Tag Archives: Walter Mondale

See ya later, Bob Beckel

Bob Beckel’s dismissal from the Fox News Channel isn’t as big a deal as, say, Bill O’Reilly’s firing or that of the late Roger Ailes.

It’s still a big deal, however.

Fox canned Beckel today in connection with racially insensitive remarks he made to a fellow network employee. Beckel was one of the co-hosts of “The Five,” a network news talk show that airs weekday afternoons. He leans to the left politically and usually found himself on the short end of a gang fight with his co-hosts, most of whom lean to the right.

I always found it fascinating that Beckel was seen as a political “expert.” Why the fascination? Well, he shepherded Democratic nominee Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign to a 49-state landslide loss to President Ronald Reagan.

Fox’s quick dismissal of Beckel does suggest to many observers that the network has been sensitized to misbehavior by its on-air personalities. O’Reilly was canned after revelations came out about the sexual harassment settlements to which he agreed; several women accused O’Reilly of harassing them. And then there is Ailes, the network founder who was let go also for sexual harassment claims leveled against him; Ailes died this week at the age of 77.

I won’t miss Beckel. For starters, I don’t generally watch Fox News. When I have tuned in, I have found Beckel’s analysis to be seriously underwhelming.

Kudos go to Fox for its quick action. Heaven knows the network has taken a beating over the way it (mis)handled the sexual harassment matters.

May this firing signal a change in the corporate culture at the “fair and balanced” network.

Hillary’s health? Not an issue


All this supposed hubbub over Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health has gotten me to recalling a time or two in recent history.

Presidents — and presidential candidates — sometimes get sick.

They’re human — yes? — just like the rest of us. They’re prone to physical ailments, bugs, viruses, runny noses, upset stomachs and, oh, you know.

The Democratic presidential nominee got a bit woozy at a 9/11 event the other day. She had to leave early. Why, how dare she get sick at a 9/11 event? The nerve …

B … F … D!

Well, do you remember the time President George H. W. Bush puked in the lap of the Japanese prime minister while they were sitting on the floor enjoying a meal? Was there concern then that President Bush could serve as commander in chief and leader of the Free World? Umm … no!

Or, how about the time President Ronald Reagan stumbled and bumbled his way through the first televised debate with Walter Mondale? There were questions raised in 1984 about the president’s fitness. How did he respond? With that classic answer to the question about his mental fitness, saying he would not “exploit for political purposes my opponent’s  youth and inexperience.” He brought down the house — and ended the discussion.

OK, so Hillary Clinton was feeling under the weather. Give her a break!

This health issue is a canard. It’s an insult and an attempt to insert ye another element of innuendo into this campaign.

Ready to be VP? Not just yet, probably


Hillary Rodham Clinton has been saying what presidential nominees — and presumed nominees — always say when asked about who to select as a vice-presidential running mate.

She wants someone who is prepared from Day One to become president. That’s what they all say, right? Sure it is.

That brings us to a young man who’s apparently on Clinton’s short list of candidates. Stand up and take a bow, Julian Castro.

Now he’d better sit back down.

Castro in many ways would make an attractive candidate for vice president. He’s young; he’s “telegenic,” meaning he’s handsome; he’s a Latino American with a compelling life story; he’s a former mayor of a major American city; he hails from Texas.

But he’s got less than two years of experience in the federal government. Castro is serving as housing secretary.

Castro once appealed to me greatly as a potential running mate for whoever would be the Democratic presidential nominee. Not so much now.

As the Texas Tribune reports, he is woefully short on the experience and seasoning needed to assume the presidency if necessity demanded it.


As the Tribune reported: “Fiercely protective of his legacy, Castro’s supporters chafe at the suggestion he is not qualified to be vice president. They acknowledge the obvious — he has little to no foreign policy experience — but argue he is the living, breathing embodiment of an American Dream that transcends mere lines on a resume.”

Another Texan, John Nance Garner, once said the vice presidency isn’t “worth a bucket of warm p***.” He was one of President Roosevelt’s vice presidents. Let it be said that he earned the nickname of “Cactus Jack.”

Well, the vice presidency has changed dramatically since the era when the VP’s main job was to attend funerals abroad. Many of them dating back to, oh, the days of Walter Mondale (1977-1981), have become major policy partners standing shoulder to shoulder with the president.

Julian Castro is a fine young man. Is he ready just yet to stand in the on-deck circle in the next president’s administration.

Umm. I don’t think so. Not just yet.

Gipper’s son is right: Trump is no Reagan


It probably is no surprise to those of you who read this blog regularly to know that of Ronald Reagan’s two sons, my favorite is Ron, the left-leaning radio talk show host.

The Gipper’s other son, Michael — who also is a talk show host — tilts too far to the right for my taste. I once listened to him speak on a panel at the  1994 National Conference of Editorial Writers annual meeting in Phoenix. Oh brother, he was a serious loudmouth.

These days, Michael Reagan is making some sense as it regards whether the latest pending Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, deserves to be lumped with President Reagan.

In the view of the son: No way, man.


