With Legitimacy Come Facts

 

By J.F. McKenna

Rep. John Lewis has been leading Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1968. He has also been called “the conscience of the Congress.” But the long-time civil rights veteran has allowed his past victories and experiences to cloud his judgment about Donald Trump and constitutional genius.

“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Rep. Lewis said in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

I’m sure Lewis, the son of sharecroppers, heard demeaning comments about legitimacy during his days when Freedom Riders challenged the segregated facilities they encountered at interstate bus terminals in the South. As noted, Lewis has seen a lot in his 77 years.

Pressed on why he believes Trump’s presidency is illegitimate, Lewis told NBC: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

As The Hill reported, “Trump acknowledged this week that Russia was responsible for some hacking during the campaign, though the president-elect and many on his team assert that it had no affect on election results.”

Those results get confirmed Friday when Trump becomes the 45th President.

Which speak to the genius of our nation, as James Madison notes in Federalist 39: “The proposed Constitution, therefore, is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both. In its foundation it is federal, not national; in the sources from which the ordinary powers of the government are drawn, it is partly federal and partly national; in the operation of these powers, it is national, not federal; in the extent of them, again, it is federal, not national; and, finally, in the authoritative mode of introducing amendments, it is neither wholly federal nor wholly national.”

 

J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

 

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Bloviating Is So Last Year

“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James C. Humes

Jamie Humes should know. He has written for Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. Frankly, no matter what you think about that list itself, each man on it was certainly auditioning for leadership at a particular moment—and certainly auditioning for Clio’s approval at that moment and moments to come.

As writer, historian, and public speaker Humes opens his 2002 book, Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, “Leadership is selling. And selling is talking.” To repeat myself, he should know. And many ghostwriters, myself included, appreciate Humes’ sharing of the 21 powerful secrets of history greatest speakers.

I also appreciate the vignettes Humes shared throughout the book—particularly one featuring the thoughts of The Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan. In the chapter titled Power Button, Humes relates a discussion with speechwriter Tony Dolan about Reagan’s aversion to bloviating.

Dolan shook his head, saying, “The governor doesn’t like that kind of thing. He thinks it sounds like Senator Claghorn.” (Claghorn was a comical windbag politician on the Fred Allen radio show in the 1940s.) And it’s true, if you lard your talks with phrases like “so, my fellow citizens,” or “and so, ladies and gentlemen,” you might sound like some state senator bloviating at a county fair.

Reagan had his own test for a talk. He would imagine the way he’d talk to his barber, Jack, in Santa Barbara. He liked language that you would use in talking at the kitchen table or over the back fence.

Might be an idea for the new presidential entourage come January: a no-bloviating zone. The Donald and his underlings might want to read Reagan In His Own Hand, which was published about the same time as Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln.

The book, with a foreword by George P. Schultz, proves that the former President was not the simpleton that liberal detractors made him out to be. Schultz, who served as Reagan’s secretary of state, writes:

Reading through the essays in this book, I thought about all the times I had been with him when he spoke without notes or briefings, forcefully and clearly spelling out what would be the policy positions of the United States. Somehow he always seemed to know what to say.

To many people, President Reagan was a mystery….

The answer to that mystery may lie in these essays, which were written well before he became President. Apparently, even then, he knew quite a bit.

The new President will do well too, I suspect.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. While at IndustryWeek magazine in the early ‘90s, he wrote a series on Total Quality Government and chaired TQG conferences across the country. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

Fashioning a Crusade for the Fairer Sex

When men and women agree, it is only in their conclusions; their reasons are always different. George Santayana

By Doug Magill

In the days following the election one of the fascinating themes coming from the need-to-be-committed Democrats is that Hillary Clinton lost the election because she is a woman.  The Democrats’ rant is that there is so much sexism in our society that a woman cannot be elected President.

Some of our crestfallen media have pursued this line of reasoning with vigor, and it crops up randomly from otherwise intelligent women on Facebook and in the loony left Internet media.  It’s one of the more stubborn ideas to come out of this election.

The line of reasoning, I suppose, is that like all else in the realms of politics, education, business and media there should be privileged classes and they need to have their turn.  We had a black President so now we should have a female one; later on, we will need to have a Hispanic one and maybe then a transgendered one, or at least a homosexual one.  Sort of a checklist of the currently fashionable parade of the perpetually aggrieved; by designating success for their representatives, we can eliminate perceived discrimination.

Something like that.  But logic doesn’t always seem to be a necessary component of such things.

However, if one were to spend any time with a gathering of conservatives and ask about, say, Margaret Thatcher, there would be instant agreement about her leadership, toughness, vision and success.  And, of course, her integral role in winning the Cold War with Ronald Reagan.  The same would be true of Golda Meir and her ability to navigate the complex and contentious politics of the Knesset while winning a war.  And our conservative Indian friends would have great compliments about Indira Gandhi.

