Tag Archives: presidency

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.

100 days: real — or phony — benchmark for POTUS?

Donald John Trump now calls the 100-day threshold for presidential performance a phony standard.

That’s not what he was saying, however, while he was running for the office in 2016. He said repeatedly — and loudly — that he would do more than any other president in U.S. history during his first 100 days in office.

How has he done?

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Nothing. Tax reform? Zip. Infrastructure renovation? Forget it. The Wall on the southern border? Ha!

Yes, the president has signed a lot of executive orders. I like a few of them; most of them are clunkers.

Legislative accomplishment? The president has come up empty.

That means the 100-day report card — when it comes due — is going to record a pretty dismal job performance. Unless, of course, you’re Donald Trump, who’s been saying in consecutive breaths that he’s done more than any president in history and that the 100-day benchmark doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Trump’s victory in the 2016 election rewrote the political calculus on so many levels. He wasn’t supposed to win; he didn’t know anything about government; he insulted too many key political demographic groups.

Despite all of that he won the Electoral College by a comfortable — if not a massive — margin over Hillary Clinton.

He’s parlayed that changing political dynamic into some sort of success in his own mind.

I’m not buying the president’s version of success. And, yes, the 100-day marker for first-term presidents does matter, no matter what the current president might think publicly about it.

This presidency seems so, so lengthy … already!

Do you mean to say we haven’t gotten to that 100-day mark in the presidency of Donald John Trump?

This guy is wearing me out. How about you?

Trump has been president for about 92 days. Almost every single day there is something that causes concern. Sometimes it’s big. Sometimes it’s not.

Every single day the media are reporting on some investigation into possible corruption involving conflict of interest, probable meddling by a foreign government in our electoral process — and whether the president’s campaign was complicit in it — and whether the president’s daughter is fattening her bank account because of her role in the administration.

The president has fired his national security adviser, hired his son-in-law to be a senior adviser, reportedly considered a wholesale shakeup of his senior White House staff.

He has jetted off to his ritzy resort in south Florida, costing the Treasury a ton of money it doesn’t have.

And to think we’re barely three months into this guy’s term. We’ve got 45 more of them to go!

This is going to be the longest four years — if he lasts that long — in anyone’s memory.

Guess what. There’s actually the tiniest silver lining in all of this. For those of us who are getting a little long in the tooth, we often lament how quickly time flies especially when we’ve lived most of our lives already; there’s relatively little time left on this Earth for many of us.

The turmoil we’re enduring with Donald Trump’s tenure as president seems to make us think that time is slowing to a halt.

I know. That’s not a good thing.

All I believe at this point is that the past three months seem to have gone on forever.

This is not how a “fine-tuned machine” is supposed to run.

Yep, Trump speech was worth watching

It was an open question in my own mind for most of the day whether I would watch Donald J. Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress.

When the time arrived, and the House of Representatives sergeant at arms introduced the president of the United States, there I was … waiting to hear what Trump had to say.

I got scolded, though, from a friend of mine, an Amarillo businessman and apparently an avowed Trumpkin. He was putting some comments out on social media about how Democrats weren’t willing to stand and applaud the president. He and I got into a brief snit this evening over it, but I think we’re still friends.

He did imply, though, that I don’t respect the office of president. I sought to assure him that I most certainly do respect the office; I don’t think my friend believes me.

I’ll say so here: I respect the office, even if I dislike the occupant. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this dual feeling of respect for the office but disrespect for the individual. Hey, it happens.

My friend also implored me to “get over it!” I should get over it, but then so should have Republicans “gotten over it” when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Many of them didn’t, even to the point of questioning whether he was constitutionally qualified to hold the office to which he was elected twice; one of them was — oh yeah! — Donald J. Trump.

I watched all but about four minutes of Trump’s speech tonight. I had to take Toby the Puppy for a brief walk in the middle of it. But I watched most of the speech precisely because I do respect — even revere — the office.

I powered through it. I’m proud of myself.

Donald Trump is no Gipper

Two weeks into the presidency of Donald “Smart Person” Trump and I’m still trying to digest what it all means and where this will lead the nation he was elected to lead.

An interesting comparison came my way today at lunch. I was meeting with a gentleman I have known in Amarillo for more than a decade. He’s an accomplished member of the Texas legal community and I respect him greatly.

He asked me for my thoughts on Trump’s first few days. I offered him a tepid “Well … I just don’t know” kind of response. My friend harkened back to when Ronald Reagan was elected president and how the president would say the most “unbelievable things.” The Gipper, my friend added, would go on to become “the greatest president in my lifetime.”

He believes we need to give Trump the same measure of patience that the nation granted Reagan.

I’m not sure the comparison is valid. As much as I respect my friend’s knowledge and his perspective, my biggest objection to the comparison lies in this indisputable piece of history: Ronald Reagan at least had experience in government when he became president in 1981. He had served two terms as California governor and by many people’s accounts, they were successful terms at that.

Sure, he entered the White House with a reputation as a “cowboy,” a B-movie actor and someone without a lot of interest in the nuts and bolts of government. President Reagan dealt looked only at the “big picture,” my friend said. I get that.

Reagan, though, at least had been exposed to the complexities of governing.

Trump’s entire life — every single aspect of it — has been geared toward personal enrichment. He has focused his entire professional career on making money for himself and his family. He had zero public service experience, none, when he took the oath of office as president of the United States just two weeks ago.

Thus, as steep as Ronald Reagan’s learning curve was when he became president 36 years ago, Donald Trump has embarked on a 90-degree vertical climb.

Even a “smart person,” as Trump has called himself, must find such a thing to be daunting in the extreme.

Will he succeed? For the sake of the nation he now leads, I certainly hope so. Do I expect that to happen? The first two weeks do not fill me with encouragement that he has learned a thing about how to govern. His “ready, fire and aim” approach to dealing with our allies abroad gives me serious concern.

It’s totally fair and reasonable to wonder: What in the world would The Gipper think of this guy who now sits in the Oval Office?

As my friend said today of the president’s tumultuous start, “It’s OK to shake things up.” Sure it is … if you have a clue as to what you are seeking to accomplish.

Hoping the presidency shapes the man

I am going to offer a word of hope in something that none of us can guarantee will occur.

It’s been said that the presidency either shapes the individual or the individual shapes the presidency.

My sincere hope as we head toward the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States that the former takes place.

How will that present itself? Let’s start with the president-elect’s use of Twitter to make policy statements, to answer critics or to rattle the cages of foreign leaders.

We cannot know how the new president will conduct himself once he takes the oath. Trump has demonstrated time and again a reluctance to adhere to established norms as it relates to transitioning from private citizens to the most public of officials.

He says he’ll dial back the use of Twitter as a communications tool. I hope he does. For that matter, I hope he eliminates it and speaks with more reflection, nuance and decorum than he has shown through these Twitter tirades that come usually early in the morning.

It has been said that here in Texas, Rick Perry remade the governor’s office. He turned a traditionally weak office into a more powerful venue. Perry served as governor longer than anyone in Texas history and left a virtually indelible mark on the office through the myriad appointments he made to the state’s highest courts and its many boards and commissions.

Donald Trump will get to make a similar mark on the presidency through his own appointments. He’ll get to select a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, probably soon. I hope that he tilts more toward a centrist appointment, which might be yet another indicator of the office shaping the individual who occupies it.

Will the next president bow to the office or will he seek to remake it in his own image?

I’ll keep hoping for the first thing to occur … and soon!