April 17, 2018

Doug Wead and Barbara Bush

Tonight, Barbara Bush, passed away at 92 years of age. By any standards, Barbara Bush is one of the most extraordinary women who has ever lived. Either that or she is one of the luckiest.  All around her people succeeded.

Historians like to point to the fact that Barbara Bush is the only woman, other than Abigail Adams, to have been both the wife and the mother to an American president.

But there is a big difference.

Abigail Adams never knew it. She died in 1818, having buried three of her children, including a promising young man who had become an alcoholic.

Barbara Bush not only saw one of her sons become president, she saw two of her sons elected as governors. George W. Bush became governor of Texas and the 43rd president of the United States.  Jeb Bush became governor of Florida and a presidential candidate. Unknown to the public, at one time, Neil Bush was being groomed as a future governor of Colorado.

No other child of a president has ever been elected a governor, although many of them, Jesse Grant to FDR, Jr. have tried.

Barbara Bush did something right.

People sometimes tell me that she reminds them of their grandmother. In fact, she was more like a bawdy, outrageous aunt. She was very funny and as in the case of all great wits, her humor was at times risky.

Soon after winning the White House she hosted the American Catholic Cardinals on a private tour of the family quarters. I was along as a member of the staff. One by one she detailed the history of the rooms and described the subjects and details of the paintings on the wall. When we got to the Queen Mum’s room, she turned, somewhat stumped, at a painting of a beautiful, young lady.

“Well, I don’t know who that is but I think we can all imagine how she got up there.”

There was a brief moment of stunned silence and then, their Eminences broke into uproarious laughter.

Only once did her humor get her into public trouble. In the middle of the 1984 campaign she referred to her husband’s vice presidential opponent, Geraldine Ferraro, with a descriptive comment “I can’t say it,” she said, “but it rhymes with rich.”

Barbara Bush had a keen sense of politics and used her comments to expand her husband’s base of support. She combined this with a shrewd sense of people.

Once, In the middle of the 1988 presidential campaign, I was on a flight on Air Force Two. George and Barbara invited me up to the front cabin for dinner. When we were finished a member of the Secret Service brought up blueprints with some of the proposed improvements for their home in Kennebunkport, Maine. George Bush was soon engrossed in conversations about what changes would be made, when, and if, he was elected president.

Only Barbara Bush sensed the danger of such a conversation with a member of the political staff nearby. Her eyes suddenly locked on mine. “I don’t like talking about this sort of thing before the elections,” she said, “I’m too superstitious.” She knew such a story should not go public. And I got the message.

According to the numbers, George and Barbara Bush should not have had an enduring love story. They were married too young, separated too often and had more than their share of grief. It would spell disaster for most marriages.  But their love survived it all and became an inspiration for others.

Once in the heat of the presidential campaign I somehow ended up right in the middle.

George H.W. Bush was headed to one campaign stop while Barbara Bush was headed to another. Late that night their two planes were parked near each other on an airport tarmac in Michigan. While the three of us waited in a limousine.

“I’ll get out of here,” I said, although I didn’t know where to go.

“Stay right where you are,” Barbara snapped. “I have to leave right away.”

So I sat there quietly, while George H.W. Bush and Barbara tenderly held hands and whispered to each other like teenagers.

The Bushes hated any suggestion that they were a political dynasty. As if by stopping the talk they could stop history itself but make no mistake, the Bushes, not the Kennedys, not the family of John Adams, not the Roosevelts, the Bushes, are the real political dynasty in American history. And Barbara Bush was its fountainhead, its most dynamic source.

Barbara Bush will surely be ranked as the greatest “First Mom” in American history and will rank with Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton as one of the three greatest First Ladies. The latter two because of their resumes, but Barbara Bush because of the power of her personality and the impact she had on the country through others, beginning with her husband, children and grandchildren.


Billy Graham has died: Speaking the truth to power

February 21, 2018

Billy Graham was “the good Rasputin,” an independent religious figure who whispered into the ears of the powerful but always for the greater good rather than his own personal aggrandizement.  His emergence coincided with the rapid rise of the Evangelical Movement in America and thus his political power.

