Posts Tagged ‘Harris’

Biden, Hummingbirds and History

Monday, July 22nd, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

      Thanks, Joe. … 

President Joe Biden withdrew from the 2024 presidential race.

President Joe Biden withdrew from the 2024 presidential race.

   That’s all I could muster at first. The news alert — “Biden dropping out of presidential race” — had popped onto my I-Phone screen about five minutes earlier and I reacted with surprise and I wasn’t sure what else.

       So I drank some tea, popped a couple of vitamins and went outside to watch our three resident hummingbirds try to keep an aggressive woodpecker away from their feeders. Their subsistence. Their future. Through persistence, remarkable athleticism and teamwork, they succeeded. The woodpecker left for easier pickins.

      And I had a moment of clarity.

      It seems I have a pattern. When confronted with a dramatic historic moment, rather than yielding to the ingrained journalistic instinct and rushing to write about it, I take a break to reconnect with, I suppose, real life.

      On Sept. 11, 2001, after watching on TV as a second plane flew into the World Trade Center, I got into my car, turned on the radio and drove to a park close to the newspaper where I worked. As editorial page editor, I knew I would have to write about the attack. The park was familiar to me because I used to walk my dog there before going to work in the morning. I had since moved and there was no dog, but I relaxed as I enjoyed the quiet and watched other people walking their dogs, drank my coffee and listened to reports of a plane striking the Pentagon.

     Then I went to work and wrote an editorial stating that the U.S. was at war.

      Nineteen years later, on Jan. 6, 2020, after watching on TV for two hours as a mob egged on by a president who refused to accept the fact he had lost an election laid waste to the U.S. Capitol, I finally turned off the TV, looked at the new dog and said, “Let’s go for a walk.” We took a quiet stroll around the pond in the back and, though it was cold, it reminded me of the beauty in my life.

     Then I went back in and wrote a column about the fear and anger and shame I felt at this attempted coup and about how the calming words of President-elect Joe Biden helped me to feel there was still hope. He faced a “monumental task,” I wrote, to overcome the disastrous Trump presidency and return America to its place of dignity and stability as the world’s symbol of democracy.

     Which in large part, in a remarkably successful presidency, he did. But the rot in the Republican Party, a gold-plated chamber pot of fear, racism, ignorance, greed, corruption, cowardice, hypocrisy, bigotry, opportunism, threats, lies and lust for power fueled by religious extremism, has not yet been eradicated.

       And President Joe Biden has been told by many of his formerly closest allies in the Democratic Party and much of the mainstream media that he is too old to finish the job.

       I don’t know. He’s 81 and showing signs of mental and physical fatigue. But he knows how to do the job and understands right from wrong. Trump, meanwhile, is 78, a physical, moral and mental wreck and doesn’t really care about the job, just the title and the perks. But Republicans apparently love him and too many Americans still don’t understand the threat he and his enablers pose to that American democracy.

        So as I watched the hummingbirds Sunday afternoon, I thought about what an act of selflessness it was for Biden, who clearly believes he can still do the job, to agree to step aside for someone younger, because, well because it’s the right thing to do. The patriotic thing to do. The politically smart thing to do. At least that’s what he had been constantly told for a month since his poor performance in the debate with Trump (whose litany of lies and accusations was largely ignored).

          Now, Joe Biden, with a lifetime of service to country, has thought of country first and done his job again. He has stood aside for someone younger — most likely Vice President Kamala Harris — who can bring the fight to Trump (now the only old man in the race) and the Republicans and, more importantly, convince a lot of Democrats and other Americans to unite behind her to drive away the threat to America’s future. To their future. Just like the hummingbirds did.

      Thanks, Joe … for everything.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

What’s Plan B? Well, There is a VP

Friday, July 5th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Why do we  elect vice presidents?

     That’s not a rhetorical question. In fact, it’s the answer to a question many Democrats have been asking themselves for more than a week.

      In a virtual meltdown since Joe Biden’s shutdown performance in his first debate with Donald Trump, and under a constant New York Times-led media barrage about Biden‘s age and his capability to handle the job of president, many wealthy Democratic Party supporters and plenty of everyday Democrats have been asking, “What is Plan B?”

     As in, “If we don’t think Joe can win, who should the party’s candidate be? Quick!”

