Mark Curtis's blog

“Sunday Political Brunch: Will This Ever End?” – May 21, 2017

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – I honestly don’t know where to begin; and I honestly don’t know where this will end. This has been one of the most bizarre weeks - politically speaking – that I have every witnessed. It’s like the rain storm that never ends. There are huge implications, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Location, Location, Location” – I’ve often said in this column that when the political heat gets too high, the best things a politician can do are to change locations and to change the topics of conversation. President Trump departed the U.S. on an eight-day international trip. He’s probably hoping that will deflect public attention from some of the unfavorable coverage he has been getting here at home. Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Italy are among his stops. Maybe the questions he is asked there will be about foreign relations and terrorism, but I doubt that will be all.

“My Dear Friend Boris” – I will never, ever forget President Clinton visiting Russia on September 1, 1998, during a much-ballyhooed foreign trip. Mr. Clinton was probably looking forward to knocking his impeachment scandal off the front page. As he stood next to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin, came this question from a reporter: “Sir, you were just speaking of the challenges that we face as a nation. And has the reaction since your admission of a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky caused you any -- given you any cause for concern that you may not be as effective as you should be in leading the country?” Clinton repeated his public apology and request for forgiveness, but he looked as if he wanted to crawl under the Kremlin carpet and die.

“Shut Up Already” – The worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted. I advised post-election that Donald Trump should stop his daily tweets, or at least choose his battles more carefully. He would often go on a rant about something of little consequence, and it would blow up into a big story. He’s a provocateur, and he likes to stir up trouble. Friday, on a talk-radio interview, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) echoed my sentiments. “They keep throwing gasoline on the fire, every hour of every day,” said Manchin, advising the White House to tone it down. It wasn’t only Democrats who voiced this opinion. “I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House,” said Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“Nixon’s Most Famous Quote” – At the height of the Watergate scandal, President Nixon gave a speech to - of all people – a convention of newspaper editors. Nixon – like Trump – was no fan of the press. During that address, he said, “…people have got to know whether their President is a crook. Well, I am not a crook.” A lot of people are comparing the current White House problems to the Nixon years, particularly after the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The two cases aren’t exactly parallel, and there are some “apples and oranges” comparisons. But the Trump investigations could become all-consuming, as happened with the Watergate and Clinton probes.

“No, No, Next Question” – On Thursday, in a joint news conference with the President of Colombia, President Trump was asked whether he had requested then-FBI-Director James Comey to drop the investigation of fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump responded tersely, “No, no. Next question.” Maybe we’ll get some clarity, as Comey has now agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee some time after Memorial Day. Trump has asserted that Director Comey – on three occasions – has said Trump was not the focus of the Russian election-hacking investigation. Comey has asserted there was some White House pressure to halt the Flynn-Russia probe. And now, former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed Special Counsel to lead the Russia investigation. Stay tuned!

“Why All of This Matters” – I lived through Watergate and was a student of it. I covered the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal for a full year as a reporter in Washington, D.C. In 1972, President Nixon made his breakthrough, historic trips to China and Russia; but I don’t remember a single significant accomplishment of Mr. Nixon once the Watergate scandal hit full-bore. President Clinton had very productive years from 1995 through 1997; but once the Lewinsky affair broke, the administration’s agenda came to a screeching halt. The biggest danger of the Trump-Russia-Comey mess is that little else of significance may get done in Washington for the foreseeable future.

What are your thoughts on all the new revelations – or accusations – concerning President Trump? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017, Mark Curtis media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, author and analyst based on the East Coast

Sunday Political Brunch: Political Crazy Talk - May 14, 2017

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(Sunday Political Brunch Political Crazy Talk

(Charleston, West Virginia) – Sometimes politicians open their mouths and say things that maybe they shouldn’t have. Words matter, and they have consequences. On so many occasions I know politicians wish they could take their words back. This week we’ve seen a lot of statements the authors would likely want to walk back. But “closing the barn door after the horse escapes” is an often-futile exercise. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“If the Dead Could Speak” – Despite all the controversy over what President Trump said this week, I don’t think he wins first prize. That award goes to Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who said at a town hall meeting, “Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care." No matter where you stand politically on Obamacare – left, or right - people die every day because of a lack of access to health care. You can imagine this ill-advised soundbite being aired over and over in the 2018 campaign ads.

“Trump ‘Trumps’ Trump!” – Just when you think he can’t top his last tweet, he does. This week President Trump tweeted after firing the FBI Director, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump was referring to calls and dinner at the White House with Comey, before dismissing him (photo above). Mr. Trump also said Comey told him that the President was not under investigation. Tapes? No tapes? Secret recordings? To many, this sounds strangely reminiscent of President Nixon’s administration, where the tapes – and gaps - ultimately cost him the White House. Stay tuned!

