Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Why More Women Don't Come Forward

For the record I think Christine Blasey Ford is getting bad legal advice. Her decision to demand an investigation by the FBI into her claims of sexual assault as a condition for her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is doomed to failure. There is no way Chairman Chuck Grassley is going to grant any further delays. Like it or not the only avenue she had to tell her side of the story was to appear next Monday. Now Senate Republicans have all the justification they need to proceed with a vote next Thursday, which barring any additional damaging revelations, will result in Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed as the next justice on the Supreme Court.

And make no mistake about it, had Ford testified, even without a formal investigation, she would've made a compelling witness. Those who think this is nothing more than a he said / she said debate haven't been paying very much attention to what's been going on in the country over the last two years. This isn't 1991. The Me Too movement has not only empowered women to come out and report incidences of sexual misconduct, it has forced a long-overdue conversation about the role of women in society and the manner in which they've been treated.

Politically, this was a nightmare for the GOP. Do not be fooled by the bravado coming from Senate Republicans and the White House. They're sweating bullets over this confirmation. Mitch McConnell would rather have a tooth pulled without Novocaine than have this on his plate. His party wasn't all that popular with women voters before this story broke; the specter of seeing a repeat of the Anita Hill debacle would only drive those anemic poll numbers further south. Most Republicans are resigned to the House flipping; if they lose the Senate as well, you can kiss goodbye any future Supreme Court confirmations

Now, with Ford not testifying, they catch the break they've been praying for. Grassley comes off looking magnanimous, while Diane Feinstein, whose decision not to release the letter from Ford back in July when it might've made a difference, has some serious explaining to do, not only to her fellow Democrats on the committee, but to the party in general.

But the real scandal here isn't political. Kavanaugh's views on presidential powers and Roe v. Wade are certainly relevant, but they pale in comparison to the damage Ford has had to put up with since her letter was leaked to the press. Her address and phone number have been posted on line and she has received death threats that have forced her to relocate herself and her family in order to keep them safe.

If you want to know why more women don't come forward to tell their stories this is why. It is bad enough to be "slut shamed" in front of a committee of mostly men - many of whom have already made up their minds - divulging every single detail of what your abuser did to you, but to add injury to insult and have to endure the constant onslaught of threats and harassment from mostly anonymous people, not knowing which nut job might act on their rage and harm you or your family, that is more than any woman should have to bare. Do not think for a moment that Ford hasn't watched what happened to Hill 27 years ago. Who in their right mind would want to go through that kind of humiliation?

Face it, there was never going to be any justice for Christine Ford whether she testified or not. But at least she would've had her day in court, such as it was, and maybe that would've encouraged other women to come forward. My fear is that this ill-advised decision by her may give them the permission they need to keep quiet. And that means more perpetrators will get away with inexcusable  and, in some cases, criminal behavior, and a movement that could've brought about real change will wither and die.

As for the the Republican Party, ever since they decided to bed down with the sexual predator in the White House they have had to deal with the political fallout. Whether that fallout leads to actual consequences this November is yet to be determined.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Why Trump Isn't Getting Any "Credit" For the Economy

Many political pundits from both sides of aisle have speculated as to why Donald Trump isn't getting the credit he deserves for what they claim is a strong economy. Both seem to be in agreement that Trump is stepping on his own message. If he would stop tweeting and talk more about the economy, both his approval numbers and the generic ballot would be higher than they currently are and Republicans would not be facing the possible loss of their majorities in both houses of Congress. Certainly, if you just look at just the raw data - unemployment at 3.9 percent and 2nd quarter GDP at 4 percent - the argument can certainly be made that the overall fundamentals are quite strong.

There's just one problem with that assessment: it isn't true. The fact is the economy isn't nearly as strong as many have stated. So says David Leonhardt, whose piece in The New York Times is aptly titled, "We're Measuring the Economy All Wrong."

According to Leonhardt, the metrics that are used to arrive at the unemployment rate and GDP growth were invented in the 1870s and the Great Depression respectively to mollify concerns people had over the strength of the economy, and they are very "misleading."

For instance, the unemployment rate excludes people who have "given up" looking for work. Including these people into the mix gives us what we call the labor force participation rate. Since 1960, the difference between the unemployment rate and those who have given up looking for work has grown steadily. The real unemployment rate is actually closer to 15 percent, and it is likely higher in those areas of the country that voted for Trump.

