Tag Archives: White House

Mr. Sam knew his place

BONHAM, Texas — The plaque pictured here offers an important civics lesson. It tells of the late Sam Rayburn’s role as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and also as a rank-and-file member of the legislative branch of the federal government.

The great Mr. Sam said he didn’t work “under” eight presidents, but that he worked “with” them. Listen up! Pay attention!

Too many presidents over many decades have fancied themselves as bigger than their office, occupying an office bigger and more powerful and meaningful than the other two co-equal branches of government.

Yes, Donald Trump, I refer to you as well.

Rayburn served in the House with eight presidents, the first of whom was Woodrow Wilson; the last of them was John F. Kennedy. Rayburn died in November 1961.

He was the Man of the House, even when he wasn’t pounding the gavel as its speaker.

I came back to the Rayburn Library and Museum today to show my visiting brother-in-law — who is quite a student of history — this place my wife (his sister) and I visited for the first time just a few weeks ago.

I didn’t see the plaque on our first visit. I feel compelled to offer these few words as a tribute to the understanding that Speaker Rayburn had about Congress and its role as a partner in the making of laws that govern all Americans. He was a student of government and knew he was duty bound to work within the system, reaching across the partisan divide, to find common ground in search of the common good.

There is a huge lesson that needs to be learned in the present day. Donald Trump, then the Republican nominee for president, declared in the summer of 2016 that “I, alone” can repair the things that he said were ailing the country. Uh, Mr. President, good government is most definitely a team sport, requiring all branches of government — even the judiciary — to play a role in the crafting and interpretation of law.

Sam Rayburn knew what has been lost on occasion in the present day. Legislators dig in against the president, who digs in against the men and women who serve in Congress. Nothing gets done. They all seek to declare political victory, when in reality they all fail.

Given that we have only one president at a time, the onus for failure — at least in my mind — falls on the doofus in the White House at the moment.

I cannot stop thinking at this moment how the great Sam Rayburn would react to the bullying and showboating he would witness from down the street at the White House.

My guess? He wouldn’t stand for it.

Has anyone seen Barron Trump?

I am going to broach a subject that well might expose me to criticism that I am picking on a youngster who doesn’t deserve to be picked on.

Well, I am not going to pick on anyone. I am just curious about something I want to express out loud: Barron Trump, the youngest of the president’s five children, has kept an amazingly low profile while living in the most public of houses.

Do not misunderstand. I am not going to say a single critical thing about the youngster. He is the 13-year-old son of the first couple. He didn’t choose to move into the White House after his father got elected president. He’s there because Mom and Dad are there.

However, as the nation wrestles with the various policies and debates surrounding the Trump administration, I am just struck by the absence of any “optics” involving the president’s young son.

You know what I’m talking about. First couples with young children living with them in the White House often trot the kids out for photo ops. You see pictures of the president being a loving father, playing with the kids, smooching them on the forehead, acting like a dad.

Barack and Michelle Obama lived in the White House with two young daughters. We would see the Obama family on occasion at play.

George and Laura Bush’s twins were more or less grown when W. was elected president, but we saw plenty of the Bush family cavorting and carrying on at the White House.

Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea grew up in the public eye as well and we saw plenty of the three of them during their eight years in the White House.

George and Barbara Bush’s family was grown, too, but the president was proud to show off all five of his children and his many grandchildren.

John F. Kennedy famously was photographed with his two young children — Caroline and John Jr. — during his brief time as president.

I hope you get my point. Barron Trump has four older siblings. Three of them — Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric — have been in the news constantly during Dad’s term in office. A healthy portion of that news coverage has been, oh, less than flattering. Tiffany, the fourth sibling, has kept out of sight, too, but then again, she doesn’t live with the first couple in our house.

As for Barron, well, the young man deserves plenty of privacy. He’s getting it. As a constituent, though, of the president I am left to wonder out loud why we don’t see any evidence of the Trumps acting like a family.

