Dateline January 28, 2016
Megyn Kelly, a former attorney, now Fox News journalist, conducted herself with grace and grit this week. GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, made her the target of his wrath promising he would not participate in the GOP Fox News Debate if she were one of the moderators. Fox News stuck by her and her performance in tonight’s debate was stellar. Her questions were provocative, cleverly constructed, persistently delivered and her follow ups were tenacious. She did it all with a smile and a good nature. I have watched every presidential debate since Kennedy and Nixon and served as a shill in practice debates for numerous presidential candidates but I have never seen such a polished and effective performance by a debate moderator as Megyn Kelly tonight.
Megyn Kelly is not the first journalist to become the center of controversy in a presidential race.
George Will had been a favorite of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. His brilliant analysis and insider information made him a fascinating commentator. But in 1987 George Will, at the time a pundit on ABC and a columnist for Newsweek, referred to vice president George W. Bush as president Reagan’s “lapdog.” Bush prided himself on his loyalty to Reagan and felt that this was his duty as vice president. Newsweek ran a cover story of George Bush entitled “The Wimp Factor” questioning if the senior Bush would be strong enough to be president.
The bitterness in the Bush family ran deep. In 1988 I accompanied the president’s son, George W. Bush, to Iowa. On Caucus night we walked into a ballroom where famous pundits, sat on platforms, talking to the nation. No one recognized or acknowledged George W. Bush , who would one day be president himself, but George Will commanded respect, sitting on one of those platforms, pontificating on the results of the Caucus. Young Bush was furious. When we passed under the ABC platform, Bush muttered to me, “Look at George Will sitting up there. Pompous asshole.”
Actually, as president, the father, George H.W. Bush, showed himself to be quite strong, invading Panama to bring Manuel Noriega to justice, invading Iraq to defend the national integrity of Kuwait. Ronald Reagan had called for the Berlin Wall to come down but it happened under president George H.W. Bush.
The Bush family eventually, after a long period of punishment, forgave Newsweek Magazine, they had too. At the time it was too powerful to ignore. But George Will was vulnerable. And they never forgave him. This was their message to any other journalist who might take them on. For the next eight years Will would be in the deep freeze and the White House would carefully withhold any information that could have helped his career. At the time, I was a senior White House staffer, and the word was out, no one could talk to Mr. Will.
Today, George Will is back, as brilliant and polished and well read as ever. Ironically, he is on television thanks to the Fox News Channel.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Megyn Kelly. If Donald Trump becomes president she may find herself on his blacklist, no White House Christmas party invitations. But if tonight’s debate is any indication, we have only begun to hear from Megyn Kelly. And Donald Trump may have met his match.
I have had the privilege of being interviewed several times by Ms. Kelly. One of those interviews was characterized by political critics as being harsh or unfair. One of them ran up 250,000 views. Friends sent me emails asking if I was irritated by the questions. The truth was that the harder her questions the better. I did not resent them. They were expected and fair and exactly the questions that she should have asked. And her nature was pleasant.
Here is that interview, judge for yourself. I see Megyn Kelly as a great journalist and she was on her game tonight justifying her bosses at Fox News.
While all of the other presidential candidates are carving up different sectors of the Evangelical Christian vote and insulting each other in the process, one thing is clear, Senator Rand Paul is the favorite of the “young” Evangelicals.
Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, is one of the most important evangelical leaders in the country. He must keep the peace among the powerful televangelists and thus is meticulously neutral in the 2016 presidential race. But his son, Isaac Johnson, supports Rand Paul.
David Lane, labeled by the New York Times as “something of a stealth weapon for the right” has brokered meetings with evangelical leaders and most of the Republican candidates from Ted Cruz and Ben Carson to Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal. But his daughter, Jillian Lane, supports Rand Paul and works as his press secretary.
James Robison, televangelist, who is perhaps the most politically savvy Christian leader in the country, has met all of the Republican candidates and refused to make a commitment. But his son, James Randall Robison, supports Rand Paul. And recently co-authored a book with him.
Surprisingly, Christian youth, like their secular counterparts support Rand Paul for some of the same reasons.
