Tag Archives: US Capitol Building

Will there be an ultimate insult with a Putin visit?

Let’s try to wrap our minds around this scenario, if we dare.

Vladimir Putin appears to have been invited to visit the Donald Trump this fall at the White House. The president has sent the invitation in the wake of that hideous press conference in Helsinki, an event that has prompted bipartisan condemnation over the president’s failure to stand up to Putin’s attempt to interfere with our 2016 presidential election.

One of the customs of these state visits is to have the visiting “dignitary” speak to a joint session of Congress.

Do you suppose it is possible that Trump — along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who extends the invitation — would have the gall to invite Vladimir Putin to darken the door of the Capitol Building?

Think about that for just a moment.

Putin sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. He launched an attack on our democratic process.

Do you think the president has any hint, any glimmer of understanding of what that entails? Do you believe he understands the hideous irony of having his pal Putin speak to the nation from that chamber?

I don’t know this as fact, but my strong hunch is that Trump hasn’t a clue. He has no idea of how such an insult would play to many of us out here in the country he was elected to lead.

Vladimir Putin is a killer. He is a trained spook. He once described the fall of the Soviet Union as one of the darkest episodes of his life. He is an enemy of the United States. He wants to undermine our system of government. He wants to tear apart our alliances.

If this thug is allowed to stand at the podium in the House of Representatives, he will leave an indelible stench in the halls of the very government he has attacked.

Serenity belies tempest in this building

Take a look at this picture. You know what it is. It’s one of the seats of power in our nation’s government.

I snapped this picture of the U.S. Capitol Building in mid-June on our final full day in Washington, D.C., where my wife and I visited our niece and her husband. The sun was setting and the building looked so very serene. The four of us had enjoyed a final dinner together and we were enjoying a quiet evening in one of the nation’s most thrilling cities.

The picture belies a fascinating truth about the place. It is full of tumult, chaos, tempestuousness, anger (that borders on hatred) and contentiousness.

It was hard for me in the moment to think that the atmosphere under that magnificent dome could get any angrier. Silly me. It has. It’s burning white-hot, even as members of Congress have vacated Washington for their lengthy end-of-summer recess.

Members of the Senate and the House have fanned out across the land and around the world. Some of them have come back to their House districts and their states to, oh, do some “constituent service work.” Others have jetted off on those “fact-finding junkets” to ostensible worldwide trouble spots in, let’s say, Fiji, Monaco or the Mexican Riviera.

The president of the United States is quite possibly finding himself in some serious trouble. A special counsel reportedly has impaneled a grand jury to collect evidence related to that “Russia thing” that caused the president to fire an FBI director.

Members of Congress are being whipsawed by the political forces that are pulling them apart. The debate that goes on in this building is going to reach a crescendo — eventually. How it concludes remains anyone’s guess.

I felt like sharing this picture with you today as we all ponder the proverbial gale-force winds that are going to rock the Capitol Building in the weeks, months — maybe years — to come. They also are going to pound that building at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

It’s where the president and his family currently reside. It’s the place the president supposedly referred to as a “real dump.” It’s no such thing. However, the White House — as well as the Capitol Building — will have to withstand some mighty ferocious forces.

Thus, the serenity you see in the picture here is a disguise.

POTUS displays a clenched fist

We’ll have plenty of opportunity during the next four years to discuss politics and policy regarding the fellow pictured here.

For the next moment or two, though, I want to inquire about the image you are seeing here. It’s the president of the United States of America, standing on the podium before a yuuuge crowd on the National Mall.

He has just delivered his inaugural speech and he gestures with a clenched fist.

Is that the posture of a man truly interested in unifying the country? Is this how Donald J. Trump plans to bring people together?

It’s been said repeatedly that “words matter.” So does body language. So do gestures. They transmit certain images and reveal, I believe, a certain belief system of the person who offers the gesture.

I am not going to belabor this point. I’ve made it. Now I am out.

I just want to see the president of the United States open his arms, not raise his arm and display a clenched fist.

Size may matter at the next inaugural

Size became something of a back-story issue during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Donald J. Trump boasted continually about the size of the crowds at his rallies. He compared them to those of his Republican Party primary rivals and then to those of Democratic Party nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And, oh yeah, size of an entirely different kind became a talking point during one of those endless GOP presidential debate with Trump and his horde of challengers. I won’t go any further with that one.

But, take a peek at the picture attached to this blog post.

It was taken on Jan. 20, 2009, when Barack H. Obama delivered his first inaugural speech in front of the U.S. Capitol Building. The size of that crowd is now generally accepted as the largest assemblage ever for a presidential inaugural. The previous record crowd was thought to be at President Lyndon Johnson’s inaugural on Jan. 20, 1965.

LBJ had just been elected in his own right in a historic landslide and he — like Obama — took office amid a national mood of hope for a better day. Lord knows the country had gone through the tragic nightmare of a presidential assassination in November 1963.

My thought, then, is this: Will Donald Trump be able to boast about the size of the crowd that gathers before him in 14 days as he delivers his inaugural speech?

That ol’ trick knee of mine is telling me the Trump inaugural crowd is going to be, um, substantially smaller than the one pictured with his post.

And it well could speak volumes about the hope — or the lack of hope — much of the country will feel when the new president takes the oath of office.

But, hey. It’s only a crowd and in this context — in the world of Trump — size really doesn’t matter.

Or does it?