Tag Archives: White House

McCain to Hillary: Cool it with the criticism

John McCain knows the pain of losing a presidential election.

Accordingly, he has offered the most recent presidential election loser a bit of solid advice, although I disagree with the manner in which he delivered it.

The Arizona Republican U.S. senator has told Hillary Rodham Clinton to clam up, that she shouldn’t be so highly critical of the man who defeated her for the presidency. “One of the almost irresistible impulses you have when you lose is to somehow justify why you lost and how you were mistreated: ‘I did the right thing! I did!’” Trump told Esquire Magazine. “The hardest thing to do is to just shut up.”

He added: “What’s the f—–g point? Keep the fight up? History will judge that campaign, and it’s always a period of time before they do. You’ve got to move on. This is Hillary’s problem right now: She doesn’t have anything to do.”

Ouch, man!

McCain can’t claim to have remained silent about the man who beat him in 2008. He returned to the Senate after Barack Obama thumped in the race for the White House. He used his public office to criticize the president’s policies. To me, he did sound a little sour-grapy at times, but I understand his position as a member of the “opposing party” while sharing governing responsibility with the president.

Clinton’s situation is drastically different. She isn’t holding a public office. Sen. McCain notes that, too, suggesting that she could have waited a good while before publishing her book — “What Happened” — that chronicles her version of why she lost the 2016 election.

I say all this without apologizing for a moment that I supported her election as president — and I would do so again if she were to face Donald Trump a second time in a presidential election.

I just hope she doesn’t run again.

As for John McCain, he is in the midst of the fight of his life and it has not a damn thing to do with politics or policy. By my reckoning, his battle against cancer gives his remarks even more gravitas.

White House protests too much

I have a simple bit advice for the White House press office, which seeks to explain the nature of the president’s time away from Washington.

Settle down, will ya?

The Trump family has jetted off to Florida to spend the Thanksgiving weekend at their resort. Fine. Enjoy yourself, Mr. President.

Back at the office, the White House keeps insisting that the president is taking a “working vacation.” Press aides keep telling the media that the president is hard at work while he plays golf, frolics with his grandkids and does whatever he does when he’s not in the Oval Office.

C’mon, gang! I’ve long defended presidential vacations by noting that presidents never are “off the clock.” I know that the current POTUS has squawked about the vacations his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, would take. I called him out when he would insist he would “never” take a vacation were he elected president. I defended President Obama for taking time away from the stressful atmosphere in the Oval Office.

I’ll do so again with Donald Trump. Which brings me back to my point: The president of the United States is supposed to be available to answer the call, whether he’s at his Oval Office desk or on the 18th green.

Message to White House press office? Stop insisting on calling it a “working vacation.”

Bill Clinton paid the price for his misbehavior

We’re talking these days about sexual predation, abuse, assault, harassment. Men do behave badly at times. A number of men in powerful positions have been accused of that bad behavior.

I feel the need to set the record straight on one powerful man who once was in the news because of his misdeeds.

Republicans keep harping on former President Bill Clinton’s misbehavior while he was in the White House. They use that historical context to “defend” the actions of one currently prominent GOP politician, U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who’s been accused of sexual abuse involving underage girls.

These Republicans, some of whom are friends of mine — and even a family member — wonder why President Clinton got a pass when he was messing around with Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern in the late 1990s.

I must remind them: President Clinton got impeached. The House of Representatives — led by its GOP majority — impeached the president because he lied under oath to a federal grand jury that was snooping around, looking for something to stick to the president. The special counsel, Kenneth Starr, uncovered the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, summoned the president to testify to the grand jury, asked him whether he had an sexual relationship with Lewinsky.

Clinton said “no.” That was untrue. Thus, the House had its grounds for impeachment: perjury. The president was humiliated. His wife became, shall we say, quite angry with him.

Did the president get off scot-free? Hardly. He paid a huge political price in the moment.

