTUS No. 45

The video I am sharing here occurred not long after the 2008 presidential election.

President George W. Bush welcomed President-elect Barack Obama to the Oval Office for a get-together with three other gentlemen with intimate knowledge of the office of president of the United States.

Former Presidents Bush, Clinton and Carter all joined in wishing the new guy well as he prepared to assume the massive responsibilities of the world’s most difficult public service job.

I watch this video and wonder: Could such an event have occurred when Donald J. Trump succeeded Barack H. Obama?

I will answer my own question: Hell no!

Trump managed all along the way toward his election to trash virtually all of his predecessor. Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush didn’t vote for their fellow Republican; Trump managed also to denigrate President Carter’s service; oh, and let’s not forget the way he defamed President Clinton while running against the 42nd president’s wife in 2016.

George W. Bush looked at his successor and told him, “We want you to succeed.” He added that all the men gathered in the Oval Office had unique knowledge of the challenges that awaited the new man and would be glad to share their advice if asked.

I read only recently that Presidents Obama and Trump haven’t spoken since Trump took office. The 45th president continues to isolate himself and the presidency from two centuries of tradition and custom.

Then again, I have to remind myself of what Donald Trump declared from the podium at the 2016 GOP national convention. You’ll recall he said that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems.

No. You cannot, Mr. President.

Mitch is striking ‘bipartisan’ tone for new year

Can it be true? Is the Senate majority leader finding some form of “religion” on how to govern?

Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is talking about a more “bipartisan” approach to legislating in the coming year. Well now. Imagine that.

The New York Times is reporting that McConnell is going to shy away from highly partisan measures and concentrate more on issues that have broader bipartisan support. He’s going to look for more Democratic support to go along with the Republican majority that controls the flow of legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Dodd-Frank, which governs the financial industry, has bipartisan support for overhauling the law enacted in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis. McConnell said he virtually certain to push that overhaul forward.

Mitch is going bipartisan

As Politico reports, McConnell and other Republicans failed in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this year. “I wish them well,” he said of efforts to continue to repeal the ACA and replace it with … something!

As an American who favors a bipartisan approach to legislating in Congress, I welcome the majority leader’s stated intention to seek another way to govern.

Now … if only Sen. McConnell can persuade the guy in the Oval Office that cooperation works far more effectively than confrontation.

Another one bites the dust

Blake Farenthold has given a new, but strangely ironic meaning to the “Me Too” movement.

The Republican member of Congress from Corpus Christi has said “Me, too … I’m ‘retiring’ from the House of Representatives because of sexual harassment allegations.”

Farenthold reportedly is going to call it a career after the 2018 midterm election. He won’t seek re-election.

He joins a growing and infamous list of members of Congress who’ve bowed to immense and intense public pressure brought on by their sexual misbehavior. We have seen the departures of Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Democratic Rep. John Conyers, Republican Rep. Trent Franks and now this guy, Farenthold.

Read more about it here.

Are there other individuals out there? I’m thinking … yep. There are.

Farenthold is a back-bench member. He’s not a GOP leader in the House. He’s just sort of a loudmouth who once implied he would like to engage in a duel — you know, with pistols — with female members of the House who voted against the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then it got even worse!

Farenthold was revealed to have spent $84,000 in public money to settle sexual harassment complaints against him. To his credit, he took out a personal loan to pay it back.

That’s not the end of it. CNN reports that new allegations have come forward, accusing Farenthold of being verbally abusive and sexually demeaning.

I guess that signaled the end of the line for this guy. I would prefer he would just walk away now and allow someone else to win a special election and represent the Coastal Bend district with dignity and honor. We’ll have to settle for this clown serving until the end of his term.

This is the new culture in Washington, D.C. Women are coming forward, emboldened to speak out strongly against those who they contend are abusing, demeaning and threatening them.

Now … if only we could just get the goods on yet another leading politician, the guy who calls the shots in the Oval Office.

Maybe that day is coming, too.

As long as we’re insisting on resignation …

Three U.S. senators — two Democrats and an independent who sides with Democrats — have broached a subject that’s on the minds of millions of Americans.

If we’re going to demand and accept the resignations of senators and House members over allegations of sexual abuse, assault and harassment … how about demanding it of the groper in chief, Donald John Trump Sr.?

My distaste for Donald Trump as president of the United States is documented quite thoroughly on this blog. He has behaved like a slug and a boor among women. Moreover, he has actually bragged about it!

Now we hear from Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Corey Booker, D-N.J., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., all of whom have said that the president should resign just as Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Republican Rep. Trent Franks and Democratic Rep. John Conyers have done.

I won’t climb aboard that hay wagon just yet. However, Trump and his acknowledged misbehavior — and the myriad complaints and allegations that have been leveled against him — do suggest one of the more profound ironies of the “Me Too” movement that is swallowing powerful men.

Trump’s recorded voice has him boasting to a TV host about his grabbing women by their genitals. He boasted about how his celebrity status enabled him to kiss women whenever he felt like it. He has talked about how he was able to walk in on half-dressed beauty pageant contestants because, by golly, he was the boss.

