Why Trump won the debate: Hard lessons learned from history

September 26, 2016

WHY TRUMP WON THE DEBATE? (Click 2 minute link below.)


1960: The Kennedy – Nixon debate

Okay, the crib notes say Nixon won on the radio and Kennedy won on television. But did you know that Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s own running mate, made that observation?

Lesson learned? You gotta look good for television.

Even beyond presidential politics the socio-cultural fallout from this debate continues today. Not just for presidential contenders. For everybody.

Kennedy had a tan, which looked healthy, even though ironically he was sick with Addison’s disease, so a whole generation wore a healthy tan. Not just movie stars but ordinary citizens. It has made skin cancer an epidemic among today’s senior citizens who saw that debate in 1960 and never forgot it.

To this day, every face on television is touched up by a makeup artist and Richard Nixon and John Kennedy are staring back through the mirror saying, “Yes, yes, you know what you’re going to say but just remember this is TV and you gotta look good too.”

1076: The Ford – Carter Debate

So Gerald Ford said that Poland was not in the Soviet sphere of influence. Why? Because he didn’t know what any 10 year old school boy knew?  He forgot Yalta? Was this an Aleppo moment?

No, I had the privilege of entertaining Gerald Ford in my home on two occasions and asked him about the big issues of his presidency. This happened because he had met with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1974 at Vladivostok and he was wanting to send the signal that we still did not recognize Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe.

Lesson learned? You’ve got to remember your audience.

In this case, for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the audience is not the Russians, it is not the faithful, it is not Wall Street, it is not big donors, it is not the media, it is the 3 million undecided voters who live in seven toss-up states. That is the audience.

1984: The Reagan – Mondale debate

Reagan had famously fumbled in the previous debate. Everyone was wondering if he was young and fit enough to continue as president. Reagan was asked the age question and he hit the ball out of the park. He knew it was coming. It was a fast ball right down the middle and over the plate.

Lesson learned? The fast balls, the hard questions, are the easiest. You have lived with them for weeks, your subconscious is working on them while you sleep. It is the change up, the easy questions, which will strike you out.

Michael Dukakis learned that in the presidential debates of 1988 when he was asked what he would do if his wife were raped and murdered. He gave an academic answer to a personal question which fell flat.

In 1979, Ted Kennedy finally allowed an interview in anticipation of a presidential run. He selected his close friend Roger Mudd, as the trusted journalist who could do the job.

Mudd asked a simple question, “Why do you want to be president?” Kennedy muffed it.

The easy questions will kill you. That’s why these folk have to practice.

George W. Bush – Al Gore:  2000

Well, there were no rules back then about where you had to stand during the debate so Al Gore walked over toward George W. Bush and invaded his space, even while Bush was talking.

Obviously, Gore’s team had gotten word that George W. was a hot head and invading his space might rattle him and provoke a reaction. Instead, Gore looked like a nerd from science class wanting to start a fight he obviously couldn’t win. George W. just nodded disdainfully and Gore sheepishly wilted away.

Lesson learned? Don’t underestimate your opponent. There is a reason they won the nomination. Expect them to do what you would do and be ready for it.

Let me tell you something interesting, long before he got involved in politics himself, before he owned the Rangers, George W. was in debates. In 1987, Roger Ailes set up practice for Bush, Sr. I was one of the shills. To get us prepared to debate the candidate, we did practice debates for hours and days with George W. Bush. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of political common sense.

Once in 1998 I called then Governor W. Bush on the phone. I said, “Governor, you were lampooned last night on Saturday Night Live and they made you look really, really dumb.”

There was a long pause. Then George W. Bush finally said, “Good.”

Don’t underestimate your opponent.


Elizabeth Warren will replace Hillary Clinton

September 14, 2016

“He who refuses to rule is destined to be ruled by someone worse than himself” – Plato

Okay, it ain’t gonna happen, I know, but shame on Senator Elizabeth  Warren and shame on the New York Times for doing this to America and bringing such ruin to our country. There is no question that if Senator Elizabeth Warren had run for office, she would have easily won the Democratic nomination and the presidency.