This inquiring mind wants to know.

Yep, it’s personal through and through

I want to acknowledge what I am sure is patently obvious to readers of this blog.

It is that my intense opposition to the presidency of Donald John Trump is visceral. It is rooted deep within my gut. It roils constantly as I watch the president go through each sickening day of his time in office.

I wish I could identify a specific policy or set of policies that have angered me so intensely. I cannot. The man doesn’t govern on a metric defined by policy standards, principles, a core set of values.

I am not entirely sure why I am sharing these thoughts today. Perhaps I just feel the need to get a few things off my chest.

Donald Trump’s inability to acknowledge mistakes is one thing that troubles me deeply. He told us once he never has sought forgiveness, which according to the way many of us were brought up is a fundamental tenet of Christianity; yet the evangelical movement follows this guy through the wall, over the cliff, out the window … you name it.

Trump vowed to act “presidential” once he took office. He does not do anything of the sort.

He doesn’t exhibit a scintilla of compassion, empathy, human kindness, authentic sorrow even in the face of horrific tragedy. Wildfires destroy a California town and he blames it all on Democratic politicians and their “failed” forest management policies. Mass shootings destroy the lives of innocent victims and the president doesn’t say a word about how to curb the scourge of gun violence. The Earth rumbled under the feet just recently of residents of southern California and I have yet to hear a word from the president about helping them recover from the physical damage and the emotional trauma they are suffering.

Donald Trump cannot tell the truth. His lying is incessant, relentless and pathological. He lies when he need not do so.

He uses language to define his domestic political opponents one doesn’t normally hear from presidents of the United States. He recently referred to the San Juan, Puerto Rico as a “despicable” human being. OK, so he calls a fellow American citizen despicable but still kowtows to the come-on offered by a truly despicable tyrant, Kim Jong Un. I do not get that.

Donald Trump’s presidency has been a disaster at almost every level I can conjure up. I want it to end no later than Jan. 20, 2021. I want him out of “my” house. I want him to disappear from the public stage, although I am acutely aware that is far from likely to occur no matter when he walks out of the Oval Office for the final time.

Yes, it is personal.

Bernie still singing off the same song sheet

I just have to get this off my chest: Bernie Sanders annoys me.

The independent senator from Vermont is running for president once again. He sought the Democratic Party nomination in 2016, but fell short of the delegates he needed.

He’s back in the game this year, again as a Democrat.

Why the annoyance? He is singing off the same song sheet he used in the previous election. When given free rein to talk about the issues of the day, he turns to his favorite: income inequality. 

OK, it’s not an unreasonable issue. However, the senator needs to immediately expand his list of talking points. The presidency requires its occupant to focus on a wide range of issues. The war against terror? Russia’s election interference? Syria? NATO? The future of the European Union? Trade policy? Infrastructure repair and rebuilding? Budget deficits and the national debt?

It always turns back to income inequality. All of it. It never seems to fail.

Sen. Sanders has had his day. He came up short the previous time. There now are 24 actual Democrats running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

I know what you’re thinking. So has Joe Biden had his day. He has run twice for president already. He came up far short both times. Barack Obama selected him to serve as vice president, a task he performed well for two terms.

I just am hearing a more well-rounded, diverse and global list of issues that are driving his candidacy.

Start talking to us, Sen. Sanders, about something other than income inequality. Oh, and tell us just how we will be able to afford to send every student to college for free.

POTUS gives foes the ammo they now need to, um, impeach

Am I allowed to change my mind, to suggest that the evidence now has reached a form of critical mass that qualifies as an “impeachable offense”?

Of course I am!

I believe it has arrived in the form of an interview that Donald Trump granted ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in which the president said he would accept negative information on a political foe from a foreign government.

