1st Presidential Debate Review

The first presidential debate is over and it lived up to the hype. Before delving into the issues, were the candidates trying to confuse everyone? Hillary comes out in an all-red pant suit and Donald Trump comes out wearing a blue tie. Then Donald Trump apparently forgets what to call Hillary? “…Secretary…Clinton? Is that okay? I want you to be happy with me.” So Trump is wanting credit for calling her Secretary Clinton? What was he planning to call her?

As far as the debate goes, the best part of the debate is the change in the rules to actually allow candidates to go back and forth, debating with one another personally. This really gave the candidates a chance to debate the issues…and gave Donald Trump an opportunity to utilize his debate strategy.

Rather than trying to give a detailed explanation of his views and plans, Trump’s clear plan was to yell, interrupt, and try to get Hillary Clinton to break away from her talking points. In that sense, he was successful. Hillary came out solid, delivering crisp, well-rehearsed responses. Then the Donald began interrupting her. She began stopping her responses to respond to his comments. He also did an outstanding job of placing the blame for every problem on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He even—somehow—blamed Hillary for us spending $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East. How did Hillary and Lester Holt just let that one go by without a single response? Hillary joked that by the end of the night she felt like she would probably be blamed for every problem we’ve had in the world and Trump chimed in “why not?”

One of the most heated topics was when discussing race relations. Trump talked about ways to improve race relations and ways to stop the deaths in inner-city communities like Chicago and called for a possible implementation of stop and frisk, which was first used in New York City. When both Lester Holt and Hillary Clinton mention that stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional, Trump told them both they were wrong. I’m sure he would tell the fact checkers they were wrong, and would tell the judge who ruled it unconstitutional wrong as well.

When discussing free trade, Donald Trump talked about bringing manufacturing jobs back but when pressed about how we would bring them back he couldn’t answer. That’s mainly because the manufacturing jobs that have gone overseas where workers can work for pennies on the dollar can’t be brought back. Rather than trying to bring back those jobs, we should be investing in new types of jobs, like clean energy. Hillary Clinton made it a point to call for investments to be made in clean energy while Trump argued that we can’t afford to make those investments with our current debt.

Hillary, for the most part, did a good job at staying on message and getting Donald Trump to take the bait on several issues, like support for the war in Iraq. She also pressed Donald on not releasing his tax returns and argued that he’s hiding something and it could be that he isn’t paying any taxes at all. She talks about how him not paying taxes means no money for troops, for healthcare, or for veterans. Trump took the bait about not paying taxes and simply responded with “that makes me a smart man” about not paying taxes. A little later when Trump said that our debt was squandered, Hillary said if people like him would pay taxes they’d have money and Trump again chimed in “that’d be squandered too.” It’s like he’s basically conceding to the fact. Finally, Hillary delivered the line of the night when Trump made fun of her preparing for the debate: “I think Donald Trump just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I’ve prepared to be president.”

Clinton clearly looked calm, calculated, and prepared while Trump came off as rattled. I didn’t expect Trump to do very well with this debate but I’m a little surprised at how poorly he actually did. Regardless, I can’t wait for round two.

Podcast – Do Hillary’s Scandals Matter?

This week’s podcast is a rather controversial one. We take a look at Hillary’s scandals and discuss whether they matter. Head over to Alabama Liberal and listen or subscribe on iTunes. 

In this episode, we put Hillary on trial for her various “crimes” and see just how much people really care about Benghazi, “emailgate,” and Hillary’s failure to tip a waitress at brunch. We ponder just what exactly Republicans are hoping to find in Hillary’s emails—like a torrid affair with Joe Biden—and if people really care about the “tragedy” of Benghazi then why did “13 Hours” flop at the box office? Plus, burning questions: is Edward Snowden just a fame whore? Could a man have sat through 11 hours of talking to Trey Gowdy, the anti-Atticus Finch? Is the media’s trying to look unbiased actually creating a bias? Will we see Hillary on the next season of Orange is the New Black? Is Trump a pawn of the Russian mob? And why do spam comments about Hillary appear in articles that have nothing to do with her? Listen in…

Podcast – But Seriously, Can Trump Win?

