Tag Archives: Face the Nation

Still miss the wisdom that RFK brought

I cannot help but feel wistful — and sad to this day — when I watch videos of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Indeed, it is the coarseness of today’s debate that makes wish we had another RFK on the horizon, waiting to grab our attention, speak to our better angels, prod us to think beyond our own self-interest.

This video comes from a 1967 interview that Bobby Kennedy had with “Face the Nation” questioners. His answers were full, complete and yes, a bit wordy at times. He spoke about the Vietnam War, which was Topic No. 1 on all the TV news talk shows in that era.

RFK waffled during this interview about whether he would be a candidate for president in 1968. He straddled the fence until the moment in the New Hampshire Democratic primary when Sen. Eugene McCarthy came shockingly close to upsetting President Johnson.

In came Bobby Kennedy. His campaign launched and in March 1968, LBJ shocked the nation by declaring he would “not seek” nor would he “accept my party’s nomination for another term as your president.”

I want to hear RFK’s wisdom again. Today’s political debate has devolved into insults, innuendo and an utter lack of compassion, particularly when it comes from the White House. I always have thought we are better than that. We deserve better than what we’re hearing in this era.

Then I look back at 1968, a terrible year for this country. The Vietnam War was killing hundreds of Americans each week. RFK sought an end to a conflict in which he — as attorney general during his brother’s administration — was a key architect.

RFK spoke to us at a level we haven’t heard since his death in June 1968 at the hands of an assassin. He told us stark, brutal truth about the bitterness and division that tore at our nation.

RFK had the “it” factor that is difficult to define. It is missing throughout the ranks of those who might seek to become the next president. It most certainly is nowhere to be found anywhere near the individual who currently holds that office.

It’s been more than 50 years since Robert Kennedy left this good Earth. I miss him every day. I miss him especially when I have to swallow today’s toxic mess that comprises political debate.

Congress needs to protect Mueller … period!

Ted Cruz is mistaken. He is as wrong as he can possibly be.

The newly re-elected Republican U.S. senator from Texas says special counsel Robert Mueller doesn’t need congressional protection from the whims and petulance of the executive branch of government.

Pardon me while I scream: Oh, yes he does need it!

Mueller is facing the prospect of an ouster from the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, whom Donald Trump appointed to succeed Jeff Sessions, who Trump fired because Sessions recused himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Cruz is mistaken

Congress needs to exert its constitutional authority, even though some of its members — such as Trump — are too cowed by the president to act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to assure us that a dismissal of Mueller won’t happen. I hope he’s right. Then again, he cannot predict what the wingnut caucus within the GOP is going to seek. They want Whitaker to make good on what he suggested some months ago, that he could turn off the fiscal spigot to Mueller’s probe.

Other GOP leaders say legislation to protect Mueller is unnecessary. Fine. But can they predict what the president — a member of their own party — will do? Can they guarantee he won’t order Matthew Whitaker to do something rash, foolish and, dare I say it, impeachable?

For the sake of total accountability and transparency, Robert Mueller needs to be allowed to take his investigation to its own conclusion, under its own power. If it takes a legislative remedy to guarantee it, then Congress needs to act.

Transcript: Sen. Ted Cruz on “Face the Nation,” November 11, 2018


POTUS admits it: He is without principles

Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States, made what sounded — to my ears at least — like a confirmation over the weekend of what many of his critics have been saying since he began running for the office to which he was elected.

He seems to have acknowledged that he doesn’t have any principles. He lacks any core beliefs for which he would stand and fight.

When pressed by CBS News’s John Dickerson on “Face the Nation,” Trump blurted out that “I don’t stand by anything.”

Well. There you go.

Dickerson sought to press the president on the unfounded allegation he leveled that President Barack Obama wiretapped his campaign office. Trump declined to answer — and then he ended the interview.

