Tommy Thompson Missed A Sister Souljah Moment

If we question why it seems so hard for Republican presidential candidates to speak with authority as to why Donald Trump is damaging the party and not good for the nation we need to keep in mind that it is also somehow hard for others in the GOP to speak out clearly on the matter.

This weekend I was rather surprised to see the elder statesman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, former Governor Tommy Thompson, not speak more forthrightly about Trump.  Appearing on UpFront With Mike Gousha it was clear that a direct and candid answer was not something Thompson was interested in giving about the current leader in the presidential contest.

The former leader of this state did comment twice that he firmly believed Trump would not be the eventual nominee. Most lucid-minded people think the same thing.  But when pressed by the host to answer who would get his vote should the contest be between Hillary Clinton and Trump there was a strong statement that Thompson would vote Republican.

I fully understand the reason that people tied to a political party answer in that fashion.  I could vote for Joe Biden as easily as Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.  I know that Thompson could have easily said the same about Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or a list of others running for the nomination.

But Donald Trump is simply an embarrassment with no substance on the issues that deservers nothing short of repudiation.  There must come a time when the seasoned and respected establishment within the Republican Party stands up and makes it known that what played out this summer was nothing short of absurd and can not continue.

In short, the Republican Party needs a Sister Souljah moment.  Gousha had teed up the question so Thompson could have once more scored for the party who he has long supported and worked with.  But Thompson bunted the ball.

At some point very soon the adults in the GOP will need to once again drive the bus and a real contest for the nomination must get underway.  I was hoping when the questions by Gousha started that this would be the moment when such a line in the sand was drawn.  After all, Thompson is someone who has respect on both sides of the aisle and can still command attention when he wants to say something of importance.

Had Thompson given the answer about Trump that I know he truly feels it would have shown that he may be older but no less a leader.

“It’s The New Nixon!”

The best line of the day came from Joe Scarborough on today’s Morning Joe.

“It’s The New Nixon!”

It was in reference to Hillary Clinton and her desire to reinvent herself.  As a Nixon history buff Joe’s comment tickled me.  There was a time when reporters were also asking themselves if a new Nixon was emerging.  There wasn’t of course, but it made for good copy.

The quick backstory took place in 1968, with the help of Madison Avenue and a young show-biz whiz named Roger Ailes–yes the same Ailes as that now directing FAUX NEWS–where Nixon was able to position himself as  “likable enough” to be president.   Nixon was elected twice and was very bright with international concerns, but many would agree he never became likable.

Now Clinton is looking for a new direction from which to be perceived by the voting public.  Problem is that her desire for more spontaneity and authenticity runs up against her quarter century in public life and a previous, epic run for president.  We know who she is.  She might have to end up doing what Richard Nixon needed to resort to—and that is just be yourself.


Hillary Clinton Campaign Has Handled Email Mess “Poorly, Maybe Atrociously, Certainly Horribly”

The front page of my paper, and above the fold. That is where the action is and what pushes the news cycles today.

Once again there is a story about Hillary Clinton and the email mess.  This time the story speaks to the concerns of Democratic leaders.  As a liberal blogger I share the concerns registered by so many across the country about this matter.

Bottom line is Hillary Clinton is causing the party a world of hurt.

Interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates and party members have laid bare a widespread bewilderment that Mrs. Clinton has allowed a cloud to settle over her candidacy — by using a private email server in the first place, since it was likely to raise questions about her judgment, and by not defusing those questions once and for all when the issue first emerged in March.

Yet many Democrats worry that this newly contrite tone is too little and too late to quell questions, and that it may not last — given that her responses up to now have been so varied, and her irritation with the issue so thinly veiled.

“They’ve handled the email issue poorly, maybe atrociously, certainly horribly,” said Edward G. Rendell, a former governor of Pennsylvania and a supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. “The campaign has been incredibly tone-deaf, not seeing this as a more serious issue. She should have turned over the email server at the start, because they should have known they’d be forced to give it up. But at this point, there’s nothing they can do to kill the issue — they’re left just playing defense.”

Joe Biden Can Save Democratic Party In 2016

I like Joe Biden. Always have.

In August 2008 I wrote the following about Biden.