Those of us who study history have great admiration for strong women leaders throughout history –  including Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth I, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hatshepsut, Isabella and Catherine the Great.

Today the Republican Party lays claim to some of the most prominent female leaders throughout our country:   Kelly Ayotte, Nicki Haley, Joni Ernst, Sarah Palin, Susana Martinez, Marsha Blackburn, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Carly Fiorina, Mia Love and Ohio’s own Mary Taylor.      There are a significant number of capable women in the halls of Congress, all of the state houses, and in established and startup businesses.

The problem with conflating Hillary’s defeat with the status of women is not complex: Hillary was a disastrous choice as a Presidential nominee.  Narcissistic, corrupt, dishonest and unwilling to act as a leader rather than a scold, she was thoroughly unlikeable and a vapid and boring campaigner.  Even now she is pointing fingers in every direction but her own for her failure, and most analysts are breathing a sigh of relief that she is soon to be exiled from the body politic.

A recent Pew Research study showed a large majority of Americans accept the idea of a female Chief Executive.  In fact, one recent study showed more men than women are indifferent to the sex of their leader.  The same study showed that political party was more important that sex in determining who to vote for.  The results of the election show that while the country may be ready for a female leader, it isn’t Hillary.

No conservative organization I know of doesn’t have women involved or in leadership roles, which are never a topic of discussion relative to their sex.  We have absolutely no doubt that women can lead local, state and federal organizations all the way up to and including President.

The deep and abiding problem for Democrats is their constant lurch leftward, leaving them with marginal ideological candidates for leadership roles, such as the ever-partisan Nancy Pelosi and the demagogic Elizabeth Warren.  It is even worse when one looks to the ranks of Democrats that could normally be expected to be rising and assuming prominence.

Eight years of the always-about-me Barak Obama have left the party in shambles.  His legacy is the worst party infrastructure since Reconstruction.  When he took office the Democrats had large majorities in both houses of Congress, 29 governorships and control of 27 state houses.   Today it holds only 18 governorships, and 12 state legislatures and neither house of Congress.  The raw numbers are staggering: Under Obama Democrats have lost over 900 state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats and 13 Senate positions.  Adding insult to injury, Republicans took decisive control of the Kentucky State Senate for the first time in 91 years.

It is a Republican America and the media ensconced comfortably in New York and Washington have failed to notice, with a few notable exceptions.  CNN’s Amanda Carpenter commented “Who thought Obama’s legacy would be the destruction of the Democratic Party?”  She even tweeted about Hillary being the worst candidate in modern history.

The Democrat Party is seemingly intent on a massive flameout as they are considering the radically left-wing Keith Ellison to chair the DNC.  One of the few people in the world that could possibly make Debbie Wasserman-Schultz look competent.

President-elect Trump has clarified a movement in the Republican Party that most prominent members didn’t acknowledge.  He has also caused an enormous fissure in the Democrat Party that may take years to resolve.  If they continue to fully embrace radical progressivism, they may in fact cease to be credible.

Women in leadership are an integral part of the Republican Party, and it is highly probable that soon we will see a female President.  A Republican one.

By the way, did someone mention recently that Ivanka Trump will be taking a prominent role in her father’s administration?

 

Doug Magill is the Communications Director for the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, a consultant, city councilman, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  He can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net.

 

 

Vanity of Vanities

Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.  Jane Austen

By Doug Magill

One of the things that seems saddest to me is those who profess disdain for the available candidates for President and proclaim that they are sitting out this election or voting for a third-party offering.  This is often proclaimed in a tone of intended seriousness or anguished thoughtfulness.

While dissatisfaction with the options is perfectly understandable, and most of us probably voted for a different candidate in the primary, this is what we are offered.   It is the way our electoral system works, and has always.  One can almost hear the anguished moans of citizens throughout history as they complain about having to vote for Adams, or Jackson, or Herbert Hoover.  Let alone the modern parade of politicians.

Today’s cry is heard loudly throughout the land: Why can’t we do better than this?

I suppose it is built into the American psyche that there is a desire for a more-perfect candidate, and disdain may be the default for the humanity of who we have to vote for.  Sometimes the system does produce a candidate worthy of the office, and we are better off for it.

When all is said and done it is voter vanity at work: I could do better than that guy, I don’t want people to think I would vote for him, I’m too smart to be associated with him, our system is terrible and I don’t want to be associated with it.

It is especially telling when I hear from those who love to profess their own wisdom how stupid Trump voters are.  See, I’m smarter than they are. Proving, of course the effectiveness and wisdom of the Democrats’ campaign of attacking Trump and avoiding issues, let alone the qualifications of their candidate.  Along with a compliant media which is uninterested in reporting facts, let alone trying to provide clarity on issues.

