Seal of the U.S. President

I watched the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday Night. The Keynoter was Ron Chernow who has won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. His biography of Alexander Hamilton inspired a musical that revolutionized Broadway. He was serious, witty, and intelligent. In other words, he was everything that Donald Trump is incapable of being. 

While watching, I thought of the field of Democratic Presidential Candidate Hopefuls, and it occurred to me that my choice is going to come down to two factors:

  • How “Presidential” is each hopeful likely to be? What characteristics do they possess that makes them a proper fit for the White House.
  • How able will the hopeful be in defeating the current, and completely unworthy, holder of the Oval Office.

I am a student of the American Presidency. I taught courses on it as a university professor for for 34 years. Among my favorite scholars are Brinkely, Kearns. Meacham, Dallek, and Schlesinger.

SO……who am I looking for to raise their right hand and say these words: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

History suggest that five qualities have been constants of those who have most effectively fulfilled the oath of office.

First, every successful president has been a person of intelligence, vision, insight, and understanding with a strong work ethic and a commitment to learning more every day. As a result of this the best holders of the office had a clear idea of where they wished to lead the nation in its quest for a better future. A clear and comprehensible grand design has been central to every significant presidential advance.

Second, the most successful of our chiefs have also been great realists or pragmatists — politicians who understood that politics was the art of the possible or that the road to proficient leadership was through a sensible opportunism or flexible response to changing conditions at home and abroad. Accompanying this is the necessity that the President KNOW the government…how it is supposed to work and how it actually does. They must be students of history, of politics, of social development and the economy.

Third, presidential gains have depended on the consent of the governed: presidents without a national consensus for major policies touching people’s everyday lives are politicians courting defeat. Presidents who cannot build a consensus and play to “their constituents” tend to be remembered as divisive rather than unifying.

Fourth, the best of our presidents have always recognized that leadership required a personal connection between the president and the people, or that the power of the Oval Office rests to a great degree on the affection of the country for its chief. From Washington to Lincoln to the two Roosevelts and, most recently, Reagan, and Obama the force of presidential personality has been a major factor in determining a president’s fate. Again, for that appeal to work it is necessary that the connection be across the board and represent a connection to the diverse demographics of the nation.

And fifth, a corollary to conditions three and four, presidents need credibility — presidents who are unable to earn the trust of their countrymen are governors who cannot govern and lead.


Oval Office

Here is a list from presidential scholars assembled by the Wall Street Journal if you want to see who they regard as faithful to lists like the one above

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LizzeeeOpie CatAdLibMurphTheSurf3TOCB Recent comment authors
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I like how you choose. I do pay attention issues, but we can’t see the future. I want someone, that is presidential, who won’t insult my intelligence. I want them to make a positive impression with our allies. Pragmatism, makes the world go ’round, because most things are not black and white. I want someone who is more passionate about the state of the average American than they are their friends and cronies. I want someone that will value in the truth. Someone who is driven to make America better, not driven to remove existing civil rights. It may sound odd, but a solid sense of humor denotes intelligence. No bullies. No childish what bouters, no whiners, no more Trump.


Murph, I think the five qualities you list for our next president are very solid.

The upside is that I think most of the Democrats who have the best chance of winning the nomination are capable of touching most if not all of the bases.

As to each of the qualities you list:

1. The Dem field is brimming with brilliant people. Some like Warren have shared a very detailed vision of where they would take the country and how and others are building on central issues to encompass much more.

2. Pragmatism is important but optimism can go a long way too. Candidates can have long term visions and see themselves as bring the country a step along that way, we need that kind of big thinking too. I remember when the majority opinion towards Obama was that the ACA was a great vision but unlikely to happen. Even his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, tried to convince him after they lost the Senate supermajority, to give up on it. He accomplished its passage despite the pragmatic voices that said it couldn’t happen. While there are grander aspirations like Medicare For All that would probably take multiple presidencies to come to fruition, taking a step towards that, like having it as a public option, would reflect both pragmatism and optimism.

3. It sure seems like the choice in 2020 will be between division and unity. I can’t see any Dem not running on the theme of bringing the country together. Meanwhile Trump will be screaming about invasions of brown people raping and killing white people. That choice should be very straightforward.

4. Even the most detestable presidents, like Trump and Nixon, had a strong personal connection with their voters. I think this is kind of a built in thing for anyone who wins the presidency. In order to attract strong support from the people, there already has to be a personal connection. If not, you have a much less enthusiastic voting base and depressed turnout…which would likely deny that person the presidency. So whoever wins the Dem primary will have already demonstrated that kind of connection with voters.

