Day Four Of Democratic Convention: Joe Biden Meets His Moment In Nation’s History

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The National Democratic Convention has concluded with the nominations of two strong and capable candidates as the standard-bearers of the party.  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will now undertake their task of winning the election.

As this week’s speeches and proceedings have played out I jotted a few notes at my desk about our presidential candidate and this time in our nation.  I believe that a man and a moment have met in a unique way.

Over the last four nights, we have again been presented with the background of the man we are asked to vote for in November.  We have heard of Biden’s boyhood and beginning points of his strong religious background.  We heard of his scrappy start in politics, along with his marriage and three children.  There was no way not to feel some of the weight of his pain as an auto crash claimed his wife and a daughter.  The way he conducted his life in the following years after the tragedy provides the best gauge as to how he operates under extreme pressure and duress.  His story is one that makes us sure of his character.  As I have said so often on this blog when it comes to presidential candidates, character matters. 

When pondering Biden’s preparedness and equilibrium for the Oval Office we have many of his past experiences to use when taking the measure of the man.  He comes through as a shining example of precisely the steely determination and steadiness a nation requires in a president.

Not every presidential race occurs in a time of national angst.  This year our nation has experienced an impeachment, a pandemic, the implosion of our economy, and then rocked by civil rights protests. In the lifetime of anyone reading this blog post, there is no other presidential election where the foundations of the nation were in such a precarious position during an election season.  1968 may come to mind for some, and yet even those events pale in terms of the enormity of what we now face.  As of this writing, nearly 173,000 Americans are dead from a virus that was not properly dealt with by our president and the federal government.

This year the Democratic candidate and this moment in our history have aligned.  There is no doubt that Bidens’s experience and leadership are in demand.  His skills and background meet at this juncture of our national events.

The third note I jotted this week is Biden’s desire and willingness to embrace the changes and reflect the dynamics now at play in our nation.  This decade presents a whole new array of forces and problems that are distinct and requiring new approaches to being resolved.  For instance, an attack on our energy grid is the most perplexing and demanding issue that rarely gets addressed, and yet is the modern problem that keeps security-minded folks awake at night.  Biden is adept at pulling in the brightest thinkers and also has a working knowledge of how to get recalcitrant members of Congress to lend a hand at heavy-lifting on legislation.

Though the modern world of new threats and anxieties will require forward-thinking in the next administration there is also no doubt we will also need to have a restoration of common sense and shared values.   Biden is best-suited of all the candidates this year to undertake this mission.  Being thoughtful, empathic, kind, caring, compassionate, level-headed, and sincere will again be traits that will win him a place in every home when the news is turned on in the evening.

A promising man and a nation in need have aligned. And so the campaign for our future begins in earnest.

 

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

When Grifters Take Over A White House

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The political and legal world was rocked this morning with the news Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to Donald Trump, was arrested and charged with fraud for his role in a scheme related to “We Build the Wall,” an online fund-raising effort that collected more than $25 million for the racist and needless wall on the Mexican border.

The scheme as laid out in a stinging indictment (and you should read it) lists Bannon and his cohorts doing what comes naturally to so many in the Trump orbit.  The defendants “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,”

It must have been quite a sight for the always inebriated-looking Bannon when he was arrested early this morning in Connecticut by U.S. postal inspectors and brought to Manhattan.   He is being charged with a plot to defraud donors to the build-the-wall campaign with three other men.

Even at a time when there seems not much that can take one aback anymore, (and is that not a sad statement to make) this news sent a shock wave nationwide.  But more than the indictment itself this news underscores a fact we have long known.

The Trump White House and those who position themselves in Trump’s circle are grifters of the first order.  We know from long before Trump slithered down the escalator to announce his bid for the White Hosue he was a swindler.  He came from a father who lied and cheated.