I have long thought Senator Joe Biden to be a smart and capable man.   In 1987 I supported him financially when he sought the Democratic Party nomination for the White House.  One can never forget his earnestness in fighting the atrocities that were taking place in the Balkans, or his great work on the Judiciary Committee in stopping Robert Bork from getting to the Supreme Court.  His background and breadth of knowledge on international issues makes him a seasoned and remarkable public servant.  Now the latest information in the news makes Biden seem to be the likely pick of Barack Obama as the V.P. nominee.  I will be wildly delighted it this finally happens.

I supported Biden’s efforts in the past to run for the White House as I admire his brand of Democratic politics. He is the type of Democrat I grew up with as a teenager and the type that best speaks to the needs of the nation.

I was very pleased with the way the White House made their blessings known about Biden through the president’s spokesman. There is no way to know how much more political harm will await Hillary Clinton over the email mess—a mess made of her own flaunting of the rules and her inability to set the record straight with the facts—and that is why the White House is getting the trains assembled for a possible campaign by the vice-president.

I am most pleased with how this is all taking place. Let the facts surrounding Hillary set the timetable for Biden to enter the race.

Today the Washington Post had a must read about why Biden would be the best general election candidate. Given the level of crazy coming from the GOP there is every reason for Biden to be expecting good things should a matchup of this type take place.

Biden is what Trump pretends to be: a garrulous, blunt, down-to-earth guy who loves politics and people and tells it like it is, sometimes to a fault. He’s even got that weird hair thing going.

The difference is that Biden is the real deal. He has a lifetime of public service to back up his blarney and braggadocio. He has been in the arena of public policy nearly his whole life, serving the public while Trump was squiring around movie stars, navigating four of his companies through bankruptcy, and flaunting his billionaire lifestyle.

Trump’s weaknesses become clear when he’s compared to Biden, in a way that is less true with most of the Republican candidates or Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. To many Americans, these other candidates represent the double-speak and insincerity of modern politics. Biden is a throwback to a different campaign era.

Biden has one more trait that distinguishes him from the glib and bullying Trump. He is a man with a moral center that was forged in two great personal tragedies—the death in a car wreck of his first wife and one-year-old daughter in 1972, and the loss of his son Beau to brain cancer this year. He bore both tragedies nobly, in a way that inspired his colleagues and the country.

The qualities that make Biden admirable can be summed up in the sentences that Matt Damon’s character speaks at the end of “Saving Private Ryan,” to express what he hopes he has accomplished: “Tell me I have led a good life….Tell me I’m a good man.” Few of us would measure up to that standard, but I suspect most us would say that Biden does, and Trump doesn’t.

Chris Matthews Goes Out On Limb Over Hillary Clinton

Last night on Hardball, MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews declared that he’s so confident that the drama surrounding Hillary Clinton‘s e-mail server won’t result in her dropping out of the presidential campaign that he’d end his show if she quits.

Matthews was speaking with GOP strategist Kellyanne Conway about the Clinton situation when he ended the segment by saying, “When Hillary Clinton quits this election, we’re going to shut down this show, OK?”

I do not fear losing Matthews, one of my favorite guys to turn to for analysis, as I too do not think Clinton will not drop out of the race.  I do think someone else will join the race, however, and make this a real contest.  Even though it is very late and campaign operations really need to already be assembled this is a different election cycle and we are seeing that anything is possible.

This is simply all very fascinating to watch unfold on a daily basis.

Scott Walker Intimidated By Reporters

Last Friday the all-news channel I was watching broke into their programming with Donald Trump’s press conference. I am not a fan of his style of politics which to me is akin to sand paper being rubbed on the raw emotions of the body politic. But I will be the first to admit he was not afraid to tangle with the press and respond to every question thrown his way.

On Tuesday I watched in dismay as Hillary Clinton could not—or more likely would not—address forthrightly a series of reporters’ questions concerning the email debacle that has sidetracked her candidacy.  But with pluck and punch Clinton did not duck and hide but instead stood to face the questions and should at least be credited for stepping up to the podium and the cameras.

But what has troubled me most over this week concerning candidates and their dealing with the press is how Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is unable to stand on his own two feet to answer their questions.

On Tuesday, Walker’s policy team held a press call with reporters to discuss the Wisconsin governor’s health care plan, as well as his intention to repeal and replace Obamacare. But when reporters tried to submit a question, they were greeted by a press aide who demanded to know what question each reporter intended to ask. 

