I want to address two quick things before the weekend begins. I realize, when covering Donald Trump’s campaign, the press is constantly challenged as to what to cover, what to fact check and where the attention should be. There is so much to keep them busy. Right now, and for the next few days I am sure, the attention will be put squarely on the birther issue. I don’t need to go into the history of the issue or the perception of Trump as a proponent of the issue. I will leave that to you. I suspect the press will be talking about it all weekend. Personally, I find the issue to be, dare I say it, deplorable; but in the scheme of things it’s a rather small issue.
I want to point out two statements made by Donald Trump in the past 36 hours or so that really demonstrate who he is, but statements totally ignored by the press. First, the night before last at as rally in Canton. Ohio, he poked fun at Ms. Clinton about her health. He said about midway through the speech that it was hot in the room but it was always hot when he “performs” because there were so many people there.
Performs, really? I don’t believe I have ever heard a candidate for anything refer to a political speech as a performance. This is how Mr. Trump views this political process, a performance. Apparently this troubles no one but me because I have not even heard it mentioned.
The second statement is even more insulting and more reflective of who Donald Trump really is. Last night on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Trump was a guest on the show. As expected, it was a rather benign late night talk show kind of interview. During the segment, Jimmy asked Trump if he really eats a lot of fast food on the campaign trail. Trump’s answer astounded me but all the press could talk about was how Jimmy messed up his hair a few minutes later. Trump said that he did eat some fast food on the trail because the big companies like McDonald’s and Wendy’s have a reputation to protect and therefore you know what you are getting. He then went further and said that if he went to a local place i.e. a small business, they might be tempted to spit in his food or something. WHAT?
Perhaps I am naive but I do not know any restaurant owner anywhere, regardless of race, creed or political persuasion who wouldn’t be proud and honored to serve any candidate for President. Donald Trump needs to realize that small business people generally take much more pride in their businesses than do the big chain restaurants. Maybe the kitchen staff at Mar-a-Lago would spit in Hillary Clinton’s food but I would venture to say that any mom and pop restaurant owner would gladly serve Mr. Trump and his entourage the best meal they could prepare.
Shame on you Mr. Trump for casting dispersion on the small business owner working hard day in and day out to support himself and his family. Once again, Trump sides with big business over the little guy. PERFORM THAT!
Have a nice weekend.
I never in my life thought an entire week of a Presidential campaign less than two months before an election would be spent talking about the candidates health records. But then again, I guess I never thought a pair of septuagenarians would be running for President. I guess 70 is the new 50. In all fairness, the health record issue was a little forced due to Hillary Clinton’s bought of pneumonia. So the media all week focused their attention on the health of the candidates. Honestly, I don’t really care about their health records. As long as Sarah Palin is not the Vice-Presidential candidate, I am fine with their respective health. I mean it’s not like it would be the first time a President died in office. I don’t agree with any of Mike Pence’s policies but he seems like a sane level headed dude. The same goes for Tim Kaine. The only thing I am concerned with is what medications a candidate might be taking. As long as a candidate is not regularly on some psychotropic medications for the maintenance of an undetected mental illness, I am fine.
If you look at the way the medical records were handled by the two campaigns, however, you get a good sense of what is going on behind the scenes. When the scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s health became an issue on Monday, her campaign arranged for her physician to release additional medical information. Without any pomp and circumstance, just release the records for the press to evaluate. Donald Trump, on the other hand thought by making a spectacle of the medical records release would somehow endear him to voters. Keep in mind, the only record of Trump’s health so far has been a goofy letter written hastily by Dr. Bornstein who, I am sure, is a competent doctor but just doesn’t look the part. Frankly, he is the kind of doctor I would want but I am not nor ever will be running for President. So the speculation went on for days as to what kind of information Trump would release and would it be from a different doctor? Then Mr. Trump announced that he would be releasing his information on TV to Dr. Oz. Then, the next day his campaign said they thought that releasing the information on a TV talk show was probably not the right forum. But, when the time came, the Donald did not disappoint. With a flourish and a shout, Trump did indeed release a one page summary of a check up he had last week, again by Dr. Bornstein, and a letter from Lennox Hill Hospital in New York attesting to Dr. Bornstein’s association with the hospital.