We know that now.

Some of us knew that 19 months ago. I said as much on national television, saying that the real battle for the White House was being played out at that very moment in secret luncheons across Manhattan where big corporate tycoons – who are raking in massive amounts of money under the current system – were quietly meeting with the Warren people extending the carrot and the stick to keep her out so Hillary Clinton could win. And they were doing the same, with more subtlety, to Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, I am not a socialist. I would not have enjoyed a Warren presidency. Or a Bernie Sanders presidency.  I am for Donald Trump. I believe his rascally, outrageous unpredictability will disrupt the oligarchy and irritate the people making money in this country. But as someone not involved in the  Democratic Party, I can see a miscarriage of justice when I see one, and as a human being it sickens me to see a bully at work.

In this case, I can also see the cowardice of an otherwise good person, like Warren, with different ideas than my own, who refused to stand up to corruption. (If anyone still doubts the reality of the quid pro quo for money donated to the Clinton Foundation, take a look at this story.)

Just imagine what Warren’s grandchildren will tell the new ones coming into the family. “Your grandmother could have very easily been the president of the United States, you know? She just got bluffed out of it. But don’t say anything about it to her, it just makes her cranky.”

Again, I’m not a Democrat. Nor a socialist. I shouldn’t care. But as a human being, it is sickening to watch.

What skeletons in the closet did the Clinton people dangle? They couldn’t have been any worse than Hillary’s own. What promises did they make? What boasts of money and power did they reveal?

Shame on Elizabeth Warren. You cannot hide. It is so obvious, that even conservative Republicans on the other side of the political spectrum can see what you have done.

Here is a simplistic review of where we are. After 9-11 America radically changed. Our war in Iraq made an elite very, very wealthy and since George W. Bush decided it was in his political interest not to raise the taxes to pay for it the bankers and financiers made a fortune too.  We have always had corruption in this country, but under GWB it became the new Gold Rush.

Then came Barack Obama. Remember those Stimulus Bills that no one read? Well, now we are reading them. Some corporations were exempted from environmental regulations that others had to keep. A massive number of companies that started making money under Bill Clinton, then George W. Bush, got even more direct government welfare. TIME reported that corporate welfare now outpaced welfare for the poor. Free Enterprise was dead. Now success in business depended on connections. New monopolies were created.

Under Barack Obama, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer at a staggering rate.

The Federal Reserve not only doled out money to banks, including foreign banks, it doled it out to some chosen companies, all in the name of creating jobs. Thus McDonald’s got $203 million “to create jobs.” That’s seven dollars an hour jobs. Meanwhile, your neighborhood hamburger joint, run by that family down the street, had to pay taxes to subsidize their competition.

Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt presidential candidate in American history. James Blaine, who comes in a distant second, took in $115,000 for a Federal Land grant. He asked one of his correspondents to “burn this letter.”  It is a far cry from smashing cell phones with hammers and erasing 33,000 emails, and collecting $3 billion in donations to the Clinton Foundation but it’s the only example that even comes close.

So keep smiling Elizabeth Warren. Keep cheering your nominee. Act like everything is okay.  You’ve come this far, you might as well get your cabinet appointment. But we all know what you have done to America. And the New York Times and all the tycoons on Wall Street will not protect you when the gears of history grind the facts of this election cycle. Shame, shame, shame.






What if Hillary is forced to drop out?

September 12, 2016



First, before I get started, let me say that this is not to question Hillary Clinton or her campaign. Don’t put me in the vile category of Matt Lauer who was taken to task by the New York Times for daring to ask her questions during a recent NBC forum.

And please don’t include me in “the deplorables” that Mrs. Clinton defines as racists, homophobes, Islamaphobes who support Trump. My circle of family and friends include all of the targeted groups she mentioned.

