Tag Archives: White House

Trump vs. Media battle rages on … and on

Donald J. Trump in one important way is no different from the 44 men who preceded him as president of the United States of America.

They all disliked, distrusted and at times disrespected the media.

The difference between Trump and those other guys is the tone and tenor of the response he levels at the media for doing their job.

Trump has branded all media that report stories that aren’t totally favorable as “fake news.” Moreover, he is making admittedly superb use of social media to carry that message forward. Beyond that, his base is loving it! The folks who voted for him and who bought into his “tell it like it is” mantra continue to give him a baseline of support that barely creaks under the weight of the negativity that the president heaps onto himself.

Is this guy, though, any different from his predecessors in his dislike of the media? Nope. Not at all.

Trump assails media again

Every single predecessor — certainly those who served as president during the past 60 or 70 years — have griped openly about the coverage the media provided. Even when they complained, though, many of them did so with a smile/smirk on their face. I believe it was President Franklin Roosevelt who referred to the media’s coverage of his dog Fala, noting how reporters should lay off the presidential pooch.

On and one it has gone.

Do you think President Kennedy wanted the media to cover the Bay of Pigs fiasco in the manner that they did? Of course not. He took the criticism like a man.

President Johnson didn’t much care for the media’s coverage of the Vietnam War, either. He understood the role of a free press and accepted it as part of the job he inherited when his predecessor was gunned down.

I don’t recall hearing President Reagan bitching loudly about the coverage of the Iran-contra controversy.

President Clinton was bombarded with negativity during his eight years in the White House. His wife was a frequent target, too. And occasionally, the media actually poked maliciously at their daughter, for crying out loud.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also took their share of hits over the course of their combined 16 years in office. And, by the way, President Obama was the victim of actual “fake news” promulgated by the likes of, oh, Donald J. Trump — the originator of the lie he kept telling that Obama was constitutionally ineligible to serve because he was born in a far-off land. Can there be a greater example of presidential hypocrisy than that?

The rules of president-media engagement have changed in the Age of Trump. The media are doing the job the U.S. Constitution allows them to do. The president doesn’t like what they report, so he — in effect — defames reporters and editors for serving the public interest.

Worst of all? The complainer in chief  is getting away with it!

Ready for the White House portrait unveiling?

At some point near the end of Donald J. Trump’s current term as president, his protocol staff will likely schedule an appearance by his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, and the former president’s wife, Michelle.

It’s been a custom for many years. The former first couple returns to the White House to unveil their official portraits. The president’s portrait hangs next to other presidents; the first lady’s portrait hangs in a gallery that includes her predecessors.

I remember watching when President Obama and Mrs. Obama welcomed George W. and Laura Bush back to the White House in 2012. It was a heart-warming ceremony, with all four — the current and former first couples — exchanging quips and remembrances of their time in the White House.

Is it possible for the Obamas to return to the White House at the invitation of Donald and Melania Trump? Can the former president set aside the astonishing rhetoric that the current president hurled at him? We have the on-going lie that Trump kept alive about Obama’s place of birth; then we have the defamatory accusation from Trump that Obama “ordered the wiretap” of the president-elect’s campaign office.

Oh, and how about the comments that Michelle Obama delivered in the wake of that ghastly “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump admitted to groping women and grabbing them by their private area?

I can just imagine how, um, tense the next portrait-unveiling is going to be when — or if — it occurs.

Sanity presents itself in Trump White House

Donald Trump pledged to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Then the president thought better of it. He has signed a six-month extension to keep the embassy where it’s been since the founding of Israel in 1948, in Tel Aviv, a relatively safe distance from where terrorists and other sworn enemies of the United States and Israel commit their acts of violence.

http://thehill.com/policy/international/335850-trump-keeps-us-embassy-in-tel-aviv?rnd=1496325457

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to become capital of an independent state, when or if that occurs. The Israelis claim all of Jerusalem as their own holy place.

“We know that peace is possible if we put aside the pain and disagreements of the past and commit together to finally resolving this crisis,” Trump said in a speech in Jerusalem. “I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement.”