The president’s remarkable acknowledgment came amid a flurry of media interviews that included untold numbers of bizarre assertions that demonstrated a number of qualities about this man: He knows next to nothing about U.S. history, about the government over which he presides and about the world through which he must navigate.

I keep coming back to the “I don’t stand by anything” statement.

Oh, man. That speaks volumes to me. What it means, I believe, is that anything that flies out of his mouth is fair game in the moment. It means that we have an unprincipled carnival barker sitting behind that big Oval Office desk and in the Situation Room. He is making decisions based on whatever someone tells him in real time and that he will not stand for anyone seeking to hold him accountable for anything he has said previously.

Hillary won the popular vote because of illegal ballots? Obama wiretapped his campaign office? Kim Jong Un is a “smart cookie”? John McCain is a war hero only “because he was captured”? Barack Obama is an illegal alien who wasn’t qualified to run for president? The media are “the enemy of the American people”?

Does he believe this horse manure? Or does he just say it because he has this insatiable desire to stir things up?

Donald Trump has just settled a serious talking point at only the 102nd day as president. He has just admitted that he is an unprincipled charlatan.

I won’t say “I told you so.” Oh, wait! I just did!

Kim Jong Un is a ‘smart cookie’?

Donald J. Trump is locked in a battle of wits with a young dictator who is threatening to launch a nuclear attack against the United States of America.

So, how does the president refer to Kim Jong Un? He calls him a “smart cookie.”

That is such an interesting term to ascribe to someone who starves his people while spending a grotesquely inordinate amount of money building up North Korea’s conventional weapons arsenal and also while seeking to become a nuclear power.

Trump said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else.”

He added: “And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”

Smart cookie. That’s a term one might use to describe, oh, a nephew or niece who’s just been named to a high school honor roll, or perhaps to a small business owner whose company survived a serious economic downturn.

The term “smart cookie” isn’t something most of us would attach to a murderous dictator.

I kind of prefer the president use terms that are a good bit more descriptive, such as, say, “cunning killer,” or “ham-handed tyrant,” or perhaps “ruthless bastard.”

Profiling Muslims a possibility … seriously?

don trump

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, thinks profiling Muslims is something that U.S. law enforcement should consider.

Yes, that’s right. The nation that proclaims itself to be the champion of religious freedom, where the government doesn’t care which faith you worship … or even whether you worship at all, should consider singling out Muslims, according to Trump.

But wait a second! Hasn’t Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States? Who, then, is he suggesting we profile?

Oh, I get it. That would be Americans!

I’ll set aside the obvious — in my view — un-American aspect of such a proposal.

How does one identify a Muslim? Would it be the scarves that women often wear? Would it be the names of the individuals being profiled? How does law enforcement discern who deserves profiling and who doesn’t?

I ask these questions because Muslims come from all ethnic backgrounds. What about the red-headed and freckle-faced Irish man or woman who converts to Islam? Or the blue-eyed blond from Scandinavia?

Oh, and then you have, say, the Palestinian who happens to be Christian. I have a bit of experience with meeting someone of that ilk. In 2009, my wife and I toured Bethlehem on the West Bank. Our tour guide? A young Palestinian who proclaimed his love of Jesus Christ as “our Lord and Savior.”

Trump told CBS’s “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson this morning that we ought to follow the model set by Israel, which he said profiles Muslims.

I’ll just add one more bit of personal privilege here. Having traveled to Israel and endured the grilling by security officers at David Ben-Gurion International Airport, I can state without reservation that the Israelis profile everyone who leaves the country through the Tel Aviv airport.

Take my word for it, you haven’t lived until you’ve been interrogated by an Israeli airport security guard.


Trump told Dickerson he hates “the concept of profiling.”

Fine. So do I. So should all Americans.

Climate change produces terrorism … huh?


I thought maybe I misheard Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday night when he blamed climate change for the terrorism that’s plaguing the planet.

