Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Trump Chronicles

To demonstrate that I'm the worst political prognosticator ever, I've assembled some of my Facebook posts on the 2016 election.

Trump doing thumb and finger thing
Mexico Drops Out Of Miss Universe Pageant
Entire nation of Mexico is now on the no-admit list at Trump National Doral, Miami. [June 30, 2015]

Trump Prefers Veterans "Who Weren't Captured" Over John McCain, Leading To My First Spectacularly Wrong Prediction
Fourteen minutes and counting. [July 18]

Nixon-Trump Aide Roger Stone Ostensibly Leaves Trump Campaign, Inspiring Another Spectacularly Wrong Prediction
Now ends the era of "let Trump be Trump." He really wants to be president. He'll act more discerningly from now on. Of that, we should probably be even more frightened. [Aug. 8]

Kurds, Quds, Whatever. Some Of Them, I Assume, Are Good People
A vengeful Trump called my Nixon brother Hugh Hewitt a "third-rate radio announcer" for tripping him up on foreign policy. Who assisted the candidate with the deft Watergate allusion? [Sept. 4]


Real Housewives Made The Radio Star
Civilization will survive Trump. Not so sure about SiriusXM canceling C-SPAN in favor of Andy Radio. [Sept. 5]

Smack, crack, Trumpwhacked
Even Though He Really Might Be The End Of The World As We Know It
Angry at his use at a rally of "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" -- Leonard Bernstein! --  R.E.M. tells Trump to-- Well, you'll see. When I was director of the Nixon library, we asked R.E.M.'s permission to use a video of one of their performances in a 1995 exhibit on presidents and popular music. My enterprising colleague Noah McMahon got as far as their manager, who was in a car with lead singer and songwriter Michael Stipe. The manager spoke to him for a moment and then came back on the line and told Noah no. "Nixon is antithetical to everything we believe in," he said. My reaction: "You  talked to somebody who was sitting next to Michael Stipe? Cool." We mentioned the dissing in the exhibit text. Very meta. [Sept. 18]

What Deporting People En Masse Actually Looks Like
The mass deportation that Trump promises has a harrowing Depression-era antecedent that few remember. Listen until 18:00, and you'll hear an OC angle (involving Cal State Fullerton). [Sept. 11]

The Other Way Roger Ailes Abused People
Over four in ten Republicans think the president is a Muslim, and nearly three in ten think Trump's a conservative. Confused bunch! [Sept. 17]

Tragedies Play Into Trump's Hands
NYT thinks Trump will lose ground after Paris. Wishful thinking. Watch him turn up the heat on immigration. [Nov. 16]
 
Trump Has A Secret Plan To End Daesh
No GOP candidate has a magic bullet for Daesh. Most (besides Trump, who promises war crimes) would probably end up with a policy like Obama's. But they want to scare people, so this. [Dec. 7]


Send Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Yearning To Breathe Free To Canada, Please
Wanted: A GOP candidate willing to take an actual conservative position on refugees. Here's your talking point:

"Knowing what I do about government, we should do a better job vetting everyone who wants to come to our country legally.

"But it's dangerous to go down the road of singling out one national and especially one religious group over another for special scrutiny -- unless, in the case of terrified Syrian Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs in our time and the German and Austrian Jews we should've done more to help in an earlier time, we want to make provisions to admit even more than would be ideal.

"Why should we do that that? Because it's what the United States does when tyrants threaten the innocent.

"Daesh wants us to make the problem worse by denying entry to refugees fleeing its homicidal actions. That's why Daesh has announced that it plans to sneak terrorists into our country. Daesh wants us to turn the refugees away. Why does my opponent Trump insist on doing exactly what Daesh wants? Maybe they want to build a casino.

"We pour hot coals on the heads of our enemies by welcoming as many refugees as we can. So let's kill Daesh with hospitality at home and on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq.

"If you're asking me to say that it's a mathematical impossibility that a terrorist will ever emigrate to the U.S., I can't. If I ventured such a claim, events last week would have proved me wrong.

"Nor can I promise that no U.S.-born person will ever join Daesh. If I ventured such a claim, I would've been proved wrong last week in San Bernardino and a thousand times over the last 18 months -- each time a misguided soul betrayed freedom to join hands with tyranny.