In 1950, when he met with President Harry Truman, his first president,  he was awkward and indiscreet but by the time he met with President Barrack Obama in 2010, presidents needed the picture with him far more than he needed one with them.

Politicians and Graham had a symbiotic relationship.  Both had parts to play and both sides knew it.

In 1985, I prepared a memo for Vice President George H. W. Bush on how he could build a relationship with Evangelicals. Polling data available at the time showed Billy Graham as the least controversial Evangelical in public life.  The vice president’s son, George W. Bush quizzed me at length about the memo and asked questions about another evangelical leader, Arthur Blessitt.  That summer, Billy Graham was invited to the Bush compound at Kennebunkport, Maine and a friendship developed with the family, including father and son.

Ten years later, when then Texas governor, George W. Bush began to think seriously of running for president he began talking about a spiritual awakening that had been triggered by Billy Graham’s visit to Maine.  As Bush remembered, they had walked the beach together and talked.

As the 2000 election neared, Richard Ostling a religious editor for the Associated Press called me to say that he had interviewed Dr. Graham and the evangelist had no idea of what Governor Bush was talking about.  There was no beach in Kennebunkport, it was all rocks.  And Graham remembered no such conversation.

I called Bush to warn him about the discrepancy.  “Aw, he just probably forgot,” Bush said.

And afterward a apoplectic Arthur Blessitt began publishing a blog saying that he, Blessitt, had actually prayed with George W. Bush to be “born again.”  “Where was this Billy Graham stuff coming from?”

By 2000, Governor George W. Bush was in a tight presidential race with Tennessee Senator Al Gore.  By then Billy Graham and Bush had a clear understanding.  I worked with a young staffer, Brian Jacobs, to help arrange a meeting between Bush and Graham in Jacksonville, Florida.  The meeting took place the day before the election and both men appeared before the media.  “I don’t endorse politicians,” Graham said, “But if I did it would be someone like this man right here.”  How could he deny his own convert?  The next day Bush won Florida by 537 votes and with it the White House.

Billy Graham was not perfect.  When the television scandals hit he was the target of an IRS probe for illegally retained income and an ongoing Knight-Ridder investigation.  When the Watergate tapes were released there he was apparently sympathetic to Richard Nixon’s anti Semitic ramblings.

Most people would be surprised to know that Graham was a hypochondriac who was constantly checking himself into Mayo Clinic.  I received a call from him one day, from his hospital bed, just wanting to talk about politics and the White House.  He sounded very much like he had only days to live.  That was twenty five years ago.

Like all old men, Graham needed assurance that he was still wanted and needed and important.  I called him one day and he appeared piqued.  Reagan had always asked for his input for his speech before the National Prayer Breakfast. But we hadn’t bothered to call.

“I can assure you that the president wants your input,” I said confidently.  “Why he would welcome anything you suggest.”

“Well, if you really think he would want it?”

“I can assure you Dr. Graham, he would be very grateful.”

“Well, I don’t want it to be a bother,” he added sheepishly.

“No, no, we want it, we want it.”

He promptly sent us suggested remarks that had the president recounting stories about “my good friend, Billy Graham.”

President George H. W. Bush did not miss a beat.  He worked every line into his speech, lauding the evangelist and cementing their relationship.

Graham sat humbly, sometimes laughing as if he were hearing the stories for the first time, sometimes red with embarrassment at the praise and always surprised that the president would be so thoughtful to say such things..

Only two people in that ballroom knew that Billy Graham, himself, had written the words.  They both got what they wanted.

One of the most telling moments I had with Dr. Billy Graham came in a private meeting with President G.H.W. Bush and four heads of state.  Within a year, one was deposed, another in jail, another had died.  Bush, himself, would not be re-elected.  But Billy Graham endured.  Many times I have thought back on that meeting.  This was one of Graham’s greatest accomplishments, public figures come and go, somehow he survived them all.

Top Ten American Presidents in History

February 19, 2018

It has been my humble privilege to meet six American presidents and seven first ladies. I’ve been able to conduct extensive interviews with five of those presidents. I served as an adviser to two of them, served on senior staff in the White House with one of them and co-authored a book with another.