The idea is to broker a peace deal that determines the fate of the holy city, which has been the goal of U.S. presidents of both political parties all along.

Donald Trump has seen the reality of the situation and has backed off his overheated campaign pledge and has decided the status quo isn’t such a bad idea.

Good call, Mr. President.

Cell phone, Mr. President?

I get that Donald J. Trump wants to open up lines of communication between his office and those of other world leaders.

The president’s motives appear to be noble.

But hold on! He’s giving out his personal, private cellphone number to those other leaders? Is that what I’m hearing?

Whoa, Mr. President!

Cellphones aren’t secure. I keep hearing how they’re vulnerable to, um, hacking. People can listen in. Bad people can listen and do terrible things in reaction to what they hear.

And so the president of the United States wants to talk openly, and I presume candidly, with world leaders about the myriad problems facing the world.

https://www.apnews.com/11a48fde81634789b1cc361696693b68

If the president wants to maintain open communications with other leaders, I have an idea. Let ’em call you on the secure line in the Oval Office, or in the Situation Room.

Handing out personal cellphone numbers is fraught, shall we say, with some serious national security concerns. Don’t you think?

And didn’t the president — when he was running for the office — bellow incessantly about all the alleged security breaches created by Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state?

I am shaking my head.

The WH shakeup has begun

Mike Dubke is out as White House communications director.

Sean Spicer won’t be meeting face to face as often with the White House media as press secretary.

A fiery former Donald J. Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, might be returning to the inner circle, which reportedly might trigger more departures from the White House.

And all the while, the president of the United States insists that the White House is running like a “fine-tuned machine.” All cylinders are firing as they should. The president hit a “home run,” he said, on his first foreign trip.

I’ll stick with what former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — and one-time GOP presidential rival — said about Trump.

He ran as a “chaos candidate” and is governing as a “chaos president.”

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:

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/all-the-kings-men/526980/

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.

Mueller pick enables Congress, POTUS to get back to work

One of my first takeaways from today’s blockbuster news about the appointment of a special counsel to probe the “Russia thing” suggests that Congress and the president can get back to actual work.

You know … governing!

Robert Mueller is going to lead the investigation into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election; he’ll look at whether Donald Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to shut down a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia connection; he might even find some other things we haven’t even thought of … yet.

You’ll recall that a former special counsel, Kenneth Starr, was tasked initially with examining a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton and discovered that the president was having an “inappropriate” relationship with a young White House intern. The rest became history.

Mueller, himself a former FBI director, is an excellent choice to lead this probe. I give Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein high praise for making this choice.

Senators, House members and the president now can get back to arguing over some other things: health care, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration matters, North Korea, Syria, NATO.

We can argue ourselves hoarse over the merits of what Donald Trump wants to do. I don’t mind that debate continuing at full throttle.

This Russia matter and all its tendrils have strangled the government. For his part, Trump has made a mess of just about everything he has touched. Congressional leadership hasn’t acquitted itself much better, either.

Yes, House and Senate committees will continue to examine the “Russia thing” along with whatever Mueller uncovers. Let them pursue their charter as prescribed by congressional rules.

The rest of the House and the Senate — along with the guy who is president of the United States — ought to concentrate more fully on what they were sent to Washington, D.C., to do.

That is to govern.

‘Awful … but lawful’

A friend of mine asks whether Donald J. Trump has is perhaps guilty of being “treasonous” or “galactically stupid” if reports of what he allegedly did while visiting with Russian dignitaries turns out to be true.

I’ll stick with galactically stupid, although it’s a close call.

Media are reporting that the president revealed some highly classified/sensitive national security information to the Russian foreign minister and that country’s ambassador to the United States while they were calling on him in the Oval Office.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster — one of the few grownups comprising the president’s inner circle — offered a brief statement that said the story “as reported is false.” He said the president didn’t divulge any operational strategies. End of story … McMaster said.

Then the president fired up his Twitter account this morning and declared he was within his right as president to say what he said to his Russian guests.

I’m going to stick with what I heard National Public Radio’s Maura Liasson say this morning about what the president did. She said it falls into the “awful … but lawful” category of misdeeds.

