Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Cheneys Take on Trump

Democrats will always dislike, if not revile, Dick Cheney for the Iraq War and associated activities. But at least at the moment, Dick and his daughter Liz are two of Donald Trump’s most visible and aggressive opponents in what is his final ruinous end.

The senior Cheney orchestrated an opinion column in the Washington Post with nine of his fellow Secretaries of Defense – both serving Democratic and Republican presidents – rebuking Trump’s obstruction of the transition of power, eschewing military involvement in the disputes and accepting the election results.

“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.” (Jan. 3, 2021)

Liz Cheney, the day before the impeachment vote, provided the go-to quote in the House debate indicting Trump’s behavior before and during the riot.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” (Jan. 12, 2021)

Dick Cheney is an icon of the Republican Party, who is very popular in Colorado (he won the Citizen of the West award in 1993. His wife Lynne won it in 2011). He’s retired and will likely suffer no repercussions. But Liz is an ambitious politician who currently is third in the House minority leadership, and is receiving considerable criticism from Trump acolytes and, of course, Trump himself. (At the January 6 rally he said: “We got to get rid of the weak congress people, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world.”)

What is the Cheneys’ motivation?

Of course, Trump has disparaged establishment Republicans for years and vociferously criticized the Iraq War, a Cheney project. But the current payback is likely accompanied by a political strategy. Are they betting that once Trump is out of office it will create a party vacuum? Are they creating a platform for moderate Republicans post Trump? Is Liz Cheney positioning to be a hero with party members who want to move beyond Trump? Does her father’s involvement say to establishment Republicans that there’s political life after Trump? This story is just starting to be written.

Read Liz Cheney’s full statement here

Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz on
Fox News in 2015 | Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Military Leadership United for Transition and “In Defense of the Constitution”

American military leadership has united in support of the transition of power and defense of the rule of law and the Constitution. In an extraordinary public display, all former living Secretaries of Defense and the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have strongly reproached the obstruction of the transition of power. They uniformly accepted the election results and rejected any role for the military in election disputes.

The statements are a clear rebuke of President Trump’s rhetoric and behavior. One of President Trump’s unintended legacies is that he united important elements of the establishment, including the military, to intensify the defense of the rule of law and democracy.

Message from Joint Chiefs:

"We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.

On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dec. 2020

Read: Are You Impressed We are Depending on Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to Support and Defend American Democracy?

Transition Starts With Election Defeat, Ends With Impeachment

Donald Trump has managed to transition an election defeat into an impeachment by the House of Representatives, with support from a majority of the public and ten House Republicans. The President always likes superlatives, and this transition has been an extraordinary disaster, or as he would say, “the greatest of all time.”

Of course, the insurrection on January 6 and Trump’s involvement in it was the watershed event that hit Congress and the American people like Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Also, Trump’s contribution to the loss of the Senate on the January 5 Georgia election has Republican leadership and rank and file beginning to question their lockstep partnership with him.

Boebert on Front Page of Denver Post, Again

Lauren Boebert, Colorado congressperson since January 3, is now a regular on the Denver Post front page.

Justin Wingerter recounts her first week in Congress as bringing the gun culture to the Capitol; defending Donald Trump; being given a prime speaking position by the House Republicans to attack the election results in Arizona; and strongly identifying with January 6 protesters, if not the actual violence. Wingerter ended his article with a post from the Crossley Center blog written on January 7, 2021:

“Although her mentor and touchstone will be leaving office, if not politics, on Jan. 20, she’s likely to maintain outsized and highly controversial influence due to her media talent for drama and conflict, and the needs of conservative media, especially online, to generate fresh copy for their audience,” Floyd Ciruli, an independent pollster and University of Denver professor, wrote recently. “It remains to be seen if her position is the future or a dead end in the Republican Party.”

The challenge for Colorado Republicans is that her views, tone and behavior could become the party brand. Party Chair Congressperson Ken Buck has tried to tamp it down. Good luck.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (center), smiles after joining other freshman Republican
House members for a group photo at the Capitol in Washington,
Jan. 4, 2021 Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Riot Watershed Event, Trump Damaged

As described in the blog post, “The Transition Nightmare” (1-8-21), President Trump is losing Republican leadership support due to his behavior before and after the January 6 attack on the Capitol and his failure to help the party hold its two Georgia senate seats.

Not surprising, due to the nonstop media coverage, the early polling shows Trump is losing support with the public in general. He is being blamed for the riot and its harm (63%). A majority of the public support his leaving office now (57%) (even if unlikely given only 9 days to the end of his term). Only 13 percent of Republicans support removal, but 30 percent believe he shares blame for the event. His job approval dropped to 38 percent, 5 points below the 43 percent average he retained since the election, and the Republican Party is losing identifiers, likely due to the drumbeat of criticism for the transition, reinforced by criticism from editorial pages, retired military leaders and business CEOs.

Rioters scale walls and rush doors of the
White House, Jan. 6, 2021 | Photo: Kare 11

Biden has Opportunity to Rebuild German-American Alliance

Since the start of the Trump administration, German and American public opinion concerning the relationship between the two countries has diverged dramatically, creating a challenge, but also an opportunity for President-elect Joe Biden to improve the relationship. Pew Research reports Germans overwhelmingly believe the relationship is bad (79%; 12% very and 67% somewhat) whereas Americans tend to believe that as they did in 2017 the relationship is mostly good (74%; 19% very and 55% somewhat). The American view has not varied, but German public opinion dropped dramatically as President Trump strongly criticized the European Union, the U.S.’s traditional allies, and specifically Germany and its chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Pew cites Germans’ poor regard for President Trump and the country’s handling of the coronavirus. Also in a series of other questions, there were 9 significant divergences between the U.S.’s public view concerning the efficacy of the partnership between Germany and the U.S. For example, only 12 percent of Germans saw the U.S. as a partner for “protecting the environment,” 35 percent on “promoting free trade,” 28 percent on “dealing with China,” and 38 percent as a partner for “protecting democracy and human rights around the world.”

