Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

Not so strange after all

Media pundits continue to make something of a ruckus over the recent political history involving Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris, that Harris roughed up Biden in a couple of debates before she dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest.

They’re now on the same Democratic ticket. So I am left to wonder: Why the fascination? It’s hardly the first time political rivals have hooked up, buried the hatchet and locked arms in the fight against a common opponent.

In 1960, Sens. Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy fought for the Democratic nomination. They spoke harshly of each other. LBJ pulled out at the end of that primary fight. JFK was looking for someone to help strengthen him in the South. So he turned to Sen. Johnson. They won that race. Fate, though, tragically intervened when JFK died from an assassin’s bullet in November 1963.

In 1980, former Gov. Ronald Reagan and former CIA director/U.N. ambassador/former congressman/former special envoy to China George H.W. Bush butted heads for the Republican nomination. Bush chided Reagan’s fiscal policy as “voodoo economics.” Reagan survived and then selected Bush to be his VP. The two of them served together through two successful terms.

In 2008, for heaven’s sake, Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden fought for their party’s nomination. Biden didn’t last long. He took his shots at Obama, who fired back at his foe. Obama got nominated and had Biden at his side for two terms.

So now it’s Sen. Harris who’s being examined. Is she loyal enough? Does the presumptive nominee trust her to be a team player?

Biden has been through the VP vetting process. He knows what to ask, where to look.

Harris’s selection is historic. Many have made much of that fact, given her racial and ethnic background. Biden’s decision to select her, though, doesn’t look like much of a gamble. LBJ, George H.W. Bush and Biden himself already have blazed recent trails that led them all to the vice presidency.

Let’s worry less about the recent past between these two politicians and concern ourselves more with the policy positions they share and will take to the fight against Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

It’s game on, man!

What will happen post-Trump?

A critic of High Plains Blogger posed a question to me that I feel compelled to answer with this post.

This critic, a dedicated Donald Trump devotee, wanted to know what I would write about were it not for The Donald’s presence on the national scene. I reminded him that I have written on plenty of non-Trump topics during the past four years. I presume he’s like a lot of us who focus on the things with which we disagree most fervently, causing us to narrow our vision dramatically.

Here is the truth, though, about the future of this blog post-Donald Trump. I am looking forward to weaning myself of Trump-related matters. Whether it’s after this upcoming election (please, please … I hope that’s the case) or after the next one in 2024, I am excited at the prospect of looking beyond the wreckage that this individual has brought to the political stage.

That’s my hope. However, I do have this fear. It is that Donald Trump, as a former president of the United States, is still going to command a lot of attention. He will continue to have his social media access, namely Twitter. I fear, therefore, that Donald Trump is not going to fade away quietly into some sort of post-presidential hibernation the way every one of his predecessors has done.

Surely, some have done so more notably than others. Perhaps the biggest post-presidential tragedy occurred after Ronald Reagan left office in 1989. He retired to California, would emerge on occasion to make a speech, such as when he famously spoke to the 1992 Republican convention in Houston. Then in November 1994, not even six years after leaving the White House, he told the world of his affliction from Alzheimer’s disease. President Reagan bid us farewell … and we never heard from him again.

Donald Trump’s penchant for hogging the limelight won’t allow him to go away quietly. The good news for yours truly, though, is that as a former president he will become decidedly less relevant on matters that count. He will be unable to set policy or issue executive orders. He’ll just be one of the rest of us, using social media to blather on this and/or that subject.

I intend to focus this blog — as I declare in my profile — on issues relating to “politics, public policy and life experience.” Where any of this concerns Donald Trump likely will entail what his successor does to repair the damage Trump inflicted on the presidency.

How stirring, Mr. POTUS

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, so I thought I would share it here.

This message comes to us from the 45th president of the United States, Donald John Trump. They just make you want to stand up and cheer … don’t they? Well, no!

  • President Abraham Lincoln stirred us in 1865 at his second presidential inaugural when he declared “with malice toward none and charity for all” he would seek to heal the wounds inflicted by the Civil War.
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president and in 1933 told us during the Great Depression that “the only thing we have to fear is … fear itself.”
  • President John F. Kennedy stood before the nation in 1961 and implored us to serve our country, that we should “ask not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country.”
  • President Ronald Reagan stood at the Berlin Wall in 1987 and demanded that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, if he intended to work toward creating a better world, to “tear down this wall.”

