Why Donald Trump is the most impactful president-elect since Abraham Lincoln

December 10, 2016

Okay, sit back down. You’re okay. Breathe. Breathe. You’ll be alright.

I said, “impactful,” okay? “Impactful.” It’s not even a Gates approved word, it underlines red in Microsoft Word. Just relax.

First, lets take a little tour and see some other impactful presidents-elect so you will get a sense of context.

Why Ronald Reagan was a great president-elect

Ronald Reagan made a big impact as a president-elect. He grunted and hummed and winked and whispered and the Iranians released the American hostages even while he was taking the oath of office on inauguration day. He had sent the signals. The Iranians had gotten the message. It didn’t take 8 years. It didn’t even take 8 minutes. Jimmy Carter was still president but we all know why they were released.

Richard Nixon made a big impact as a president-elect. He and Kissinger had agents on the ground in Paris at the peace talks with North Vietnam. Even while LBJ was trying to end the war. Lame duck, President Johnson, could only fume.

Lincoln had to keep Kentucky in the union.

Abraham Lincoln was the most impactful president-elect of all. Lame duck, President James Buchanan was having a 19th century version of a Netflix binge, nobody knew what he was up to, so with the nation being torn apart, Lincoln had to send signals from Springfield, Illinois.

He was trying, among other things, to keep Kentucky in the union and so keep his wife, Mary Todd and her family together. Happy wife, happy life? And happy country too?

Donald Trump best president-elect since Lincoln

Everything Donald Trump has done as president-elect has been impactful and strategic.

His trip to Indiana and involvement with the Carrier Company was hugely symbolic. It said, 1.) I keep my promises, 2.) This administration will be about jobs, 3.) I want it done fast.

Now, I know, the media says that the Carrier Company is only one company and a handful of jobs, he can’t go to every factory. Those jobs are a drop in the bucket.

But a president doesn’t have time to meet with the 2.79 million federal workers in his bureaucracy. They pick up on what he wants by listening to his speeches and by following his actions.

Obama was about giving speeches in the Rose Garden. Trump is about leadership on steroids, showing us by example how to get things done. Before this is over companies will be coming to him with deals that will create more jobs.

Likewise the message to Boeing was clear. You gave a million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and had all of your execs give money to Hillary’s presidential campaign. Now you want government money in return. Well, in the future, companies that want to succeed will do so better by producing products that are of good quality, come in under bid and on time and are actually needed. The day of bribe is over, the new day of supply and demand is back.

Finally, the call from Taiwan shows that everything is on the table. We know what we need from China and what they need from us and the arrangement will have to be more fair.

Changing the rules of history

When Trump delayed in naming his first cabinet officer the media pounced, using a new measurement to judge president-elects. Obama had named his first cabinet officer after three weeks, they said.

But then, lovers of history like yours truly, reminded them that Reagan, Ford, Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, had all taken six weeks. And when Trump surprised everybody and named off cabinet picks, pop, pop, pop, the media moved the goal posts. The rules had changed. President-elects would henceforth be judged by something else, we will find it, just be patient. It will be something that Trump doesn’t do well.

The fact is, whether he is a good president or not remains to be seen, but like it or not, he is indeed an impactful president-elect. Even a great one. He is sending signals that need to be sent. He is a leader.  And whether he got 40 jobs out of Carrier or 4,000 misses the point. It’s 40 more than any other president-elect has ever gotten before.

Donald Trump has come out of the gate fast.

 

 

 

 


Why George H.W. Bush will be ranked as one of America’s greatest presidents.

December 5, 2016

In a hundred years George H.W. Bush will be ranked among America’s greatest presidents. Maybe in the top five, with Washington, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and, yes, his predecessor, Ronald Reagan.

It will be said that Lincoln saved the union but Reagan and Bush saved mankind.

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George H.W. Bush will be ranked as one of American’s greatest presidents.

