Cruz, Ailes, Trump and the lost art of forgiveness

July 21, 2016

There was something tragic about the self destruction of Senator Ted Cruz. We watched with bated breath as he walked slowly and deliberately to the edge of the cliff on Wednesday night.

He was giving his speech to the Republican National Convention. All of us were expecting him to shame the boos by finally, at the dramatic end, announce his endorsement of his party’s nominee.

Hadn’t he promised as much in the debates? Didn’t he, as a constitutional lawyer, understand what would happen to the nation if activist Justices were appointed to the Supreme Court?

Didn’t he remember the wise, patient Richard Nixon, who in 1964, alone among establishment Republicans, defended the young GOP children who had nominated Barry Goldwater, and thus was joyfully elected president himself four years later? A path that this time Newt Gingrich has been able to carve out for himself.

So there was Ted Cruz, standing on the precipice, peaceful, in a lonely world of his own making, oblivious to the shouting mob all around him. And then suddenly, without fanfare, he ended his speech and leaped into the chasm. No endorsement. He had ended his political career. It was a very private moment in full view of thousands.

My heart broke, not for Donald Trump, who may still win anyway, but for Ted Cruz. It is not easy to watch a man take his own political life.

Ted Cruz must have imagined writers talking the next day about how Donald Trump had created his bed and now had to lie in it. Trump had fiercely and effectively branded Cruz as “Lyin Ted” and it hurt. Trump now had to live with the consequences of his actions.

There is a scene in my book The Raising of a President, where Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose, are on a train to Washington, D.C. They are on their way to a White House meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Kennedy is going to publicly denounce the president and refuse to endorse him for re-election. He is rehearsing with Rose all of the reasons, and all of the cruel and false games that the President has played against him.

Rose listens patiently and then says, “Joe, the people aren’t going to understand that. They will just see that you didn’t endorse him, that’s all they will see. You are the only one who will be hurt.”

Where was Rose Kennedy Wednesday night?

Forgiveness is a lost art. I’m keenly aware of that since I have made my fair share of mistakes. But sometimes forgiveness is also, remarkably, a solution. It is not a sign of weakness, no one would have seen Ted Cruz as weak had he endorsed Donald Trump.

No one saw Donald Trump as weak, when he forgave speechwriter Meredith McIver for her mistakes in preparing Melania Trump’s speech.

Which brings us to Roger Ailes, the embattled genius who just resigned from Fox News. He was accused of sexual harassment by an employee and his media competitors were quick to beat the drums. Of course they wanted him to go. They couldn’t beat him in business, they couldn’t beat him at broadcasting.

Let’s make it clear, the charges against Roger Ailes were not about any unwelcome physical actions. Rather, the accusations, unproven at this point, said that he used earthy and sexually aggressive language. And as the boss, the words were intimidating and inappropriate.

Sexy is part of the secret to success at Fox News. It is a network that not only reports sides of an issue that no other network dares touch, but it presents it with attractive, dazzling personalities who look good.

Roger Ailes had built a network on forgiveness. Some of his stars may have been perfect, in looks and in character, but many were not. Just Google a Fox name, any name, and add lawsuit and you will see.

There are Fox anchors and guests that have been drunk, arrested, plagiarized and many have been tossed out on the trash heap by other networks, for being too old or too fat. If they had talent, Roger Ailes would find them and forgive them and pull them from the trash heap to polish them off and turn on the lights and make them productive again.

I have a solution for that awkward Ted Cruz moment. Forgive him.

And that should have been the solution for the Roger Ailes crisis. The Murdoch’s should have done what Ailes himself would do to any other talented person in his place. Forgive him.

The only way Roger Ailes should have ever left Fox News was in a box, dead at the age of 100, on the 4th of July.

Truman couldn’t stop Kennedy, Bush can’t stop Trump.

July 20, 2016

He was a new kind of politician.

He totally turned the presidential nominating process on its head, collecting more votes than any other candidate before him.

He had his own money. Lots of it.

Party insiders were horrified.

A former president invited in members of the media to announce that he wasn’t even going to attend the National Convention.

Pundits said that the political party was hopelessly divided and that the nominee would not win the national election.

That was 1960.

The former president who boycotted the Convention was Harry S. Truman. He is considered by historians as one of America’s greatest presidents. That year he resigned from the Missouri delegation and held a press conference attacking the likely nominee.

The nominee was Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

He won the election anyway and became president of the United States.

So much for the power of former presidents.

Elections are about the future.

And politics is organic, always changing and adapting.

The national media is making a big deal out of the fact that the former Bush presidents aren’t attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. They are saying that this is unprecedented and proves that there are deep divisions within the Party.

The truth is that neither Bush president was present at the Romney Convention in 2012 in Tampa. And neither Bush president was present at the McCain Convention in 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Their absence is not new.

A successful Convention is about going forward, not going backward. Truman could not stop the advance of time. He could not stop John Kennedy. And two Bush presidents cannot stop the changes within the Republican Party. Nor can they stop Donald Trump.