My wife and I have entertained two presidents in our own home, one of them on multiple occasions and we have been in the personal homes of several others. I have traveled on Air Force One, Air Force Two, commercial aircraft, private jets, Winnebago’s, and have ridden up front, sitting next to the president on multiple occasions in those famous motorcades, zooming through the streets with sirens blazing. I even went to Disneyworld with a president and first lady and ate at the Chinese restaurant at Epcot Center.

Here is my very subjective list of the top ten greatest presidents in American history. I would like to see your list in the comments below and would love to weigh in on the discussion.

Counting backwards, here we go.

Number Ten. James K. Polk. He annexed Texas, the Southwest, the Oregon territory and actually bought the state of California from Mexico. Make no mistake, he was a tough customer who played fast and dirty to get it all done.

Number Nine. Dwight Eisenhower. During his presidency America was the richest and most powerful nation on earth.

Number Eight. Andrew Jackson. He disrupted a rigged system, fighting against a second national bank and for a while, he drained the swamp.

Number Seven. Theodore Roosevelt. A letter day Andrew Jackson, he broke up the crony capitalism that was strangling the free enterprise system of his day. He gave us the national parks. He built a modern navy and then built the Panama Canal to make it effective on two oceans. But he used a heavy hand to get it all done.

Number Six. Harry Truman. Unlike Barack Obama, Harry Truman assumed responsibility for everything he did and actually had a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.” Tough and honest, he used the nuclear bomb to end World War Two and arguably saved the lives of millions more.

Number Five. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He may have presided over the largest transfer of wealth in world history.

For 100 years the British had practically ruled the world with oil, timber, gold and diamonds flowing into its treasuries. But after Hitler conquered Europe, Britain needed arms. Only America could supply the demand and FDR insisted on hard currency, gold, for every purchase. America rocketed out of the Great Depression.

Only when Britain had coughed up the last nugget from the last closet did FDR agree to loan the Brits money to buy even more.

Number Four. Thomas Jefferson. His Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States. He was a co-author of the Declaration of Independence and his ideas on liberty changed the world. Jeffersonian principles are still debated by politicians to this day.

Number Three. Abraham Lincoln. Modern revisionist historians have trouble with Lincoln’s loose interpretation of the Constitution. Other’s complain that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation left a million slaves still in bondage. But no one can deny that Lincoln saved the union and he is for all time, the great emancipator, the man who freed the slaves.

Number Two. George Washington. The Constitution did not offer detail in defining the role of the chief executive. Washington defined it by his actions. The people wanted him to be their king but he would not have it. He served two terms and then walked away from power. Nobody does that.

Number One. Ronald Reagan. One could argue that Washington made us what we are and Lincoln saved the union. But Ronald Reagan saved mankind. He ended the Cold War and freed us from the danger of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Nobody else saw it coming.

Historians said we were headed into a communist era. Media was frightened by Reagan’s bravado and provocative rhetoric. They were outraged when he referred to the Soviet Union as the “evil empire.” But Reagan believed in America and believed in freedom. He spoke and the Berlin Wall came down.





Hillary’s Game? Watch for another White House spousal abuse story to break.

February 8, 2018


My sources inside Clinton world are now telling me that many weeks ago her team began working on a new plan to undo the 2016 election. It may not make her president, but if it works, it will move a step closer to ousting Donald Trump from office.

According to the plan, the Clinton team began its own background searches on members of Donald Trump’s staff. My own research leads me to believes that this effort is being helped by actors in the deep state.

Friends inside the FBI? None of my sources would say.

The idea is to isolate the president and take down, one by one, favored members of his White House staff.

If my sources are accurate, we should soon be hearing about another Trump White House staff member who is guilty of spousal abuse. This in addition to Rob Porter, White House Secretary, who resigned from his position yesterday when stories from his two ex-wives surfaced.

According to this new story, still unconfirmed and unpublished,  another member of the Trump White House staff, not Porter, will be accused of brutally beating his wife on multiple occasions and once dragging her down a flight of stairs. My source gave me the name of this White House staffer.