Today we worry about what would happen if nuclear weapons fell into the hands of terrorists. In the Reagan – Bush years that had already happened. Both the Soviet and Chinese government’s had nuclear weapons and both sponsored communist regimes that were barbaric.

Pol Pot, who ruled Cambodia practiced the most virulent form of Marxism. He targeted for execution anyone in academia, medicine, the military, government bureaucracies, private business. He marked for execution anyone who wore eye glasses. His thinking was that if they wear eye glasses they can probably read and if they can read we must eliminate them to restart our nation without contamination from the West.

President George H.W. Bush kept one of the escapees from the Cambodian killing fields on his senior White House staff as a reminder of what he was facing down.

Reagan started the process that ended the Cold War but it finally ended on the watch of George H.W. Bush. Reagan called for the Berlin Wall to come down. But it finally happened under the patient, brilliant guidance of George H.W. Bush who not only knew when to act but also understood the value of restraint and who knew when to remain silent.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Bush united the world against the action. When he led the Gulf War, the invasion against Iraq, his allies, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait paid for half of the cost.

Within three months, allied forces defeated Saddam Hussein and drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. President George H.W. Bush called an end to the hostilities, and allowed Hussein to remain in power in Baghdad. Bush was heavily criticized for his decision. Others advocated eliminating the Saddam Hussein government altogether, while we had the chance. But Bush, Sr. feared that it would destabilize the region and upset the delicate Sunni-Shiite balance of the Middle East.

It’s not very often in history that we get to see what would have happened if a leader made a different decision but in this case we can. Years later, Bush’s son, President George W. Bush would be confronted with the same choice and he would topple Saddam Hussein.

The region was plunged into chaos, hundreds of thousands lost their lives, millions were uprooted, Christian communities dating their history back to the apostle Thomas were exterminated, wars spread across the Middle East, and the United States, who borrowed the money from world banks to fight their war, was plunged into its  second worst economic crisis in history.

Someday, a hundred years from now, when historians catch up to all of these details, there will be marble statues of George H.W. Bush. And when they pass by parents will tell their children, it is not only what  you do that makes you great, sometimes, it is what you don’t do. It is when you stay calm, or stay silent, or as another president, Theodore Roosevelt, once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

 

 

 

 


How Trump beats a rigged convention?

April 18, 2016

4/18/2016

“That’s not fair!” Donald Trump supporters say. They are complaining about the fact that millions of votes are ignored as the GOP establishment continues to try to rob him of the nomination by stacking the delegate process.

What an irony.

In 2012, former governor and GOP Rules Chairman, John Sununu, said the exact same thing to Andrea Mitchell of NBC news. Ron Paul was successfully winning delegates at State Conventions, in spite of the GOP establishment efforts to stop him. The establishment printed false slates, changed meeting locations and closed down District Conventions when they were losing. It was all captured by cell phone and is available to see firsthand.

Even so, the Ron Paul insurgents arrived at the 2012 RNC in Tampa with more than 500 delegates and alternates.

When Paul won almost all of the Iowa delegation Sununu was furious. “That undermines the votes of a million Iowans who went to the Caucus,” he said, “And that’s not fair.”

Sununu, the poster boy for the GOP establishment, is now trying to run an insurgency against the frontrunner, Donald Trump.  Sununu made it clear from the beginning that the establishment wanted anybody but Trump. But now, the outsiders are the frontrunners and the establishment is using Ron Paul tactics.

DW SUNUNU

President George H.W. Bush, John Sununu and Doug Wead in the Oval Office in 1990.

THE CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE IS THE KEY

To understand how Donald Trump and Paul Manafort can shut down the Sununu – insider insurgency at the RNC in Cleveland, take a good look at how they, themselves, shut down Ron Paul when the situation was reversed.

In 2012, the GOP establishment used the Credential’s Committee to strip Ron Paul of his duly elected delegates and had them bodily thrown off the floor of the Convention.  The Governor of Maine was so heartbroken for the young people from his State who had worked so hard for a year to get to the RNC that he left with them out of solidarity.  The media mostly ignored it.

