This is McCain’s Week, so Let’s Keep Trump Out of It.

I know, I know.  I brought up Trump in honoring Senator McCain in my post yesterday, but today I’m urging us all to keep further references to Trump to a minimum.  Accept to his fanatics, Trump is the polar opposite of McCain when it comes to honor, duty, country first, compassion, self-deprecating humor, the capacity to forgive, common decency  ….. qualities that befit a president.  Even though he never made it, McCain had the profile while Trump has been sorely lacking.

Trump’s a small man and a HUGE JERK.   He nixed a statement prepared by his staff praising McCain and, unlike just about everywhere else in America, the flag at the White House is not lowered to half mast in tribute  (it was for awhile, but they already raised it again).

Frankly, I like Trump’s reaction to McCain’s death because, unlike so much he does, it is not B. S.  He loathed McCain as McCain loathed him.  It would be especially phony for Trump to react any other way.   And why should he?  McCain made it known Trump was not invited to his funeral.  Was there any way to insult Trump more?

Both figures acted in line with McCain’s penchant for straight talk.

I’d just like for Trump to exit the stage now.  In these next few days I’d like to see recollections of McCain without dwelling on Trump’s reactions, which will either be non-existent or deplorable, neither deserving of attention.

Attention to Trump takes the spotlight off of Senator McCain and shines it on the little president, who deserves to be ignored as much as possible for a change.

The Founding Fathers Would Have Appreciated John McCain

“Duty, honor, country” is the motto of West Point, and a motto Annapolis graduate John McCain lived his life by.  No other contemporary politician seems to rank with him on that score.  The Washington Post calls his legacy“A sense of honor that has become rare in a polarized Washington.”  A state of affairs that our founding fathers would have found repugnant.

Applying the concept of honor to politicians may seem quaint or at least unrealistic.  One can’t be a successful politician without a certain elasticity in one’s honor.  John McCain showed some stretch in winning his last Senatorial race, emphasizing border security a la Trump and even denying his traditional image of being a maverick.  He held his many criticisms of Trump in check, too.   It would have been hard to win if Trump thoroughly trashed him.

You can’t serve the people in politics if you can’t get elected.  On the others hand, you can’t serve the people well if you have no sense of honor.  Given that caveat,  Senator McCain acted repeatedly throughout his career to put his country foremost before his party or himself.  No one was better at working across the aisle.  And usually he would stand up for what he thought was right, no matter what the political pressure.

For example, it was his vote that sunk the attempt to repeal Obamacare in the Senate given with a dramatic thumb’s down gesture in the middle of the night.  Ironically,  McCain “hated” Obamacare, but he didn’t agree with the helter-skelter way changes were being made, so in the end his “no” vote kept the program alive.  And angered many Republicans.

You have probably seen or heard of the town meeting McCain attended when battling Obama for the 2008 presidency.   A woman in the crowd said she couldn’t trust Obama because he was an Arab.   McCain gently chided her with the fact, no he wasn’t.  That he was a good family man and patriot.  McCain didn’t dislike the man.  He disliked his political positions.

I suggest that confrontation is often mentioned because really, it was honor’s last stand in the Republican party.  Ever since Republican politicians have played a zero sum game, honor be damned.  Anything bad about an opponent was fine, even when an obvious lie, such as Trump’s pushing the birther theory while Republican politicians remained mum.   Polls showed a lot of Republicans believed the theory.   The same could said of the talk of Obama being a Muslim, to which Republicans would often say something like, well he says he isn’t.

A far cry from McCain setting that woman straight and a short step from making Trump’s lying largely OK.

I would say John McCain will be remembered as the last great Republican if for no other reason, the Republican party is no more.  It is the party of Trump and after his political demise I’m baffled by what shape it will take.  Perhaps it will break up into pieces once the cult of Trump loses steam.

I believe John McCain exemplified the best of Republican values and it seems hugely significant that in helping to make his own funeral plans, McCain made it clear Trump was not invited.  Can there be a sharper dismissal?

In contrast, he requested G. W. Bush and Barack Obama give eulogies.  What a fitting end for the Senator, a closing act to unify the country, the two men who beat him for the presidency being asked to speak.  And at the same time giving a definitive thumb’s down to the divider-in-chief, the usurper of the Republican banner, a man who knows no honor.

Is Donald Trump Above the Law?

  A new essay in the Economist explores that question, while stating: ” Revelations and convictions will eventually force America to face” that simple question.

In my last post I advocated attempts by pro anti Trumpers to develop civil discussion.  But if we are to have a civil discussion we should begin with that question and what it means to people.  Trump has shown many signs he has no regard for the rule of law when it gets in his way.  And it hasn’t seemed to faze many of his backers.