Yes, there is his lonely stand against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. There is his stand for criminal justice reform. There is his stand for Life. But the key to his support is his campaign against the corruption that has killed the free enterprise system. And that corruption has reached the point that it has become a moral crisis every much as important as abortion and religious freedom.
The only time Jesus lost his temper was when he saw how the moneychangers were cheating the people in the Temple. Well, the moneychangers are back.
The ongoing transfer of wealth to a tiny few has robbed the churches and the American youth of billions of dollars. Here’s how it works.
#1) Excessive regulations designed to protect the public are used to prevent start ups and the big companies are often exempted. It prevents young people from participating in the economy.
#2) Excessive taxes that subsidize some companies and penalize others have created monopolies. It prevents young people from participating in the economy. In some cases their own tax dollars are subsidizing their very own competition.
#3) Policies of the Federal Reserve which award multibillion dollar loans at zero percent interest to banks and big companies while new businesses must pay interest through the nose keep the money flowing to the very few. It prevents young people from participating in the economy.
#4) Those same companies buy the advertising from major media and get a free pass on the process in return. Candidates who stand up to the corruption see themselves as targets of that media or ignored. After all, the media giants are feasting off of the very same system.
When the previous Federal Reserve Chairman was asked why the FED had given an interest free loan over $100 million to the McDonalds Corporation he answered, “To create jobs.”
Ron Paul, the Senator’s father, was a candidate for president at the time and challenged the loan. At the next presidential debate the NBC moderator was given more time than Ron Paul. When Paul later complained to the host he was told, “I’m sorry Dr. Paul, a voice in my headset said, ‘Don’t go to Ron Paul, don’t go to Ron Paul.’” The McDonalds Corporation sponsors the NBC Evening News.
The FED’s answer to why some companies get loans at zero interest and others do not proves the point. Today’s economy has created $7 an hour jobs for graduates with Master’s and Doctorate Degrees. You can work at McDonalds but you cannot start your own Hamburger business.
For all but a very lucky few, the American dream is dead.
Senator Rand Paul has emerged as the only hope to save the country from this crisis.
While many candidates, from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, speak to the problem, there is no one else other than Rand Paul, who could even come close to providing a solution.
Bernie Sanders would take us deeper into socialism, already rejected by world history.
It was recently revealed that Ted Cruz, who publicly decries the pernicious role of the banks in corrupting the system, had his whole career financed by Goldman Sachs and hid that fact on his reporting documentation.
Donald Trump openly admits he gamed the system to build his businesses empire.
Brian Jacobs, a former consultant to the Billy Graham Organization agrees. “Pure religion is caring for the widows and orphans and how does that square with a monetary system that is rigged to keep out newcomers.”
It is theft. It has become a moral crisis. And both Republicans and Democrats are involved. Only Senator Rand Paul offers a solution.
Could Ted Cruz, born December 22, 1970 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, be Constitutionally ineligible for the presidency? If he were alive today, one of America’s most distinguished presidential historians, J.J. Perling, would say yes. We know that because he made that very judgement about another very distinguished American who was in the pipeline for the White House. He made it in the book, The Presidents’ Sons: The Prestige of Name in a Democracy, published in 1947 by The Odyssey Press, New York. (p. 30)
Now, before we get started with this extraordinary tale – and it is an extraordinary tale – let me offer a few disclaimers. I served for several months last year as a Senior Adviser to Senator Rand Paul. I have great admiration for Senator Ted Cruz and I am writing this story only as a student of history. It has been my pleasure to personally interview six presidents and first ladies. I have been a personal adviser to two American presidents. It has been my pleasure to have been in the homes of several of them before, during and after their presidency. And my wife and I have hosted presidents in our own home on three occasions. I coauthored a book with a president and have written about all of the presidents and all of their parents and all of their children. I can tell you that the issue of who is and who is not a “natural born citizen” is not as easily resolved as it may seem.