So, voters, the choice is yours. Who do you want in the White House come next January, a thoughtful, reasonable adult who respects the decorum and the gravity of the office or the 21st century incarnation of P.T. Barnum. The choice is yours.
When I grew up, we got our news from the daily papers and from the 3 network news broadcasts at 6:30 each evening. That was it. Even then, conservatives talked about the “liberal bias” of the media. I am not sure how biased it was because that is the model that gave us Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan along with Kennedy, Johnson and Carter. Then in 1980 upstart firebrand Ted Turner founded CNN and political coverage would never be the same. 1996 brought us Fox News and MSNBC and the internet was taking hold. Now days, news consumers can literally choose the news they want to see and hear and filter out the rest.
The problem is, when you run for President, you have to interact with any and every outlet deemed to be a “legitimate” news source or your message might not get heard. I watched Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway yesterday morning on CNN complaining that the media was “badgering” the Trump campaign about different issues that Trump has refused to address like his tax returns and his medical records. I have news for Ms. Conway. It only seems like badgering because you refuse to answer the questions. The Trump campaign keeps saying that voters don’t really care about his tax returns as if it is some issue ginned up by the media. A recent poll indicates that well over a half of the electorate does indeed believe it is an issue. So answer the questions, release the information or suffer the consequences.
I hear the media saying constantly that Trump is like no other candidate who has ever run for President but they want to cover him like he is. It is my belief that Trump really has no desire to be President. He is just in it for the publicity and the exposure which in the long run will increase the value of his “brand”. The media complaining about him incessantly on the cable news shows are playing right into his hand. If the media really wanted to impact the Trump campaign, they should stop. Stop all the coverage, stop the televised rallies, stop inviting his surrogates on to their programs, just stop. It will drive Trump crazy with a capital “C”. If he truly makes news or if he comes to the table and starts playing the Presidential sweepstakes like everyone else, the coverage can resume but in the meantime, my advice to the media would be just to stop the insanity and stop covering Trump. You are just giving him what he wants.
“Please, Br’er Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch”
-From ‘Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby’ a Georgia Folktale
Donald Trump’s tax returns and his net worth have come under intense scrutiny since he won the Republican nomination for President. Forbes estimates Trump’s net worth around 4.3 billion dollars. The Trump organization claims it to be closer to 10 billion for one simple reason. Trump. Donald Trump has been consciously nurturing his “brand” for almost 40 years now. Initially, the real estate developer put his name on just about everything he was involved with in an effort to further “brand” the Trump name. There are Trump buildings all over the world not to mention Trump golf resorts, Trump hotels, Trump merchandise and even a Trump University. You would think by his name being on so many products and buildings Trump is a diversified industry. The dirty little secret the Trump organization won’t tell you. They are not involved in much real estate development anymore. They haven’t been since about 2007. Because of nurturing his “brand” he is now able to license his name for millions of dollars to developers and entrepreneurs to which Trump has little to no connection. The Organization deems this “brand” to be worth upwards of 4 billion dollars.
Throughout the 20th century, rich people have lent their names to various buildings and institutions so Trump’s gambit is not new. The funny thing is, however, when the Rockefeller’s and the Getty’s and the Vanderbilt’s and the Carnegie’s name was put on a building or institution it was because they gave millions of dollars to that institution. They did not take money from that institution for the use of their name. Advertisers have been in the celebrity endorsement game for years to increase the perceived value of a product by associating it with a name brand. In that framework, Trump’s efforts are a sort of hybrid of the two. Brand identity for the purpose of self-enrichment.
