A Word for Mitch McConnell

During the longest Federal Government shutdown in history which has just ended, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was criticized in some quarters for “sitting on his hands” instead of actively using  the power of his position to bring about a quick end to the shutdown.

I am not a fan of Senator McConnell’s record of right-wing obstructionism – think his support for almost all things “progressive,” his eight year partisan attack on all-things Obama, his refusal to grant Judge Merritt Garland even a hearing let alone a vote on his nomination to the Supreme Court. The list goes on and on.

But in this case, I think McConnell played it just right, the only way he could. 

He and the president have never liked each other. McConnell wanted Rand Paul to be the nominee in 2016 right up to the time when it was clear the nominee would be Trump. And early on in his presidency, Trump criticized McConnell publicly for failing to get the Affordable Care Act repealed.

But when it comes to power over Republicans, in and out of Congress, Trump wins hands down. To challenge him in the Grand Old Party that like a disease he has invaded and destroyed is to lose.

McConnell did not advocate nor was he in favor of the shutdown. In advance, he cautioned Trump that shutdowns seldom work and the public doesn’t like them and blames the side that engineers one.

Now, a sensible. serious president, one schooled in the way of politics beyond just shouting slogans and boasts to a hot-eyed crowd, might have listened to McConnell , might have respected his record of tactical accomplishment.

But that’s not Trump. Until now, Trump has always  found a way to “win” by simply bullying it through.

So, what should, could McConnell have done once Trump’s shut down folly began?

Should he have taken to the Senate floor and joined Chuck Schumer in denouncing the shutdown? McConnell is the Republican leader of Republican Senators who with rare exceptions follow Trump slavishly.

McConnell could in the name of sanity have said to his fellow Republican Senators “Come on boys and girls and follow me in opposing this shutdown” but no leader can get very far out in front of his troops and in this case when he looked behind him McConnell would have discovered that no one was there.

McConnell would not only have been ineffective he would soon no longer be the leader. How about Tom Cotton or Mike Lee for leader instead of McConnell…would you like that better?

What McConnell did was stand aside and wait Trump out. Oh, yes. he gave the required “I support the president” speech from time to time but with no fire in it. He certainly did not work publicly or behind the scenes to shore up Trump’s crumbling position or approval rating.

At this week’s Senate Republican caucus when McConnell was attacked as bearing some fault for the situation he snapped “Do you think I liked this,” as close as he thought he could come publicly in denouncing the president’s willful and harmful action. And when the president finally capitulated and bowed to the obvious in a phone call to him, McConnell was careful to tell his Republican colleagues that it was Trump’s idea to re-open the Government for three weeks. Kudos to our president.

Should Trump’s position as president become untenable – impeachment or so un-popular that no Republican up for re-election (as McConnell is in 2020) need fear him – then they will all turn on him. But not yet.

McConnell played the shutdown just right – for his Republican colleagues in the Senate and for himself as leader and candidate for re-election.

Thank goodness Donald J Trump doesn’t have McConnell’s tactical smarts. He would be even more dangerous than he is!

 

Trump Hits The Wall

Donald J Trump was dragged kicking and screaming to the alter of truth today, forced to agree to end his shutdown of a portion of the Federal Government by a rising tide of fierce opposition from an increasing majority of the American people and by a clear wavering of his Republican Senate enablers on Capitol Hill.

He came grudgingly, defiantly, almost contemptuously in his refusal to recognize realty without a shred of grace – but he came.

Watching President Trump in his Rose Garden concession statement (no doubt inspired by Stephen Miller, Washington’s new “prince of darkness”) was painful. His invocation of a horde of criminals invading our Southern border, intent on crime, violating women (they tape their mouths shut as they move them toward the open border, he intoned), running drugs through the desert spaces with impunity and other arguments for building a WALL was cringe worthy.

Donald, we know why you want the WALL built – in a phone conversation with the President of Mexico you told him it had to be built and Mexico had to pay for it because he, Trump, had promised that during his campaign!