Clinton, who is the 2016 Democratic nominee for president has not actually had a press conference in 2016. And I completely understand why the New York Times wants her to be protected from prying questions. It now turns out that she has been ill for weeks.

This probably comes as no surprise to the long lines of well wishers she has been coughing over at events across America. There must be a trail of pneumonia a thousand miles long.

No, no, Hillary Clinton does not have neurological issues. Notwithstanding the concussion and the blood clot on the brain, this is not about any of that. This is just pneumonia. As Donald Trump would say, “Believe me.”  She just has highly contagious pneumonia. No neurological issues. It would be highly inappropriate to pry about that.

And to prove that point her campaign had her appear outside of Chelsea’s apartment and smile and wave to the media, who stood back to give her room to cough, and arranged for her to hug a little girl and get her picture taken. Apparently Hillary’s highly contagious pneumonia is not relevant for the little girl , after all, a photo op is a photo op.

A few nights before people paid $34,000 a piece to contract pneumonia. This little girl got it free.

But just for the record. Just to know. Just for fun. What would happen if Hillary Clinton’s health forced her to drop out of the presidential race?

Again, keep in mind, it’s not gonna happen. But let’s say for another candidate, one less protected by the New York Times and the 1% an ordinary, non Clinton candidate in the same situation.

FDR had polio and got elected. John F. Kennedy carried colitis, prostatitis and Addison’s disease into the White House with him. He was drugged throughout much of his presidency and suffered side affects such as depression. Of course, the voters didn’t know about all of this at the time.

Presidents and presidential candidates get sick like the rest of us. They even get pneumonia. President Eisenhower had heart attacks during his second term in office. In 1973, President Richard Nixon was hospitalized for pneumonia. When he was released he made such a subtle joke that the media missed it. Said Nixon, “The doctors tell me I feel fine.”

But okay, okay, if it were to happen, if you insist, let me tell you what we know about who would take her place.

In 1973, Senator George McGovern won the Democratic Nomination at the Convention in Miami. He chose Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri as his running mate.

Two weeks later it was learned that Eagleton had neurological issues. He did not have a blood clot on the brain like Hillary Clinton but he had suffered depression and was hospitalized and experienced electroshock therapy.

McGovern said I am 1,000 percent behind Eagleton. But there was such an animated discussion in the medical community that Eagleton was forced to resign from the ticket. McGovern chose Ambassador Sargent Shriver to replace him and the Democratic National Committee agreed.

Keep in mind. Technically, if Hillary withdraws, the Democratic National Committee will select her replacement. The Chairman of the DNC is that very angry, brooding presence on ABC television, Donna Brazile. But the delegates themselves are overwhelmingly Clinton, handpicked folks who will do as she directs.

What forced Eagleton from the ticket was the drumbeat in the medical community. It became a cacophony that the media could not ignore.

In this case, it is hard to imagine that the media and corporate elites who want Hillary are going to let pneumonia be a disqualifier. If raising $3 billion for quid pro quo selling of power and access is acceptable, then they will find the doctors to say what is needed to say to defend Hillary.

In the first debate, with all eyes on her health, Hillary Clinton will get that fast ball right down the middle of the plate and like Ronald Reagan, who was asked about his age, and knew the question was coming, she should be able to hit the ball out of the park.

“I will not make health an issue of this campaign,” she will say, “I will not exploit for political purposes my opponent’s irrational and unstable comments.”




The GOP and Trump: What History Shows

August 15, 2016

The GOP and Trump: What history shows?



“You give loyalty, you get it back.” – Tommy Lasorda

History shows that the Republican leaders who support Trump now, even if he loses the election, will see their personal careers skyrocket. There will be a bright future for Rudolph Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence and George P. Bush.

Consider the awesome winds of history.

In 1924, the Democrats had a candidate who was popular and passionate to the party faithful but not to the general public. He was Al Smith, the governor of New York and he was a Catholic.

