Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bobby Kennedy in Indianapolis, April 4, 1968

Robert Kennedy won the Indiana primary on May 7. It was an important victory in his 82-day presidential campaign. But its significance pales compared to his speech in Indianapolis to a campaign crowd of supporters in a primarily black neighborhood on the night of April 4 after Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. It is considered both his most significant speech and an act of political courage that probably saved the city from disruption that swept more than 100 cities the next two nights.

A few lines from a Washington Post report of Bobby’s remarks:
What unfolded during the next six minutes, according to historians and Kennedy biographers, is one of the most compelling and overlooked speeches in U.S. political history — the brother of an assassinated president announcing another devastating assassination two months before he’d be killed, too.
“I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world,” the 42-year-old senator said in his thick Boston accent, “and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.”
There were audible gasps.
Robert Kennedy addresses a mostly black crowd
of 2,500 in Indianapolis, breaking the news of
Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination,
April 4, 1968 | Indianapolis Monthly

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling,” Kennedy said. “I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”
One of Kennedy’s campaign staffers was John Lewis, who had already risked his life to defy segregation alongside King and would later become a congressman from Georgia. Lewis urged Kennedy not to cancel the speech.
“I thought Bobby Kennedy coming would have a cooling impact on the audience,” Lewis said in an interview. “He appealed to the hearts and the minds and souls of the people there — black and white.”
“He spoke in a prayerful, mournful fashion,” Lewis said.
King’s death, Kennedy said, left the black community with a choice about how to respond, whether to seek revenge.
“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization … black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another,” Kennedy said. “Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.”
“What we need in the United States,” he continued, “is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
A sense of grace washed over the crowd.
See Washington Post story: “That stain of bloodshed”; After King’s assassination, RFK calmed an angry crowd with an unforgettable speech

Hill and Ciruli Present Tour of the World Dictators and Hot Spots

Amb. Christopher Hill and Floyd Ciruli present at WorldDenver
One hundred and fifty WorldDenver guests joined a presentation on April 10 by Ambassador Christopher Hill and professor and pollster Floyd Ciruli on the topic of: The New Authoritarianism: Can America Meet the Challenge? Americans, especially people interested in foreign policy, are extremely concerned about the state of democracy, including in the U.S.

One of the evening’s topics was that trade, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), not only supported the member countries’ economies, but aided the functioning of their democratic decision-making and collective security arrangements with the U.S. The TPP agreement was especially seen as a counter to China’s aggressive economic initiatives in Asia.

President Trump opposes multi-lateral agreements, and during the campaign, was especially critical of TPP. He withdrew the U.S. from the TPP negotiating process as his first executive order. Trump believes the pact hurt American workers and businesses. He prefers bilateral agreements and claims agreements with six are underway.

Amb. Hill and Floyd Ciruli at WorldDenver presentation
The eleven countries that were partnered in TPP have proceeded forward without the U.S. and have a signed agreement (less robust), waiting approval by their individual governments. A number of additional countries want to join, such as South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines.

But two days after our presentation, the President realized his trade war was costing him support among farm state interests and senators and ordered his new head of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, to examine a U.S. role in the TPP as an effort to promote American products. He also needs allies in Asia for his trade initiatives against China. Japan has especially been interested in America rejoining the agreement.

Dealing with the impact of trade agreements, especially with Asian economies on American jobs, is still to be addressed, but the benefit of allies is beginning to look especially important to the administration. Trade agreements not only benefit the economy, but diplomacy and national security.



Monday, April 16, 2018

The Buzz Predicted Ryan Quits

In a Colorado Politics article concerning the Republican loss of the Alabama senate race last December, I speculated “Paul Ryan Quits.”

The election has significant impact for Republicans as the 2018 contests begin. The first casualty of the Alabama result may be Paul Ryan. He sees the election, as do most political observers, as a mirror image of the 63-seat disaster for Democrats in 2010. Ryan does not intend on being the minority leader, defending the ever embattled and seldom grateful Donald Trump.

Although Ryan was never enthusiastic for Trump during the 2016 campaign, he saw the benefit of a unified Republican government. But clearly, the legislative accomplishments of the first year were, but for the tax cuts, far more modest than expected. And even tax reform is not yet producing political benefit.

Ryan’s timing reinforces the gloom the Republican House Majority faces under the leadership of President Trump. It also highlights what was already clear – legislative accomplishments in 2018 are done!

Supporters of Majority Leader McCarthy and Majority Whip Scalise have been maneuvering for weeks in anticipation of Ryan’s decision. Both of them get along better with Trump than Ryan, which is good because if they are in the minority, defending Trump and the administration from investigations will be a full-time job. And, of course, the Democrats will be looking to make their record for the 2020 election.

Speaker Paul Ryan announces he will not run for re-election,
April 11, 2018 | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Friday, April 13, 2018

Kennedy and Stapleton Frontrunners in Early Race

A couple of recent polls show Cary Kennedy, former State Treasurer and Denver chief financial officer, and Walker Stapleton, Bush scion and current State Treasurer, the frontrunners for governor leading their respective parties, with a third or more of voters undecided.

