Donald Trump? Sorry history says, “Not gonna happen.”

August 24, 2015

At the moment he is soaring in the stratosphere and I hate to be a kill-joy but if history is any barometer, Donald Trump will soon be falling back down to earth.

First, no businessman has ever been elected president.  And there is a very good reason. People in power have always made the laws that govern business purposely gray, not black or white.  From the emergence of the guilds in the Middle Ages, to modern day regulators on Wall Street, rulers have expected their merchants to break the law so that they will have power over them and keep them at their mercy.

Ask the IRS to fill out your tax return for you and they will laugh.  They aren’t paid to help you get it right, they are paid to catch you when you get it wrong.

The odds that the Donald has made legal mistakes in his many deals and bankruptcies is almost certain.  The odds that he has run into the Mafia, while operating in New York and Atlantic City, is also quite likely.  And before he becomes president, we are going to meet those people.  We will know their names.  And the people who trusted him and invested in his projects and lost money? We will get to meet them as well.

Second, all presidents held prior elective office or were prominent generals who served for years in government.

Why?  Because this is how candidates are vetted, they run for Congress or the Statehouse.  They serve under the watchful eye of a superior in government.   Remember businessman Herman Cain?  The year before the last presidential election he captured the headlines much like Trump.  According to Pew Research  Cain earned more press coverage than any other GOP contender.  His rally in South Carolina was the largest political event of the GOP primary season.  But before he could move into the White House we began to hear allegations of sexual harassment from women who had worked with him and his numbers fell.

The unproven allegations against Herman Cain were not nearly as bad as the stories we could confirm about other prominent political figures but those stories had been out on the table for a long time.  We don’t like surprises.  We like time to think things over.  The examination of Donald Trump has not even begun.  The American people can be forgiving.  They once elected a man who openly admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock. But before any of us get to vote we will want to know every wife, every girlfriend and we will want to hear their stories in detail.

Third.  Finally, there are those pesky polls.

Oh, you thought the polls were good?  Yes, he is leading among Republican voters.  But those same polls show a very disturbing problem.  He loses to Hillary Clinton in Ohio and Pennsylvania and only beats her in Florida.  And he loses to vice president Joe Biden in all three states.

Now here is the kicker.  Donald Trump ridiculed Rand Paul’s poll numbers among the GOP but Rand Paul consistently, for months now, has been beating Hillary Clinton in those same battleground states including Pennsylvania.  And now, other GOP candidates have joined Rand Paul in beating Hillary in Ohio as well.  Trump calls Jeb Bush boring but “boring Bush” is beating Hillary Clinton in all three swing states and Trump is not.

What does it mean?  It means that the Democrats know their real challenger and it is not Donald Trump.  They have taken out national ads against Rand Paul.  They have made no secret that they would love for Trump to win the GOP nomination and if he can offend a few more general election constituencies on his way to the GOP coronation, well, all the better.

There is one thing still in the Donald’s favor.  He claims that his most qualifying trait for chief executive is his ability to negotiate with an opponent, in this case the Chinese or the Mexicans or Iran.  His bestselling book is entitled “The Art of the Deal.”

In fact, this is the one common denominator of all American presidents.  They honed their skills in adversarial positions against a live opponent.  We have never had an artist president, a Vaclav Havel.  Our presidents have all been tested in combat.  25 presidents were lawyers, including Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.  12 presidents were war time generals.  They have argued in court or run for office or fought on the battlefield against an opponent.

Could it happen?  Could businessman Donald Trump actually win?  Well, yes, that’s what makes history so compelling.  But the odds are long.  And remember, this time he is negotiating for your vote.  Be careful and remember, he calls it the art of the deal.

 


Marco Rubio: A Demographic on Steroids

May 14, 2015

Senator Marco Rubio spoke for the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, staking out his position as the GOP super hawk, announcing that he would not be afraid to go to war.  Presumably, he will have to compete with Senator Lindsey Graham for that role.  And they both will have to find a suitable target.