When the day is done, there really are only two issues, vanity aside.  In reading the party platforms one is astonished at the contrast in vision, and the reality of the assault on life, freedom, liberty, and self-determination that the Democrats profess.  The platforms represent the core of each party, and the vote in this election really is about what that core will lead us to.

The second issue is the candidates themselves.  Trump fires verbal volleys that one has to wince at.  But those pale to insignificance when compared to the deep and powerful politicization and corruption in our government, and in the Democrat candidate who wishes to politicize and corrupt it further.

A friend who is generally apolitical remarked that she hopes Trump will win just to blow up the government and bring in people dedicated to serving the county.  His outsider status would lend itself to that indeed.  As opposed to someone who understands how to use cronyism, bribery and graft to enhance power.

For those who would rather spend time stroking their egos and wallowing in vanity I don’t suppose there is much to be said.  Avoiding choices is to make a bad one.  For the rest of us, we need to work on and vote for someone who at least understands the need for change, and is comfortable in causing it.

 

Doug Magill is the Communications Director for the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, a consultant, freelance writer and voice-over talent.  he can be reached at doug@magillmedia.net

 

 

Vanity in History

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.  Abraham Lincoln

By Doug Magill

 

I recently watched the movie Lincoln, and was impressed at its historical accuracy, as well as the incredible talent of the actors involved, particularly of Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln.  I was also struck by the gritty portrayals of the members of the House of Representatives: venal, vain, sometimes obtuse but very human.  Certainly not unlike today.  And, I suspect the movie got the backroom dealing and compromising right.  Democracy isn’t pretty, and passing legislation is a complex process done by fallible people.

I thought of this in light of the recent media explosion over a tape of Donald Trump expressing some rather vulgar and demeaning thoughts about women.  I don’t recall as much crocodile-tear outrage over a man’s words since the early days of the “feminist revolution” and the lame attempts and angst by the nerdy guys trying to get laid with their militant girlfriends.  Usually it was about something the athletes or fraternity guys did or said.

That said, Trump certainly didn’t add anything dignified to the presidential contest, did he?  One has to suspect that as marriage historically has been the method for gentling and dealing with the baser instincts of men, that his wife and daughters will clarify for him what is acceptable to say in public about women.

Knowing the media, it is not surprising that they will try to make as much out of this as they can.  Long ago having lost credibility and any pretense to integrity, it is their secret-society sworn duty to bring Trump down.  Our narcissistic millennials are easily influenced by this goal, thinking that this is something new and are eager to impress their self-absorbed peer group of their compassion and concern.  Most people who dislike Trump will be reinforced, but those who support him will be unfazed.  Alas, for those who truly wish to get perspective, the road ahead is difficult.

Ah history, thy appeal is difficult to discern.

We have certainly had large egos in the Presidency, and the quality of presidential language has not always been Catholic-school approved – along with their less-than-saintly actions.  Kennedy turned the White House into the Play House for his frequent frolics, as did one William Jefferson Clinton.   President  Johnson was more than well known for his earthy expressions as is Senator McCain.  Who can forget the disgusting and x-rated antics of Senator Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd – the least desired guests in a jaded Washington?

One of the most foul-mouthed offenders, according to those who know her well, is Hillary Clinton.

One has to remind our younger and uninformed progeny about the impeachment of then-President Clinton.  Eleven counts, including lying to a grand jury.  Disbarment and fines.  All because of romping with an intern – an intern! – in the White House.  Yet at that time the media described it all as just sex, personal and not relevant.  The special prosecutor was viciously attacked as being a pervert for even investigating.  How far we have come.

Still, the question to be asked is, which will harm America more, Trump’s stream-of-consciousness invective in the past, or the actions of a ruthless and avaricious Hillary Clinton whose stated objectives are to overturn the Bill of Rights and cause enormous damage to the American experiment?

One has to be shocked, saddened and dismayed at the would-be president’s capacity for mendacity, even under trivial circumstances.  The most chilling  is where her actions have directly lead to personal destruction and even to the deaths of others.  The mother of Sean Smith plaintively asks what happened to her son, while Democrats cavalierly walk out of the Congressional hearing where she was testifying:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cYHs8tVb-U

Hillary abandoned him to die at Benghazi and lied about it to his mother’s face, and later tried to call her a liar.  Patricia Smith is still waiting for an answer.

This is Hillary’s character, and her history.  At 27 years old and as a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee she was fired by lifelong Democrat Jerry Zeifman.  When queried as to why, he stated “Because she was a liar.  She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer.  She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the Committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

Throughout her career there are innumerable examples of her dishonesty.  From Whitewater to her role in enabling her husband’s transgressions to Travelgate and the destruction of Billy Dale and his staff (see Peggy Noonan’s reminder of Hillary’s responsibility, lying, and evasion: http://www.wsj.com/articles/travel-back-to-an-early-clinton-scandal-1473982077) to Benghazi to her server to her compromising national security with her emails and the corruption of the Clinton Foundation the constant is her complete and absolute willful perversion of the truth for her own benefit.