5.Here too, the contrast couldn’t be clearer. Trust is not something Trump is even acquainted with. The Dem in 2020 will no doubt run on the contrast between Trump’s lies and untrustworthiness with their commitment to being forthright and trustworthy. This is an argument that Trump can’t win.

And as the old saying goes, the best leaders follow the lead of the people.

What is surprising is how the Republicans have now abandoned even the pretense of reflecting any of these traits in their party and leadership. So it will be a pretty stark difference for voters in 2020.

I know that the rabid Trump voters are beyond reasoning, they are as devoid of ethics as their leader and won’t be looking to support such values over the validation of their prejudices.

But as polls continue to show, I think a majority of Americans want the Trump nightmare to be over and will be supporting a Dem candidate to return wisdom, honesty, compassion and respect to the Oval Office.


The Main Stream Media Is Misrepresenting The Mueller Report

Not only has Bill Barr misrepresented The Mueller Report, but so has the main stream media and many politicians on both sides of the isle.

In Barr’s non-summary that he says wasn’t a summary, he said that the Mueller Report concluded that there was no “collusion” on the part of Trump or his campaign, so Barr gave the impression that Mueller completely exonerated Trump and his campaign on that. Barr also said that although Mueller did not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice, he also did not charge him on that, so Barr took the liberty of exonerating Trump on that charge himself.

When one actually reads The Mueller Report, it has a completely different tone on “collusion/coordination/conspiracy” as well as on obstruction. It is clear that Mueller thought Trump committed obstruction of justice, as he set out ten cases where he did. However, he also clearly left it up to Congress to act on that, due to the DOJ policy of not indicting a sitting president.

In the case of “collusion/coordination/conspiracy”, the report clearly documents evidence of coordination between Russians and Trump’s campaign. In fact, many of this evidence had already been report by news outlets that Trump called “fake news”. It appears Mueller gave Trump and his campaign the benefit of doubt on the conspiracy charge, because he thought they may have been too ignorant to realize what they were doing. I take issue with this assessment by Mueller, as Trump and his team were very arrogant about some of the things they did, and indeed they openly bragged about them.

From Trump openly requesting Russia to find Hillary’s emails to Don Jr., Ivanka and Papadopoulos discussing getting dirt on Hillary Clinton with Russians to the controlled release of emails by WikiLeakes to Flynn talking about sanctions with the Russian government to Trump lying about activity around the Moscow Tower, to Manafort giving internal polling data of battleground states to Russian intelligence. That is a lot of ignorance to overlook.

However, if you listen to the main stream media, whether it is Fox “News” or MSNBC, they always begin their discussions about the Mueller Report with a statement that Mueller cleared Trump and his campaign of “collusion”.

What Barr did related to the Mueller Report is lie about it and commit perjury in an attempt to cover up Trump’s actions from the public. What the main stream media is doing at best is misrepresenting the report relative to “collusion/coordination/conspiracy”


TOCB, in addition, Mueller makes very clear that “collusion” isn’t a thing that he was investigating. There is no crime called “collusion”, it’s just a non-criminal term the Trump and his cronies have been programming into the heads of the public and press for years to have a straw man they could knock down then claim victory.

There is conspiracy though, a very difficult to prove charge that is a crime and requires proof that two parties coordinated a crime together. What Mueller appears to be saying in his report is that he didn’t have sufficient evidence or smoking guns to prove that Trump’s campaign explicitly conspired with Russia but he does state that Trump welcomed the criminal interference of Russia to harm the election and push it towards Trump.

Meanwhile, Barr lied massively in his letter and press conference when he declared that Mueller had found “no collusion”. A flat out lie, Mueller absolutely detailed collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, he just didn’t have proof of coordination.

Indeed, Barr blatantly perjured himself in front of Congress and is plainly acting as Trump’s personal lawyer to oversee this coverup of the Mueller report.

But I don’t think it is working. Yes, it’s supporting the Repub/Fox propagandists by giving them their talking points and Trump’s cult members are parroting it in social media but dropping polls are reflecting that the public is smarter than Trump’s lying minions.

And it’s only pushing impeachment closer to happening which Trump may think will energize and help him but he’s not Clinton, he’s Nixon and impeachment will only drag him down to destruction.

Opie Cat
Opie Cat

Good to see you here TOCB – opie here as Opie CAt
IMO we should impeach Barr to get the ball rolling.