Similarly, GDP growth is another misleading economic indicator. It measures how well Wall Street is doing, but for families living on Main Street, the vast majority of the wealth has gone to the top 1 to 2 percent. A 401k retirement account only means something if you have one to invest in. And if you're one of the millions of people who live paycheck to paycheck, it's yet another part of that elusive American dream that has turned into a nightmare.

Then there's the GOP tax "reform" law that will penalize middle-class families who own homes. The elimination of the personal exemption and the cap on the SALT deduction will be prove to be a rude awakening for them next April 15th. When expected refunds shrink or disappear altogether, the public outcry within the electorate will be palpable. That's why Republicans aren't running on it. They know there's a tsunami coming their way. The only question is how many of them will be swept out to sea in November.

When you combine the rise in the cost of living - rent, healthcare, energy, groceries, etc. - with the stagnation in wages, the middle class - the bedrock of this economy - has been under tremendous stress dating back to the '80s. Many of them voted for Trump in 2016 believing he would improve their lives. The fact that he hasn't is the biggest reason why he and his party are not getting the "credit" they think they deserve for it.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

What Will Obama's Presence Mean for Democrats This Fall?

The decision by former president Barack Obama to involve himself in the 2018 midterms - and I assume his speech at the University of Illinois was not a one off - could have four potential consequences.

One, it could backfire by potentially turning off suburban voters who do not like Donald Trump and who are leaning toward voting Democrat in the fall. Two, it could prove to be a lightning rod for Trump's base which would lead to an increase in Republican turnout. Three, it will energize progressives who have historically had a hard time showing for midterms. Four, it will have no impact at all since most of the electorate who intends to vote has already made up its mind. Let's address each of these in order.
  1. If we look very closely at Obama's two election wins, it was clear that the further you got from the urban centers the weaker his numbers became. In most suburban areas of the country he was no better than 50 / 50 and in some, he was under water. So there is a very real possibility that Obama could turn off some of those voters in tossup districts that Republicans currently hold, and that might mean the difference between a narrow win or a narrow loss. Clearly, Obama will have to be very selective as to which districts and states he visits.
  2. Regarding Trump's base, I seriously doubt that it needs any incentive to show up. The very thought that these people need a lightning rod is comical. You can count on one hand the number of times this president has told the truth and one of them was when he said he could shoot someone of Fifth Avenue and he wouldn't lose any of his supporters. With or without Obama on the campaign trail, these people will be loaded for bear.
  3. We've seen this movie before. Progressives getting all worked up about this or that issue and then, when it comes time to vote, they sit at home contemplating their navels. We saw it in 2010 and 2014. If ever there was a group of people for which the word lethargy was intended this is it. I'm sure that was the main motivation behind Obama's decision to jump back into the political waters. He saw what happened in 2014 when he sat on the sidelines while his party ostensibly disowned him. The result was that Democrats lost the Senate that year. This time around, with so much at stake, Obama seems determined not to repeat history. Like Bill Clinton before him, he's prepared to put his popularity to good work.
  4. And lastly, there's always the possibility that in the end Obama stumping for Democrats - or Trump stumping for Republicans for that matter - won't have any impact at all. If you look closely at the RCP generic ballot, one thing jumps out at you: Democrats have been in the lead since Trump was sworn in. True that lead has gone up and down, from a high of 13 percent in December of last year to a low of 3.2 percent just this past June, but at no point have Republicans taken a lead. Not since the 2006 midterms have we seen such consistency in the generic polling. What this indicates is that voter's perception of the major parties might already be baked in to the equation. And there is data that supports this. If that is the case, then the next two months will simply be a side show for political pundits to pontificate about.
So what does my gut tell me? If there was one weakness about Obama's presidency, it was that he didn't have much in the way of coattails. In short, his personal popularity didn't do much for down ballot Democrats at the federal and state levels. The result was that during his two terms in office, his party suffered historic losses across the board. Fortunately, Trump appears to be no better in this regard. True, his supporters may love him, but that affection hasn't - to borrow a Republican term - trickled down to his fellow cohorts. Witness the difficulty Ted Cruz is having in his reelection bid in Texas. He currently has a one-point lead over his Democratic opponent Beto O'Rourke in a state Republicans typically win by double digits. Of course, Trump spending his entire campaign bashing his own party hasn't exactly helped his cause during these midterms. Voters tend to remember phrases like "Lyin' Ted Cruz" when it comes time for them to go to the polls. That's one of the the reasons why there is an enthusiasm gap between the two parties, and it explains the generic polling we've seen.

