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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- March 12, 2017

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – I’ve had a lot of comments and messages in the last week regarding the Democratic Party response to President Trump’s joint address to Congress last week. Many of my readers wondered about the choice of former Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY), who gave the response. I think it’s a fair issue for discussion, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Bashing Beshear” – I’ll be honest; I thought it was an odd choice. Steve Beshear is 72 years old and a long-time Kentucky politico, who has served in various public offices since the 1970s. He was termed-out in 2016, after serving eight years as Governor. I have a lot of viewers and readers in Kentucky, so I want to make this clear: I am not criticizing Governor Beshear or his message. But isn’t he more about his party’s past, rather than its future? Actually, the answer might be a bit of both as you read on.

“Boosting Beshear” – Okay, don’t anyone accuse me of ageism, but I have a fascinating question: Why didn’t they choose Governor Beshear’s son? Andy Beshear came into office as Attorney General (D-KY) the same day his dad left office. The younger Beshear has been brash and has made headlines for successfully taking on some of the initiatives of new Governor Matt Bevin (D-KY). At the age of 39, Andy Beshear is certainly one of the faces of the future for the Democratic Party both locally and nationally. He has a long road ahead.

“Bench Strength” – I raise the issue of the Democratic Party’s future because Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is 75; former Vice President Joe Biden is 74; and former Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is 69. As popular as each one once was, does any of them have the stamina for another Presidential run in 2020? Maybe; maybe not. The party has been widely criticized for not developing a “bench” much like a football or basketball franchise. The party’s future lies more with an Andy Beshear than with a Steve Beshear, and there are others of his generation we should discuss.

“Oh, No! Another Cuomo” – One of the potential Presidential candidates to keep an eye on is Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). As a practical matter, any time you can get a Democratic candidate from New York or California (or a Republican from Texas or Florida), you potentially secure a huge chunk of Electoral College votes. Yes, his dad was the late Governor Mario Cuomo (D-NY), but Andrew has compiled a long resume of his own. In the past 24 years, he has served in the Clinton cabinet and as New York Attorney General, before becoming Governor. At 59, he’s viable for at least the next two or three election cycles.

“West Coast Boast” – As mentioned, California remains a big electoral prize for Democrats. Right now, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is the odds-on favorite to become Governor in 2018. I’ve known and covered him for the past twenty years. Yes, he’s had some scandal; but, at age 49, a lot of that is behind him. If he’s a successful Governor (and a potential replacement for Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), he has quite a long political future ahead. He’s the architect of legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States, which could cut both ways politically. Keep him on your radar screen (photo with former President Clinton above).

“Don’t Duck Duckworth” – Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is an authentic American war hero. She lost both legs and much of the use of her right arm in 2004, when the Army helicopter she was piloting during the Iraq War was shot down. When she came back stateside, she lost her first race for Congress in 2006. She was appointed at both the state and federal levels to work in veterans' affairs jobs before winning two terms in the U.S. House beginning in 2012 and then being elevated to the Senate in 2016. As a 49-year-old Asian-American with a base in a big Electoral College state, she’s a legitimate White House contender for the next 20 years.

“Castro Brothers; No, Not Those Castros” – I’ve written about them before, and they are worth keeping on your radar. Julian Castro was the Mayor of San Antonio for five years, before being named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. His twin brother Joaquin has just started his third term in the House of Representatives. The Castro brothers are 42 years old, so they have decades of political viability. Their only downside might be their seeming inability to carry the solid red state of Texas, but these young men are on a definite watch list for national viability.

“Why All of This Matters?” – I found the Steve Beshear response to President Trump jarring – not from a political policy standpoint, but rather from a party’s strategic standpoint. Steve Beshear is part of his party’s past; his son Andy is part of the party’s future. Many of the other younger candidates I’ve spoken of here are also part of their party’s future. It’s about building a bench. Let’s face it: The 2020 Presidential campaign began November 9, 2016 – the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Who is your Presidential candidate in 2020? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- March 5, 2017

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – It’s never a dull moment in the world of politics, and this past week was no exception. President Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress, and there is certainly a lot to chew on. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“A Different Donald” – I have no qualms about saying it was the best political speech Donald Trump has delivered to date - hands down. I am neither endorsing nor condemning the policies here; instead, I am critiquing the style and tone of the speech. The address was organized, thematic, structured, disciplined, emotional - when it needed to be - and dignified, yet with a challenging tone at times. It was the most “un-Trump” speech he has ever delivered. After his harsh and provocative convention acceptance speech and his Inaugural address, this was quite a departure.

