President Donald Trump. Give Me a Break!

By Sal Bommarito

The presidential primaries are ramping up as we approach the Iowa caucuses on February 1st.

Donald Trump continues to hold a commanding lead in the national polls, although Ted Cruz is challenging him for Iowa delegates.

Why has the American electorate been so enamored with Trump?

From my perspective, Trump is brash, confident and courageous. Courageous? Yes, he is unafraid to discuss the most sensitive and controversial issues impacting America without concern that political incorrectness will derail his political aspirations. Trump frequently drills deep into controversies that weigh heavily on the minds of Americans, but are never surfaced by them for fear of being a labeled bigot, misogynist or xenophobe.

Yet, even Trump supporters are frightened by the possibility that “the Donald” may be negotiating with Russia, China, the European Union, Mexico and the ayatollahs one year from now.

This reticence is based upon the fact that Trump does not fit our image of an American president. Historically, these men have been gentlemanly, tactful, intellectual and religious. Trump is a blood and guts real estate developer with a spotty history that he challenges anyone, the media and his opponents, to dispute.

The polls show that less educated and younger Republicans are most attracted to Trump’s swagger because he has not been tainted by Washington political canon. Trump is always in everybody’s face and seemingly oblivious to naysayers. A most frequent comment by the Donald is: “If you don’t think I can’t be president, look at the polls. I’m leading every one of my competitors.”

Most former presidents have had at least some political experience. Deals made in the White House and with Congress are not the same as deals negotiated in Trump Tower for the construction of a new building or a shopping mall. The players in skyscraper transactions are very different than those negotiating nuclear non-proliferation treaties.

We all know there are thugs that lead countries in the world. I suspect Trump will be adept at dealing with tough guys. Some of these street fighters have nuclear weapons at their disposal, so being a master at this negotiating art form could prove to be very helpful.

Exclusively well-bred and diplomatic participants need not manage all peace negotiations. Maybe, a much more aggressive person like Trump, as opposed to Obama, could make some headway reigning in the likes of Vladimir Putin, Bashar al Assad, Kim Jong-un and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Barack Obama is the polar opposite of Trump. The former avoids confrontation, while Trump relishes the opportunity to mix it up. Obama is cerebral, deliberate and insular, while Trump shoots from the hip and wants the whole world to know what he’s up to. One important comment made by Trump indicated that he was intent on finding the best people to advise him. This separates him from Obama who appears to make all decisions with very little outside expertise.

Trump is the kind of person who cannot bear to have an important issue unresolved. Then again, a real estate problem is easier to resolve than a brewing international crisis. I doubt Trump’s bellicose style will be an asset if he has to decide whether to put our GIs in harm’s way.

From the beginning of this crazy political cycle, I thought Trump was just looking to promote himself. He is the ultimate salesman who bullies his way into the spotlight. The Donald wants to be photographed with beautiful women and powerful people. The Clintons  attended his third marriage. Why? I have no idea.

On one important issue facing the nation, Trump has been truly outspoken and indelicate. His stance on immigration has catapulted him into the limelight. Trump wants to send undocumented Mexicans back to their homeland, and he wants to suspend the immigration of all Arabs from Middle Eastern “hot spots” until the radical Islamic crisis is put to rest; that’s going to take a long time.

A very successful tactic of Trump has been to dare any opponent to challenge his ability, sincerity, business acumen or honesty. Those who have questioned him in sensitive areas have experienced unbridled anger and retribution. Generally, his Republican competitors are afraid of incurring his wrath.

Frankly, I think the Trump candidacy for president is like a bad joke. He should not be elected to the most powerful position in the world, except that millions of Americans want to vote for him. I’ve said that I’m ashamed that Trump may be the best candidate we have in the Republican Party, but his lead in the polls makes me question my judgment on this matter.

Many are still predicting that voters will come to their senses before it’s time to pull a lever. Well, I’ve been waiting anxiously for this, and it hasn’t happened.

Trump told us in his autobiographical books that he is the consummate deal maker, and  he will reason with Congress and world leaders to bring back the glory days of America. No doubt, the man is a successful businessperson. But, what does he know about making deals in Washington and on an international stage?

I’m a Republican. Yet, I’m truly undecided in a likely contest between the Donald and Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, one of them is likely to be our next president. I can only hope for an unforeseen event or misstep that allows a more qualified Republican to gain the nomination.

It Will Take Leadership To Fix Our Broken Election Process

By Sal Bommarito

America is engaged in finding a new president to replace Barack Obama. The current administration has not lived up to the expectations and hoopla of the 2008 and 2012 elections, so the next election should be that much more intense, competitive and demanding of the candidates. Further, ideological biases have dominated the presidency and the overall political landscape for years making it difficult to nurture and elevate real leaders into positions of power.

There are many issues that dog our country and make it impossible for those who want to make the U.S. stronger, more prosperous and sensitive to the needs of all classes of Americans. In this essay, a two of the most debilitating situations impacting America will be examined.

The political system in this country is broken because politicians and judges have not had the courage to effectively address campaign finance reform. Despite never ending rhetoric by both major political parties to decrease the influence of big money donors, and the sensibility of such an objective, the powers that be insist that contributions are protected by free speech.

“In a landmark decision, Citizens United v. FEC, the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation.” Certainly, our forefathers never considered the ramifications of money in politics in this regard, nor would they have opted to bastardize the interpretation of the First Amendment in any case. Instead of protecting our political system from those who seek to buy votes, the court endorsed a new threat to our election process. Politics, not wisdom, won the day.

Candidates and their supporters have been given a green light to raise as much money as they can to fund political action committees with few restrictions. The amount of money being solicited is in the billions of dollars. Candidates who can raise the most money will likely win elections. Fundraising skills have replaced competence as the primary reason candidates are elected to office.

One of the greatest fallacies is that leaders become more productive the longer they hold an office. Unfortunately, the only important consideration of long-term politicians is reelection at any cost. The temptations of extended tenures in office have destroyed the careers of many lifers in government.

The talking heads often discuss the freedom and productivity of lame duck presidents. Without the pressures of a reelection and the fundraising affiliated with it, lame ducks can focus on the needs of America. It’s just the opposite for politicians who must remain in a campaign mode all the time.

Lifetime politicians generally have no practical experience, which is so important in today’s complex world. Yet, how can we expect our elected leaders to facilitate laws that limit their tenure in one position? Without term limits, new blood is virtually nonexistent while old feuds and corruption flourish.

The problems that hamper the efficient selection of new leaders are many. It will take leadership and courage on the part of our elected officials to remedy the problems.

Jeb Bush’s Commets About His Brother’s Decision To Invade Iraq

By Sal Bommarito

Jeb Bush created campaign drama with comments he made about his brother’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. This is part of an effort by his detractors to use Jeb’s family against him. For sure, Jeb is loyal to George Bush and is concerned about his brother’s legacy. Nevertheless, hypothetical questions in every election about previous events are like quicksand that can mire a candidate. Jeb needs to tread carefully.

One such question posed to Jeb was: Would Jeb make the same decisions about Iraq as George knowing what he knows now? The query is an obvious booby trap. The public will likely judge any comment supportive of George’s Iraq policy as unfavorable. The decision to invade led the U.S. into an extended conflict in Iraq that is still in progress, and may be a reason for the proliferation of terrorism in the region.

Most importantly, Jeb does not have all the facts about the decision-making process in 2003; he was not affiliated with the George W. Bush administration.

Given that the public is almost universally negative towards the second Iraq war, Jeb should have dodged the hypothetical game played by his critics and the liberal press. His answer should have been the war was a mistake considering that weapons of mass destruction were not discovered. They were the principal justification of the war and could not ultimately be verified. In a sense, he would not be indicting his brother, but rather those who assured George that WMDs were in play, and Saddam would likely use them against his enemies.

I’m sure Jeb really feels this way. But, putting himself in George’s shoes and considering his affection for his brother, he has attempted to justify the “go to war” decision. Since it was based upon a misreading of Saddam’s WMD capabilities and inclination to use such weapons, the decision is indefensible.

For a moment, let’s consider George’s dilemma. It was not crazy at the time for George to think that Saddam had WMDs based upon the intelligence offered to him. This being the case, it made perfect sense to eliminate Saddam and take the threat of WMDs off the table in the Middle East. Use of such weapons could have easily mushroomed into a much broader conflict and possibly World War III. If a nuke were to be used against Israel, it certainly would have retaliated and obliterated Iraq. Moreover, Saddam possessed WMDs in the past and used them against Iran in an earlier war. The man appeared ready, willing and able to employ WMDs and gave his enemies every assurance that he would do so. Given this, some think it would have been irresponsible to not take out Saddam.

Maybe the voters and all the talking heads should focus on more pressing issues that are plaguing the region such as ISIS, Russian aggression in Crimea, Israel’s plight, Iran’s nuclear program and the proliferation of terrorist organizations in America and across the globe. Rehashing the past is not informative or productive because everyone knows, in hindsight, that America and the world would have been better off if the Iraq invasion did not take place.