Recent polls show him climbing.  A Quinnipiac Poll has him tied with Rand Paul for second place in Iowa, behind Scott Walker.  And a recent Bloomberg poll has him second only to Rand Paul in New Hampshire.

He is a fascinating candidate popular with the media.  I call him a “demographic on steroids.”

First, he is Hispanic and that is the wave of the future for this country.

Second, he is from Florida, a key battleground, must win, state for any Republican.

Third, he is a Roman Catholic, with an LDS heritage, who regularly attends a Baptist church.  Believe me, that is a highly evolved creature perfectly fitted for a modern, GOP primary process in an age of the Fox News Channel.

And finally, although he is young, he is the insider, big business, Wall Street, money alternative to Jeb Bush.  In fact, Rubio’s people are right now telling donors that a dollar given to Jeb Bush is a dollar given to Hillary Clinton since Bush will never win a head to head contest with her.  The national media and major corporations will never allow three of the last five presidents to come from the same immediate family.  Bush, we are told, is only insurance in case Hillary slips.

These above are the four major positives of a Marco Rubio candidacy.  But he has one major negative.

Marco Rubio, like most of the other candidates in this race, has no raison d’etre.  There is no purpose in his candidacy other than naked ambition.  For too many candidates in this race it is all about them and not the voter.  Hillary Clinton says, “Vote for me I am a woman.”  Marco Rubio says, “Vote for me I am Hispanic.”  Even Scott Walker’s argument says nothing about what he would do.  Walker says, “Vote for me I am a governor.  I know how to be an administrator.”  It is meant to contrast the ineptitude of the current president.

But being a governor is a pretty empty argument.  Jimmy Carter was a governor.  If you know how to run things well and you take the country in the wrong direction you will only get us there quicker.  The missing piece is the direction.  Where are you taking us?  Why should we vote for you?

This may be why Senator Rand Paul is now leading these early swing state and battleground state polls.  He is a fount of ideas.  Young people have a reason to vote for him.  African Americans have a reason to vote for him.  Born again Christians have a reason to vote for him.  Waitresses have a reason to vote for him.  He doesn’t just raise the defense budget, he shows how he will do it while balancing the budget.

Marco Rubio needs a popular purpose to his campaign, something more than protecting insiders who are gaming the system, something with appeal to the masses.  Their are signs that he is trying to develop that.  He is using the word “conservative” a lot these days but an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations  is not the best place to make that argument.  As a candidate, he will have to come up with at least one cut in spending to justify the label.  Something he hasn’t yet been able to do.  Watch for him to distinguish himself in the debates.  Not with flash but by avoiding  self mutilation.  And see how his money helps him survive the early crush of negative ads.

Finally Marco Rubio must convince Jeb Bush to drop out of the race and quickly.  Otherwise he is locked into a huge battle in Florida.  The GOP is not likely to nominate a candidate to contest Hillary Clinton if he can’t carry his own home state in a GOP primary.   The same goes for Jeb Bush.  The two will be locked into a death struggle in Florida, like the Russo-German front in World War Two.   This drains money away from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.  They could conceivably win some of those contests and still lose Florida and get knocked out.

But then, last month Jeb Bush was beating Marco Rubio.

Most bets are that Marco Rubio will not go away early.  If he doesn’t win himself he will likely be asked onto the ticket by the winner.  Either way, Marco Rubio will be around for a long time.


Why Jeb Bush is Running For President? Is it really for George P.?

February 8, 2015

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. You don’t really believe that the American people are going to elect three out of the last five presidents from the same immediate family do you?  Ain’t gonna happen.  The American people are in a somnolent trance right now.  It hasn’t registered.

Yes, it’s true that there might have been three presidents from the Adams family. (See how Charles Francis Adams might have been elected president.)  But that stretched out over 100 years.