Go to this video: Doug Wead on Mornings with Maria Bartiroma (July 20, 2016)

See below, former President, Harry Truman, boycotts Democratic National Convention in 1960.


The Big Lie about the RNC

July 19, 2016

Thanks to recording options I have been able to follow the Republican National Convention on many different networks and all of them are perpetuating a big lie about Cleveland.

The report is that this convention is unprecedented for not including two past presidents from their own party, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush. The implication is that the division at this convention is unprecedented and will lead to a loss in November.

Donald Trump may, indeed, not win in November. But if so, it will be more likely because of slanted, false, and sometimes incompetent, media coverage than a divided party.  Here are the facts.

The absence of the two Bush presidents is not new. Neither George W. Bush, nor George H.W. Bush were present at the last Republican National Convention in Tampa in 2012 when Mitt Romney was nominated.

Nor was either one present at the RNC in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2008 when John McCain was nominated.

In some cases this false narrative is the result of sloppy homework. Maybe it is the result of faulty memories, they did show a movie about George W. Bush and dad at the 2012 Convention, and they allowed a satellite connected speech by George W. Bush in 2008 but the reality is this has less to do with Trump, Romney and McCain than it does about George W. Bush and his unpopular war in Iraq and the economic collapse during the last year of his presidency.

Such moments are not limited to Republicans. Former President Harry Truman was so upset over the likely nomination of John F. Kennedy that he resigned as a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. And in 1972, former President Lyndon Johnson was nowhere to be seen at his own Party’s Convention in Miami Beach. Former President, Jimmy Carter, has been sometimes honored, sometimes marginalized at his Party’s Convention, depending on the polls.

In some cases this false Trump-Bush narrative is pure, deliberate, misinformation.

One network host was careful to select his words, saying, “For the first time in forty years there has not been a Bush at a Republican National Convention.”

He obviously knew full well that the story being repeated by pundits and fellow hosts, that the Bush presidents were absent for the first time, was false. Thus, he helped keep alive the idea of unprecedented exclusion and division without repeating the bogus facts. And the host could technically claim he had spoken the truth, without taking the time to correct his colleagues.

Americans have pretty much accepted the end of journalism in this country. We are now in an era that is not entirely unlike the Soviet Union during communism. Facts are open to change. Some thoughts or ideas are forbidden and never spoken aloud. Parents must have private conversations with their children about issues and must be careful even then. Media targets can be blindsided, without an opportunity to respond. And if all of this is happening to domestic events that are in full view, just imagine the misinformation about issues worldwide?

So, here you go, a gift of love to my tiny, well informed, WordPress audience. At least you shall know. George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush are not in Cleveland. But they were not in Tampa or St. Paul, Minnesota either. And that big voice vote brouhaha on the first day of the Convention? It has happened exactly the same for most of my lifetime.

RNC in Cleveland: What the Kennedy’s can teach Trump?

July 15, 2016

Doug Wead on Brad-cast, the Brad Friedman Show. What to expect at the Republican National Convention.

Doug Wead on PBS tonight

July 12, 2016

See Doug Wead on PBS tonight at 8pm EST and again at midnight EST. “The White House.”

pbs white house

Trump and the seduction of Sheldon Adelson

June 3, 2016

Will Sheldon Adelson get snookered by the same failed Political Machine?

In early 2015, a group of well connected GOP consultants began raising  $100 million in large checks from their well-healed buddies on the promise of buying the White House.  We are serous operatives, they argued, and we can use big dollars to bend the will of the grassroots with the power of big money and big advertising.

Their efforts went down in flames.  One hundred millions spent on slick advertising went for naught. And, all of that money was being flushed down a Florida toilet – save the tens of millions “earned” by those well – connected consultants, of course.

Through this colossal failure, and other lower profile failures, one thing has become clear: All the money in world cannot buy elections. Ask President John Connally.  But it does buy expensive sports cars for political players.

Here’s how it works. If a political hack buys television commercials he gets a 15% commission. So political hacks sell television to their big donors. And they do everything they can to put the donors in the position where they have no choice but to do television. A late developing PAC, for example, has no time to build the right database. Television is all they can do.

Consider the June 1, 2016 announcement that former Chris Christie operative, Ken McKay, has tapped California hedge fund billionaire, Tom Barrack, to let him start a Trump Super PAC. It turns out McKay is currently employed by the Trump campaign and must undergo a legally required 120 “cooling off” period. The PAC cannot spend any money until October, rendering it completely ineffective. But hey, who cares? A few million is not a bad payday.

Take Bill Kristol, of the Weekly Standard. He wants to run a third party candidate he says, because neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton are good alternatives. I know Bill, and worked with him in the White House. He is no dummy. He knows full well that his candidate won’t win but hey, one might as well make a little money.

This November the key to a close presidential election is in the hands of three million voters in seven key states. The hardest job will be to find those three million voters and turn them into “true believers.” The PAC that does that will be the PAC that makes a difference.

Enter mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson is perhaps the single most generous donor to Republican causes, and someone deeply respected. As in the case of Donald Trump, Mr. Adelson did not become one of the world’s most successful businessmen by accident, in fact, it could easily be the other way around, with Adelson running for president needing Donald Trump to help a worthy PAC. So he knows the history I outlined above.

