Tag Archives: Richard Nixon

Go hard after him, Mr. Biden

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I wasn’t quite 11 years of age in 1960 when Vice President Richard Nixon faced off against Sen. John F. Kennedy in that history-making first-ever televised presidential debate.

Those who watched the debate deemed Kennedy the winner; those who heard it on the radio declared Nixon the winner. The TV version proved decisive and Kennedy went on to win the presidency.

We’re going to have another possibly history-making joint appearance Tuesday. It will feature former Vice President Joseph Biden against Donald Trump, the current president of the United States.

Were the Biden team ask my advice I would tell them simply this: Go hard after Trump but do not get caught up by the insults and innuendo that Trump is sure to fire at you regarding the business dealings of your son, Hunter.

Donald Trump has provided a treasure trove of hideous declarations, assertions and lies that Biden to fire back at him. I would encourage the former VP to go on the attack. Do not let up. Do not give Trump an opening to launch into one of those riffs that his “base” just eats up.

I don’t expect this debate to have quite the gravitas as that first Nixon-Kennedy encounter. Those men had two more debates in 1960; they became increasingly contentious. Biden and Trump will meet three times as well. I expect fully that their encounters will become angry to the point of bordering on outright rage.

My fondest hope is that Biden keeps his cool, stays focused on Trump’s hideous record compiled during his term in office and remains … and exposes Trump to be the phony so many of us know him to be.

Follow the Nixon lead, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump just cannot commit to accepting the election results in November … if he loses to Joe Biden.

He sought to justify his skepticism of the results, casting doubt on their legitimacy, in an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

Simply by refusing to accept those results, Donald Trump is seeking to undermine the work done at the state and local levels of government to ensure that our elections are safe, free and secure. That’s how the president rolls. He said the same thing prior to the 2016 election, that he might challenge the results if Hillary Clinton won that contest. It turned out that Trump won; I don’t recall Clinton holding out for a possible challenge after she conceded defeat to Trump.

This is part and parcel of Trump’s background, starting with the obvious lack of public service experience. He was bred on the notion that everyone in business is out to cut someone else’s throat; therefore, they weren’t to be trusted. Had he an ounce of public service experience, Trump might take a different, more magnanimous approach to election results.

I harken to the 1960 presidential election. Vice President Richard Nixon lost that contest by a whisker to Sen. John F. Kennedy. JFK’s plurality totaled 112,000 votes nationally. Questions arose about the vote count in Illinois, where Kennedy won that state’s 27 electoral votes by just a handful. Republican operatives urged the VP to challenge the Illinois vote count, to tally up the ballots all over again. Nixon chose instead to let the vote count stand, to allow the president-elect to begin his transition to the most exalted office in the land.

Nixon put the country ahead of any personal political gain. To be sure, had Illinois’ electoral votes gone to Nixon, he still would have lost the electoral vote. But my point is that the vice president didn’t want to subject the nation to additional and, to his mind, pointless turmoil. His eight years as VP in the Eisenhower administration and his time in Congress taught him something about the value of public service.

Donald Trump has zero understanding of that need and will do all he can to sow seeds of doubt and discord in an electoral process that we all cherish.

Hideous POTUS, but legitimate nonetheless

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I want to clear the air a bit on Donald John Trump’s tenure as president of the United States.

No one wants to see him run out of office more than I do. I am using this blog to the best of my ability to declare his unfitness for the office he won in the biggest political fluke in American history.

However, I disagree with those who contend he is an “illegitimate” president. I have many social media friends who contend he was elected illegally. That the Russians’ electoral chicanery in 2016 resulted directly in his election, that the undermined Hillary Clinton’s candidacy sufficiently to guarantee Trump’s Electoral College victory.

I just cannot buy that notion.

I haven’t seen evidence that suggests that the Russians effort to undermine Clinton’s candidacy was decisive. It might have contributed to the defeat, but so did a number of huge tactical errors down the stretch by the Clinton team contribute to Trump’s shocking victory. Clinton ignored key battleground states in the Great Lakes region that Trump managed to peel away. There also was that horrendous announcement from FBI Director James Comey that he was taking a fresh look at the email matter that had dogged Clinton for months and months.

Sure, Trump received nearly 3 million fewer votes than Clinton. He won the Electoral College, though, which is where the Constitution prescribes the way we elect presidents. It was all done legally. The guy is legit.

I say all this while gritting my teeth so hard that they are hurting. The 2016 election produced precisely the wrong outcome. The wrong candidate got elected. However, the Constitution worked in this case, just as it did in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency after facing certain impeachment and conviction on high crimes and misdemeanors and just as it did in 2000 when the Supreme Court awarded George W. Bush the presidency by disallowing the recount of ballots in Florida.

It worked in 2016 even as Donald Trump stumbled onto the nation’s highest office and is threatening to destroy the world’s greatest nation.

It will work one more time — I hope — when Americans vote this clown out of office.