      So if it is an impossible task why is Jeb Bush running?  Ahhh.  I’m glad you asked.
      Here are six reasons why Jeb Bush is entering the fray.
      1.) He just might win. Maybe he only has a 1-500 chance but would you throw away a lottery ticket with such odds?  He has name recognition, money out the kazoo and the American people are a fickle, unpredictable lot. He could win the GOP nomination and Hillary could slip on a banana peel.
      2.) The polls say he is a factor.  Some polls even have him leading among Republican voters. It is irresponsible for him to ignore those numbers.  He probably entertains that Platonic idea, “If you refuse to lead you are destined to be led by someone worse than yourself.”
      3.) The Republican field is crowded with candidates which means he can consolidate his considerable experience, name recognition, money and contacts to win against a divided field.  And if Bush isn’t the favorite, those factors alone might be enough to beat anybody else.
      4.) Ironically, Hillary Clinton is his best opponent in a general election.  She may be his only chance to win and that may be why he jumped in.  Why wait and have as your opponent some new, sexy face in 2020 and be labelled the old establishment guy with Washington connections?  If he faces Hillary Clinton now, it will be a choice between two old, establishment “guys” with Washington connections and Hillary won’t be able to play the dynasty card against him.
      5.) He can do anything else he was going to do better by running for president anyway.
      Does he want to raise money for an NGO?  Promote a cause?  Change the Republican Party? Champion an issue? Promote an agenda? Be on a slew of board of directors and get paid for it? Get a job as president of a university? Be the next NFL Commissioner? Start a company with billionaire investors? Be a television commentator or have his own show?  Write a book people will read? He can do any and all of those things better if he runs for president than if he doesn’t.
      Maybe, like Charles Francis Adams or Robert Todd Lincoln, he wants to be a cabinet member in the next administration?  Every debate will be a chance to audition for the next president.  Hey, even Hillary Clinton may want him in her cabinet to unite the country.  Like JFK and Barack Obama, who appointed Republicans in their administrations.
      And finally there is this, the big reason…..
      6.) By running now he can clean up the Bush image to prepare the way for his son.
      In case you haven’t noticed, George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, is on his way to the position of Texas Land Commissioner.  It’s a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion.
      George P. has been groomed for a long time.  In 1987 I co-authored a book with George H.W. Bush and while it was dedicated to wife, Barbara, then Vice President Bush insisted that it open with one of his famous letters to his grandson George P.
.
      Imagine? A governor from Texas, who just happens to be Hispanic, with name recognition and the most powerful fundraising machine in modern politics?  Look out.
      But there is one big problem and that is the Bush brand has been severely damaged.  America’s last impression of a Bush president was one who led us into a questionable war with Iraq, under what many argue was false pretenses, with borrowed money, which led to the second worst financial depression in American history.  Not to mention, the ongoing residual effects of that war which has led to mayhem across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with the wholesale slaughter of Christians.
      If Jeb Bush runs for president he will come off as a reasonable, kind, bright man with strong principles.  He will have plenty of Souljah moments, such as immigration, where he resists the Republican brand.  One would think that this will almost certainly lose him the nomination but if he does all of this with grace and humility he resets the brand and George P. can start fresh.  Besides it might actually work.  Americans like a leader, even if they disagree with him.  He has nothing to lose.  And he just might win.  Though probably not.  And therein lies another plus.  The national media always fawns over a Republican that they know can’t actually win.  It makes them look bi-partisan.  All the better for George P. Bush and the future.
      If this is what is going on – and it is surely a factor – then Jeb Bush may be one of the most selfless men in the famous Bush family.  He stood aside for his father.  He stood aside for his brother.  And now, by running for president, he may just be doing the same thing for his son.
      See this CNN interview: Bush Family Dynasty: The long range plan that is now years in the making.


What’s with Rand Paul’s blue jeans?

February 2, 2015

Doug Wead on Neil Cavuto, February 2, 2015.


Inside the Jeb Bush – Mitt Romney Summit

January 23, 2015

An insiders transcript leaked from the Jeb Bush – Mitt Romney summit.   (A parody)

Thursday, January 22, 2015, Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

Bush: Governor.

