Political Cartoon Day: Campaign Edition

So many political cartoons, so little time and space to share them all. I’m going to try today, though. The emphasis will be on the Democrat side, but I won’t forget Republicans either.

Hillary Clinton has got to be one of the more radioactive candidates in presidential campaign history. Some Democrats are finally beginning to hear the alarms going off:

What

She thought she would waltz to the nomination, but results in New Hampshire show she hasn’t even won the majority of women, which has to be dismaying for her, since she bases most of her “appeal” on being the first woman president:

Shut Up

Yet there is some question about just how effective her husband’s support on that issue really is:

One Reason

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has surprised everyone with his appeal, which comes down to one thing only:

Free Stuff

Despite his appeal to pure-bred socialists like himself, Sanders realizes he needs to reach out to voters who might not ordinarily support him. So where does he go to win them over? To that champion of uprightness and integrity, Al Sharpton:

Black Votes Matter

Even though Sanders swamped Clinton in New Hampshire by 22 percentage points, they got the same number of delegates, thanks to Democrat party rules that include “super delegates” who can choose whomever they want. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

Delegates

That would be Sanders’s philosophy coming back to bite him. Yet, despite how the game may be rigged for her, Hillary isn’t taking any chances. Perhaps she will unveil another campaign revamp. Hillary 4.0?

Revamp

On the Republican side, South Carolina may be Jeb Bush’s last gasp; that’s why he has brought in the former president to campaign by his side. Will it help?

Campaign Support

And Donald Trump keeps being Donald Trump, which is a problem in itself. His use of insults, vulgarities, threats of lawsuits, and claims of being cheated are what seem to dominate his campaign. Don’t go looking for any real substance there; you’re just supposed to feel his anger and jump on board his train wreck.

For what it’s worth, he’s pledged to stop using curse words and obscenities publicly.

Juvenile

For the record, I’m not impressed.

2016’s Worst-Case Scenario

Joe Biden says he is out of the 2016 race, then proceeds to give a 25-minute campaign speech. Why? Commentator Charles Krauthammer thinks he is positioning himself should lightning strike Hillary Clinton in the form of a federal indictment.

Any indictment that may come will be the result of an FBI investigation into her e-mail scandal, but there are other reasons to fervently oppose a Hillary nomination, with Benghazi being a key one.

Today the House special committee investigating Benghazi will have her testify. Four Americans died in that terrorist attack that she tried to blame on a hardly seen video. When she appears before the committee, perhaps they should also have empty chairs next to her as a remembrance for the four who died.

There’s actually a fifth victim here as well:

Empty Chairs

Another cartoonist picked up on that theme rather pointedly also:

Waste of Time

For me, it doesn’t matter which of the possible candidates Democrats will offer to the public; I could never vote for any of them. Why don’t they just get it over and change the name of the party officially to the Socialist Party? Or how about the Kill Innocent Children and Sell Their Body Parts Party? The Let’s Destroy Marriage Party? You get the drift. There’s no way I can ever support what Democrats now stand for. How any Christian can give support for them is beyond my comprehension.

Then there’s the Republican side where Donald Trump continues to lead in the polls. Some, like this cartoonist, view him this way:

Trumpet

His candidacy certainly has been long on bravado, a cult of personality, and the ability to hit hot-button issues that appeal to angry voters. But he’s far from lacking substance; what bothers me the most is the substance I see.

Trump, in my view, has only latched onto a type of conservatism because it’s what will get him the nomination. He, by his own admission, has always aligned himself more with Democrats than Republicans, and now mouths conservative platitudes that I don’t really think he believes.

Ronald Reagan underwent a serious rethinking of his New Deal liberalism over a number of years, coming out of the period of rethinking as a confirmed conservative in principle. Trump is, I fear, nothing more than an opportunist jumping on a bandwagon of reaction against the Obama years.

That’s not enough. It’s also dangerous to put one’s trust in an opportunist. It will come back to bite.

His latest foray into the Loony Left’s talking points is the insinuation that 9/11 was somehow George Bush’s fault. Whatever critique we, and I, may have of Bush’s actions, anyone who even hints at his complicity in letting 9/11 happen is wandering into the fever swamps.

There were so many daily threats Bush was given that there was no way to single out ahead of time what actually happened on 9/11.