I have some personal experience with this phenomenon. My father was a very strong supporter of The University of South Carolina. When the USC branch campus was being built in my home town, my father took the better part of 2 years off from his regular job (that of a real estate developer and country club developer) to oversee the construction of that facility. 20 years later, after he had passed away, the local administration wanted to honor him and name the main building after him. The USC board at the main campus balked because he had not given millions of dollars to the University. In other words, he had not “paid” for the naming rights to the building. Believe me, he had given as much as he could afford but didn’t have millions of dollars. It finally took an act of the state legislature to over ride the USC board and allow the naming to go forward. The irony here is that he would not have approved. He believed that “blowing your own horn” was crass and boorish. Those were the values with which I was raised and I marvel at how easily Trump does it and how it is not thought of in any negative context these days.
Is the American electorate so angry with and skeptical of politicians that they would actually elect an untried, untested, unqualified candidate President of the United States? Apparently so, according to the latest polls. This election is closer than I ever imagined and apart from my personal opinion of Donald Trump, we are on a dangerous road. Politics was not designed to be a career choice but has become one in the modern era. It is rooted in law and public policy and there are certain skills necessary to succeed in that world. Yes, it is true that Donald Trump has vanquished 16 other rivals in the Republican primaries and some might point to that as success but they would be woefully mistaken. The campaign for public office is akin to a job interview but just because you get the interview does not mean you will be successful in the job. I think for Trump, the challenge and the fun of it all is getting elected, not the actual governing. As he has said, he loves this country and wants to “make America great again”. I will take him at his word that he loves this country but one must examine why Trump thinks America isn’t great now.
If we examine the populist movements on the left and the right this year, they say similar things but have very different opinions about the solutions. At the root of it all, in my opinion, is the fact that the US government as a whole has been very ineffective for a generation. Polarization of the political ideologies is a big part of the problem and the result is no meaningful legislation has been passed to actually help people. Yes, attempts have been made but by the time a law is passed, it is so watered down and so compromised, that it’s intent is ineffectual. That is why you see politicians who vote for a law in committee vote against it once it gets to the floor of the House or Senate. Then they are accused of flip flopping and their political capital is squandered. Where is my “new deal” and my “great society”? I fear it may never happen again. Bold ideas and innovative thinking with someone with the political muscle to make it happen.
Trump’s refrain of “what do you have to lose” sounds benign enough but in actuality, we have a lot to lose. Being a political leader requires a skill set like any other occupation. A skill set which Mr. Trump does not possess. The danger is if Mr. Trump is elected the government could come to a literal halt. It is clear that he has very few ideas himself and he will resist “government as usual” and very few Republicans or Democrats will work within his narrow range of what he considers public service. If I need my plumbing repaired, I don’t call an electrician. If I need a hotel built, I don’t call a politician. So, if we need to “make America great again” and fix our government, why in the hell are we calling a narcissistic, egotistic, self-absorbed businessman to do the job? That makes me angry and skeptical of our political process.
I love the political season. Every four years, I enjoy watching the strategy and the machinations of both political parties on their race for the White House. To be honest, I usually tire of the spectacle by late October and am ready for them to just get on with it already. I have to admit, that point has come a little early this year. Here it is only the second week in September and I am already sick and tired of both candidates running for President. Why? Because neither candidate is talking about issues or policy. Granted, Hillary is trying but the noise from the Trump campaign is making it difficult. We know why the Trump campaign is not talking about issues, because they really do not have any, and their policy proposals are non-existent. Every day on the cable news stations and from the political pundits we get a barrage of personal garbage about one or the other candidate. Of course, until now, all the Trumpers could say about Hillary was one word, “emails” as if that summed up her inability to do the job as President.
I think it is oddly funny that every time a Trump surrogate is asked a question about what Trump would do in a given situation as President, all they can say is that they wouldn’t do it like the Democrats have done. Kellyanne Conway was challenged about this the other morning by Charlie Rose on CBS and her response was that he would have to ask Donald Trump knowing that if he got the opportunity, it would be in the future and he would have forgotten the question by then. I must hand it to the Trump campaign, they know how to create a narrative and force other candidates to play at their level. Even Hillary is beginning to succumb to his ways and she must be vigilant to avoid that from happening. As the 16 other Republican candidates learned earlier this year, if you play at Trump’s level, you lose. He is the master of the politics of personality.
