Sunday, August 30, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015
During a segment on Thursday’s The Last Word about Jimmy Carter’s cancer diagnosis, MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid complained that voters rejected “Carter’s decency and goodness” in the 1980 presidential election in favor of the “bluster” possessed by “cowboy” Ronald Reagan.
Reid’s pronouncement was prompted by comments from host Lawrence O’Donnell about how Americans have “bought into [a] Trumpian concept of winners and losers” where you’re “utterly worthless as soon as you lose an election in this country” with Carter having “certainly suffered that imagery since losing the presidential election.”
Nodding in agreement, Reid declared that:
I think it says profoundly about who we are as a people that Carter's decency and goodness was taken for weakness and had to be remedied with the sort of bluster of a Ronald Reagan and that the idea we needed a cowboy to replace what people viewed as a man who wasn't cowboy enough to be president, that he was too nice.
Reid added a brief anecdote about how her mother had said that perhaps Carter “was too good of a man to be the President of the United States and he was just too nice” which she then used to scold the U.S. electorate for not seeing what Democrats saw in Carter: “I think it’s a bit sad that we, as a country, take a cerebral, gentle, a kind man for a weak man because that's not necessarily the case.”
Earlier in the segment, contrasting clips of Donald Trump and Carter (from his 1977 inaugural address) were played that allowed O’Donnell to tie together the now cancer-stricken Carter and Trump: “It took 38 years to go from Jimmy Carter's inaugural address, marked by humility and decency, to a front runner for a presidential nomination who has no humility and virtually no decency.”
Those remarks teed up former Carter speechwriter and journalist Walter Shapiro to bash Trump as “promising the American people a government as good as the worst elements and a shallow as the worst with elements of the American people” compared to Carter since he “promised the American people a government as good as its people.”
The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on August 20 can be found below.
MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’DonnellAugust 20, 201510:32 p.m. Eastern
THEN-PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER [on 01/20/77]: Your strength can compensate for my weakness and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes.
DONALD TRUMP: I went to the Wharton School of Finance. You know, like really smart people go to the Wharton School of Finance, I will tell you.LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: It took 38 years to go from Jimmy Carter's inaugural address, marked by humility and decency, to a front runner for a presidential nomination who has no humility and virtually no decency. Watching Jimmy Carter's press conference today in which the former President dignified and humane as ever described his planned cancer treatment, journalist Walter Shapiro tweeted: “This is a moment to contrast the moment the grace of Jimmy Carter with the grotesque egotism of real estate developer to who thinks he is up for the job.” Joining us now is Walter Shapiro, fellow at the Brennan Center of Justice and a former speech writer for President Carter. Walter, please expand on that point. You have the floor.WALTER SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, Jimmy Carter when he ran in '76 promised the American people a government as good as its people. The way Donald Trump is running, he is promising the American people a government as good as the worst elements and a shallow as the worst with elements of the American people. I mean, the thing that gets me – forget his positions on immigration. The thing that got me is with Chuck Todd on Sunday when Trump was asked who are your military advisers and what he said is, oh, I just watch the Sunday shows. That's all I need. That, more than anything, is such a profound disrespect for the office and the whole Trump circus is more than anything scarily – he either sees the White House as a branding opportunity or he is totally oblivious to a job that Harry Truman decided as the sun, the moon and the stars all falling on you and I can't figure out which is worse.(....)NATIONAL URBAN RADIO NETWORK’s APRIL RYAN: I mean, here you had someone who served in the military – there's no similarity at all. They are total opposites. You have Donald Trump, a man who's talking very negatively and I'm saying it in the best terms I can, about a war hero, John McCain and someone who served and believed in peace. He received a Nobel Peace Prize because he was trying to work out peace throughout the world, but tne thing also, that is blaring for me with Trump versus Jimmy Carter, you had Jimmy Carter who was someone who came from the south, Georgia, with steep still and racial problems in the '70s and he took the high road and he tried to stay away from that. He tried to build on integration, not segregation and here you have Donald Trump, talking about minorities the way he does. Particularly Mexicans, but one thing that really is blaring to me. What happened in Boston and how this homeless person was beaten up, urinated on and they are blaming it on Donald Trump. I will tell you this, Amos Brown, Dr. Amos Brown a board member of the national board of the NAACP said, you know, rhetoric like this is what started the situation in Charleston where that man went in and shot up nine people, shot them dead that that church. So, we have to be careful and you have Jimmy Carter who's a man of peace and this man who's not lily correct. We need some help in this time right now.