Tag Archives: POTUS

And then there’s the 25th Amendment

The United States of America functioned for nearly two centuries before it ratified a constitutional amendment dealing with presidential succession and the appointment of a vice president.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in February 1967. It came in reaction to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The new president, Lyndon Johnson, served the remainder of JFK’s term without a vice president. LBJ got elected in 1964 and Hubert Humphrey joined the administration as vice president. President Truman took office in April 1945 after Franklin Roosevelt died just a month into his fourth term; Truman served nearly a full term, therefore, without a vice president.

The amendment has been used exactly once. Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 and President Nixon appointed House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president. The new VP then settled into the Oval Office Big Chair when Nixon resigned in August 1974.

I mention this today because the 25th Amendment is getting some attention these days. It allows for a temporary replacement of the president if a majority of the Cabinet determines he is unable to continue doing his presidential duties.

Donald John Trump is in trouble. A special counsel is examining whether his campaign colluded with Russian hackers seeking to meddle in our 2016 election. There might be some issues relating to Trump’s myriad business holdings, too. Oh, and then the president declares that “both sides” were at fault in the Charlottesville riot, causing a serious rift between the White House and members of Congress of both political parties.

There have been some questions about the president state of mind, his ability to actually govern and, yes, his mental competence.

I’m not qualified to offer a psychological diagnosis, let alone from half a continent away. So I won’t go there.

The 25th Amendment is meant to ensure the executive branch continues to function even in these difficult times. Just how difficult will they become? I guess that depends on how the president responds to the mounting pressure.

I keep hearing about how angry he is getting. He’s been cutting people loose all over the place: national security adviser, gone; press secretary, gone; communications director, gone; chief of staff, gone; FBI director, gone; senior strategist, gone.

Trump popped off about neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have effectively rebuked the commander in chief, although not by name. Congressional leaders are starting to weigh in. There might be some diehard Trumpkins among them, but the vast majority of public response has been highly critical.

Republican leaders are aghast. Never mind what Democrats think; it’s a given that they detest the president already.

In the meantime, the 25th Amendment looms as a serious talking point among the chattering class in Washington, D.C. Don’t for a single moment believe that the president is ignoring the chatter.

POTUS shows us once more he is unfit for his office

This video is about 23 minutes long. If you have the time — and if you have the stomach for it — take some time to watch it.

You will witness the president of the United States demonstrate a remarkable implosion. Donald John Trump Sr. said many astonishing things during this press conference on the ground floor of Trump Tower.

He reverted back to his “many sides” argument in response to the Charlottesville, Va., riot that was provoked by white nationalists/neo-Nazis/Ku Klux Klansmen protesting the removal of a Confederate statue.

Trump accused the so-called “alt-left” of attacking the racists.

The president once again blamed the media for its coverage of the event over the weekend, saying that the media were “unfair” in their reportage of the white supremacists.

POTUS also took shots at Sen. John McCain for voting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as well as at “fake news” outlets and their representatives.

It was an astonishing display of maximum petulance today at Trump Tower.

The president in effect reverted to form this afternoon. He exhibited compelling evidence that his initial response to the Charlottesville event — where he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence — came from his gut and that his more restrained response delivered Monday was canned, strained and done against his will.

Oh, and he conflated the American Revolution with the Civil War, noting that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, as did the leaders of the Confederate States of America. He asked, then, if it’s time to remove statues of the Father of Our Country and the author of the Declaration of Independence.

My head is about to explode.

I watched every moment of Donald Trump’s disgraceful display this afternoon. I still cannot believe what I witnessed.

Take a look at the video.

Hoping these Bannon reports are true

Oh, how I hope reports that have surfaced about Stephen Bannon are true, that he’ll be shown the door at the White House, the one leading away from the “real dump” where the president now lives and works.

A Bannon exit actually would verify that White House chief of staff John Kelly is the kick-a** Marine everyone says he is and that he cannot work with someone who (a) holds extreme right-wing views, (b) has the ear of the president of the United States and (c) is wholly unqualified to be the “senior strategist” for Donald John Trump Sr.