Bingo, bango! There you have it. The president then said the “FBI director is wrong” when he said just a month ago that anyone who gets that kind of “opposition research” should report it to the FBI. How does it feel, Christopher Wray, to take a shiv straight in the back?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been fervent in our belief that impeachment is not in the cards, at least not until there is compelling evidence of wrongdoing. Well, it might that the president has provided it that evidence with his reckless pie hole spouting off how he would do precisely what has been alleged that he did during the 2016 election: that he would use information on a foe provided by a hostile foreign power.

I had stood with the speaker in her resisting calls for impeachment.

Today, after digesting what I have heard from POTUS, I am having second thoughts.

This is a dangerous man serving as our head of state.

Always good to separate the person from the institution

Maybe I have learned how to “compartmentalize” the way Bill Clinton demonstrated he was able to do during his eight years as president of the United States, from 1993 to 2001.

President Clinton taught us how he was able to set aside his political opponents’ personal loathing for him — and work with them anyway. He was able to put his own personal loathing for individuals into, um, compartments while doing business on behalf of the public.

So it is that form of compartmentalization that I am able to look at the presidency without much regard for the individual who inhabits the office in the moment. Donald Trump is president of the United States. I recently posted a blog item that mentioned how thrilled I was to see the White House with my wife, niece and nephew a couple of years ago. It didn’t matter to me in the moment that Donald Trump is the person who has taken up residence in that magnificent residence.

Later in the day after we stood outside the White House, we happened to see Marine One, the helicopter carrying the president flying overhead. We were in Georgetown at that moment and the chopper was en route to the White House; I don’t remember where the president had been, but he was returning to “my house” where he lives with his wife and youngest son. And, yes, it was a thrill to see the helicopter, too!

My point here is to reiterate that my respect for the presidency and all the trappings of that office are not diminished by the individual who seemingly seeks to sully it. All he does is shame himself.

The office and the institution of the presidency is too damn big even for Donald J. Trump to do permanent damage.

That “compartmentalization” thing comes in handy. Don’t you think?

White House still signifies dignity, power and majesty

I have made no secret on this blog about my intense loathing of the man who lives in the big ol’ house behind us in this picture.

Two years ago, my wife and I ventured to Washington, D.C., to visit the two young folks in this picture: our niece Andrea and her husband Loren. They showed us a marvelous time in the few days we spent in the nation’s capital.

Our walking tour took us to the White House. We stood on Pennsylvania Avenue and gazed at the place along with other turistas who were gathered along the fence.

It dawned on me in the moment and it occurs to me now that despite the intense political differences one might have with the individual who sits in the Oval Office, the presidency is far bigger, far more important than the knucklehead who serves in the office.

The building is a lasting symbol of the nation and its greatness.

To be crystal clear, Donald Trump never will earn my support. I didn’t vote for him in 2016. He won’t get my vote in 2020. However, my dislike for him as an individual and what he represents does not diminish for one instant, doesn’t take away any bit of love I have for my country or the respect I continue to hold for the office of the presidency.

I suppose that is why I want my president to be better than the rest of us. I want the president to represent us with dignity, class, grace, even a bit of elegance.

I want that individual to be worthy of taking up residence in that beautiful structure. After all, it is our house. Yours and mine.

Thus, it was a thrill to lay eyes on it two years ago.

Civility likely to require long-term rehab

If we look ahead for a moment to the November 2020 presidential election, then we need to ponder what I consider to be the worst possible outcome: the re-election of Donald John Trump.

The president might win a second term. What in the world is going to occur then? How will the next Congress deal with a president who labels Democrats to be everything short of spawns of Satan? He won’t work with Democrats because they are continuing to insist on searching for answers to that still-nagging Russia electoral interference issue.

For their part, Democrats won’t be pleased, either, with the prospect of working while Trump is still in office. How in the world will they react? Will they keep saying and doing things that sets Trump off on endless Twitter tirades?

Imagine the president traveling overseas after the 2020 election and behaving as he did at Normandy during the commemoration of the D-Day landings of June 1944. He sat in front of those 9,000 headstones where U.S. servicemen are buried and called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

Just suppose, too, that Pelosi keeps her speakership after the 2020 election. How is she going to react to more verbal trashing from the president?