Andrea Mitchell of NBC asked John Sununu if the establishment was afraid that their heavy handed tactics would cost them party unity in the general election.

“Well, let’s understand, fundamentally, what the concern of the Party is.” Sununu told Mitchell. “Iowa’s a great example. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each had about 35% of the vote. That’s 70% of the vote. And the rest was distributed among the rest of the candidates.  Ron Paul’s numbers were close to single digits.”

This was totally false but went unchallenged by Mitchell. In fact, the actual vote was Santorum 24.6%, Romney 24.6%, Paul 21.5%, with the other seven candidates falling behind.

When asked by Mitchell how they could justify removing the duly elected delegates Sununu said, “They go and cram the next part of the [Iowa] Caucus and they come away with all of the Iowa vote. That undermines the votes of a million Iowans who went to the Caucus. And that’s not fair.

“And so they like to abuse the process, in my opinion, when it serves them but when people follow the rules as we did here they get upset with the Rules Committee.

“But the vote we had here that they are concerned about was 78 to 14. They really have nothing to complain about.”

Sununu failed to mention to Andrea Mitchell that Romney security operatives routed the bus carrying the opposition Rules Committee members all around Tampa for hours, keeping them from arriving at the Convention in time to vote on the issue. This included not just Ron Paul delegates but any Rules Committee delegate not approved by the Mitt Romney-John Sununu-Ben Ginsberg team.

Today, ironically, Sununu is encouraging the establishment leaders to play the same Ron Paul game. Ted Cruz and all of the other “Never-Trump” operatives are encouraging the establishment to take delegates at the State Conventions and laughing at Donald Trump supporters who are now saying exactly what the establishment was saying four years ago, “That’s not fair!”

SUNUNU NOW RE-WRITES HISTORY

Meanwhile, Sununu is revising the narrative of what happened in 2012. Now Sununu is telling reporters that the reasons behind Rule 40(b) were to speed up the Convention because of an impending hurricane. When Fox News anchor, Bill Hemmer, recently asked about the rule Sununu could hardly believe his luck. Hemmer didn’t even seem to notice or care for the reasons behind the change.

This revised narrative is important because the establishment wants to justify what was done in 2012 and keep Trump from responding the way they did.

Trump’s solution?

Like Sununu in 2012, he can seize control of the Credentials Committee and throw the establishment delegates off the floor of the Convention.

It is the old story. “Hurt people, hurt people.” The victims of abuse become the abusers themselves.

And like Sununu he will conclude that when they are confronted with the prospect of a Democrat president they will come back into the fold.

Don’t count on it. If Republicans want to win someone must break the cycle of abuse.


Top Presidential Historian says Ted Cruz not eligible to be president

January 14, 2016

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.


Jimmy Carter: He never told a lie

August 20, 2015

Jimmy Carter held a press conference today, announcing details on his growing battle with cancer.

“I will never lie to you,” Jimmy Carter said back in 1976.  And so far, he never has.

The dignity, humility and integrity of Jimmy Carter is best illustrated by what he hasn’t done.

Unlike presidents who followed him he has not made millions off of interviews or speeches.  Or taken speaking engagements from companies who needed influence.  He hasn’t used his Foundation to trade influence for money.  He hasn’t taken bribes in return for influencing policies for friends.

Unlike many of the most recent presidents he hasn’t used the courts to block researchers or writers from accessing his presidential papers.  He has been accessible.  He simply has nothing to hide. I interviewed him the year after he left office.

Unlike the last three Democrat presidents who preceded him, he did not have sex with young subordinates on his own White House staff.

What is striking is that there has not even been a single charge of impropriety.  One can disagree with his political views but one cannot find anything wrong with his character.