(....)O’DONNELL: Joy, the Carter presidency is – in America, we are I think bought in to Trumpian concept of winners and losers and you are utterly worthless as soon as you lose an election in this country. Jimmy Carter has certainly suffered that imagery since losing the presidential election.JOY REID: Absolutely and I think it says profoundly about who we are as a people that Carter's decency and goodness was taken for weakness and had to be remedied with the sort of bluster of a Ronald Reagan and that the idea we needed a cowboy to replace what people viewed as a man who wasn't cowboy enough to be president, that he was too nice. I remember growing up one thing my mother said to me is maybe he was too good of a man to be the President of the United States and he was just too nice and I think it’s a bit sad that we, as a country, take a cerebral, gentle, a kind man for a weak man because that's not necessarily the case.O’DONNELL: Walter, How did it feel inside the administration as you were approaching that re-election.SHAPIRO: Well, I didn’t get all the way through the reelection because I did the smartest thing in the entire world. I believe the Gallup polls and I got out in '79 and went to a place called The Washington Post, but the truth is, I have been thinking a lot about the Carter years as – and part of it is the things he doesn't get credit for. Number one, bringing human rights into the entire vocabulary of foreign policy. Number two, basically being pressing it beyond belief about energy. You could read Carter energy speeches, including the misnamed malaise speech from '79 and it reads like a Thomas Friedman column today and thirdly of all, 36 years we have had enduring peace in the Middle East and Israel's continued existence is the bedrock there as it’s negotiated by Jimmy Carter, peace with Egypt.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Donald Trump and all GOP candidates should pledge to authorize education savings accounts.
The mainstream press and political pundits are bombarding us with a stream of warnings that Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates are driving minority voters away from the Republican Party by their “extreme” proposals and rhetoric. Whether or not one believes there’s any truth to this, Trump and every other Republican candidate can prove the dire predictions wrong with one simple act — sign a pledge that they support education savings accounts (“ESAs”) for all families and will work to pass legislation authorizing ESAs. No single policy proposal will do more to attract low-income black and Hispanic voters than treating the dreams and aspirations that those voters have for their children to be as important as those of families who can afford to move to the right zip code or pay private school tuition.
Mr. Trump and the other Republican presidential candidates should agree to sign the ESA pledge at the beginning of the CNN debate scheduled for September 16 at the Reagan Library. Nothing would be more fitting than for the leaders of the current Republican Party to honor the legacy of Ronald Reagan by signing this pledge in his library and before his wife, 32 years after the publication of A Nation at Risk. This Reagan initiative issued the alarm that “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.” In its words, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war….” The authors of the report began with a restatement of a fundamental premise of the American Dream:
All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair chance and the tools for developing their individual powers of mind and spirit to the utmost. This promise means that all children by virtue of their own efforts, competently guided, can hope to attain the mature and informed judgment needed to secure gainful employment, and to manage their own lives, thereby serving their own interests but also the progress of society itself.
Unfortunately, in 2015, we still do not give all children a fair chance since we only allow it to those with the economic means to segregate themselves in public schools in the right zip code, or in private schools. Mr. Trump and his fellow candidates would, by taking the ESA pledge, honor President Reagan’s beliefs, expressed at a White House briefing in January 1989, when he said:
Choice represents a return to some of our most basic notions about education. In particular, programs emphasizing choice reflect the simple truth that the keys to educational success are schools and teachers that teach, and parents who insist that their children learn.… And choice in education is the wave of the future because it represents a return to some of the most basic American values. Choice in education is no mere abstraction. Like its economic cousin, free enterprise, and its political cousin, democracy, it affords hope and opportunity.