"The only way to stop that second, far greater peril is to incarcerate all U.S. Muslims, a proposal I anticipate Trump will soon make, seconded sotto voce by his unctuous lapdog Cruz. The world is complicated, and freedom always entails risk. But if we stop being free, and if we turn against those who want to breathe free, we've risked and lost everything."

The photo shows Syrian refugees being welcomed. By Canada. [Dec. 11]

I Got This Prediction Wrong, Too (It's Mid-August, And Still No Pivot), But I Feel Fine
I invite those who haven't yet averted their eyes from U.S. politics please not to be sanguine about Donald Trump or about Sarah Palin's endorsement. In and of itself, her move is a bit of a sideshow. She knows Trump's not a conservative. Indeed she presents as a certain kind of non-ideological Trump voter with an axe to grind. For years, through her actions and statements she has evinced bitter resentment over the way she feels she was treated in '08. 

Keep smiling, and keep being you!
What we have to worry about is that a great deal of the popular discontent these days also tends to transcend ideology. Trump now stands a fair chance of being nominated. If that happens, he'll move to the center so fast that heads will spin. He'll do so brazenly and joyously, in a manner Republicans usually dare not risk. Even now, Trump's base acquiesces in his apostasies against conservatism, so there's no reason to think they won't stay with him in the general even as he adds mad-as-hell independents and Democrats (to whom he's already appealing directly). 

Meanwhile, having made the same mistake she did in '08 -- namely underrating an insurgency -- HRC actually could lose her nomination. If you have a Sanders-Trump race, you would probably have a Trump presidency. It would amount to the GOP realignment that my colleague the Rev. Rick Whittaker predicts in another thread, though in the form of a rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem. [Jan. 19, 2016]

That Time Trump Went To Church
Interesting that Donald Trump didn't pick a politically simpatico megachurch but a parish in in his own denomination, where he heard some good social gospel teaching from the Rev. Dr. Pamela Saturnia. [Jan. 25]

One Time I Erred And Strayed From The Way Of Grace
Cruz joyously unleashes on the loser. One should argue for Christian forbearance. But karma must be fun for these candidates after months of Trump insults. [Feb. 3]

The Year Money Didn't Dominate Politics
You can't buy Bernie
When it comes to money and presidential politics, I'm afraid Sen. Sanders' rhetoric, while sometimes satisfying, points in the direction of unhelpful restrictions of a free-wheeling process where everyone from unions to the Koch brothers and their fellow billionaires can send candidates PACing. I say let everyone spend what they want but be a lot more militant about disclosing big donors' names so reporters and thoughtful voters can see who's paying for what kind of speech. 

I once toyed with the idea of doing it British-style, limiting the duration of the campaign season and commandeering TV time so everyone gets the same amount of commercial and debate exposure. But that wouldn't work here. The virtue of our system, messy and tiresome as it can be, is that candidates run a two-year gauntlet of political elites, big donors, media, small donors, more media, frequent debates, and finally caucuses and primaries, leaving us with candidates who have been tested against the stress of the process and the imperatives of the Zeitgeist.

So now we have Cruz, Rubio, Trump, Clinton, and Sanders. May we make something out of the fact that they get older as they get lefter (Cruz is five or six months older than Rubio, and Trump's a little older than HRC, but you get the idea)? Possible answers include the fresh thinking of younger people, the wisdom of older people, and the irrelevance of chronological age.

Voters have a pretty rich selection, actually. Translating that roll call back to Boomerville, you basically have Goldwater, Nixon, Rockefeller (like Trump, a rough-hewn, non-ideological billionaire libertine flipping the bird and pretending to be a conservative), Humphrey, and McGovern. Missing, as usual: A socially progressive, fiscally conservative foreign policy realist (Mayor Bloomberg?). [Feb. 6]



Speaking Up For Hillary Clinton
I spent the '90s working at the Nixon library, where I encountered GOP elites who hated the Clintons because they were the first anti-Vietnam war babyboomers to reach the White House. Several (these were otherwise serious, notable people) tried to get me to watch a video saying the couple had actually had people murdered.

Kathy's story: She saw them together
I know people hate President Obama, but I've never personally experienced the intensity of the vengefulness of those early despisers of Bill and Hillary. Only someone such as her own bete noire Richard Nixon could appreciate what it was like to be exposed to such withering fire from ideological opponents throughout one's political career. So if Hillary Clinton has a severe edge, if she still talks about the vast right-wing conspiracy, if she acquiesced in what turned out to be an unwise means of keeping her private correspondence out of the public record, I'm inclined to cut her some slack. She's by most accounts a gracious, kind person who's been a punching bag for a quarter-century. How would that make you feel? 

