Tag Archives: White House

Trump’s hysteria continues to mount

My astonishment at the presidential hysteria mounting over the Russia probe and related matters is continuing to build.

It presents itself in stark contrast to the stone-cold silence coming from the office of the special counsel that Donald Trump is attacking multiple times daily.

Robert Mueller continues to insist on a veil of silence. He has instructed his team to keep its collective trap shut. No leaks are coming from the special counsel who is examining that “Russia thing” that prompted Trump to fire FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

Yet the president continues his frontal assault on Mueller’s reputation, on the reputation of his former friend Michael Cohen, on Comey, on the Department of Justice, on the FBI. His assault is inflicting some collateral damage, too, such as on the rule of law and on the notion that the U.S. Constitution stands as a bulwark against any abuses of power that might arise from any of the three branches of government.

It is my fervent hope that Mueller concludes his investigation sooner rather than later. I am growing weary of the Twitter tirades coming from the White House. I am tiring of the insistence from the president that Mueller has “no evidence of collusion”; in fact, we don’t know what Mueller has or doesn’t have, which is why I want the probe to reach its finish line.

As for the president, every time he yaps about “no collusion” or “no laws being broken,” he sounds all the more to me as if he’s trying to hide something from public purview. I refer to those tax returns that he has refused to release; or the mountain of documented evidence that Mueller has compiled that is bound to answer a lot of questions.

Donald Trump’s hysteria plays well with the base that is hanging with him to the end. Fine. It isn’t playing well with the rest of the country, the 60-some percent of us who disapprove of the manner that Trump seeks to lead the country.

Please, Mr. Special Counsel, wrap this thing up as soon as possible to spare us the frothing madness that pours out of the White House.

Oh, wait! It just occurs to me that the end of the Russia probe — no matter how it concludes — is going to produce another endless barrage from the president of the United States.

Dang it, man! We can’t win!

How in the world do you wish success for Trump?

I have grappled with this since the moment I learned that Donald John Trump had been elected president of the United States.

It is how do I wish success for someone who I believe is unfit for the office of president?

Yes, I have heard how previous presidents wished their successors well, even if they are from different political parties. The late President George H.W. Bush famously wished good things in that letter he wrote to the man who defeated him for re-election in 1992, President Bill Clinton. President George W. Bush wished the same for the man who succeeded him in 2009, President Barack Obama.

I am just a shmuck blogger out here in Flyover Country. I cannot bring myself to wish Donald Trump success. Why? Because his definition of “success” is at odds fundamentally with what I believe is best for the country.

He wants to isolate the nation from the rest of the world. He wants to roll back environmental regulations, giving polluters greater freedom to, um, pollute our air. He wants to build a wall along our southern border. He favors tax cuts for the wealthy and to hell with anyone else. Trump believes trade wars are good for the country. He wants to take “credit” for shutting down the government if he doesn’t get what he wants. Trump is populating his administration with know-nothings and novices. Trump wants to trash the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an unknown policy. He curries favor with international despots.

How in the name of good government does one wish success for someone who wants those things? How does one believe any of it is good for the nation?

I am at a complete loss at understanding any of it.

To be fair, Trump’s agenda does have a couple of winners. I want him to succeed in enacting federal sentencing reform. I favor an infrastructure improvement plan, although likely scaled down a bit from the $1 trillion pipe dream he’s put out there to repair roads, bridges and airports; furthermore, we need to find a way to pay for it without exploding the national deficit and debt.

Those are just two aspects. The rest of his larger “vision,” if you want to call it that, is anathema to everything I believe.

Trump’s definition of success, in my humble view, is a prescription for national catastrophe. As such, I cannot possibly wish him well.

Why the rapid turnover of ‘best people’?

Donald Trump made a plethora of promises while seeking the presidency. One of them was to surround himself with “the people best people” to run the executive branch of government.

How has that worked out? Not too well.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “leaving” the administration at the end of the month, according to the president. Trump hasn’t told us whether he was fired or whether he quit to “pursue other interests” — which in reality means the same thing as getting canned.

When the president nominated Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state, he hailed the man he had never met as a brilliant business executive and the best dealmaker on Planet Earth. Then he fired him. Just the other day, Tillerson spoke out against Trump, criticizing his management style. The president’s response? Tillerson lacks “mental capacity” and is “dumb as a rock.”

Tillerson is just one of many individuals who have gone from hero to zero during their time working in the Trump administration.

He has burned through multiple chiefs of staff, communications directors, and various Cabinet officials . . . all in the span of less than two years! Just think, Trump has two more years to go to finish out his term in office!

Best people? They aren’t on board. His campaign promise was nothing but an empty platitude.

Trump hasn’t yet appointed a White House chief of staff, turning instead to an “acting” chief, Mick Mulvaney, who also has a full-time day job as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Think about that for a second: an “acting” White House chief of staff. Trump keeps telling us that applicants are lining up out the door and around the block to work in the White House. I would submit that the president is lying about that matter, too, just as he lies about everything continuously.

