Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THE DINNER


It is reported that Mitt Romney is having dinner tonight in Trump Tower with the President-Elect. This is the stuff of which history is made.

On March 4 of this year, under the heading “Romney v Trump”, I posted this comment:

“I watched with profound sadness as Mitt Romney delivered a speech which will be in every history book in the twenty second century. It was a great speech; sincere, thoughtful, courageous. Clearly Romney felt he had to say what he said. And he meant every word of it.

“What he did, of course, without realizing it, was to persuade millions of Americans that Donald Trump is the true anti-establishment candidate.

“What he did was to confirm Trump’s theme that he is the only candidate who is not a part of the same-old--same-old Washington D.C. oligarchy of career politicians that so many Americans are sick and tired of.”

Now the pundits and commentators are buzzing with the improbable story that Donald Trump might just ask Mitt Romney to serve in his administration as Secretary of State.

Trump loyalists are buzzing. Kellyanne Conway. Trump’s principal campaign strategist, has taken to the airways to protest. She says that she speaks for the rank and file who voted for the President-Elect.  

No doubt she does. No doubt there are a lot of people who simply cannot fathom how Donald Trump could offer the top cabinet post to a man who publicly and emphatically denounced him during the campaign.

I think they don’t know Donald Trump. If nothing else, DJT is an executive. Whatever else can be said about him, the President-Elect has prospered in a career which involves choosing the right people to do the job.

Trump has been quoted as saying that Romney looks like a Secretary of State; that he would be picked for the part by Central Casting. Say what you will about Mitt Romney, no one has seriously suggested that he is not qualified to represent the United States around the world.

Donald Trump has made reference, more than once, to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s masterful biography of Abraham Lincoln, “A Team of Rivals.”  As an outsider, not beholden to a political party, Trump is free to tap anyone for any job in his administration.

The President-Elect is known as a man who expects and rewards loyalty from the people who work for him.

But he is also a man who has enough ego to think that  he can win over those who are skeptical or even hostile.

He is not likely to be dissuaded by campaign loyalists. Indeed, some have suggested that Trump knew about Kellyanne’s intention to ‘go rogue’ and made no effort to stop it.

Indeed, I suspect that he enjoys dazzling the media with his unpredictable decisions.  In truth, by considering Romney, the President – Elect shows that he is above the pettiness associated with hurt feelings and bruised egos.

In the hurley burley of selecting his cabinet, Donald Trump has met face to face with dozens of hopefuls and prospects. Tonight’s dinner with Mitt Romney is the first and only such personal and extended contact. I believe it is significant.

Whatever may come of it, I would give a lot to be a mouse in that dining room. My guess is that those two men will find much about themselves and their relationship to laugh about.

And unless I am very mistaken, Mitt Romney is a good enough American and a big enough man to call Donald Trump “Mr. President” and mean it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

HAMILTON

It was another era, it was another time in America. In the summer of 1946, the men of Epiphany Parish on the West side of Detroit staged a minstrel show to raise money for the church.

Minstrel shows, or minstrelsy as it was known, were developed in the 1840’s. Throughout the 19th century, well into the 20th they were the most popular form of musical entertainment in America.

In these days of political correctness, the whole idea of minstrelsy seems preposterous. Caucasian men with blackened faces, singing, dancing and telling jokes in the dialect of Africans who had been brought to this country as slaves; what on earth were they thinking of?  

It’s difficult for Americans under eighty years of age to comprehend. Especially so for people of color. But the truth is that minstrelsy was fun. It celebrated the music and dancing and, yes, the humor, that came from the cotton fields of the South.

My Dad and my brother, Terry, were recruited to be in the show. I was in high school and not eligible to perform. Still, I attended some rehearsals and learned the songs. The following year, when I started college, Terry and I put together a minstrel show act, singing songs like Alexander’s Rag Time Band and Miss Malindy’s Jubilee Ball.

Somewhere down in the storage closet, there’s a photo of the two Brennan boys in our white tuxedos, our faces blackened to the teeth, hamming it up at one of several shows we did at church socials and at the University of Detroit.

I got to thinking about those days when I read about the fuss created after the performance of ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway, attended by Vice-President Elect Mike Pence and his family.

Like the minstrel shows of old, Hamilton confronts the matter of race head on. Black actors play the roles of white historical figures. The history of the American Revolution is told in the rap music of the inner city.