The early polls measure name identification and media covered events. Among the Democrats, Kennedy surged from the pack and caught up to the earlier frontrunner, Congressman Jared Polis, due to winning decisively the party caucus in February and a gaggle of March county conventions.

Assuming Mike Johnston doesn’t just plan to fade away, the race won’t really shake out until political punches are thrown and shots fired at and after the April state convention. Johnston has considerable money for the two-month battle. Nor will Polis give up his chance to be governor without putting up an expensive fight. The alternative is the likely end of his decade-long quest to have political influence equal to his wealth and ambitions.


Stapleton’s campaign’s sudden shift from petitions to convention delegates adds an element of drama to the April 14 state convention (4,200 Republicans assembling in Boulder). But, Stapleton is still the frontrunner for the nomination. His advantage derives from the Republican establishment’s belief that he has the best chance to win the governorship in what will likely be a friendly Democratic year. But, Vic Mitchell with advertisements already up and Doug Robinson on the attack against Stapleton are ready for a high-profile brawl. Although her early campaign was late and weak, some still consider Cynthia Coffman the best statewide candidate. These races will also kick into high gear at the state conventions.

Kelly Gone?

The Buzz asked “Tillerson Gone?” on December 5, 2017. He was fired by a tweet on March 13, 2018. The speculation has now shifted to General John Kelly as it is now clear he has a reduced role in President Trump’s current White House operation.

Trump’s “throw away the script” moment in West Virginia is a part of announcing his new comfort with the job of president after the first year. He’s going now with more gut instincts. The removal of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is a part of the new Trump.

President Trump “tears up the script” to blast Democrats on immigration,
April 5, 2018 | Doug Mills/The New York
The more comfortable Trump is in the job, the less he needs Kelly’s viewpoint or restraint. However, Trump realizes Kelly’s resignation will be seen as a major loss, much greater than Cohen, Tillerson or McMaster – so it must be finessed. Expect Trump to attempt to choreograph a removal that tamps down the criticism as much as possible.


Also see: The Buzz: Tillerson Out

Denver Press Club Hosts Panel on Trauma of 1968 – Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Assassinated April 4, 1968

The Denver Press Club hosts a presentation and panel on the turmoil and trauma of 1968 on the year’s 50th anniversary. One of the most shocking events was the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lorraine Motel, April 4, 1968
Photo: afrikanblackcoalition.org

On April 4, King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee at about 6:00 pm in front of his fellow civil rights colleagues, Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson and Andy Young. King’s death sparked days of riots in more than 100 American cities and helped spur the last significant civil rights legislation, the Fair Housing Act, signed by President Johnson on April 11, 1968.

See my blog of Dr. King’s final speech here.

1968: A Year of Turmoil and Transition
Denver Press Club
1330 Glenarm Place
Tuesday, May 8
Social Hour – 5:30 pm
Panel and presentation – 6:30 pm

9News: Will Unaffiliated Voters Affect the Governor’s Race?

Brandon Rittiman of 9KUSA and I did an interview and analysis of the potential impact of unaffiliated voters on the 2018 governor’s primary on June 26.

One Republican candidate, Vic Mitchell, already has an advertisement on air that points out his lack of name identity and extols it as reflecting his “non-politician” status in the race. It is an effort to appeal to Republican partisans who would like a political outsider as their nominee, but also be attractive to the thousands of unaffiliated voters who will be encouraged to participate in the primary for the first time in history.
Vic Mitchell TV ad | YouTube screen grab

Every active unaffiliated voter will receive the ballot of both parties and can vote their preference (only one party vote allowed).

Out of the 1.2 million unaffiliated voters, it’s not known how many may vote and for which party. Polling and some experience with midterm elections suggests the following assumptions:

  • Turnout for partisans in this primary should be higher because of the competitiveness in both parties and the money being spent to encourage support for particular candidates.
  • Unaffiliated voters, who tend to vote at lower rates in general elections than partisans, will be solicited by many campaigns and have the convenience of a mail-back ballot. Voting will also have a “first time” novelty value and publicity.
  • If a third of unaffiliated voters participated (about 40% to 50% of partisans are expected), they would vote about 2-to-1 in the Democratic primary vs. the Republican primary. In rough numbers, if 300,000 unaffiliated voters were motivated to vote, about 200,000 would vote in the Democratic primary and 100,000 in the Republican.
  • At present, about a third of partisans say they are still undecided. That percentage would be higher among unaffiliated voters. Hence, for many unaffiliated voters there is a dual challenge for candidates to get them to vote at all and then for the candidate.
  • Like partisans, they are divided among liberals (a growing group in Colorado), moderates (the largest group) and conservatives.
  • Unaffiliated voters have particular barriers to politics. They don’t participate in party activities, don’t receive or pay attention to partisan communications, and often don’t even like the parties. Their lack of participation can reflect a view that politics is not that important or it’s a corrupt and corrupting business. Also, in general, they don’t know the candidates or nominating system.

Both parties are going to target unaffiliated voters. Democrats may have the most incentive because recent growth in the state has leaned toward the liberal side and registered unaffiliated. The outside-type candidates will be especially active, such as Vic Mitchell and Jared Polis (who already represents many unaffiliated voters in Boulder, Larimer and Jefferson counties).