Article II, section 1, of our Constitution vests the executive power in a president of the United States. More
This past weekend saw abundant punditry revolving around President Trump’s multiple policy reversals. More
1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER drainingswamp, 1 HEADER internationalnews, 1 HEADER MEDIA, 1 HEADER republicans, 1 HEADER whitehouse, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS first 100 days, Hilary Schwartz, russia, Syria, unconventional presidency
President Trump has decided to bomb the Russian scandal away. More
1 HEADER Cabinet, 1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER Healthcare, 1 HEADER House, 1 HEADER republicans, 1 HEADER whitehouse, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS Business, ideology, john feehery, lobbying, politics, steve bannon
Donald Trump, as a businessman, is the ultimate pragmatist. More
1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER Healthcare, 1 HEADER immigration, 1 HEADER internationalnews, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS checks and balances, first 100 days, Jon-Christopher Bua, neil gorsuch, presidential power, supreme court
A Justice, in addition to being a scholar of the law, is supposed to be fair and just.
In the job of “interpreting the U.S. Constitution,” it matters whether a judge can see the possibility of a different argument and end racial discrimination; support the rights of women to participate fully in society; protect individuals from government abuse; give defense to those without means; and the list goes on.
President Donald Trump knows how to do a press conference leaving the Morning Joe gang—smirks notwithstanding—nodding in approval, Ann Coulter miffed, and both characterizing his string of statements as a flip-flop-o-rama. More
1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER internationalnews, 1 HEADER republicans, 1 HEADER Senate, 1 HEADER whitehouse, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS chemical warfare, first 100 days, foreign policy, hawkish, sam stevens, Syria, Twitter
On April 4, a reprehensible chemical weapons attack, carried out by government forces in Syria, killed dozens of civilians in the town of Khan Shaykhun. More
It has been a rough couple of weeks for President Trump. More
OBERMEIER RAPPORT: This Week: Bannon Gets Reversed; Kushner Redecorates The Sit Room & Spicer Manhandles Kellyanne Conway
WARNING THIS IS SATIRE/Sense of humor strongly recommended!
1 HEADER AMERICAN LIFE, 1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER internationalnews, 1 HEADER MEDIA, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS Climate Change, climategate, heartland institute, judicial watch, kevin mooney, university of East Anglia
Just as the Heartland Institute wrapped up its 12th annual “International Conference on Climate Change” in Washington, D.C., this past March, a government watchdog organization reactivated a scandal that substantiates the arguments of scientific skeptics. More
On April 9, the LA Times wrapped up their series on our president, titled “The Problem With Trump” with the last installment: “Why We Took A Stand.” More
Contributor Jon-Christopher Bua discusses the latest on the Syria attack, where the U.S. goes from here, and North Korea.
Jon-Christopher Bua is a White House Correspondent and Political Analyst appearing on-camera and radio via Talk Media News. Twitter: @JCBua
In the history of presidential speech, there is a term scholars use to refer to occasions when historical events make it incumbent upon the executive to address the nation — not out of cause, but by necessity.
We call these rhetorical situations or exigencies – moments when a public speech is expected to explain events to the nation by virtue of a cataclysmic event, ranging from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, to, most recently, the cruise missiles fired on Syria. The norms of political discourse require some comment from the president and that is what we got from Donald Trump for two minutes a few days ago, after he ordered 60 cruise missiles fired into Syria.
The speech itself was odd. Its focus was not on an America First agenda — the repeated theme of the candidate’s campaign — but, rather, on multilateral agreements that Syria has violated with its use of chemical weapons. To be sure, this was a bone of contention among anti-Obama forces, who blamed the past administration for violated “red lines” that went unheeded in the past. Shortly before the speech, we heard statements from Secretary of State Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Haley indicating that the United States would stay out of internal Syrian matters – a civil war in which the U.S. would not interfere. But, now, we would, in fact, be doing so.
Hence, the evidence of chemical weapons attack and the images of children being gassed. This, by all accounts — and by Trump’s own words — seemed to tip the balance. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” he told the nation and the world. Trump made clear his mind was changed and we can accept it as so. From a man who is a father himself, we should not second-guess the emotional impact of seeing such things. The empathy a father feels should not be questioned.
And yet, there are accusations that this abrupt turn to pathos as a motivating force in deciding matters of war and peace strike some of as a case of “wagging the dog.” Where in Trump’s history is there precedent for emotional impact being the motivating force for an abrupt about-face in foreign policy? No longer America First, but global rights and children’s rights as the justification for intervention and military strikes? It is, at the very least, a question worth asking. (But, still, what of the beautiful babies killed by conventional weapons, not chemical ones? Where is the distinction?)
Trump not only invoked the emotional impact of seeing these images as grounds for his decision, but also the contravention of multilateral treaties against chemical weapons as part of his justification for the attacks. Heretofore, we have had no reason to believe Trump put such stock in these types of diplomatic agreements as justifications for military action. The whole thing seemed wildly out of character given his campaign rhetoric, even if his tone in delivering the speech seemed in keeping with the traditional tenor of how other presidents have announced these types of actions, from Clinton in his actions in Somalia to Reagan’s in Libya decades ago. Yet the analogies seem discordant. In contrast to those two presidential announcements of missile strikes, the motives and goals of the strikes were notably omitted. Clinton, in Somalia, and Reagan, in Libya, provided far more detail to the foreign policy establishment, press corps, and international community.