Romney: Governor.

Romney: Jan, would you get the Governor some coffee?

Bush: Oh no thanks, bottled water is fine.

Romney: Well Governor that will do you some good in Nevada. (Chuckles)

Bush: Governor, the last time we talked you told me if you ever said you were running for president again to shoot you. (Laughter)

Romney: And you’re here to do the job?

(More laughter.)

Romney: And the last time we talked you said a Bush could never be elected president again.  And I think I agree with you.  (Laughter.)

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep will do.

Bush: Have you seen this? (Passes over some polling data.)

Romney: Oh yeah, Rand Paul.

Bush: It’s a very real possibility.

Romney: Yes it is.

Bush: There is only one way to stop Rand Paul and that is a ton of money.  And if we are divided we split the advantage we have. Let’s face it; we carry on our backs the established order of doing business in this country. If I can raise money like my brother did I can win Iowa, will win New Hampshire with Boston TV buys.  Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham is getting into the race for one purpose, to stop Rand Paul in South Carolina.  If I am ahead by then he will pull out and I can finish him in Florida.

Romney: Well I did win in Iowa and New Hampshire.  You have to win the general my friend. (Romney did not actually win the GOP caucuses in Iowa.)  And you left out one thing… Nevada. No matter how small you think Nevada may be it comes before South Carolina and it would be a powerful sequential win for Rand Paul. Three in a row.  The race might not even get to your Lindsey Graham.  And I am the only one who can effectively stop Rand Paul in Nevada because the LDS like Rand Paul.  If I am not in the race, he will sweep their vote.

Bush: Yeah, I’ve seen the polling.  What do Mormons like about Paul?

Romney: They see the Constitution as “hanging by a thread” and the Paul’s are all Constitution.

Bush: If we fight each other it will be brutal.  We both will have a lot of money.

Romney: Well, I’ve already talked to my supporters and they are not going to go away.

Bush: Both of us will be destroyed.

Romney: If we turn our PACS lose there will never be another Bush in the White House. You need to think about that. Your son has a future.

Bush: Governor, let me ask you, why now?  You’ve already run twice, three times really.

Romney: Because I will never be closer.  The polls show I would win the same race with Obama if we did it again.  You are younger you have time.

Bush: I am the only candidate who is right now carrying any of the battleground states against Hillary.

Romney: Really? Texas and Florida?  But you can never win any of the others. Why are you in such a rush?

Bush: This is the only chance I’ve got.  I would be running against Hillary Clinton.  It neutralizes the political dynasty issue.  The media can’t attack a Bush as an insider without attacking a Clinton for the same thing.

Romney: Governor, in all fairness, you have had a father and a brother who have already served as president.  And you have a son who has a great future, I understand George P. is going to be Texas Land Commissioner, congratulations, but it is just a bit disingenuous for you to come here talking about your “only chance” when two out of the last four presidents have been Bushes. I would think that you would be deferring to your son, he has a chance, when the legacy of your brother has had a little more distance.  You understand, that even if I drop out of the race, the super PACs of your opponents are going to link – for all time – the Bush family name to the disaster in the Middle East and disaster in the economy?

Bush: Which is another reason to run now, to show another Bush, a more acceptable Bush, to give young Georgie a chance.

Romney: Not to mention what Hillary Clinton would do in a general election if you win the nomination.

Bush: You have seen the list of major donors who are coming on board?

Romney: I’ve also seen the list of donors who haven’t.  And remember, my biggest donor is sitting across the table from you right now.

Bush: Look. We are on the same side. The American economy is depending on us to get this settled.  I don’t have to tell you that at least one of the major television executives is having second thoughts about the FED.  We have to solve this soon.  We need some sort of accommodation.  There must be something that I can do that is legal and proper, something to help the Church, something for you and your family.

Romney: We are agreed that it is in both of our interests to solve this. And you can be sure that Anne will argue in your behalf when you are gone. (Laughs).

Jan: Gentlemen, the lunch is ready.

