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Dining on Political Leftovers – “The Sunday Political Brunch” December 8, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – It’s the holiday season and we get to dine on lots of leftovers. Well, it’s the political season, too, and there’s so much to chew on, including lots of seemingly “leftover" political thoughts we’ve yet to address. Let’s “brunch” on a hodge-podge political buffet this week.

“Bumper Sticker Wars” – I am seeing a lot of interesting political bumper stickers these days. The most memorable was “Biden-Warren 2020.” It made me wonder if that was even plausible.
Well, running mates are often paired for ideological and geographic balance. Kennedy-Johnson successfully formed the “Boston-Austin Axis” in 1960 even though the two men didn’t really like each other. But one was a liberal and one was more moderate. One was from the urban Northeast and the other from rural Texas. It worked.

“Biden-Warren 2020?” – But fast forward 60 years and I ask, would Biden-Warren work? Like Johnson, Biden is the more practical, moderate, seasoned politician. Like Kennedy, Warren is the more idealistic liberal. But Warren is from the Northeast, and Biden is from the near-Northeast, in the Mid-Atlantic region. The ticket has some ideological balance, but not geographic balance. How would this help the ticket in Florida, North Carolina, or in the competitive Midwest states?

“On the Other Hand” – Is the ideological-geographic balance still a thing anymore? Bill Clinton and Al Gore broke the mold in 1992, as two Southern moderates from adjoining states. And George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were two hard-core conservatives from Texas (though Cheney technically ran from his native Wyoming). So, for 16 years, the old-school political theorem did not apply. But, Obama-Biden and Trump-Pence reverted to the old ways. Like so much of modern politics these days, there are seemingly no rules anymore.

“Warren-Sanders 2020” – Yes, this week I actually saw what I believe to be the most implausible bumper sticker yet – “Warren-Sanders 2020.” Both are far-left on the political meter, with Sanders saying he’s a socialist. And they are from neighboring New England states, so I don’t see the appeal in Kansas, or most other states. But hey, you never know. Politics remains the “art of the possible.”

“To Impeach?” – The sides – and the nation – could not be more divided on this issue. This week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered her Democratic colleagues to file Articles of Impeachment against President Trump this for his dealings with the president of Ukraine. “It would be wrong to invite a foreign government to meddle in our presidential elections here, in exchange for foreign aid. Especially military aid to protect them from a Russian invasion,” said West Virginia Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.

“On the Other Hand, II” -- I also interviewed Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) West Virginia for her reaction to the call for Articles of Impeachment. She questioned if Congress has the right priorities right now. “We need an infrastructure package, we need more broadband in West Virginia. We need to pass this USMCA Trade Promotion Authority. There are so many things that we need to do that impact the people’s daily lives. And yet it’s been turned into a bit of a circus unfortunately, over the last several weeks,” said Senator Capito.

“The Politics of Role Reversal” – It’s interesting the comparative perspectives, especially when you look at the 1998 impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. In that case, Republicans argued he broke the law and was subject to impeachment, just as Democrats are claiming now about Trump. Also, back then, Democrats argued the country had more urgent legislative priorities to address, that were being ignored because of the impeachment process, as Republicans say now. And in both cases, the party in the White House argued, the House had enough votes to impeach, but the Senate did not have enough votes to remove from office, so the entire process was a waste of time and money. It’s interesting to see the parties and their arguments completely flipped.

“The Dropouts” – Okay, Sen. Kamala Harris (D) California has dropped out of the Democratic nomination for president. So, too, have Sen. Mike Bennet (D) Colorado and Gov. Steve Bullock (D) Montana, (I forgot these last two were even still in the race). As I’ve said for weeks, the final five for either a number one or two spot on the ticket are Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

What are your thoughts on the presidential race and impeachment process? Just click the comment button to let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five bordering states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at www.Patch.com.

© 2019 MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo courtesy: www.MarkCurtisMedia.com

Thanksgiving Political Trivia to Chew On – “Sunday Political Brunch” - December 1, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We have a lot of food to chew on this Thanksgiving weekend, so why not some political trivia to chew on as well! It’s one of our holidays that is steeped in politics, so let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Lincoln was Thinkin’ Thanks!” – President Abraham Lincoln is remembered for so many different and historic things, but I bet most folks don’t know that he was the one who declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in 1863, celebrated on the final Thursday of November. Lincoln did not actually pardon a turkey he was given for the White House dinner. Instead he gave the big bird to his son as a pet, and it never wound up on the dinner table!

“He Stole Our Idea!” – To be sure, previous presidents called from time to time for a national day of thanksgiving. George Washington was the first in in 1777, asking for a day of thanksgiving for the passage of the U.S. Constitution, and the end to the Revolutionary War. But it was a sporadic occasion that occurred now and then, not annually.

“Hold on a Second!” – Thomas Jefferson opposed any type of thanksgiving declaration, because he felt it was signaling a religious celebration. Jefferson was the founding father who was most adamant about the separation of church and state, so he viewed any national endorsement of such a holiday with disdain. Fast forward to today, and I think common sense tells us that people can be thankful for many things, without necessarily extending it to a religious experience. To others, thanksgiving is a profound expression of one’s faith. My point is, it’s a matter of choice and expression. Not everyone feels or experiences thanks in the same way.

“Pardon Me, Sir!” – This year President Trump pardoned two turkeys named, “Bread” and “Butter.” In the modern era, the pardon has become an annual ritual, but who started it? Technically, President Kennedy issued the first pardon of a turkey in 1963. But it didn’t become an actual annual rite of passage until President George H.W. Bush did it on 1989, and all his successors followed suit. Before this tradition began, farmers would donate turkeys to the White House, with the intent they be butchered, cooked, and eaten, and they were!

“I Just Yoking!” – The annual turkey pardon has turned our presidents into “wannabee” stand-up comics. The event has evolved into one of humor and political barbs. Trump even used the occasion to poke fun at his impeachment inquiry. In pardoning Bread and Butter, Trump advised them "to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they have already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff's basement." Trump even skewered some of the impeachment witnesses whom he compared to Bread and Butter by saying, "Unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met. It's very unusual." Gallows humor? Maybe!

“FDR’s ‘Black Friday’” – One of my favorite bits of political trivia involves President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his concern over Christmas shopping season. Roosevelt believed that the late Thanksgiving holiday was hurting Christmas sales, so he moved it from the last Thursday in November, to the third Thursday. The public was furious and only about half the states complied. In 1941, Congress officially moved the day back to November’s final Thursday. Given today’s madness over Black Friday shopping, you get the sense that Roosevelt was trying to create a solution for a problem that didn’t exist.

“It’s All in the Name!” Okay, I love that this year’s pardoned turkeys were Bread and Butter. Last year they were Peas and Carrots. President Obama pardoned a turkey named Courage, as well as Gobbler and Cobbler. President George W. Bush pardoned Liberty and Freedom in 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. In 2004, he pardoned my favorites, Biscuits and Gravy. President Clinton pardoned Harry the Turkey, and Jerry the Turkey. President Obama also had Mac and Cheese one year, and Tater and Tot, his last year. It’s all in good fun!

We’ll get back to serious politics next week, but tell me, what’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Mine is the stuffing!!! Let us know by clicking the comment button!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five surrounding states and much of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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