Then he said it again the next day, on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

Here’s part of what the Democratic presidential candidate said: “The reason is pretty obvious: If we are going to see an increase in drought and flood and extreme weather disturbances as a result of climate change, what that means is that peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources.”

Then he said: “If there is not enough water, if there is not enough land to grow your crops, then you’re going to see migrants of people fighting over land that will sustain them, and that will lead to international conflict.”

You know, many of us have had plenty of laughs courtesy the Republicans running for president. Sen. Sanders is not going to be outdone, apparently.

I get that he believes that Earth’s changing climate is caused greatly by human activity. What I don’t get is his linking it directly to terrorism.

The cause of terrorism comes from lunatics who think nothing of killing innocent people, of terrorizing civilized society to further some crackpot philosophical or political cause.

There might some link to climate change on the fringes of the terrorism plague. However, the issues are unique and separate. They might not be mutually exclusive.

Direct linkage? Come on, Sen. Sanders.

One doesn’t cause the other.


Ratings tank for Democratic debate … who knew?

debate stage

Why is anyone surprised that the TV ratings for the Democratic Party presidential debate headed for the tank?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley duked it out in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS carried it and by many accounts, the big winner of the event was John Dickerson, host of “Face the Nation” and the moderator of the debate.

I’ll offer a couple of theories on the ratings tumble.

First, the identity of the eventual Democratic nominee is pretty well known. It’s likely to be Clinton, the former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state. She stumbled a couple of times in Des Moines, but she did very little to harm her status as the prohibitive favorite to face whomever the Republicans nominate next summer.

Second, and this is probably the more telling reason, the debate was up against some late-night college football games.

I hate to acknowledge this, but a football game between two competitive teams is far more exciting than watching three politicians try to out-insult each other.

(A point of personal privilege here: I was in and out of the debate, tuning in finally to the final quarter of the Oregon-Stanford game that Fox was broadcasting. Oh yeah: the Ducks won it with a last-second defensive play in their own end zone. Go Ducks!)

Sure, the debate shed some light on important policy positions.

But there were no surprises. There was even less drama.

Hey, if it had been Republicans debating opposite those football games — even with their carnival atmosphere — I’m pretty sure football would have won those ratings, too.





HRC is an ‘outsider’? Really?


Hillary Clinton calls herself an “outsider.”

Hmmm. I heard that this morning on “Face the Nation.” I’m still trying to process her logic.

The Democratic presidential candidate answered a question about the leading Republican candidates — Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson — given that they are political outsiders.

Clinton then said something quite astonishing. Clinton said her gender makes her a supreme outsider.

Outsider label

Let’s see what the record shows.

  • Eight years as first lady during her husband’s two terms as president.
  • Eight more years as a U.S. senator from New York.
  • Four years as secretary of state.

OK, she’s run for president once already, getting closer than any woman in history to winning the presidential nomination of either party.

Is she an “outsider” in the mold of, say, Trump, Fiorina and Carson? Not by my — or most folks’, I’m willing to reckon — definition of the term.

She’s been at or near the center of power in Washington going back to when President Bill Clinton took the oath of office in January 1993.

That’s 22 years!

Outsider? I don’t think so.


'Terror is alive'

Bob Schieffer is one wise Texan whose wisdom needs to be heard inside the White House.

The link attached here is of a commentary Schieffer made on the CBS News talk show he hosts each Sunday, “Face the Nation.”


He took issue with his fellow pundits’ assertion that Hillary Rodham Clinton stumbled when she criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. “Of course she did,” Schieffer noted.

Schieffer took note of the implied contention within the White House that the May 2011 commando mission that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was sufficient somehow to defeat terrorism. It surely wasn’t.

Many of us noted that although bin Laden’s death was a big victory in the war against terror, other terrorists would emerge to take his place.

They have done exactly that.

Schieffer says the United States needs a comprehensive strategy to continue the fight for as long as it takes in order to protect Americans from those who vow to do us harm.

The veteran journalist knows of which he speaks.