This president has reduced such soaring rhetoric to utter nonsense such as what he said this week about whether testing for the COVID-19 virus was helpful in stemming the rate of infection by the worldwide pandemic.

Yep, this is what we got when we elected this clown.

I am shaking my head in disgust.

Listen up, Dr. Fauci: Trump is fighting you

Dr. Anthony Fauci testified this week before a Senate committee on the fight to quell the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 85,000 Americans.

Then came a series of questions from one of Donald Trump’s toadies on the panel, rookie Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler from Georgia, who wanted to know if Fauci felt tension between himself and the president. Fauci said “no,” that he doesn’t believe he and Trump are at odds.

Then something else happened later in the day. Donald Trump contradicted something Fauci had said about the wisdom of letting children back into school classrooms this fall.

So … yes, Trump and Fauci are at odds. Got that? I want to stand with the nation’s premier infectious disease expert over the bloviations of a cheap huckster who masquerades as president of the United States.

Senators asked Fauci whether children should be allowed back into classrooms this fall. He balked at the suggestion, saying it would be premature to open classrooms to students if the virus isn’t contained.

What did the Carnival Barker in Chief say about Fauci’s response? He was “surprised.” He said Fauci seeks to play to all audiences. He said Fauci’s answer to the Senate panel was “not acceptable.”

Where I come from, that looks and sounds like a dispute between two principals involved ostensibly in a fight against a common enemy.

Where does Fauci go from here? Does he quit? Does he walk away from the president’s pandemic response task force? No. He shouldn’t.

Fauci is nearly 80 years of age. He has worked for every president of both political parties dating back to 1984, when he was hired by President Reagan to take the lead on HIV/AIDS research. His credentials are beyond reproach. Fauci is an expert on infectious disease and the pandemic response team needs his reasoned, rational, scientific approach.

Indeed, this man’s wisdom stands in the starkest contrast possible to the bloviating bullsh** that flies incessantly out of Donald Trump’s pie hole.

I am one American who wants Fauci to remain on the job looking out for us. What’s more, I am as certain as I am sitting here that he knows beyond a doubt that he is working for a moron.

It’s just too damn bad he cannot say it out loud.

What has happened to the GOP?

I posted an item on social media three years ago that asked a simple question.

What would Honest Abe, Teddy Roosevelt and Ike think of what’s become of the Republican Party? If only we could ask ’em.

I suppose I could add another great Republican. How about Ronald Reagan?

Donald Trump has managed to co-opt a once-great political party. The Grand Old Party has become the Gawd Awful Party under the leadership of an individual, Trump, who came into politics with no experience at any level of politics or public service.

He has turned the party into a cult of personality. It is most fascinating to me, given that he so openly expresses his respect and “love” for another individual who has turned an entire nation into a land full of cult of personality worshipers. Yep, that would be North Korea, led by Kim Jong Un, the overfed dictator who has managed to starve millions of his countrymen, women and children to death while he builds that massive military machine.

The party once known as the Republican Party never would have accepted the word of a Russian strongman over the nation’s intelligence experts, all of whom say the Russians attacked our election in 2016. The GOP never would have denigrated a Gold Star family who lost a son fighting for his country in Iraq. The former Republican Party never would have allowed any politician to disparage the heroism exhibited by one of its own senators during the Vietnam War.

And yet this carnival barker/con man/clown show emcee has gotten away with it. Why? Because the party he purports to lead allows him to carry on this hideous fashion.

Then this guy sits at the foot of the statue of President Lincoln, arguably the greatest president of all — let alone the greatest Republican in U.S. history — and says the media treat him worse than it did Honest Abe.

What passes for today’s GOP stands silently as this imposter denigrates a free press and the memory of a slain president.

Is it right to expect a one-term Biden presidency?

I haven’t heard of anyone asking Joe Biden a question that has been nagging at me for some time.

It would be this: Mr. Vice President, are you going to commit to running for a second term as president if you are elected?