Now with Hillary Clinton’s health as an issue in the campaign, expect that to be all the Trump campaign talks about for the next week deflecting yet again their lack of policy proposals and their “secret” plans for the running of this government. Stay tuned.
Perhaps it is time for the Trump campaign to hire, excuse me recruit a volunteer (because we know Donald does not pay campaign staff) to translate and clarify what he says after public events and after he sends out tweets. I don’t know if you have been paying close enough attention to Trump surrogates and people within the campaign but I heard it on three different occasions yesterday. In discussing Trump’s comments at the Commander in Chief Forum the other night, the phrases, “what Mr. Trump meant to say was …” and “what Mr. Trump really was saying…” were quick off the lips of those supporting Trump. I even heard Mike Pence say it in his interview with CNN reporter Dana Bash at the Reagan library. Pay attention, folks.
When did we get to the point that a Presidential candidate needs to have his comments explained by his staff and his surrogates. This has been an ongoing problem for Trump. He has no filter and says things without thinking them through to their logical conclusion. Remember when he said women should be punished for having an abortion? Then, thankfully a few days later, he himself had to clarify the statement which is something he rarely does. Usually he let’s his staff and his surrogates clean up the mess and as a result, we get conflicting stories. Some people think that this is a matter of political correctness and they like Trump for it. In actuality, it is a matter of clear communication skills and meaning what you say as you said it.
Language does matter. This is evident especially in the translated word. Trump keeps going on an on about how Vladimir Putin has called him a brilliant leader and how flattered he is by the Russian leaders praise of him. What he doesn’t realize, but Putin’s people have clarified, is the fact that Putin called him a flamboyant leader, not an intelligent one. In other words, Putin was calling Trump a clown but Trump is using that phrase to carry out this bromance with a former KGB strongman and a brutal vindictive dictator. Trump is too narcissistic to understand that Vladimir Putin is using him and when it comes to international diplomacy and political strategy, Putin is light years ahead of Donald Trump. I fear for America if Trump is indeed elected.
Imagine if you will when your kids were in school that the grades they received were directly proportional to their IQ score. For example, Sally who has an IQ score of 128 is asked what is the square root of pi times .13485 and Tommy who has an IQ score of 108 is asked what is two plus two times two. It wouldn’t seem quite fair would it?
It seems to me that is exactly what is happening in our Presidential election at current. Hillary Clinton is being asked very difficult questions, fair questions, but difficult and is expected to give detailed answers full of thoughtful specific policy proposals. To the contrary, Donald Trump is asked very general open ended questions, often times called “softballs” in the media, to which he responds with vague general hyperbole and he is being lauded for not offending someone.
I watched the Commander in Chief forum last night on NBC and was struck by how much of a flake Donald Trump really is. One of the audience members asked him a question and asked him to be specific in his answer and Trump basically blew off the question and offered no specifics whatsoever. Any other Presidential candidate in history would have been vilified but Trump gets a pass, I guess because he isn’t a politician and should be judged differently. Let’s look at some of the things Trump did actually say. He said that the current Generals advising the administration were awful and that he would bring in a new team of Generals, like the army does not have it’s own hierarchy. Those positions have to be earned but then again, “the Donald” knows nothing about earning something on your own merit. Then he expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin because he had high poll ratings in Russia and because Putin called Trump brilliant at some point. Not that I am comparing Putin to Hitler but if in the 1940’s Hitler who, by the way, had high approval numbers from the German people had called Trump a brilliant leader would Trump be singing Adolph’s praises? Then Trump said that he felt as though the officials who had delivered his intelligence briefings were telling him “through body language” that they were unhappy with Obama’s leadership. What a crock of shit! These are intelligence professionals who are far more skilled at everything than Trump and would in no way project their opinions to Trump in any way shape or form. I do know a little about the intelligence community and I know as career officers, they are very careful not to get involved with politics. They take orders and follow them, period.