The “best people” aren’t going to be found inside the White House, let alone in the West Wing. They’re running like hell away from the madhouse on Pennsylvania Avenue.

One more stark difference between Trump and Bush 41

Americans have just bade farewell to a great and good man, George Herbert Walker Bush, with tributes and praise that brought instantaneous comparisons to one of his presidential successors, Donald John Trump Sr.

The tributes honored the former president’s empathy, compassion, the size of his heart, wisdom and coolness under the most extreme pressure imaginable. Many of us drew a straight line between the 41st president and the 45th president and found the latter man lacking in all those categories.

What has gotten almost no attention has been the qualifications chasm that exists between the men.

We went from electing arguably the most qualified man ever as president to electing — without question, in my mind — the most fundamentally unqualified man. Yes, we made that leap between 1988 and 2016. In just 28 years we reset the standard for electing the leader of the free world and the commander in chief of the world’s greatest military machine.

Bush served as a U.S. Navy aviator in World War II (who came within a whisker of dying in combat), successful West Texas businessman, two-term member of Congress, CIA director, special envoy to China, Republican Party chairman, ambassador to the United Nations and then vice president of the United States. All that occurred before his smashing election as POTUS in 1988. He also was married to the same woman for 73 years, with whom he produced six children.

And Trump? His business record has been, shall we say, mixed. He had zero public service experience. His entire professional life was aimed at self-enrichment. He has filed multiple bankruptcies. The only public office he ever has sought is the presidency of the United States. The personal part? He’s been married three times and has admitted to cheating on his first two wives — with evidence mounting that he did the same thing to his current wife.

President Bush brought honor and an enormous well-spring of commitment to public service to the world’s most powerful office. Donald Trump has brought — um, let me think — not a single shred of any of it to the office to which he was elected. We have turned the presidency into an office where the occupant can receive on-the-job training. No experience necessary. How utterly astonishing!

George H.W. Bush was worthy of the praise he received. Donald J. Trump is equally worthy of the scorn he is receiving.

Pence’s stony silence most disturbing image

Look at the picture. The person to Donald Trump’s right is none other than the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence.

Of all the chatter we’ve heard about that meeting, the one image that continues to stick in my craw is of Pence sitting there, silent, not saying a single word. Meanwhile, the president argues with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer about the federal budget and financing construction of The Wall on our southern border.

The image of Pence sitting there mute reminds me of what President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden said of their relationship during their eight years in power.

Obama has made it abundantly clear, and Biden has affirmed it, that Biden was the last person to leave any room where the two men were present. Biden would argue with Obama, telling him — sometimes with great emphasis — where he believed the president was wrong. The president would fire back. The two men would go at it tooth and nail.

But through it all, as the former president has recounted their service together, they forged a lasting friendship and partnership.

Do you think the current vice president and the current president have anything approaching that kind of relationship, let alone any semblance of a friendship? Of course not!

Trump comes from a world where he was The Boss. He made decisions. Those who worked for him did what they were told to do. If they didn’t, they were out. Indeed, we’ve seen evidence of that background even as he has morphed into what passes for the chief executive of the federal government.

Thus, when Trump, Pelosi and Schumer were haranguing each other in the Oval Office, one couldn’t possibly expect VP Pence to chime in with his own view. I mean, after all, he’s only the No. 2 man in the executive branch of government. He was elected right along with Donald Trump to lead the nation. Isn’t that right?

Doesn’t that by itself give him any “cred” to say what he believes, to tell the president anything at all that might contradict whatever passes for the president’s world view?

One would think. Except that we are talking about Donald Trump, who is unfit for the office he holds. He wanted an obsequious lap dog to serve as VP and, by golly, he got one.

White House chief of staff: no longer best job in the world

There once was a time when the White House chief of staff was considered the best job in Washington, D.C. The chief was closest to the president. The chief ran a staff of individuals who helped formulate public policy. It was a dream job.

Now it’s a nightmare post. Donald Trump has just pushed his second chief of staff in less than two years out the door. John Kelly is leaving at the end of the month. He couldn’t control the president. He couldn’t manage the staff. He couldn’t do what Trump promised he would do after he fired the first chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

The heir apparent, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was thought to be a shoo-in for the White House chief job. Then he backed out. He doesn’t want the post and, I’ll presume, the intense aggravation that goes with it. He wants to move back to Georgia with his young family.

What has the president done to this formerly plum political post? He has wrecked it. He wrecks the reputation of those occupy that post. He continues to govern by the seat of his britches. The man is clueless, yet he wants to manage the White House staff all by himself, while he continues to “make America great again.”

So very sad. And weird. And bizarre.

Let’s call him ‘Delusional Donald’

Donald J. Trump’s delusion is on full display every time events run totally counter to the lies he tells.

He said on March 6, for instance, that “Everyone wants to work in the White House.” He went on to tell the nation that every position is just chock full of applicants who want a part of the “energy” emanating from the West Wing.

Here is what he said

So, what happened this past week? White House chief of staff John Kelly resigned effective at the end of the year; his deputy chief, Nick Ayres, was slated to succeed him.