Episode 30! This is an episode that a lot of people should be interested in. Can Trump actually win? We’ll tell you! Head over to Alabama Liberal by clicking here, OR go listen on iTunes, and while you’re there subscribe to our podcast! Read the full description below.

Trying to cut through all the noise we look at the biggest question in the three months between now and election day: “but seriously, does Donald Trump have a shot in hell at becoming President?” We break down where Trump’s support (or lack of) is coming from, why some people associate his name with success, the Trump “brand” that has evolved from 80’s excess to presidential candidate, and why lack of business support may be the biggest setback for any Republican presidential candidate, especially the curious case of why other old white male billionaires aren’t getting behind him. We also look at the only three ways Trump could pull off an upset, and–spoiler alert–none of them are positive things for America…

Who Will be the Next Member of the Presidents Club?

One of my favorite books I’ve ever read is The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.  I promise I am not making any money from them…although I’ll gladly accept some if they want to donate. Anyways, if you haven’t read it, it talks about the relationships between former presidents and sitting presidents. It’s a fantastic book that I highly recommend everyone picking it up and giving it a read. It gives a LOT of really great stories that you can share with your friends if you want to sound smart.

One of my favorite stories from the book deals with Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. After Clinton won the 1992 election, and just before taking office, he met with former president Ronald Reagan. They talked for a while and Clinton asked him if he had any advice for him. One piece of advice…learn to salute better. They then stood and Reagan taught him how to properly salute. After their meeting, Reagan gave Clinton a bag of red, white, and blue jelly beans which Clinton never ate and kept in his office during his entire 8 years as president.

In 2000, when President Bush was elected, he held a similar meeting with Bill Clinton and he asked Clinton how he became such a good speaker—something Bill was not the best at early in his career. Just as Reagan taught Clinton how to salute, Clinton began to teach Bush the tips and tricks of giving a good speech.

Another interesting story was with President Hoover’s relationships with his successors. After the stock market crashed and the Great Depression hit, Hoover was soundly defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hoover’s name became a laughing stock (you’ve all heard the stories about Hoovervilles and Hoover-blankets). FDR wanted nothing to do with Hoover and ultimately ignored him for the most part. When Roosevelt died and Truman assumed the presidency, he turned to Hoover and asked for his help with the post-WWII mission of food distribution in Europe. Hoover’s expertise in overseeing this mission helped to save millions of lives and somewhat rebuild his legacy, although it’s still something that is overlooked today.

These are just a few of the stories in the book. I could give plenty more but you get the gist. I told you these for a very specific reason. During his speech at the convention this week, President Obama made an excellent point about being prepared for the presidency. To paraphrase, he said that until you’ve actually sat in that chair, you can never truly know what to expect. I’m sure it can be a pretty daunting feeling to know that you are now responsible for an entire country. There’s almost no one that knows that feeling. The only people that know are your predecessors…those who have also sat where you are sitting. So for many incoming presidents, they lean on these former presidents regardless of party affiliation. Truman was a Democrat, and used a Republican in Hoover for one of his most important tasks. Clinton had a very close relationship with two Republicans in Reagan and Nixon. George W. Bush relied on help from a Democrat in Clinton and the two formed a very close friendship. They worked together on relief efforts in Haiti when they were both out of office.

So regardless of party affiliation, being a part of the president’s club is a very unique opportunity. And that brings us to this year’s election. If there is anyone that knows the type of person that should sit in the Oval Office, it is these men. We currently have five living presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. This week, we heard from three of them at the DNC: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. They all came out in strong support for Hillary Clinton. Yes, I know these were all Democrats and most will probably just say they were fulfilling their party duty, but is that the case? The two ex-presidents who have been relatively silent on the race has been the two ex-Republican presidents. Both men skipped the RNC when Donald Trump was being nominated. But why?