I have made no secret of my loathing of Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive whose publication has — and continues to do — published blatantly racist and anti-Semitic commentary on public policy. Bannon is the darling of the “nationalist wing” of the base that continues to cling, albeit in declining numbers, to its support of the president.

Bannon reportedly also has been feuding with another Trump grownup, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who happens to be an active-duty Army lieutenant general; he, too, has been known to kick some back sides in his day.

The president is on vacation in New Jersey. He’ll be returning soon to the place he calls “a real dump.”

The changes that might await him are substantial, thanks to the work of Kelly, the retired Marine general. The potential changes likely won’t erase the immediate past — the “Russia thing” and questions about whether the president sought to obstruct justice in that ongoing FBI and special counsel investigation.

If only Gen. Kelly can control the president’s Twitter fingers. We’ll still have to see how that plays out.

POTUS needs to be calming influence, not the inflamer

Donald John Trump Sr. has been all the rage since taking office as president of the United States.

That’s by his own design, no doubt. Today, for instance, the TV talk show pundit class was talking about Trump and his bellowing bellicosity regarding the North Koreans and their nuclear ambitions.

I heard many of the pundits say essentially the same thing: The president should be the voice of calm, reason and wisdom. It’s the president who should settle a nation’s nerves. He should be the comforter in chief.

Not this guy. Not the current president.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to tell North Korean officials they need not worry about “regime change.” We aren’t interested in tossing out Kim Jong Un, Tillerson said.  National security adviser H.R. McMaster said he doesn’t believe we are closer to war today than we were a month ago, apparently seeking to calm a jittery nation that might believe we’re on the verge of launching a nuclear strike against the reclusive communist state.

But what does the president do? How does he handle all this? He talks about “fire and fury,” about how our military is “locked and loaded.” He warns Kim not to issue any “overt threats” or else he’s going to pay bigly and he’ll feel the pain of our response “very soon.”

President Truman removed General of the Army Douglas MacArthur from his command in Korea to reassert civilian control over the military; President Eisenhower resisted sending combat troops to Vietnam out of concern of getting involved in a quagmire; President Kennedy resisted invading Cuba during the missile crisis.

Part of the president’s unwritten job description is to be the voice of calm assurance. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama all filled that role at various times during their time at the helm.

Donald Trump should take heed of the lessons offered by all his recent predecessors.

It’s sad to admit, though, that he likely won’t.

What does Kim Jong Un want? Part 5

This concludes my brief examination of the five demands that Kim Jong Un  has made on a world seeking to lessen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

USA Today has listed five of them. Kim wants the United Nations to lift the sanctions it has imposed on North Korea. Good luck with that one, Mr. Dictator/Goofball.

The only way the sanctions could go away would be if Kim agrees with U.N. and U.S. demands that he cease making nuclear weapons and cease testing the missiles he hopes would deliver them.

Kim has brought a lot of misery to his people by spending so much of his nation’s Gross Domestic Product on militarization. North Korea is bristling with artillery pieces, tanks, fighter jets — but its people are starving. The sanctions imposed by the U.N. ban the export of coal, iron ore, lead and lead ore, depriving the nation of about $1 billion annually.

There needs to be concessions by North Korea for the sanctions to be lightened, or eliminated.

All of this circles back, in my view, to the issue of “containment and deterrence.” If the United States and the rest of the world would accept the notion that Kim is going to keep his nukes and then rely on the threat of immense destruction that would be delivered to his country if he launches any kind of strike, then this crisis might be allowed to settle down.

I have little faith that anyone — whether inside the North Korean government hierarchy or anywhere else — will be able to talk sense to Kim.

Now, if we could just get the president of the United States to keep his trap shut and let the diplomats do their work.

Trump trudges along lonely path

I’ve written already about how Donald J. Trump belongs to an exclusive club. He’s one of six men alive today who’ve held the office of president of the United States.