Recently, Secret Service Officer Gerry Byrne called her a “complete pathological liar”: http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2016/10/11/secret-service-officer-gary-j-byrne-hillary-clinton-i-know-complete-pathological-liar/

Beyond that there is the enormous disconnect between her words, her actions and her desires should she obtain office.  Her empire games in Libya have resulted in countless deaths, her complicity in the withdrawal from Iraq has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands and her disdain for Africa has resulted in multiple atrocities.  To say nothing of what the rise of radical Islam has meant to women.

Her lack of support for DC vouchers, her unholy ties to teachers’ unions and the resulting condemnation of poor minorities to third-world schools, her alliance with anti-police  forces leading to rising crime rates in already desperate inner-city communities all lead to a destructive and anti-human set of policy prescriptions that would be disastrous for our country.  Her desire to treat abortion as an unalloyed social good will lead to the death of millions of more babies, and ultimately to further erosion in human dignity as we creep ever-closer to euthanasia and the forced termination of services under government-controlled health care.

It is understandable that there is hesitation to support Trump because of his free-form verbal onslaughts.  Yet, to an America sick of mendacity and corruption one is reminded of Abraham Lincoln, in responding to criticisms of General U.S. Grant and his occasional forays into excess alcohol, “I can’t spare this man – he fights.”

People back Trump because he fights.

Doug Magill is the Communications Director for the Cuyahoga County Republican Party.  He is also a councilman for the city of Solon, a communications consultant, voice-over talent and freelance writer.

 

The Debate Is Over: America Celebrates a Platinum Exec

By J.F. McKenna

To this day Britain cherishes its Iron Lady, the tough-talking, tougher-acting former PM Margaret Thatcher. Now we can send our counterpart, America’s Platinum Executive, to the White House.

That is, if we’re smart enough as a nation to elect her.

(Just in case you’re thinking I’m writing about Hilary Whatshername, please leave the site immediately. CBR has a closely administered IQ minimum for readers.)

With the digital housekeeping rules executed, let’s get back to Carly Fiorina, and to her exceptional performance at that sometimes chaotic CNN presidential debate. All totaled, hers was a 13-minute performance marked by facts, honesty, clarity and toughness.

No surprise, though, given the source. Here’s a bit of what I wrote about Carly from this corner back in March—  https://clevelandbusinessreview.org/2015/03/17/taking-occams-razor-to-campaign-2016/ :

Former business executive Carly Fiorina is no stranger to success, and certainly no stranger to making mistakes and failures out in the open. What really stands out—and makes her ideal for the toughest exec job in the world—is that Fiorina has learned management lessons in the unforgiving private sector.

As The New York Times recently chronicled, “When Ms. Fiorina, formerly a top executive at Lucent Technologies, took over at Hewlett-Packard in 1999, it was the largest publicly traded company ever to be led by a woman. Yet she also outraged some feminists by saying, ‘I hope that we are at a point that everyone has figured out that there is not a glass ceiling.’ Her business career ended a few years later in one of the more notorious flameouts in modern corporate history. After orchestrating a merger with Compaq that was then widely seen as a failure, she was ousted in 2005.”

An unabashed and outspoken conservative, Fiorina has stayed on the nation’s radar, even after losing a Senate challenge to California’s Barbara Boxer in 2010 and sharing such sentiments as “America is the most innovative country” while cautioning the U.S. that it can’t keep said status if its runs away “from the reality of the global economy.”

And, as noted, she’s not above owning up to her own failings. When the Los Angeles Times showed she had failed to vote in most elections, Fiorina responded: “I’m a lifelong registered Republican but I haven’t always voted, and I will provide no excuse for it. You know, people die for the right to vote. And there are many, many Californians and Americans who exercise that civic duty on a regular basis. I didn’t. Shame on me.”

Certainly this 2005 Fiorina quote suggests a Lincolnesque job-readiness for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: “The worst thing I could have imagined happened. I lost my job in the most public way possible, and the press had a field day with it all over the world. And guess what? I’m still here. I am at peace and my soul is intact. ”

These days, the Platinum Exec’s soul looks even stronger. Only days before the CNN debate at the Reagan Library, Carly had been asked about The Donald’s smarmy comment about her face. Her answer was that she didn’t “really care what Donald Trump thinks about my face.”

The question came up again at the debate, and Carly shut it down by saying that all American women had clearly heard the comment. Case closed.

