Monthly Archives: June 2014

‘Lost’ IRS Emails of Lois Lerner, Watergate, and Howard Baker

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We had more than few younger folks look at us quizzically this past week when we brought up the similarities between the current ‘lost’ (sic) emails and destroyed hard drives at the IRS and Watergate which was ‘the greatest constitutional crisis since the beginning of time’ according to the Washington Post and other liberal opponents of President Richard Nixon.

  • ‘Do you know who ‘Senator Sam’ Ervin of North Carolina was and what role he played in the Watergate hearings?
  • Do you know who Rufus Edmisten was and what role he played in the Watergate hearings?
  • Did you know Hillary Rodham (later Clinton) was fired from her job on the investigations committee?’ we asked.

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People Who Need People


“It is important in life that you know what you don’t know and that you do not reject out of hand that which you do not understand.”
— Nobody said that. I just made it up.

I arrived at those conclusions about life through years of reading People Magazine.

I started reading People many years ago because of something one of my mentors told me when we worked together on the Hill. Bill Gavin, a true intellectual and great speechwriter, told me if you want to understand politics don’t just read what everyone in Washington reads, pick up what people reach for on the grocery store magazine rack. He was right. I quit reading Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and picked up People.  Continue reading

Andy Jackson and Ex-Im Bank

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Fred Hochberg might want to read up on experiences of Nicholas Biddle.

Biddle was the President of the Second National Bank, and at the urging of Henry Clay, he moved to have Congress reauthorize the National Bank’s charter four years early.

Unfortunately for Mr. Biddle, Clay’s rival was Andrew Jackson and Andrew Jackson was a mean old cuss who hated Henry Clay and hated the very idea of the Second National Bank. Continue reading

The Pages of Our Lives

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The thing about fifty years isn’t that it goes by so quickly when you’re looking backwards, and seems so impossibly far away when you’re looking ahead. That’s true, but it’s not what is most important.

What I got to thinking about this past weekend – the weekend of the inaccurately named “50th Reunion” of my high school graduating class – was about the inexorability of the whole thing. (The inaccuracy occurs because we have not had 50 reunions, it is the reunion marking the 50th anniversary of our graduation.) Continue reading

Iraq, Part II: When Will We Ever Learn?


“Make no mistake,” Brian Williams lectured us on his Friday, the 13th Nightly News broadcast. “What is happening in Iraq now is the direct outgrowth of the U.S. decision to invade the country over a decade ago.”

If Williams was attempting to channel the spirit Walter Cronkite he really blew it. Williams has made sure no one will ever portray him as the modern-day Cronkite, the consummate newsman and renowned CBS anchor who concluded a series of special reports on the Vietnam War in 1968 with what was then the shocking opinion (Walter was so objective, we never knew he had opinions) that the war would end in stalemate. He was wrong, of course.  It ended in defeat. Continue reading

Iraq, Part I: Déjà vu All Over Again


I can still remember the news clips: People hanging from helicopters hovering over the U.S. embassy in Saigon, South Vietnam, desperate to escape the final invasion by the North Vietnamese, fearing torture, imprisonment, and maybe death.

It was 1973. News wasn’t conveyed to us in real time, in real life like it is today. When the horrors of war were brought into our living room, it was, well, more horrifying and it stayed with you for a long time. In January of that year the combatants had signed a cease-fire agreement in Paris, but the fire only grew more intense. The North Vietnamese army was Continue reading

Iraq Again

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Another fast-moving story overtook Our Nation’s Capital this weekend as the Sunni insurgency that invaded and took control of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, last week and was marching on the capital of Baghdad.

The issue of Sunni/Shia (SHEE-uh) relations goes back to the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632 AD. The extreme shorthand of the split between the two major branches of Islam stems from who was the true successor to Mohammed. Continue reading

Cantoring Through Political Fields

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Let’s stipulate that I am old. Really old. Not Ralph Hall old (91 years) but pretty old. Old enough so I know exactly what Eric Cantor’s staff have been going through since Tuesday night after his stunning defeat at the hands of economics professor Dave Brat.

The last time a sitting member of the House GOP leadership was beaten in a primary was in 1992 when the late Rep. Guy Vander Jagt lost the primary for his Western Michigan seat to the marketing director of a furniture company, Pete Hoekstra. Continue reading

The Big Lesson of D-Day

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Depending upon how much time you might have spent watching one of the History/Military/Smithsonian channels over the past few days, you know that D-Day was far from a perfectly designed plan, flawlessly executed.

As military planners have known forever; a plan will begin to fall apart just about the time the first attacker meets the first defender.

But, plans have to be made so that participants will understand what was supposed to have happened and they can adjust from that point. Continue reading

Veterans Administration Reform: Place Your Bets


My Dad used to complain about the Veteran’s Administration (VA). He was a Marine, but didn’t like to go there so he didn’t. My Mom had similar views if I recall correctly. She was a Marine, too, when they met during World War II. Neither of them saw action during the war, coming home with only cuts and bruises, my Dad’s from a still that blew up. The war took its toll on them and their marriage, but there’s no VA fix for that kind of thing. Continue reading

Bungling Bergdahl

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I have spent a good deal of time considering how to approach this column.

We know about the “fog of war” when first reports of action are typically incorrect because of the confusion borne of people shooting at each other.

There is also the “fog of five years” when memories that might have been, contemporaneously, crystal clear have become fogged with retelling, hearing others Continue reading

Carney Quits

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Last Friday, Jay Carney announced he was leaving the White House. Under difficult circumstances, I thought he did a pretty good job.

He wasn’t the best White House spokesman, but he wasn’t the worst either. The best in my lifetime was Marlin Fitzwater.

Fitzwater oozed boring. He was a just-the-facts kind of Press Secretary who lasted through two Administrations, which is unprecedented. At 6 years, he was the longest serving Press Secretary in history. Continue reading