Yes, we know that Senator John McCain was born in the Panama Canal zone. His father was serving in the U.S. military. And yet he ran for president. And we know that Ted Cruz,like McCain, was born to a mother who was an American citizen and that McCain’s father was also an American citizen. The father of Ted Cruz was Cuban. But there the comparison ends. In 2008, with the McCain issue relevant, both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton co-sponsored a Senate bill to assure McCain’s eligibility. The resolution declared, “John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born Citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.”
Currently, Senator Cruz has no such congressional protection. And worse, he has built a rogue reputation by thumbing his nose at the Senate establishment of his own political party.
Now, here is the tale. It is just one example from history, the story of another, would be president, who was disqualified over the so called “birther issue.” You can read the story in its full detail in my book All the Presidents’ Children.
He was born on the 4th of July. He graduated from Harvard University and studied law under Daniel Webster. His name was George Washington Adams. Both his father and grandfather were presidents of the United States. Yet, according to the belief of legal experts at the time he could never be president himself. Why? He was born in Berlin, Germany while his father served in the American diplomatic corps as the U.S. Minister to Prussia.
Keep in mind, both his mother and father were U.S. citizens. His father would soon become Ambassador to the Court of St. James. He would become Secretary of State and not just any Secretary of State, but the one who would craft and conceive of what became known as the Monroe Doctrine, the most enduring foreign policy position in American history. He would later become the sixth president of the United States and his mother, Louisa Catherine Adams, would become one of our greatest First Ladies.
John Quincy Adams ruled his son’s life from a distance, sending letters ordering every moment of the day.
Louisa, the mother, took great solace in the fact that her firstborn, George, would not have the pressure of presidential expectations. He couldn’t. Their correspondence reveals their belief that the Constitution did not allow him to be president because of his birth in Germany. Nevertheless, the pressure to do something extraordinary with his life took its toll. At age 28 he jumped or fell from a steamboat en-route to a meeting with his father at the White House in Washington, D.C. Most historians believe it to have been a suicide. He was in the midst of a tawdry scandal that involved blackmail and possible shame for the family name. And his meetings with his father were always tense, calamitous affairs.
A few years later the second son would die young. Louisa would send her husband a sad rebuke, “another child offered on the altar of politics.”
Writes J.J. Perling, “George Washington Adams could never have been an occupant of the Presidential chair: the Constitution of the United States restricted that office to native born citizens, and George Washington Adams had been born in Germany.” (p.30) And that was published in 1947.
Start reading All the Presidents’ Children now on kindle.
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
(The more things change, the more they stay the same.)
– Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
The State of the Union address began with George Washington. A quick look at his speech and you can see how history repeats itself.
On January 8, 1790, Washington spoke before Senators and Representatives at Federal Hall in New York City. In his speech, Washington addressed the most important issues of his day which ironically included immigration and national defense.
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace,” he said.
Not much has changed in 225 years.
The Constitution had declared that the president should from time to time report on the State of the Union to Congress. Washington’s address in New York, at the beginning of the New Year, was his interpretation of those words. The practice continued under John Adams.
The third president, Thomas Jefferson, broke the tradition by submitting his address in writing. Succeeding presidents would follow this pattern until Woodrow Wilson resurrected the Washington tradition with his address before a joint session of Congress in 1913.
Great moments in State of the Union speeches?
December 2, 1823, President James Monroe enunciated what is now known as “the Monroe Doctrine,” one of America’s most enduring foreign policy positions. It promised that we would not intervene in European political matters and warned that no European power should colonize or further involve itself in political matters in the Western Hemisphere.
December 1, 1862, only three months after signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln published his State of the Union address. He dramatically confronted the moral issue of slavery.
“We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
January 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had already delivered his most famous speech, referring to the attack on Pearl Harbor as, “a day which shall live in infamy,” yet his State of the Union address, which followed a month later, was more deeply philosophical and gave the nation purpose as it faced the long road of war ahead.
Some of the more notable goofs?
December 2, 1913. Woodrow Wilson proved that presidents are not prescient. “The country, I am thankful to say, is at peace with all the world, and many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age of settled peace and good will.” A few months later the world was plunged into the slaughter of the First World War.
January 25, 2011. President George W. Bush, anxious to justify a war against Iraq, announced alleged secret information that later proved false. “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
The future of State of the Union addresses.