On the far more serious issue of foreign affairs, she won my heart with her comment on her first planned day in the Oval Office. She’d call PM Bibi Netanyahu to say America has Israel’s back again and then call Iran’s leadership to employ a much-less-friendly tone about nuclear inspections.

Likewise, when the debate turned to the issue of abortion and federal law, the Platinum Exec donned her executive cloak on behalf of all America and spoke about “the character of our nation,” a phrase that has been misused as a thin and tasteless rhetorical topping as of late.

“I can win this job,” Carly said the day after the debate, “and I can do this job.”

As I wrote in March, I tell myself that it would be great to elect a woman president.  The right one, I said then. The Platinum Exec, I say now.

J.F. McKenna, a former resident of Cleveland’s West Park, has worked as a reporter, business editor, speech writer and communication specialist. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. The Cleveland native and his wife, Lady Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

Taking Occam’s Razor to Campaign 2016

By J.F. McKenna

John Nance Garner, who played No. 2 to FDR once upon a time, declared the vice presidency not worth “a warm bucket of spit.” While not exactly striking a tasteful tone for the average seventh-grade civics text, Garner’s appraisal remains indisputably accurate.

Worse, though, Garner’s mucilaginous evaluation applies to the all-important top post today. Just ask the regular folks—those voters discouraged by everything from a badly tuned economy to a capriciously managed foreign policy. Come to think of it, this figurative second bucket isn’t even warm.

The nation is a mess economically, militarily and spiritually. The taxpayers are hungry for real-world leaders toting solid ideas and tested solutions. They are weary of empty promises, “presumptive candidates,” and the media’s tiresome coverage of the road to The White House.

Time to break out Occam’s razor, the long-celebrated tool of epistemology that says the best solution is typically the simplest at hand. As my gift to fellow citizens, allow me to unclasp and wield that centuries-old razor: Let’s settle on the Fiorina-Kasich ticket in the GOP camp, and be done with it.

Now allow me to relax the suddenly formed wrinkles in your face and the all-new questions in your mind. Former business executive Carly Fiorina is no stranger to success, and certainly no stranger to making mistakes and failures out in the open. What really stands out—and makes her ideal for the toughest exec job in the world—is that Fiorina has learned management lessons in the unforgiving private sector.

As The New York Times recently chronicled, “When Ms. Fiorina, formerly a top executive at Lucent Technologies, took over at Hewlett-Packard in 1999, it was the largest publicly traded company ever to be led by a woman. Yet she also outraged some feminists by saying, ‘I hope that we are at a point that everyone has figured out that there is not a glass ceiling.’ Her business career ended a few years later in one of the more notorious flameouts in modern corporate history. After orchestrating a merger with Compaq that was then widely seen as a failure, she was ousted in 2005.”

An unabashed and outspoken conservative, Fiorina has stayed on the nation’s radar, even after losing a Senate challenge to California’s Barbara Boxer in 2010 and sharing such sentiments as “America is the most innovative country” while cautioning the U.S. that it can’t keep said status if its runs away “from the reality of the global economy.”

And, as noted, she’s not above owning up to her own failings. When the Los Angeles Times showed she had failed to vote in most elections, Fiorina responded: “I’m a lifelong registered Republican but I haven’t always voted, and I will provide no excuse for it. You know, people die for the right to vote. And there are many, many Californians and Americans who exercise that civic duty on a regular basis. I didn’t. Shame on me.”

Certainly this 2005 Fiorina quote suggests a Lincolnesque job-readiness for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: The worst thing I could have imagined happened. I lost my job in the most public way possible, and the press had a field day with it all over the world. And guess what? I’m still here. I am at peace and my soul is intact.

Which brings me to another strong soul and the ideal 2016 running mate—Ohio’s own John Kasich. A heartbeat away from the Presidency, Kasich would have the big heart, and the good head, to take on the challenges of this proposed constitutional partnership.

As politically savvy Buckeyes know, the former Greater Pittsburger has been a public actor in Ohio since his days working with State Senator Buz Lukens in the ‘70s. Kasich can boast eight turns in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected Ohio’s governor in 2010 and re-elected four years later, handily defeating Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald the second time around.

Kasich, now 63, has drawn a salary in the private sector as well, having worked with broadcasting’s Fox Corporation and with investment banking’s Lehman Brothers as a managing director. Like Fiorina, Ohio’s guv is no stranger to difficulty, criticism and failure. He’s also a tough-minded reformer.

Kasich, who has been on the fringe of presidential politics over the years, is considered an independent, policy-first thinker who aims for results and not just PC kudos. Criticized for a mostly male cabinet some years ago, Kasich responded this way: I don’t look at things from the standpoint of any of these sorts of metrics that people tend to focus on, race or age, or any of those things. It’s not the way I look at things… I want the best possible team I can get.