Trump shares none of the late president’s commitment to conservative principles, according to Michael Reagan, who told Smerconish that his dad wouldn’t vote for Trump if he were around today. Michael Reagan said he has no intention, either, of voting for Trump. And, no, he’s not going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, Trump embodies none of Daddy Reagan’s good humor, his grace, class and dignity.

“There’s nothing really Reaganesque” about him, Reagan told CNN’s Michael Smerconish. “I mean, my father was humble. That’s not what you find in a Donald Trump, I might say.

“He wasn’t demeaning. He didn’t talk down to people. He talked with people, which is the complete opposite of what Donald Trump, in fact, does,” he said.

Reagan went on to mention the second debate in 1984 between his dad and Democratic nominee, former Vice President Walter Mondale. The president had done poorly in the first debate, causing some pundits to wonder out loud if he was suffering some mental slippage. The question came to him in the second encounter: Mr. President, are you up to the job? He answered, “I will not for political purposes exploit my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

He brought the house down. The person who laughed the hardest was, that’s right, Vice President Mondale.

Michael Reagan sees none of that in Donald Trump.

Neither do I. Or a lot of others.

Still waiting for answers from Bernie


Some of us might recall a quip made famous by former Vice President Walter Mondale as he competed for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984.

His chief foe that year was U.S. Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado. The two of them squared off in a debate and Mondale turned to Hart and asked him: Where’s the beef?

The question has become something of a punch line.

I think it’s fair ask another challenger for the Democratic nomination essentially the same question. It ought to go to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Where is the beef, Bernie? Where are your constructive solutions to what you say ails the country?

I’m not hearing them.

Sanders captured two Democratic caucuses today, in Washington and Alaska. The frontrunner for the party’s nomination remains Hillary Clinton.

I listened last night to quite a bit of Sanders’s rally in Seattle. He stood at a lecturn in the middle of Safeco Field and kept saying what he’s been saying all along.

The campaign system is corrupt and he wants to bring public financing to presidential elections; the top 1 percent are getting richer while the rest of America is suffering; he wants to provide free college education for every student in America; he says every American is entitled to “universal health care.”

OK. Fair enough. I get the message.

The question: How are you going to make any — let alone all of it — a reality?

It occurred to me this afternoon while visiting with a friend: Sanders sounds a little like Donald J. Trump. Yes, he’s tapping into voters’ anxiety, anger, fear and frustration, just like Trump.

The difference, though, lies in the tone and tenor of his remarks … not to mention the tone and tenor of his response to criticism.

As I listen to Sanders, though, I keep hearing the same refrain.

Wall Street is bad. The political system is corrupt. Wages are unequal.

What is the candidate going to do — precisely, I must ask — to fix it?

Where, Sen. Sanders, is the beef?


Bernie channels Fritz Mondale


U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders made a pledge last night at the CNN-sponsored Democratic Presidential Candidate Town Hall Forum.

The self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” said he will “raise taxes” to pay for his universal health insurance plan if he’s elected president of the United States.

Interesting, you know?

Here’s why.

The last national politician I can remember who made such a promise was the 1984 Democratic nominee for president, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale.

He stood before the party convention, accepted his party’s nomination and then said that President Ronald Reagan (against whom he ran that year) also will raise taxes. “He won’t tell you; I just did.”

I recall liking Mondale’s honesty at the time. It struck me that it was a bold statement to make.

But how well did it play with American voters that fall?

Not well . . . at all.

The president pulled in 59 percent of the popular vote; he beat Mondale by about 17 million ballots; President Reagan won 525 electoral votes; what’s more, he came within about 2,000 votes of winning all 50 states, losing only Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.

Promising to raise taxes never is a good idea, Sen. Sanders.


Trump is no Reagan


Donald Trump keeps making bold comparisons between himself and, well, whomever.

Now he says the “revolution” he is leading is bigger than the one led by that one-time actor, turned California governor, turned 40th president of the United States: Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Allow me to differ with that view.

Trump’s contention is false on so many levels.

Ronald Reagan energized disaffected Democrats. They came to be known as “Reagan Democrats” or “Hard Hat Democrats.” They were blue-collar voters who had grown disaffected with their party.

Trump says the current revolutionaries following his campaign have more “intensity” than those who idolized The Gipper.

(Incidentally, I was not among those. But I am guessing you already know that.)

Allow me now to say a word about the nature of Reagan’s message. Yes, it was stern. He took great pleasure and pride in sticking it into the ear of his Democratic rivals. But his call for change had a certain good humor about it. Did that tamp down the intensity of his supporters? Hardly. It made them love him more.

I’m trying to imagine a President Trump (my hands quiver when I type those words) sitting down with political leaders from the opposing party, sharing an adult beverage and a few off-color jokes — as President Reagan often did with House Speaker Tip O’Neill. I can’t get there.

Did Reagan ever call his foes “stupid,” or “incompetent,” or “pathetic”? Did he ever use words like “weak” to describe this country?

He used language much more artfully and with much more nuance. Did that skill weaken the intensity of his supporters? Not even close.

The intensity of the late president’s supporters carried him to two landslide victories — the second of which came within about 2,000 votes of a 50-state Electoral College sweep!