Yes, the WALL, is a terrible idea born of a campaign tactic used to energize his ”base,” those Americans who fear immigrants that don’t look or worship like them and who threaten by their numbers to eventually assume leadership control here.

The money cost alone to do something that would clearly have negletable effect on the ability of human traffickers and drug smugglers and ordinary people seeking asylum to enter our Country would be a waste. But, perhaps, more important the message to the World that this Country no longer welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” would be devastating.

People want to come to America because of the freedom and tolerance and opportunity it affords for everyone. Change that and we change forever the America that has been the envy, and thus the leader, of the World.

So, he lost.

The tactic of a bully, demanding “If I don’t get my way, I’ll shut down the Government,” in the famous Oval Office confrontation with Schumer and Pelosi, that tactic no longer worked on the adults in the room. The Democrats stood fast and the “bully” backed down.

Or did he?

The last thing Trump said in his Rose Garden speech today was that if in the three weeks of negotiations he still doesn’t get money for his WALL he will use what he claimed were his legal and Constitutional powers to build it anyway.  There is already a report that his aides are looking around for monies in Federal Departments and Agencies that can be diverted to WALL building.

If President Trump thinks the American people will follow him on this one, he clearly is wrong and for his own good ought to kearn the “First Rule of Holes.”

The First Rule of Holes says: “If you find yourself in one, stop digging!” Yes, if Trump thinks if by just continuing to dig for that WALL he can “Win(!)” and satisfy his “base” he is completely bereft of objective judgement. Let him try to say he can do it as President no matter who objects and the flurry of law suits that will tie up the question for years will stop him cold (and Donald you have less than two years left).

A final warning in all this.

The forces that oppose the WALL must, as I believe they will, stand fast, must make no concession on money for a WALL. A few voices will surely speak up in the op-ed pages and even in the Congressional Democrat caucus and argue that “we won on the Government shut down, we beat him and now let’s give him a few million and by doing so show our genuine desire to work together on other important issues.”

No, feed the tiger at Munich and he’ll devour you.

No WALL, not a penny, not ever.

Stop “digging,” Donald. Show a little sense and a little class, just a little. For once, ignore the chattering Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity monkeys who rattle your cage in their own self-interest – hey, they’re making money.

Stop digging your own political and historical grave and leave us in peace.

Eyes On The Prize – No Wall!

As the partial Federal Government shut down continues, The Washington Post has been pushing for days now for a Deal between Donald J Trump and his Democratic Congressional critics that would “Save the Dreamers.”

Would that be possible?

I’m for it, you may be for it.

But on what terms, at what cost?

There is a wonderful saying adopted and used successfully by the Civil Rights Movement of the past sixty/seventy years and it is this:

Keep the eyes on the prize!” Meaning, the most important thing is to remember the most important thing.

The most important thing today is to rid this Country and the World of Donald J Trump from any position of importance, power or influence…certainly from the Office of President of the United States!

That is the most important thing.

In any list of public needs in this Country after that comes high on the list a new immigration policy that ensures that the DACA children, the “Dreamers” are kept here save from harm and allowed a path to citizenship. But that is not the “Prize.”

The Post began by saying in so many words that it was worth giving Trump the 5.7 Billion he wants for his wall if he would guarantee the “Dreamers.” Since then the Post has modified its idea of a dream “Deal” to ensure that the money is actually spent in a realistic way and that the guarantee is not temporary or conditional.

Bravo!

Donald J Trump must not be appropriated one penny for construction of his wall. It is vital that he fail to achieve his primary campaign appeal to bigotry and racial hatred, to a renunciation of the hope this Country has always held toward the world that we are a haven, yes, forgive me, a “Shining City on a Hill.”

He must be defeated and be seen by those poor Americans who gave him their own hope as the truly evil con-man that he has always been. I say this not as a punishment toward those Americans but as a desire for them to see the truth and join the rest of us in returning our Country to the values that have always made us great.

