Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Get ready for bruising fight, Mme. VPOTUS

Kamala Harris, this message is directed at you, for your benefit and for — I hope — your political survival.

It appears, Mme. Vice President, that the Republican smear machine might be targeting you in unprecedented ways, using heretofore unseen and unheard messages aimed at denigrating you, your husband, and perhaps even your extended family.

You know your place in history as the first Black, first woman, first South Asian ever elected to the nation’s second-highest office. No need to remind you of that.

However, it is those trailblazing traits that will become targets for the GOP smear mongers. They’re out there.

We saw them try to demonize Barack Obama — the first Black man elected president — in 2008. There was the lie about his birthplace and about his associations with certain political luminaries. The GOP, led by Donald Trump, sought to make Barack Obama somehow unqualified to run for president, let alone serve in the office.

I can feel the same sort of thing happening to you, Mme. VP, as you campaign for re-election alongside Joe Biden.

I feel the compelling need to tell you that I consider you eminently qualified to serve as vice president. Yes, President Biden’s age is going to be a campaign issue, too. Get ready for the onslaught, Mme. Vice President, questioning whether you are up to the job if the need should arise. That will be the sexist element of the campaign against you.

I watched you during your time in the Senate as you took down political foes with steely questioning. I have no doubt — none at all! — that you brought that same backbone to the office you now hold.

I will just implore you to ensure that it holds up under what will be relentless attack. I have faith in you.


Recalling a more civil time

I spend a good bit of time these days — when politics enters my noggin — thinking about how it used to be on the national stage.

I recently watched a YouTube video of a young U.S. senator-elect talking to David Letterman about his campaign for the Senate and how he didn’t run “negative ads.”

He lamented how the tone in 2004 had degenerated into what it became and he vowed to change it once he took office.

Barack Obama on His Multiracial Identity | Letterman – YouTube

Barack Obama didn’t succeed in changing the political tone. Indeed, he would have higher aspirations eventually and when he ascended to the presidency in 2009, he ran smack into a Republican obstruction machine operated by the GOP Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, who declared his intention would be to make Obama “a one-term president.”

It didn’t work out the way McConnell wanted … but that’s all right with me.

What also didn’t work out the way President Obama wanted was the tone of debate. It only worsened during his two terms in office and then it spiraled out of control when his successor got elected in 2016.

Who’s to shoulder the bulk of the blame? The current fire-breathers happen to be the MAGA cabal among congressional Republicans. I’ll go with that.

They need to be removed from the political stage. Which is what elections are designed to do. They are designed to cleanse the political system, to remove the toxicity from the fabric of our government. Will they do so in 2024? I damn sure hope so.

Then, perhaps, we can return to some semblance of civility where we can, as the young senator said prior to taking office in 2005, restore a climate where we can disagree over policy without condemning the other side.


Biden remains my first choice

I declared more than once prior to the start of the 2020 presidential campaign that Joe Biden was not my first pick to be nominated by the Democratic Party to run against Donald Trump.

My preference then was that Democrats should go with a new voice, a fresh face, some new approaches to good government. It didn’t work out that way.

The former vice president ended up as the man for Democrats around whom they would rally. I joined that crowd when it became clear that Biden would win the nomination.

That all stipulated, the president remains my first choice for the next presidential election. He should be re-elected and my hope is that he would win a second term by an even more handsome margin than he won the first time.

I have long admired the man’s tenacity. Yes, he is ambitious. He ran for president the first time in 1988, only to pull out after he got caught plagiarizing speeches delivered by a British Labor Party pol. He went after the Democratic nomination 20 years later, only to get steamrolled by a young senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who then selected Biden to serve as VPOTUS; they won the 2008 election.

Biden has scored enough legislative victories to signal a successful term as president. Gun legislation, infrastructure rebuilding, climate change investments, tax cuts, deficit reduction, alliances are strengthened … and lastly, his steadfast support of the Ukrainians in their struggle against the Russian invaders.

Indeed, President Biden’s stance against the Russian goons who attacked Ukraine has helped strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO has held together more tightly than ever before.

Joe Biden appears to be getting ready for an announcement that is coming not long into the new year that looms just ahead.

The man is hitting his stride as president. Joe Biden needs to stay on the job.


Now will GOP reassess itself?

Mitt Romney’s loss to President Obama in the 2012 presidential election prompted the Republican Party to determine it needed a thorough examination of its future.

The party pledged to search its soul and look for ways to appeal to more Blacks, Hispanics, suburban women and other demographic groups known to be friendlier to Democrats.

