Tag Archives: Ted Kennedy

Here is how you concede an election

Donald J. Trump gave a gracious victory speech Tuesday night when it became clear he would be elected as the 45th president of the United States.

The candidate he defeated, Hillary Rodham Clinton, took a few barbs for failing to speak last night to concede the election to Trump.

Then she stepped to the microphone this morning and delivered perhaps the best political speech of her life. It likely was the final political speech of her lengthy career, one that spans more than three decades.

At one level — possibly a vague one — her speech reminded me just a bit of the late Ted Kennedy’s “the dream shall never die” speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Sen. Kennedy lost his party’s nomination fight to President Carter and then spoke to the convention, declaring that the “fight goes on” despite his defeat for the party nomination.

There was an element of that in Clinton’s speech today, although she also spoke to Trump becoming the president for all Americans.

It was a gracious and graceful exit from the national political stage and it speaks well — once again — of how American politicians can set aside their pain for the good of the nation they seek to lead.


Trump keeps reaching way, way back


It wasn’t enough, I guess, for Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump to dredge up a two-decade-old case involving a former president to link him to his wife, who happens to be Trump’s current opponent for the presidency.

Oh, no. Today, he went back even farther, July 1969, to allege that the media covered up a “crime” committed by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy after he drove off a bridge in Massachusetts, which resulted in the drowning death of a young woman who was riding in his car.

Trump again blamed the media for covering up Hillary and Bill Clinton’s “crimes,” just as it did for Kennedy.

I keep hearing about this alleged “cover-up” and keep wondering: What the hell is this clown talking about? What cover-up?

The media were all over the Kennedy story when it happened. They covered every single element of the tragedy. They reported on the delay in reporting the accident. They reported on the suspected favors done to protect Kennedy.

As for Clinton, the media have been covering her lengthy public career like a blanket. Every single aspect of Clinton’s life — public and private — has been examined more closely than a lab rat under a microscope.


This kind of tactic simply is laughable on its face.

I always am tempted to ask when I hear of these so-called media conspiracies: How in the world do you know of the events the media are covering up … if you haven’t heard it or read it — in the media?

What has happened to the Grand Old Party?


I miss Jacob Javits, Everett Dirksen, Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Percy, Mark Hatfield, Howard Baker and even Ronald Reagan.

I miss the old-guard Republicans who used to see their political opponents as “adversaries” and not “enemies.”

These are the guys who used to work with Lyndon Johnson, George McGovern, Ted Kennedy, Sam Rayburn and other Democrats to seek a way forward for the nation.

These days we hear talk of doing away with the “enemy.” It’s all over the air and in print coming out of the Republican National Convention, which concludes tonight in Cleveland.

Where did this “enemy” talk come from?

I cannot answer that with great precision, although I do remember a quote attributed to the former speaker of the House, Newton Leroy Gingrich, who led a GOP “revolution” back in 1994.

It was Newt who spoke to his minions of the need to characterize Democrats as “the enemy of normal Americans.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

There. Now let’s ponder whether the “enemy” characterization has worked well for the nation.

A New Hampshire delegate to the GOP convention has said Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton should be “shot for treason.”

Yes. Shot! The Secret Service is examining whether this fellow presents a clear and present danger to a leading American politician. Clinton hasn’t been charged with a crime, let along convicted of one. That doesn’t matter to this fellow.

Yes, we’ve gotten more than a bit testy these days.

To think that this once-great political party, where politicians used to take pride in their ability to work with the other side, has devolved to this point.

Is the other side innocent of this kind of division? No. They, too, have their share of loudmouthed demagogues. But in the halls of Congress, which is controlled by Republicans, we see the majority party using language that seeks to drive a wedge between men and women on both sides of the aisle.

It’s all coming to bear this week in Cleveland and the Grand Old Party sends its nominee off to campaign against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

I’m usually not one to harken back to the old days. I wouldn’t want to be a teenager ever again.

In this instance, though, I am left to wish for a return — in the words of another grand old-school Republican, George H.W. Bush — to a “kinder, gentler” time.

Cruz’s ‘dream’ still burns brightly


So much for the anticipation of an endorsement from one of Donald J. Trump’s chief Republican rivals.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz strode to the microphone this evening to speak to GOP convention delegates. Many of them expected — or at least hoped — that the Texas lawmaker would endorse the man of the hour, Trump.

He didn’t.

Cruz mentioned the party presidential nominee’s one time. He did it early in his remarks … and then tore into a riff about the fight for freedom, liberty and working men and women.

He spoke to the strong conservative principles that helped fuel his own presidential candidacy. Cruz said he’ll continue to fight for those principles during this campaign and into the future.

I haven’t heard anyone say it just yet, but to my ears Sen. Cruz seemed to echo an earlier speech given by the “liberal lion of the Senate,” the late Ted Kennedy.

It was Kennedy in 1980 who fought President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. That campaign was bitter, as was this year’s GOP campaign.

Did Kennedy endorse Carter during his time on the podium? Oh, no.

