Tag Archives: U.S. presidency

No Change

I could tell just from my parents’ facial expressions this was bad.  The gallery of people (mostly older men) in similar-looking attire reeked of authority.  For me, all of 9- and 10-years-old, the joy of our first color TV set in this newly-built suburban Dallas home dampened with the drone of voices in that crowd on the screen.  Coupled with my parents’ own head-shaking, I got the sense something was very wrong.  I had no idea.  This was my first exposure to the American political system.  They were the Watergate hearings.

This week marks 50 years since the notorious break-in at the Watergate Office Complex in Washington, D.C., by a gang of misfits operating under the orders of the president of the United States.  Richard Nixon had become so emboldened by his 1968 win that he dared to envision a world where he either had no enemies or enemies that were easily squashed.  He had narrowly lost the 1960 presidential race to John F. Kennedy and then lost a 1962 bid for the California governorship.  Thus, winning the presidency created an authoritarian desire in him to hold onto power at any cost.  He would do anything to ensure he won a second term – which he did, in one of the biggest election landslides in U.S. history.

As recollections of those events abound, the nation is currently encased in more political intrigue.  The January 6 hearings have been underway for a week now, and there’s no telling how long they will last.

In some ways, the events of January 6, 2021 are similar to Watergate.  Both were set off by presidents who wanted desperately to hold onto power and ended up disgracing themselves.  History is still building Donald Trump’s legacy, but at least Nixon legitimately won both of his terms in office.

Trump’s 2016 “win”, on the other hand, was a fluke – a blatant act of fraud in a profession where character often doesn’t really matter.  And, like Nixon, he would do anything to ensure he would serve a second term as U.S. president; the leader of a nation that has long held itself as a beacon of true democracy and freedom.  When the results of the 2020 presidential election began arriving, it became clear Trump was not the winner.  But, as now know, he and his equally maniacal supporters would not accept the results.  Trump had stated months earlier that he would only acknowledged the outcome if he won.  That was the egoist in him talking.  It was also the oligarch in him; a reality TV star who gleefully terminated people in front of cameras, just as he’d surely done during his own professional life.

For decades, many have said we need a businessman in the White House.  Well…we got on with Trump – although we’re now aware he’s not as successful as he claimed to be.  But, with his extreme wealth, he could afford to be brutally honest – a virtue that appealed to the angry (mostly White) masses; a group that had tired of diversity and inclusion and suddenly wanted to claim the victim mantel in the 21st century.

The businessman model failed with the Trump presidency.  In at least one other manner, Nixon resembles Trump.  He never truly admitted wrongdoing.  Just a few years after he left office, Nixon gave a series of carefully-crafted interviews with journalist David Frost, in which he defended his actions; reiterating that, “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”.

Trump sees nothing wrong with the events of January 6, 2021.  From his pathetic vantage point, he did nothing wrong.  Even as the hearings proceed, he still insists he’s a victim of a rigged election system.  I’m sure Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would love to have a word with him about rigged elections.

Facing certain impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives, Nixon resigned the presidency in August of 1974 – the first and (to date) only American president ever to achieve that ignominious feat.  After an impassioned speech to his staff, he boarded the Marine 1 helicopter and left the White House grounds.  There was no gunfire; no bombings; no bloodshed.  The Nixons were dragged from their home and strung up in public, like Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu.  It wasn’t a Castro-type coup we’ve often seen in developing nations.

The events of January 6, 2021 were calamitous – and bloody.  Never has the U.S. Capitol been invaded and overrun by angry citizens.  That’s something that shouldn’t happen here; again, that’s a developing nation type of fiasco.  I’ve seen it on television and read about it in print – an oppressed people storming their national capitol to demand regime change.  We’ve seen it occur in Central America and the Philippines.  It happened across Eastern Europe, as the Soviet Union collapsed.

As the Watergate hearings proceeded throughout 1973 and ’74, more and more information came to light pointing to Nixon as the instigator of the entire mess.  The break-in wasn’t – as one individual dubbed it – a “third-rate burglary”.  The scandal was larger and deeper than anyone had imagined.  When the nefarious arrows finally began pointing back to Nixon, he resigned.  His reputation, along with that of many of his henchmen, disintegrated.  Their political careers were permanently ruined.

The January 6 hearings are almost theatrical.  There is no secret about what happened and who was responsible.  We know Trump urged his followers to “take back” the country and undermine the democratic process.  We know he demanded election officials in a number of states to find votes that would push him into a win.  We know he expected his Vice-President, Mike Pence, not to certify the 2020 election, as was his official duty.  And, to ingratiate the true horror of that day into our minds, video surveillance has been presented to the January 6 Committee showing the moment Pence had to be evacuated from the Capitol floor, as the rioters encroached.  Nixon demanded some people be silenced.  But, as far as we know, he never actually insisted they be murdered.

Everyone who runs for public office has to be somewhat egotistical; at the very least super-confident in themselves and what they have to offer.  They put themselves into the public arena and risk everything.  But egotism reaches dangerous proportions when the individual comes to believe they are better than everyone else and can do no wrong.  It’s nowhere more alarming than in politics where people who win elections are empowered to make decisions that impact the lives of millions.

In looking at Watergate and January 6, it’s amazing how fragile the democratic process remains.  It’s stunning how little seems to have changed.  It’s even more upsetting to think some people still see nothing wrong with any of it.