Some of that I understand because most often Trump doesn’t break the law but finds ways to work around it.   For example, now he is holding up the possibility of a pardon for Paul Manafort, which he legally can do but shows a contempt for the law itself and all the work of prosecutors and juries to decide the case.   And equally bad it provides signs to anyone in legal struggles that reflect on Trump that he has the power to save them.

The revelations and convictions of the past week suggest that we are getting beyond the endless speculation to hard facts.  I firmly believe the “real Trump” is about to be proven to be a crook and a phony.   I just heard this morning that Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump organization for decades is getting an immunity deal, which follows one given to David Pecker, the executive in control of the National Enquirer and long time Trump friend.

You don’t get an immunity deal if you don’t have much evidence to offer on bigger fish.  Both men should have much to reveal about how Donald Trump and his family have operated, so I suggest we suspend my idea of trying to find a platform for discussing  Trump until it has been decided how big of a crook we are talking about.

Bill Maher and Ben Shapiro: Civil Discourse in the Trump Era

I don’t imagine having much civil discourse with Trump supporters any time soon, but I can’t give up on the desire.   When civil discourse totally breaks down it leads to one thing, a civil war.  No, not soon but down the line.  We did that once and I hope it was enough.  I got a recent whiff of the negative potential on a pro-Trump placard.  “Liberals:  If Trump is impeached, you’d better get your guns.”

So, I welcomed running across a video clip of Bill Maher and Ben Shapiro conversing civilly about Trump, heated at times, but civilly, lightened by Maher’s humor.  It helps to be a comedian as well as a sharp political commentator.

Generally speaking, Shapiro is a conservative while Maher has liberal tendencies, but has no qualms about skewering liberal taboos  (e.g. he has argued that Islam is not a peaceful religion).   And they do share the commonality of disliking many things Trump does.

The big difference is Shapiro sees good in enough of what Trump has done –  from a conservative perspective – that despite all (so far), he still would take him over any Democrat.  I doubt if Maher has given trump credit for much.

Both men are very smart and each gives a good account of his positions.  Think of the conversation as a  template of what civil discourse can be and perhaps a beginning point for further conversations.   Also, it points to the usefulness of injecting some wit to lighten the overall load.

Of course, not with the Trump fanatics who would stick with Trump even if he shot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Here is a link to the video which is 11 minutes, so you might want to plan a break and grab a drink in preparation.   I enjoyed the conversation, something I seldom do when it comes to political discussions these days.

Trump vs. Stormy Daniels: Who Do You Believe More?

Full disclosure, I think the evidence, for those who still care about such things, clearly points to Daniels (a.k.a. Stephanie Clifford) as more believable.  So, I was surprised to see the results of a study this morning that asked people the question in my title.   What surprises me is that Daniels only got a 4% advantage over Trump, 34% to 30%, while another 30% indicated they didn’t believe either one.

Add Trump’s 30% to the 30% that don’t believe either one, and you’ve got 60% who do not believe Daniels when, from my point of view, her story is far more compelling.  Think about her “colored” past anyway you want to, but there is no talk of her molesting anyone and bragging about it on Access Hollywood like there is with Trump.  Nor a string of 15 or so accusers of molestation coming forth.

But let’s just get to the heart of the issue:  Compare Trump, who has been proven to lie several times a day about all sorts of things, with Daniels who has stuck with the same story right along.  I have not seen proof she has lied about her relation with Trump.  The media calls it an “affair,” which I think over blows a one night stand.

Daniels has simply stated she slept with Trump once and it was consensual.  That was it.  She has been suing him because he has lied about it happening and her receiving a payoff to keep quiet.

I think she is a tough woman who doesn’t like being pushed around and wants vindication, which is not to say the money and attention she has garnered has not added fuel to her motivation.   I’m not arguing for her sainthood, just that her story is more believable than Trump’s, which to me is a low bar to hurdle.  The question isn’t motives but who has been more truthful.

To all those who don’t believe her, are you saying Daniels did not receive a payoff from Michael Cohen acting on behalf of Trump (do you think he forked out that 200 grand on his own?).  If you think so, I’d say just wait and see how the Cohen trial pans out.

My intention here is not to launch a full blown defense of Stormy Daniels, but to initiate possible conversations on the question of whose story is more truthful.  If we are ever going to bridge our political chasm, we have to find some topics that we can investigate together.  If we can’t come to terms on the truth of this situation, what can we agree upon?   To bridge both sides of the chasm requires something to talk about that it is simple enough to come up with a yes or no answer.

“Who do you believe” and why?    …….. is a place to start.

P. S. –  The study also shows that 72% of the Republicans questioned believed Trump. My theory is fewer than that believe him, but given our current tribalism, they answer as if they did.   I think there are plenty of Republicans who don’t like the man but like his policies enough to ignore their own feelings.  I imagine they think of the poll less as a matter of truth, but as a matter of whom they support.