     Funny thing is, all the names quickly mentioned as possible presidential candidates quickly said they’re still backing Biden. Now, that may be because it would be unseemly to challenge the leader of the party or simply because none of them wants to face Trump now when they might have an easier race four years from now.

    The other funny thing is, even though presidents run with vice presidential candidates, who, theoretically at least, can step in immediately and take over the duties of president if necessary, whether because of incapacitation or resignation, hardly anyone mentioned Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential substitute for Biden.

       But isn’t that her job?

       This is in no way an argument for Biden to decline to run again “for the good of the party and the country” or for him to dramatically resign the office of president. I have no way of knowing, any more than do any of those big media pundits, whether Biden is capable of fulfilling the duties of president while also conducting an aggressive reelection campaign against Trump and his Republican cult followers. If Biden’s running, he’s got my vote.

       All I am saying is that if he feels he is not up to it, his vice president would seem to be the person most qualified and capable of doing so. Harris has been with Biden through all the successes of nearly four years in office, been part of the planning and prodding and preaching necessary to get things done. She has dealt with leaders on the world stage. If people like what the Biden White House has done, well, then Harris has been part and parcel of all that.

    Plus, she is Donald Trump‘s greatest nemesis: An educated, articulate, outspoken, politically astute black woman. She has been district attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General of the state of California and served as a United States senator from California. She knows how government works. She can take on the issue of abortion head-on. She can talk frankly about voter suppression tactics. In fact, she can talk about any issue Trump or Republicans throw out there with more clarity and knowledge than can Trump.

       In fact, so can Biden. But if by Plan B Democrats want someone to more aggressively get up in Trump’s face, call out his constant lies, which much of the media now seems to accept as, well, acceptable, then Kamala Harris is their woman.

     Plus, you’d have the whole first woman president angle going again, the one stolen from Hillary. And if Biden did take the dramatic step of resigning (which he has given no indication of doing, nor am I suggesting), she would have access to the Biden campaign’s considerable funds.

        All of this, of course, would be dependent on Democrats doing something they always have trouble doing — getting behind one candidate and sticking to the script.

       Republicans have mastered the art of uniting behind even the most despicable of candidates imaginable, with Trump the felon exhibit A. They are a political party without a soul. Democrats, however, usually spend an inordinate amount of time challenging each other over who is the most noble of candidates. It often produces confusion, not votes.

       Joe Biden has been a good president. He has served this country well his entire adult life and grown old in the process. Few are granted the opportunity. In an election which is in sum a contest between democracy and despotism, he is the symbol of what our forefathers had in mind when they said farewell to the king.

       When the script hit the fan, their Plan B was to have a vice president.      

rjgaydos@gmail.com

       

On Growing Old with Mitt Romney

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos
                                * * *

Mitt Romney … retiring, from what?

Mitt Romney
… retiring, from what?

“I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and …”*

     Forever hate the word ‘‘impeach’’?

                                    ***

   With profound apologies to T.S. Eliot and his poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the topic here is politicians and age.

   Or is it? 

   If you believe Mitt Romney it is. Looking and sounding fit and capable and considerably younger than his 76 years, the senator from Utah recently announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate next year.

      In doing so, he also criticized President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, both older than Romney, and called for them to “stand aside” for a “new generation of leaders” in Washington.

     Romney, also a former governor of Massachusetts and the defeated Republican candidate for president in 2012, said neither Democrat Biden, 80, nor Republican Trump, 77, is effectively leading his party in addressing the important issues of the day, which is a typically safe and even-handed Romney style comment. A pox on both their houses.

   To be fair, Romney was the only Republican senator with the courage to vote guilty on Trump’s two impeachments and he did have some frank, unflattering words to say specifically about his party.

     “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump,”  he said, adding that the MAGA wing that has commandeered the party is less concerned with governing and more enamored with “resentment and settling scores and revisiting the 2020 election.”

       Those are unusually harsh and honest  — and rare — words for an elected Republican official to state publicly about his party today.

    Oh, did I mention that a biography of Romney is soon to be released and that excerpts of the book have appeared in an article in the recent edition of The Atlantic Magazine?

      And did I mention that the author of the biography, who had full access to all Romney’s notes, files, tapes, musings, etc., has apparently painted a candid picture of the cowardice and hypocrisy rampant in the Republican Party today? A picture that, obviously, is created with Romney’s words.