The U.S. Senate put him on trial. Senators acquitted him. Thus, the president was allowed to serve out the remainder of his second term in office.

Yes, there were other allegations. Clinton did settle with one of the accusers. He was stripped of his law license in Arkansas.

There’s no doubt that the former president has reclaimed his political standing. Time does have a way of putting some matters into different contexts.

However, the notion that Bill Clinton did not pay a price for his misbehavior is a canard those who still despise him are using to divert attention from the issue of the moment, which involves the conduct of the current crop of high-powered men.

The ‘moron’ now becomes the ‘dope’

One man’s “moron” is another man’s “dope.”

Is that how it goes these days inside the White House, the center of power of the United States, the place where the Leader of the Free World practices his statecraft?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously called Donald J. Trump a “bleeping moron.” When asked whether he said such a thing, Tillerson didn’t come close to denying it, saying only that he wouldn’t engage in “petty” discussions.

Now comes national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who reportedly called the president an “idiot” and a “dope” and someone with the attention span and intelligence of a kindergartner.

I’m feeling the burn, which more than likely is being lost on the target of the epithet.

The White House, to no one’s surprise, denies McMaster — a U.S. Army lieutenant general and an expert on terrorism — said such a thing.

What does one think about all of this?

I get no satisfaction hearing about this level of disparagement coming from top hands within a presidential administration. I consider it virtually unheard of at this level of government.

I know what I’ve said about the president, how I don’t believe he is suited temperamentally to hold the office to which he was elected. He has uttered some remarkably intemperate, inarticulate and indelicate statements since entering political life in June 2015.

Trump’s knowledge of any sort of intimate details of anything remains suspect to anyone who’s watched this man operate.

Finally, I am left to wonder if anyone should be surprised that Lt. Gen. McMaster — an acknowledged expert on national security — would say the president lacks the understanding of the complexities these issues present.

I’m now waiting for McMaster himself to deny saying it.

Trump shrinks a big office

I wish I had thought of this, but since I didn’t I’ll deliver appropriate credit to the source of this piece of wisdom.

It comes from U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who fired off this tweet today about Donald J. Trump Sr.:

“The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn’t lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?”

What a great question, even though it’s more or less a rhetorical inquiry. Here’s another twist on it: How can Trump shrink the high office he won a year ago in one of those most stunning political upsets in U.S. history? I think it shrunk the very moment he took the oath of office.

POTUS shrinks his office

The object of Schiff’s retort concerns the Twitter tussle that Trump entered with LaVar Ball, the father of one of three UCLA student/athletes who were charged with shoplifting at a high-end store in the People’s Republic of China.

Trump talked to Chinese leaders while visiting that country and reportedly persuaded them to release the young men instead of convicting them and sentencing them to potentially years-long prison sentences. LaVar Ball then tweeted that Trump didn’t do anything to obtain the release of his son and the other athletes.

Then the president decided to fire back at Ball — a man known for his big mouth and outsized public presence in the lives of his athletically gifted sons.

He said he “should have left them in jail” because LaVar Ball didn’t lavish enough praise on the president for his efforts.

That is one way a small man can occupy such a big office. Indeed, Trump is managing to shrink the office itself with his persistently petulant behavior.

Trump has turned this remarkable “skill” into an art form.

‘Fine-tuned machine’ needs a serious lube job

The president of the United States has described his administration as functioning like a “fine-tuned machine.”

Such a description implies a thorough vetting of those seeking high-level government appointments, yes? Sure it does.

Why, then, did a Donald Trump nominee for the federal bench fail to report something that poses a potential conflict of interest? You know, that he is married to a senior White House lawyer.

Brett Talley failed to disclose that he is married to Ann Donaldson. Talley wants to be a federal judge; Donaldson works for an organization — the White House — that could face a challenge and appear in the very court where Talley presides.

