Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

‘Compartmentalize,’ Mr. POTUS-elect

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Part of President Clinton’s success in the White House involved his ability to “compartmentalize” his relationships with political foes, including the politicians who sought his removal from office via impeachment after he messed around with a White House intern.

Clinton was able to set whatever personal animus he had for those individuals and work constructively with them to, oh, balance the federal budget and keep the economy steaming merrily along.

President Biden might encounter a similar challenge when he takes office in 16 days. At this moment, 11 Republican senators and 140 House members want to challenge his duly constituted election as president of the United States. They are dancing to the tune being called by the Seditionist in Chief, Donald Trump, who continues to rouse the rabbles by insisting there was voter fraud … where there wasn’t. Not even a little bit!

I am appalled to say that the Senate GOP ringleader appears to be the Cruz Missile, Texas’s junior senator Ted Cruz, who has managed to make me detest him more now than when he first entered the Senate.

Joe Biden has built a lengthy list of professional relationships with members of Congress on both sides of the great divide. He served for 36 years in the Senate, eight years as vice president. The man knows the players, he knows what makes ’em tick, can find their hot buttons without even trying.

He also will have to deal forthrightly with their insurgency, with the aim of subverting a legal, free and fair election. They want an “audit” of the results in several states before certifying the Electoral College vote this week. They won’t get the audit, but those 151 members of Congress will be on the record insisting on getting it.

How will the new president work with them? He must be able to compartmentalize those relationships the way President Clinton was able to do during his two successful terms in office.

If he can do that and give Americans the kind of leadership and governance that’s been missing for the past four years, President Biden will be able to craft a highly successful tenure in the nation’s highest office.

Here is hoping for President Biden’s success right out of the chute.

Let’s look closely at alleged treason, OK?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Social media memes have this way of occasionally telling us startling truths about issues of the day.

For instance, a meme showed up on my Facebook news feed this morning that offered some advice to the nation looking at possible crimes committed by Donald Trump, the outgoing president of the United States.

It says we should examine “possible treason as thoroughly” as the nation investigated whether a previous president was, um, pleasured by a White House intern.

President Clinton got impeached for his dalliance with a young woman, but not until a special prosecutor revealed his findings while examining other alleged misdeeds involving the president.

Fast-forward to the present day. Donald Trump is being investigated for a wide variety of alleged crimes. The probe is occurring in state jurisdictions. The allegations go far more deeply than what Bill Clinton did more than two decades ago. They involve possible treason and betrayal of the nation’s security … by the president!

Is that worth the time, the effort and, yes, the expense of a thorough investigation?

Yes. I believe it is.

Character should matter

It was several lifetimes ago when Republicans would declare that “character matters” when electing a president of the United States.

Do you remember those days? Bill Clinton was campaigning for president. He got elected in 1992. He ran for re-election in 1996. In both campaigns, GOP officials said Clinton’s checkered personal history should disqualify him for election and re-election.

GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole in 1996 once shouted indignantly, “Where is the outrage?” 

That was then. These days a Republican president is running for re-election. Donald Trump’s character doesn’t appear to be an issue with Republicans. They ignore the jaw-dropping deficiencies in this incumbent’s character. They remain deafeningly silent when issues arise about Trump’s lying, his treatment of allies, his mistreatment of women, his astounding boorishness.

None of it matters to many among this generation of Republicans.

Now, I say that knowing full well that a number of prominent GOP public figures have signed on with Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign. They are the likes of former GOP presidential candidates Carly Fiorina and John Kasich, former congresswoman Susan Molinari and a host of longstanding Republican political operatives, such as Mitt Romney ally Stuart Stevens, Weekly Standard founder William Kristol and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will.

So many rank-and-file Republicans, though, remain hitched to the wagon being pulled by Donald Trump.

Trump’s lying continues to rankle me beyond my ability to express my outrage. It is the incessant lying that has drawn the attention of Joe Biden, who vows to restore “the soul” of the nation.

We need a president who can tell us the truth even when the truth hurts. Trump lies about the pandemic, he ignores the immense cost it has levied against us in terms of illness and death. Trump cannot tell us the truth about the misery that so many Americans are enduring.

Trump cannot speak the truth about suffering. His character, or lack of character, won’t allow him to even acknowledge out loud that “Black Lives Matter.” And do not misconstrue what I am saying here. I am not suggesting that “black lives matter” more than anyone else’s lives. Nor does the movement suggest as much, either.

Trump won’t go there. Why? His version of character doesn’t allow it. Meanwhile, the Republican Party faithful are OK with that.

Doesn’t character matter any longer?

Trump’s absence: the ‘new normal’?