Do you remember that great moment during the second presidential debate in 1984 with Democratic Party nominee Walter Mondale? The first encounter produced several stumbles, bumbles and mumbles from the president. Observers wondered aloud about the president’s mental fitness for the job.

Then came the question during Debate No. 2: Are you up to the job, Mr. President? “I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” Reagan said.

You know who laughed the hardest at that line? Walter Mondale.

With that, I’ll paraphrase a line made famous by another great American politician, U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, the Texas Democrat who ran for vice president in 1988.

Mr. Trump, you’re no Ronald Reagan.


Donald Trump: birther in chief


Donald J. Trump has a birther fetish.

When he was leading the polls by a country mile, he saw no issue with the background of fellow Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The Canadian-born U.S. senator from Texas has qualified fully to run for president, Trump said. “He’s in fine shape,” he said of his GOP rival.

But wait! Circumstances have changed. Cruz is neck-and-neck with Trump. He’s overtaken him in Iowa, according to some surveys.

Now-w-w-w there’s a problem, Trump said.

“People” have called Cruz’s qualifications into question, Trump said. It could present a problem for the Republicans if Cruz is their nominee, Trump added.

So, which is it, Donald. Is Cruz eligible to run and serve as president or isn’t he?

Trump has raised this birther crap before. The other time involved President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii — one of the 50 United States of America. Trump, though, didn’t believe it; for that matter, I’m not sure he believes it yet.

The Constitution stipulates that only “natural-born” citizens can run for the office and serve if elected. Yes, Cruz was born in Canada. But he earned U.S. citizenship the moment he came into this world because — get ready for it — his mother is an American. Daddy Cruz is Cuban, but that doesn’t matter. Cruz is eligible to run for the highest office.

Don’t take my word for it. Others who are a whole lot smarter than I am have said the same thing. Constitutional lawyers have affirmed Cruz’s eligibility.

So, what’s Trump’s beef?

Oh yeah. It’s those polls.

I love, too, how Trump keeps shoving this issue off to “people” who’ve said such things. Well, Trump has said it, too.

It kind of reminds me of the time Sen. Walter Mondale — the 1976 Democratic vice-presidential nominee — came to Portland, Ore., to campaign for the White House. He held a press event in which a reporter asked him if Watergate was going to be an issue in the presidential campaign.

Mondale, grinning from ear to ear, said, “I am not going to make President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon an issue in this campaign.”

I guess Mondale was going to let “people” talk about it.


Sen. Sanders shows spunk, however …

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has put it on the line.

The candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination said flat-out he will raise individual tax rates if he’s elected president next year.

The Vermont independent senator said this on CNN over the weekend: “Yes, we have to raise individual tax rates substantially higher than they are today, because almost all of the new income is going to the top 1 percent.”


As much as I admire Sen. Sanders’s spunk and his courage on some things, I feel compelled to remind him of a little political history, even though I know he’s aware of it.

In 1984, former Vice President Walter Mondale was nominated to run for president. During his acceptance speech at the party convention in San Francisco, he said this: “Mr. Reagan will raises taxes and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

“Mr. Reagan,” of course was the president of the United States.

Vice President Mondale got a rousing cheer at the convention.

President Reagan was re-elected in a 49-state landslide.

Raising taxes doesn’t play well out here, Sen. Sanders.


Beware of big money, former Sen. Hart warns

Former Vice President Walter Mondale once asked famously of then-Sen. Gary Hart: Where’s the beef?

He sought to smoke out Hart’s position on the issues that were driving the 1984 Democratic Party primary presidential campaign.

These days, though, the former senator is giving us plenty to chew on as he warns of the influence of big money — as in really big money — on the upcoming 2016 campaign for president.


Hart’s target? Former Sen. and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who figures to raise as much as a billion bucks to run for president. Hart doesn’t like that kind of influence. While he expresses admiration and respect for Clinton, he sounds like he’s leaning toward a possible alternative candidate for president — say, Elizabeth Warren or Martin O’Malley.

As Politico reported: “The post-Citizens United campaign finance environment has sullied the presidential process, he said, benefiting establishment politicians who cater to financial backers. He pointed to his own experience, noting that he and his wife mortgaged their home for between $50,000 and $75,000 — an amount that made a significant difference in his first campaign in 1984.”

Ah, yes, Citizens United.

That was the infamous Supreme Court decision that ruled in 2010 that campaign contributors cannot be limited in the amount of money they give. Why, it’s a free speech issue, the court ruled. President Obama then stood in the lectern at a State of the Union speech and scolded the justices as they sat right in front of him for their decision. Although the setting was inappropriate for such a tongue-lashing, the guts of what the president said hold up today: It is that money wields too much influence in the modern political process.

Those who suggest that enabling corporations to give mountains of money to candidates is simply allowing “free speech” do not seem to grasp that some speech is heard more clearly than others. Politicians are going to listen to those who can give huge sums of money more than they’ll listen to you and me.

Is their voice more important than ours?

That’s the kind of influence Sen. Hart is warning us about.

Gary Hart has found the beef.