What I think will happen is that both Obama and Trump will stump in areas of the country that will likely do the least harm to their respective parties. That means Trump will spend most of his time in states like Montana, North Dakota and Missouri, where the population is mainly white, while Obama will visit states like Arizona and Nevada, where there is a large Hispanic population. He'll also campaign in districts that Hillary won, but which are currently controlled by Republicans. In the end, though, I don't think it'll move the needle much. The country is so polarized at this point, the term middle ground is almost extinct.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that of the four possible outcomes, number four seems the most plausible. I like Obama, but, just like the mysterious op-ed writer in the Times, nothing he said in his speech was all that revelatory. If we know anything about Trump, it's that he's the most transparent president we've ever had in our history. He's as obvious as a wooden nickel. If that isn't enough to defeat his agenda this fall and bring him down in 2020, then nothing this charismatic former president can say or do will have the slightest impact.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

David Frum Is Right

After giving the matter some considerable thought, I agree with David Frum. The New York Times op-ed piece by an anonymous senior official from the Trump Administration has done more harm than good. Frum writes,
What happens the next time a staffer seeks to dissuade the president from, say, purging the Justice Department to shut down Robert Mueller’s investigation? The author of the Times op-ed has explicitly told the president that those who offer such advice do not have the president’s best interests at heart and are, in fact, actively subverting his best interests as he understands them on behalf of ideas of their own.

He’ll grow more defiant, more reckless, more anti-constitutional, and more dangerous.
And those who do not quit or are not fired in the next few days will have to work even more assiduously to prove themselves loyal, obedient, and on the team. Things will be worse after this article. They will be worse because of this article.
Just so we're clear, neither I, nor Frum, are quibbling about the substance and content of the piece.  With the exception of invoking the 25th Amendment - that one came out of left field - it corroborates every bit of investigative journalism we've seen about this White House. There have simply been too many people who have come forward expressing their grave concerns about the behavior of this president for this not to be true. As Fareed Zakaria adroitly observed, "Behind Trump’s ranting, impulsive, incoherent and narcissistic facade lies a ranting, impulsive, incoherent and narcissistic man."

No, the issue for me and Frum isn't the sincerity of these people, it's their lack of courage. Because what this mysterious writer, and virtually every one else in this administration who has commented off the record to the press - Bob Woodward included - has done isn't particularly heroic or patriotic. What it is, is self-serving, self indulgent and ego driven. Despite the author's affection for John McCain, there is no way the late senator would ever have been an anonymous source. If McCain had something to say, he always said it loud and clear and ON THE RECORD!

I have no doubt this author thought their op-ed would bring about something of an uprising within the White House. After all, what's a resistance without, well, resistance? Unfortunately for him, or her as the case may be, it's had the opposite effect. It's given permission for those who, for all we know, had been anonymous sources for other reporters to close ranks around this president and remain silent. Instead of setting an example by going on the record, this op-ed will only discourage future "brave souls" from speaking out.

But, worst of all, it will only embolden this president. A man who was already paranoid about the prospects of being impeached and / or indicted, will descend further into the same abyss that eventually consumed Richard Nixon. But unlike the 37th president, who at least had the good sense to know when it was over, this president will hold on to the bitter end; even if it means the destruction of the country.

There's no nice way to put this. We have a commander in chief who behaves more and more like Captain Queeg every day. Only instead of a fleet of Van Johnsons coming to the rescue, the nation appears stuck with a boatload of Fred McMurrays.

Who's Minding This Store?

Over the last couple of days, two bombshell stories, both involving Donald Trump, have rocked this administration and confirmed for those of us who have been following his antics since he was sworn in what we already knew: that this president is unfit for office.

The first was the revelation yesterday that Bob Woodward, the man who co-wrote All The President's Men with Carl Bernstein, has written a book that will officially be released next week titled, "Fear: Trump in the White House." The second was an op-ed piece in The New York Times written by an anonymous "senior official," who called Trump's behavior "amoral."

