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Conway: Votes matter more than integrity

Republicans all across Capitol Hill are singing the same verse: They believe the accusations that have been leveled at Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

They believe the women who have accused the Alabama candidate of making improper sexual advances on them when they were underage girls.

Is the senior policy adviser to Donald John Trump one of them? Apparently not!

Kellyanne  Conway has told “Fox & Friends” that the Trump administration wants Moore’s vote on tax cuts. It seems to matter little to the president or to Conway that they might be welcoming a pedophile to the Senate.

It’s his vote that counts more than any crime he might have committed back in the old days, when he was a deputy district attorney.

I feel the need to inform Conway — as if she needs informing — that Moore quite possibly will be denied a Senate seat even if he wins the special election in Alabama set for Dec. 12.

The Senate GOP leadership, virtually to a person, wants nothing to do with this guy. He has declared political war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Does the president’s policy guru think McConnell is going to surrender to this clown?

Moore faces huge hurdle

A remarkably fascinating aspect of this is how “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade actually challenged Conway’s assertion that the president is depending on Moore’s vote to enact a tax cut. He reminded Conway that McConnell has pulled his support, along with the Young Republicans. Indeed, Kilmeade has said some rather unkind things about Moore himself.

It’s still quite stunning — after nearly a year into the Trump presidency — to hear a leading presidential spokeswoman place raw politics above principle.

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The ‘moron’ now becomes the ‘dope’

One man’s “moron” is another man’s “dope.”

Is that how it goes these days inside the White House, the center of power of the United States, the place where the Leader of the Free World practices his statecraft?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson famously called Donald J. Trump a “bleeping moron.” When asked whether he said such a thing, Tillerson didn’t come close to denying it, saying only that he wouldn’t engage in “petty” discussions.

Now comes national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who reportedly called the president an “idiot” and a “dope” and someone with the attention span and intelligence of a kindergartner.

I’m feeling the burn, which more than likely is being lost on the target of the epithet.

The White House, to no one’s surprise, denies McMaster — a U.S. Army lieutenant general and an expert on terrorism — said such a thing.

What does one think about all of this?

I get no satisfaction hearing about this level of disparagement coming from top hands within a presidential administration. I consider it virtually unheard of at this level of government.

I know what I’ve said about the president, how I don’t believe he is suited temperamentally to hold the office to which he was elected. He has uttered some remarkably intemperate, inarticulate and indelicate statements since entering political life in June 2015.

Trump’s knowledge of any sort of intimate details of anything remains suspect to anyone who’s watched this man operate.

Finally, I am left to wonder if anyone should be surprised that Lt. Gen. McMaster — an acknowledged expert on national security — would say the president lacks the understanding of the complexities these issues present.

I’m now waiting for McMaster himself to deny saying it.

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Mr. President, what about that ‘American carnage’?

Donald J. Trump is fond of trumpeting his own real (or imagined) skills.

The night that he accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Trump proclaimed that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems. Then he ran a successful presidential campaign, got elected, put his hand on a Bible and took the oath of office this past January.

The brand new president then delivered a dark speech that didn’t speak to the nation’s ideals, but instead recited a grim litany of heartache and alleged failure. The only line many of us can remember from that speech goes like this: “The American carnage is going to stop … right here and right now.”

Where am I going with this?

A president who boasts that he “alone” can fix any problem needs to explain why he hasn’t stopped “the American carnage.”

Case in point: In just the past few months, we have seen nine people killed when a terrorist ran over them with a rented truck in New York City; a madman opened fire on a Las Vegas crowd, killing 59 of them; another lunatic then walked into a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church and killed 26 more people.

The American carnage that Trump said he would stop has continued.

What has been his solution to any of it? What has he proposed to protect people from gunmen or international terrorists? Has the president produced any legislative remedies? Has he articulated the need to act to stem this violence?

I know full well that presidents cannot act alone, even though the current president said he can and promised he would. And that brings me back to my point.

If Donald Trump is able to do the myriad things he has boasted he could do, then isn’t it time he delivered the goods?

The man needs to spend more time, devote more attention and deploy his self-proclaimed immense intelligence to things that really matter — and stop wasting his time tweeting about football players’ protests and whether he did enough to bail three young basketball players out of jail.

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Trump shrinks a big office

I wish I had thought of this, but since I didn’t I’ll deliver appropriate credit to the source of this piece of wisdom.

It comes from U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who fired off this tweet today about Donald J. Trump Sr.:

“The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn’t lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?”

What a great question, even though it’s more or less a rhetorical inquiry. Here’s another twist on it: How can Trump shrink the high office he won a year ago in one of those most stunning political upsets in U.S. history? I think it shrunk the very moment he took the oath of office.

POTUS shrinks his office

The object of Schiff’s retort concerns the Twitter tussle that Trump entered with LaVar Ball, the father of one of three UCLA student/athletes who were charged with shoplifting at a high-end store in the People’s Republic of China.