     A picture that, for example, has former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell envying Romney for being able to criticize Trump publicly and to vote to convict him on the impeachment — for “saying things the rest of us can’t say.”

     A picture that also has Republican senators sitting attentively in a room with an obviously clueless President Trump discussing foreign affairs and laughing hysterically the minute their “leader” leaves the room.

    It’s apparently the kind of “I’m out of here now” tell-all book that others in the Trump orbit have also written, telling millions of Americans what we already knew about the four-time indicted ex-president. It’s a dollar short and a day late. A book written only when there is no longer any fear of having to run for reelection in what would likely be a brutal primary against a Trump-backed opponent.

      In other words: I’m retiring from the Senate. It was fun while it lasted, but my party is now a cult of hypocrites, sycophants and liars and, besides, I don’t need the job.

        Now, Romney did say, “While I’m not running for reelection, I’m not retiring from the fight. I’ll be your United States senator until January of 2025.” But he didn’t elaborate. Too bad, because there are things a retiring, respected senator can do to improve things in Washington, but framing it as a generational thing is misleading and disingenuous.

          Yes, a majority of Americans (me included) would prefer a different presidential contest next year than Biden/Trump. But Biden, for all the complaints about his age, has been an effective president and still represents the safest protection against Trump for millions of Americans.

    His backup, Vice President Kamala Harris, is often dismissed by “political experts,” but she is intelligent, experienced, articulate, female and of a different generation. She is also a woman of color. These days, for many voters, these are all positive political attributes and, besides, what vice president has ever gotten glowing reviews from the public? It goes with the job description.

   Democrats also have a good back bench of younger leaders in Congress and state houses who know how to actually govern, not just air grievances.

     But Republicans are a different story. Trump may be convicted, in court, in Russia or who knows where next year and, in any scenario, his followers apparently are planning on being there to the end, whatever happens.

      There’s Romney’s “fight.” The problem is, he’s never shown much interest in waging it, in getting his hands dirty. As a former party standard bearer and recognized public figure, he could have been doing something about the MAGAs hijacking the GOP back in 2012, when he ran for president, or better, in 2008, when John McCain inexplicably ran with Sarah Palin as his clueless co-pilot. Romney could also have been much more vocal than he has been in the Senate about Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism and Trump’s criminal presidency.

     However, Romney, who has called the Senate an “old men’s club,” has burnished an image of himself as an old-time, conservative (wealthy) Republican who can work with Democrats to accomplish things for the public good: Gun legislation. Global warming. The Electoral Count. Sure, he’ll work with Democrats to craft legislation, but always quietly, always in the background.

      Romney’s probably right about age with McConnell, 80, who has had two mysterious “freezing” incidents when talking to the media. As a leader, his days should be over. Maybe Mitt can talk to Mitch about retiring. And while he’s at it, maybe Romney can talk senator-to-senator to Republican Tommy Turberville of Alabama about single-handedly holding up all senior military promotions, creating confusion and resentment in the Pentagon.

       If he really wanted to engage in a fight, Romney could encourage fellow Republican senators to support a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices. 

    And, good luck here, Romney can suggest that fellow Republican, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, certainly not an old man, start acting like a leader, not a sniveling coward, bending to every outrageous demand  of his mostly young, not terribly bright and mostly incorrigible Freedom Caucus.

     This is, after all, the “new generation” of Republicans and, for the most part, they are the reason “traditional” (“older”) Republicans like Romney are looking for an exit. This is where the real fight is, senator. Ready to get your hands dirty?

                                       ***

“I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.”*

*From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

By T.S. Eliot

 

2024: Neither Trump nor Biden, Please

Friday, November 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

  91E29BA5-E946-48C8-A9D2-5FFC851BB1FF  Never again, Donald Trump.

    Thank you for your decades of service to the country, but please not again, President Biden.

    Yes, in large part because of Trump’s constant need for attention, we’re talking about the 2024 presidential election already. 

     The ex-president could barely wait for the final 2022 midterm election results (which were disastrous for the out-of-office Republican Party over much of which he still commands significant influence) before announcing his candidacy for the 2024 presidential campaign.

    I guess he figures it’s either that or answer a subpoena. Or two.

    Unfortunately for Trump, except for diehard MagaLomaniacs, the bloom is off the rose for him with many Republicans, including some currently holding elected office. And, he may have to answer those subpoenas even if he is an official candidate for president.

     Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to clear the air on the subpoena front by appointing a special counsel to investigate Trump’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection, his attempts at election tampering in the 2022 election and the possession of classified documents once out of office at his home in Florida.

   The counsel, a career prosecutor and lifetime registered independent voter, is a way to separate the Biden White House and Democrats from the ongoing investigation into Trump’s activities at a time when he is a declared candidate for president. It’s a welcome step.

     Whether the appointment of the counsel clears the air for the Republican Party is another matter. Having started decades ago down the road to gaining power at any cost, the party is now paying the price for looking the other way and holding its collective nose while registering any bigoted, racist, narrow-minded American who promised to vote for any Republican who fed their fears while doing little to deal with their actual problems.

     Sacrificing policy for scare tactics and voter suppression, the party gained power with Trump’s election in 2016. Never underestimate the American voter’s appetite for shock and awe over substance. But, having no actual platform save for giving wealthy people a tax break and being handcuffed to a self-serving leader who valued loyalty over competence, the party could not sustain its grip on Washington.

    Trump’s utter lack of understanding of the role of president and the failure of most Republicans to criticize him for his pathological lying and inflammatory rhetoric, among other things, finally registered on a significant majority of Americans. He lost to Biden in 2020, a result he refuses to accept, and most of his election-denying sycophants lost in state elections this month. And Democrats held on to the Senate. Some prominent Republicans are finally summoning up the courage to criticize him. Or, to be accurate, to say he may not be good for the future of the party and, thus, their political careers.

      Which leaves us with some potential Republican presidential candidates who want to prove they can out-Trump Trump (notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) and some who apparently hope voters won’t notice their complicity in quietly looking the other way while Trump was in the White House (notably former Vice President Mike Pence).

      It may be a knives-and-daggers battle among Republicans for the nomination, but there’s no way they can offer Trump as their candidate again without giving up their last chance of rescuing their party from the pit of shame into which he has dragged it.

      So what about the Democrats? They have a different problem. Biden will be 82 in 2024. (By the way, Trump will be a not so youthful 78.) Running a country is not an old man’s game except in kingdoms and dictatorships. While Biden has brought competence and dignity back to the office of president and demonstrated that the government can indeed address the needs of all the people, the daily stress of the job could well affect his performance of his duties. Indeed, campaigning for the presidency against a new, younger, bomb-throwing Republican candidate could prove to be challenging.

     More importantly, Democrats need a younger, newer, more forceful face for 2024. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, made that clear in announcing she would not be a candidate for House Minority Leader in the next Congress.

    The problem is, there aren’t many Democrats around who are well-known by a majority of Americans. Vice President Kamala Harris is an obvious candidate for the nomination, should Biden choose not to run. But she has been remarkably quiet in her two years as next-in-line for the presidency. That’s a contrast with her often outspoken, forceful demeanor in the Senate. A little more of that Harris would serve her and her party well.

     California Gov. Gavin Newsom is said to have his eyes on the White House and he has some national recognition. There’s also Labor Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would bring a great deal of energy to a campaign.

     Of course, the best-known and one of the most popular political figures who would make a formidable presidential candidate is Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House Select January 6 committee. But Cheney,  a Republican who has been blunt in her criticism of Trump with regards to his claims about the 2020 election being stolen and for his involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, lost her seat in still strongly pro-Trump South Dakota. Right now, she’s a potential candidate without a party.

   Of course, a lot can happen in two years. But the 2024 presidential campaign simply cannot be a rerun of 2020. America needs to move on.

 rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

The Perils of Covering Chaos 24/7

Saturday, August 15th, 2020
Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party's presidential ticket in 1984. She ran for veep.

Geraldine Ferraro and Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket in 1984. She ran for veep, making history, as Maureen Dowd recalls.

By Bob Gaydos

     It gives me no joy to say “I told you so.” Maybe a bit of personal satisfaction, but I’ll deal with that. 

From time to time, in this era of constant chaos known as the Trump Administration, I have lamented that it is virtually impossible for those who comment on the news of the day to write about anything but the Drumpster. The fact that he lies constantly, is monumentally inept and psychologically unfit for the Oval Office only adds to the need for constant — daily — attention. It is exhausting and, ultimately, depressing. And this, I have said, could eventually scramble the brains even of veteran journalists who still do it fulltime for a living.