Thankfully, the Courts have prevented the immediately assault on the “Dreamers.” If it came to the point – and I do not for a minute believe it will – that at midnight tomorrow Trump either gets his money for a Wall or the Dreamers are immediately deported, expelled from our Country, I reserve the right to change my mind.

The Washington Post or anyone else who thinks with the heart as well as the head are indeed blessed “for blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (KJV).”

But for now, Donald J Trump must be forced into ignominious defeat: he must not be allowed to successfully use the “Dreamers” as a bargaining chip for a claim of victory that his so-called “base” could hang onto.

Remember the “Prize” and keep your eyes on it!

Ramming Speed

Donald J Trump, it’s over. Your child-like instance that “if I don’t get my way (on the Wall) I’ll shut down the Government” is over.

Your last ploy of suggesting you could declare a “National Emergency” in order to build a wall without express Congressional appropriations, without the support of the majority of Americans, is over. Your own advisors tell you it can’t be done.

And now, how to save face before your hot eyed “Base” who bought your truly evil, mean idea that we are facing an “invasion” on our Southern border, an invasion of brown-skinned rapists and murderers and drug dealers which requires a Wall.

Think of it.  This Country which, since it’s birth, has stood for a haven for people seeking a better life should put up a Wall.

Donald J Trump needs to lose “Bigly,” needs to be seen to lose “Bigly,” Will that strip away his dedicated fans, Americans who walk among us daily -good people in so many ways – but who have a “screw lose” in fundamental lessons of what makes this Country great?”

Perhaps, only a few. But every one who once believed in this con-man, this charlatan and is forced to realize they were duped is a good thing for them and good for the Country.

Ultimately, Trump is a symbol, an agent of the great struggle – a second civil war – underway here. Do we move forward in an inclusive world of peoples, religions, community attitudes that break down “tribalism and nationalism” or do we attempt to hold the line against such change and live in the past, in the “good old days”  before science and technology and study of the human condition made our lives so much better?

In a way, it may have been a good thing that this truly ignorant man tried to blackmail the majority of Americans by shutting down a portion of the Federal Government. Not a good thing for the people who have been hurt by such a tactic but in the sense that while he may never learn to over come his petulant, infantile insistence on “winning” no matter what and how, he must certainly understand that he lost this one. And if he doesn’t, at least a few of his former fans will and profit from the lesson.

Donald J Trump has lost.

And forgive me, I am delighted!

Let us end this partial shutdown of the Federal Government . Let us free some 800,000 workers from the hardship of no pay check. Let us return to “Regular Order” in which the Government is not held hostage to the fiery and selfish whims

Our National Emergency

On Friday, January 4, 2019, Donald J Trump told Congressional Leaders he may declare a “National Emergency” if necessary to build a Wall on the U S border with Mexico.

Here is the way the Washington Post began its report of the meeting:

“President Trump on Friday threatened a years-long shutdown of the federal government to get the money he wants for his U.S.-Mexico border wall, even as he asserted that he could declare a national emergency to build the wall if he chose to. “We can do it. I haven’t done it. I may do it. I may do it,” Trump said of the possibility of declaring a national emergency to build the wall. The president’s comments came during a lengthy Rose Garden news conference that followed a meeting with top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders as the partial government shutdown neared its two-week mark. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Situation Room meeting with Trump had been contentious. They said they pleaded with him to reopen most of the government, while setting aside the dispute over the wall — but that he refused. “He resisted,” Schumer said. “In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

There is a National Emergecy, clearly.

The National Emergency is the existence as President of Donald J Trump.

Like a cornered beast, he lashes out in wild directions, his fury consuming what is left of his mind. He understands to retain any shred of credibility with many of those ignorant Americans who voted for him because of his promise to build a big Wall, he must be able to do it.

