Tag Archives: presidency

Let’s compare apples to apples

Five days ago, Donald J. Trump posted a message on Twitter that proclaimed for the umpteenth time that his poll numbers are “better” than those posted by former President Obama.

He wrote: Presidential Approval numbers are very good – strong economy, military and just about everything else. Better numbers than Obama at this point, by far. We are winning on just about every front and for that reason there will not be a Blue Wave, but there might be a Red Wave!

The raw polling data can be disputed. However, I feel the need to look briefly at the comparative moments in time of both men’s presidencies.

Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009 while the nation’s economy was in free fall. Banks were closing. Investment firms were collapsing. People were losing their jobs by the thousands daily.

By August 2010, the economy had not yet made the turn, but it was starting to show signs of life. It got so good that Obama was re-elected in 2012 and the jobless rate continued to decline right up until the end of his presidency.

Enter Donald Trump, who took the oath on Jan. 20, 2017. The economy was in far better shape than it was when his immediate predecessor took office.

I give the president credit for the great job numbers that have accrued since he took office. But it’s good to understand that he started with a much higher benchmark than the one Obama inherited eight years earlier.

I just hope that Trump’s damaging trade wars with the EU, China, Canada and Mexico don’t undo much of the good that has occurred. I fear there the damage is beginning to stretch our economy at the seams.

‘President Avenatti?’ For real?

Say it ain’t so, counselor.

Michael Avenatti, whose only claim to national notoriety rests with his legal representation of a porn star who alleges she had a one-night stand with a future president of the United States, says he is considering a run for — gulp! — the presidency of the United States.

Oh … my … goodness!

Do you know what this tells me? It tells me that Donald J. Trump’s election as president in 2016 cements the notion that anyone can be be elected to the highest office in the land. Prior qualifications don’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether they have prior public service experience. Nor does it matter if they understand fully the complicated machinery that constitutes the federal system of government.

Avenatti was, shall we say, on no one’s radar prior to emerging as Stormy Daniels’s lawyer.

“I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States, and I wanted to come to Iowa and listen to people and learn about some issues that are facing the citizens of Iowa and do my homework,” Avenatti told the Des Moines Register.

As the saying goes: Only in America.

Wanting some old-fashioned decorum from POTUS

Call me old-fashioned. Maybe even a geezer if you’re so inclined.

I get that under our system of government, “anyone” can be elected president. I thought that truism bore the ultimate fruit when we elected and re-elected an African-American to the presidency in 2008 and 2012. Barack Obama’s life story was itself a tale to behold, irrespective of his racial makeup.

Silly me. I was so wrong.

The 2016 election victory by Donald John Trump Sr. provided the most incontrovertible demonstration of that notion. If someone like Trump can win a presidential election, then, by God, anyone can win the big prize.

So, we elect a guy with zero prior public service exposure. His ignorance of government, politics, public policy has been breathtaking in its scope.

His fans applaud his missteps, his goofiness and, oh yes, his dangerous tendencies, including his seeming desire to obtain authoritarian status.

I’m a traditionalist, though, in at least one regard. While I embrace the notion that anyone can be elected president, I still want the president to be better than the average American. I want the president to conduct himself with dignity and decorum.

Trump doesn’t do that. His use of Twitter is the shiniest example that comes to mind. I read those tweets and I shudder at their inarticulateness. The misspelled words, the use of capital letters, the mangled syntax … it all just drives me nuts. I mean, the social medium recently expanded the capacity available for Twitter users. Can’t the president take some time to at least construct a message that makes sense? Or one that at least is readable?

I guess not.

He’s just content to, um, “tell it like it is.”

Meanwhile, the dignity and stature of the highest office in the land — and arguably the most important elected office in the world — continues to suffer.

Looking for a redeeming quality in POTUS

Matthew Dowd wondered today why none of Donald Trump’s defenders is defending his integrity, his honesty, his character.

The Republican political operative posed a fascinating question. It got me thinking a bit. I came up with this: I cannot find — and, yes, I am a harsh critic of this president — a single redeeming quality that is worthy of defense.

I am a devoted fan of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — even though I was disgusted by President Clinton’s conduct with the intern during his second term. I didn’t support George W. Bush’s presidency, but having had the honor of talking at length with him when he was governor of Texas, I found him to be engaging, devoted to his family and far smarter than many media snobs gave him credit for being.

I have said for many years that W’s father, George H.W. Bush, was the most qualified man ever to seek the presidency: World War II combat vet, successful businessman, CIA director, U.N. ambassador, special envoy to China, Republican Party chairman, vice president of the United States. And, yes, he is devoted to his marvelous family.

Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford both were decent men who became president after difficult tenures of their predecessors. President Ford might be the most underrated man ever to hold the office. I admired him greatly for the civility and decency he brought to the White House after the turmoil and tempest of the Watergate scandal. President Reagan could skewer his foes with the best of them, but he did so with wit and grace.

President Jimmy Carter was without question the godliest man who has served in the office during my lifetime.

This brings me back to Donald Trump. A serial adulterer. A man who lies on all matters, big and small. He treats women harshly. He insults his foes and has ridiculed a journalist with a serious physical handicap. He has hurled epithets at a Gold Star family. He has denigrated the Vietnam War service of a distinguished U.S. senator, while dismissing the fact that he sought to avoid service in that bloody conflict.

Do I disagree with every policy pronouncement Trump has made? No. I support his call for tougher border security. I applaud his get-tough approach to Syria. I wish him well as he prepares for a potentially landmark summit meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

However, I cannot find a redeeming personal quality about the president worth defending.

Part of me wishes I could find one. Just one!  I’ll keep looking, searching and hoping something surfaces.

Did the doc cross a serious ethical line?

Dr. Harold Bornstein might be in some serious trouble.

I mean, he could lose his medical license over something he has acknowledged he did.

Bornstein is the personal physician to the president of the United States. This week he has revealed that Donald J. Trump, the president, dictated a letter that went public over the doctor’s signature. The letter declared that Trump, upon being examined by the doc, would be the “healthiest president in the history of the United States.”

The White House has pushed back on the doctor’s assertion.

If it’s true — and to be candid, I have every reason to believe it is — we are witnessing the ongoing fantasy where Donald Trump exists. That this individual can actually dictate a doctor’s ostensibly official report on his patient’s physical condition illustrates a reservoir of gall that Americans arguably have never witnessed in their president.

And to think that he might jeopardize his physician’s standing within the medical community.

At the very minimum Dr. Bornstein allowing his patient to dictate such a communication would be unethical on its face. Although the diagnosis the patient allegedly wrote for himself hasn’t been deemed false — it’s not hiding some deadly disease — the idea that a doctor would allow a patient to do such a thing raises serious questions about his competence.

Trump’s myriad other weird incidents appear to lend credibility to Bornstein’s assertion that the letter was all Trump.

The president, by what we’ve seen already in his pre-political life and even since he was elected to the highest office in the land, appears capable of damn near anything to boost his own self-esteem.

This matter, if it’s true, has put a doctor in serious jeopardy. I have to ask: Does the president even care — just a little bit — that he might have contributed to a doctor’s downfall?

By all means, it’s the ‘Trump Shutdown’

A headline on Politico.com sought to say how media outlets are “struggling” to assign blame for the current shutdown of the federal government.

Are you kidding me? I know who’s to blame. Someone just needed to ask me.

It’s Donald John “Deal Maker in Chief” Trump Sr.! He’s the man. He’s the one. He’s the guy who’s got to shoulder the blame.

How do I know that? Because the president of the United States laid the previous shutdown, which occurred in 2013, at the feet of Barack H. Obama, his presidential predecessor.

He said the president has to lead. He’s the one elected by the entire country. The president has to step up, take charge, bring members of Congress to the White House, clunk their heads together and tell ’em shape up, settle their differences and get the government running again.

Trump said all that. He was right.

But now that Trump is the man in charge, he has retreated into the background. Trump is pointing fingers at Democrats. He says they are to blame solely for the shutdown.

Give me a break!

A president is supposed to lead. We elect presidents to run the government. They stand head and shoulders above the 100 senators and 435 House members. When the government shudders and then closes its doors, we turn to the president to show us the way back to normal government functionality.

Donald Trump hasn’t yet shown up to lead the government out of its darkness.

Who’s to blame? It’s the guy who called it in 2013.

This is Trump’s Shutdown. Pure and simple.

If only he’d kept his trap shut when he was a mere commercial real estate mogul and reality TV host …

Changed forever? Oh, please, no!

One year into the presidency of Donald John Trump Sr. and the question is being asked: Has he changed the presidency forever?

He’s changed it. He has transformed the presidency into a sort of cult of personality. He demands loyalty from those he appoints to high office; he demanded it from an FBI director and then fired him when he didn’t get it.

By my reckoning, Trump has been a truly “consequential” president — for better or worse.

Has he delivered a permanent change to the high office? I doubt it. Strongly, I doubt it.

It’s often said that the office is bigger than the person who occupies it. That’s so very true even if that person possesses the ego and narcissistic qualities of one Donald Trump.