Sources say Mr. Adelson plans to spend as much as $100 million helping Donald Trump win the White House. Facing the mammoth Clinton machine.  Mr. Adelson’s generosity will be sorely needed.

But, the money must be spent smartly, engaging American’s at a grassroots level through channels that have already been built over time through hard work and elbow grease. There is no easy astroturfing here.

Hearing the call of another $100 million dollar PAC and seven figure paydays, establishment consultants are now lining up to convince Mr. Adelson and his confidants that they are the best ones to spend his money and take their 15% cut. But these consultants are all from the same tribe, cut from the same cloth as all Washington consultants, and know about grassroots politics.

I have a prediction. I want to say a bold prediction, but with so much evidence backing me, I fear it is rather easy to follow. If Mr. Adelson gives his generous support to a PAC run by status quo Republicans, it will do little to help Donald Trump and instead be squandered.

Mr. Adelson may be shopping for the “right” DC consultants to spend his money, but that is a quest akin to finding the Loch Ness Monster. These consultants know only one thing, big advertising, big money and big commissions.

I for one hope Mr. Adelson and his advisers will look outside the box and find a vehicle with a real grassroots networks, committed to engagement with real Americans. The TV commercials are the easy part. Donald Trump needs this help a lot more than DC Consultants need another sports car. And America cannot afford a President Hilary Rodham Clinton.


Trump is Reagan

May 18, 2016

Many comparisons are now circulating on the internet comparing Donald Trump to General George S. Patton, to former President Ronald Reagan and many others. In posts earlier this year I compared him to Andrew Jackson and  Theodore Roosevelt.

It was my humble privilege to appear on the speaker’s circuit with Ronald Reagan, talking with him backstage and writing his campaign biography when he ran for president.

The Charity Awards, which I helped organize, was really begun at a dinner in his home in 1979, the week before he announced what would be his successful run for the White House. Here’s my take on Trump as Reagan.

Trump as Reagan:

Both men were once Democrats.

Both men were once in show business.

Both men were divorced.

Their stand on the issues is remarkably similar. Both men are pro Life and in the exact same way. Both men defend the Second Amendment. And both men want to reduce spending and taxes.

Ronald Reagan was hated by the mainstream media. Slate once ran an article with the subtitle, “The Stupidity of Ronald Reagan. And so too, they hate Donald Trump.

You will notice that both Reagan and Trump are very strategic in their thinking, they don’t get into the details.

Both men put American jobs first and that makes them unpopular in other countries like Mexico, China and European countries who want those very jobs.

Most dramatic of all, both men are straight shooters.

For example, Ronald Reagan said he wasn’t so sure that it had been the right thing to withdraw support for the Shah of Iran. This statement caused an uproar and was seen as irresponsible. The whole world was outraged. Especially the American media. What was he doing? He was speaking against the newly formed Democratic Islamic State of Iran.

Donald Trump said we should have a temporary ban on Muslim immigration until we can figure things out.

Both men are unashamed in their support for a stronger and safer America. “Make American Great again,” says Trump.

There are some dramatic differences between the two men. Reagan was humble and self-effacing. He went out of his way to avoid personalizing his issues. But in his own way, using humor, he would always counter punch. Perhaps his greatest moment was when they hit him on the age issue.

General Patton talked trash to the enemy, the way Muhammed Ali baited Sonny Liston and it was very effective. It worked.  It is similar to Trump talking about Isis.

Reagan was sometimes as brash as Patton and Trump. When he was being sworn in as president Iran promptly released the hostages rather than face the consequences.

Machiavelli once said, “It is sometimes a wise thing for a prince to affect madness.” Nixon used that very device to bring the North Vietnamese to the peace table.

General Patton appeared spontaneous in his remarks and it sometimes got him into trouble but in retrospect he was right about the fact that we would one day have to face Russia anyway and if we had been stronger in dealing with them in 1945, we now know, that Hungary, Czechoslovakia and most of the Balkans could have arguably avoided the nightmare of communist rule where hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned.

The comparisons of Donald Trump to General George S. Patton are the most problematic for the candidate.  I’m not saying that they aren’t true, I just want to point out that Patton couldn’t get elected to anything and couldn’t even keep his job as general – even though he was one of our most tenacious and brilliant commanders. In his army career, Patton’s political skills eventually failed him.

Patton once said, “It is a popular idea that a man is a hero just because he was killed in action. Rather, I think, a man is frequently a fool when he gets killed.” It did not go over very well.

When war hero, Senator John McCain called the thousands of Arizona citizens who had rallied to meet Donald Trump as crazies, Trump shot back, “He was a hero because he was captured. I like people who were not captured.”

Both men have been accused of profanity. Patton said you can’t run an army without profanity.

The one virtue that all of these Trump comparisons have in common is their penchant for strong leadership.  Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, George Patton, Ronald Reagan were all dynamic leaders.

One of George Patton’s most famous quotes declared, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” It is vintage Trump.

If you live long enough, history comes back around.


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