As historical parallels, these anachronisms are just one more puzzle in attempting to decipher Trump’s rhetoric. Maybe they are attempts to echo past chief executives in similar rhetorical situations; maybe they are tails wagging dogs; maybe they are random quotes assembled by an amateur staff of Mar-a-Lago speechwriters.
A final point: the traditional closing for a presidential address in such high stakes situations has, at least since Reagan’s era, been the predictable “God bless America.” In fact, this concluding phrase had its inception with Richard Nixon, who used it inconsistently. Reagan took it up more often, though also inconsistently. Some of his most famous addresses, such as the Space Shuttle Challenger address, did not include it as a conclusion. By G.W. Bush post-9/11, it has become de rigueur. Trump broke completely new ground by adding on a phrase that jumped out at some of us as stunning: He closed his remarks on the Syria attack by saying not only “God Bless America” but also “and the entire world.” For a candidate whose standard has been “America First,” this seemed a huge instance of cognitive dissonance — a weird reference to the popular lefty-liberal bumper sticker stating “God Bless the People of All Nations.” Trump apparently ad libbed his closing line, amending the traditional God bless America to include “the entire world.” This is, perhaps, just one more sign that the Trump administration is not quite sure what it is up to. Is this a globalist administration or America First? Or just someone wagging the dog to get rid of the Russia probe that continues along?
Jonathan Riehl is a communications consultant for campaigns and nonprofit organizations. He is a former political speechwriter and is completing a book on the modern conservative legal movement.
Neil Gorsuch has officially been sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court. More
Often lost in the discussion about Donald Trump’s quick ascension up the political ladder is the fact that, even before he faced Hillary Clinton in the general election, he handily beat 16 primary challengers. More
Over the course of the first few months of Trump’s presidency, there have been many defining moments of the type of leader he will be over the next four years. More
President Donald Trump campaigned as the anti-Bush/Cheney Republican, the leader who wouldn’t be the policeman to the world. More
1 HEADER Cabinet, 1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER House, 1 HEADER internationalnews, 1 HEADER Senate, 1 HEADER whitehouse, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS attack, chemical warfare, first 100 days, Jon-Christopher Bua, Syria
Perhaps it was the heart-wrenching photos of babies gasping for their last breath of air that finally settled the weight of the presidency squarely on Donald Trump’s shoulders. More
1 HEADER AMERICAN LIFE, 1 HEADER Cabinet, 1 HEADER Donald Trump, 1 HEADER drainingswamp, 1 HEADER whitehouse, FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS humor, jared kushner, melania trump, nancy pelosi, Pat Obermeier; Obermeier Rapport, satire
OBERMEIER RAPPORT This Week: Kushner Heads to the Zoo, Melania Plants a Fake & Nancy Pelosi Blows-up Pence’s Lunch
WARNING THIS IS SATIRE/Sense of humor strongly recommended! More
On April 4, chemical weapons were used to kill at least 20 children and 50 adults in the Syrian province of Idlib. More
Late Thursday night or early Friday morning, the Senate will finally vote on the president’s appointment to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, and we will be witnessing a battle for the ages.
Are we at DEFCON 2 (next step to nuclear war) or at DEFCON 1 (nuclear war is imminent)? Even more maddening is that our knowledge of this depends on arcane words like “filibuster” or “cloture” that we learned and forgot in civics class -if our school still had that in the curriculum, that is.
So how did we get here?
The filibuster was a theoretical, then real, legislative tactic first used in the 1840’s. It was available in both the House and the Senate and it was simply a delaying tactic where the party opposing a piece of legislation or a presidential nominee could use limitless debate as a threat to the majority party. Theoretically, they could keep debate open forever so that a bill or nominee would never come to the floor.
The House soon grew weary of this and created time limit rules for debate. The Senate, however, kept the unlimited filibuster alive for many years and it wasn’t until 1917 that the Senate finally passed a rule change called “cloture.” Calling for a cloture could stop a filibuster. If two-thirds of the Senate voted for cloture, then a vote could be held right away on a nominee or bill. The two-thirds majority was lowered to three- fifths or 60 votes in 1975.
Filibusters were a fairly uncommon practice over the years. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Bush 41 faced no filibusters, at all. Presidents Carter and Reagan had two each. Clinton and Bush 43 had nine and seven filibusters, respectively.
Under President Obama, however, the minority Republicans more than made up for the paucity of filibustering in years past. The Obama administration faced 82 filibusters, which blocked his nominees in the Senate. There have only been 86 successful filibusters against all other presidents combined.
Finally, Harry Reid and his Democrats changed Senate rules in 2013, eliminating the filibuster for presidential nominees, except in the case of Supreme Court Justices.
In this case, I take no sides. Either you believed that the heroic Republicans were filibustering to save the republic from Obama’s madness or you believe the nasty Republicans did everything they could to undermine the Great Obama. It depends purely on your ideology and I won’t be able to convince anyone.
Then, in the last year of his presidency, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by Justice Scalia’s death. Republicans virtually refused to meet with him, much less hold an up or down vote. On this one, however, I would be willing to bet all I have that the Democrats would have done exactly the same thing as the Republicans, if the situation were reversed. That said, the Democrats’ angst is certainly understandable.
These events are what set the stage for today’s Senate drama and we are now breaking historic ground. Will the Democrats filibuster and, if they do, will the Republicans choose the so-called “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster by changing the Senate rules with their majority?
It’s with a horror-filled fascination that America watches this process unfold. We really don’t know what will happen, for sure. We’re in uncharted territory and neither outcome is good for us.
Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm.