Tag Archives: Elijah Cummings

Obama, Clinton remind us how presidents should act and sound

I was damn near overwhelmed today as I listened to the tributes that poured forth for the memory of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.

I want to mention specifically the remarks offered by two former presidents of the United States: Barack H. Obama and Bill Clinton.

The thought was inescapable. How wonderful it was to hear two men who used to occupy the White House who could speak in cogent sentences, who could remain focused intently on an individual they were asked to honor with their words, who could avoid traipsing off into nonsensical riffs about this or that.

Presidents Obama and Clinton embody so much of what we do not have in the current president. They spoke from their heart. They talked of Cummings’ strength, which he exhibited routinely through his compassion, empathy and caring for others.

I could not help but ask myself: Could I ever imagine that kind of rhetoric coming from the mouth of Donald J. Trump? The answer is plainly obvious: Hell no!

Obama and Clinton clearly were not perfect presidents. They made mistakes. Clinton, of course, made what congressional Republicans considered to be an impeachable mistake.

These men, though, always preserved an air of dignity about themselves and their exalted office. They elevated themselves to the occasion brought to them by their position. They understood that their rhetoric mattered.

Today, they reminded us how it used to be when the president stood before the nation to speak of a political icon. They reminded us how it always should be.

What’s more, they have reminded us of what is missing in the man who has succeeded them.

Cummings tribute isn’t about Trump, but then again …

Among the many honors paid to the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, one of them came from former President Barack Obama.

He said this: “You’re not a sucker to have integrity, and to treat others with respect.” Obama was paying tribute to the strength of character that Cummings demonstrated during his two decades in Congress and in his life before politics.

This hasn’t been said by too many observers out loud, but I’ll do it here. There appears to be an implied dig at the current president of the United States by his immediate predecessor, although I do not believe that Barack Obama intended it that way.

President Obama spoke of Cummings’ kindness, his compassion, his empathy for others and, yes, his integrity as signs of his great strength.

Why project this onto Donald Trump? Consider that the president has this way of projecting himself into so many other contexts. He takes credit he doesn’t deserve; he inserts himself into times of crisis; he seeks to turn tributes for others inward.

It isn’t totally unfair, therefore, to cast the words of tribute and honor on the late Elijah Cummings into, well, a more unflattering portrayal of the man who not long ago launched a ridiculous social media sh**storm against him. You recall, certainly, how Trump described Baltimore — which Cummings represented in the House — as a “rat-infested” hellhole that wasn’t “fit for humans.” He launched that attack as a direct assault on Cummings’ service in Congress.

Cummings invited Trump to tour the city with him. He wanted to show the positive aspects of life in the city he called home. He did not sling barbs back at the president that mirrored the childish petulance that Trump exhibited.

Cummings instead chose to treat those with whom he worked with respect and dignity. Does that kind of behavior reflect directly on what we see from the president of the United States? No. It does not!

There. I have just said what I know is on the minds of many other Americans.

Friendships honored along with a political icon

They buried a political icon today. I hope they did not bury the spirit of bipartisan friendships that this iconic figure embodied.

Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democratic member of Congress, died the other day of myriad medical complications. He served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and became a leader in the debate over whether to impeach Donald J. Trump.

Cummings was a champion in the first degree. He fought for civil rights and also fought for civil political discourse.

As I listened to the tributes that poured in from across the political spectrum, I was struck by how much attention was paid to the honors paid by Republicans who served with Chairman Cummings. Given the nastiness that has poisoned the atmosphere in Washington over the course of time, it is instructive that so many Republicans would hail their personal affection and professional respect for this fierce Democratic politician.

One of them is Mark Meadows, a North Carolina GOP leader in the U.S. House Freedom Caucus. He is a fierce conservative. Yet he and Cummings were proud of their friendship. Meadows spoke of his love for his colleague while Cummings was lying in state on Capitol Hill — the first African-American politician to be accorded that honor. Former U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina wrote a moving op-ed for the Washington Post that spoke of the Republican’s affection and respect for Cummings.