Biden would be the oldest man ever elected president if he wins in November. He will be 78 years of age were he to take office. President Reagan was the oldest man ever elected; he was 73 when he won re-election to a second term in 1984 and was 77 when he left office four years later.

I know what you might be thinking. It is that Joe Biden isn’t as sharp as he used to be, that he is showing some signs of slippage. I am not going to endorse that notion.

However, he already is an older man. It’s a fair question to pose to someone of his advanced years. It is fair to ask whether he will serve only a single term, which makes his selection as vice president even more critical.

Politically speaking, it would be foolish for any presidential candidate to say while campaigning for the office what he or she intends to do if elected. Indeed, it might not even be wise politically for a president to state his or her second-term intentions early in a first presidential term. Doing so would bestow lame-duck status immediately on the incumbent.

None of this should preclude a journalist from posing an admittedly difficult question of a major-party candidate for president. It then falls on the candidate — in this instance, Joe Biden — to offer an adroit answer that keeps us guessing at least while he is running for the office.

As the presumptive Democratic Party nominee scours the landscape for a running mate, it becomes imperative that whoever he picks is ready to assume the presidency … or will commit to campaigning for it in 2024.

Whatever happened to the Republican Party?

Oh, yoo-hoo! Are you out there, somewhere, Republican Party members, folks who once stood for principles that appear to have been vanquished and trampled asunder in this Age of Donald John Trump?

I have been looking for those folks for some time. To no avail, I am afraid to admit. You remember how those good folks. If not, I’ll offer a reminder.

I think of the Republicans of 1980 and those of 1994. They presented candidates and platforms that represented a specific ideology and point of view.

The Grand Old Party in 1980 was led by a former B-movie actor-turned California governor, Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan. Gov. Reagan became the Republican nominee that year. He and his party then proceeded to savage President Jimmy Carter because he had the temerity to stand watch while the federal budget ran a deficit of $43 billion in that election year.

Fort-three billion bucks, man! Why, you’d have thought the nation was heading for bankruptcy to hear the Republicans tell it.

Fast-forward 40 years and the budget deficit this year is going to top $1 trillion. Yes, a Republican is now president of the United States. Where is the outcry? Where are the calls for fiscal restraint?

The sound of crickets you are hearing is the sound of a political party that has tossed aside the principle of fiscal efficiency because its members have become beholden to the man who leads the party, the man who before he ran for president had no discernible connection to the party under whose banner he ran for the only public office he ever has sought.

Amazing, yes? I believe so.

Then the GOP of 1994 came and went. These were the politicians who campaigned for Congress on the Character Matters mantra. The object of their scorn in that election year was a Democratic president who had been elected two years earlier despite allegations of womanizing. Bill Clinton won the 1992 election and then two years later, the GOP — led by a House backbench flamethrower named Newt Gingrich — set about campaigning on the Character Matters platform.

Republicans won control of both congressional houses that year, then sought the impeachment of President Clinton, ostensibly after seeking the goods on a scandal called Whitewater, a real estate deal that caught the GOP’s attention. The probe ended up producing a tawdry relationship between the president and a White House intern. Clinton took an oath to tell the truth to a grand jury, then he lied to jurors. Perjury! Clinton broke the law! Then he got impeached. He stood trial and was acquitted in early 1999.

Well, that version of the Republican Party has vanished, too. Gingrich became speaker of the House after the 1994 congressional takeover, then the GOP lost seats in Congress in the 1998 midterm election, all while Gingrich was being revealed as a philanderer … even as he was bemoaning the president’s crappy conduct.

It’s gotten worse. The GOP these days rallies behind a president who makes all of that seem like schoolyard frolic.

So, I have to ask: What in the world has become of a once-great political party?

How would The Gipper fare in today’s GOP?

A social media post commemorating the election 39 years ago today of Ronald Reagan as our nation’s 40th president prompted me to wonder: How would President Reagan fare in what passes today as the Republican Party?

My hunch? Not well.

I will stipulate that I did not vote for Reagan in 1980 or in 1984. He won both elections in historic landslide proportions.

However, I acknowledge readily that Ronald Reagan was authentic. He adhered to what I believe are traditional GOP principles and policies. He sought to reduce government spending. He sought to reduce taxes. He believed in a strong national defense.