This former history student considers that last quote and says, “Move over, Mr. Biden: make way for a guy who’ll always be ready for governing.” So do a lot of other Americans, I suspect. Combine Kasich’s executive thinking with Fiorina’s well-spoken customer-first philosophy and America is looking at as capable a 2016 presidential ticket as any primetime pundit promotes in the evening. Just a bit better.

Awhile back in this corner, I quoted a fellow named Twain who had shrewdly observed that the nation and its ingenious republican system is far more important than any candidate who tells us that he or she can improve on the machinery that Washington, Madison and Hamilton put in motion. “No country,” old Mark warned in 1873, “can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.”

As I carefully put away Occam’s razor for use another day, I tell myself that it would be great to elect a woman President.

The right one, of course.

 

J.F. McKenna, a former resident of Cleveland’s West Park, has worked as a reporter, business editor and communication specialist. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. His online work also appears on the site Steinbeck Now. The Cleveland native and his wife, Lady Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

‘Thanks—But No’: A Beltway Tale

By J.F. McKenna

The day in post-election Washington, mimicking a classic description from British novelist Somerset Maugham, “broke gray and dull.” Every indication was for more of the same until sunset. At least that’s what the longtime popular couple in town sensed, especially as they reviewed their holiday-dinner guest list.

“I just got a call from Harry and his wife, dear,” the lady of the house told the husband, her usually annoying self-confident tone ratcheted down to a simple whine. “They can’t come to Thanksgiving dinner, either. Some lame excuse about having to see the folks back home. What’s going on? That’s the seventeenth cancellation since yesterday. We’ve got a holiday table that’s two-thirds empty right now!”

“No good. No good,” replied her husband, a firm believer that rhetorical repetition more than compensated for actual content in almost all circumstances. “It’s one thing to have the tables run on you in an election. But it’s really bad optics to have NBC showing a Thanksgiving table this big and only half-filed. Appearances have consequences.”
Loyal as well as shrewd, the lady asked, “Does that mean?…”

“Yes,” he cut in. “We’re going to ask some regular people to dinner.”

After conferring with the ideologues and demographic geniuses that had guided the couple through so many other social engagements, the couple opted for a full-court press of invitations handled by phone. Given the impending holiday deadline, they extended the invitations personally. Just to speed acceptance.

“My wife and I would be honored to have you join us for Thanksgiving dinner,” the husband told the suburban widow. “You’ll love our chef’s sweet-potato recipe. Goes great with the entrée. May we count on you?”

“Just can’t come—sorry,” the widow said. “Got a houseful of family coming here. That includes my two boys and a niece. All three can’t find jobs. One actually hasn’t worked for two years. Just for the record, my sweet-potato recipe is the best in the country. Also for the record, my recipe is the entrée.”

Steve, a long-distance truck driver who never takes off his 101st Airborne cap, was as gracious as possible in declining a seat at the table. “It sounds quite nice, very festive,” Steve explained, “but I simply have to pass with thanks. I promised the Lewis family I would take their holiday shift at our Neighborhood Border Watch. They’ve got three little kids, and I’m a bachelor. You know how it is with these neighborhood watches—if they think you’re not keeping an eye on things all the time, those dangerous types just slip right across. What a mess.”

But the tone of enthusiasm shown by Professor Jerry quickly made up for Steve’s rejection. “Wow, dinner at your house! Who’d believe it!” Jerry cried over the phone. “Would it be possible to sit across from John and Mitch? John and I, as I’m sure you know, are fellow Buckeyes. We’ll have all sorts of things to talk about, from industrial policy to education reform.”

“Well…neither Mitch nor John will be in attendance,” quietly admitted the lord of the manor.

“Can’t come?” Jerry asked.

“Weren’t invited,” came the answer.

Jerry’s enthusiasm died. All that was left was the sound of the dial tone.
Jerry’s sign-off story was matched by Owen’s. The young retail manager, a former high school football all-star, was eager to tackle an old-fashioned Thanksgiving feast, saying that he “looked forward to a grand dinner, with a second helping of everything…big as the first.”

“Well actually, Owen,” said the hostess with the leastest, “we have decided to follow the recommendations of the Holiday Nutrition Task Force that I helped to establish last year. Belly-busting meals, even on Thanksgiving, are a tradition the nation can do without. I just know you’ll be thanking me when you wake up the next day and look at that bathroom scale!”

Hours later, the final invitation of the day was issued to Francesca, a pious, soft-spoken Midwesterner who had embraced her adopted nation 20 years earlier.
“I am honored to break bread with you on this most-important American holiday, a day when we give thanks to our creator for all the blessings he has bestowed on us,” she told the Beltway twosome. May I offer my services in repeating the very proclamation that George Washington offered to the country in 1789? I can repeat it from memory.” And she did, right then and there:

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
When Francesca finished, the longtime popular couple in town politely thanked her for the fine recitation, but added that “we’ve already staffed out a dinner message that is more contemporary, more inclusive in keeping with the times.”