      Cases in point, Maureen Dowd and David Brooks. One on the left, one on the right. On a recent Sunday, the New York Times played it right down the middle.

     On Aug. 9, I decided to peruse the Views section, once my automatic go to, but for some time now a repository of more of you know what about you know who. The psyche needs a rest. Having had one, I skipped to Dowd in the back, leaving Brooks’ rare front-page splash for later.

       Dowd has been nothing if not devoted to telling us how awful and dumb Drumpf is. She does it well. I enjoy her writing. But on this Sunday she had to write about Democrats and that part of her brain apparently was fried from all the juice emanating from the Republican side.

       She was writing about Joe Biden’s much-anticipated selection of a female vice presidential running mate. She was also waxing nostalgic of her days covering Walter Mondale’s selection of Newburgh native Geraldine Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate in 1984. She was the first woman to run as a vice presidential candidate on any major party ticket. Dowd recalled that that “fairy tale“ had a “sad ending.“ They lost.

     But then Dowd wrote: “It’s hard to fathom, but it has been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket. To use Geraldine Ferraro‘s favorite expression, ‘Give me a break!’ “

     I’ll cue in the Jeopardy final question music. Do do do do do do do, do do do do do do do…

     I’ll take it, Alex. Who were Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in 2016?

      Correct, Bob! Hillary Clinton chose Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her vice presidential running mate in July 2016. And that was the last time a man and a woman ran together on the Democratic Party ticket.

       How soon we forget. Dowd was so focused on the number two pick, she forgot all about Clinton clobbering Trump by several million votes and still losing the presidency a mere four years ago. Dowd wrote about all the biases Ferraro faced as the first female vice presidential candidate and projected that Biden‘s choice would have to be prepared to be portrayed as too bossy, too bitchy, too aggressive, too ambitious, etc.

    Of course, those are all things that were said about Clinton a mere four years ago when she ran, not for vice president, but for president. Real history. She won and she had it stolen from her as I recall.

     Kamala Harris, Biden’s eventual VP pick, will probably be able to handle all those attacks, in part because she’s highly competent, but also because Clinton already handled them, as I said, four years ago. Maybe Dowd can make it up to Hillary in a future column, but I submit that that’s what covering Drumpf 24/7 can do to you

     As for the conservative Brooks, he chose to take on the question of “Where Do Republicans Go From Here?” He’s not sure other than that, however many smart conservatives work on renovating it, Trump’s impact on the party will last for decades. And he puts the party’s future in the hands of four Republican senators in their 40s: Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse.

      Sheesh. All four are supposedly more enlightened populists who don’t always see government as the enemy and feel more must be done to help America’s working class. Rubio and Sasse occasionally try to sound like they disagree with some administration policy that harms regular people, Hawley is hawkish against corporate elites and Cotton is, at heart, a bomb thrower. They all voted not to convict Trump at his impeachment trial and none has shown the courage to consistently speak out directly to contradict the administration. Not much leadership in evidence.

      Brooks, who’s supporting Biden, writes, “The Republican Party looks completely brain-dead at every spot Trump directly touches.” I agree with him on this. And so, how are these four young stalwarts going to reshape their party so that it survives as a major political force? Stick with the working-class philosophy, but without the racism, Brooks suggests. Aha! Therein may lie the rub. How does the GOP unbecome the party of white, racist middle-Americans who hate “coastal elites”?

     Brooks takes us through many inches of well-thought-out rationales and says others are also working on the “brain-dead” issue. But Rubio, Hawley, Cotton and Sasse? They’re “inching” their way to a new GOP, Brook writes, finally ending with: “What are the odds they’ll succeed? They’ve got to be way under 50-50.”

    Swell. That’s what used to be known as burying the lead, David. After all this, you’re saying the best hope for a new GOP lies in the hands of four senators with little hope of shaking off the stench of Trumpism? Please. Give it a rest.

      Anyway, I get it. The point here is purely personal. As I said, it’s crazy-making having to write about Trump every day, like living with an alcoholic. I appreciate the efforts from both of you, but why not forget about you-know-who for a while? Take a week off. Maybe write about the plant-based food craze instead. I myself am a fan of the Impossible Whopper.

rjgaydos@gmail.com.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.