Instead, he spoke to the progressive principles that fueled his failed presidential campaign, concluding his stem winder with “the dream shall never die!”

Yes, I saw some symmetry in those two speeches.

I should note that Carter went on that year to lose h-u-u-u-u-g-e to Republican Ronald Reagan.

Is the No. 2 GOP primary finisher’s non-endorsement speech a harbinger of what’s going to happen this fall?

Let’s all stay tuned.

Cruz endorsement might not arrive


The question of the night for political junkies from coast to coast … to coast.

Will U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz endorse Donald J. Trump when he stands in front of the Republican National Convention crowd?

If I could predict anything, I’d say ain’t no way, no how, no never mind.

Cruz has called Trump everything but the Devil Himself.

Pathologist liar; narcissist “the likes of which I’ve never seen”; a whole plethora of nasty names.

He challenged Trump’s courage after the GOP frontrunner put a tweet out there that poked malicious fun at Heidi Cruz, for crying out loud.

Having declared that by any reasonable measure, Cruz wouldn’t ever endorse Donald Trump, we have the following:

Rick Perry endorsed Trump after calling him a “cancer on conservatism; Chris Christie endorsed Trump after saying he is “unfit” to become president; Marco Rubio has all but endorsed Trump after calling him a “con man.”

Cruz’s speech tonight is ginning up a bunch of speculation. Some sources say there might be an endorsement forthcoming; others say there won’t be an endorsement, but that he’ll express “support” for the nominee and for the party.

Still others have suggested that given Cruz’s fervent support among many of the convention delegates that he might deliver a “Dream Shall Never Die” sort of message, a la the kind of speech Ted Kennedy gave during the 1980 Democratic convention after losing that fight to President Carter.


Some conservatives want Cruz to endorse Trump.

I’ll tune in later tonight to see if Cruz prefers to stand by a nominee he cannot stand or will stand by the “conservative principles” that mean nothing to the guy who’s going to lead the party into the election campaign.

Republicans are looking like … uh … Democrats!

A woman checks out a tee shirt at a merchandise booth outside Quicken Loans Arena during first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The first day of the Republican Party’s presidential nominating convention has gotten off to a start no one might have seen coming.

Those stodgy, staid, stuffy Republicans are looking like Democrats.

More to the point, they’re looking like Democrats of Yesteryear, back when the Democrats used to fight among themselves, convention delegates walking off the floor.

The GOP started its Donald J. Trump nominating convention by having a knock-down floor fight initiated by the anti-Trump forces. They wanted to change the rules to allow a roll-call vote that could have allowed delegates to abandon their obligation to voting for the frontrunner.

They didn’t clear the hurdle. The convention chair declared the voice vote to have gone to the Trumpkins, and the move died at the scene.

Democrats in 1968 and again in 1972 used to fight like that. Republicans, meanwhile, conducted orderly conventions those years … and went on to win the presidential election. The 1980 Democratic convention had its share of drama, too, with Ted Kennedy’s forces fighting to change the rules, only to lose that fight to the Jimmy Carter juggernaut. That election turned out badly for Democrats, too.

This year, Democrats are going to be mild-mannered. Republicans are going to fight among themselves.

What does any of this portend for the fall election?

I am not going there. I’ve tried to predict political outcomes for too long without success.

I’ll just sit back and watch the theatrics.

Obama lacks GOP go-to pal in Congress


Valerie Jarrett gave a stellar defense Sunday night of her boss and long-time friend President Barack Obama.

Her appearance on “60 Minutes” was notable in her defense as well of her role — in addition to senior adviser — as friend, confidante and her easy access to the Leader of the Free World.

But she pushed back when CBS News correspondent Nora O’Donnell asked her about the president’s continuing prickly relationship with congressional Republicans. She said Obama has done all he could do to reach out.

O’Donnell, though, asked — but did get an answer — about the lack of a leading Republican in either the Senate or the House to whom the president could turn to fight for his legislative agenda.

It brought to mind the kind of relationship that previous presidents have cultivated with members of the “loyal opposition.” President Lyndon Baines Johnson could turn to GOP Sen. Everett Dirksen in a pinch; President Ronald Reagan had a fabulous after-hours friendship with Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill; GOP President George W. Bush relied on help from Sen. Ted Kennedy to push through education reform.

Barack Obama doesn’t seem to have that kind of personal friendship with members of the other side. He relies on his own instincts, his own circle of friends — such as Jarrett — and the vice president, Joe Biden, who to this day retains close friendships with Senate Republicans.

It’s that lack of kinship that has troubled many of us who want the president to succeed. I recall having this discussion once with retired Amarillo College president Paul Matney, who lamented that Obama had not developed the legislative know-how that LBJ brought to the presidency.

LBJ had served as Senate majority leader before his one-time foe John F. Kennedy asked him to be his running mate in 1960. Ol’ Lyndon knew how the Senate worked and he was able to parlay that knowledge — along with tremendous national good will after JFK’s assassination in 1963 — into landmark legislation.

Barack Obama has been forced to struggle, to battle relentlessly, to get anything past a Republican-led Congress intent on blocking every major initiative he has sought.

