Point of View Columns

No Time For a Debate When the House is on Fire

A recent article in the The Atlantic by Peter Wehner deals with Trump’s mental health in a manner that is neither medically based nor partisan. Indeed, Wehner simply asks what our reaction/response would be if we had a friend, colleague or family member who behaved in the manner of the 45th President of the United States.

One can always begin with the lies. Trump lies because he needs to lie. He lies when attacking, he lies when he is deflecting and he lies even when he has no reason to lie. In fact, he lies even when he must know that everyone knows that he is lying. And yet he still lies. And if we had a friend, colleague or family member who behaved in this fashion we would be very concerned for the state of their mental health would hope that they would seek health.

But with Trump, that is only the beginning. In savage jungle that is Trump’s mind there is racism and misogyny lurking in broad daylight. Megalomania illuminates the dark recesses of his imagination and in that heart of darkness the only person who truly matters to Trump is Trump…………..and yet, if the presidential election were to be held tomorrow, he has more than a puncher’s chance of being elected.

Which brings us to the continuing saga of the Democratic cattle call/presidential candidate selection process. If only because Trump may be certifiably insane and is certainly a clear and present danger to this country and to all who are in his presence, the selection of a candidate who will remove this curse from the Oval Office takes on almost mythical importance. That is because it is clear that if Trump remains President for 5 ½ more years this country will be hard pressed to ever recover from the structural damage to American institutions that will be his true and only legacy.

One would think that in this dire scenario someone in the Democratic National Committee would realize that this is no time for a traditional nominee selection process. The United States is being held hostage by a mentally unstable megalomaniac who wreaks havoc with preternatural ease. And so, one would think that someone in the DNC might realize that having more than 20 candidates traipsing across the country, raising money for their individual crusades for self-validation and exhausting the attention span of the Democratic base is simply not a good thing.

The week the DNC is sponsoring a debate with ten (10) candidates and one can reasonably ask what could possibly be a useful outcome of this political equivalent of speed dating for two hours. The real outcome will be the continued exhaustion of the attention span of the American/Democratic electorate thereby paving the way for a true American Tragedy – which is what a Trump second term would be called by historians of the future.

It is beyond frustrating, it is terrifying to watch the 21 current candidates soliciting support and money for their cause, in the process diminishing the amount of resources that will be available for the general election while also anesthetizing a significant part of the American electorate with an overdose of rhetoric, policy proposals and “hey look at me” appeals.

In traditional times it would be refreshing to see so many talented men and women looking to define themselves while redefining what or who a presidential candidate might be. But right now there are 21 men and women running which means that by the time of the Democratic convention in Milwaukee in 2020 there will be 20 separate and distinct set of constituencies who will be disappointed and dispirited – and therefore members of these 20 losing teams might not be inclined to support the Democratic nominee with the vigor and enthusiasm that it will take to defeat a sociopathic serial liar who will literally say or do anything to win.

And consider the fact that defeating Trump in November of 2020 will not be enough. Even if he loses he will not easily give up his position in the center of the American media universe and he will continue to sow seeds of distraction, destruction and disharmony throughout this country and throughout the world.

With all that will be facing a successful Democratic candidate when he/she wins, it is important that the nominee be selected soon and that this person will begin solidifying their base and preparing to attack Trump and be attacked by Trump – continuously.

It has been said – There is no time for a debate when the house is on fire.

Someone please tell Tom Perez and the leadership of the DNC that the American house is officially on fire.

 

 

 

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Point of View Columns

Time to Thin the Herd

This is how bizarre the Democratic presidential race has become – if you added up your eyes, fingers, nose and toes – you would barely, just barely, exceed the number of Democratic candidates who are presuming to run for office. How anyone in authority at the Democratic National Committee –are you even listening Tom Perez? – can think that totally exhausting the limited attention span of the American public is a good way to find someone who can drive Donald Tinyhands from office is simply beyond comprehension.

People who consider themselves “political junkies” are finding that watching 6 hours of twenty candidates debating on consecutive nights is just too much. The notion that be putting a pride of candidates, or a gaggle of candidates or a murder of candidates in front of American voters would demonstrate the strength and depth and diversity of the Democratic party must have been a conclusion that was arrived at when bright ideas were in short supply.

There is no doubt that all of the candidates are good men and women. But there has to be higher bar – like demonstrated potential for electability (see Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention) or undeniable celebrity (see Donald Trump in 2015). Using these rather basic metrics perhaps there are six of the candidates who need to be battling for the right to go up against Trump. Instead, there are twenty (!!!!) and it is hard to make the case that most Americans, or even most Democrats, believe that the other fourteen could somehow win the nomination and then beat Trump.