Many will say that they are mad because Trump made fun of Jeb, but I can’t really see them being that spiteful. After all, they understand politics and how it gets ugly occasionally. In a recent meeting with some of his former staffers, George W. Bush claimed that he was afraid that he would be the last Republican president. I wouldn’t exactly call that a glaring endorsement for the Trump campaign. But EVEN IF the two are angry at Trump over his comments about Jeb, what about at least support from former Republican Presidential nominees? John McCain? Nope. No endorsement and he skipped the RNC. Mitt Romney? Absolutely not. He has been a huge critic of Trump’s and even called for a third party candidate to run against him to ensure he didn’t win. The only living Republican presidential nominee to come out in support of Trump was Bob Dole.

On the flip side, I mentioned the three ex-Democratic presidents all speaking at the convention (Carter through video because of his health issues). But also former Democratic nominees? Dukakis was there and spoke. Al Gore tweeted and said he hated to miss the convention but wanted everyone to know his support of her. John Kerry is the sitting Secretary of Defense and did not speak at the convention and is the only living Democratic presidential nominee that did not offer at least a statement during this week (that I have seen). He did issue an endorsement for her after she clinched enough delegates to win the nomination a few months ago.

So maybe this is all partisan…maybe it’s a bit of irony; who knows. What is clear is that Donald Trump has really isolated himself from a lot of people. If the current members of the President’s Club were excited about Donald Trump becoming the next member, you’d think they would come out and support him. Instead, they are remaining silent. And as the saying goes: something silence speaks volumes.

Democratic Convention Recap – Day 4

The Democratic National Convention is finally over and what an event. From the starting point with Bernie or Bust diehards interrupting the opening prayer to Hillary officially accepting the nomination and the party uniting behind her. It’s been a pretty interesting ride that had plenty of highs and lows. But all in all, I think Democrats will walk away happy with the convention and excited about the case they made for Hillary Clinton.

Tonight had a huge focus on America’s heroes. This was obvious from the families of fallen police officers, killed in the line of duty coming out to call on America to support our troops, to those soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. There was a group of military generals who came out in support of Hillary and provided a strong advocacy for her as a strong Commander-in-Chief.

The Muslim parents of an American Muslim soldier who died saving the lives of his brothers in arms gave a blistering attack on Donald Trump. He asked Donald Trump if he had ever read the Constitution and then pulled a copy out of his pocket and said he would give Trump his copy. Then he asked if Trump had ever been to Arlington cemetery. “Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

In one of the most surprising moments of the night, two lifelong Republican supporters spoke at the Democratic National Convention. One worked in the Reagan White House and issued a blistering attack on Trump. The other, a female Republican who said she is supporting Hillary and is encouraging other Republican women to do the same. I think this is a HUGE voting block that Hillary can steal away, especially looking at Trump’s dismal popularity with female voters.

After a performance by Katy Perry, Chelsea Clinton came out to introduce her mom and did her best attempt at it. If you’ve ever studied the Clintons, you know Chelsea hates being in the spotlight and did everything she could to avoid it while she was the first daughter. She also has stayed out of the news. She couldn’t help but be front and center tonight to introduce her mom on such a historic occasion. During her speech, Chelsea talked memories of her childhood with her mother and how she was always there for her. She talked about how when Hillary would have to travel for work, she would leave her notes for each day that she was gone.

Then it was finally time. A video-montage highlighting Hillary’s career played with none other than Morgan Freeman narrating.  After the video she came out to deliver her acceptance speech. I’ll be completely honest with you; I wasn’t expecting anything great because that isn’t who Hillary is. I’ve said before she’s a policy wonk who isn’t very vibrant and exciting. She’s certainly no Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. So my expectations were pretty low…but she shocked me. She gave a really good speech. She praised the work that Bernie Sanders did in his campaign and urged his voters to keep up the fight and help her force change. She praised the job that President Obama has done during his presidency. But most importantly, she laid out her vision for America. She talked about the things that were most important to her and that she wanted to see changed. She also talked about the stark differences between herself and Donald Trump. She talked about her plan for things and how Donald Trump doesn’t have any plans. She delivered a powerful line: “A man that you can bait with a tweet can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

Being in Philadelphia, she paid homage to the founding of this country, talking about how our founders had differences but ultimately came together. She said they worked together and reached a compromise to succeed, tying into her ‘better together’ theme. This was another outreach to the Sanders supporters as well as disgruntled Republicans. As I mentioned earlier, there were lifelong Republican voters who came out in support of Hillary tonight so that is a target she’s going for. She also talked about her history of working across the aisle and working together to get things accomplished.