Oh, and then there’s the Senate, which might flip from Republican control to Democratic control.

Imagine that scenario, with Democrats possibly controlling both legislative chambers while Republicans keep possession of the keys to the White House.

Civility? It’s a goner. I continue to hope we can find it. Somewhere. Somehow.

It’s gone for as long as Donald Trump remains in an office for which he is totally unqualified … and I’ll say it again: for which he is unfit.

Rep. Taylor quietly earns his stripes in Congress

The media and political pundits have become enamored of the flash and sizzle of a few Democratic rookie members of Congress this year. I refer, for example, to Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, both of whom attained instant celebrity status partly because of their big mouths and radical points of view.

The young man who represents my congressional district, Texas’s Third District, meanwhile has done something quite different in his first term in the House of Representatives.

Republican Van Taylor has quietly been working with Democrats, crossing the aisle, learning the ropes without making headlines.

I kind of wondered what has become of him since he took office in January. Now I know, according to a Dallas Morning News article.

The Morning News reports that Taylor, from Plano, is trying to govern on Capitol Hill the way he did as a Texas legislator. He has drawn praise from some of those dreaded Democrats who like the way he reaches out. Imagine that, if you can.

He is seeking to become a sort of “Mr. Bipartisan” as he navigates his way around the legislative maze.

Good for him.

I like that the new congressman is a veteran. He served for a decade in the Marine Corps, seeing duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, he succeeded a legendary congressman, fellow Republican Sam Johnson, who endured hideous torture as a Vietnam War prisoner for more than six years. So the Third Congressional District is being well-represented by another veteran with an understanding of the dangers of sending men and women into harm’s way.

As the Morning News reports, Taylor said military personnel “don’t get to pick your commanders,” nor do you ask what political party your comrades in arms belong to. You just do your job, he said.

So it should be in the halls of the nation’s Capitol.

If only the leaders on both sides of the aisle — and the leader in the White House — would follow Rep. Taylor’s advice.

‘Chaos president’? Trump sees it as a compliment … maybe?

Jeb Bush told us during the 2016 Republican Party primary campaign for president that Donald Trump would govern under an aura of chaos.

Yep. He was right. Trump vanquished the GOP field bigly, then went on to eke out a victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The White House has become a place where sensibilities go to die. The president fights with the media, with Democrats, with Republicans who oppose him, with his national security team, the national intelligence network, our nation’s historic allies in North America and Europe.

I’m at the point of this individual’s term in office that I am considering tossing aside the word “chaos” to describe him and the manner he seeks to govern the nation. Why? I am beginning to believe that Trump sees the terms “chaos” or “chaotic” as endearments.

He likes governing this way. Is it possible that he sees chaos, confusion, controversy as his ticket to re-election?

That question is not as dumb/idiotic/moronic as you might think. You see, this president vowed to be an unconventional head of state when he won that Electoral College victory in 2016. Of all the promises he has made, this is one that he has kept in mega-spades.

He has fired no fewer than a half-dozen Cabinet officials; sure, some of ’em “resigned,” but we all know they were shoved out the door.

He changes his mind at the sound of the last person to whisper in his ear. He governs with his Twitter account. He makes pronouncements that serve as policy and doesn’t tell the “best people” he purportedly hired to surround him and give him the “best advice.”

Oh, but wait! This is the same guy who said during the campaign that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.” Trump declared the Islamic State was “defeated” in Syria, only to watch as ISIS launched another terrorist attack.

I thought Jeb Bush’s prediction of a “chaos presidency” was correct. I also thought that it would frighten enough voters away to deny this clown the election as president of the United States.

Silly me. I was wrong. Jeb Bush was right, but it doesn’t matter to this guy that so many Americans are worried about the chaos he has brought to the White House.

Why should it bother him? It’s the way this nitwit rolls.