Never mind that when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress and could put forward almost anything they coudd agree on – the big tax cut for the rich comes to mind – enough of them wouldn’t vote money for a Wall. And now with the Democrats in control of the House, there is no chance he will get his Wall through normal legislative appropriations.

He is frantic in defeat and rather than accept reality and go forward to work for and accept what is possible on other issues, he threatens to invoke a “National Emergency.”  Why not just order the U S Military and the U S Corps of Engineers to build a wall? Because , they would not obey orders that are clearly illegal and should not be obeyed.

So, let’s look at his power to invoke a National Emergency that would enable him to fulfill his foolish, yea criminal campaign promise to build a big Wall.

The National Emergency Act  (a law) provides the following:

“NEA Section 201 authorizes the president to declare a national emergency. The proclamation of a national emergency must be immediately transmitted to Congress and published in the Federal Register.1,2 Under NEA Section 301, statutory emergency authorities enabled by the national emergency declaration cannot be exercised until the president specifies the provisions of law under which the president or other officials will act.”

Therefore, a President my suspend provisions of laws in declaring  a National Emergency. After 9/11, President George W Bush invoked the authority to re-organize the Military to meet such threats. And in the latest presidental use of such authority, President Obama believed an epidemic of flu required it, as in his declaration:

“… temporary waiver of certain standard Federal requirements may be warranted in order to enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the United States constitutes a national emergency.”

But the law that authorizes such Presidential declarations does not and cannot authorize a President to suspend the Constitution of the United States. And that Constitution provides that only the Congress can authorize the spending of pubic funds.

Donald J Trump cannot build a Wall without the billions of dollars necessary to do it. And since Mexico has declined to pay for the Wall, only Congress can provide the money. Which it has not done and clearly will not now do.

Does this poor fool not know this? When, forgive the expression, he “shoots his mouth off” in total ignorance does he not know how ridiculous it makes him look?

I, not the smartest person around by any means, know this only because I “googled” the law and read it.

And as for keeping a portion of the U S Government closed for years (a portion that includes the Department of Homeland Security), why not even the most feckless of his Republican enablers in Congress will go along with that.

Trump must be totally defeated on this issue. Congress must not give him a penny in order for him to claim a victory for his ignorant, mean and foolish campaign promise to build a Wall. He must be defeated and must be shown to his faithful supporters to be defeated.

Those poor souls among us who see in Donald J Trump their Champion must come to understand that the majority of Americans will stop them and him from despoiling this Country further.

Walls cannot make us stronger. Our real strength is in our values, in our treatment of and care for others in this country and in the world. People want to come to our Country not only because we are weathy and powerfull but because we are just and good.

We must continue to be Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City Upon a Hill” or we will end up a collection of broken tribal villages, passed over and eventually destroyed. 

Delenda est Trump and his Wall!

 

Trump Must Not Get His Wall

At the moment I write, part of the U S Government is shut down over President Trump’s demand for money to build a wall on the U S/Mexico border. The President said in so many words that if he didn’t get what he wanted (about five billion dollars for wall construction) he would shut down the part of the Government whose appropriations had not been enacted. He has done that.

The Congressional Democrats insist he will not get a penny for wall construction. They must stand firm, they must not negotiate on that central point. More on this in a moment. But first a little history of walls.

Beginning as early as the 7th Century B C, Chinese states began constructing a northern wall to keep invaders out. They kept at it for centuries. It never worked.

In 122 A D, the Roman Emperor Hadrian and after him other Roman Emperors built a wall across Northern England designed to keep the “barbarians” out.  It didn’t.

In modern times, the Soviets built a Berlin wall designed to keep people in. With modern materials, a shorter distance, and many armed guards it worked better than the Chinese or Roman efforts. But not completely and in the end, forces stronger than bricks and mortar tore it down. 