First, some thoughts on the Times piece. I am not a fan of anonymous op-eds. Whatever this person's motivation - and we can only assume that they are deeply worried about what this president could do - they should have gone on the record. I have no doubt that over the next few days he or she will go on several cable news shows to decry what happened as treasonous, just as Trump has done in one of his many unhinged tweets. If this person truly cared about this Republic, the appropriate thing would've been for him or her to resign and then gone to the Times.

That being said, I was floored by the content of the piece. The author writes that early on there were "whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment." A startling and unsettling revelation that I hinted at in a piece I wrote last year, but which I never would've guessed in a million years was even being considered among his staff. Not even Nixon's White House contemplated such a move.

But perhaps the most disturbing part of the piece had to do with containing this president's worst impulses.
The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.
In Woodward's Fear, he documents similar actions by members of Trump's cabinet. In one excerpt, Gary Cohn, the former chief economic advisor to Trump, went so far as to remove two letters from his desk that, had they been signed, would've formally withdrawn the U.S. from two trade agreements: one involving South Korea, the other NAFTA.

In another excerpt, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, upon hearing Trump wanted to assassinate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for launching a chemical attack against his own people, actually countermanded the order. He told a senior aid that the response would be "much more measured."

The common thread between the anonymous op-ed piece and Woodward's book appears to be this: If you think what you've seen is bad, trust me, it could've been much, much worse. Well, I feel a whole lot better, don't you?

I literally am at a loss for words to describe what's going on here. Somehow "unprecedented" doesn't quite capture it. Even the old standby "uncharted waters" falls short. This entire administration has been one gigantic voyage through unchartered waters. We are supposed to believe that a duly elected president has been kept from destroying the country by a few brave adults, one of whom summoned just enough "courage" to pen an anonymous op-ed to inform us that his boss is nuts? With all due respect to the author, any reasonably objective person and first year med student could've arrived at that conclusion months ago.

Personally, I don't give a rat's ass how many adults are in this administration; the overriding problem for the nation and for the world is that none of them have the authority under the Constitution to prevent this maniac from following through on any or all of his dangerous impulses. So what if Cohn hid a couple of pieces of paper? Who's to say next time Trump won't simply tweet that he is pulling out of NATO? Or what if that warped brain of his decides tomorrow to call up the Pentagon and order a strike on Assad? Or worse, North Korea?

What are these "adults" going to do, tackle him in the Oval Office? With the Secret Service protecting him? Right, sure they are. The same adults who hide behind anonymity yet publicly praise him as the most successful first-term president of all time are nothing more than cowards. Had they any real courage or integrity they would've resigned months ago.

Bob Corker said there was nothing in the op-ed piece or Woodward's book that he didn't already know. I have two questions for the senator. Why, if you knew this president was unfit, didn't you take active measures towards removing him from office? And why are you leaving at a time when your country needs you most?

Men and women of courage do not shirk their responsibilities; nor do they hide out in the shadows. They draw a line in the sand and stand their ground. How many times have we uttered the words "Constitutional crisis," knowing full well we hadn't yet arrived at that point? Well, guess what, folks, we're now at that point.

In a tweet, Trump demanded that the source of the op-ed piece be turned over to him to be punished. Let me repeat that: the President of the United States is threatening retribution against the person who criticized him in writing. Only the other day, he tweeted that his own Attorney General should not have indicted two Republican congressmen so close to the midterms. The man who worships dictators is acting just like one right in front of our very eyes.

In the early days of Adolf Hitler's reign, before he consolidated his power, there were many opportunities to stop him in his tracks. But his opponents either did not take him seriously or lacked the will to take effective measures. And the result was a World War that cost millions of lives, including six million Jews. How many millions more might die if Trump goes full bore berserk?

Harry Truman used to say we get the government we deserve. For the sake of the Republic, I pray that, in this instance, he is wrong.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

All the Days To Come

Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.
- Ernest Hemingway

In the days and weeks that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the nation came together as never before. Democrats and Republicans put aside their petty squabbles, joined hands and placed country before party. As if by divine providence, our leaders summoned the political courage that too often had alluded them throughout their careers.

It was a marvelous moment; one that made me proud to be an American. But, alas, it was fleeting. By the following spring, it was business as usual. Those very same Democrats and Republicans, who sang God Bless America on the steps of the Capital, were back at each other's throats. Nothing, not even the deadliest terrorist attack in our history, could alter, fundamentally, who and what they had become.