Image: Robert Pryor

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Tweet of the Week – February 5, 2022

Adam Kinzinger

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 12, 2021

“I miss Trump.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, in an interview with Laura Ingraham on FOX News

“I want to go in and be a thoughtful disrupter in Sacramento. We need to change the system, and I want to change the system for the positive.”

Caitlyn Jenner, in a June 10 appearance on “The View”

During a tense exchange with the show’s hosts, Jenner criticized California Gov. Gavin Newsome, ranted about immigration and refused to agree that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.

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Photo of the Week – May 1, 2021

President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address to Congress is notable for a historic first in the U.S.: Vice-President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood behind him.  There’s an old saying – behind every great man is a woman.  In this case, I guess it’s two women!  Although I can’t say if Biden is a great man – yet.  Regardless, I look forward to the day when an image like this is no major news event.

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Best Quotes of the Week – May 1, 2021

“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President…no president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time.”

President Joe Biden, at the start of his state of the union address

“No, I don’t think America is a racist country, but we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, in response to Sen. Tim Scott’s assertion that America is not a racist country

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 27, 2021

“I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathology in Wuhan was from a laboratory.  Escaped.  Other people don’t believe that.  That’s fine.  Science will eventually figure it out.”

Former CDC Director Robert Redfield to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, on the origins of the COVID-19 virus

Redfield declared that he believes the coronavirus “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that it was spreading as early as September or October of 2019 though he stressed that it was his “opinion.”

“They will break down, they are breaking down, Tucker. I have said this before, and I’m telling you I’m worried that I’m right, the right is going to pick a fascist within 10 to 20 years.  Because they’re not going to be the only one – the only ones on the outs. There’s 60, 70 million of us. We’re not a tiny minority, and if we’re going to be all treated like criminals and all subject to every single law, while antifa Black Lives Matter guys go free and Hunter Biden goes free, then the right’s going to take drastic measures.”

Jesse Kelly, declaring conservatives could end up supporting a fascist for elected office if left-wing anarchists gain more power

“It did bother me a little bit.  I can understand where they’re coming from in a certain way, but I think it wasn’t the appropriate forum to be able to have these kinds of discussions.”

Prince Albert II of Monaco, on the recent interview Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan had with Oprah Winfrey

Albert told BBC that he found the pair’s “public display of dissatisfaction” inappropriate given the form in which it was delivered.

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Creepiest Quote of the Week – March 13, 2021

“What I’m trying to do is just harness the magic.  To me, Donald Trump is sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and P.T. Barnum.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Axios

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
P.T. Barnum

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Worst Quotes of the Week – March 13, 2021

President Trump with Republican National Convention Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party Cochair Terry Bowman in 2019. Photo by Max Elram

“If you donate to our Save America PAC at (DonaldJTrumpDOTcom), you are helping the America First movement and doing it right. We will WIN, and we will WIN BIG! Our Country is being destroyed by the Democrats!”

Former President Donald Trump, pleading for donations to his new political action committee

“The RNC, NRSC and NRCC are grateful for President Trump’s support, both past and future. Through his powerful agenda, we were able to break fundraising records and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Together, we look forward to working with President Trump to retake our congressional majorities and deliver results for the American people.”

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC); Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); and Tom Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), responding to Trump’s pitch above

“Everything in this bill is rotten to the core.  This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), about HR1, also known as For the People Act of 2021, which would expand voting rights

“There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans.  Democrats value as many people as possible voting and they’re willing to risk fraud.  Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote – but everybody shouldn’t be voting.”

Rep. John Kavanaugh (R-AZ), on new proposals in the Arizona State Legislature supposedly designed to strengthen protections against voter fraud

“Pregnant women are going to fight our wars.  It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.  While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, ‘more feminine’ – whatever ‘feminine’ means anymore, since men and women no longer exist.”

Tucker Carlson, criticizing new uniform designs for pregnant female military personnel

Carlson’s lament has drawn sharp rebuke from military veterans, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) who lost both of her lower legs while serving as a combat pilot in Iraq in 2004.  Duckworth tweeted this about Carlson.

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Best Quotes of the Week – March 13, 2021

“I believe this… historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people of this nation – working people, middle class folks, people that built the country – a fighting chance.  I’m going to have a lot more to say about that tonight and the next couple days.”

President Joe Biden, upon signing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill

“ … Conspiracy theories should have no place in the Christian life. As people who claim to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, we should not risk our public witness for political fantasies. We should denounce any movement that spreads false information.”

Seth Brown, in response to social media posts by Luke Coffee, former actor and conspiracy proponent, who took part in the January 6 Capitol Hill riots

Brown works with North Carolina-based Biblical Recorder and has written extensively for Southern Baptists about QAnon.

“In societies with bigger differences between rich and poor, women are less enfranchised and have less power, resources, and prestige than women in societies where those differences are smaller.”

Kate Pickett, British epidemiologist and Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of New York, in “Fissures That Tear Us Apart and Pressures That Weigh Us All Down”, Social Europe, 03/08/21

“In Austin, we’re committed to saving lives, period.  If state officials don’t want to do their jobs protecting people from the virus, then we will.”

Greg Casar, Austin, Texas City Councilman, responding to Gov. Abbott’s order rescinding mandatory mask-wearing in public

The Governor’s new order went into effect March 10, but the City of Austin plans to retain a mask mandate for the immediate future.

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Video of the Week – February 27, 2021

Donald Trump may be a native New Yorker, but there’s no love lost for the Orange One in a city that often shows no mercy.  Earlier this week a man carrying a “Trump 2024” flag at Wollman Rink in Central Park was tackled by an ice skater.  Chaos ensued.

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