It's fine to oppose her policies, if you do. But most of the attacks ad hominem aren't fair. At least she has a primary opponent who treats her with respect. As a result, the Democrats by and large are having a more elevated policy conversation than the Republicans. [Feb. 9]

Trump's Still-Missing Tape Would Prove, If Found, That He Was Against The Iraq War
Trump just released a transcript of remarks he made at a golf course opening in Florida in early '03:

"I hear those radical Sunnis are really bad guys, entirely terrorists, though some, I assume, are good people. The insiders I talk to on a daily basis in Baghdad tell me -- I'm sorry, but they do, they call me, what am I supposed to do about it, right? They want to know what I'd do -- they tell me that when
Politifact
Bush goes in there, the Sunnis are going to get mad, and they're going to join forces with al-Qaeda, and then they're gonna hook up with the bad guys from Syria -- because that miserable stinking place is going in the toilet, too, beginning in the spring of 2011, or so I'm told on very very good authority by my sources in Damascus. And then it's like you're going to have a whole country of these awful bad guys right in the middle of, you know, everybody else's freaking countries. Then before you know it the Russians will be in there, and they'll ruin it for everybody just like they did Atlantic City. It's just a terrible deal, a giant loser. Stay away." [Feb. 15]

Trump's Biggest Lie
The story of Trump's big Iraq lie grows more fascinating by the hour. Check out James Fallows' updates to his definitive post. He shows that there's no evidence Trump opposed the Iraq invasion before it occurred or predicted that it would destabilize the region. In response, Trump supporters have told Fallows, "He was against the war — you just didn’t ask him to find out!" If that's true, why didn't Trump care enough to speak up? [Feb. 15]

Drilling Down On Trump's Base
My Andover classmate Trip Gabriel has filed the Trump analysis of the week. His 35-40% of the GOP electorate includes cohorts who like hearing him insult people for the sheer cathartic joy of it, who are anxious about slow economic growth and dwindling opportunity for wage earners, who fear the U.S. is changing, and whose interest in what's going on in Syria and Iraq is limited to keeping terrorists (and for some, Muslims) out of the U.S. 

As long as Obama's smiling, I'm good
As Gabriel argues, typical GOP rhetoric about protecting and extending freedom and making government smaller actually goes against most of that. Much of the anxiety feeding the phenomenon, as is usually the case in politics, is about the economy and jobs. 

But the angst goes deeper. A people's humanity and good-heartedness, its capacity for continuing to live into pluralistic values such the ones we proclaim at our best, require conditions that are missing, especially a shared sense of national purpose and a reasonable degree of confidence about the future.

I sympathize with the president's frustration about not being able to promote this kind of unity. He no doubt could have done more. But virtually from the moment of his election, many GOP elites were determined to construe him as an outlier. That toxic way of thinking has delivered the Republican Party into Trump's maw. Elaborating a point my friend Thomas Bushnell made in another thread about GOP chickens coming home to roost, I'd say it's pretty clear that birtherism begot a birther frontrunner whose nomination would do damage to the party that would take years to heal. (From 2011, more reflections on birtherism.) [Feb. 17]

The Race That Might've Been, And A Prediction That's Still Hanging Fire
In 2012 as in this election cycle, I was absolutely sure about who shouldn't be elected, and for reasons that have very little to do with politics. No matter what they believe, persons as self-infatuated, reactive, and undifferentiated as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump don't belong in the presidency, because it would be bad for us and the world.
I would've liked to see this race

I'll keep looking for my candidate: A social progressive, fiscal conservative, and cool-headed foreign policy realist. But once Trump's off the stage, I won't care (or post!) anywhere near as much. Imagine Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders as the nominees, for instance. The clarity would be almost refreshing. One abhors the federal government, the other wants to expand it. If they win primaries and elections, it's because of people who believe as they do, which is the way the system's supposed to work. By the same token, the candidate whose views on most issues align most broadly with those of most people is Hillary Clinton. For that reason alone, after all the chaotic hoo hah of these bizarre few months, I bet she wins. [Feb. 23]

Another Uncharitable Post. I Resolved To Tone It Down After This One. (But The Debates Really Could Be Like This!)
My friends, Democrat, independent, and Republican: Defeating Trump is a matter of national security. You may take a different view, and I respect that. But I for one can't abide having the country and people I love nor the world we share put at risk by a Trump presidency.