Mr. President, we have a problem

Doggone it, man. Isn’t that a problem? What’s more, why didn’t Donaldson step forward and inform the White House judge-search team that there might be a problem with her hubby being seated on the federal bench?

And there’s an interesting back story, too. Talley wants an appointment to a judgeship that serves a district in Alabama, which is being tossed and roiled at this very moment by a scandal involving Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who’s being accused of making improper sexual advances on underage girls.

Aw, what the heck. I digress … you know?

Talley also has never tried a case. His legal experience is quite limited and one can question whether he actually is qualified to preside as a federal judge.

Is this how the president finds the “best people” to serve the federal government? Is this how a “fine-tuned machine” operates?

Umm. No.

How does Trump justify his media hatred?

The hate/hate relationship Donald John Trump has with the media has baffled me from the beginning of his presidency.

You see, the man ought to be thanking the media for the role they played in advancing his presidential candidacy. It hasn’t worked out that way. He has become the media’s Enemy No. 1. And how? Because he fired the first shot in the war.

The media’s making of a presidential candidacy became evident from the candidate’s first day on the campaign trail. He rode down that elevator at Trump Tower in June 2015 and a “love affair” was born.

Trump made outlandish statements from Day One. The media didn’t challenge him. The media seemed reluctant to call the candidate what he was: a liar.

When he announced his plan to ban Muslims from entering the country, he said he witnessed “thousands of Muslims cheering” the collapse of the Twin Towers; he didn’t witness any such thing. He said he lost “many friends” in the Twin Towers; he didn’t lose any friends.

Did the media challenge him in real time for the lies he told? No. They generally let them ride.

Prior to his running for the first public office he ever sought — the presidency — Trump loved the media exposure as long as it promoted his business ventures. He loved the media as well. He chummed around with media moguls.

Eventually, and it took a while, the media began to wise up to how the candidate was playing them. They started, um, doing their job.

It’s been said that the media should “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That’s what they do. It’s part of their charge as professionals. Trump is among the more, uh, comfortable people in public life; he kept telling us how fabulously wealthy he is. And smart, too.

It’s gone downhill ever since. His election as president has turned the one-time media lover into a media hater. He labels the media as the “enemy of the American people.” His standard retort to anything he deems negative is to call it “fake news.” Trump commits the unconscionable act of singling out individual reporters and the news organizations they represent. He lies continually and the media keep calling him out.

It truly is an amazing turn of events. The president of the United States has declared war on the very institution he needs to inform the public of whatever message he wants to deliver.

Every single one of the president’s predecessors has experienced difficulty with the media during their time in the office Trump now occupies. They all understood something that Trump ignores: The media kept them accountable for their actions.

The media are doing now what they should have been doing from the very beginning of this guy’s campaign for the presidency.

Oh, Gen. Kelly, you are beginning to disappoint

John Kelly took command of the White House staff amid great expectations that he’d continue to earn the respect he deserved as a decorated Marine Corps officer — and a Gold Star father.

This week, Gen. Kelly knocked himself down a few pegs in my estimation. For what purpose? To declare that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was an “honorable man” who fought on behalf of his state during the Civil War.

No! No! No! Gen. Kelly, he fought against the United States of America. Gen. Lee wanted to preserve slavery. He wanted to keep human beings in bondage. He wanted to maintain a federal policy that said slaves were three-fifths human.

How can that be honorable? Moreover, Gen. Kelly, how can you suggest with a straight face that a “failure to find compromise” was the reason the nation tore itself in two, killing 600,000 Americans on both sides of the Civil War?

No, sir. Slavery could not be compromised. It was an evil chapter of American history. It needed to be wiped out, eradicated. The Civil War commenced because the Confederacy was unwilling to surrender to demands to end the enslavement of human beings.

Reaction is swift

The Congressional Black Caucus, understandably, has been quick to challenge Kelly’s assertions about the cause of the Civil War. Kelly critics have suggested he needs to re-read some historical accounts of what drove the nation into this horrible, bloody conflict.