For many generations there was widespread antipathy in the nation toward Catholicism. The “Know Nothings” were essentially elected to the House of Representatives as “anti-Catholic” congressmen.  At one point there were 54 of them in congress.

One wise young politician, used Smith as his ticket back into public life. He nominated Smith for president in a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention in New York City in 1924. Smith lost his bid for the nomination but ran again in 1928.

Once again, the young politician gave the nomination speech and this time, Al Smith was chosen. But sensing that he would lose the general election, party leaders, especially across the South, abandoned their own Democratic Party nominee and Smith went down to defeat.

And what happened to the young politician who stood by him all the way?

Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the 32nd president of the United States.

Fast-forward to the Cow Palace in San Francisco and the Republican National Convention in 1964. Arizona Senator, Barry Goldwater is winning the nomination. But moderate Republicans are aghast.

Pennsylvania Governor, Bill Scranton, leads the “Never Goldwater” movement. Nelson Rockefeller is booed on the floor of the convention. The GOP goes with Goldwater anyway and he goes down in defeat in the general election.

While many establishment politicians sit out the fray and bid their time, not wanting to be associated with such a disaster, two others jump right in. One is a cynical, well-traveled, experienced party insider. He is a moderate but he nevertheless remains loyal to the party and works hard for Goldwater and Republican candidates across the country.

The other was a political wannabe, who seemed to be ending his career before it even started. He agrees with Goldwater and isn’t afraid to jump into a burning building.

Four years later, the experienced politician, who stayed loyal to the GOP, Richard Nixon, was elected president of the United States.

And 24 years later, the political wannabe, Ronald Reagan, became the 40th president, restored the economy, ended the Cold War and saved the world from nuclear annihilation.

History rewards loyalty.

What FOX NEWS is missing

August 13, 2016

Well, I am so sick that I finally turned off the TV.

One FOX host after another has asked the same question of his guest, what did Gilbert Chaugery get in return for his donation to the Clinton Foundation? The recently released emails show that there was correspondence between the Nigerian billionaire and the Clinton top people.  And each guest offers some inane comment about what might have happened.

Yesterday, even Peter Schweitzer couldn’t remember an answer to the question.


BUT STEVE DOOCY AND BRIAN KILMEADE ARE SITTING ON TOP OF THE STORY. As you can see for yourself in the video below.
Here’s the answer. Gilbert Chaugery gave $1.5 million to the Foundation and even more to Bill’s earlier presidential campaign. In return, Hillary Clinton refused pressure from the White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, FBI, Justice Department, to name the Boko Haram of Nigeria as a terrorist organization.
It would have spelled disaster for Mr. Chaugery and his magnificent Nigerian hotels that depend on tourism, travel from NGO’s and diplomats. HE OWNS THE BIGGEST, MOST MAGNIFICENT HOTELS IN NIGERIA.
Here is CNN reporting the story. Showing that even Barack Obama wanted them declared as terrorists.
And on Newsmax.
Here is my report on the scandal last January.
Now, will someone please correct the narrative unfolding on TV?
What did Gilbert get for his money? More money right back at him. He got TOURISTS FOR HIS HOTELS. Just connect the dots.
BTW, Hillary Clinton never declared the Boko Haram as terrorists. It finally took a new Secretary of State, John Kerry, to do that. She stayed true to the end. (One thing about those Lanisters. They always pay their debts.)

First Man: Bill Clinton in Hillary’s White House.

August 3, 2016

There have been married women heads of state, whose male spouses walked a step behind. And there was even once a president-dictator in Argentina, whose wife was more popular than he. India saw a daughter of a prime minister rise to power. But there has never been anything quite like Bill Clinton. There has never been a man who ran the most powerful nation on earth, whose wife, only a few years later, did the same thing, with him, still living, standing at her side.

As in the case of the election of Barack Obama, the first African American president, to understand what it means to have Bill Clinton as First Man, one has to go outside of presidential history, even outside of American history, to find adequate comparisons.