Watching the funeral service for John McCain on Saturday reminded me of that moment of unity we all experienced 17 years ago. It was gratifying to see leaders from both political parties come together to pay their respects to a comrade who, on more than once occasion, showed us all how this grand experiment in Democracy is supposed to work.

Make no mistake about it, McCain was a Republican, through and through, and he voted with his party 90 percent of the time. But if there is such a thing as a maverick, McCain personified it. He was a royal pain the ass to his party's leadership and a thorn in the side to his political opponents. In the spirit of Jefferson and Adams, he fought the good fight, but he also sought compromise where he thought it was appropriate. At a time when the overwhelming majority of his fellow Republicans wanted nothing to do with immigration reform, he reached across the aisle to champion it. He fought tirelessly for campaign finance reform. And even though the bill that bears his name, along with that of Russ Feingold, was eventually ruled unconstitutional in the Citizens United case, he remained committed right till the end of his life to eliminating the role soft money plays in our political system.

I have no illusions about what took place at the National Cathedral in Washington. The words that were spoken so eloquently by former presidents George Bush and Barack Obama and passionately by his daughter Meghan were poignant and, I believe, accurately captured the essence of the man as well as the malady that besets the country he loved so dearly. It isn't a stretch to say that more than just a man was laid to rest this weekend.

The challenge for the leaders of this broken and corrupt political system could not be clearer. What will they do once they return back to work on Tuesday? Will it be business as usual, just like it was after 9/11? Or will they put into practice those high-sounding words they drummed up the nerve to utter over a casket none of them are worthy to carry? Hemingway reminds us that we have the power to affect the outcome of tomorrow by what we do today, or, as has been the case for far too long, what we don't do today.

Do not be fooled: this is not about partisan politics. The nation has had partisan politics ever since its early days. And we've had episodes in our history where honest disagreements got out of hand and led to unintended consequences. Teddy Roosevelt so despised Howard Taft that he ran as an independent and, as a result, Woodrow Wilson won the presidency in 1912. The founders never intended us to sing Kumbaya.

But they did intend for the Republic to function in spite of the internal divisions from within. President Obama spoke of all of us being on the same team. I respectfully disagree. I've always thought it was more like two football teams knocking heads in a fierce battle to win a game both needed to qualify for the playoffs. The only difference is that after the football game, players from both teams gathered at the 50 yard line to hold hands and pray together. Whatever animosity they exhibited during the game was now gone and all they had left was a profound respect for one another that transcended the sport itself.

That is what is missing from Washington these days: a healthy respect for the right to disagree. It is not the battles that take place on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives that are the problem; but the lack of regard for procedures and decorum that has been the hallmark of our democracy for more than two centuries.

Few, if any, senators or congressmen bother to know one another or even care to. Once a bill gets passed or defeated, they retreat to their "lorckerrooms" and either gloat over their victory or whine about their loss. There is no sense of camaraderie; in short, the battle goes on and on. Like some Vulcan mating ritual, the contest is to the death.

Cable news outlets and social media perpetuate this constant state of war. Both sides are terrified of saying or doing something that could upset their respective bases. So the bombast becomes more and more personal until finally the tribal politics consumes everything in its path. Partisanship inevitably leads to a form of paralysis where nothing gets done because neither side will give an inch. The lights stay on and bills are passed along strict party lines with simple majorities. Gone are the days when major legislation passed with 70 or more votes. A government that can't pass a ham sandwich now settles for nibbling on a crouton.

It would be convenient to lay all of this at the feet of Donald Trump. Certainly no politician has benefited more from the use of divisive rhetoric. But to paraphrase Billy Joel, he didn't start this fire. Sure he toasted a few marshmallows on his way to winning the presidency, but this malady started years before he came to power. I have said this on more than one occasion: Trump is more a symptom of what's wrong with our political system than the actual disease itself. Simply voting his out of office - or impeaching him, as some have suggested - won't cure what ails the country. If the forces that paved the way for his ascendancy are not exorcized from our political system, the next would-be despot that comes along will have the privilege of being able to finish what he started.