Americans today still fundamentally support Reagan’s belief in the inherent right of parents to make the best choices for their children with as little interference from the government as possible.
For a more recent example of the power of parental choice, the Republican candidates should look to Nevada, where in January 2015 Republicans took joint control of the Nevada legislature and governor’s mansion for the first time since 1929. Less than six months later, Nevada Republicans passed a ground-breaking law allowing universal school choice for the first time in the history of the United States. The power of ESAs can be seen by the fact that those families whose children aren’t currently eligible for the program because their children attend private schools are clamoring for an amendment to include them. Nearly every poll shows that, regardless of political persuasion, economic class, or race, two of every three Americans support school choice. As Deborah Beck, a Democratic pollster put it, in announcing the results of her January 2015 poll showing 70% support for the concept:
“The poll clearly shows widespread support, among both political parties, for school choice. Any public official — or potential candidate for President — who ignores these numbers does so at their own peril.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and his fellow Republicans, by following the beliefs of President Reagan and authorizing ESAs, made it possible for families all over America to legitimately ask Mr. Trump and every political leader: If Nevada trusts its parents to make the right choice, why can’t my children have the same freedom and opportunity? As Assemblyman Ira Hansen said, when one of the bill’s opponents questioned whether parents are skilled in making the right choices for curriculum and instruction: “I think we need to have more confidence in our parents…”
Monday, August 17, 2015
The Gallup poll. December, 1979.
President Jimmy Carter — 60%. Former California Governor Ronald Reagan — 36%. So confident was Carter White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan of the coming year’s presidential election that he boasted: “The American people are not going to elect a seventy-year-old, right-wing, ex-movie actor to be president.” Hamilton Jordan was a smart guy — and he was also wildly wrong. A little less than a year later the American people — ignoring that Gallup poll — elected Ronald Reagan to the presidency in a landslide — in a three-way race. Reagan won 50.8% of the vote to Carter’s 41%. Third party candidate John Anderson, a liberal Republican who had been defeated by Reagan in the GOP primaries, won a mere 6.6% of the vote. Reagan carried 44 states to Carter’s six plus the District of Columbia.
What happened? How could Reagan go from losing a Gallup poll to Carter by 24 points — then winning the actual election by almost 10 points? Answer? The emergence of what would become known to political history as “the Reagan Democrats.” Who were they? Blue collar, working class, largely Catholic and ethnic, they originally emerged in Richard Nixon’s 1968 and 1972 elections. In which Nixon referred to them as the “Silent Majority.” In 1980, angered by Carter’s handling of the economy, the feckless handling of the Iran hostage crisis, and the left-wing tilt of the Democrats, these voters — many of whom had voted for John F. Kennedy twenty years earlier — returned with a vengeance. Famously, Macomb County, Michigan, which cast 63% of its vote for JFK in 1960, turned around in 1980 and voted 66% for Reagan.
On Tuesday night of this week, Donald Trump appeared in Birch Run, Michigan in Saginaw County. Here’s the headline from the Detroit Free Press:
A lovefest for Donald Trump in Birch Run
The story begins:
BIRCH RUN, Mich. — Addressing about 2,000 very enthusiastic people at the Birch Run Expo Center, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump touched on everything from immigration, China, the military, Obamacare and his Republican opponents.
The crowd, some coming from outside of Michigan, ate it up, giving him frequent standing ovations and breaking into chants of “Trump, Trump, Trump!” and “U.S.A, U.S.A.”
The obvious question. Are Reagan Democrats returning to the center of the American political scene — this time known as Trump Democrats?