Most of all, though, he detested communism and the governments that promote what he considered to be an “evil” philosophy.

That brings me to the point of this blog: President Reagan would be aghast and appalled at Donald Trump’s flirtation with the direct descendants of the Evil Empire, aka the Soviet Union.

I get that Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and forged a partnership of sorts with him. However, the president never took his eye off the threat that the USSR posed to us militarily.

I also am trying to picture a moment where Ronald Reagan would declare in public that he trusted the word of a Soviet leader over the word of our nation’s intelligence experts. Suppose the CIA had determined that the Soviets had attacked our election in an effort to influence its outcome … and that the intelligence network had blamed the Soviets for its all-out attack on our electoral system. Who do you think Reagan would believe, our spooks or the commies?

You know the answer. Thus, for Donald Trump to pretend to be a Republican who endorses traditional Republican policies regarding our nation’s adversaries is, well, laughable on its face.

Except that no one should be laughing.

Today’s Republican Party bears no resemblance to The Gipper’s GOP. It has been hijacked by a flim-flam artist, a charlatan and a fraud. To that extent, Donald Trump makes me actually miss President Reagan.

Imagine that. I know. It’s weird.

Happy birthday, Mr. President

James Earl Carter is a force of nature.

He builds houses for poor people; he writes books; he lectures Americans on the value of ethics in politics; he teaches Sunday school at his rural Georgia church; he has monitored elections around the world; he lives modestly with his wife of more than seven decades.

Today he becomes the oldest former president of the United States. He already holds the record for living the longest past the time he left office; he exited the White House in 1981, which means he has lived 38 years past his presidency.

President Carter turns 95.

He has beaten cancer. He ran for president more than four decades ago, defeating a crowded field of Democratic Party primary foes. He ran a tough and bitter race against an embattled incumbent, Gerald R. Ford, and won with 297 electoral votes, which reflected his narrow popular vote majority; he and President Ford would then forge a friendship that lasted until Ford’s death in 2006.

President Carter lost his bid for re-election in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in 1980, but he didn’t skulk off to pout over his loss. Instead he poured his energy into building the Carter Center in Atlanta and then building houses for Habitat for Humanity, a faith-based organization that does the Lord’s work around the world.

I will not engage in a debate over whether he was a successful president. I will say that he has been the most consequential former president in the past century, or maybe even longer than that.

President Carter is getting lots of good wishes from around the country and the world today. This good and godly man deserves all of them.

Happy birthday, Mr. President.

When did GOP surrender its anti-Russia standing?

Those of us who are old enough to remember such things must be wondering: What has become of the Republican Party’s historic animosity toward Russia?

The party of Ike, Nixon and Reagan has become squishier than the Democrats were during those earlier eras. Russia — which once was known as the Soviet Union — attacked our electoral system in 2016. They did with malicious intent to disrupt our process and sow discontent among Americans about the integrity of our voting system.

They have succeeded.

Democrats now are incensed. Republicans? They are silent.

Democrats are pushing for measures in Congress that would strengthen electoral integrity and security. Republican leaders are blocking it.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller III told the nation that Russians not only attacked our 2016 electoral system in “sweeping” and “systematic” fashion, but are in the process of attacking our system at this moment.

The GOP leadership in Congress — and in the White House — are acting as if, “Hey, no big deal!”

History reminds us that in the days of Dwight Eisenhower, we shored up our military to counter the Soviet Union’s aspirations to become he world’s greatest power. Then came Richard Nixon, the noted communist-hater who made no apologies for his hatred and mistrust of the Soviet leadership. After that, the nation heard Ronald Reagan refer to the USSR as the “evil empire” and once joked into an open mic that he had just “outlawed Russia; bombing begins in five minutes.”

These days the equation has been flipped on its ear. Republicans give Russians a pass on the attack they have launched on our electoral system. Democrats have become the hardliners.

I believe this is a manifestation of the Donald Trump Era of national politics. What once was “normal” no longer is normal. Conduct we used to abhor has become part of what we believe is a “new normal.”

Russian attacks on our political system that used to become fodder for Republican politicians’ ire have become reasons for them to zip their lips. They say nothing. Meanwhile, the Democrats have become the hardliners.

What gives?