Tag Archives: US presidency

One more stark difference between Trump and Bush 41

Americans have just bade farewell to a great and good man, George Herbert Walker Bush, with tributes and praise that brought instantaneous comparisons to one of his presidential successors, Donald John Trump Sr.

The tributes honored the former president’s empathy, compassion, the size of his heart, wisdom and coolness under the most extreme pressure imaginable. Many of us drew a straight line between the 41st president and the 45th president and found the latter man lacking in all those categories.

What has gotten almost no attention has been the qualifications chasm that exists between the men.

We went from electing arguably the most qualified man ever as president to electing — without question, in my mind — the most fundamentally unqualified man. Yes, we made that leap between 1988 and 2016. In just 28 years we reset the standard for electing the leader of the free world and the commander in chief of the world’s greatest military machine.

Bush served as a U.S. Navy aviator in World War II (who came within a whisker of dying in combat), successful West Texas businessman, two-term member of Congress, CIA director, special envoy to China, Republican Party chairman, ambassador to the United Nations and then vice president of the United States. All that occurred before his smashing election as POTUS in 1988. He also was married to the same woman for 73 years, with whom he produced six children.

And Trump? His business record has been, shall we say, mixed. He had zero public service experience. His entire professional life was aimed at self-enrichment. He has filed multiple bankruptcies. The only public office he ever has sought is the presidency of the United States. The personal part? He’s been married three times and has admitted to cheating on his first two wives — with evidence mounting that he did the same thing to his current wife.

President Bush brought honor and an enormous well-spring of commitment to public service to the world’s most powerful office. Donald Trump has brought — um, let me think — not a single shred of any of it to the office to which he was elected. We have turned the presidency into an office where the occupant can receive on-the-job training. No experience necessary. How utterly astonishing!

George H.W. Bush was worthy of the praise he received. Donald J. Trump is equally worthy of the scorn he is receiving.

Former first lady takes ‘birther’ lie quite personally

To be honest, I never gave a thought to the view expressed by former first lady Michelle Obama regarding the hideous lie fomented by her husband’s successor as president of the United States.

Donald J. Trump for years kept repeating the lie that Barack Obama was born outside the United States and, thus, was not qualified to seek the presidency let alone serve as president. I viewed the lie from the outside, considering it to be a racist rant intended to demonize the first African-American ever elected to the presidency.

Trump eventually tossed out a throwaway line at the end of another set of remarks that the president “was born in the United States.” Then he returned later to the casting of doubt over the truth of Obama’s place of birth.

Now the former first lady has written in her memoir “Becoming” that she cannot “forgive” Trump because, in her view, he put her family in potential danger from “wingnuts and kooks” who might pick up a loaded gun and head to Washington to harm the Obamas’ two daughters.

Michelle Obama’s criticism of Donald Trump will resonate with millions of Americans. It, of course, will sound hollow to millions of others, those who subscribe to Trump’s idiotic lie.

As for Donald Trump himself, I have no doubt at all — none whatsoever — that Michelle Obama’s criticism has zoomed straight through is vacuous skull.

He doesn’t give a damn!

Trump is wearing us out; just think, it’s only been a year!

We are on the verge of marking the first year of one of the more, um, consequential presidencies in the history of the American republic.

I use the term “consequential” with caution. I do not mean to suggest that Donald John Trump Sr.’s first year in office has produce much in the way of positive consequence. I mean to suggest that the consequence has been important in ways few of us could have imagined.

On Jan. 20, 2017, Trump took his presidential oath and then delivered one of the darkest, most forbidding inaugural speeches in history. The most memorable line spoke of how he intended to end “the American carnage.”

Did he end it? Uh, no.

It has gone downhill from there.

Chaos has led to confusion, which has led to controversy, which has brought us resignations and dismissals of top administration aides and advisers. The president’s reliance on Twitter as his main method of conveying policy proclamations has been, well, also quite consequential. 

The president has continued to lie about his foes, his policies, his pronouncements … everything, or so it seems.

He has insulted world leaders. Seemingly all of them. Our friends and our enemies have been on the receiving end of Trump tantrums and tirades — all via Twitter.

Trump has reshaped the American presidency. He has demanded loyalty to himself. He fired FBI director James Comey when he failed to receive such a pledge.

Yes, it’s been a hell of a ride so far. It is bound to get a lot bumpier, provided the special counsel, Robert Mueller — appointed to look into that “Russia thing” — is allowed to do the job to which the Justice Department appointed him to do. Will it result in something terribly, um, “consequential” regarding the future of the Trump administration? Let’s find out.

As for the president’s first year, it’s been the longest such stretch of time I can remember. I’m old enough to recall quite a few of these historical events.

I know I have just peeled the first layer of skin off the presidential onion with this blog post. I mean, there’s just so much.

Still, I hope you get my drift. I considered this guy unfit for the office to which he was elected while he was running for it. My feelings about his fitness have changed. He’s worse — more consequential — than I thought.

Now, let’s get ready for Year No. 2.

JFK’s life will be forever unfinished

It sounds strange to consider that John F. Kennedy would turn 100 years of age today.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the 35th president of the United States remember him as a young man who, even stranger as it seems, seemingly gets younger the older we all become.

JFK was the youngest man ever elected president in 1960. He was 43; the youngest ever to become president was Theodore Roosevelt, who ascended in 1901 to the highest office at 42 upon the death of President William McKinley.

Less than three years after taking the oath of office, President Kennedy’s life ended as he took a rifle shot on that street in downtown Dallas.

I have resisted the temptation to rank President Kennedy among the greatest who ever held that office. I consider his life to be an unfinished work. I bristle a bit at those surveys that place JFK at or near the top of such lists. How can we measure what he actually accomplished? The truth is we cannot.

I prefer to think of the president in terms of what he might have done. Even that is an exercise in futility because we cannot know with absolute certainty how history would have played out had he served the entire length of his presidency. I’ll presume he would have been re-elected in 1964. Then what? How would the Vietnam War have gone? What would he have done, say, by the end of his second term?

His life is frozen in time. For the president, it ended after just 46 years on Earth.

Still, the man’s legacy remains in large part due to the work done by those who came after him. President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty,” his landmark civil rights legislation and, yes, the tragedy that continued to unfold in Vietnam all are part of JFK’s historical record.

I have trouble even grasping the notion of John F. Kennedy becoming an old man, let alone one who might have lived long enough to celebrate his centennial birthday.

If only he could have finished his marvelous life. JFK will remain, as the song suggests, “forever young.”

Mounting a different kind of ‘protest’


I’m not going to head to any big city and march in the streets to protest Donald J. Trump’s election as president.

No, that’s not for me.

I’m going to mount my own form of protest another way. Bear with me on this one.

I cannot quite get myself to identify the president-elect by name. Understand? I cannot yet position the word “president-elect” in front of Donald Trump’s name.

I’ll refer to the president-elect properly as the need arises. I just cannot — at least not yet — go all the way.

On the 20th day of January, Donald Trump will take the oath of office. He’ll become the 45th president of the United States. He will assume the enormous responsibility the office bestows on the individual who occupies it.

I’m not yet ready to use the term “President” and “Trump” as a singular reference. Perhaps I’ll get there. Then again, perhaps not.

This is how I intend to protest Donald Trump’s election for the immediate future. I cannot promise how long I’ll continue this protest.

At least for now. I’ll need some additional time to work through my disappointment in the election result. Others of you will understand what I’m feeling.

Indeed, so will those who seethed at the election of Barack H. Obama. I’m still hearing a lot of those folks using some mighty disrespectful language when referring to the current president.