Jimmy Carter followed Richard Nixon into the White House.  Nixon, who was caught in a lie over the Watergate Scandal, created what was called the Imperial Presidency.  His new White House Secret Service uniforms looked like Prussian police officers.  By contrast, President Jimmy Carter insisted on carrying his own bags when he got off Air Force One.

Secret Service uniforms at the Nixon White House.

Secret Service uniforms at the Nixon White House.

It is said that Jimmy Carter redefined the post presidency.  Most early presidents were careful to retire and stay out of the limelight.  There were exceptions. Ulysses Grant got involved in tawdry business deals with his sons and probably would have gone to prison if he had not been a former president.

In more recent times, Coolidge, Truman, Eisenhower, all kept the tradition that held, former presidents were seldom seen and never heard.

Carter changed all of that.  Determined to be useful, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and helped build houses for the needy. There he was, the former president, on a rooftop, pounding nails in the sun.  The media couldn’t resist.  He showed energy and compassion and his Carter Foundation impacted the world.

Jimmy Carter’s political rise was a Cinderella story.  He was a candidate for president who showed up in Iowa the year before with a 2% recognition factor.  That doesn’t mean that 2% of the state supported him, it means only 2% even knew who he was.  But by the summer of 1975, right where we are now in the presidential cycle, Jimmy Carter stunned the nation by winning the important Iowa presidential summer straw poll.  It thrust him into the nation’s limelight where he has remained ever since.

It is hard to explain the euphoria that accompanied the Carter election as president.  He was a Democrat who publicly identified himself as a “born again” Christian.  Which put border states into play and reshuffled the electoral college numbers as Republican evangelicals crossed over to support him.  It forever changed the strategic map of American politics.

His family was a hoot.

Lillian Carter, the president’s mother, was a huge personality, well ahead of her time.  Outspoken and courageous in her political views, Lillian was a Southerner who spent her life exposing racism.  A world traveler, a nurse, a former Peace Corps volunteer to India, she became a delightful bon vivant of the Carter First Family.

His sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, was a well dressed, good looking, faith healer.

His brother, Billy Carter, was the personification of the old Southern country boy.  When Carter won the Iowa Caucus reporters descended on his tiny gas station in Plains, Georgia where Billy held court with a beer can in his hand.  “My sister is a faith healer,” Billy said. “My brother thinks he’s going to be president.  I’m the only sane one in the bunch.”

It was an exciting and compelling time of hope.  America was coming out of Watergate and corruption.  There was hope that this president could restore integrity to the White House.  He did that. But the economy sagged, Islamic terrorists seized power in Iran and the Soviet Union threatened the end of the world.  American turned to Ronald Reagan.

The Soviet threat is gone now, but the economy still struggles as American finds its new place in a post industrial era and unfortunately, the corruption is back.  The IRS, the Veterans Administration and other agencies are tainted.  The front runners for both parties include a Republican who openly brags that “I buy politicians and they do what the hell I tell them to” and a Democrat who is trying to survive charges that she offered her power for sale to even foreign buyers.

Jimmy Carter’s press conference today was a reminder that at least once, in recent American history, someone held power without corruption.

Jimmy Carter and Doug Wead, 1979.

Jimmy Carter and Doug Wead, 1979.


Why I support Rand Paul and why he reminds me of Ronald Reagan.

June 30, 2015

For the first time since Ronald Reagan we have a political figure who is not just running for office to seek personal power but one who is actually leading a popular movement.   I’m talking about Senator Rand Paul who leads a diverse array of young people, free market conservatives, African Americans and Internet Geeks in what can best be described as “The Give Us Back Our Freedom Movement.”

Not since Ronald Reagan has a Republican attracted so many Independent and Democratic voters.  His ideas transcend partisan politics, like his recent tax proposal which as he puts it, “blows up the tax code.”  It’s no surprise that he usually does better than any other GOP candidates when pitted against Hillary Clinton in national polls.

Young people support Rand Paul because he is the only public figure who talks about the corruption of the current economic system.  Regulations create contrived monopolies for some companies and keep new ones out of the marketplace.  Government subsidies favor Democrat or Republican corporations depending on who is in power.  The result?  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer no matter who is president.