(Romney and Bush stand.  This ended a private time together. They now join a luncheon with staff.)

Romney: (Greeting the group.) Okay, what’s to eat?  The governor from Florida is hungry!  (Laughter.)

 


A Third Bush president?  What history says?

November 30, 2014

“History, with all her volumes vast, hath but one page.” – Byron

Can Jeb Bush win the White House? What would be the historical ramifications of a third president from the same family?  Have we ever come close to such a moment before?

In fact, we very well might have had three presidents from the family of John Adams, our second president.  His son, John Quincy Adams was the first son born to an American president and he, himself, became the sixth American president.  His father was 89 years old and too feeble to make the trip to Washington, D.C. to see his son’s inauguration.

President John Quincy’s third son, Charles Francis Adams, was born on August 18, 1807 and was both the son and grandson of presidents.  As in the case of Jeb Bush, many contemporaries of the younger Adams suggested that he was the best presidential material in the family.

Charles Francis Adams graduated from Harvard at age 17, apprenticed in law under Daniel Webster and became fluent in several languages.  In 1858 he was elected to the House of Representatives.  But his greatest service to the country came as Ambassador to the Court of St. James in London.  Young Adams would be the third member of the Adam’s family to hold this position and he would hold it at a critical time.  The Civil War raged in America and the Confederate government was close to receiving official recognition from the United Kingdom, the super power of its day.  British clothing manufacturers were pressuring the government to make a deal and thus assure the steady supply of Southern cotton for their factories.  Such a decision might have guaranteed independence for the South.  Historian John S. Cooper states that Charles Francis Adam’s work was “arguable the greatest contribution to the Union victory made by any individual in the war.”  It was a boast that included both Abraham Lincoln and Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant.

At a time when presidential candidates had to act coy and feign disinterest, Charles Adams was nominated for president in 1872 and again in 1876.

There are some uncanny historical similarities between the third Adams and the third Bush.

#1.) Both men are often referred to as better presidential material than the two presidents in the family who preceded them.

#2.) Both men are considered establishment figures with money and power behind their candidacy.

#3.) Both men are seen as ahead of their political parties in crafting new positions on the issues.  Adams was anti-slavery early in his career, when it was a controversial position to take.  And after the great Civil War finally put that issue to rest, he was an early advocate of civil service reform, the new controversy.  Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is seen as taking positions on immigration that are too much, too soon, to allow him to win the GOP nomination.

But there are some big differences between the third would be Adams president and the third would be Bush president.  Adams was more mercurial and politically risky than Bush, whose temperament is more cautious and circumspect.

Bush is eyeing the White House at a time when the national media and rival political parties have accepted family dynasties without criticism.  The Clinton’s, the Cuomo’s, the Kennedy’s, the Paul’s and the Carter’s are just some of the political families who have fielded multiple candidates.

Adams opponents railed against the dynastic power of one family rule.  And the national media was vigorously opposed.  When Robert Todd Lincoln, a contemporary of Charles Adams, was promoted for president the national media publicly attacked the idea.  Lincoln was the son of the beloved, slain President Abraham Lincoln, and like Charles had served as Ambassador to Great Britain.

The New York World warned that “rotten Republicanism has learned to revere things that savor of monarchy and aristocracy.  It would transmit the Presidency as their fathers’ successors to crowns.”  (All the Presidents Children, Simon and Schuster.) Joseph Pulitzer was aghast at the possibility declaring that no one should be elected president because of their father.

Jeb Bush represents one distinct difference from Charles Adams.  He would be running for president within 30 years of his father and brother.  The three Adams presidential candidates spread their political careers across 80 years and three generations.  Some argue that it is too much, too soon for Jeb Bush.  But then, his likely Democrat opponent in 2016 would be Hillary Clinton, whose president husband was impeached only sixteen years ago.