And like the minstrel shows, Hamilton’s music knows no prejudice. Steven Foster’s tunes swelled hearts and titillated ears of every color. Hamilton’s score enraptures audiences without fear or favor.

In truth the theater drives the culture. Music and dancing, stories and songs, the vast and wonderful storehouse of make believe that emanates from Broadway and Hollywood molds our lives and our thoughts as surely as they reflect the reality around us.

Hamilton has been lauded as a vehicle to acquaint the younger generation with the history of our nation. Surely a smash hit Broadway musical can get the attention of young people who manage to get out of high school and indeed college with zero knowledge of our first Secretary of Treasury.

But if there is some trickle down educational benefit in Hamilton, there is also the insouciant confrontation of the status quo inherent in its casting.

The ‘cattle call’ for the casting of Hamilton specified that they were looking for NON WHITE rap singers. That is a pretty unusual message which would raise a lot of eyebrows at the Equal Employment Opportunity Office if it had said NON BLACK.

The company was recruited for its diversity, and American diversity is the theme of the show. The gratuitous curtain call lecture to the next Vice President of the United States was unnecessary, juvenile and tacky.

Friday, November 18, 2016

MOSEY THOUGHTS

It was 47 degrees in Harbor Springs today. The sun was shining. I couldn’t resist the temptation to play golf.

The electric carts have all been stowed away for the winter, but hand pulled trolleys are available. I loaded my clubs on one of them and headed out to the Farms Course for a nine hole adventure.

Most of the trees have given up their leaves by now, but there are still a few that remind us of the autumn tableau that makes Michigan such a special place.

The big toe on my right foot sends me a shooting pain every third or fourth step. I am tempted to take the shoe off, but I don’t.

There’s not much to think about alone on the golf course. I move at a slow but steady pace, and I get to thinking about how I am walking.

My gate is somewhere between John Wayne’s bold and threatening full shouldered swagger and Tim Conway’s hilarious octogenarian shuffle.

It’s not a stroll. Stroll suggests pointless wandering. I know where I am going. It’s not a walk. You take a walk. You go for a walk. A walk is a complete endeavor, an undertaking, a mission. You walk the dog. You walk to church.

And I was not ambling. That is too aimless. Nor was I hiking. That suggests  
boots and a back pack. I ruled out marching. That would require music and some kind of rhythm.

Was I strolling? Or sauntering? No, those are too carefree for traversing a fairway.  I ruled out waddling. I am not fat enough to waddle. Nor am I young enough to toddle. My gate was too steady to be a stagger, or a stumble.

I wasn’t dawdling, or loitering; that would be too slow. Nor was I creeping or crawling. That suggests getting down on your knees. I ruled out schlepping, I think you have to have your shirt tails out to schlep.

I eliminated trudge and plod. Those things require mud and boots. Saunter, dawdle and traipse sounded too uncommitted. I was playing golf.

So what was I doing out there? It finally came to me at about the seventh hole. I was moseying.

I hit the ball and moseyed down the fairway to hit it again. Then I moseyed up onto the green and putted it onto the hole.

When you are eighty-seven years old, you mosey a lot. After supper, I mosey down to the basement and get on my computer. Maybe I’ll fight the spider solitaire game for a while. Maybe I’ll pour over my email. Maybe I’ll Google the news and see what is happening in the world.

Maybe I’ll end up writing another blog. The blogesphere is rampant with Trumpetry. His cabinet. Who’s in and who’s out. Who the President Elect has talked with, who hasn’t been able to see him.

And big news, like it’s not easy to get through to Mr.Trump on the telephone. The Prime Minister of Australia couldn’t find a phone number for the President Elect. He finally had to call Greg Norman. The Shark knew how to get hold of the Donald.

Mitt Romney is going to the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey to meet the owner on Saturday. That has generated a lot of speculation. Will he be considered for Secretary of State? A stunning possibility given Romney’s full throated opposition to Trump’s candidacy.

I recall noting some time back that Mr. Trump has spoken admiringly about Doris Kearns Goodwin’s famous book “A Team of Rivals” in which she celebrated the political genius of Abraham Lincoln whose cabinet consisted of the men who had opposed his nomination.

No one ever accused Abraham Lincoln of egotism. Indeed, his modest humility is considered one of his greatest virtues.