Further, Trump then asserted that if he had been president, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened, indicating that his immigration approach would have prevented it. Does he not know that 15 of the 19 terrorists that day came into the country legally? And does he really want us to believe that he would have rounded them up and deported them in the short 8-month span he would have been in office prior to 9/11?

Hitching a ride on the Trump Train will spell disaster for the GOP.

911

Can you imagine a worse scenario than what we may be facing as an election choice in 2016?

Miss Those Days

As noted above, I’ll never vote for Hillary or any other Democrat. But please, Republicans, don’t force me to vote for a third party.

Degrading Iraq, not ISIS

I understand debate over whether military involvement in Iraq was advisable. Honest people can disagree over that. But making George Bush into some kind of bloodthirsty dictator is way over the line. He was responding to a threat that was growing in the region, and he took out a dictator who was hoping to rule the entire Middle East. Further, he acted on what was the best intelligence at the time with respect to chemical weapons, and he certainly didn’t lie so that American soldiers would die.

American soldiers did die, and the hope was that their deaths would be worth something in the long run, like a stable Iraq. Now, all of that has been overturned as ISIS has taken over most of those cities that Americans died to free. This is a travesty, especially when the Obama administration and the military brass say the taking of Ramadi is “no big deal.”

Pass It On

President Obama’s promise that he would “degrade” ISIS rings hollow. They are growing in strength and influence, making him and his minions appear to be no better than “Baghdad Bob,” the Saddam Hussein mouthpiece who said there were no American troops anywhere while the Hussein regime was, in fact, on the verge of being toppled. It’s not ISIS that’s being degraded; it’s something else.

Degrade Portion

No matter what credible criticism one can level at President Bush over his Iraq policy, he did achieve a fledgling Iraqi nation that was at least stable at the time. Even President Obama acknowledged this as he prematurely—and against the advice of his military commanders—pulled out the remaining American forces. The new “stability” is not something to be proud of:

Stable Iraq

So as Iraq descends into chaos and ISIS is poised to control the entire country, Obama wants us to believe he is not responsible for this turn of events:

Didn't Build That

Frankly, he really doesn’t care much what happens over there. He’s never considered a war on terror to be all that legitimate. Instead, he thinks global climate change is where we need to focus.

Biggest Security Threat

As I’ve said before, his ideological blinders have created a new territory called Obamaworld, a fantasyland of his own making.

Merely Tactical Setbacks

In a Memorial Day speech yesterday, President Obama said we should rejoice because for the first time in a long time American troops are not fighting in an overseas war. He even mentioned Afghanistan, where 10,000 Americans are still on active duty. The news report I was watching also commented that 3500 American military personnel continue to work with the Iraqi army.

So how is that a testimony to complete withdrawal from overseas conflicts? He did what he does so often—make a blatant statement of supposed fact that is at odds with the facts.

Even this late—more than six years into his presidency—he still acts like all the problems in the Middle East are due to George W. Bush. You can criticize Bush’s policies, and I think there is ground for criticism, but a direct comparison of the two presidents’ actions show rather stark differences:

Legacy

If you think Bush was mistaken in toppling Saddam Hussein, and that the aftermath of that was particularly messy, one thing to remember is that when he left office, he also bequeathed to Obama an Iraq on the verge of stability. Obama’s decision to pull out all troops, despite the advice of the military, has led to the chaos that is ISIS.

One wonders what, in fact, his overall strategy really is. Look the other way and pretend that everything is fine?

Strategy

Since he is so adept at comparing himself with his predecessor, here’s another apt comparison:

Success

At least George Bush recognized when his strategy needed to be altered, based on the situation. Obama just waltzes along as if all is great. Three of the four major cities in Iraq now under the control of ISIS? No problem. Our strategy is working, he assures us. The latest disaster is merely a tactical setback, not a failure of strategy. How long will he keep saying that?

Tactical Setback

Far-fetched? I’m not so sure.

Selma & History

This weekend saw the commemoration of the Selma march in 1965. It was one of those pivotal moments in the struggle for civil rights for blacks in America. This is the kind of commemoration that should be free from modern-day politics, one in which all Americans can point to the positive changes that have been made in American society against racial animus.

That is the ideal. The practice was something else. First, it is a shame that Barack Obama should be the face of this commemoration. He has done more than anyone in the last six years to re-divide our nation along racial lines, turning every conceivable incident into a charge of racism.