That’s when the longtime popular couple in town heard that familiar and annoying dial tone.

J.F. McKenna, a former resident of Cleveland’s West Park, has worked as a reporter, business editor and communication specialist. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. His online work also appears on the site Steinbeck Now. The Cleveland native and his wife, Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

Similia Similibus Curantur

By J.F. McKenna

Sitting in The Clock diner on East 4th Street, I watched Richard M. Nixon depart the White House for good August 9, 1974. Neck-deep in political scandal and facing Clio’s eternal scorn, the 37th President of the United States announced his decision to resign the office the night before, skipping over any admissions of guilt while shamelessly borrowing from Teddy Roosevelt’s celebrated “man in the arena” address.

Every patron contributing to that lunchtime crowd was investing full attention in the TV near the bar, realizing that as a citizen he was certainly a part of the Watergate story itself. The moment was the most interesting sidebar story coming from my reporting internship at the weekly Universe Bulletin. Russ Faist and Jim Kramer, old hands at the craft I was learning, offered comments as Nixon left the world stage by helicopter; I simply absorbed this slice in time.

The common opinion generated from that scene, as I recall now, was that the President had chosen the best course for himself and for a constitutional republic whose structure was wobbling. This callow apprentice journalist (and, I should add, a Kent State history minor) finally asserted to his elders that such an event could never happen again in America.

Those memories came to call this week as I read and watched 2014 pundits consider the new White House crisis, its historical ties and the long-term implications.

Duquesne University’s Ken Gormley, in a Sunday op-ed, summarized the potentially nation-busting shenanigans of the Nixon Administration, from the third-rate burglary of Democratic headquarters in 1972 to subsequent obstructions of justice that provoked bipartisan ire across the Beltway and generated three articles of impeachment from the House of Representatives. “The final straw for Nixon,” the constitutional law scholar wrote, “was the landmark ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Nixon. In that unanimous 8-0 decision, handed down during the final hot weeks of July, the Supreme Court held that no person, not even the President, was above the law.”

What was obviously clear to any bright seventh-grader back then was the source of non-stop social and political discord in America. Up to his final departure, POTUS 37 was saying clever things such as People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.

But Nixon, himself a lawyer, was not a stupid man. As Gormley explained in his article, “Richard Nixon’s agonizing decision to resign, while he continued to deny any wrongdoing in the Watergate affair, was likely driven by the calculation that it might be the only way to keep himself from going to federal prison.” President Ford pardoned Nixon shortly thereafter, and excused the rest of the nation from an even longer national nightmare.

Which brings me to another current op-ed, this one written by Andrew P. Napolitano, a sage judicial analyst and a former Superior Court judge in New Jersey.  Addressing every President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the nation’s laws, Judge Napolitano wrote of POTUS 44:

The word “faithfully” appears in the oath of office that is administered to every president. The reason for its use is to assure Americans that their wishes for government behavior, as manifested in written law, would be carried out even if the president personally disagrees with the laws he swore to enforce.

President Barack Obama has taken the concept of discretion and so distorted it — and has taken the obligation of faithful enforcement and so rejected it — that his job as chief law enforcer has become one of incompetent madness or chief lawbreaker.

Time after time, in areas as disparate as civil liberties, immigration, foreign affairs and health care, the president has demonstrated a propensity for rejecting his oath and doing damage to our fabric of liberty that cannot easily be undone by a successor. He has permitted:

  • unconstitutional and unbridled spying on all Americans all the time
  • illegal aliens to remain here and continue to break the law, even instructing them on how to get away with it
  • his Internal Revenue Service to enforce the law more heavily against his political opponents than against his friends and to destroy government computer records in order to hide its misdeeds

Obama has done these things with a cool indifference and he has threatened to continue to do so until the pressure builds on his political opponents to see things his way. The Framers could not have intended a president so devoid of fidelity to the rule of law that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between incompetence and lawlessness. But the Framers did give us a remedy — removal from office. It is the remaining constitutional means to save the freedoms the Constitution was intended to guarantee.

Almost immediately after reading the judge’s opinion, I heard the voice of Mark Twain—who, by the way, would have enjoyed the company at The Clock in downtown Cleveland. “History,” Twain observed, “doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

In 2014 ours is an unhappy rhyme, and one whose next lines will have to be written by the President himself.

The 24-hour news cycle and the venal political pros relish the drama of battle between the factions, but they have yet to weigh the constitutional consequences. Just as the nation was challenged back in the Watergate Era, so the nation is challenged today. The only difference is that ours is a world after 9-11, a largely angry place that watches and waits for democracy’s finest model to stumble and fall. To borrow a phrase from historian Joseph J. Ellis, “the awkward truth is that we have been chasing our own tails in an apparently endless cycle of partisan pleading.”