Knowing the Bush family, they will be prepared and then sit back and watch the polls.  The tide comes in and the tide goes out.  If they see an opportunity, they will take it.  But the Bushes, like the Adams, will feel no need to hurry.  Jeb Bush has a son, George P. Bush, who was just elected Texas Land Commissioner.  He will be ready soon and might be the family’s “next man in.”

For more on political family dynasties read The Raising of a President.


Not another Clinton – Bush election? Please!

April 10, 2014

Get ready, we may indeed see another Clinton – Bush election.  This time, Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and former Secretary of State pitted against Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.  It’s like being Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day.  Ever get the feeling you’ve been here before?

Both candidates have something to prove.  Clinton wants to scrub her husband’s impeachment off the books and this would do it.  In a hundred years when some ten year old boy scans through the list and sees that Bill Clinton was impeached but his wife was elected president shortly thereafter he will make the ready conclusion, “The impeachment must have been political or else the country would never have turned so quickly to his wife.”  And Jeb Bush is running to prove, well, that not all Bushes should be judged by the last one.

How did it come to this?  There are three dynamics at work.

1.) Political dynasties are active in both parties simultaneously.

Normally, one can count on the opposition to raise a fuss.  If there was a Democrat dynasty the Republicans would howl.  If there was a Republican dynasty the Democrats would be outraged.  But now two have appeared at the same time.  No Democrat will raise the issue of corruption and attack the idea of the Bush family dynasty and risk alienating the powerful Clinton’s.  And no Republican will attack the Clinton’s and risk alienating the Bushes?  Even if the latter prove weak and Jeb Bush fails to show well in the primaries, the GOP nominee will have to have that powerful, fundraising machine supportive in the general election.

Now, in a very rare moment of history, the two dynasties have cancelled each other out.  As a result? There are dynasties gone wild. The electric fence is down and the cows are roaming all over.  The Cuomo’s, the Paul’s, the Kennedy’s, the Carter’s don’t get me started.

2.) Journalism is dead.

Normally, one can count on a vigorous Fourth Estate.  No less than Joseph Pulitzer railed against the idea of Robert Todd Lincoln running for president.  Throughout American history the media has been vigilant.  Attempts at family dynasties were always shot down.  This was America, not a monarchy.  After the Revolutionary War, when George Washington was presented a massive family genealogy by the English government he rejected it, pointing out that in these United States success or failure was determined by the choices of the individual not the bloodline.

This is not the Philippines.  This is not Indonesia.  This is not Panama, where fifteen families rule the country.

But in case you haven’t noticed, journalism is dead.  If a reporter can’t even pronounce Sevastopol what hope do we have that they are telling us anything accurate about Russia and the Ukraine?  We now live behind our own iron curtain.  News has become entertainment and the Clinton’s, Bushes, Kennedy’s all sell well.  Don’t expect any help from the media.

3.) Obama has failed.

Finally there is Barack Obama.  His election has been a great historic milestone but by just about any measure, including his own, his presidency is ending in disaster.  For example, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer at a rate that would make an Eastern establishment Republican blush.  The Nixon administration spied on its enemies but the Obama administration spies on its friends too and on its own political allies in the U.S. Senate.  Having tried an “outsider” like Obama, the American electorate is now more likely to turn to an “insider,” a Bush or a Clinton.  Better to have someone who doesn’t have to learn on the job.

While a Clinton – Bush rematch might just happen, almost any historian will warn that the idea of multiple presidencies in the same family is a recipe for abuse and disaster.  Having been in power and then spending time out of power, a family can muse about what might have been.  Who was loyal and who was not?  What should be done if given another chance?  How could the office have been better monetized?  Who should have been an Ambassador?  Whose corporate jet would be better appreciated and useful, added to the fleet of corporate jets loaned out to a former president?  What government contracts could legitimately go to whom and why?  How can the next family power contender be groomed?

America, already beginning to experience the corruption of a Third World nation, doesn’t need to grease the skids to fall any deeper into the abyss.  Clinton – Bush?  It may happen.  But if it does, expect America’s post constitutional drift to gain full sail.  The abuses won’t be pretty.