WASHINGTON – Just when you thought the presidential political process couldn’t get much wackier, it has!
You have to marvel at the thought of former Vice President Cheney, who has ridiculed, mocked, disdained and attacked everything the Obama administration has done, clamoring on the sidelines for Vice President Joe Biden to get into the race. Cheney, one of the worst vice presidents in U.S. history, is touting Biden because he thinks Biden might hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of being the Democratic nominee.
And why are we listening to anything Cheney says anyway? He still defends the war in Iraq as a great idea although the administration lied about Saddam Hussein having uranium and explosive weapons of mass destruction. If Biden runs, he might well toughen Clinton up and round out the much-needed debate on real issues. But nobody should listen to anything Cheney says about Biden or anything else. Former President George W. Bush certainly doesn’t.
Speaking of issues, something that is not an issue, despite a lot of bloviating by Republicans, is whether Denali in Alaska should keep its recent name of Mount McKinley, for the Republican president assassinated six months into his second term in 1901and who never set foot in Alaska.
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Denali means Great One, a nickname never applied to McKinley, although he is considered a slightly above-average president whose legacy was beginning and winning the Spanish American War, protectionism and advocacy of the gold standard. His successor was Theodore Roosevelt. (And if anyone proposed chiseling him off Mount Rushmore there would be hell to pay.)
The idea of Donald Trump, the New York real estate tycoon, lambasting President Obama for restoring the Native American name for the mountain is silly. Trump was just jumping on a wobbly bandwagon ineptly steered by Ohio Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, always looking for some way to criticize Obama, no matter how ridiculous.
Next we have CNN suddenly changing its insistence it would permit only 10 candidates to its big Sept. 16 Republican debate and saying it now will admit former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to the adults’ table. (The separate debate among “second-tier” candidates was dubbed the kids’ table when Fox News hosted last month. It was also inexplicably called the happy hour debate).
That any news organization, whether it is Fox News or CNN, thinks it should decide who is a first-tier candidate and who is second-tier before any votes have been cast is appalling. Polls go up; polls go down.
Another weird thing is that after Hillary Clinton went to such lengths to keep her emails private, they’re now available to everyone. The most interesting disclosure thus far is that Secretary of State Clinton didn’t know how to charge her iPad or whether she had WiFi access. The issue is not the emails themselves or the private server, but once again the former first lady’s judgment, excessively secretive nature, sense of entitlement and inevitably vain efforts to bend the rules for the Clinton family’s benefit. (And we still haven’t heard much in the way of exciting new initiatives from her as everyone puzzles over her hapless campaign to date.)
We also have to raise our eyebrows at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both desperately eager to be president, disparaging Jimmy Carter right after the former president disclosed he is battling brain cancer.
Christie said Obama is so weak on foreign policy he makes Carter look strong, while Cruz said Obama and Carter share the “same failed domestic policies, same misery, stagnation and malaise, same feckless and naive foreign policy.” Cruz earlier mocked Biden, urging supporters to just mention the vice president’s name at a party and people laugh – “You don’t even need a punchline. I promise you it works.” He said this just after Biden’s son died from brain cancer.
Trump has stomped all over the so-called 11th commandment popularized by Ronald Reagan: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” Now Christie and Cruz seem to cast aside all sense of decency. Just what we need – more blatant displays of incivility from those who want to be president.
Maybe it’s all those fried things on sticks the candidates devoured in Iowa. Maybe it’s that we’re starting to know who they really are.
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Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.
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