“Obama has lost much of the country’s support and the world’s trust—but he does have a phone and a pen,” a friend recently remarked to me. “He should call the Speaker and ink his resignation. It’s time.” A harsh analysis and remedy, certainly. And one that can be executed only by a leader generous enough to put immediate concern for constitutional integrity above personal and political aims.

To be sure, the nation finds itself at a Watergate-like juncture—only with greater possible, and likely destructive, consequences. But the age-old Similia Similibus Curantur—Likes Cure Like—remains a valid option of homeopathic remedy. As our history has shown, the carefully dosed constitutional disruption can save the patient in the long run.

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J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a veteran business journalist and marketing-communications consultant. He is a former staff editor of such magazines as Industry Week and Northern Ohio Live. The Cleveland native and his wife, Carol, now live in Pittsburgh with their dogs, Duchess Holly and Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com .

American Leaders Need to Act Coolidge Again

By J.F. McKenna

Leadership does matter, of course. But, alas, it is something different from what is now touted under this label….It is mundane, unromantic, and boring. Its essence is performance.—Peter Drucker, The Wall Street Journal, 1988

In short, real leadership is Coolidge.

That thought crossed my mind as I listened to the cable pseudo-pundits bloviate about the Republicans’ 100-plus-page strategy to win the hearts and minds of a detached and disheartened electorate. Dump the stuffy white-guy image. Really listen to the little guy. Expand the size of the party’s tent. These wise guys are nothing if not an abundance of convoluted, if generally empty, advice. On the other hand, Drucker became the grand old man of modern management by cutting through the rhetorical clutter and getting down to business. A customer buys and values what a product or service does for him.

If Drucker were still around, he’d be part of the growing revival of Calvin Coolidge’s ideas and example. I’m sure of it.

As seventh graders and history grad students can tell you, Cal Coolidge was President from 1923 to 1929. And as economic history scholars know, Massachusetts’ gift to the nation can provide more than just tonight’s Jeopardy big-payoff question.

“Coolidge sustained a budget surplus and left office with a smaller budget than the one he inherited,” Coolidge author Amity Shlaes told a Hillsdale College audience earlier this year. “Over the same period, America experienced a proliferation of jobs, a dramatic increase in the standard of living, higher wages, and three to four percent annual economic growth.”

What this brand of Calvinism lacked in marketing flash was more than made up for in terms of delivery. As I wrote from this corner awhile ago, “President Coolidge had a penchant for what I call MBSOOTW — Management By Staying Out Of the Way. It’s a lesser-known corollary to Management By Walking Around. MBSOOTW keeps politicians and policy wonks from tinkering with market economics.” (‘Silent Cal’ Still Understands The Right Way To Talk Up Business)

Historian and journalist Shlaes stressed to her Hillsdale audience that often the sharpest tool of the real leader has but two letters—no. Coolidge’s negativity took shape as goal-directed restraint on behalf of the public’s treasury and ultimately the public’s welfare. The 30th President had his political suits tailored to accommodate a larger pocket veto than Warren Harding’s, and as Shlaes related, he even chastised the White House cook about serving too much ham in the People’s House during his watch.

When “Silent Cal” wasn’t polishing his public persona as America’s laconic chief executive, he was reminding the government’s stewards that “We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is a characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation.”

Memo to those contemporary political fixers who write long and overpriced white papers: Achieving measurable goals trumps fashioning empty phrases and sound bites, every time.

Coolidge would tell you, and Shales can confirm, that meeting one’s goals takes grit, especially if the goals include tax reduction and budget cuts.

“Coolidge and his budget director met every Friday morning to identify budget cuts and discuss how to say ‘no’ to the requests of cabinet members,” Shlaes said. “Most Presidents give in after a time…but Coolidge did not, despite the budget surpluses during his presidency. He held 14 meetings with his budget director after coming to office in late 1923, 55 meetings in 1924, 52 in in 1925, 63 in 1926, and 51 in 1927.”

The good Ms. Shlaes, whose speech appears in the college’s recent issue of Imprimis, did not provide a running account of Cal’s golf outings during the White House years. Too bad. Maybe it’s just not Jeopardy-worthy information.

Calvin Coolidge, Shlaes said, “distinguished government austerity from private-sector austerity, combined a policy of deficit cuts with one of tax cuts, and made a moral case for saying ‘no.’” She added that Coolidge and his policies’ popularity “should give today’s conservatives hope.”

In short, being Coolidge-like is cool.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, communications consultant, and former editor at Industry Week, Tooling & Production, and Northern Ohio Live magazines. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com or through his LinkedIn profile: Jos. F. McKenna.