A new CNN poll in Iowa has some very revealing stats. The poll notes:
Donald Trump has a significant lead in the race to win over likely Iowa caucus-goers, according to the first CNN/ORC poll in the state this cycle. Overall, Trump tops the field with 22% and is the candidate seen as best able to handle top issues including the economy, illegal immigration and terrorism. He’s most cited as the one with the best chance of winning the general election, and, by a wide margin, as the candidate most likely to change the way things work in Washington.
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
The failure of the Republican presidential field (with one notable exception) to stand with its own voters on the burning issue of our time -- mass uncontrolled and unresisted illegal immigration to America -- is one of the most infuriating examples of electoral incompetence in living memory. Not only is this issue central to the concerns of an overwhelming majority of regular Republican and conservative voters, but it is the issue most likely to carve off substantial numbers of regular Democratic voters. In short, vigorously opposing the ongoing, unprecedented, presidentially invited and abetted invasion of America across its southern border is not only obviously the right policy for the country on its merits, but very possibly the only issue with the potential to carry the Republican nominee not merely to victory but to decisive victory.
In America as in Europe, electoral necessity has placed the Left on the wrong side of illegal immigration for a perilously significant number of its own voters. In America many of those voters are there for the taking -- in Iowa, in Ohio, in Virginia, in Colorado, in Florida, to name but a few not insignificant places -- but the question, as always since Reagan, is whether the Republican Party wants to win the presidency or to lose politely.
In unmistakably blunt language, all the Republican candidates should be declaring the following:
- That our border to the south must be secured, whatever it takes, as an absolute, non-negotiable prerequisite to discussing how to deal with the tens of millions who are already here illegally. The idea that real border security is unachievable is facially absurd to the American people, as is the morally spurious argument that any nation needs to apologize for defending its own borders or establishing its own immigration criteria.
- That, after election, the new Republican president will not, under any circumstances, grant any form of blanket amnesty to those who have entered the country in violation of our laws, and that he will work to achieve a complete reversal of the illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty already granted by President Obama (which Hillary Clinton promises to uphold and enforce).
- That our immigration laws do indeed need comprehensive reform, but not the kind of “reform” the Democrats want, where millions of impoverished uneducated future government dependents are taken in and distributed among key states until the country becomes a dependable one party nation -- the 1965 Immigration Act has indeed done its work. We need a new immigration law that will favor assimilable immigrants, possessing skills and education that improve the competitiveness of the American economy and meet real needs.
None of the foregoing should be even remotely controversial in a well run, first world republic that wants to continue being one. None of it would be controversial to about 75% of the electorate. All of it would be music to the ears, not only of virtually the entire voter base of the Republican Party but to substantial numbers of regular Democratic voters, both of whom see the connection between mass low skilled illegal immigration, on the one hand, and low wages, declining schools and neighborhoods, and increased crime on the other.
Monday, August 3, 2015
Saturday, August 1, 2015
(Frederic J. Brown//AFP/Getty ImagesDonald Trump shares an important characteristic with President Ronald Reagan — and it could serve him well in next Thursday's first GOP debate of presidential candidates, commentator Michael Reagan tells Newsmax TV.
In an interview Friday with "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth, the son of the late president says the surging Trump speaks with the kind of "passion" his father so brilliantly conveyed.
"The best thing that these candidates can do is be themselves," Reagan said. "America wants to see who they are and what they represent and where they want to take America."
Reagan added "consultants get rich from these campaigns and meanwhile they give us losers."
"I want to see, and America wants to see, that campaign that says 'you know something, this is where I want to take America. I am passionate about it. These are my issues. This is what I want to do,'" Reagan said.
"That's why America right now has surrounded Trump, in this case, because he's off the cuff and he speaks from his own passion."
Reagan recalled a 1980 debate in which his father showed a rare flash of anger over the order of speakers, exclaiming, "I am paying for this microphone" — and helped turn the tide of his campaign in New Hampshire.