The best example of what Trump is, and how today’s story meshes with his past comes from the $25 million settlement he was forced to pay to settle civil suits by students at Trump University.  Recall they had demonstrated that Trump had not delivered on his promises to teach them the secrets of his money-making success. Well, as we all know, Trump had, in a way, fulfilled his promise.  But the lesson they learned was about the fine are of stealing and fleecing money.  They themselves were double-crossed and ripped-off.

That grifting style has been part and parcel of Trump’s whole life, and he brought that tone and acceptance for such behavior with him to the Oval Office.  As we know if the top person in any organization does not set the standard for one’s best behavior the outcome can be dreadful.

Years ago funnyman and late-night host Seth Meyers said it concisely with the following quip.

“If these guys weren’t in politics, they’d be selling fake Rolexes on the sidewalk in Times Square.”

And that does sum up this bunch of grifters.

Such actions over the past years from the near-collision with federal ethics laws regarding Ivanka Trump peddling her wares, to the news from the Washington Post of the Trump campaign ladling over cash to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club–to the tune of roughly $380,000 for “facility rental/catering services” for a two-day “donor retreat” underscores how grifting is Trump’s mission.  And those of his family.  And cronies.

Night 3 Of Democratic Convention: “Trump Hasn’t Grown Into The Job Because He Can’t”

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Every fiber of my being was alert, engaged, applauding, and aligned with the themes and speakers during the third night of the Democratic National Convention.

Starting with gun violence which plagues our nation and with Gabrielle Giffords providing words of hope and courage–which left tears in the eyes of both men in this home.  Calls for humane pleas for justice and empathy with immigrants and those who are covered under DACA.  It was one of those nights when Americans were able to see not only the problems which are piled high in our land but also the ways they can be dealt with through reasoned and logical leadership with Joe Biden.

In my daily life, I love the dead-pan and understated lines that when delivered power-punches in a way that a big build-up and splash could never convey as effectively.  Such was the case when Kamala Harris, our next vice-president, stated matter-of-factly the following with eight words.

I know a predator when I see one.

It was a verbal volley not only over the Trump White House but straight through the front door.  The self-admitted sexual predator who has lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the past four years has just been called out.  The relentless repetition of his abuse of women will be a theme for the remaining 75 days of this election.

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I have often asked how our nation fell from having a constitutional law professor in the White House with President Obama to Donald Trump who continuously showcases his ignorance.  During Wednesday night’s convention, I was moved by the lifting words and solid underpinnings of Obama as he used history and our Constitution to show how our present course can be corrected.  Must be corrected.

While listening to his speech I was reminded again how little leadership we have from this White House.  Never once in the past four years could we ever have heard Trump offer any aspect of the lines we heard tonight–the type of words and substance our nation yearns for.

Some years ago, I sat down with John and the few remaining leaders of the early Civil Rights Movement. One of them told me he never imagined he’d walk into the White House and see a president who looked like his grandson. Then he told me that he’d looked it up, and it turned out that on the very day that I was born, he was marching into a jail cell, trying to end Jim Crow segregation in the South.

What we do echoes through the generations.

Whatever our backgrounds, we’re all the children of Americans who fought the good fight. Great grandparents working in firetraps and sweatshops without rights or representation. Farmers losing their dreams to dust. Irish and Italians and Asians and Latinos told to go back where they came from. Jews and Catholics, Muslims and Sikhs, made to feel suspect for the way they worshipped. Black Americans chained and whipped and hanged. Spit on for trying to sit at lunch counters. Beaten for trying to vote.

If anyone had a right to believe that this democracy did not work, and could not work, it was those Americans. Our ancestors. They were on the receiving end of a democracy that had fallen short all their lives. They knew how far the daily reality of America strayed from the myth. And yet, instead of giving up, they joined together and said somehow, some way, we are going to make this work. We are going to bring those words, in our founding documents, to life.

It was a night of tonic for the soul.  Some tears, some smiles, some reflections, some hope building.  It takes nights like this to get us to the place we want to be.