The reasons behind the ultra-fierce resistance will be debated long after President Obama leaves office.

He seems, though, to have lacked one essential ingredient to move his agenda forward: a good friend and dependable ally on the other side of the aisle who could run interference for him.


Trump’s wealth becomes issue of interest


Does it really matter how much wealth Donald J. Trump has acquired?

Should voters really care? Should we concern ourselves with all of this?

Under normal circumstances, probably not. But here’s the thing: The presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee has been making his wealth an issue all along the primary campaign trail.

He brags about his “world-class business.” He boasts about how he built his company from scratch … although that’s not true. He shows off his opulent mansions.


We’re hearing now that Trump’s net worth is around $10 billion. No one has ever believed he has that kind of dough laying around. Trump filed a 104-page financial disclosure form — and he even bragged about that, calling it the largest such disclosure form in history.

As Politico reports: “Many of his assets and liabilities are simply too large — reaching far above the top disclosure threshold on the filing — for their value to be captured in the report. Trump, for instance, reported at least $315 million in liabilities on the form, many of which are loans and mortgages on his properties. The forms cover Trump’s last 17 months of financial activity.”

Where is all this going? I am not entirely clear, but ultimately it’s going to end up with discussion and debate about Trump’s tax returns, which he still has yet to release.

You see, this is what happens when the candidate makes a big deal of his material holdings. It mushrooms into realms that under normal circumstances wouldn’t necessarily be of voters’ concerns.

Voters knew that the Kennedy family was wealthy. The Kennedy men who ran for the nation’s highest public office — John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy — didn’t make it an issue. Nelson Rockefeller’s family had acquired immense wealth as well. Rocky didn’t dwell on it, either.

Trump, though, makes his wealth an issue all … the … time.

I’m more interested in debating Trump’s views on the whole array of issues that should be front and center.


Why not Bernie for VP?


The more I think about it, the more plausible it’s beginning to sound.

Bernie Sanders well might become Hillary Clinton’s running mate against Donald J. Trump.

I had been thinking all along that Clinton might look more toward someone with, say, a Hispanic background. Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro — who’s now housing secretary in the Obama administration — was a logical choice.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s name has popped up. That’s an interesting pick, too. An all-woman Democratic ticket? You go, girls!

But now it seems quite possible that Sen. Sanders — who’s been battle-tested and proven to be up to the fight — might be the right kind of No. 2 to challenge Trump and whomever he selects as his running mate.

Sanders already has pulled Clinton to the left on some of his pet issues: income inequality, war in the Middle East to name just two.

At one level, he’s already won the ideological fight within the Democratic Party. Indeed, if he’s not chosen, I truly can hear Sanders making a “the dream shall never die” speech at the Democratic convention, echoing the stirring address given by vanquished Sen. Ted Kennedy at the 1980 convention that re-nominated President Carter.

However, if Clinton picks Sanders as her VP nominee, then he’ll continue the fight forward.

One obvious drawback is his age. He’s 74. He’d be 79 at the end of a first Clinton term. There might be a commitment to serve just one term as vice president if a President Clinton were to seek re-election in 2020.

Of course, only the candidate knows who she’s going to pick.

As for Trump, he said he’s narrowed his list to “five or six” individuals. He vows to pick an actual Republican and someone with “political experience.” He, too, has a list of former rivals he might consider, although at least two of them — Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich — have all but told Trump to jump in the proverbial lake before asking either of them to run with him.

The mystery of who’ll be running for president in the fall has just about been solved.

Now we’ll await these important choices for the No. 2 spots.

I’m starting to “feel the Bern.”


Not exactly Felix and Oscar, however …

The Hill calls them Washington, D.C.’s newest “odd couple.”

They are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Barack H. Obama, the Democratic president of the United States of America.

McConnell has been saying nice things about the man he once pledged to make a “one-term president.” The one-term notion didn’t work out, as Obama was re-elected in 2012. But hey, life goes on.


I rather like the idea of these men becoming “friends,” even if it’s a relationship of convenience.

They aren’t the first national political leaders to link arms and find common ground in an Oscar Madison-Felix Unger sort of way.

Let’s go back to the 1960s, when Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and Republican Senate Leader Everett Dirksen teamed up to help enact the Voting Rights and Civil Rights acts. How about when Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill would bash each other in public, but then toast each other over whiskey after hours? Democratic President Bill Clinton and GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich worked together to balance the federal budget. Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy found common ground in pushing education reform through Congress.

See? It can be done, ladies and gentlemen.

McConnell and Obama are on the same page regarding international trade. The president, in fact, is finding his stiffest opposition coming from the left-wing base of his own party. But he’s got a pal on the other side of the aisle.

The arrangement doesn’t surprise some Capitol Hill hands. “It validates what McConnell has been saying for the last six and a half years. If the president wants to join us on something that’s good for the country, we will work with him. This is an example of that,” said Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman.

Well, for what it’s worth, some of us out here in the Heartland are surprised.

And pleasantly so, at that.