"[T]hat night my [late] sister Maureen and I… looked at each other … and said 'it's about damn time you lost your temper' because we had never seen our dad ever lose his temper — ever raise his voice at all to the children, to anybody — and then all of a sudden he comes up with that one and we said 'bravo Dad. It's about time. You deserve to be able to, in fact, do that,'" he recalled.
Reagan also teed off on Hillary Clinton's email scandal, asserting it won't topple her from the top of the Democratic heap in the presidential primary because of "the power that is wheeled by the Clintons" in the party — but that it might "eat her alive" in the general election.
"We've seen over the years that nothing really sticks to Bill [Clinton] but everything sticks to Hillary Clinton," he said. "The one thing that Bill has that Hillary Clinton has never had is likability. She is not likable and she certainly isn't relatable."
"Bill Clinton would get elected today again if he were the nominee of the Democrat Party and we had nobody run against him… she's hoping that just simply being a woman and selling that will bring the women to her table, but I don't think that's ever going to happen."
"I hope these emails eat her alive but [that] she stays at the top of the heap for the Democrats," he said. "[A]nyone of our possible candidates out there can beat Hillary Clinton in November of 2016."
Friday, July 31, 2015
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Count on it: When it comes to foreign policy, two-term presidents -- and even most one-term presidents -- will change course along the way. Since 1933, only two have not: Lyndon Johnson, who rode the Vietnam War all the way down, and Barack Obama. That's not a good sign.
Consider the record. When Franklin Roosevelt entered the White House in 1933, he began by torpedoing the World Economic Conference and accepting neutrality legislation. But over the 1930s, he moved from isolationism to leading the United States into the Second World War.
At first, Harry Truman drew down U.S. military strength rapidly after 1945, especially in Europe. But as the Cold War began to take shape, he reversed course and brought the U.S. into NATO.
Dwight Eisenhower moved from rejecting summits with Soviet leaders and opposing Western intervention in the Middle East, to holding summits and intervening himself. Jimmy Carter couldn't accept the Soviet Union was a problem, until it invaded Afghanistan.
Ronald Reagan confronted the Evil Empire, but after 1983, decided the time was right to negotiate with it. George W. Bush entered office saying that the U.S. military should be doing less in the world, but 9/11 changed many minds, including his.
The only real exception to the rule is Johnson, who hated the Vietnam War, but who got us into it and was never willing to get us out. True, the changes don't happen for the same reason. Sometimes, presidents are wrong and recognize it, like Carter.
Other times, presidents, like John F. Kennedy, deliberately reverse the policies of their predecessor, only to find out after a few years that the previous guy wasn't entirely wrong. At times, as with 9/11, the world changes, and the president changes as a result.
And sometimes, as with Reagan, their initial policies work, which allows them to move on to a new part of their strategy. But in most cases, change isn't a sign of failure. It's a sign of success, of adaptation, or at least of learning.
Nor is it a sign that presidents are giving up on their goals or their core beliefs. With the exception of genuinely clueless presidents like Carter, most changes are about means, not ends.
That's because it's not reasonable to expect presidents to change who they are. If they were so easily changed, they wouldn't have become president. But it is reasonable to expect them to look at how they're doing, at the world around them, and adjust accordingly.
Obama stands out because he is the same man we first elected in 2008 -- which is fair enough -- with the same foreign policy. Unlike almost all of his predecessors, he's not changed significantly. Unfortunately, that's a lot less reasonable.
Yes, there have been tactical adjustments. Obama talks less about the United Nations now than he did in 2009. But the first thing he did when he came into office was to reach out to Iran; over six years later, we're still riding that train.
Obama wanted to "reset" relations with Russia. He still hankers after the same thing, as evidenced by his comments about Vladimir Putin after the Iran deal. He wanted to reduce U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and reach out to adversarial regimes like Cuba's diplomatically, so that he could focus more on domestic policy. No change there, either.
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