Tag Archives: Lawrence O’Donnell

Public service vs. private enrichment

I know this happens to all of us. We hear someone offer an analysis of an important issue and we think: Dang, I wish I said that!

Thus, I cannot take credit for a thought I want to pass along on this blog. It came from Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC talking head as he concluded an interview with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo has emerged as a serious superstar as he briefs the nation of the trouble his state is enduring from the coronavirus pandemic. New York has become the latest epicenter of the crisis around the world. Cuomo has been a giant of reason, of calm, of knowledge and of confidence as he has talked about the challenges he faces daily while his constituents are becoming and are dying from the virus.

On the other hand …

We have the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who’s been haphazard, incoherent, vacillating, confused and confusing as he tries to bluff his way through what the federal government response has been to date.

O’Donnell wanted to congratulate Cuomo for his leadership. He did so by telling us all that the difference between Cuomo and Trump is that the governor has spent the vast bulk of his adult life in public service; Trump spent his entire adult life — prior to becoming elected president — seeking to enrich himself.

Therein, said O’Donnell, lies the difference. Cuomo worked for his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo; he worked as housing secretary in the Clinton administration; he has served as New York attorney general and now as governor.

Trump parlayed a multimillion-dollar stake from his father into building a real estate business. He has launched several failed enterprises, declared bankruptcy several times, played host to a reality TV show, owned and managed beauty pageants … all while exhibiting boorish conduct that is still on display even while he serves as president of the United States.

You want a juxtaposition that explains it all? There it is.

I wish I had said it first. I didn’t. Thanks for saying out loud, Lawrence O’Donnell, what many of us have thought all along.

Parlor game continues: Who wrote that op-ed?

Conservative commentator/gadfly/rabble rouser Ann Coulter believes she knows the author of that infamous op-ed published the other day in The New York Times.

She says it’s Jared Kushner, son-in-law of Donald John Trump. Why did Ivanka’s husband write it? She believes Jared and Ivanka think Daddy Trump will be kicked out of office and want to high-tail it to the Hamptons.

Fine. Whatever.

MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell, a liberal/progressive/gadfly/rabble rouser, posited a notion that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats did it. He said Coats has nothing to lose; he’s holding his final public office and is miffed that the president keeps undermining him at every turn regarding the Russian attack on our 2016 election.

There you go.

Op-ed mystery deepens

Others have suggested someone on Vice President Mike Pence’s staff wrote it, inserting the “lodestar” term that the VP is fond of using.

Hey, this is all nonsense. I am becoming less concerned with who wrote it than I am with the content of the essay. It’s a devastating critique of the way the president governs. It speaks to the “resistance” within the West Wing that seeks to protect the nation from Trump’s more dangerous impulses.

We’ll know eventually who wrote it. If the president’s team is allowed to ferret out the ID of the author, the name will come forward. Whoever wrote it will be canned, or he or she will resign.

Meanwhile, the parlor game continues. It does create grist for gossip. That’s all.

Language might give away author’s ID

MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell has posited an “educated guess” on who he thinks wrote the anonymously published op-ed column that talks about White House efforts to protect the nation against the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

O’Donnell thinks it’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who’s in his 70s and is occupying the final public service job in his career.

The more I think about it the more plausible O’Donnell’s guess appears to be.

Then I went back to the essay and found this passage: … United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior.

I zeroed in on a pair of terms: malign behavior.

I have heard that phrase used exactly once in my life. It was stated recently to discuss the Russian involvement in attacking our electoral system.

It came from, yep, DNI Dan Coats.

Coincidence that it appeared in this NY Times commentary? I think not. Read the essay here.

Trump now challenges the speaker of the House


House Speaker Paul Ryan today laid out an interesting challenge to the Republican Party’s leading presidential candidate.

He said Donald J. Trump needs to condemn the politics and policies of the Ku Klux Klan, which Trump has failed to do with anything resembling clarity. The Republican Party, said the GOP speaker, does not stand for bigotry, hatred and racism.

Trump’s response?

He said he doesn’t know the speaker but expects to get along with him once the two men get acquainted. If they don’t, said Trump, then Ryan could have some trouble.


Let’s hold on.

As MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell noted this evening, the speaker of the House of Representatives has far more power than the president of the United States. Thus, the GOP frontrunner needs to take care if he’s going to “threaten” the Man of the House.

Why? The House generates all tax legislation. Plus, as O’Donnell noted, speakers of the House have the ability to make life quite uncomfortable for presidents. Think of what the House did to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal; think also of what the House did to President Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Nixon nearly got impeached; Clinton actually was impeached.

Donald Trump needs to learn to make nice. Then again, if he had any understanding of how government actually works, he would know better than to threaten the man who runs one half of a co-equal branch of government.



Sen. Thompson made his mark early


There will be tributes a-plenty in the next few days and weeks as politicians — and actors — remember one of their own: former U.S. senator and former TV and film actor Fred Dalton Thompson.

The Tennessee Republican was a larger-than-life guy who died today at his home after battling a recurrence of lymphoma.

He ran for president once. Served in the Senate. Acted in some pretty good films and had a good run as the district attorney in the hit TV show “Law and Order.”

I want to remember this man in another fashion.

R.I.P., Sen. Thompson

The first time I saw him was in 1973. It was on TV. I was a college student majoring in political science at Portland State University in Oregon and Thompson was serving as chief counsel for the Republican senators serving on the Select Senate Committee on Watergate.

Its chairman was the late Democrat Sam Ervin, the self-described “country lawyer” from North Carolina.

Thompson’s role in that committee was to provide legal advice for the Republicans on the committee. The panel was investigating the Watergate scandal that was beginning to metastasize and eventually would result in the resignation of President Nixon.

Fred Thompson had really bad hair, as I recall. But appearances aside, he was a tough interrogator, as was the Democrats’ chief counsel, Sam Dash.

My memory of Thompson was jogged a bit the other day by MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell who opined — after the daylong hearing of Hillary Clinton before the Select House Benghazi Committee — that senators and House members shouldn’t be allowed to question witnesses. O’Donnell cited the work that Thompson and Dash did in pursuing the truth behind the Watergate scandal.

Leave the questioning of these witnesses to the pros, O’Donnell said. The Benghazi committee congressmen and women, he said, made spectacles of themselves.

Thompson, indeed, was a tough lawyer. My memory of him at the time was that he questioned anti-Nixon witnesses quite hard and didn’t let up very much on those who supported the embattled president.

He did his job well.

That is what I remember today as the nation marks Sen. Thompson’s passing.

May he rest in peace.