Today, it seems clear that while there are some short sections of the border that have fencing the idea of building a wall the length of the border is ludicrous. The cost, the attendant construction and legal difficulties, the clear advantages of employing modern technical security devices over a physical barrier argue against it but perhaps most of all, the wall would glaringly represent a change in the moral standards of our Country that sets us apart and above so many others in this world and that would be disastrous.

In his zeal to build a wall, President Trump said Ronald Reagan tried for eight years to get money to build such a wall. That, like so very much this man says, is a lie.

Campaigning for the presidency in 1980, Reagan said” “Rather than talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit. And then while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back they can go back.”

And in his farewell address  ending  his presidency Reagan said in describing the United States as a Shining City Upon a Hill: “…in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

Today, the Democrats must not negotiate on the wall, not split the difference, not hand over a penny. The Washington Post continues to editorialize that a good bargain would be to give Trump the money for a wall in return for  lifting the threat to expel the DACA children (The “Dreamers”) from the Country they were brought to as children. And ordinarily, if we were only talking money or even the reasons why the wall makes no sense that might be a good deal.

But those reasons for opposition are not the one, most important reason  the Democrats must not yield.

Donald J Trump who rode to his putrid victory on the promise to build a wall must not be given a victory, not even a partial one.

He must fail in his effort to secure funding for a wall and he must be seen to fail.

The highest objective is to remove Trump from the presidency and making certain that his so-called “base” understand that he cannot deliver his main (and meanest) promise to them is vitally important. He must be uncloaked as the con-man that he has always been. And while some of his “base” would clearly stick with him no matter what some will not if he can’t deliver.

Trump must be removed from the presidency, whether by impeachment, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution or the Election of 2020. And of these methods, particularly Impeachment or Election require a large majority of Americans to agree with the removal. And every supporter who leaves him makes it easier to remove him.

So, stand firm Democrats.

No wall.

Ever.

A Wish And A Warning

Donald J Trump promised if elected president:

-to deport eleven million people who had come into this country illegally. He hasn’t and he won’t.

-to repeal and replace “Obamacare.” He hasn’t and he won’t.

-to jail Hillary Clinton. He hasn’t and he won’t

-to build a great wall on the Southern Border which Mexico will pay for. He hasn’t and he won’t.

However, since becoming president, he has repeatedly threatened that if he didn’t get his way on the wall, he would shut down the federal government. He has.

Good going Donald, what a winner. I’m sure your voters are proud of you!

As for the rest of us, well, like some loathsome disease we want him gone. And somewhere deep down in the recesses of our minds where we keep hidden and suppressed our most terrible thoughts we recall the wish of Henry II – “will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

But we reject that thought, that wish with its awful consequences. We want the voters or the Congress to free us from this ignorant cruel man’s yoke, not four knights, not even one.

Still, a program of gigantic grievances imposed upon people brings out fierce thoughts even from the best of us. I’m sure I’ve quoted elsewhere from Patrick Henry’s maiden speech in the Virginia House of Burgesses which carried in it not a wish but a warning.

As recalled in the United States History website: “Speaking of George III, he stated that, “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell and George the Third — .” At that point he was interrupted by cries of “Treason!” from delegates who easily recognized the reference to assassinated leaders. Henry paused briefly, then calmly finished his sentence: “…may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.”

Be warned Donald J Trump by their example and profit from it.

Death Of A Real President – GHWB

George Herbert Walker Bush was a real president, one whose life and service stood high, above the crowd.

I covered his public life in one way or another beginning in 1970, when I moderated a debate in Amarillo, Texas, on the ABC television affiliate between the two contenders for an open Senate seat – Bush and Democrat Lloyd Bentsen.

I thought the debate was a draw but Bentsen won the election.

As you know, Bush then filled a succession of political posts – Chairman of the National Republican party (thanks to Richard Nixon), Envoy to China, CIA Director, Vice President and President.

In later years Barbara was fond of quipping that she had loved her husband dearly for so many years and the only bad thing she knew about him was that he couldn’t keep a job!