Reinforcing Biden’s challenge, a Gallup Poll reports in a 29-nation survey of December 2020, the poor regard of the U.S. leadership is shared among other top allies, including France and the UK. Fortunately for Biden, China’s image in 2020 has also dropped from a modest median of 22 percent approval in 2019 to a new low of 17 percent in 2020. The U.S. median job performance is 18 percent. In contrast, Germany’s approval rating among the group of countries is 62 percent.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Colorado Swears In Two Dramatically Different Congresspersons

Colorado just elected two new members of Congress who represent dramatically different political career paths and positions on the issues that overshadow the riotous start of the 117th U.S. Congress.

John Hickenlooper, replacing Cory Gardner, began his political career in 2003 as the mayor of Denver, served two terms as governor and ran for president in 2019, dropping out before the primary to begin his successful senate campaign. Although he fashions himself as a businessman first and an amateur politician, he’s obviously good at politics and now has 17 years of experience in office or running. Hickenlooper has a national profile as a slightly offbeat moderate willing to hold the middle ground of the Democratic Party, a good position for helping Joe Biden and possibly making a contribution to legislative progress in 2021.

Lauren Boebert, the new congressperson from Colorado’s sprawling Western Slope district, is beginning her term only one year after starting her political career. She launched a primary campaign against the incumbent Republican in late 2019 and has held no political office prior to her announcement. Boebert truly is an amateur, but is deeply entrenched in the Donald Trump, Freedom Party, Second Amendment, Stop the Steal wing of the Republican Party’s base. Although her mentor and touchstone will be leaving office, if not politics, on January 20, she’s likely to maintain outsized and high controversial influence due to her media talent for drama and conflict and the needs of conservative media, especially online to generate fresh copy for their audience. It remains to be seen if her position is the future or a dead end in the Republican Party.

Hickenlooper, since his swearing-in, criticized the election challenges and voted against them (only 6 senators supported the Arizona challenge and 7 Pennsylvania). Boebert praised the President, repeated the claims of a rigged election and voted for the challenges (with 121 for Arizona and 138 for Pennsylvania). 

John Hickenlooper (L) is sworn in as U.S. Senator for
Colorado by VP Mike Pence, Jan. 3, 2021 | KREX photo

Lauren Boebert (CO-03) after being sworn in as a
Member of the 117th Congress, Jan. 3, 2021 | KREX

Are You Impressed We are Depending on Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to Support and Defend American Democracy?

All the former living U.S. secretaries of defense have called the election over and “the time for questioning the results has passed.”

Sources describe it was Dick Cheney who originated the idea for the statement.

“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted,” the former defense secretaries wrote. “The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”

Former VP Dick Cheney (L) and former Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld attend a commissioning ceremony on board the USS Gerald R.
Ford CVN 78, July 22, 2017 | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Pelosi Wins Again

Congratulations to Nancy Pelosi who was just reelected Speaker of the House. A mere six votes (216 Pelosi to 2019 for Kevin McCarthy) secured her fourth speakership since Democrats first won the House in this century, 2006. She is beginning her 17th and likely last term in Congress and will be most remembered as the critical manager of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

See blogs:

Pelosi: Stay or Go?

Pelosi is Out - Maybe

Ed Perlmutter: Drain the House Swamp

Waxman, Miller – Next, Pelosi?

Pelosi Finally Goes Home?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi waves a gavel during the first session
of the 117th Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol
in Washington, DC, U.S., Jan. 3, 2021 | Tasos Katapodis/Reuters

COVID-19 Should Top Biden’s Agenda

As 2021 starts, 44 percent of the public tell USA Today that COVID-19 should be Joe Biden’s primary focus, with creating and preserving jobs a distant second (26%).

Public opinion is being surrounded by news of the tragic deaths of more than 360,000 fellow citizens as America continues to outpace other nations in victims. Since November 15, as President Trump focused on his election protest, nearly 100,000 people have died. The current pace of more than 15,000 victims a week is higher than the peak last April. Although a vaccine is becoming available, many more will become infected and more deaths are expected. 

Read: Trump Approval Drops in Contentious Election Fight

The Transition Nightmare

The Denver Post headline was typical of the nation’s print media: “Trump – incited mob storms U.S. Capitol.”

After four years of challenges to the rules of American democracy, Donald Trump finally crossed a line as an angry mob he helped assemble and incited breached the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt the Congress’ formal counting of the Electoral College votes.

It was a day of clarity for the Republican Party, who finally recognized the political consequences of Trump’s behavior long after the moral effects had been obvious. In the strongest break from Trump since the election, Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell forcefully condemned the violence and insisted the certification continue and Lindsay Graham declared, “enough is enough,” “the election is over” and Joe Biden’s the president. Of course, it took Mitt Romney to describe the day fully: “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the President of the United States.”

An even more direct blow to the Republican Party was the twin wins for Democrats in the Georgia senate race declared late Tuesday and early Wednesday. McConnell and the party are now in the minority and most observers believe the loss is the responsibility of Trump’s months-long attack of the transition of power. As Trump began his term, Republicans controlled all three branches of government and now they have none.

Trump grudgingly admitted defeat early Thursday and pledged an “orderly transition.” He added his usual overstatement: “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” (via Dan Scavino on Trump’s Twitter, one of the last aides available). This event will encapsulate his term not as the greatest, but as one of the most damaging.