“Was on Gov. Walker health plan press call. First time as a reporter I’ve ever had my questions pre-screened before I could ask them,” Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal’s health care policy reporter, tweeted after the call.

One of the reasons this nation has such a long campaign season for president is that we want to truly vet the candidate who will lead this country and be the most important person on the world stage. We want to know how they think and will respond to unpredictable events. That includes how they respond to reporters’ questions.

The working press should have probing questions of candidates and demand answers. After all, reporters and the press are essential components of our democracy. To undercut or bypass the press underserves the citizenry the candidates claim to have such an interest in representing.

Walker can tout all he likes about being “unintimidated”.  But we have witnessed yet again that he is not as agile on his feet with reporters as he would like to be when on the national stage.

Walker is not ready for prime time when it comes to off-the-cuff responses as his immirgation comments over the past few days prove. I can understand why his handlers want to protect him from saying things they need to later address in a press release or work to iron out on the campaign trial.  But the people of this country deserve and expect a candidate competent enough to handle questions without needing to have them pre-screened.

One has to wonder if pigs ever fly and Walker should be elected to the Oval Office if Russia’s president will present his talking points in advance so not to blindside Walker?

There is just no getting around the fact Walker is over his head in his quest for the White House and falling further behind as a result.  The way he is now trying to thwart the working press is just one more example of the limitations Walker has of thinking and talking at the same time.

I very much dislike Trump and find Clinton less than forthright but they at least step up and take reporters questions head-on.

No, Hillary Clinton, It Is Not All Partisan Politics

I will be the first to say that Bill and Hillary Clinton have endured more than their fair share of partisan attacks. None rises higher on the stink pile than the witch hunt conducted by Ken Starr.   Though a close second would be the partisan over-reach among some Republicans concerning Benghazi.

So one can see how the Clintons might think the same rhetoric about everything being partisan could have some justification when it comes to the latest problem to befall them.   But in reality everything is not partisan when it comes to the needed investigations into the actions of Hillary Clinton concerning the private email server she set up during her time as Secretary of Sate and the messages she received and those she deleted.

There are many Democrats and good-government types—I can list myself as a member of each camp—who are troubled with the email server mess that has dominated Hillary’s past months on the campaign trial. There is no reason to think this matter is going to go away anytime soon. In fact, this matter will be front and center in 2016 during the general election.

This weekend Hillary was quoted as saying about this email mess that “I won’t pretend this is anything other than what it is: the same old partisan games we’ve seen so many times before.”

But that is not the case. And Hillary knows it.   Furthermore those among her supporters who fail to understand this is not partisan are just not playing with a full dose of common-sense, either.

The ones who are making this Clinton email mess into a day-after-day headline are not partisan folks.

They include the FBI who are now undertaking a counterintelligence investigation. They are two U.S. inspectors general for the state department and intelligence community who are also knee-deep into their respective investigations.

Hillary Clinton is certainly free to spin this all as a partisan affair but the facts she dodges are clear for the rest of us to see.

Hillary Clinton Can Not Get Past Her Weaknesses

No one needs to doubt as to why some in the Democratic Party continue to worry about the foundational problems that surround Hillary Clinton and her campaign for the party nomination.  As I spoke this weekend to a long-time Democrat who had considered Clinton as a possible candidate for the fall 2016 election there is now just a high level of frustration over a campaign that seems mired in the same old problems that always surround the Clintons.

First, there is never any way to get past the fear that somewhere out there is another issue that will surface which will dominate the headlines and hurt the party.    The second reason my friend has deep concerns is that once again the Clintons resort to the bunker mentality of politics.  My personal issue with the Clintons are the rules they make up that apply only to themselves.  They have been mighty successful so far, but I think the tide is turning

While it is true that conservatives like to target the Clintons it is also true that the Clintons are often their own worst enemies.  The total fiasco with the email server from the time it was installed to the lack of candor and the wait before that server was turned over is proof that no one in the party can be sure what is the next problem that will surface.   How Clinton dealt with the server and the political issues surrounding it creates the very type of perception problems that make voters leery.

These concerns along with Clinton not being more agile on her feet with a strong and vocal segment of the party who is giving Bernie Sanders standing room only appearances makes Democrats nervous and in search of others to enter the race.

It is not where Clinton thought she would be in August 2015.  But here she is.

The question is not so much what will she do about the matter but what will the party do in order to win in 2016.