Indeed, the ranks of strange political bedfellows is long. Former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative Utah Republican, and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a liberal Massachusetts Democrat, were famous for their friendship. Yes, there are many such relationships. Yet they flourish outside of the public eye.

When a politician of Cummings’ stature passes from the scene, it enables the nation to witness how these supposedly unlikely friendships have flourished even in the climate that can destroy them.

Elijah Cummings’ death saddens me. I am heartened, though, to see these exhibitions of love and respect that are coming from those with whom this good man had many fierce political battles.

It gives me a glimmer of hope that collegiality and political comity isn’t dead.

POTUS exhibits bottomless pit of indecency

This is a Twitter message that the president of the United States fired off this morning.

Elijah Cummings is a Baltimore congressman with whom Donald Trump has ignited a feud regarding Cummings’s criticism of the president. He has called Baltimore a “rate- and rodent-infested” hellhole unfit for human habitation. He blames Cummings for it.

Then we hear that Cummings’s home was robbed. This tweet is the president’s response to the news.

Picture any president of the United States expressing such utter disdain for the misfortune that fell on a fellow elected official. What might the public reaction be?

Yet somehow, in ways that defy my ability to discern any sense of what goes through what passes for the mind of Donald Trump, he gets away with it.

This individual — our head of state — is a disgrace.

Presidents must never denigrate communities

Donald John Trump won an election in 2016 to be president of the entire United States of America.

Why, then, can this individual say with a straight face that one of this country’s great cities in effect is not fit for human habitation?

The president has gone after U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represents a largely African-American congressional district in Baltimore, Md.

My memory at times fails me, but I am trying to remember ever hearing a president say the things that Trump has said about Baltimore. The very idea that he would chastise a community and its elected representatives using language such as what he used is reprehensible on its face.

He called Baltimore  a “rat- and rodent-infested” hell hole. No one should live there, he said. Why did he drag this issue into the sewer? Because Rep. Cummings, who has represented Baltimore for 23 years in Congress, has criticized the president’s policies. Trump responded by calling Cummings a “racist.” Of course, he repeated the idiotic mantra that he is the “least racist person” on Earth, which to my ears is the kind of thing that comes from the mouths of people with racist intent.

I simply cannot tolerate a president who denigrates communities in the manner that Donald Trump has done. He has castigated the leadership in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and now Baltimore. What do they have in common? They’re all governed by politicians who disagree with Trump.

They also have something else in common. They all are part of a nation governed by the individual who has heaped insults on them.


Trump attacks pols who keep, um, keep getting re-elected

Donald Trump is on another Twitter binge, this time taking on U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, whose panel has been examining some issues relating to the way the president manages the executive branch.

Cummings has been, shall we say, highly critical of Trump. He’s a Democrat; Trump is a (sort of) Republican. There you have it. Enough said on that matter … for now.

Trump has said Cummings’s congressional district, the 7th of Maryland, is “rat- and rodent-infested.” He says it is unfit for human habitation, which if you think about it is a miserable insult to hurl at the human beings who live there. He calls Cummings a terrible representative for his largely African-American district.

I wonder: How is it that Cummings keeps getting re-elected? He has been serving his community for two decades … and then some! If he’s doing such a terrible job, why do his constituents keep sending him back down the road to D.C. to represent their interests in the halls of power on Capitol Hill?

That is how “representative democracy” is supposed to work. We elect men and women to represent our interests. If they do a good job, we send them back until they no longer want to run for re-election. If they do a poor job, we have the right — and the power — to boot them out of office.

The president ought to let the people Cummings’s congressional district be the judge on whether he’s doing a “terrible job” on their behalf.

Twitter tirades reveal deep, sinister weirdness in POTUS

Mr. President, I feel the need to call you out on your latest Twitter tirade, this one against yet another politician “of color.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is one of the smartest, most astute and erudite members of Congress. Yet you have decided  yet again to go after this fellow in a Twitter rant that questions the quality of life in his Baltimore congressional district.

Your latest rant — not unlike the one you launched against those four Democratic congresswomen (all of color, of course) — was intensely personal.