What will his duties be? What laws will bind him? What ethical limits will restrain him?

There are questions about his finances. The Clinton Foundation has amassed a multibillion dollar war chest. The money can be passed onto other charities and be used to do good things but it can also be spent on administration and travel and Clinton centric programs. For example, it can be used to hire family and friends and allies.

There are stories that during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, major donors benefited from policy decisions. Gilbert Chougary, a Nigerian billionaire who owned luxurious hotel properties in that country, gave $1.5 million to the Clinton Foundation.  And during her entire tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton refused to name the Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. Urging from the Pentagon, the CIA and the White House went on deaf ears. Even Al Qaeda condemned the Boko Haram. But it took a new secretary of state, John Kerry, to finally call them terrorists. Would American policies be for sale in a Clinton White House? And would Bill Clinton be the worldwide salesman?

First Ladies give speeches and accept donations to favorite charities in return. Would that apply to First Man? Will Bill Clinton be able to continue his lucrative speaking career? Will he speak for a company that donates heavily to his Presidential Library or to his Foundation?

Can he write a book? Other First Ladies have done so, why not a First Man? And how much of a cash advance can a friendly publishing company, owned by a friendly Wall Street conglomerate, wanting and needing government favors, legitimately offer him?

Then there are the awkward questions about his personal life. A few years ago a bestselling book detailed Bill Clinton’s ongoing relationships with young ladies outside of his marriage. Imagine for a moment if Jacqueline Kennedy or Nancy Reagan were promiscuous and took lovers during their White House years? Even given a Clinton sympathetic media, and the assurances that such liaisons would be kept private, what problems would such an arrangement pose for national security? How would the intelligence community be able to parse the needs of the nation with the necessity of their own political survival with Hillary Clinton as their boss?

Then, there is the question of geography. Where will Bill Clinton live? Will he live in the White House? Which room? First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was often estranged from her husband, had her own rooms. Her close friend and sometime companion, Lorena Hickock had her own room as well. Will any of Bill’s friends be allowed sleepovers?  Will he meet friends and business associates at the White House?

Will he be able to take a prospective donor to dinner at the White House Mess? Or let them catch a ride back to Washington or New York on Air Force One?

Will he have an entire suite of offices in the East Wing, just as a First Lady would? Or will he have a suite of offices tucked away in the Old Executive Office Building? Either way will provoke questions. If he lives separately from his wife it will very clearly be what critics have long maintained, a marriage of convenience. But if he runs his business from the White House when does it cease to be his business and become blatant corruption of power?

There is some indication that Chelsea Clinton, the daughter, will assume the more traditional role of First Lady. This is not a wholly unreasonable idea. Many daughters and daughters-in-law have assumed such a role for the president, especially in the early years of American history. But this too creates its own set of questions.  For Chelsea Clinton is married as well. Where would her “first man” live? He is a banker for Goldman Sachs, would he operate out of the White House as well, or take a leave of absence from the bank that runs America?

Hillary Clinton has said that she wants her husband to play a role in her administration. At one point on the campaign trail she said she would put him in charge of creating jobs. Would he sit in on Cabinet Meetings? First Lady, Rosalynn Carter did.

Bill Clinton is seventy years old. It is possible that he might die during eight years of Hillary Clinton in office. If so, it would be a massive funeral, a truly unique moment in American history. But what if the reverse happened? Many questions were raised about her 2012 fall and concussion and hospitalization. What if she should become incapacitated? It happened to Woodrow Wilson, and his new wife, the First Lady, became his doorkeeper and nurse mate. When critics complained that she was running the country she protested that she was doing no such thing, she was only determining who he would see and what he would read and sign. Would Bill Clinton become the doorkeeper for an incapacitated Hillary?