So Sen. Rubio, please endorse Sen Cruz. Gov. Kasich, it's time to withdraw and back Cruz. If you have money to donate to a politician -- whether you're Democrat, Republican, Whig, or Trotskyite -- send it to Cruz with a bag of Hershey's Kisses. All GOP PACs should target Trump, too.

Cruz almost certainly won't be nominated. Trump probably will, though ideally after a contested convention. Ending up with someone different, no matter who it was, would be an incalculably great blessing.
F-f-fiddlesticks!
 

But if it's to be Trump, let's make him battle every step of the way so that his rage continues to mount. He'll keep storing up resentments and grudges, personalizing every criticism and defeat, and threatening reprisals against those who oppose or attack him. The bulging anthology of instances of his whining and brutality will come in handy in Democrats' ads in the fall.

Then Sec. Clinton will coolly, methodically, and surgically disassemble him. This will actually be the fun part. Trump won't be able to hold his own or control his temper in debates with a confident, non-compliant female who talks expertly about almost every issue (especially jobs, Sec. Clinton; please keep talking about jobs) while rubbing his nose in his lack of applicable experience and knowledge when it comes to the intricacies of republican government in a pluralistic society. Still smarting from his nomination battle, his epic lack of intellectual and moral standing at last fully manifest to hundreds of millions around the world, he won't be able to help aiming insults at Clinton that are so ridiculous, so adolescent, so base and vile that even his supporters may find themselves wincing with shame at their grotesque of politics.

Republicans who naturally regret that all this leads to an historic landslide for the Democrats might consider getting their act together next time. [March 6]


It's All Nixon's Fault. And Kathy's.
To my wife, former Nixon chief of staff Kathy O'Connor, who typed this letter: Please look up "Reconciliation of a Penitent" in the prayer book and make an appointment with the clergy. [March 11]

Never Forget Love
Plus we invited them here to work
This post originally appeared in the Easter issue of the Via Con Dios, the newsletter of St. John's Episcopal Church.

In April 2014, preparing to run for president, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told a Texas audience that those who came to the U.S. illegally to provide a better life for their families were committing acts of love. Before he spoke, he hesitated and revealed something else on his heart: That he was taking a big risk. “I'm going to say this,” he said, “and it'll be on tape, and so be it.”

Bush was right to worry. When the GOP campaign got underway last summer, Donald Trump mocked Bush with a video on Instagram showing three undocumented immigrants who had committed felonies.

Bush hadn’t meant those guys. He’d been talking about the vast majority of those who come north looking for work. But that was too fine a distinction for politics. “Love?” Trump said. “Forget love. It’s time to get tough.”

GOP voters have made it clear that they agree. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, Trump’s still here, and Bush’s all gone. Trump’s rhetoric, as well as Bernie Sanders’, appeals to those who are worried about their own families and futures in an under-performing economy. Many of their concerns are understandable. Wages have been stagnant for 40 years. According to a recent survey, nearly half of us would have trouble coming up with $400 in an emergency without selling something or borrowing the money.

Still, as a political slogan, “forget love” amounts to an emergency for Christians, especially during Easter. We may have our passionately held beliefs about issues and candidates. We may be convinced that the other party will lead the country to shame and ruin. We may be mad as all get out and determined not to take it anymore.

But Christians can never forget love. No matter what our views are on undocumented immigrants, for instance, no matter how discouraged we are about the economy, faithful citizens should at least able to appreciate Bush’s nuance. All people are beloved of God, and most people, at home and abroad, want to do the best they can for those they love. Saying so shouldn’t be an act of political suicide.

By the same token, Christians can’t forget love even when they’re talking about the candidates they oppose. I need reminders about this myself sometimes. I’ve always been interested in politics, having sat at Richard Nixon’s knee for ten years and run his library for almost 20. This year, I’m feeling more certain about the candidates I don’t admire than those I do. As a citizen and voter, I’m entitled to my opinions, which I express in Facebook posts and which, I’m sure, sometimes peek between the lines of sermons.

Did he make love a third rail?
And yet at St. John’s, each of the five remaining contenders no doubt has supporters in the pews. None comes to church to hear a favored candidate or cause condemned by someone standing before the altar of Christ. So as we head into the conventions and the general election, I resolve to stay as close as I can to the via media.