Oh, and I also noticed you decided to verbalize some alleged concern about President Obama’s “book deal.” You want the Justice Department to probe that matter … which also happens to involve the nation’s first African-American president? Is that right?

Give me a break!

I don’t object so much that you have decided to use Twitter as a forum to make policy pronouncements. That’s your call. What is troubling, though, is that you do so without informing your staff. You catch them flat-footed, unable to respond cogently on what flies into cyberspace from your (allegedly) smart phone.

You also seem hell bent on castigating individuals such as Chairman Cummings and the four members of The Squad in intensely personal terms.

If you would limit your Twitter use to making positive pronouncements, well, that’s one thing. The good jobs numbers are fine. The budget deal that takes the government shutdown threats off the table for two years also is worth commenting on; one can debate the merits of the deal, certainly. Hey, I’d even accept your use of Twitter to argue for your side of the argument.

This constant haranguing, harassment and hassling of politicians — particularly those who, um, represent ethnic and racial minorities is seriously frightening to me.

You were elected to represent all Americans, Mr. President. Your constant use of Twitter to split the nation along racial, ethnic and partisan lines is disturbing in the extreme.

You vowed to cut back on your Twitter use. You pledged to “unify” the country. You said you would act “more presidential.”

On those key pledges, Mr. President, you are zero for three. You are not making America great again.

Pass the popcorn; this show is going to be a good one

I am going to have the popcorn handy when House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings gavels a hearing to order.

The Maryland Democrat and his fellow members of Congress are going to listen intently (I am presuming) to a potential superstar witness: Michael Cohen, the former friend and fixer of Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.

Cohen is facing a three-year hitch behind bars for lying to Congress. He’s going to take an oath swearing him to tell the truth. He’ll then answer questions about what he knows about the president’s business dealings, his conduct, his attitudes toward women and racial minorities.

Cohen has said he is done lying on behalf of the president. He then is likely to be asked specifically about the lies he told for Trump.

Can’t you just feel the excitement building? Maybe. Maybe not. I am, though, highly interested in hearing what this admitted felon has to say to members of Congress.

Then again, there might be what they call a “nothing burger” offered up by this soon-to-be prison inmate. Part of me thinks that’s possible.

A bigger part of me believes he is going to spill plenty of beans and that there might be more than a few jaws dropping in that House committee hearing room.

The power of education shows itself in this man

Elijah Cummings is the new chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. He is a Maryland Democrat who’s represented the Baltimore area for more than 25 years in Congress.

“60 Minutes” interviewed Cummings tonight, exploring how he intends to run the committee that on Feb. 7 is going to question Michael Cohen, the convicted felon who once was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and his so-called “fixer.”

The interview covered a lot of ground, including Cummings’ background as the son of Pentecostal ministers; both Mom and Dad were preachers.

He talked about how his father instilled in young Elijah the value of education.

His father told him that “if you miss any school that means you died the previous night.” Cummings told “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft that he “never missed a day of school.”

That’s what I call discipline. Pay attention, Michael Cohen. You are going to be facing a tiger.

Trump team continues to ‘unify’ Congress

Donald Trump’s effort to “unify” Congress is continuing to produce a bumper harvest.

For instance, the U.S. House Oversight Committee chairman, Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, has called for an investigation into senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s apparent shilling for Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing. Ranking Democratic committee member Elijah Cummings of Maryland joined Chaffetz in seeking to know whether Conway violated federal ethics laws.

The lawmakers sent a letter to the head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, Jr., suggesting that Conway’s appearance on “Fox and Friends” could have crossed the line that bans federal officials from promoting private business endeavors.

Chaffetz and Cummings have recommended punishment for Conway.

Trump, quite naturally, is standing by Conway, who has told the media that the president is “100 percent behind me.”

Ethics just keep getting in the way.

The president’s myriad business interests — along with those of his grown children — are likely to continue dogging the administration until all of the Trumps decide to divest themselves of all that lucrative activity.

Meanwhile, I will give the president a left-handed compliment. He vowed to “unify” the country. He is keeping that pledge by unifying some of our elected representatives — although clearly not in ways he envisioned.