Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Acting Presidential

Trump in Louisiana
From the outset of the long primary campaign right to the present, commentators have criticized Donald Trump for failing to act Presidential. This criticism has been directed primarily at his words and manner. Hillary Clinton, for one does not like Trump’s “tone”. Nevertheless, in some respects Trump has acted as Presidential, or even more Presidential, than Clinton and the current President.

Just this past week he delivered a number of major speeches that, despite the scant media coverage, were serious and dealt with important topics like the economy, foreign affairs, and the plight of African Americans in the country’s major cities.

Moreover, Trump looked even more Presidential when he visited flood ravaged Louisiana this past week, especially since the actual President, Barack Obama, declined to cut short his golf vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to visit stricken Baton Rouge. Obama’s failure was really ironic since in 2008, while running for the Presidency, he severely criticized then President George Bush for merely flying over Louisiana in 2005 to view the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. He said that Bush should have been on the ground with the suffering people.*

Even though Hillary Clinton does not like Trump’s “tone”, I believe that their actions during their respective conventions were equally presidential. Trump’s choice of Mike Pence as his Vice-Presidential running mate can hardly be faulted. Pence, a former Congressman, is currently the very successful Governor of an economically resurgent Indiana. A few days later, Clinton followed suit by naming Tim Kaine, a current Senator from Virginia, one of the key battleground states in this year’s election. Trump’s choice certainly seems more practical and political than John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin back in 2008.

Coincidentally, both Pence and Kaine were born and raised as Catholics. Pence left the Church during his college years to become an Evangelical protestant. Kaine describes himself as a Pope Francis Catholic even though he openly disagrees with the Pope on abortion. It would seem that some identification with Catholicism is appropriate for a Vice- President. Joe Biden, the current Vice-President, is a liberal Catholic while Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for Vice-President four years ago is also a Catholic.

I also think that Trump’s decision to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees a few months ago was very Presidential, even though somewhat unprecedented. I wish candidate Clinton would release a similar list of her favorites.

Clinton has, however, released her tax returns. A brief look at them indicates some embarrassing details. Clinton and her husband, ex-President Bill Clinton, showed income of over $10 Million in 2015. They paid over $3.2 Million in Federal income tax. The blow was somewhat softened by a donation of $1,042,000 to charity. Their choice of charities was significant. They gave $1,000,000 to their own family foundation. This personal family foundation is not the famed Clinton Foundation that does charitable work all over the world. Wealthy individuals set up personal family foundations when they want to control where their money goes, and for tax avoidance purposes.

The remaining $42000 of Clinton charitable contributions went to some Golf Classic run by a political associate who has made large donations to the Clinton Foundation in the past. Not one cent seemed to go to the Methodist church to which Mrs. Clinton belongs, to the Girl Scouts, or even to Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps, details like these help to explain Donald Trump’s reluctance so far to release his own tax returns. We will just have to wait and see. I suspect that Trump’s high-powered accountants have used every legitimate loophole to reduce his income tax burden.

Speaking of the release of information. I would love to see President Obama release the list of people he plans to pardon before the election, rather than wait to the last days of his administration as Bill Clinton did when he left office. Is it really acting Presidential to pardon these often nefarious individuals on the day you leave office?


* Bowing to pressure, President Obama finally visited flooded Louisiana yesterday.

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