One way to keep partisanship at a minimum in church settings is to say what we’re for rather than whom we’re against. So for now, I pray that God will lead all our candidates to discerning choices based on what’s best for the largest number of people. I pray that anxious voters will look for candidates who offer solutions to our problems instead of just blaming scapegoats. And I pray that all candidates and voters, especially those who follow Christ, will remember (or perhaps receive latter-day revelations) that we can never forget love.

Oops
In which Fox News acknowledges the success of the anti-Daesh policy of the Obama administration that the candidates Fox supports insist isn't working. [April 26]

That Speech Trump Made That Time Without Creating A Huge Crisis For His Campaign
Fox News' Obama critics, 2008: He needs a TelePrompTer. Fox News' Trump boosters, 2016: Isn't he great with a TelePrompTer? [April 27]

Quite Frankly
Dude, the word is not "pundunt." [May 4]

It Turns Out That Dark Money Is Highly Overrated
Old conventional wisdom: Koch brothers will buy election. New CW: Can't the Koch brothers stop Trump? [May 10]

OK, Really. Why Trump?

Okay, campers, it looks like Clinton and Trump are neck and neck in a new poll of likely voters. Make yourself a s'more, and have a seat around the campfire so we can reason together. Wait, let's sing "Sloop John B" first, to bond a little. 

He's a liberal, she's a hawk. Take that.
First off: If you don't like Clinton's ethics, Trump's just aren't any better. You might say she's a big liberal. So is he. The public works and defense spending and tax cuts he's promised will make the the national debt clock explode. 

On social issues -- LGBTQ people, restroom equity, even abortion (if you credit what he used to say, before he was a Republican) -- he usually sounds like a centrist, which means that from a strictly conservative perspective, he'd be unreliable on SCOTUS appointments. 

Clinton's against deporting 11 million undocumented workers and their families. To the NYT, in secret, Trump evidently said he was negotiable on the question (which put him way to the left of Cruz). They both favor raising the minimum wage. 

Is national security your issue? Clinton was cozy with Putin in '09, and Trump is now. He invokes isolationist Charles Lindbergh, supports protectionism, says he was against Iraq, opposes future interventions, and yet promises to defeat Daesh. She's a globalist and hawk who thinks Obama is too cautious on Daesh. So while Clinton's position on the #1 security challenge proceeds more consistently from her record, they both sound tougher than the incumbent. 

Besides all that, she has years of experience in Washington. We good so far? Did I get anything wrong? Want another s'more? A chorus of "Wagon Wheel"? So you still like Trump? Um, why? [May 11]


The Democrats' Nixon
This historic night, as Hillary Clinton clinches her party's nomination, is a good time to read this epic profile. One great insight among many: "Everyone assumes Clinton is harboring an underlying secret. It’s a paranoiac cycle — Clinton and her team think that everyone is after her, and their behavior creates further incentive for everyone to come after her. But at some point, cause and effect cease to matter. Defensiveness, secrecy, and a bunkered combativeness (that perhaps relates to her worrying hawkishness) are her very real shortcomings. The question is whether they can be overcome by her very real strengths, especially as she prepares to take on a man whose own flaws are so outsize." [June 7]

Whom Are We Supposed To Bomb?
Getty Images
Read this profile and others like it, and ask yourself exactly how we go to war against this. Omar Mateen’s ex-wife says that he hit her, sometimes as she slept, and that he suffered from mental illness. A former colleague said he was prone to homicidal ideation. He may have learned his bigotry against LGBTQ people from his father, who is reportedly given to grandiosity himself. So Mateen found a sick ideology, a code, a cause that gave him permission to loose his demons on the innocent. Deranged murderers often do. It has ever been thus. I don’t deny that this is a problem with complex dimensions. Maybe he was incited by a tweet or a web site. Daesh is losing ground and doing all it can to spark a holy war. But whom exactly should we bomb? How are we going to make sure they’re not innocent, too? [June 13]

Jean Would've Loved This Political Year
Jean on deadline
Flag Day would've been my distinguished editor mom's 92nd birthday. It was Trump's 70th. She would've been amused. And she'd be scouring the papers every morning, rooting for her brother and sister editors, reporters, and photographers as they covered this election of elections. (I share Sec. Clinton's birthday. Go figure.) [June 14]