When is the press and the American people going to hold Donald Trump to the same standards as every other Presidential candidate in history? We realize that Donald is not as smart and as skilled at politics as others but that should not lower the bar on expectations and policy proposals. If this is the continuing path of this election the debates ought to be “must watch TV” and as long as Trump doesn’t drool all over himself, he will be declared the winner.
The day after Labor Day marks the official start to the road to the White House. As such, a plethora of new polls were released yesterday and here is some of what we learned. Some had Trump leading, most had Clinton leading, Americans like white bread and we’re eating more beets. Seriously, though, this election boils down to the results in just a few states. Let’s face it the Republicans have their strong holds where Democrats can never win and the same is true for Democrats. This election hinges on the results from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida.
This election cycle has been difficult for pollsters mainly because of the changing demographics in certain states, and the changing lifestyles of Americans in general. If a pollster calls only land lines, guess what they are going to get? If they call cell phones, I would imagine the statistical rules are skewed as are online polls. There just doesn’t seem to be an effective way to reach a broad cross section of voters any more. Add to that the candidates themselves. It seems the majority of Americans don’t like or trust either of the major candidates and I can imagine some respondents are embarrassed to say they support either of them.
Here is what I take away from the recent polling. The race is tightening as we suspected it would. Ms. Clinton is competitive is some Republican states where she should not be and is leading in most of the swing states where Trump has to win if he is to have a prayer. The election seems to be Clinton’s to lose and the debates and the political wranglings in October will be crucial. If Mr. Trump can remain measured and appear sane for the next sixty days, this could be the political upset of all times. God help us all.
Gentlemen and ladies, we the people of the United States know what you think of our President. You don’t say it openly but you think he is an illegitimate executive and has no right to nominate a justice for consideration for nomination to the Supreme Court during his final year in office. As stupid as this is, if he had not nominated someone, you would probably be criticizing him for dereliction of duty. President Obama did, in fact, nominate judge Merrick Garland on March 16 of this year to replace Antonin Scalia who died unexpectedly in February. Judge Garland has been under consideration twice before for the highest court in the land and has been called by senior Republicans in the senate, “a consensus nominee” and a fine man. Judge Garland has more federal judicial experience than any nominee in history but the US Senate, on principle, will not act on his nomination. They are content to let the next President choose a nominee. At least that is what they have stated publicly.
If the Senate will not act on the current SCOTUS vacancy, so be it. As things are looking at present, Senate republicans are about to experience their worst nightmare. Baring a miracle, it appears that Hillary Clinton will become the 45th President of the United States and it is highly probable that the democrats will gain control of the Senate. If that is the fact, as a liberal democrat, I am glad you did not act on Judge Garland’s nomination. Madame President is free to nominate someone with far more liberal tendencies than Judge Garland and someone younger as well, and Senate republicans will be powerless to stop it. Hillary Clinton will have the ability to shift the balance of power on the Supreme Court for many years to come and instead of prudently approving a centrist to the court, you might get what you deserve.
Here are a few names for you to ponder as possible replacements for Judge Garland: Pamela S. Karlan, a leading liberal scholar on issues like voting rights and the political process. Nina Pillard, currently a circuit judge on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia who has been called one of the most liberal judges appointed to the federal bench in generations. Jennifer Granholm, the former Governor of Michigan who has long been considered a potential nominee for the Supreme Court and a vocal proponent of both President Obama and Secretary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren, a close friend of Ms. Clinton and currently a US Senator from Massachusetts holding the seat once held by Ted Kennedy. Ms. Warren is one of the de facto leader of the Progressive movement and there would be no better way to placate the Bernie Sanders supporters than to nominate Warren to the Supreme Court. And finally, give Senate republicans what they really deserve, Barrack Obama, as the next member of the US Supreme Court. POTUS to SCOTUS is not unprecedented and would certainly alienate the political right wing of this country, probably forever.