I also watched a video of Obama giving a speech in 2007 in which he claimed that Selma is what gave rise to his father coming over from Kenya, marrying his mom, and giving birth to the man who would one day be president. There’s only one problem with that. Selma took place in 1965; Obama was born in 1961. I’ll let you figure out the problem.

There also has been a media theme that Republicans refused to take part in this commemoration. Not true. George Bush was prominent in Selma for this event. Here’s a picture showing his participation in the march.

Obama participates in a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama

You can see him and his wife, Laura, on the right. Yet when the vaunted New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record, put a photo of this re-created march on its front page, Bush was cropped out of the picture. Subtle hint?

Tim ScottBut Bush was not the only Republican representative there. One of the co-sponsors of the event was Republican senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. Scott is a conservative black senator, elected in a state that once was the cornerstone of slavery and racism in the country. Isn’t that called progress?

A Republican congresswoman from Alabama was another co-sponsor. Others, including Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, were also present. So the media theme is incorrect, and one can assume the inaccuracy was deliberate.

One also has to set aside history. The Republican Party began in 1854 as a result of disagreement with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened the territories to the possibility of slavery. The Republican Party led the charge for the Reconstruction amendments to the Constitution that abolished slavery and opened up voting rights for blacks. Republican Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner with him in the White House, outraging Democrats everywhere. And the Republican Party supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in greater percentages than the Democrats. It was the Democrats who controlled the Southern states during the time of segregation. Probably the most racist American president was Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

But all of that is not relevant, I guess.

A couple more points to make about Obama’s participation. I can understand why he wants to be associated with this historic event, but let’s be honest. His mother was white and not subject to any racial animus. His father was from Kenya and had no real experience with American racism. His stepfather lived in Indonesia, again with no direct connection to the Civil Rights Movement. Obama himself grew up with all the privileges a young child could have—private school, scholarships to Columbia and Harvard. I doubt he faced any genuine persecution.

Alveda KingHow about a different face for this commemoration? How about the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Alveda King? She suffered racism in her younger days. She remembers her uncle personally, unlike Obama. She is quite articulate. There’s a problem, though. Alveda King is a strong pro-life conservative. She doesn’t fit the current narrative. Too bad. She is more a representative of the Civil Rights Movement than Barack Obama ever will be.

We have come a long way. It’s time for those who continue to stir up racial strife to stop using the problems of the past for political gain today.

The Campaign Begins

No primaries have taken place yet, but everyone knows the 2016 campaign has begun. Over the weekend in Iowa, where the first test will occur about this time next year, a parade of Republican presidential hopefuls took to the stage at the Freedom Summit to share their vision for what America should be and how they would handle the transition away from the Age of Obama.

Scott Walker Freedom SummitAccording to the reports I’ve read, the two standouts from the event, which was largely attended by the most conservative of the Republican electorate, were Texas senator Ted Cruz and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. Everyone expected Cruz to go over well with the crowd; they didn’t know what to predict about Walker. Yet the courageous governor, who has made reform after reform in a state that isn’t known for its conservative politics, and who survived a recall election as well as winning re-election, surprised many. He was both forceful and personable.

Some who were calling Walker the Dark Horse of this campaign are thinking he may be in the top tier after all. This is all very early, of course, so all prognostications are tentative. Everyone realizes that just one misstep can spell disaster for any candidate. Ask former Texas governor Rick Perry about that.

Two notable no-shows for the event were Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. You can judge whether that was smart or not.

On the Democrat side, however, there is no race whatsoever. Yes, Joe Biden makes noises occasionally; Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts with virtually no government experience, is the darling of the radical radicals (I use that term because it’s really rather difficult to distinguish anymore the difference on the Left), but I don’t see that happening. Do you think the rest of the country might also hesitate to put another inexperienced person at the helm after what we’ve seen the last 8 years?

So, barring a physical problem (and some have speculated there may be one), Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat candidate.

Old Maid

One could say she’s experienced, to be sure. But how successful has she been? Her chief claim to fame, while not necessarily a claim to competence, is that she was First Lady during her husband’s reign. But what did she really accomplish in that role? It’s hard not to acknowledge the only reason she has the press she does is because of who she is married to.

As a senator, no one can point to any landmark legislation she championed, and again, the reason she even won that seat was due to Bill Clinton’s coattails among Democrats.

Then there was her stint as secretary of state, with the infamous “reset” button with Russia and the whole Benghazi fiasco, blaming it on an internet video and sending the poor man who made it to prison. What a sterling resumé.