An Affront To Christ
Since Sept. 11, Muslims have been asked over and over again to repudiate extremists who misappropriate the faith. Many who have done so eloquently have been marked for death by Daesh. Christians have the same obligation to speak against perversions of the gospel, though we rarely run the same risks as our Muslim brothers and sisters. I repudiate Pastor Roger Jimenez's rhetoric as being antithetical, an utter affront, to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray that the Holy Spirit will open his heart to the truth of God's love and his responsibility as Christ's disciple to live it out in love, never hate. Always love. And I pray the same Spirit will also help me do a better job loving and serving in the way of Christ. [June 15]

The Perils Of Letting Politics Drive Foreign Policy
This article clarifies the danger and delicacy of the situation we face in confronting Daesh. The president's critics say he and our allies haven't done enough to battle it on the ground. We should do more, they say. Many have in mind either the wholesale massacre of the innocent from the air or a politically unsustainable commitment of ground forces. 

Meanwhile, it turns out that we're winning on the ground after all. Some experts think Daesh will be destroyed in Syria and Iraq within a year. The danger remains acute. Failing as nation builders, their caliphate already in mortal peril, these would-be tyrants are devolving into al-Qaeda-style gangsters of the type that the Bush and Obama administrations both have managed to degrade ruthlessly and effectively. 

Hence the delicacy. It's understandable to construe this as another world war, as a strategic challenge, and of course as a campaign issue, especially if, God forbid, there are more attacks. But you don't go war against a crime syndicate. It's a challenge for law enforcement and intelligence agencies as well as communities devoted to defeating Daesh's already stalled recruitment efforts by persuading their young people to walk in the way of light and life instead of darkness and death. 

It's too early to say that Daesh is in its death throes. It will undoubtedly strike again. But to overreact now, to let our politics drive policy, to lash out recklessly and savagely could make matters far worse and invite the loss of far more than those we mourn already. An Independence Day blessing on those who realize that sometimes playing small ball is the best way to fight for freedom. [July 4]

And The Republicans' Nixon
They say history repeats itself as farce, don't they? Nixon factotums turned Trump factotums are probably feeding him the Nixonian tropes -- silent majority, law and order. While Mr. Nixon wasn't as brazen as Trump, he understood, as Trump does, that fear is a potent political force. Mr. Nixon's '68 acceptance speech was Walt Whitman compared to tonight. Trump's dark genius is knowing exactly what certain people want to hear but are afraid to say. And then he says it with a crudeness that Mr. Nixon would never have dared. 

Here's what worries me. Those who argue that 1968 was worse than 2016 forget how terrible San Bernardino, Orlando, Dallas, and Baton Rouge must seem to people who don't remember '68. And that's the year that the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey (burdened by an association with LBJ and his war) got a mere 42% of the vote. Mr. Nixon got just 43%, it's true. But he would have broken 50% if George Wallace hadn't been in the race. [July 21]

The End Of Democracy As We Know It?
I love some people who can't stand Clinton and plan to vote for Trump. I love some people who can't stand Clinton and plan to vote for her anyway because they're terrified by Trump. Remember that Ruth Bader Ginsburg risked her reputation and Ted Cruz his 2020 chances in order to warn us about a Trump presidency. You might think about how seldom those two agree on anything. Andrew Sullivan sums it up cogently. It would be interesting to hear what readers think about his concerns (as opposed hearing their views about how terrible they think Clinton is). Ready, set, go. [July 21]

Even Mr. Nixon Released His Tax Returns, Mr. Trump, And While They Were Under Audit
Mr. Nixon didn't donate all of his pre-presidential records to the government.  Using the portion he kept, we were able to open a research archive at the then-private Nixon library in the early 1990s. All the collections were reunited after we turned the library over to the National Archives in 2007. About the infamous 1970 post-dated deed, which he blamed on his accountant, he used to complain that it was considered illegal for the IRS's purposes but legal for NARA's. He lost the deduction, but the government kept the donated papers. [Aug. 6]

A New Birth Of Bipartisanship?
Yesterday in Winslow, I saw a John McCain for Senate sign and felt bad that I didn't live in Arizona anymore so I could vote for him. He's got a close race on his hands. He's more conservative than I. But he'd definitely be my guy. He's a true hero, Trump's crude insult notwithstanding. Back in my Nixon days, he was a good friend of the nonpartisan Nixon Center in Washington.

Nixon with McCain, 1973
And there's this. I realized that it would probably be better if the Republicans kept the Senate and House.