I don’t know what the party came up with, but four years later it nominated a certifiable racist, sexual assailant, pathological liar as its presidential candidate. Donald Trump then won the 2016 election. The party since has taken many steps backward from where it was when Romney led the GOP.

I want the Republican Party to reassess its position these days as much as Republicans do … if only for different reasons.

I remain committed (more or less) to Democratic Party principles. I also want a return to honest debate pitting philosophies against each other. Today’s Republican Party is too enamored with The Big Lie, with MAGA demagoguery and with fealty to Donald Trump.

Furthermore, I want to state for the record once again that Trump entered politics in 2016 without spending a moment of his disgusting life working to improve people’s lives. Even after serving a term as president, public service remains an unknown concept to Trump.

I would welcome a return to honest and vigorous debate. I relish a good fight between politicians with serious policy disagreements. We aren’t getting that quality of discourse now. Instead, as we just witnessed, we saw a stable of Republicans defeated because they had earned the anointment of the twice-impeached former POTUS, who backed them because they swilled the Big Lie Kool-Aid.

We can do better than that.

Mitt Romney’s narrow loss a decade ago should have taught Republicans a valuable lesson. It didn’t. Maybe now the GOP will heed the message that voters are telling them.


Unable to understand this change

Make no mistake that I will go to my grave not ever knowing or understanding how a leading politician can speak with such promising rhetoric about political transition only to toss every single word he said four years earlier into the crapper.

Former President Barack H. Obama spoke to the nation the day after Donald J. Trump got elected president in 2016. He spoke glowingly of the president-elect’s commitment to a smooth transition from one administration to the next one. Obama spoke of the message he gleaned from Trump’s remarks the previous evening, about how Trump intends to be president for “all Americans.”

Then it all caved in.

Trump lost his bid for re-election and chose to ignore all the things he had said as he prepared to take office four years earlier. At one level, I wasn’t surprised, given that I learned early in Trump’s political career not to believe a single thing that came out of his mouth.

Then again, the eternal optimist that lurks inside me had hoped that he meant what he said in 2016 as he prepared to take office. Silly me. Barack Obama got fooled, too. As did Hillary Clinton.

All that noble talk about smooth transition was plowed asunder when Trump lost the 2020 election. He has attacked our democratic process in word and — as we witnessed on 1/6 — in deed. That begs a serious question: How do serious-minded American patriots square the words of a man who pledged unity and peaceful transition square that with what he did four years later?

I admit freely to being a bit slow on the uptake on some matters. This must be one of them. Therefore, I’ll just consign my pending visit to the hereafter with an acknowledgment that I do not — I cannot — grasp how this individual lives with himself.


Love the tradition

You at this moment are reading the words of a sucker for pageantry, ceremony and even a little bit of pomp. It was with that bias that I was able to watch the return of a longstanding White House ceremony laced with good humor, good tidings and gratitude.

President and Mrs. Biden invited former President and Mrs. Obama back to the White House today to unveil portraits of the Obamas that will hang in the people’s house alongside — as President Obama noted — “George and Martha.”

OK, this isn’t normally the stuff that would fill a blog such as mine. Except for the proverbial elephant that one could almost hear trudging through the White House room where they unveiled the Obamas’ portraits.

That was the memory of the single term of the man who served as president between the terms of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Donald J. Trump could have had a ceremony honoring the Obamas. He chose to throw that tradition aside, alongside other traditions that Trump chose to ignore.

No one mentioned Trump’s name in their remarks to the nation as the pictures were unveiled. There was no need. The Obamas and the Bidens all referred to the “tradition” they were honoring, just as the Obamas did when they unveiled portraits of President and Mrs. Bush, and just as the Bushes did when they welcomed back President and Mrs. Clinton for precisely the same ceremony.

I should point out that in both those instances, presidents of one party honored his predecessor from the opposing party, setting aside partisan differences and disagreements over policy to honor their service to the country.

So, now for The Big Question: Would there be such a ceremony in which Donald and Melania Trump come back to the White House for a portrait unveiling? I almost laughed out loud when I typed those words.

Given all the hatred and the violence that preceded the transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden’s administration … do not hold your breath waiting for the Trumps to return to the White House.


Praying for DACA recipients

I am going to say my prayers tonight. Yes, I think often of my family and pray for their good health and safety and for my friends, many of whom have suffered death in their family.

I also am going to pray for the survival of a humane and to my mind a  totally acceptable public policy. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals needs to stay on the books. Why? Because it grants U.S. residents who were brought here as children protection from being deported … even though they have done nothing wrong as de facto Americans.