“What is ‘Being Presidential?’” – As I’ve often said, trying to define “Presidential” is just like trying to grab a handful of Jell-O – it’s an elusive quality. But here are some likely traits: confident, yet with humility; respectful of the dignity, traditions, and history of the office you represent; compassionate; respectful of your opposition; strong (emotionally and politically); resolute; firm, but fair; knowledgeable, yet with an open mind to learn (aka, don’t be a know-it-all); and deferential to the expertise of others. I could go on. It’s a tapestry of traits. Whether you agree or not with his policies, this was probably the most “Presidential” Mr. Trump has appeared through the course of the campaign and now his time in office. Will it last? Stay tuned.

“Who Remembers?” – Quick! Name the most memorable line from last year’s final State of the Union Address from President Obama! Or, what was President George H.W. Bush’s most memorable moment in his four addresses? Who was President Clinton’s most memorable gallery guest? What? Cat got your tongue? Don’t feel bad; you are not alone. The State of the Union or joint session addresses are more political pep rallies than they are policy roadmaps. Few – if any – ever result in meaningful laws being passed, or policies being implemented.

“The Opposing Response” – I am of two minds on this. My gut says get rid of the opposing party response; my brain says that - in the interest of trying to show fairness - we need to continue it, potholes and all. It’s always awkward and forced. Remember Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), grabbing the water bottle for an odd gulp a few years back? You knew instantly that it would soon be a Saturday Night Live skit! This year it was former Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) with a whole host of stiff, frozen, “Hollywood-extra" types, awkwardly sitting behind him. “I’m a proud Democrat, but first and foremost, I’m a proud Republican, and Democrat, and mostly, American,” Beshear said. Huh? The opposition response just never works for either party.

“The Immigrant Crime Victims” – Certainly the most controversial and contentious policies of the new President are with regard to immigration. He has made a point of showcasing U.S. citizens who have been the victims of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants. On Tuesday night, some of the victims’ family members were in the gallery. Three of the survivors of murder victims were African-American. Clearly, the President is trying to get beyond the perception that he cares only about white people. It underscores his point and the issue if he shows the impact of illegal immigration on a diverse population of victims.

“Jewish Community Centers” – Noting that it was the final day of Black History Month, the President called out those threatening and attacking Jewish Community Centers, and other bias crimes. "Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week's shooting [of Indian victims] in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms," Trump said. This should silence those who call Trump a Nazi, but some will likely persist.

“Blame it on Obama” – If the speech had a low point, I thought it was the veiled criticism President Trump leveled at President Obama’s performance over the past eight years. Look, that works and is fair game on the campaign trail; but we do have something of a tradition in this country where Presidents don’t bash their predecessors once in office. It’s about “politics stopping at the water’s edge” and preserving a respect for the office itself, while not demeaning the previous occupants. I just found the tone jarring and unnecessary since Obama’s not the President anymore. But, as I’ve said often, U.S. politics is now in uncharted territory.

“Trump’s Dilemma” – By so many accounts – yes, from Republicans, and even from many Democrats – the President made a very forceful and passionate speech before Congress. He looked and sounded Presidential. It played well in the 24-hour news cycle. The problem for him (and many politicians) is that good news has a very short shelf-life, akin to that of a loaf of bread. Within days, the controversy about Russia and Attorney General Jeff Sessions dominated the headlines. The bottom line: It’s tough to get and to sustain positive momentum in the nation’s capital.

“What Have You Done for Me Lately? – Politics is a “What have you done for me lately” business. People want a policy payoff. Anyone can read a teleprompter and give a good speech. It’s quite another thing to deliver bills that Congress will pass that have a positive outcome for the public at large. President Trump has touted immigration reform, job creation, and repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) as top priorities. But where are the bills? Unless legislation is introduced in Congress – that gains traction, and ultimately an affirmative vote - then all we’ve seen and heard are empty promises.

What do you think should be the number one legislative priority of the Trump administration?
Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017 MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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