Here's why. The violence and bigotry Trump has modeled and unleashed, while reprehensible, wouldn't have gotten as much traction if it weren't for the economic anxiety so many in our country experience. Both parties’ 2016 insurgencies were fueled by legitimate worries about the shortage of dignified work at living wages and with decent benefits for less well-educated folks, especially millions who graduate from high school each year with no decent jobs in sight. While there’s no evading the necessity of free trade agreements in a global economy, Democrats and Republicans should’ve worked together to reassure, retrain, and reequip our work force.

Trump’s inexperience, protectionist policies, penchant for cruelty, and obsessive zeal to personalize every issue and conflict would, it goes without saying, make matters far worse. President Hillary Clinton will come into office focused on public works and regulatory solutions. By themselves, they won't be enough. Meanwhile, under Speaker Paul Ryan's leadership, policy wonks on the House side have churned out a whole package of market-based economic- and job-growth policies. By themselves, they won't be enough, either.

Here's my dream, born, no doubt, of my relentless optimism: A new era of bipartisan cooperation emerging from the ashes of this nightmare year. On Nov. 9, the speaker will call the president-elect, or vice versa, and say, "We each of us just dodged a bullet, politically speaking. It's in both our interests, not to mention the interests of the country, that it never happen again. Trump and Sanders actually did us a big favor. They demonstrated that neither of our parties was paying enough attention to working people. So let's focus all our energy on growth and jobs. We don't need to agree on means, just ends. We'll do some of your stuff. We'll do some of our stuff. And we'll all take credit when it works."

We've learned this year that even the greatest nation on earth can’t take the stability of its political institutions for granted if we don’t work together to promote a better life for all our people. [Aug. 11]


I Was Going To Stay Out Of Politics. But Then I Remembered That Trump Was Still Running And I Have Three Daughters
When Hillary Clinton was nominated, I was struck by the relatively scant attention that was paid to the breakthrough for women the moment represented. We now have a situation where 11 women have credibly accused her opponent of precisely the same predatory behavior he bragged about to Billy Bush. If he had acted this way with such astonishing regularity across many years toward individuals from any other demographic group -- ethnic, socio-economic, religious, cultural -- would his candidacy survive the weekend? What is it about women being the victims that seems, against all reason, to make this a debatable question for some people? Even if you like his positions on corporate and capital gains taxes, how can this possibly be okay? If it is, what behavior toward women would you find intolerable? It's ironic. A political culture that yawned when a woman was nominated has now got an epochal debate on the culture of misogyny on its hands. This is a profoundly meaningful learning moment for our country and, I'd add, for the church. God be with us all. [Oct. 14]

And Then America Got Just What It Voted For
About 200 worshiped this weekend at the church I serve in south Orange County. One said after services this morning that a family caregiver, a woman of color and a U.S. citizen, was told two days after the election by a man on the sidewalk that Trump was going to send her back where she came from. A couple told me that a family member and member of the LGBTQ community was verbally attacked twice at work. Another relative (a woman of color, a U.S. citizen, and a Christian) was in a store when a customer said that Trump was going to deport her and all the Muslims. Three such stories in one week from our small church alone! There's been plenty of passion and anger on both sides. It would behoove us all to lower our voices and remember all the ways (the infinite number of ways) we can make the world better by our own expressions of hospitality, empathy, forgiveness, acceptance, and love. But everyone knows where some folks would say they got permission to act so maliciously. It doesn't matter whom you voted for or what you think about immigration, the capital gains tax, or the Iran deal. It's not right. It's not American. Everyone knows it. The Chinese have a saying: "Whoever tied the knot on the bell is the one to untie it." Please, Mr. President-elect. In the name of Christ. In the name of love. [Nov. 13]
 

2 comments:

Just Wondering said...

I came upon your blog when I was looking around the Internet trying to forget about the election by binging on post-election coverage. A unique form of therapy. In any case, I looked you up. I remember you from your days as the most strident, fearsome apologist for Richard Nixon I had ever encountered, and have always been intrigued because you graduated from UCSD (as did I a few years earlier). I was wondering today as I thought about RN and a Trump aide's promise to keep an enemies list: Whatever happened to John Taylor? And my question is now: What the hell happened to John Taylor? Your blog is extraordinarily thoughtful (I read the Nixon stuff), readable and calm. I'll be reading in the future.

Best wishes,
Frank Phillips

Fr. John said...

Thanks so much, Frank! Made my day.