They also said that the FBI knew about this information when they gave security clearance to the staffer in question and that this was a very important point for the Clinton narrative.

My research suggests that there may actually be a list of these stories that the Clinton team will be rolling out, spaced for maximum impact, one at a time, to show  that there is a trend of misogyny surrounding Donald Trump.

I am told that this was behind Hillary Clinton’s comments three days ago blaming her election loss on “misogyny and sexism.” The idea will be to build toward a crescendo which will force a public discussion of the President’s own sexual history and eventually highlight accusations that will be leveled against him.

Does this mean that the Clinton team is giving up on Russian collusion?

My research says absolutely yes. While the charges of Russian collusion will linger, with the media dogs, once loosed, still pursuing, they will get little help from the Clinton team. While Clinton friends still hold out hope of entrapping the president in perjury, or developing an obstruction of justice case, the Russian story is turning against them and they are no longer helping to advance it.

Of course, there is a very real danger that a story about misogyny and sexism may also turn against the Clintons but they have allies at the Washington Post and in the media which will likely offer them cover.

I still get mail from readers of my book, GAME OF THORNS, which details the presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was surely, one of the roughest, dirtiest, most combative  political battles in American history. Readers want to know how I got so much inside information from the Clinton campaign. Well it comes from persons with good intentions, who are even now, still troubled by the ethics of their political world.

Let’s watch and see if their information is correct. We should not have to wait long.


Trump’s crude comments are nothing new

January 12, 2018

The national media is in an uproar over the president’s alleged comments about why we are promoting immigration from “sh*t hole countries” while shutting the door for so many immigrants from more advanced nations.

According to the media, there are two issues here. One is the president’s language, which they consider inappropriate. And second is the whole issue of who should get favored immigration advantages.

Ahem, let me offer a little perspective.

Having interviewed six presidents and hosted them in my home and traveled with them on Air Force One and on commercial aircraft and in private jets and car caravans and Winnebago’s, I can assure you that they all use that word. Including Ronald Reagan, who was otherwise a perfect gentleman.

As far as inappropriate moments in the White House are concerned, this moment by Donald Trump does not even rank.

John F. Kennedy, you will remember, asked his young staffer, Mimi Alford to give his buddy, Dave Powers a blow job, in his presence. This, in the White House swimming pool. There is Bill Clinton and his semen filled towels, which had to be picked up by the Secret Service. Both stories documented in my book GAME OF THORNS.

Five recent presidents used the N-word. Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, FDR, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson. In fact, we could say six, because Barack Obama used the word publicly as well. By the way, five of those six presidents are liberal Democrats.

Historian, Robert Dallek tells the story of LBJ, who advanced landmark Civil Right’s legislation. According to Dallek, the president, once told a young attorney, “son, when I appoint a n****r to the court, I want everybody to know he’s a n****r.

Nixon had a staffer make a list of Jews who worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Crude, racist and inappropriate words and actions are nothing new. They are regrettable and wrong but the White House will survive.

The second issue is the point that it is prejudicial of President Trump to tilt immigration toward more advanced nations.

In fact, Trump was decrying a policy that favors persons from poor countries and gives them an edge.

When I worked in the White House many Democratic leaders were trying to stop Soviet Jews from immigrating to the USA. And later Russian Pentecostals. The later were risking death by execution but that didn’t seem to matter.

In the decade before, many Democratic politicians tried to block the Vietnamese who were trying to escape the communist takeover. Democrats feared that these new immigrants would vote Republican when they got here. Joe Biden was among those calling to stop the influx. They even blocked the immigration of orphans, fathered by American soldiers.

In contrast with our own inflated, self image, America has a long an controversial record on immigration. FDR interned Japanese Americans during World War Two. He blocked ships of Jewish refugees from landing at ports in New York City and Miami. They were fleeing Nazi Germany but FDR feared that the refugees had been seeded with Gestapo agents trying to get into the United States. Incredibly, FDR was proven correct, although most historians still regret this decision.

At the very birth of America, John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts that required an immigrant to live up to 14 years in America before becoming a citizen. It gave power to a president to detain and deport any immigrant arriving from a so-called “hostile” nation.