Except that Ayres doesn’t want the job. He’s bailing out, too, heading back to Georgia to, I suppose, “pursue other interests.”

C’mon, “Delusional Donald.” Can’t you just one time tell us the truth?

Wishing the latest chief of staff well

I really and truly wanted John Kelly to succeed as White House chief of staff. I wanted the retired four-star general to bring some of his vaunted Marine Corps order and discipline to a White House that lives, breathes and operates in a chaotic atmosphere.

He didn’t cut it. However, I am not going to heap piles of blame on Kelly. It belongs to the guy who brought him into the White House: Donald John Trump Sr.

Kelly and Trump have all but ended their relationship. They reportedly are not talking to each other. Why do you suppose that’s the case? My guess — and that’s all it can be, for obvious reasons — is that the president no longer wanted to heed Kelly’s wise counsel.

Believe me when I say that I empathize with Kelly if that’s the case. A direct-report position requires constant communication between the boss and those who report directly to him or her. My own career ended not long after my relationship with my boss went from cordial to, well, non-existent.

Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff. Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, couldn’t hit his rear end with both hands. The White House erupted into turf wars, battles among key advisers over who had the president’s ear; they stumbled into each other while entering the Oval Office seemingly all at once to have a word with The Man.

Kelly was brought in ostensibly to bring order to the place.

But as he learned, the way Priebus learned, there’s little if anything to be gained by trying to persuade the president to follow certain steps in order. Donald Trump cannot be reined in. Those who support him cheer him on — and it’s those cheers that Trump hears. He cannot hear anything of substance over the proverbial din.

Kelly supposedly “committed” to staying on the job until the 2020 election. So much for commitment.

I wish the general well, even as I remain a dedicated non-fan of the man who hired him.

Here come the comparisons: 41’s era vs. today

You knew it would happen — comparisons would surface between the era that encompassed the service of the late President George H.W. Bush and the era in which we live today.

Remembrances are pouring in from around the world about the death Friday of our 41st president. They are heartfelt, sincere and affectionate. They recall a time when politicians of opposing parties weren’t “enemies,” but merely opponents with differing views on how to achieve the same goal: to make the United States a better place.

Some comments have alluded to what has called the passing of an era that we’ll never see again in our political life. I don’t share that view. I maintain hope that we’ll return to that time when public service matters more than personal aggrandizement. I believe we’ll have a day yet again when humility and modesty informs the actions of our political leaders.

Yes, it’s missing now. We all know it. We see it, hear it and feel it 24/7; it’s impossible to avoid it, given the incessant news cycles that bombard us.

President Bush embodied a seemingly quaint era. He didn’t want to dance on the proverbial grave of the communists who saw their empire crumble at their feet in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He chose instead to work behind the scenes, to forge international relationships and to welcome the sea change in concert with our allies.

There was no “America first” policy coming from the White House in those days. President Bush operated on a different set of standards and ideals, far from what we get nowadays.

Yes, the comparisons will continue for a good while. The nation will mourn its loss of a great American. We also should smile at the full and astonishing life he led and the service he delivered to the public through the myriad tasks to which he was assigned.

He did so without glitz, glamor or self-proclaimed glory.

What a man!

RIP, George H.W. Bush; you have earned it

The tributes are pouring in from around the world over the news our nation received Friday night, that our 41st president, George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94.

We knew it would come sooner rather than later, quite obviously. President Bush led the fullest of lives. He now joins the love of his life, Barbara, in eternal peace.

The world reacts

Of all the ways to honor this great man, I want to look briefly at two related episodes of his four-year presidency. They speak to this man’s humility and his grace. Yes, he was the most qualified man ever to serve as president: combat Navy aviator during World War II, successful West Texas  businessman, member of Congress, special envoy to China, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA, Republican Party chairman, vice president of the United States.

I’ll leave it to others to comment on those accomplishments, singularly and collectively.

Two events occurred on his presidential watch that speak to this man’s astonishing grace: the Berlin Wall tumbled down in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The collapse of the wall was a singular event that heralded what we all knew was going to happen, that communism in Europe was done for. Did President Bush high-five everyone he could find to celebrate the event? No. He stood by stoically while the world witnessed with its own eyes the unification of a great European nation and the first visible sign that the end of the Cold War was at hand.

Then came the dissolution of the Soviet Union two years later. Soviet chairman Mikhail Gorbachev resigned. The communist government collapsed under its own weight of corruption ideological bankruptcy. It was replaced by the Russian Federation. It began a new era we all hoped would signal the creation of a democratic state in the former USSR. Sadly, it hasn’t worked out the way we hoped it would.

Again, the president didn’t run a victory lap. He didn’t proclaim that the Good Guys had defeated the Bad Guys. He didn’t gloat, prance and preen. He acted with nobility and calm. The world did not need to hear the president of the United States explain what it was witnessing in real time.

Those, I submit, are the hallmarks of a man who knew his place and knew in his huge heart how to behave while the world was changing before our eyes.

We are saddened today to learn of the passing of this great man. We are grateful, though, for his lifetime of service to his beloved nation.

Well done, Mr. President.