Trump talked to Chinese leaders while visiting that country and reportedly persuaded them to release the young men instead of convicting them and sentencing them to potentially years-long prison sentences. LaVar Ball then tweeted that Trump didn’t do anything to obtain the release of his son and the other athletes.

Then the president decided to fire back at Ball — a man known for his big mouth and outsized public presence in the lives of his athletically gifted sons.

He said he “should have left them in jail” because LaVar Ball didn’t lavish enough praise on the president for his efforts.

That is one way a small man can occupy such a big office. Indeed, Trump is managing to shrink the office itself with his persistently petulant behavior.

Trump has turned this remarkable “skill” into an art form.

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Trump does the impossible yet again

Donald John “Smart Person” Trump Sr. has done the seemingly impossible one more time.

He has made LaVar Ball, the loudmouth “Little League father” of an NBA player and one of three UCLA students caught shoplifting in China, a (semi) sympathetic character.

LiAngelo Ball was one of the Bruin basketball players caught pilfering some goods at a high-end department store. The Chinese government tossed the boys into jail.

Then the president of the United States entered the picture and reportedly/allegedly finagled a deal to get the young men released and sent home; under Chinese law they faced a potentially lengthy prison sentence.

So, what does LaVar Ball do? He tweets something about Trump really not doing anything to help LiAngelo and his teammates.

Trump’s response? He tweeted back something about how ungrateful Daddy Ball is for what the president did to obtain the release of his son and his pals. The president tweeted this: Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!

There you go. Presidential dignity has taken a hike from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Try to imagine any of Trump’s predecessors engaging in this kind of petulant pettiness.

Do not misunderstand me: Daddy Ball is far from a sympathetic character. He’s brash, brazen and bellicose. He earned his 15 minutes of fame through some kind of “reality TV” gig — that I have never seen. He has produced some sons with decent athletic skill and he’s trading on their prowess to advance his own agenda … whatever the hell it is!

As for the president, I have quit wondering whether Trump will outgrow his Twitter fetish and whether he’ll ever learn to stick to matters of statecraft and high-level diplomacy.

I know the answer to that. He won’t. He can’t.

Bizarre.

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‘Biggest loser of all time’

Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!

I’ll give you three guesses on who wrote this little message … and the first two guesses won’t count.

Yep. Donald John Trump Sr. would be the one.

I’ve been thinking a bit about what the president wrote about his vanquished 2016 presidential election foe.

You know what? He has a point about Hillary’s standing as the “worst (and biggest) loser of all time.”

It’s that she lost to Donald Trump that I think qualifies her as the biggest loser. She had no business on Planet Earth losing to that clown. She managed to do it, however. She had some “help” along the way … as some have argued.

There was that last-minute dump by then-FBI Director James Comey, who said he was re-examining the e-mail controversy; it turned out he still had nothing on Hillary.

And, oh yeah, the Russians were hacking into our electoral process to help their boy, Donald Trump, over the finish line.

Trump now is goading Clinton into running again in 2020. She likely won’t swallow that bait. Still, the president keeps yapping away at his 2016 opponent for reasons that baffle me.

I’ll give some measure of “credit,” though, for describing Hillary as the nation’s “biggest loser.” The president’s own quality and qualifications as a candidate, however, elevates Hillary Clinton to this lofty standing.

Get a grip, Donald.

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‘Putting America first’ comes with a price

Donald John Trump vowed to “put America first” as he ran for president of the United States.

What’s been the cost of that vow? Here’s a fascinating indicator: According to the Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index, the U.S. standing among world nations has plummeted from No. 1 to No. 6 among the world’s best nations. The fall has occurred in just a single year.

The index measures nations along several metrics: governance, tourism, culture, people, immigration/investment.

Which nation is No. 1 in the world? Germany.

Are we making America ‘great again’?

So, you’re asking: What’s the cause of the decline in our country’s standing among the world’s best nations? The answer? Donald Trump!

The president’s public statements since taking office, in my view at least, have undermined the U.S. standing all along the way. He has berated our allies and cozied up to dictators and strong men.

He did return from his 12-day, five-nation trip to Asia and proclaimed that the U.S. standing in Asia is stronger than ever. The Anholt-GfK study would seem to disprove that assertion.

It’s also fair to ask about what this index means. What tangible impact does this survey mean to any nation? I suppose one measure can be found in international leaders’ trust. Do other nations’ leaders trust the United States to keep its word? Can the world trust the world’s greatest nation — and I do consider the country of my birth to be the world’s most indispensable nation — to stand with allies?

The consequences of a lack of trust might be difficult to measure in quantifiable terms immediately, but the so-called Trump Effect as registered in this latest index tells me that “putting America first” is coming with a cost to America’s standing among the world’s family of nations.

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