Thursday, January 21, 2021

Trump and Nixon Leave in About the Same Style

Both Donald Trump and Richard Nixon tried to put the best appearance on what were disastrous endings to their presidencies. Nixon, of course, resigned due to Watergate. He had lost public support and the loyalty of the Republicans in the Senate where he faced a possible impeachment vote.

Trump lost his reelection and denied the result so relentlessly he ended up fomenting a riot. He was impeached a second time in 12 months and faced the prospect of a second different trial in the Senate. The public and even many Republicans had had enough.

Donald Trump leaves White House for last time
as president, Jan. 20, 2021 | David J. Phillip/AP

Richard Nixon's last day at the White House,
Aug. 9, 1974 | ABC News photo
Nonetheless, they both staged faux departures as men still in control of their fates, with final speeches to staffs and a few supporters, red carpets and final waves on Marine One – sad.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Trump Leaves Office With Record Disapproval

  • Trump approval record low – Gallup 34%, Pew 29%
  • Biden transition approval high – Gallup 68%, Pew 64%

As Donald Trump vacates the White House in an off-hour send-off, he has reduced his modest public approval with a months-long fight against the transition of power and the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump has become toxic everywhere except within the confines of the Republican Party, and both the party and his supporters have contracted in the last month.

Since the Capitol riot, numerous national polls are recording approval ratings in the mid-30s, 10 points off his post-election peak of 46 percent on November 8. The approval of 39 percent is down net 6 to 7 points since the high. The decline has been most steep since January 6 and during the impeachment, showing a 5-point drop from 44 percent to the current 39 percent. Even 15 percent of Republicans have abandoned him.

Polling Results
January 20, 2021

  • RealClearPolitics: Trump approval – 39%, Trump disapproval – 57%
  • 538: Trump approval – 38%, Trump disapproval – 58%
  • Net approval rating falls 6 points in 8 days (538)
  • 538: Net approval among Republicans down – 15 points
  • Quinnipiac: Net approval down among Republicans – 16%; 89% Dec. 10 to 73% January 18
  • Washington Post/ABC: Approve Biden’s transition – 67%

Although Joe Biden has a high approval rating for his handling of the transition, he begins office with a nation in a very sour mood. Two recent polls have only 12 percent and 17 percent of Americans saying the country is moving in the right direction.

Trump Hands Off 400,000 COVID-19 Fatalities

At noon on January 20, Joe Biden inherits a death toll of more than 400,000 COVID-19 fatalities – a fifth of the world’s 2 million fatalities. It represents more than 50,000 new deaths since January 4, or more than 3,500 deaths per day. Although Biden already has outlined a plan and identified personnel to fight the pandemic, it will require a national mobilization. More private and nonprofit sector participation will be needed to augment the near exhausted government agencies.

One of the more difficult tasks will be to depoliticize health rules, such as mask wearing. Both parties and the country’s key institutions will need to join the effort.

Read: COVID-19 Should Top Biden’s Agenda

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Cheneys Take on Trump

Democrats will always dislike, if not revile, Dick Cheney for the Iraq War and associated activities. But at least at the moment, Dick and his daughter Liz are two of Donald Trump’s most visible and aggressive opponents in what is his final ruinous end.

The senior Cheney orchestrated an opinion column in the Washington Post with nine of his fellow Secretaries of Defense – both serving Democratic and Republican presidents – rebuking Trump’s obstruction of the transition of power, eschewing military involvement in the disputes and accepting the election results.

“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.” (Jan. 3, 2021)

Liz Cheney, the day before the impeachment vote, provided the go-to quote in the House debate indicting Trump’s behavior before and during the riot.

“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” (Jan. 12, 2021)

Dick Cheney is an icon of the Republican Party, who is very popular in Colorado (he won the Citizen of the West award in 1993. His wife Lynne won it in 2011). He’s retired and will likely suffer no repercussions. But Liz is an ambitious politician who currently is third in the House minority leadership, and is receiving considerable criticism from Trump acolytes and, of course, Trump himself. (At the January 6 rally he said: “We got to get rid of the weak congress people, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world.”)

What is the Cheneys’ motivation?

Of course, Trump has disparaged establishment Republicans for years and vociferously criticized the Iraq War, a Cheney project. But the current payback is likely accompanied by a political strategy. Are they betting that once Trump is out of office it will create a party vacuum? Are they creating a platform for moderate Republicans post Trump? Is Liz Cheney positioning to be a hero with party members who want to move beyond Trump? Does her father’s involvement say to establishment Republicans that there’s political life after Trump? This story is just starting to be written.

Read Liz Cheney’s full statement here

Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz on
Fox News, 2015 | Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Friday, January 15, 2021

Military Leadership United for Transition and “In Defense of the Constitution”

American military leadership has united in support of the transition of power and defense of the rule of law and the Constitution. In an extraordinary public display, all former living Secretaries of Defense and the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have strongly reproached the obstruction of the transition of power. They uniformly accepted the election results and rejected any role for the military in election disputes.

The statements are a clear rebuke of President Trump’s rhetoric and behavior. One of President Trump’s unintended legacies is that he united important elements of the establishment, including the military, to intensify the defense of the rule of law and democracy.

Message from Joint Chiefs:

"We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection.

On January 20, 2021, in accordance with the Constitution, confirmed by the states and the courts, and certified by Congress, President-elect Biden will be inaugurated and will become our 46th Commander in Chief."

Read: We are Depending on Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to Support and Defend American Democracy?

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dec. 2020

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Transition Starts With Election Defeat, Ends With Impeachment

Donald Trump has managed to transition an election defeat into an impeachment by the House of Representatives, with support from a majority of the public and ten House Republicans. The President always likes superlatives, and this transition has been an extraordinary disaster, or as he would say, “the greatest of all time.”

Of course, the insurrection on January 6 and Trump’s involvement in it was the watershed event that hit Congress and the American people like Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Also, Trump’s contribution to the loss of the Senate on the January 5 Georgia election has Republican leadership and rank and file beginning to question their lockstep partnership with him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Boebert on Front Page of Denver Post, Again

Lauren Boebert, Colorado congressperson since January 3, is now a regular on the Denver Post front page.

Justin Wingerter recounts her first week in Congress as bringing the gun culture to the Capitol; defending Donald Trump; being given a prime speaking position by the House Republicans to attack the election results in Arizona; and strongly identifying with January 6 protesters, if not the actual violence. Wingerter ended his article with a post from the Crossley Center blog written on January 7, 2021:

“Although her mentor and touchstone will be leaving office, if not politics, on Jan. 20, she’s likely to maintain outsized and highly controversial influence due to her media talent for drama and conflict, and the needs of conservative media, especially online, to generate fresh copy for their audience,” Floyd Ciruli, an independent pollster and University of Denver professor, wrote recently. “It remains to be seen if her position is the future or a dead end in the Republican Party.”

The challenge for Colorado Republicans is that her views, tone and behavior could become the party brand. Party Chair Congressperson Ken Buck has tried to tamp it down. Good luck.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (center), smiles after joining other freshman
Republican House members for a group photo at the Capitol
in Washington, Jan. 4, 2021 Scott Applewhite/AP Photo