As I have sought to process the day’s big event, the funeral of civil rights hero/icon/legend John Lewis, I pondered the absence of one individual who one could have presumed should have been there.

Donald J. Trump was not in Atlanta today to pay tribute to John Lewis, the former congressman and human rights activist who died at age 80 of pancreatic cancer. Oh, no. Trump was in Washington, tweeting messages seeking to undermine the voting rights gains for which Lewis fought, and bled.

It’s becoming something of a “new normal” in this Age of Trump as president of the United States. He was disinvited to the funeral of U.S. Sen. John McCain. Trump attended the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush, but we didn’t hear a word from him. Now, the Lewis funeral. Trump declared he had no intention of honoring Lewis while he lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

I thought about past funerals of high-profile political figures. I recalled the presence of President Lyndon Johnson at the funeral of a man he hated beyond measure, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. I remembered the funeral of President Richard Nixon and recalled one of the tributes paid to him by President Bill Clinton, who told us that we must not judge his predecessor’s public life by just one episode, but by its entire history. I remember, too, when former Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower patched up their bitter differences while attending the funeral of their successor, President John F. Kennedy. The two old war horses realized in that moment that life was too short and too precious for them to continue hating each other.

Donald Trump clearly would not have been welcomed at John Lewis’s funeral. He once chided Lewis for supposedly being “all talk and no action.” Trump ignored the beatings that Lewis endured while seeking to guarantee the rights of black Americans to vote in free and fair elections.

So it fell to three of Trump’s predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to speak of their friend and a man who will be remembered as a legend in his own time … and beyond. 

Donald Trump? He was left to sulk in the background.

Trump reaps what he has sown

I had to laugh out loud when right-wing media began criticizing former President Obama’s discreetly worded criticism of the way Donald Trump has responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why, the right-wing pundits just couldn’t understand how a former president would dare criticize a sitting president, particularly as he is up to his armpits (supposedly) fighting the pandemic.

Indeed, Obama has been quiet about Trump until only recently, when he took a couple of verbal pot shots at Trump during two virtual graduation commencement speeches he delivered via television to a national audience.

The three other living presidential predecessors — George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — have remained quiet.

But here’s the deal. Donald Trump has expended more verbal energy, not to mention Twitter characters, vilifying the efforts of Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton.

If it’s fair to criticize President Obama for talking trash about Donald Trump, it’s also fair to criticize Trump for the profound disrespect he has shown to the men who preceded him in the nation’s highest office.

Did Barack Obama ever criticize George W. Bush specifically, by name, with epithets while he struggled to rebuild an economy in free fall right after he took over as president? Yes, he has talked about the economic peril he inherited, but he also has thanked President Bush for his many years of service to the nation.

Did George W. Bush ever say a word publicly about Bill Clinton, who he succeeded in 2001?

And did Bill Clinton ever criticize his immediate predecessor, President George H.W. Bush, after taking over from him in 1993? Indeed, the two of them became dear friends, with Clinton declaring that he became a sort of “wayward son” to George and Barbara Bush.

Instead, with the current president, we hear a constant drumbeat of profound disrespect and denigration of the effort his predecessors all devoted to the oath they took to defend and protect Americans.

So what, then, if Barack Obama had offered some veiled criticism of Donald Trump? He had it coming.

This is how you reflect on national crisis

Twenty-five years ago a madman ignited a bomb at a federal courthouse in Oklahoma City.

The blast killed 167 men, women … and children. It tore at the nation’s soul. It broke our hearts. The madman would be arrested soon afterward. He was put on trial, convicted and then executed for his crime against humanity.

I want to share this video of President Bill Clinton, who went to OKC five years ago to mark the 20th year since that horrifying event. I ask you to take a few moments to listen to the former president’s remarks.

I also want to call your attention to a story he told of a former Oklahoma governor, on whose watch this tragedy occurred. The governor is a Republican; the former president is a Democrat. They are dear friends who made each other’s acquaintance in college many years ago.

They had a partisan political beef that lasted until, as President Clinton said, “Oklahoma City” occurred. Then their differences disappeared, Clinton said, amid the heartbreak, leaving all Americans to deal only with each other’s “humanity.”

There’s a profound lesson to be learned from these remarks.

Trying to connect seemingly disconnected dots

Three issues are swirling about that seem on the surface as though they might be disconnected, but they are hooked up in curious and confusing ways.

They are the coronavirus pandemic, the state of the U.S. economy and the 2020 presidential election.

Let’s see where this brief trip takes us.

The health crisis has erupted across the globe, affecting economies on every inhabited continent on Earth. The United States is not immune from the pain.

Today’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed a shedding of 700,000 non-farm jobs in March. If you think that number hurts, wait’ll the April figures come out in early May.