I do not see Donald Trump as a particularly humble man, but I can envision him acting the part of a gracious winner. I recall that when asked to say something nice about Hillary Clinton, Trump was quick to acknowledge that she is a fighter who simply doesn’t quit.

I think a Trump-Romney handshake will be good for America.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TRANSITION TIP TOE

On March 15, 2016, a web site called The Political Insider carried a bold headline and story announcing that Doctor Ben Carson would accept appointment as Surgeon General in an administration headed by Donald Trump.

That story came on the heels of Internet buzz about the fact that Carson, an erstwhile opponent of Trump in the Republican Primaries, was less than enthusiastic about supporting the front runner.

The good Doctor told News Max in March that his decision to back Trump was a practical one, arrived at only after considering all other alternatives. Here is the quote:
.
“I didn’t see a path for [John] Kasich, who I like, or for [Marco] Rubio, who I like. As far as [Ted] Cruz is concerned, I don’t think he’s gonna be able to draw independents and Democrats unless he has some kind of miraculous change… Is there another scenario that I would have preferred? Yes. But that scenario isn’t available.”

Pressed to clarify, Carson said he meant he’d prefer to have backed one of the other candidates, but he was convinced that Trump was on track to secure the nomination.

Carson acknowledged that he would welcome the opportunity to serve in a Trump administration. Because Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon, the role of Surgeon General was immediately suggested, and Carson did not deny being interested in that appointment.
The liberal press, of course, being thirsty for any kind of negative news about the Donald, promptly reminded readers that it is a federal offense to promise appointment to government employment in exchange for electoral support or endorsement.

All of which is by way of background to explain the stories being told these days as the President-Elect goes about naming members of his cabinet.

Ben Carson has made it clear that he wants to serve the 45th President in whatever role he may be called upon to play. Still, he has been cautious in identifying any particular assignment.

He says that he would welcome being an advisor and certainly his counsel would be an asset to the Trump administration. 

No doubt there are voices in the transition camp counseling against any Carson appointment which could be characterized as a quid pro quo for the Doctor’s campaign endorsement and help.

But, c’mon. Does anyone really think that Donald Trump, the consummate deal maker, had to promise Ben Carson an appointment to get his endorsement? 

It’s a little late for the President Elect to fret over what the New York Times might say. Doctor Ben Carson will be a stellar choice for Surgeon General.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

MICHAEL COHEN


Donald Trump calls him a “very smart person.” ABC News called him Donald Trump’s “pit bull.”

Not yet fifty years of age, Michael D. Cohen is a successful lawyer, a registered Democrat, an aggressive and successful real estate investor, and the son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor.

He is feared, respected, controversial, combative and intensely loyal to his friend and client, the next President of the United States.

After completing his undergraduate work at American University, Mike Cohen ventured out of the Big Apple and into the hinterland of Lansing, Michigan to pursue a legal education at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

So he is, I am proud to say, one of over 20,000 American lawyers who boast a diploma, over my signature, from the law school I was privileged to launch back in 1973.

Tonight, I dispatched the following email to Mr. Cohen:


Michael:

Congratulations on your boss’s spectacular election. It must be a real thrill for you, as one of his long time closest allies, to see Donald Trump claim the ultimate prize. And while I would assume that you are nearly exhausted, it must also be true that you are running on endless surges of adrenaline.

It is certainly a credit to Mr. Trump’s egalitarian spirit that he does not limit his recruiting to the blossoms of the Ivy League.

That said, and in the same vein, let me offer a suggestion. 

I have long advocated a constitutional reform dubbed the "Ervin Amendment" because originally advanced by North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin.

He urged that United States Supreme Court Justices be appointed from a list of nominees supplied by the Chief Justices of the State Supreme Courts, and that their terms of office be limited. 

Donald Trump has an opportunity to strike a mighty blow in favor of the Constitution by simply choosing to do what Senator Ervin suggested.

1. He should invite the fifty State Supreme Court Chief Justices to submit five names for him to consider for appointment to SCOTUS.

2. He should then nominate one of them, on condition that he or she deliver to the Clerk of the Court a written resignation dated eighteen years after his or her appointment.

It would be a PR coup, a marvelous precedent, an act of singular non partisanship, and a beacon of light pointing toward Constitutional Reform.

“No challenge is too great, nor dream is too big” Are you with me on this?

TEB