We cannot know, of course, what Year No. 2 will bring to this man’s time in office. Year No. 1 took us on one rocky ride after another. I suppose one could surmise that the constant chaos and confusion has brought considerable change to the nation’s highest office.

That’s how this guy rolls. He loves the chaos. He loves being the center of attention, no matter its cause or consequence.

But so help me this need not be a permanent fixture of the exalted office occupied at this time by someone who had never run for any public office of any kind prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Yes, he’s brought significant change to the presidency.

I guess all we need do at this moment is consider that on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, he is presiding over a government shutdown.

By golly, that’s what I call “change.”

I also would bet real money none of us alive today is going to see this kind of first-year presidential commemoration ever again.

I now will hope that the next president will return the office to what we’ve long thought of as “normal.”

Still cannot connect two words directly to each other

I am in the midst of a deepening dilemma.

Donald J. Trump has been president of the United States for 150-plus days and I still cannot connect the words “President” and “Trump” consecutively when I refer to this individual.

It troubles me a little bit. A part of me wants to do it. A bigger part of me refuses to allow it.

I’ve written already that I accept that Trump won the 2016 presidential election. He pulled in the requisite number of Electoral College votes to defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton, who won just a shade less than 3 million more popular votes than the guy who beat her.

The electoral disparity isn’t what keeps me from total recognition of Trump as president. Heck, if that had been the driver, then I wouldn’t have referred to George W. Bush as “President Bush” during his two terms in the White House. The difference is that President Bush stepped into the role to which he was elected. The 9/11 attacks barely nine months into his presidency defined him and he rose to the challenge.

Trump is different. Trump continues to demonstrate — through all sorts of actions and utterances — that he remains unfit for the office. His Twitter tirades provide more than ample evidence of his unfitness.

I’ve been scolded by critics of this blog for declining to attach the president’s title directly to his name. They’re entitled to their view. I am entitled to mine.

With that, I’ll continue to resist giving the president his full measure of respect until he can demonstrate — to my satisfaction — that he has earned it.

Bipartisan era gone forever? Looks like it

I am thinking at this moment of an earlier era when presidents and members of Congress reached across the great partisan divide to ponder their joint legislative agendas.

The thought came to me when I heard that Donald J. Trump is going to meet this week with Republican congressional leaders to talk about upcoming projects.

No Democrats need not attend. Nope! Stay away, you folks. We don’t need you.

I’ll go back a few decades for a moment.

* Lyndon Johnson needed Republicans to help him enact landmark civil-rights legislation.

* Richard Nixon needed Democrats to run interference for his environmental agenda.

* Ronald Reagan developed a great personal and professional relationship with congressional Democrats, such as House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

* Bill Clinton relied on congressional Republicans to assist in producing a balanced federal budget.

* George W. Bush sought Democratic help in crafting education-overhaul legislation. I should add that President Bush had plenty of practice working with Democrats, as he did quite well in that regard while he governed Texas and became partners with Democrats who controlled the Legislature.

That’s when it seemed to end. Barack Obama didn’t develop many relationships with key Republicans, who — lest we forget — made clear their intention to block damn near everything the president intended to accomplish. And now we have Donald Trump seeking to push through a legislative agenda with zero Democrats in his corner.

I also recall those photo ops when presidents would sign bills in front of large bipartisan gatherings of lawmakers. He’d hand out ceremonial pens left and right. They’d all clap and slap each other on the back while extolling the virtues of working together for the common good.

Do you expect to see anything like that with the current president occupying that office in the White House?

Me neither.

Trump, as POTUS, has nowhere to hide

The Atlantic magazine has published a lengthy article detailing the difficulties facing Donald John Trump.

It goes through a lot of what many of us know already: his missteps, his hiring decisions, his carelessness with classified information and, of course, his international relationships.

Here’s the article:


It paints a grim picture and suggests that Trump’s presidency is collapsing before our eyes.

Maybe it is. Maybe not.

The most interesting analysis in my mind, though, comes near the end. The Atlantic notes that as a private business executive, Trump could fire people at will; he was the CEO and no one would dare question his authority. As a candidate for the only public office he ever sought, the presidency, he could change the subject when he misspoke or — more likely — revealed some dark spot in his heart.

As president, though, he has nowhere to hide. He must stand front and center for every single thing he does or says.

And, yes, the media are there to watch, to listen and to report his dealings to the world. It’s what the media do.

The president no longer can get away with blaming “fake news” media reports. Every wound from which he suffers has been self-inflicted by someone whose business acumen simply doesn’t translate to political knowledge.