It is likely that President Hillary Clinton and her team will do everything within their power to diminish her husband’s role. She will have to be seen as a leader in her own right and not the reincarnation of her husband’s presidency. And that would call for Bill Clinton to be seen and not heard. But it is not his personality. When Angela Merkel was inaugurated as the first female Chancellor of Germany, the whole world was watching but her husband Joachim Sauer did not even attend. Bill Clinton will not be an American version of Dennis Thatcher, husband of English Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. And he will not be an American version of Joachim Sauer. If Hillary Clinton is elected president, Bill Clinton will be there.

Turning Point at the DNC

July 30, 2016

“It’s not what happens to you but how you react that matters.” – Epictetus

In 1988, 41 year old Arkansas Governor, Bill Clinton, was asked to give a fifteen minute speech nominating Massachusetts Governor, Michael Dukakis for president. But Clinton just wouldn’t shut up. The speech went on and on and finally elicited boo’s from the Convention floor.

Pundits said  that the young Mr. Clinton’s political career was over. They were wrong. That boring speech, at the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia, probably triggered the Clinton dynasty. Last week it resulted in the nomination of Hillary Clinton for president.

Today’s failure is often the petri dish of tomorrow’s success.

Jimmy Carter’s tough luck at the end of his presidential term in 1980 led to his legacy as the greatest former president in American history. His term in office was over but he had things to do.

At that same 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, when Clinton gave his boring speech, Texas State Treasurer, Ann Richards, openly taunted Vice President George H.W. Bush, the Republican nominee. She said he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

The stinging ridicule angered and humiliated the Bush family. I was working for George H.W. Bush at the time and my immediate boss was the son, George W. Bush. I remember sitting in the family box at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans. Bush, Junior, as he was called in those days, was not a happy camper. Ann Richards was number one, just ahead of columnist George Will, on the secret, unacknowledged, family hit list. George W. had her in his sites.

All that year George W. worked tirelessly to help elect his father. I traveled with him in car caravans, commercial and private jets, campers and campaign buses. But right after the election his attention turned to Texas. He had no curiosity about the White House. Will you live there? What rooms will be yours when you visit? Will you do Christmas at Camp David? Are you sure you don’t want to work there? Like Jack Ford or Chip Carter? You just go on the RNC payroll to get around the Federal Law about hiring relatives.

George W. was focused on buying the Texas Rangers and that was the first step before going after Ann Richards.

He wanted to run for governor against her in 1990. I was on the White House staff then, a special assistant to the president, and one morning I walked into the Oval Office to find First Lady Barbara Bush there with the President. She knew that George and I often talked together, so she whirled around and without even a hello she said, “You tell George not to run, his father and I don’t want him running for governor.”

There was no hiding the fact that they thought Jeb Bush had the career trajectory that would take him to the top. George, Jr. might mess things up. “Let’s face it,” Barbara joked to reporters, “Jeb is like his father. George is too much like me.”  If I had done my research on presidential parents I would have immediately known that George would be the next Bush to win on the public stage. Most presidents are “mama’s boys.”

In 1990 Ann Richards was elected governor. And in 1992, George W. Bush defeated her to exact family revenge. He would be re-elected governor and win the White House, avenging his father and winning re-election. In 1988 Ann Richards and the DNC had a good laugh at the expense of George H.W. Bush, but she launched a dynasty in the process.

Bill Clinton’s speech at the 2016 DNC was anything but boring. Clinton told a story, about his courtship, about Hillary’s early career. It was as if he had written the words, “Keep it interesting,” at the top of his speech.

There is no doubt that Bill and Hillary Clinton need this election win. In 1998 Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. If Hillary wins the White House in 2016 it will substantially scrub their legacy for history.

In 100 years, when a ten year old memorizes the names of the presidents he will get to that easy part, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton and he will think, the impeachment of Bill Clinton had to be political or the American people would never have elected his wife as president only a few years later.

Each failure, each rejection, provokes a greater need to achieve and win acceptance. In hindsight, Elizabeth Warren could have been the 2016 Democratic nominee and probably would have had clear sailing to the White House but she didn’t have the driving need.

It’s not what happens in life, but how you react.