I so had hoped Kelly would be the right tonic for the White House operational mixture that boiled and simmered under Reince Priebus’s tenure as chief of staff.

I heard someone say a few weeks ago that Donald J. Trump has the rare skill of making everyone around worse than they were before they joined him. I fear he might be having that kind of impact on Gen. John Kelly.

Sad, eh?

Stop cheapening Gold Star sacrifices

It never should have gotten to this point.

The president of the United States gets asked a question from a reporter about his silence over the deaths of four U.S. Army personnel in an ambush in Niger.

He answers with a false recitation of what he understood was presidential policy regarding the deaths of service personnel in the line of duty.

Then he is overheard — allegedly — telling the wife of one of the slain soldiers that he “new what he was getting into … but I guess it still hurts.”

Then come the insults between Donald John Trump and Florida Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who blabbed about what she overheard the president say. Trump has been working his Twitter fingers overtime in hurling insults; Wilson has responded.

And then came John Kelly, the retired Marine general and himself a Gold Star father to defend the president and to express “shock” that Rep. Wilson would reveal what she heard.

Stop already!

The Gold Star families who are caught in the middle of this petulant p****** match deserve better than to be used as political footballs. They deserve only to grieve in private. They deserve to be honored for their sacrifice. They deserve only to be comforted and saluted.

It’s not turning out that way. It has become a political sideshow featuring — for crying out loud! — the commander in chief, a member of Congress, the White House chief of staff.

Who started this ridiculous exchange? I’ll put the blame on the president. He couldn’t simply say in response to that initial question that he’ll call the families soon and leave it at that. No-o-o-o. He had to misstate what has been common practice by three of his predecessors.

Then for him to denigrate a member of Congress — a friend of the grieving family at the center of this ridiculous exchange — goes beyond the pale. He calls her a “wacky Democrat.”

I’ll harken back to the statement of retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who said this politicization denigrates the service of the fallen soldiers and dishonors the grief their loves are enduring.

Oh, the shame of it all.

Imagine seeing Trump with his five living predecessors

Try as hard as I do, I cannot wrap my arms around a certain scenario involving Donald J. Trump and five of the men who preceded him as president of the United States.

History has provided opportunities for the living for presidents to gather along with the current POTUS. They have appeared at ribbon-cuttings, at funerals, at various and sundry public functions.

Try to imagine Trump sharing a stage with Presidents Carter, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and Obama. Imagine these men all setting aside the humiliating insults that Trump has hurled at them collectively and individually. Let’s not forget the insults and name-calling he has hurled at the wife of one of those men, referring to the 2016 Democratic nominee as “Crooked Hillary” Clinton.

Of all of the former presidents I could imagine possibly showing up at a Trump event I can think only of President Carter taking that leap. I guess it’s because of the former president’s deep Christian faith and the grace he embodies even where it involves those who have sought to humiliate him.

I won’t bet the farm, though, on President Carter doing it.

Still, the current president has demonstrated a seemingly limitless capacity to re-litigate the 2016 election. He keeps seeking to rub in the faces of his political foes the fact that he won an election. C’mon, Mr. President! We get it, dude!

His defamation of President Obama sticks in the craw of millions of Americans. He perpetuated the lie that Obama was born abroad and was somehow unqualified to serve as president.

The idiotic insults he hurled at President George W. Bush and his family members cannot possibly have gone down well with the 43rd president.

Trump’s overblown insults at Bill Clinton — not to mention his wife — have been shameful in the extreme.

The only thing that has kept Trump, in my view, from tossing barbs at Bush 41 has been the former president’s health … although I would put nothing past Trump if he chose to offer a snarky comment about the 90-something former commander in chief.

The presidency occasionally offers these individuals opportunities to gather for ceremonial functions. I encourage you to picture any or all of them agreeing to speak publicly about the clown in chief who occupies this venerated office.