“Comey’s Comments” – The start of the aforementioned firestorm was testimony FBI Director Comey gave to Congress last summer, concerning emails that Hillary Clinton aide Houma Abedin, sent to her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, (D-NY). Comey testified that "hundreds and thousands" of emails had been deliberately sent directly from Abedin to Weiner's computer. This week the FBI issued a statement correcting Comey’s statement on the emails to, “a small number, a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner." Hours later Comey was fired.

“It Happens” – As I’ve mentioned, politicians have quotes they wish they could take back. A case in point, Hillary Clinton’s comments about the coal industry in her run for the White House. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” said former Secretary Clinton as she campaigned on a new energy platform. It came back to haunt her as she lost West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other coal producing states in 2016. Quotes like this can turn tides. In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary by 42 points. Eight years later she was crushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders who won all 55 counties in the Mountain State.

“Obamacare Scare” – If you wonder why the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have gained such momentum over the past seven years, consider this famous quote from President Obama: "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold," said Mr. Obama. Well a lot of people wound up losing their coverage, and their preferred doctor, or, they paid more to keep their health plan. As mentioned, words matter.

“Did He Really Just Say That?” – I deal with a lot of political press secretaries who must do damage control after the boss “misspeaks.” My favorite is President George W. Bush speaking about terrorism in August 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Ouch!!! As I often say, the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted.

“Why All of This Matters” – Look, politicians misspeak. I get that. In the blur of the spotlight or on the campaign trail politicians say things that are just inaccurate. Sometimes you can blame it on fatigue, or poor fact gathering. On the other hand, politicians sometimes deliberately say things to mislead the press and public. How do you tell the difference? Sometimes it’s hard to sort out fact from fiction. On one hand, you have political hyperbole that exaggerates the truth; other times they are just bald face lies. It’s important to have a free and unfettered press, and an always highly skeptical public to try to sort it all out.

What is your favorite political “misspeak?” Just click the comment button on www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

Charleston, West Virginia) – Sometimes politicians open their mouths and say things that maybe they shouldn’t. Words matter, and they have consequences. On so many occasions I know politicians wish they could take their words back. This week we’ve seen a lot of statements the authors would likely want to walk back. But “closing the barn door after the horse escapes” is an often-futile exercise. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“If the Dead Could Speak” – Despite all the controversy over what President Trump said this week, I don’t think he wins first prize. That award goes to Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who said at a town hall meeting, “Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care." No matter where you stand politically on Obamacare – left, or right - people die every day because of a lack of access to health care. You can imagine this ill-advised soundbite being aired over and over in the 2018 campaign ads.

“Trump ‘Trumps’ Trump!” – Just when you think he can’t top his last headline, he does. This week President Trump tweeted after firing the FBI Director, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump was referring to calls and dinner at the White House with Comey (photo above), before dismissing him. Mr. Trump also said Comey told him that the President was not under investigation. Tapes? No tapes? Secret recordings? To many, this sounds strangely reminiscent of President Nixon’s administration, where the tapes – and gaps - ultimately cost him the White House. Stay tuned!

“It Happens” – As I’ve mentioned, politicians have quotes they wish they could take back. A case in point, Hillary Clinton’s comments about the coal industry in her run for the White House. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” said former Secretary Clinton as she campaigned on a new energy platform. It came back to haunt her as she lost West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other coal producing states in 2016. Quotes like this can turn tides. In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary by 42 points. Eight years later she was crushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders who won all 55 counties in the Mountain State.

“Obamacare Scare” – If you wonder why the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have gained such momentum over the past seven years, consider this famous quote from President Obama: "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold." said Mr. Obama. Well a lot of people wound up losing their coverage, and their preferred doctor, or, they paid more to keep their health plan. As mentioned, words matter.

“Did He Really Just Say That?” – I deal with a lot of political press secretaries who must do damage control after the boss “misspeaks.” My favorite is President George W. Bush speaking about terrorism in August 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Ouch!!! As I often say, the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted.

“Why All of This Matters” – Look, politicians misspeak. I get that. In the blur of the spotlight or on the campaign trail politicians say things that are just inaccurate. Sometimes you can blame it on fatigue, or poor fact gathering. On the other hand, politicians sometimes deliberately say things to mislead the press and public. How do you tell the difference? It’s hard to sort out fact from fiction. On one hand, you have political hyperbole that exaggerates the truth; other times they are just bald face lies. It’s important to have a free and unfettered press, and an always highly skeptical public to try to sort it all out.

What is your favorite political “misspeak?” Just click the comment button on www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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