The problem now, which no one wants to talk about, is that Democrats will not allow Asians or Whites into the United States because they will tend to vote Republican. And Republicans are tired of giving preference to African and Latin Americans because they will tend to vote Democratic.

This may not be the humanitarian issue that some maintain. Rather, this may simply be a partisan power struggle. So what’s new?

After one year in office, Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson are more alike than ever.

December 26, 2017


In this year of the 250th anniversary of the birthday of Andrew Jackson, many modern historians remain conflicted about the comparisons between “Old Hickory” and our current president, Donald Trump. But after one year in office, the comparisons between the two men are more pronounced than ever.

One historian declares, wrongly, that Trump is the first modern president to identify with Jackson. In fact, Reagan, Truman, FDR and others embraced him. Like Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan actually hung his portrait in the Oval Office.

Another historian takes issue with Trump’s claim that if Andrew Jackson had been president at a later time he might have prevented the Civil War. In fact, Jackson, once publicly proclaimed that he would lead an army into South Carolina and hang the first secessionist from the nearest tree. That was 30 years before the Civil War. Lincoln studied Jackson when he wrote his first inaugural address. Trump has a point.

What is clear, is that many comparisons between the two presidents are uncanny.

#1) Both men were outsiders, considered too politically inexperienced to be effective presidents.

#2) Both men were populists, standing up for the forgotten man.

#3) Both men were personally wealthy while publicly taking on the established moneyed interests of their time. Jackson refused to endorse a second national bank, saying that it only made the rich richer and the poor poorer. Trump rejected soft money and personally financed much of his own campaign.

#4) Both men were mercurial, unpredictable, short tempered. Jackson carried bullets in his body from personal duels.

#5) Both men ran against political family dynasties. Jackson took on John Quincy Adams, whose father had been president. Trump took on Hillary Clinton whose husband had been president.

#6) Both Jackson and Trump ran against opponents who had been secretary of state and would accuse their opponent of being dangerously ignorant of international issues.

#7) Both men warred with their own political parties.

#8) After winning election both retaliated by appointing businessmen and soldiers to key government positions instead of politicians.

#9) Both men had ongoing, public feuds with their own cabinet members. Jackson started meeting with separate advisers, it was called a “kitchen cabinet.” Critics declared it unconstitutional. But every president since has had one.

#10) Both men warred with the US Senate. Jackson was eventually censured by the Senate.

#11) Both men were stubborn. When the Senate rejected Andrew Jackson’s nominee for Ambassador to England, saying he was a son of a tavern owner and unqualified, Jackson put the man on his ticket as vice president when he ran for re-election. The tavern owner’s son, Martin Van Buren, became the 8th president of the United States.

#12) Both men founded new political movements. Jackson is the founder of the modern Democratic Party.

#13) Both men were known as “counter punchers.” Trump defined himself as such in the national debates. Jackson was famous in war and politics for letting his opponent strike first.

Jackson once fought a duel with an opponent who was considered a “perfect” shot. Jackson let the man fire first. To everyone’s surprise his opponent missed. Jackson then, very cool and deliberate, aimed his pistol and shot him dead. Afterward it was learned that Jackson had indeed been hit and the bullet was only inches from his heart. He had not flinched. Jackson would carry that bullet, near his heart, until the day he died many years later.

#14) Both men used the latest technology to transform politics.

Jackson used lithographs to mass produce pictures of his heroic exploits at the Battle of New Orleans. It was a new concept. It allowed people to actually see the man they were voting for.

Color lithographs of Jackson winning the Battle of New Orleans hung in log cabins and homes. It was the poor man’s art.

In our time, Trump used Twitter to by-pass the media and speak directly to the people.

#15) Both men waged war against the media of their day. Jackson’s wife was attacked in the press. After the election she read articles labeling her an adulterer and a bigamist. She died just before the inauguration.

Jackson retaliated and organized his own media, the “Jackson papers” which viciously attacked opponents.

There were also major differences between the two men.

Trump was born into riches. Jackson was born into poverty. Trump came from a large family. Jackson’s father died before he was born and his mother died when he was young.