He’s now in the midst of a potentially catastrophic international crisis involving North Korea and its budding nuclear weapons program.

Has the president called any of the five men who preceded him? Has he sought their counsel, their advice, their wisdom in how to handle this situation, or himself?

You can stop laughing now.

The 45th president’s non-relationship with the 44th president is most puzzling and troubling, although it shouldn’t be too surprising. Barack Obama sought to provide a smooth transition. Trump and Obama met for the first time in the Oval Office shortly after Trump’s election. Trump said they got along well. “I like him and I think he likes me,” Trump said.

It went downhill from there.

The president thinks highly of himself. He has great internal faith in his ability to solve any problem, quell any crisis that comes his way. The men who preceded him all were “losers.”

Trump’s presidential isolation goes against tradition. Imagine that.

John F. Kennedy sought Dwight Eisenhower’s counsel during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Harry Truman faced crises in Europe after World War II, so he called Herbert Hoover for advice. Obama had to help Haiti recover from a devastating earthquake, so he enlisted George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to assist in that effort.

The norm has been that these men rely on each other to provide advice and counsel that only they are qualified to provide.

The president won’t change his ways. That’s a given more than 200 days into his administration. It merely speaks to the arrogance of a know-nothing who has at his disposal the collective wisdom of individuals who faced their own share of crises — and who might have something of extreme value to pass on.

Donald Trump won’t listen.

To borrow a word: Sad.

Doubling down on ‘fire and fury’? What the … ?

Donald J. Trump says his “fire and fury” riff the other day didn’t go far enough.

If he had to do it over, the president said he would have spoken even more aggressively against the North Korean regime.

What? Eh? Are you serious, Mr. President?

Trump is vacationing in New Jersey. This past week, he held a “media opportunity” in which he declared that if North Korean dictator/goofball Kim Jong Un kept up with the “threats” against the United States, he would be met with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never known.”

Trump improvised that comment. It’s been seen throughout the political world in this country and abroad as an unnecessary provocation. The North Koreans responded by offering a specific threat to launch a nuclear-armed missile at Guam, the U.S. island territory within range of a missile launched by North Korea.

Why Guam? It’s home to a significant military presence. The North Koreans surely understand what would occur if they were to launch a missile. In case they don’t, I’ll explain right here: They would be wiped off the face of the planet.

Do they want that? The obvious answer would be a resounding no.

I believe the obvious answer would be a resounding no.

Why, then, does the president of the United States insist on ratcheting up the rhetoric against North Korea?

The world is a jittery place right now. We can “thank” the president of the United States for adding to our worldwide fear.

Why such anger, Mr. Vice President?

Why, oh why is Vice President Mike Pence so darn angry at The New York Times?

The allegedly “failing” newspaper has published a story revealing that Pence’s political team is working behind the scenes to mount a presidential campaign in 2020. Pence is simply outraged, I tell you. Outraged that the Times would report such a thing.

Pence is like all the other men who have preceded him in the second-highest office in the land. They all want to be the Top Dog, the Big Man, Numero Uno. Is Pence so different? I doubt it. Seriously.

To be sure, the NY Times said Pence is planning a primary campaign against Donald J. Trump Sr. His plans presume that the president won’t seek re-election, or that he will be otherwise, um, unavailable to run for a second term.

What might prevent Trump from running in 2020? Let’s see:

* He could be impeached and tossed out of office over allegations that he obstructed justice in the Russia investigation or that his campaign colluded with the Russians. There might be some financial issues that arise from special counsel Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation. Will it happen? I ain’t projecting such a thing. Or … the president might resign.

* The incessant armchair psychoanalysis might determine that the president suffers from some sort of serious personality disorder that compels him to tweet so often and with so much damaging effectiveness. I won’t join that debate, either.

* Trump might figure he cannot stand the incessant failure to get anything done. He’s not used to working with those who resist him at every turn. Trump’s business background has placed him at the top of the ladder. He’s got to share that standing now with Congress and the courts.