Remember how candidate Trump pounded Hillary Clinton relentlessly over her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state? Do you remember the chants he invoked at his rallies: Lock ‘er up!”?

What do you know? The president might have supplanted Hillary in the careless and reckless realm of irresponsibility.

He likely didn’t break any laws, given that as president of the United States, he can declassify information merely by stating it in an unsecure context. If you or I were to do such a thing, we’d be arrested, cuffed, thrown into a cell and likely would spend the rest of our lives behind bars. Hey, rank has its privileges, you know?

The Washington Post and the New York Times are all over this story. The Post broke it Monday night and observers have been clamoring all over creation about how — if true — the president has endangered the trust that our allies have in sharing valuable security information with the United States of America.

Trump is about to fly to Saudi Arabia, Israel and The Vatican for his first overseas trip as president. What do you suppose the Saudis and Israelis will tell him about their plans to combat the Islamic State? What do you think they’ll feel safe telling him — even though none of this latest explosive news has been proven beyond a doubt? My gut tells me they will keep their knowledge of ISIS activities and their plans to fight the terrorists to themselves.

What the heck. Another week awaits. More drama is sure to erupt. Let’s all stay tuned and watch as this circus act takes wing.

Trump seeks to plug leaks … how?

Someone might have to explain this to me.

Donald John Trump reportedly is mad as hell. The White House leaks like a sieve. Someone or some people inside the place might be blabbing to the media about the inner workings of the Trump administration.

So what might the president do to curb the leaks? Why, shoot, he might just fire the press secretary, the White House chief of staff, the president’s legal counsel and his chief political strategist.

That’s the report being discussed by the chattering class in Washington, D.C. Press flack Sean Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus, legal eagle Don McGahn and strategist Stephen Bannon could be out.

What, then, might happen to the leak issue? It could turn into a deluge if the president decides to cut these four guys loose. They would be untethered from the White House and could tattle to their hearts’ content about all they know, what they have seen and heard and who has done what to whom inside the Trump White House.

Look, we’re only 100-and-some days into an administration that hopes to last another three-plus years. The president already is talking about running for re-election and, in fact, has released what looks and sounds like a 2020 campaign commercial.

Each day brings new surprises. Each dawn produces news of a not-so-flattering kind. The president cannot contain his Twitter fetish.

He’s worried about leaks. So his remedy might be to unleash four of his top guns into the public to, um, possibly spill their guts?

This is not how you govern, Mr. President. Really and truly.

‘I thought it would be easier’

If anyone wondered whether Donald J. Trump was equipped to assume the role of president of the United States, an interview just published has removed all doubt.

The president told Reuters News Agency that he thought being the head of state and government of the world’s greatest nation would be “easier” than what he did beforehand.

Really, Mr. President? You believed that presiding over the multi-headed monster called the federal government would be easier than snapping your fingers while running a company?

The president’s 100th day in office is at hand and we’ve gotten a most revealing look at how little this person knew about the office he sought. It’s been reported — and repeated — that the presidency was the first public office to which Trump ever aspired. His whole life has been centered on one thing: self-enrichment. Public service is an entirely different critter.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

Well, Mr. President, get used to it. The work won’t get any easier.

Trump laments difficulty

One of Trump’s predecessors, John F. Kennedy, once reportedly complained about the difficulty of getting things done. JFK thought he could just pick up the phone, issue an order and then he would get the desired result immediately and without question.

President Kennedy, who entered public life in Congress also as the son of immense privilege, learned quite rapidly that government doesn’t function that way.

Donald Trump must learn that lesson, too, if he has a prayer of succeeding at the job he now occupies.

I’ve said often that 400 grand — which is the salary the president earns — isn’t enough. For the current president, that salary is walking-around money; he isn’t taking a salary and is pledging it to charity. Good for him.

That doesn’t minimize the enormous difficulty of transitioning from a life of glitz and glamor to one dedicated to serving other human beings. Yes, Mr. President, you have laid claim to the toughest job on Planet Earth.

This is something that — in a still-imperfect world — you should have understood the moment you declared your intention to seek it.