Trump’s “punishment”? He was elected president of the United States. The election does not absolve him of anything. Instead it brings it all into sharp relief when juxtaposed with the allegations that have forced other politicians to walk away from their public service jobs.

I’m not prescient enough to know where this “Me Too” movement is going from here. Perhaps it will gather even more steam. It well might explode inside the Oval Office. Or … it might fizzle and die.

If it does expand and if it does reach even more deeply into the president’s personal behavior, well … then I believe we need to take these resignation suggestions from Sens. Sanders, Booker and Merkley quite seriously.

So, too, should the president.

Trump shrinks a big office

I wish I had thought of this, but since I didn’t I’ll deliver appropriate credit to the source of this piece of wisdom.

It comes from U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who fired off this tweet today about Donald J. Trump Sr.:

“The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn’t lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?”

What a great question, even though it’s more or less a rhetorical inquiry. Here’s another twist on it: How can Trump shrink the high office he won a year ago in one of those most stunning political upsets in U.S. history? I think it shrunk the very moment he took the oath of office.

POTUS shrinks his office

The object of Schiff’s retort concerns the Twitter tussle that Trump entered with LaVar Ball, the father of one of three UCLA student/athletes who were charged with shoplifting at a high-end store in the People’s Republic of China.

Trump talked to Chinese leaders while visiting that country and reportedly persuaded them to release the young men instead of convicting them and sentencing them to potentially years-long prison sentences. LaVar Ball then tweeted that Trump didn’t do anything to obtain the release of his son and the other athletes.

Then the president decided to fire back at Ball — a man known for his big mouth and outsized public presence in the lives of his athletically gifted sons.

He said he “should have left them in jail” because LaVar Ball didn’t lavish enough praise on the president for his efforts.

That is one way a small man can occupy such a big office. Indeed, Trump is managing to shrink the office itself with his persistently petulant behavior.

Trump has turned this remarkable “skill” into an art form.

POTUS does the impossible

Donald John Trump has done the seemingly impossible.

He has turned yours truly into a fan of Republicans who — prior to Trump’s ascendance into the presidency — likely wouldn’t get a good word from this blog.

Who … knew?

I’m going to single out three GOP senators briefly.

* John McCain. This man is a hero. He fought bravely during the Vietnam War. He served heroically as a prisoner of war after being shot down. McCain’s valor is beyond dispute. His commitment and love of country cannot possibly be questioned. He’s now fighting for his life against brain cancer.

* Bob Corker. I am less familiar with this fellow. He’s ending his Senate career after just two terms. He’s a conservative. He is a mainstream fellow. He seems intelligent, measured, reasonable.

* Jeff Flake. He, too, is ending his Senate run at the end of next year. He’s another conservative. He’s also a true-blue Republican.

All three of these men have another thing in common. They detest the president of the United States. So do I. Wow! Imagine that. I agree with them — and other lawmakers in both houses of Congress — in their assessment of Trump’s competence.

Donald Trump is not competent enough to do the job to which he was elected. What’s more, he’s not even a real Republican. He is no Democrat, either. He’s a man without a party, or a man with a party he is seeking to craft in his own image.

What an image that would be, yes?

A fellow inherits a stake from his wealthy father; he invests it in real estate development; he makes a ton of money. Then he ventures into beauty pageant management/ownership. Then he becomes host of a reality TV show.

Oh, then he marries three women, produces five children with all three of them. He cheats on his first two wives — and brags about it! He admits to groping women and grabbing them by their, um … oh, you know. He mimics a disabled reporter. He disparages a Gold Star family. He hides his tax returns from public review.

Trump doesn’t know how to govern. His “fellow Republicans” do understand how run the government. They are frustrated, angry and mortified at the so-called “leadership” coming from the White House.

I am on their side in this growing dispute.

The common denominator who has brought me to the Republicans’ side? He sits in the Oval Office.

Gen. Kelly needs a poker face

I continue to be a fan of White House chief of staff John Kelly.

He’s seeking to bring some discipline and order to the White House while trying to instruct the Oval Office occupant, Donald J. Trump, on how to act in a manner befitting his exalted title: president of the United States of America.

The former Marine four-star general, though, needs to develop a poker face when he’s forced to watch the president make an ass of himself on the world stage.

There he was at the United Nations this week, listening to the president talk about the “total destruction” of North Korea. Yes, Trump said that while speaking in the forum established in 1945 for the expressed purpose of finding peaceful solutions to international crises.

Gen. Kelly put his hand over his face. The question becomes: Was he mortified at what he was hearing? We don’t know, of course. He won’t say. The White House press operation said Kelly wasn’t reacting to anything in particular.

His reaction was somewhat similar to the body language he “spoke” while listening to the president refer to “both sides” being responsible for the Charlottesville, Va., riot that left a young counter protester dead after she was run over by a man with alleged ties to the white supremacists who provoked the riot in the first place.

Then again, we don’t know what Kelly was thinking at that time, either.