Socialist solutions call for more government run businesses.  The US Post Office comes to mind.  Paul favors a  return to free markets and supply and demand.  Many young people like that.  They want a chance at the American Dream.

Most of his following comes out of his strong support of the U.S.  Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Many African Americans support Paul because he would reform the criminal justice system and make justice color blind.  While Democrats like to reminisce about their Civil Rights victories of the past, Rand Paul has picked up the torch and reclaimed the Republican lead for the first time since Abraham Lincoln.

Internet Geeks like Rand Paul because he is the Archangel of Internet freedom, standing with his flaming sword and trusty filibuster should the FCC or any other government agency make good on their promises to tax and regulate the digital age.

Evangelical Christians like Rand Paul because he is a born again Christian, himself, and he fights for their right to freedom of worship.  Paul would end foreign aid to countries that execute women who are, themselves, the victims of crime and Christians simply because of their faith.

Gays like Rand Paul because he is a fierce proponent of personal privacy and the dignity of the individual.  His opposition to government intrusion and eavesdropping are already legend.

His opponents say he can’t win because of his father’s sometimes controversial ideas.  Actually, I like his father’s ideas but presidents were never elected because of their fathers.  Reagan’s father was an alcoholic.  So was Bill Clinton’s stepfather.  Barack Obama’s father walked out on him when he was two years old.  Abraham Lincoln’s father used to chase down runaway slaves for a living.  He would sometimes beat them before returning them to their master.

If this were a contest about who had the best dad, Rand Paul would do quite well.  He can be proud of his dad’s great career in congress.  But in fact, this is a contest about who has the best ideas to run the country and at the moment Rand Paul is a fountain of ideas.

Foreign Policy?  Rand Paul sees Israel as one of American’s most important allies.  In 1978 I served as vice president of Christians and Jews United for Israel so that is no small point for me.

The biggest knock on Rand Paul is his reluctance to go to war.

Yes, he is slow to send in the same troops over and over.  American soldiers now experience the highest divorce rate in history and, as a result, the highest rate of suicide as well.  Rand Paul cares about these families, the soldiers, but also the children.

And yet, Rand Paul was one of the first public figures to call for a Declaration of War against ISIS.  Perhaps more significant, Rand Paul would not have armed ISIS in the first place.  Two years ago he was trying to block the U.S. Senate from transferring arms and vehicles to Syrian rebels.  “It could fall into the wrong hands,” he warned.    Two years later, American equipment raced across the Middle East with black ISIS flags waving, slaughtering Christians and Muslims who opposed them.

When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 it resulted in the death of 241 marines.  He immediately withdrew our forces, deciding that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the region.  Nobody called Reagan an isolationist.

Rand Paul has made it clear that American must clean up its own messes.  So he will do what has to be done in the Middle East and elsewhere.  But I proudly support a man who thinks before he shoots. Someone who won’t get us into messes in the first place. “The soldier more than anyone else,” wrote Douglas MacArthur, “prays for peace.”


David and Goliath

April 23, 2015

I first gave this speech in 1968.  Only I called it David and the Princess because that is it’s more appropriate title.  In 1975 I delivered it to 10,000 people at Dexter Yager’s great Free Enterprise Day in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Almost five million copies of that cassette tape or CD sold around the world in 30 language or more.  I was invited to share it to Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, 15,000 Muslims in Jakarta, an open air event of 40,000 – mostly Hindus – in Bombay, 50,000 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and more than 300 other cities in stadiums and coliseums on six continents.

Now, with the release of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller on David and Goliath I thought it appropriate to bring it out of moth balls.  The truths are eternal.  And my take is still unique and unassailable.  Not a day goes by that someone in the world doesn’t email me about it.  I have been urged to monetize it but would rather make it easily available to a new generation of young dreamers.  Here you go.