This should frighten any and all who care about this country. What keeps me up nights is the very real possibility that it might already be too late. John McCain is dead and buried. His mourners now wait and see if there is enough room in his casket for the United States of America.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

How To Best Honor the Memory of John McCain

John Avalon has a piece in The Daily Beast in which he makes the case that John McCain should've been elected president in 2000. I agree. He should've been. By all accounts, McCain ran an out of the box campaign that year and was very popular with independents, back when the term independent meant moderate, not more extreme. He, along with Democrat Bill Bradley, was someone who wasn't afraid to challenge his party when it was wrong.

I remember that presidential election very well. I often wonder what it would've been like had McCain and Bradley been the nominees, instead of Beavis and Butthead (AKA, George Bush and Al Gore), two people for whom the term "lesser of two evils" was invented. Imagine the prospect of two politicians standing on a debate stage who could talk frankly about the issues of the day without having to worry about offending their respective bases. That all went out the window after the Republican South Carolina primary in one of the most disgraceful episodes in American politics.

But if the courage that McCain displayed that year was a rare commodity, it's all but an endangered species these days. As political pundits and politicians alike deliver their eulogies to the fallen Arizona senator, it might be worth noting that more than just a man has departed this earth. Indeed, when he is laid to rest, the taps that will be played in his honor might as well be for the party he spent the better part of four decades serving. For if there ever was such a thing as a maverick, it is now just as extinct as the dinosaurs who once roamed this planet 65 million years ago.

Ever since the news broke that John McCain had brain cancer we knew this day was coming. Ted Kennedy had the same form of cancer and it took his life, literally nine years ago to the day. It wasn't a matter of if, but when. So now that the when is here, how might we best honor his considerable contributions to the nation?

Chuck Schumer has proposed renaming the Russell Senate building after McCain. That certainly would be a fitting gesture. But changing the name of a building from a someone who was a segregationist to someone who thought working across the aisle wasn't a necessary evil but a prerequisite for holding the job is only a start. It seems to me that the best way to honor the memory of the man would be to follow in his footsteps.

The sad truth is that the Republican Party that John McCain loved so much looks nothing like it did when he won his first election to the House of Representatives in 1982. We can rehash the decline of the GOP till the cows come home. Those who insist that Donald Trump is to blame simply haven't been paying attention. The fact is the malignancy that has taken over the Party of Lincoln took a long time to metastasize. And it isn't likely to be removed anytime soon. But it can be shrunken in size if enough Republicans have the will.

Unfortunately, the few Republicans who have managed to muster the strength needed to call out Trump and his apologists have decided not to seek reelection. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker can deliver all the high-minded speeches they want. Neither will be in the Senate next year. The real challenge for this party will be to find enough people with the courage to fill the void left by McCain.

And that will be a tall task indeed. Not only has Trump managed to drive his opponents from the party, the ones who are likely to be elected this fall - especially in the House - will be even more beholden to him. McCain's brand of independence - to the extent that he was capable of it - is anathema to party leadership who seem more concerned with protecting their electoral prospects this fall than with defending their oath of office.

Even his closest friend in the Senate - Lindsey Graham - has indicated he would be okay if Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Only a few months ago, Graham was adamant that such a move would be "the beginning of the end of his presidency." If someone who knew and supposedly loved McCain as much as Graham did can fold like a cheap tent at a yard sale, then the prospects of finding others with the testicular fortitude to resist this president will be virtually impossible.

It will likely take losing their majority in one or both houses of Congress to bring about something of a catharsis for Republicans. And even then, it will be a grudging acceptance, much like a child holding his or her breath and counting to a zillion before finally turning blue and exhaling. It's amazing how amenable and practical a person can get when deprived of something so basic as oxygen.

But while the optimist in me does hold out hope in a rebirth of sorts for the GOP, the cynic in me has his doubts. Frankly, as things stand now, I don't think these people have either the inclination or the willingness to take back their party from the extremists that have taken it over.  Maybe if Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and others like them had decided to run for reelection, even if it meant running as independents, rather than flee like rats on a sinking ship, things wouldn't have gotten so out of hand.

One thing is for certain: John McCain stood his ground and put his country before his party. He went toe to toe with Trump and came out better for the wear. If the members of his party are truly interested in honoring his legacy, they can start by taking up his mantle and going after the man who represents the single gravest threat to the Republic McCain himself was willing to give his life to defend.