Americans are hunkering down. States are issuing stay-at-home orders; all but 10 states have done so, I believe. The federal government hasn’t done so. Indeed, the feds at this moment still appear to be playing a supporting role in this national crisis, which leads me to the third issue: the election.

Donald Trump surely didn’t cause the coronavirus outbreak. He is not responsible for the crisis that began in China and then swallowed Planet Earth whole. The president’s responsibility begins with his cavalier initial response to the crisis as it was worsening before our eyes. Therein lies what might become the signature issue of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Is the president doing enough to lead the nation in this fight against the “invisible enemy” known as COVID-19? Has Donald Trump actually donned the mantle of “wartime president” and is he acting like the leader he professes to be? No and … no again!

I’ve wanted this fraud off the nation’s political stage since the moment he rode down that escalator with Melania to announce he was running for president. He has done not a single thing to persuade me he deserves a second term.

On top of that, this buffoon has bluffed, blundered and blathered his way all over the coronavirus crisis. He contradicts the health geniuses with whom he has surrounded himself. He said the virus was not a big deal, then he changed his tone. All the while, Trump keeps congratulating himself for doing a “fantastic job” of coordinating the federal effort. He hasn’t done jack-diddley-squat!

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign guru James Carville once made famous the quip that “It’s the economy, stupid.” It well might be the economy once again that drives this upcoming election.

To think it all began when the current president once told the nation that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems. He’s got his hands full.

Sen. Romney makes a historic decision

Sen. Mitt Romney made history today. To be honest, I was unaware of it in the moment I was watching him make it.

He became the only U.S. senator to vote to convict a president of his own party at the end of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president.

No Democrat bolted when the Senate put President Clinton on trial in 1999. Neither did a Democrat vote to convict President Andrew Johnson during his Senate trial in 1868.

Mitt Romney now stands alone as the only Republican to vote today to convict Donald Trump of abuse of power. He voted immediately afterward to acquit Trump of obstruction of Congress.

The Utah Republican has demonstrated that there really is honor in politics. I was proud of him today as I listened to his speech. He stood with the sacred oath he took, with the U.S. Constitution, with his conscience.

Sen. Romney, you may count me as one American who is immensely proud of the courage you demonstrated. If only it would have been contagious when he made his momentous decision.

Will there be any expression of regret? Hah! Hardly!

On the day the U.S. Senate acquitted him in an impeachment trial in 1999, President Bill Clinton expressed regret.

“I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they imposed on the Congress and on the American people,” the president said.

Donald Trump is likely to be acquitted next week when the Senate polls its members on the two counts for which the House of Representatives impeached him.

Some of the Republicans who have stood with him now say that Trump did solicit foreign government help. They opposed his impeachment and they will vote to acquit him. Bill Clinton’s foes in the House and Senate expressed disdain, disgust and disappointment over what he did: lying to a grand jury about the affair he had with the White House intern.

For that, Clinton expressed regret.

Do not hold your breath waiting for a similar expression from Donald Trump. Oh, no. He’ll prance and preen and declare it was all a witch hunt, a hoax, a vendetta, a coup, an attempt to negate the 2016 election.

We likely will get to witness in real time a lesson in political boorishness … as if we could expect any better from the current president of the United States.

Impeachment about overturning election? No-o-o-o-o! Really?

Can we dispense with the tired — and patently ridiculous — notion that Donald John Trump’s impeachment is meant to “overturn” the results of the last election?

That goofy argument is part of the White House response to the articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives delivered to the Senate, which on Tuesday will commence the trial that will determine whether the current president of the United States keep his job.

I believe I shall remind everyone of a couple of historical facts.

The House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9 of that year. He had won re-election in 1972 in a smashing landslide: 49 states, 520 electoral votes, 60 percent of the ballots cast. That impeachment effort would have reversed the outcome of that election, too.

The House impeached President Clinton in 1998. He stood trial in 1999 and was acquitted. Clinton won re-election in 1996 with a handsome margin: 379 electoral votes and a healthy plurality of actual votes. And, yes, that impeachment was intended to overturn an election result, too.

Presidential impeachment by definition are intended to do the very thing that the White House is now accusing the House of doing. I know that House members who voted to impeach the president stand behind high-minded rhetoric about “defending the Constitution.” I believe that is the case here.

However, this act also carries with it a necessary political component, which is that it seeks to correct a ballot-box mistake. Let’s not be coy about this point as well: Trump did not win in anything approaching a landslide. He pulled in nearly 3 million fewer votes than his opponent in 2016 and won because of an adroit end-of-campaign tactic that saw him win three key Rust Belt states that put him over the top in the Electoral College count.

Impeachment is meant to overturn an election? Well, as we used to say in high school: No sh**, Sherlock!