And, at the end of the day, Trump provides clear reasons for the need to defeat him virtually every day – whether it is relaxing the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act or mugging for the cameras with the infant of two of the El Paso murder victims in his arms or providing the El Paso killer with the psychic ammunition that ultimately killed Latinos who Trump has called invaders on numerous occasions.

At the end of the day, this is not the time for vanity campaigns or tryouts for the 2024 election cycle. Anything and everything that distracts or detracts from the movement to remove Trump from office poses a danger for the American people who could be victimized by Trump for another four years.

Some of these Democratic candidates would do well to run for Congress or the Senate in their home states and provide the platform for eradicating some of the more egregious actions of the Trump administration. But all of the candidates would do well to remember that Donald Trump has already appointed two right wing of the right wing Supreme Court justices. If he were to be reelected he could end up giving lifetime appointments to a proto-conservative Supreme Court majority that would last for decades (!!!!!) no matter who was elected in 2024.

There is another round of debates coming up in September…..one can only hope that after that it will be clear to one and all that it is time to thin the herd. American cannot afford this circus called the Democratic Party presidential campaign.

 

 

 

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Point of View Columns

President Obama Did Not “Surrender”

As this column is being written the Danse macabre called the debt ceiling negotiations continue like some bizarre video loop of the 1990’s movie “Groundhog Day”. Every day it is the same intransigence. Every day brings hopelessness dimming the light of future days. Every day witnesses the triumph of greed over compassion. Every day witnesses the triumph of hate over common sense.

Please reread that last sentence………anyone who thinks that the G.O.Tea Party frothing intransigence and obstinate frenzy is about the debt ceiling and the budget deficit isn’t paying attention or is just fooling themselves. The Republican playbook calls for eviscerating and amputating every vestige of power and discretion that Barack Obama might exercise as President of the United States. The reelection of Barack Obama is viewed by the right wing of the right wing as being unthinkable and against the very laws of nature. It is something to be avoided at all costs.

We have now seen that those “costs” include the debasement and possible unhinging of the American economy. The fact that the unthinkable fiscal default of the United States government has almost occurred is due to the kamikaze-like belief of the G.O.Tea Party that it would be better to let this country crash, burn and die rather than let Barack Obama lead it.

Amidst the smoking embers of near catastrophe we can smell a whiff of brimstone from racist fires. The brutal invective and color-tinged vitriol directed at President Obama during the first two and a half years of his presidency have not been seen since the administration of Abraham Lincoln and that was in the midst of the Civil War.

There is old saying that goes like this, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” The G.O.Tea Party has taken a spin on this bit of bamboozelry to tell the American people that the debt ceiling crisis has been caused by a lack of leadership on the part of President Obama.

The fact is that the Republicans have refused to negotiate on any aspect of the debt ceiling /budget debate and remain welded to the anchor of their no new tax pledge that threatens to us all. The fact is that the right wing of the right wing has abandoned any pretense of seeking to work with Barack Obama and is prepared to place the collateral damage of their fanaticism on his doorstep.

Mean statements and harsh words are part of the political process. But the racial radar begins beeping when Senator Mitch McConnell talks about “breaking” Barack Obama. And then there is Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado stating that negotiating with President Obama is like “touching a tar baby”. On the Planet America, if these aren’t fighting words they are cause to start searching the crowd for nooses and pitchforks.

Critics from the left wing of the left wing contend that President Obama has “surrendered” to the G.O.Tea Party. My Dartmouth College classmate Robert Reich contends that Barack Obama should have “done more” to articulate the crass and brazen greed of the Republicans as they protect the greedy and continue to fleece the needy. I assume that Dr. Reich means that President Obama should spend even more time trying to convince the American people who vote for “American Idol” in greater numbers than they vote in presidential elections.

During the past few weeks President Obama was like the guy in a chair fight where everybody had a chair but him. The sounds of silence emanating from Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus and organized labor have been deafening. There have been some murmurs from AARP and Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher and John Stewart have weighed in on occasion.

But any support for the president has been drowned out by the 24/7 drumbeat from the right wing of the right wing and its personal television network, Fox News. The television commercials funded by the Koch brothers and organizations affiliated with Karl Rove have skewed and corkscrewed the mentality of the American public until no sense and nonsense make sense.

Too many people who stand to be victimized by the G.O.Tea Party agenda do not vote. Too many people who disbelieve the idiotic notion that “shared sacrifice” means that sacrifice is shared between the middle class and the poor do not vote. Too many people who instinctively understand that President Obama is being played like a cheap banjo stay silent – public officials and private citizens alike.

To suggest that Barack Obama has “surrendered” is to ignore the facts. Under the circumstances he will be fortunate to get out of the debt ceiling debacle with a decent portion of his epidermis intact. And we can see already that November 6, 2012 will be a real bad day for the progressive community if it doesn’t wake up from the hypnotic spell cast by the G.O.Tea Party.

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