* Or, maybe the president can just declare victory — say “mission accomplished” — and pack it all up and head back to Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster or some other posh digs that will remove him and his family from that “real dump” where they live part time in Washington, D.C.

Is it so wrong to believe the vice president is getting ready for any eventuality? Is it wrong to presume that the No. 2 guy wants to ascend to the No. 1 spot?

The media have done a great job of keeping the public informed about the goings-on related to the Trump administration. The New York Times has just racked up another scoop.

Pipe down, Mr. Vice President.

Trumps’ ‘dump’ to get spruced up a bit

Donald J. and Melania Trump are accustomed, I presume, to some pretty sumptuous living quarters. They’re accustomed to glitz and glam, of which they have plenty at their various homes in New York, south Florida and New Jersey.

They have taken up part-time residence in an old house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Trouble is, though, the president thinks it’s a “real dump.” He made the remark to golf pals; Trump, as is customary, denies saying it.

Hey, not to worry. The first couple and their young son are now spending the next 15 or so days at their golf club in New Jersey. The “dump” in D.C. is getting a little fixup while they are away: a new heating and air conditioning system and some nips and tucks here and there throughout the residence.

Still, for millions of Americans who’ve seen the White House up close — as my wife, sons and I have been honored to do — the “real dump” comment is offensive to the core.

It’s been the home for presidents since John Adams. Yes, it got burned during the War of 1812. Presidents since that time have been forced to fix things up at the place. President Truman moved into the Blair House with his wife and daughter while crews repaired some flooring. President Clinton had some asbestos issues. The White House has been plagued by flies on occasion, too.

It’s not a “dump,” let alone a “real dump,” as Trump has called it.

Read more about the “dump” issue here.

Sure, the place is old. It needs repair on occasion. A “dump”? Hardly. It’s filled with history and its walls contain portraits of all the men and women who have called it home.

If only the current president could appreciate it. Maybe he will if the heating and AC are in proper working order when he returns from his vacation.

Wondering if POTUS consults with predecessors

It’s been said that former presidents of the United States comprise the most exclusive club in the world.

Only these individuals know with any sort of certainty what the current president is facing. Only they know the struggles he endures.

At this moment, the nation has five men who belong to that club: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama. I believe five is the most we’ve ever had at one time.

We’ve been down to zero. I believe the last time it occurred was when Lyndon Johnson died in January 1973, making the president at the time, Richard Nixon, something of a “political orphan.” He had no one with whom he could consult.

So, with that bit of backdrop, my thoughts turn to the current president and whether he is imbued with the inclination to ask any of his predecessors for advice, counsel or support.

I think I know the answer to that. Donald John Trump Sr. campaigned for the office declaring himself a “smart person” who would be surrounded by the “best people.” He told us he knows “more about ISIS than the generals … believe me.” He said repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act would be “easy.” Trump kept boasting over and over about how his business acumen made him so rich. Trump said he had the “best mind,” and he seeks advice from within his own noggin, that he didn’t need anyone else.

Each of the men who served before him, though, bring certain knowledge and expertise about the myriad world problems confronting the president.

President Carter knows a thing or three about achieving peace in the Middle East; oh, wait, Trump has his 30-something son-in-law working on that one. President G.H.W. Bush has experience negotiating with Russians; oh never mind, Trump is tight with the Russians. President Clinton worked with Republicans in Congress to produce a balanced federal budget; Trump and congressional Democrats hate each other’s guts. President G.W. Bush rallied the nation in the weeks after 9/11; Trump detests Bush 43’s decision to go to war in Iraq. President Obama fought tooth and nail against Republicans seeking to block everything he did, but he still managed to enact the Affordable Care Act; Trump has failed on that “easy” effort.

Donald Trump certainly could use some counsel from any or all of the men who came before him.

Every indication I’ve seen — admittedly from a distance — tells me the president actually believes what he boasted. That he’s the smartest man ever to hold the office.

If only he was smart enough to realize he isn’t.