The Texas Tribune reports: In 2018, Texas and other Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing that the Obama administration overreached its power by creating an immigration program without Congress’ approval. The lawsuit has led to a yearslong legal battle.

DACA recipients prepare for possible end of program as court ruling looms | The Texas Tribune

DACA came into being as the result of an executive order issued by President Obama. It is meant to protect those who came here as children, some of whom were infants and toddlers. Many thousands of these children have grown into responsible adults; they have paid their taxes; many of them have achieved academic excellence.

What’s more, they did all of this in the only country they ever have known. Those who were brought here as children only did so because they were too young to act independently.

And now some of us want them deported? To a country they don’t know? It is inhumane to the max to punish these DACA recipients in this manner.

Therefore, I will pray that they can be allowed to stay in this country, allowed to seek citizenship or permanent legal resident status and be allowed to continue to contribute to the country where they came of age.


Some traditions matter

Traditions do matter, regardless of how some of those in power might eschew them, cast them aside and act with an air of self-proclaimed unpredictability.

For instance … we have this event that occurs when presidents move into the White House that features the current first couple welcoming the previous first couple to the White House to unveil official portraits.

President and Mrs. Biden are going to welcome back to the White House former President and Mrs. Obama for the unveiling of the Obamas’ portraits.

The Obamas, under tradition, should have been invited back to the house where they lived for eight years by Donald and Melania Trump. That didn’t happen. Donald Trump saw no need to bring back the man whose constitutional credentials he questioned for years, the man he criticized incessantly during his term in office.

So, the Trumps never chose to make nice with the Obamas. Indeed, President and Mrs. Obama oversaw a marvelous White House ceremony to unveil the portraits of President and Mrs. Bush, who preceded the Obamas in the White House.

Now, the current president and first lady will welcome back the 44th president and his wife.

This begs a two-part question: Is there an official portrait being painted of the Trumps and who — in their right mind — would invite them back for an unveiling? This is a wild guess, but it damn sure won’t be Joe and Jill Biden.


Let’s wait on the political obit

Before we start dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on President Biden’s political obituary in the wake of the upcoming midterm election, let’s revisit a couple of recent historical events … hmm?

President Clinton won election in 1992. The midterm election occurred in 1994 and you know what happened. Republicans took control of both congressional chambers for the first time in 40 years. They flipped dozens of House seats. Newt Gingrich became speaker.

What happened in the 1996 presidential election? Clinton won re-election in an Electoral College landslide.

OK, now let’s look quickly at what occurred in 2010. President Obama took office after the 2008 election. He had a Democratic Party majority in Congress. Then the 2010 midterm occurred. Republicans delivered what Obama called a “shellacking.” The GOP took control of Congress.

Oh, but wait! The 2012 election ended with President Obama winning re-election. The margin for Obama wasn’t as impressive as the victory scored by President Clinton.

So here we are today. President Biden and Democrats are facing strong headwinds moving toward this year’s midterm election. Republicans are poised to seize control of both congressional chambers. If they do, they will follow historical precedent.

Is that the end of the line for Joe Biden? Nope, not even …

You see, today’s GOP is now populated by election deniers, followers of the Big Lie fomented by the Liar in Chief. The GOP is fully capable of messing up what the voters appear ready to grant them, which is control of the legislative branch of government.

Given the quality of the rhetoric coming from the cultist who leads the Republican Party and the blind fealty to his blathering that his followers exhibit, I am betting President Biden and the Democrats won’t surrender anything.


WH reporters’ dinner is back

This much came through as I watched President Biden do a brief comic riff from the podium at the newly reinstated White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

It is that he ain’t no Barack Obama, one of his predecessors whose comic timing is good enough for the former POTUS to take on the road.

Still, it was good to see Joe Biden laughing at himself along with the insults hurled at others in the room and around the country.

The coronavirus pandemic nixed the previous two WH reporters’ dinners. Biden’s immediate predecessor in the White House labeled the media the “enemy of the people,” so there would be no way on God’s good Earth he would — or could — appear before those he despised. That means Biden was the first president to appear at this event in six years.

The event that began during the Calvin Coolidge administration has been set aside for Washington to take a light-hearted look at itself and to salute and honor the journalists who report the news to the world. Particularly poignant Saturday night was the tribute to journalists who have died covering the news, reminding us that even the messengers of world events can become victims of those events.

Some, moreover, have been held captive for years. Why? Because they reported the truth.

OK, I started this blog by saying that Joe Biden isn’t as clever with the quip as Barack Obama. I am going to assign him an “A” grade nonetheless for being a thick-skinned good sport during a troubled time. There is nothing wrong with that.