Obsession with Obama seeks to conceal hideous reality

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald J. Trump’s obsession with Barack H. Obama is beginning to look increasingly like a deflection of our attention from a hideous truth about the current presidential administration.

It is that Trump has presided over the most corrupt executive government branch at least since the era of Richard M. Nixon. Indeed, there is an argument being made that the corruption level of the Trump administration dwarfs what we saw during the Nixon administration.

More of Trump’s men have gone to prison than those who served time during Nixon’s time.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to insist that President Obama presided over the “most corrupt” administration in U.S. history. Of course, and this is no surprise, he seeks to tie Vice President Joe Biden to what he alleges was the corruption of the Obama years. You get that, right? I mean, Biden is about to be nominated by the Democratic Party to run against Trump this fall and at this moment Biden appears headed for a smashing victory.

We have a former national security adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to authorities; a former Trump friend and “fixer” has just been hauled back to the slammer for violating the terms of his house arrest; other campaign officials have been cloistered behind bars; that includes the guy who ran Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump flails away saying that it’s all a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.” It is neither of those things. Trump has presided over an administration fraught with criminal activity … not to mention scandals involving all manner of accusations.

His defense? To deflect attention by suggesting that President Obama and Vice President Biden — of all people — sat atop the most corrupt administration in history.

Oh, and how many people were indicted or served prison time during the eight years of Obama’s time in office? None.

Trump = law and order? Bwahahaha!

When I hear Donald J. “Criminal in Chief” Trump proclaim himself to be the “law and order president,” I cannot stop thinking of all the individuals who helped elect him and who served in the government who are, um, fighting to stay out of prison … or who actually are serving prison terms.

He channels another crooked president, Richard Nixon, who made many of the same proclamations while running for president in 1968 and again in 1972. It didn’t work out well for President Nixon, whose attorney general went to prison along with his chief of staff, chief domestic policy adviser and an assortment of campaign flunkies. Nixon, of course, quit the presidency just as the House of Representatives was preparing to impeach him. The Senate was sure to convict him as well of obstruction of justice and abuse of power. So the president, cutting his losses, high-tailed it to San Clemente, Calif.

So, I guess Trump is channeling Nixon, all right. You see, he is facing the same sorry outcome for his various minions, too. Yet he continues to declare he is going to bring “law … and order” to America “right here and right now.” Give me a break, dude.

I actually am believing that Donald Trump is outperforming Richard Nixon in the Crooked Presidency Sweepstakes. Good grief, I have lost count of the criminal indictments that have landed in the laps of Trump toadies. Some of them have resulted in guilty pleas and prison time.

So, when Donald Trump makes his “law and order” declarations, I am inclined to suppress derisive laughter. Except that it isn’t funny. The presidential imposter is a disgrace to the office he occupies.

Republicans for Biden? Hmm, sounds plausible

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, has let slip a notion that has more than a tiny ring of truth to it.

He has said that some major Republican officeholders are pledging to help him defeat Donald Trump in this year’s election. These would be the so-called “never Trumpers” who believe — as I and many others do — that Trump is more of a cult leader than the head of a major political party.

Biden long has boasted of his ability to work across the aisle with Republicans. He did so for more than three decades as a U.S. senator and was able to swing a deal or three for President Obama during his eight years as vice president in the Obama administration.

This is far from unprecedented, of course. In 1972, Republican President Nixon had the “Democrats for Nixon” crowd work for his re-election against Democratic nominee Sen. George McGovern, who was considered too far out in left field to suit their taste. That one hurt, of course … but I digress.

Trump is not an actual Republican. He has no moral compass. He doesn’t adhere to an ideology. Trump panders to whoever has his attention in the moment. And don’t get me started on his categorical unfitness for the office of president of the United States.

“It is literally just forming,” according to one former top GOP official, speaking to the Daily Beast. “I’ve had several conversations with people who have approached me. It’s going to take off, it’s going to happen. The question is to what degree and form it does,” the official said.

We shall see. I am one American who hopes it does “take off.”

Are Democrats flirting with a 1972 repeat?

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster writing an essay for The Hill newspaper, poses a serious question that Democrats need to take seriously.

Are they flirting with a re-run of an electoral disaster by nominating a “democratic socialist” to run for president of the United States?

Penn writes about Sen. Bernie Sanders, the current Democratic frontrunner for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination: Sanders is an avowed democratic socialist whose “free college” mantra has captured the party’s youth vote, despite his having turned 78 years old. For decades he has lectured against the problems of big banks, an economy that works for the few and the need for revolutionary change. It is odd — in a time of such great prosperity, low unemployment and rising wages — that his message would resonate.

Yikes, man!

He seems to suggest in his essay that Democrats could face a blowout similar to what befell them when they nominated Sen. George McGovern in 1972 to run against President Nixon. McGovern lost 49 of 50 states to Nixon. I was a college student at the time. I was dedicated to electing George McGovern to be president. I was deflated quickly after the first polls closed on Election Night 1972; the networks called it almost immediately.