Bush was a moderate republican by the standards of his time, meaning he adhered to the fundamental party principles of, fiscal responsibility, upward mobility through the free enterprise system and hard work and a government that helped where needed but otherwise got out of the way.

In running against Ronald Reagan for his party’s presidential nomination in 1980, he called Reagan’s “supply side” economics “Voodoo economics,” which it was. So to try to convince the  hard right conservatives of his party that he had recanted he famously told them to “read my lips…..no new taxes” during his 1988, convention acceptance speech.

Only, once president to make a deal with the Democrats to sign on for a modest tax increase. One that helped lay the foundation for a return to fiscal sanity that resulted in the last four Clinton budgets to produce a surplus, not another huge deficit!

But the hard right never forgave Bush and didn’t work hard for his re-election.

However, that wasn’t what defeated him in 1992. It was that regardless of his achievements, he was not a good “press the flesh, I feel your pain” politician running against the most formidable practitioner of that art I’ve ever seen.

Bush’s father, Prescott (who was in the Senate when I came to Washington) taught his son to be reserved, formal, correct and basically a “patrician.” But underneath that sometimes off-putting exterior was the heart and soul of a warm, caring and compassionate human being.

Let me show you.

Bush loved to write notes to just about anyone he met and interacted with. Every reporter who came in contact with him has a box full of short notes from GB.

He wrote many, many long letters to family, friends and others and in 1999, published a complication of some of those notes and letters. I interviewed him about this for our ABC NEWS 20/20 television magazine program.

Watch it now, please. The 20/20 anchor Jack Ford introduces the interview and he and co-anchor Connie Chung discuss it briefly afterward.

Yes, George Herbert Walker Bush was a Real President and a Great, Good Man.

As the saying goes, We never know how much we miss something until it’s gone.

A REAL PRESIDENT MEETS THE PRESS

I can’t let go of that infamous press conference of November 7, 2018, when Donald J Trump, acting in the role of President of the Untied States, lashed out in fury at reporters who sought answers from him about his actions and his policies.

I’ve previously spoken to the substance of that occasion. But in continuing to think about it, I couldn’t help contrasting this man’s conduct  when confronted with difficult questions with the way REAL presidents handled such situations.

Take a moment and watch the way Ronald Reagan responded at a press conference during the height of the Iran-Contra affair, the most difficult time of his presidency.

In order to get Iran to use its influence on Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization, to free American citizens it was holding in captivity as hostages, President Reagan had secretly authorized the shipment of U S arms to Iran, a violation of his own policy of imposing an embargo on arms sales to Iran.

When the word got out there was a huge public reaction against such an action and against the president who had authorized it.

Impeachment was in the air.

At a major news conference he held to take questions on the subject, the press “bombardment” was unrelenting. One after the other, Chris Wallace of NBC, Sam Donaldson of ABC, Bill Plante of CBS, and Charles Bierbauer of CNN, put the difficult questions to him.

Here is the link to what happed.

Yes, he “dodged”  and “weaved” in his answers – later as the scandal continued he was more forthcoming and by finally admitting what he had authorized he escaped impeachment. I am not posting this as a example of how a president should “come clean” about difficult matters,

I am posting it to show how a REAL president  (one who understands the need to show dignity and civility in public) conducts himself (herself) under the most trying of circumstances. It’s called “grace under pressure,” Kennedy had it and except for this man every president I have known has had it.

We will have a REAL president again. Continue to work hard for that day. Continue to be outraged at the conduct  of the man who now inhabits the Oval Office.

When I covered Ronald Reagan as the White House Correspondent  for ABC News, I did not think he did everything right or that his policies in every respect were the best ones for the Country.

But looking back at that time and that president, given what we see before us now, the old saying is so true:

“You never know how good you have it until its gone!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Judge Rules; The Fight May Continue

CNN and its White House Correspondent Jim Acosta have decisively won the first round in what could be a long running fight between Donald J Trump and the First Amendment to the U S Constitution.