My point is that Kelly would do better for himself if he just sat there stoically without prompting observers all around the world to interpret body language messages.

Absent that kind of self-discipline, we are left to wonder out loud if he’s as disgusted at the boss as many of the rest of us.

Politicians ‘play politics’? Shocking, simply shocking!

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is incensed that congressional Democrats worked out a debt-limit deal with Donald J. Trump. He accused them of “playing politics” with the suffering of Americans living on the Texas Gulf Coast, who are trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey’s savage assault.

Why, I never …

The speaker needs to look inward just a bit to understand that Republicans have perfected the art of “playing politics.” They do it quite well, too. Indeed, the practice of kicking issues around like the proverbial political football is a bipartisan endeavor.

Allow me, though, to look briefly at two examples of GOP politics-playing.

In 2011, a tornado tore through Joplin, Mo. Republicans decided to hold money for relief in that community hostage to finding ways to pay for it. They wanted to cut money from other budget line items to finance the Joplin aid package. At the time, it was virtually unheard of for members of Congress to balk at rushing to the side of Americans in desperate trouble.

In this case, led by then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the GOP did that. Playing politics? You bet!

Example No. 2: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. President Obama nominated an eminently qualified jurist to replace him, U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared only hours after Scalia’s death that Obama wouldn’t be allowed to fill this seat. The Senate would wait for the election to occur and then give that opportunity to the next president.

It was a huge gamble at the time. It paid off, though, for Republicans when Donald Trump was elected president. McConnell and Senate Republicans, though, managed to thwart a sitting president’s constitutional authority to nominate a federal jurist purely for political gain.

Did the Senate GOP leader play pure partisan politics with that issue? Uhh, yeah. Just a tad.

So, spare me the righteous indignation, Mr. Speaker, about Democrats “playing politics” with the debt ceiling. Your guy in the Oval Office — the self-proclaimed “greatest dealmaker ” in the history of Planet Earth — caved to Democrats’ demands.

Is he playing politics, too? Hmmm?

Letter from ‘BO’ now seems oddly unwelcome to DT

Under normal circumstances, a letter from one president of the United States to his successor wouldn’t seem to be worthy of much attention.

These aren’t normal times. For starters, Donald J. Trump isn’t your “normal” president. He spoke kindly of his immediate predecessor, Barack H. Obama, when the two men met face to face for the first time in the Oval Office right after Trump’s election as president.

It went downhill from there. Rapidly. Angrily.

So, when CNN released the contents of the traditional note that presidents leave behind, it’s worth noting the outreach that President Obama extended to his successor.

The note ends with this: Michelle and I wish you and Melania the very best as you embark on this great adventure, and know that we stand ready to help in any ways which we can.

I do not doubt the former president’s good wishes for the Trumps. I’d like to throw away my doubt about how the new president felt about the former president upon visiting him in the Oval Office. But I cannot.

Here’s the full note from Obama to Trump.

If only the president hadn’t defamed the former president with that scurrilous and baseless claim about wiretapping the Trump campaign’s offices in Trump Tower. Or if only he would resist the temptation to say again and again about the “mess” he inherited from the 44th president, which I happen to believe is another lie.

Trump’s loud mouth and his boisterous criticism of All Things Obama appear aimed at pleasing only the base within his own Republican Party while ignoring the support that the former president enjoyed among millions of other Americans.

So now we know what the former president wrote to the man who took his place in the Oval Office. To me, the most poignant passage in the note deals with the transitory nature of the office.

It reads: (W)e are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.

There’s no need to elaborate on whether I believe Donald Trump — to date — has kept faith with that bit of advice.

It helps to know what you don’t know

One of the gazillion things that have been said of Donald John Trump is that the president of the United States “doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”

He seems to be the Bubble Boy of American politics, insulated from the effects of the barbs and boulders tossed at him. Or so he thinks.

Now comes former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich to offer a bit of specificity, which is that Trump doesn’t realize just how “isolated” he has become.

Critics of this blog will recall that I’ve dismissed Newt in the past as a know-nothing has-been, a philanderer who in the late 1990s made a big case against former President Clinton over his, um, philandering. 

On this one, though, Newt might be on to something. He said on Fox News: “On the Hill, he has far more people willing to sit to one side and not help him right now, and I think that he needs to recognize he’s taken a good first step with bringing in Gen. (John) Kelly (as chief of staff), but he needs to think about what has not worked.”

Trump’s term as president is in trouble. He has declared open warfare on fellow Republicans. Democrats detest him already, so they need zero push to resist every single thing he proposes. He cannot fill key deputy Cabinet posts, or senior White House staff jobs. The roster of federal judgeships remains largely vacant.

The president’s legislative agenda has high-centered. It has no traction. Tax reform is likely to get stalled. He won’t get the money he wants to build that wall along our southern border. Congressional leaders are going to increase the budgetary debt ceiling despite what the president says.

Trump once boasted that “I, alone” can fix what’s wrong.

No, Mr. President. You cannot. It is impossible.

He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know … which is dangerous not just for him, but for the country.