The State of the Union address has lost much of its original meaning. It has evolved from a report to Congress into a public relations stunt. Nothing illustrates this more than President Obama’s “facts” from his last address.
“Over the past five years,” the president declared, “our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.”
What was left for the rest of us to unscramble was that he was counting jobs from February, 2010, a low point that was actually reached deep into his own term as president. Also carefully avoided by choice of words was the fact that the federal and state governments had cut 500,000 jobs during the same period. Thus it was not total jobs but only jobs that “businesses” had created.
Originally, the State of the Union reflected the state of mind or our chief executive. But today a president is much too busy to actually write his own speech. In an age of specialization one cannot be a great politician and a great wordsmith at the same time.
I offer that observation advisedly for I have not only been a student of presidential history, I have sometimes had a front row seat, having served on senior staff in the White House.
A State of the Union speech begins with a president sitting down with speechwriters and outlining what he wants. It is eventually shopped all over the White House where it is parsed and edited based on foreign policy issues, legal issues, intergovernmental issues, legislative issues, coalitions needs. What will the Chinese think? What will the Washington Post say?
Like all traditions in history, this one is organic and changing. And yet one only need to read the first address by George Washington to see how much is still the same.
“Preventative war is like committing suicide out of fear of death.”
-Otto von Bismarck
This Christmas Rand Paul wrote a blog about “Peace on Earth.” The Senator pointed out that Jesus was called “the Prince of Peace,” that he taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Rand Paul is a lonely voice. Maybe the only voice of sanity left in America.
Do we really want a war with Russia? A country with a 15% tax rate, who has more religious liberty than America and who faithfully ferries American astronauts to and from the International Space Station because America has no rockets capable of doing so for ourselves?
Do we want to punish them for having the audacity to join the war against ISIS? For wanting to avenge their own citizens, who were shot down in a commercial aircraft?
Hillary Clinton thinks so and wants us to declare a “no fly” zone over Syria, keeping the Russians out. Chris Christie thinks so too and has said he would order any Russian jet violating such a zone to be shot down.
They would go to war against the only other superpower on earth to defend our right to be the sole progenitors of mayhem in the Middle East. We can bomb and kill our enemies. No one else.
Ostensibly, Clinton and the Republican neo-Cons want to get rid of Syrian dictator Assad. And that means supporting “moderate rebels” who are opposed to him in the Syrian civil war. They warn that Russian air attacks pounding ISIS are spilling over on the so-called Islamic moderates.
The problem is after spending $500 billion the United States could only produce 50 of such “moderate” rebel soldiers to support a pro American government. The rest, armed by the American taxpayers, went over to the dark side and are supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS, trying to overthrow Assad. So who are these “moderates” we are afraid that Russian bombs might kill? The 54?
Several years ago, Rand Paul was warning that our tanks and trucks, given over to rebels in Syria were going to fall into the hands of terrorists. A few months later, almost on queue, terrorists emerged from the chaos of Syria, driving American tanks across the Middle East, draped in the black flags of ISIS.
Is this really about 54 moderate Muslims?
What really drives the Clinton-Neo Con machine is money. Isn’t it the answer to almost any puzzle? Big companies make big bucks fighting wars. It is why they lobbied to leave the billions of dollars of weapons and trucks behind after the War in Iraq. Just scrap them. The more weapons we give away, the more they can get paid to produce new replacements. And the best of all is to arm a new enemy which they must then defeat with even more manufactured weapons.
This is the money that drives the wars and this current election. A war with Russia? Imagine the fortunes that could be made?
Senator Rand Paul does not favor the dictator, Bashar Assad of Syria but he does point out that each time we topple a secular dictator we get something worse. It happened in Libya. It happened in Iraq. And it will be repeated in Syria again.
This isn’t about Russia, or Assad, or ISIS. This is about big companies, making money, by waging war. And the national media, dependent on the advertising dollars of those big company conglomerates, will provide the rationale and the popular opinion to make it happen.
Peace on earth. Good will to men?
Rand Paul is the only adult in the room.