I am not willing to believe Donald Trump is going to blow Sanders out the way Nixon pummeled McGovern. I fear, though, that the president would cruise to re-election, which is an outcome I sincerely do not want to happen.

If Democrats are sincere in their belief that their nominee must be the most electable person they can find, they surely can do better than to elect someone such as Sanders. He isn’t a Democrat; his Senate career has produced next to zero legislative accomplishment; he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver the goods in the form of responsible legislation.

Sure, Sanders is drawing big, boisterous crowds. So did Sen. McGovern. The 1972 crowds cheered themselves hoarse urging McGovern to go after President Nixon. He tried. He failed … badly.

Check out Penn’s essay here.

Then ask yourself, if you are as devoted to Donald Trump’s defeat as I am: Is this the candidate who can actually win this most consequential election?

Impeachment about overturning election? No-o-o-o-o! Really?

Can we dispense with the tired — and patently ridiculous — notion that Donald John Trump’s impeachment is meant to “overturn” the results of the last election?

That goofy argument is part of the White House response to the articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate, which on Tuesday will commence the trial that will determine whether the current president of the United States keep his job.

I believe I shall remind everyone of a couple of historical facts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9 of that year. He had won re-election in 1972 in a smashing landslide: 49 states, 520 electoral votes, 60 percent of the ballots cast. That impeachment effort would have reversed the outcome of that election, too.

The House impeached President Clinton in 1998. He stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted. Clinton won re-election in 1996 with a handsome margin: 379 electoral votes and a healthy plurality of actual votes. And, yes, that impeachment was intended to overturn an election result, too.

Presidential impeachment by definition are intended to do the very thing that the White House is now accusing the House of doing. I know that House members who voted to impeach the president stand behind high-minded rhetoric about “defending the Constitution.” I believe that is the case here.

However, this act also carries with it a necessary political component, which is that it seeks to correct a ballot-box mistake. Let’s not be coy about this point as well: Trump did not win in anything approaching a landslide. He pulled in nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent in 2016 and won because of an adroit end-of-campaign tactic that saw him win three key Rust Belt states that put him over the top in the Electoral College count.

Impeachment is meant to overturn an election? Well, as we used to say in high school: No sh**, Sherlock!

‘Our Constitution works’

I am fond of recalling the words of a brand new president who took office in the wake of a dark time in American history.

Gerald Rudolph Ford placed his hand on a Bible, recited the presidential oath of office, then stood before the world to declare that “our Constitution works.” He succeeded Richard Nixon, who quit earlier that day to avoid being impeached. The Watergate scandal brought down the Nixon presidency.

Yes, the Constitution worked just as it should during that time.

It is working now as another president faces the unforgiving assurance that every morning he awakes for the rest of his life, he will be an “impeached president.”

Yes, the Constitution works, just as President Ford declared on Aug. 9, 1974.

No matter the outcome of the Senate trial that is pending, the Constitution will have done its job. If the president is cleared, it will have worked. If he is convicted and removed from office, it will have performed as the framers constructed it.

Almost no one believes the current president will be kicked out of office. A failure to convict him doesn’t mean failure for the Constitution. It means only, to my mind, that an insufficient number of senators were willing to put duty to the nation ahead of fealty to a president. That doesn’t besmirch the Constitution, under which the House impeached Donald Trump and the Senate conducted its trial.

It is good at times like this to take a step back and look at the big picture. The framers crafted a brilliant governing document. It’s a bit clunky at times, but that’s the nature of a representative democracy, which is as Winston Churchill described it: a lousy form of government, but better than anything else ever produced by human beings.

My faith in the system remains as strong as ever, regardless of the outcome that more than likely awaits the nation at the end of this process.

I shall cherish the words that President Ford spoke moments after assuming the nation’s highest office: Our Constitution works.

Overturn an election result? Well … yeah!

Congressional Republicans argue against the impeachment of Donald Trump on the basis of a belief that Democrats are seeking to “overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election.”

Hmm. You know, at one level I actually agree with that view.

However, here’s the deal: Three of the four presidential impeachments in this nation’s history have been intended to do that very thing. President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment in 1868 didn’t seek to overturn the preceding election; the nation re-elected President Lincoln in 1864 as the Civil War was still raging, but then the president was shot to death in April 1865, allowing Vice President Johnson to ascend to the presidency.

President Nixon was going to be impeached in 1974 before he quit the presidency. President Clinton was impeached in 1998. Did Democrats seek to overturn Nixon’s landslide re-election in 1972? Did Republicans want to do the same thing when they impeached Clinton in 1998 after he had won re-election in 1996? Well, yeah! They did!

So what is the rationale for this argument? Local officials are subject to recall petitions when they mess up. They, too, are elected to their office. Recall movements, therefore, are intended to “overturn” those results.

All this being said, I am not the least bit moved by the argument that an impeachment of a president is an effort to overturn an election. We can argue about the motives, I suppose, of why one side wants to impeach a president.

There can be no argument, though, on the consequence of such an act. Of course it reverses the result of the previous election. That’s what impeachment, I am willing to argue, is all about.