Federal Judge Timothy  Kelley (nominated for the bench by Trump last year) has granted a temporary restraining order against Trump’s  lifting of Acosta’s White House pass and Acosta has returned to work in the press room for now.

Make no mistake about it. Trump’s action strikes at the entire press corps as a whole and  at the First Amendment to the U S Constitution and its commandment that Government can not abridge the freedom of the press.

But unless Trump accepts  this ruling as final, the fight is far from over. If Trump appeals the ruling, Acosta stays in only temporarily pending final judgement by higher courts (SCOTUS, are you listening?).

Judge Kelly dodged the central issue – the First Amendment – basing his decision on the Fifth Amendment requiring  harmful Government decisions against individuals  only be taken after a “due process” in reaching them.

Kelley said the White House’s decision-making was “so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me . . . who made the decision.” That was somewhat disingenuous even if the record was silent on the subject. Of course it was Donald J. Trump, undoubtedly in a white hot rage, who ordered Acosta’s pass pulled.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement tried to soften the Judge’s decision by saying “Today, the court made clear that there is no absolute First Amendment right to access the White House.”

Nice try,  Sarah. The judge did sat that but while dodging the First Amendment issue in this case the Judge added that if Trump opened up the White house to reporters as a group (as he has) the First Amendment issue does apply.

Sanders deliberately tried to leave the impression with the unwary reader that the judge had ruled against CNN & Acosta on  the First Amendment and that is simply not true. If the case goes forward a higher court will almost certainly have to rule on the First  Amendment’s application here.

But it was what else Sander’s said in her statement that is so alarming.

She said “In response to the court, we will temporarily reinstate the reporter’s hard pass. We will also further develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future. There must be decorum at the White House.”

Ah, “decorum” at the White House…rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future” and what might that be?

Now, no one can really complain about trying to make a press conference “fair and orderly”depending on what that means. Before the Reagan Administration, when the President finished an  answer we White House reporters all jumped to our feet and in a huge cacophony shouted  in unison “Mr. President, Mr.President…”, in an attempt to gain recognition.

That was both unseemly and counter productive for both the press and the  president. And I don’t recall any of us objecting when President Reagan’s staff decreed no more shouting, raise you hand and stay seated until called on.

But what about a rule from this White House that might say “one question only and if you try to ask a follow up we lift your pass.” So that if the question is Acosta’s  “Why do you call it a Caravan” and Trump answer’s “that’s my opinion” that’s it, and what have we learned about his thinking on the subject? Nothing.

But he doesn’t have to dodge and weave in an effort to give reasons for his opinion that might not make any sense to the public

Back in 1999, I asked  President Clinton at a news conference if Juanita Brodderick’s claim he had raped her was not true, what was his relationship with Ms. Broadrick, if any.

He replied that his attorney David Kendal had spoken to the subject and he would have no comment. To which I asked “But can’t you just deny it, Sir?” To which he replied “see my attorney.” Now, he didn’t answer the questions directly but television watchers may have decided they had learned something anyway.

I’m sure President Clinton did not like my question, still there was no effort by anyone at the White House to retaliate against me. However, in the future if Trump decides that an “orderly press conference” means that if a reporter were to ask such a terrible question like that (and it was terrible , I admit) the reporter’s pass could be lifted, well both reporters and the public would  pay a heavy price.

The Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press (RCFP)  filed a brief in Court supporting CNN and Acosta which put it this way:

“In forcefully and unflinchingly questioning the President, Acosta was engaged in precisely the kind of constitutionally protected newsgathering and questioning of the government that the First Amendment safeguards and upon which our democracy depends.

Nixon tried to demonize and neuter the press and it didn’t save him.

Trump is fiercely trying to do the same thing. And it won’t save him.

The facts and the truth will prevail.

But only if Freedom of the Press is preserved