King of Hill

Then there’s her laughable comment that she and Bill were broke when they left the White House. She’s also expressed deep concern for income inequality while simultaneously raking in huge amounts herself for paltry speeches.

Hillary Income Inequality

If universities complaining about costs want to pay her those princely sums, that’s their call, but it’s pretty foolish.

Already the polls show she is far ahead of any Republican challenger in a general election. That, though, is primarily a name-recognition factor. She’s shown in the past she can be a terrible campaigner. If Republicans choose, for once, a strong, articulate candidate who stands on principle, that fluffy lead can vanish. And if the electorate doesn’t lose its mind again, there is hope.

President Hillary Clinton (you don’t know hard that was to write) is not inevitable.

Sabbatical Update: Texas

Periodically, I’ve been providing updates on my sabbatical year. Those of you who have kept up with this know I’m working on more than one project. One, though, has kept me moving across the country to different presidential libraries as I examine documents related to spiritual advisers to presidents.

I’ve already gone to Wheaton College–back in August–and researched in the archives of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, since he is the premier spiritual adviser for a number of presidents since WWII. Then I traveled to California and spent time at both the Reagan and Nixon libraries.

This past week I’ve been in Texas, continuing my research at the LBJ and George H. W. Bush libraries. Both of these presidents were close to Graham, and LBJ also had a couple other spiritual advisers I looked into as well.

Let me just give you a few impressions.

The LBJ Library, in Austin, is on the campus of the University of Texas. It is nothing like the Reagan Library (which remains my favorite, not only because of the president himself but also because of the beauty of the place and the immensity and quality of the museum). My first view of it was this:

LBJ Library

I certainly don’t wish to be overly critical. One could say it is majestic, I guess, but to me it appeared like a big block of concrete—massive, forbidding, almost like a fortress. Well, that may be just me. You can come to your own conclusions.

The museum portion had its highlights, but nothing as grand, in my view, as what I experienced at the Reagan Library. There was one “grand” view, however, that was worth noting:

Stacks-Front

They decided to showcase some of the archives behind the scenes. Going up this staircase, one can get some idea of the enormity of the collection. This is only a portion of it.

While in Austin, I also took in the Texas State History Museum.

TX State History Museum

I’ve heard that everything in Texas is big, or at least purports to be. This museum fits the stereotype, from its three-level staircase in the lobby to its nearly breathtaking view from the top level.

TX Museum-Interior 2

TX Museum-Interior 1

I want to pause here and offer a word of gratitude to the Texas State Trooper who decided to have a little talk with me after I went the wrong way on a one-way street. I didn’t see the sign, told him I was a newcomer (never been in Austin before), and was there to do presidential research. He asked what I was researching and seemed interested when I mentioned Billy Graham. He let me off with a warning. Yes, I am grateful (and will be more alert to one-way street signs in downtown areas in the future).

My next stop was College Station, and the campus of Texas A&M, where the George H. W. Bush Library is located.

Bush Library-Front

This library looked much more inviting. I also didn’t have any encounters with one-way streets. I like College Station.

The lobby was pretty grand.

Bush Library Lobby 2

The exhibits were excellent throughout and catch one’s attention right away.

Bush Portrait

Quotes from Bush are liberally scattered throughout. There were some I particularly liked, such as this one after he went down in the Pacific during WWII:

Bush-God Quote

While there, I decided to get a little work done, so I looked around for a desk I could use. I found one:

Bush Oval Office 3

Please don’t tell anybody.

That’s the travelogue side. Most of my time, of course, was spent poring through papers. I found a lot of fine documents that should help my colleague and me put together what we want to say about these presidents. I came away with a little more grudging admiration for LBJ, not in policy matters (where I disagree with his entire Great Society program), but simply for what he had to go through in a turbulent time. I’m not convinced, however, that his faith was genuine. One’s life must match one’s talk.

As for Bush, my appreciation for him was strengthened. I’ve always considered him to be a decent man, but I’m more convinced than ever that his Christian faith was the real thing. I have policy disagreements with what he did as well, but I want to give some leeway and offer praise for his strong family ethic, which can be seen in the way his sons honor him today.

Bush is now in his nineties and his health is declining. When he passes, the nation will have lost a true Christian gentleman.

I’m not yet sure when and where my next trip will take place, but when it does, another update will be coming your way.