Trey Gowdy and the Real Lesson of Watergate

By 5.8.14

It is the real lesson of Watergate.

As South Carolina’s Congressman Trey Gowdy, the new chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, begins his task, it is worth recalling a lesson from Watergate. Specifically a lesson about the creation of what became known as the Senate Watergate Committee — and how the Senate Republicans of 1973 lost a fight that literally changed the course of American history.

The date is November 17, 1972. The Democrats in the United States Senate are not happy with the results of the just concluded presidential election in which their nominee and Senate colleague, South Dakota’s Senator George McGovern, had lost 49 states — all but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia — to President Richard Nixon.


Benghazi: What Was Tom Donilon Doing?

By 5.6.14

John Dean.
Oliver North.
John Poindexter.
John Sununu
Monica Lewinsky.

Now: Tom Donilon?

The list of names of White House staffers who were not known beyond the perimeters of their office space or those who shared their area of expertise in various White House positions and, um, sex are in fact the stuff of White House political scandals. The kind of scandal that can politically cripple or depose a president of the United States.

While Dean, North, Poindexter, Sununu, and Lewinsky have been on the stage since 1973 — some 41 years — and departed in a cloud of controversy of one kind or another, they have predecessors. LBJ’s Walter Jenkins, forced to resign after caught having sex with a man in the YMCA (huge problem in 1964 America). Dwight Eisenhower’s Sherman Adams, the chief of staff hounded for having accepted a vicuna coat from Bernard Goldfine, a Boston textile manufacturer who had business in front of the federal government. Harry Vaughan, the Truman Missouri aide/crony who in fact was an army general with an honorable military record. There are more, of course, salted through one presidential scandal after another.      


Sterling, Sharpton, and Jay Z

By 4.29.14

Donald Sterling. Al Sharpton. One famous mostly in the precincts of Los Angeles, real estate, and sports. The other a household name.

Here’s the first man, quoted talking to a potential Clippers coach in 1983, as reported over at Deadspin, which has published what it calls “Your Complete Guide to Decades of Donald Sterling’s Racism”: “I wanna know why you think you can coach these ni--ers.”

And here’s Al Sharpton talking about then-New York Mayor David Dinkins, as was reported in this space: “David Dinkins.… You wanna be the only ni--er on television, the only ni--er in the newspaper, the only ni--er to talk.…Don’t cover them, don’t talk to them, cause you got the only ni--er problem….”


Jeb Bush and the GOP Donor Problem

By 4.24.14

Donald Trump looked out over the audience of New Hampshire conservative activists and mentioned the name “Jeb Bush.” On April 12, the Hill reported the reaction this way:

“You know, I heard Jeb Bush the other day,” he said, with quiet boos and angry murmurs erupting from the crowd at the mention of Bush’s name.

“And he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love,” he continued, with the boos growing louder.

Trump added, to laughter from the crowd: “And I said, say it again I didn’t get — that’s one I’ve never heard before … I understand what he’s saying, but, you know, it’s out there.”

Bush drew considerable conservative backlash when he made the comments in a recent interview, but defended them at a Connecticut Republican Party dinner on Thursday, where he further urged “sensitivity to the immigrant experience.”


The Big Conundrum of Small Government

By 4.24.14

In Washington, it is never too early to discuss who will next reside in the White House. But the real question is not who; it's what he will do there. Could even a President Paul, Lee, or Cruz accomplish the dramatic downsizing of government that we need? How would he push a Tea Party agenda, given what I call the Big Conundrum?

The Big Conundrum is that those of us who believe in limited government abhor how much power has been appropriated to the executive branch. It would seem a type of hypocrisy to use those same powers to radically reduce the scope of government. But then, to foreswear the tools that were used to grow government is to adopt a self-defeating strategy. Is there a way to pursue an aggressive agenda as president, while leaving a legacy of reduced executive authority?   


The Dems Went Down to Georgia…

By From the May 2014 issue

Georgia Democrats have never recovered from the 2002 election. That year, Republican Sonny Perdue, formerly one of the Democrats’ own, challenged Governor Roy Barnes. The Democrats, knowing the tide was finally turning against them, had used redistricting to carve up state and congressional legislative districts in advantageous ways. Georgia senate districts ran across the state. Representatives for the Georgia house were packed into multi-member districts. The 11th Congressional District was twisted up inside itself in such a fashion that a person could pole-vault from one side of it to another, crossing over a different congressional district. The 1st ran along the coast, halfway across the southern state line, then up I-75 to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins—nearly the geographic center of Georgia.


Chattanooga Boohoo

By From the April 2014 issue

Union power is in terminal decline. In the 1950s 35 percent of American workers belonged to labor unions. This fell to 20.1 percent in 1983 and 11.3 percent in 2013. Between 1983 and 2013, union membership fell from 17.7 to 14.5 million while the population of the United States grew from 233.79 million to 316.99 million. New firms such as Microsoft and Google, and growing firms such as Wal-Mart and Apple, are not unionized. Old companies in old industries like General Motors are, though membership in the United Auto Workers has declined from 1.5 million in 1979 to 390,000 today. The ranks of the United Mine Workers of America have atrophied from nearly half a million in 1946 to 74,577 in 2013.


A Jolly Good Strategy for the GOP

By 4.10.14

The GOP has lagged behind Democrats in strategy, focus, and effectiveness for much of the past six years. At almost every turn, it’s seemed Republicans could not come together and tell their story. 

That changed last month when Republican David Jolly defeated Democrat Alex Sink by two points in a closely contested special election for Florida's 13th Congressional District. The election was more than a good night; it was a turning of the tide. In Jolly’s victory, Republicans found an effective new strategy for the future that used—as the saying goes—something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

Something Old and Something New

The four-year-old Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has become political kryptonite. The strong dislike for the law has continued to drive down the president’s approval ratings. Obama made no campaign ads or visits to support Sink. However, while Sink’s mere affiliation with Obamacare hurt her chances, it was not the sole cause of her defeat.


Six Giants

By From the March 2014 issue

The republican primary campaign for the presidential nomination in 2016 will be very different from the campaigns of 2008 and 2012. Thank goodness.In 2008 there were 21 televised debates and eventually 12 candidates on the national stage: Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Jim Gilmore, Rick Santorum, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Alan Keyes, Fred Thompson, and Tom Tancredo. The crowded debate stage provided each candidate little opportunity to introduce himself, and the topics debated were often chosen by establishment-left media. Newt Gingrich refused to join the fray, comparing his reticence with that of Charles de Gaulle during the Fourth Republic refusing to engage with lesser French politicians viewed as “pygmies.” 


The Democrats’ New Copperheads

By 3.28.14

Colorado Senator Mark Udall didn’t get the memo (penned by Alex Sink, no doubt): Standing up for Obamacare isn’t exactly a winning strategy for Democrats in 2014. In an interview with Colorado Morning News (on 850 KOA in Denver, where my Saturday radio show airs), Senator Udall said that given the opportunity he would vote for Obamacare again. Likely Republican nominee Congressman Cory Gardner is already running an ad featuring the Udall interview, letting the incumbent’s words speak for themselves.