Trump has been married three times. Jackson loved the same woman all his life.

Even so, many of the comparisons are hard to avoid. And every morning, when President Donald Trump looks out the front window of the family quarters of the White House, he sees a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback in Lafayette Park. Jackson, ignoring the pigeons all around,  is waving his hat back at the president.



Trump is the most impactful president since FDR

December 21, 2017

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has been the most impactful president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When it comes to politics, James Carville and Paul Begala taught us that “its the economy stupid.”

By those metrics Donald Trump leaves George W. Bush and Barack Obama standing still. Under both presidents the rich got richer and the poor got poorer with a rigged, crony capitalism, system in place.

Now, in one year, we have 1.7 million new jobs.

Unemployment is at the lowest in 17 years.

The stock market has broken records 80 times in one year.

We have a reformed the tax code. It was Ronald Reagan’s stellar achievement but it took him 5 years and a massive re-election landslide to get it.

And the list goes on.

We are becoming energy independent. Both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter would have given their right arms for that. It was considered an impossible prospect in the 1970’s and 80’s.

Illegal immigration has dropped like a rock.

Isis has been driven out of its cities and wiped off the maps of the Middle East

Trump has transformed the judiciary, not only the Supreme Court but 12 circuit judges, the most in a first year in American history. It is not as easy as it looks. I worked for a president whose first pick was an ideological disaster.

So it has been a spectacular, breathtaking year.

Of course, you wouldn’t know it if you depended on the corporate, Democratic news machine. One study shows that 90% of media stories are attacks on Donald Trump.

And all of this is coming at a time when the corporate, Democratic, media is losing its power, its stranglehold, on the American people.  We now have options, Twitter, Live Streaming and YouTube. As their audience shrinks, the corporate media have become increasingly desperate and shrill. But the more they demand control, the more their audiences turn them off.

Ginned up scandals have not worked. Lord Melbourne once observed, “The problem with a scandal is that sometimes the mud gets on the wrong person.”

Attempts by the media to create an issue out of “Russian collusion” has resulted in more intense examination of the Clinton years and now, unbelievably, the role of Jill Stein.

The idea of obstruction of justice has led to revelations about a politicized FBI. When I dared to mention Andrew McCabe on CNN last May, I was banned from the network. But finally, this week, the Congress called him in to testify under oath.

The campaign against sexual assault has led to calls to revisit Bill Clinton’s untouched list of women and now the Lisa Bloom scandal, with women receiving money to attack Trump. If the Democratic Party, with their allies in Hollywood, actually become the party of moral values, it will be the equivalent of a triple axel, triple toe move by an Olympic skater.

Sometimes the media narrative is immediately discredited. All the networks proclaimed that Trump’s tax reform would result in companies paying off debt and awarding their executives big bonuses. None of it, they said, would reach the common man. But immediately after the measure passed AT & T and Comcast announced $1,000 bonuses to all employees.

Nevertheless, the media’s relentless attacks have taken their toll. As they carefully point out, Trump’s year end approval rating is the lowest for the last month of the first year in office since Eisenhower. But even then they cherry pick their dates and numbers, like a good high school debater.

To give you a better guide, Trump’s lowest rate has been 33%. Harry Truman dipped to 22%, Richard Nixon 24%, George W. Bush 25%,  Jimmy Carter 28%, George H.W. Bush 29% and both Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, both, reached 35%.

But yes, Donald Trump is vulnerable. He is disrupting years of bi-partisan corruption on Capitol Hill. It has been a rigged system. So he has critics and enemies in both political parties, not to mention the board rooms of some of America’s biggest companies.

It is all moving toward the 2018 elections and an attempt by the media to take back the election they lost to a wayward and willful electorate, who dared to defy them.

The Democrats will be trying for impeachment. If they win enough seats in the House of Representatives they will be able to do it. And if they win enough seats in the Senate they will be able to convict Donald Trump and remove him from office.

Contrary to what many Americans may think, they do not need evidence of Russian collusion or obstruction of justice or any other crime. They only need the votes.

We are in for a year of high drama. Fasten your seat belts.