Regardless of party or your feelings for Hillary Clinton, everyone reading this blog can say that you’ve witnessed history. For the first time in this country’s history, a female has accepted the nomination of a major political party. She has laid the foundation for your daughters and granddaughters in the future.

Democratic Convention Recap – Day 3

The penultimate day of the Democratic Convention focused on two major issues: gun control and foreign policy. It also saw possibly the last convention speech from everyone’s favorite Veep, Joe Biden. The next Vice President, Tim Kaine, officially accepted the nomination for Vice President tonight. And to wrap things up…President Obama doing President Obama things. Let’s get into the breakdown.

Unfortunately, we had open house tonight so I had to miss part of the convention but I did get to hear several of the speeches on gun control, including that of Gabby Giffords. I’m amazed at her recovery and how well she spoke tonight. I hope she continues to improve, as I’m sure most everyone does regardless of political affiliation.

They also had a mother of one of the shooting victims from the Orlando nightclub. She spoke about her son’s life and talked about how she was glad that we had strict gun control when her son was born and wish we had it when he was killed. It was a very moving speech.

Look, I love that the Democrats are continuing the fight for gun control, but I don’t think it’s an issue that they are going to be able to deliver on. Rather than spending an hour at the convention discussing it, they could have talked about a huge number of other issues that are more realistic. I know, the convention is where you talk about what you would do in the perfect scenario but there’s several other things that they could have went to. But I’m not in charge of the convention so, my opinion is null.

Joe Biden gave one of the best speeches of his political career laying out the case for why Donald Trump would be a disaster as Commander in Chief—a common theme from the night. Leon Panetta delivered a similar message earlier in the convention. They both highlighted Trump’s flaws: his calling for our military to kill civilians, mothers and children of enemy combatants. How he called for a return to torturing prisoners of war, including waterboarding. And how he talked about leaving NATO and called for Russia to hack into Hillary’s emails. Uncle Joe even got as serious as I’ve ever seen him. He commanded silence from the crowd, got right up to the microphone, and spoke cold hard truth about how scared we should be about the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.

Michael Bloomberg came out and also delivered a speech in support of Hillary and talked about all the ways Trump would be a terrible president. He delivered a powerful line: “truth be told, the richest thing about Donald Trump is his hypocrisy.”

Tim Kaine accepted the party’s nomination and gave a speech that was okay. It wasn’t quite as great as the speech he gave last week but it was still a solid speech. There’s just something refreshing about the man. He’s like someone you would see sitting in that Hardee’s booth at 7 am drinking his coffee and talking politics. He just seems genuine.

Then President Obama delivered a mic-dropping speech. If I had a ranking of his best speeches (hey, that may be a blog topic soon…) I would say this was top 10 easily, and possibly top 5. Rather than going into details, just go watch. Stop what you’re doing right now and look it up because words can’t do it justice. To cap it off, Hillary came on stage with him and as they embraced and waved at the fans, you could tell he was literally passing the torch off to her to continue what he’s started. Amazing job.

Tomorrow night is the culmination of the DNC and Hillary will officially accept the party’s nomination. It will certainly be a night for the ages and I hope all of you are tuning in to literally witness history.

Democratic Convention Recap – Day 2

Girl power! That was pretty much the ongoing theme of tonight’s convention in Philadelphia. It featured a plethora of female speakers throughout the night. While some of the speakers sort of failed to conjure up a lot of excitement, it didn’t matter. This day pivoted around three main events: the roll call vote to officially nominate Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate, the Mothers of the Movement speaking, and then of course Bill Clinton’s speech. While there are plenty of other moments that stood out, these three were the biggest.

Some of the other big moments include Lena Dunham and America Ferrera coming out and talking about Trump. Dunham said according to Trump, she’s probably a 2 at best. Ferrera said according to Trump she was a rapist. Then Dunham looked at her and said “but you’re not Mexican.” And Ferrera responded with “well Obama isn’t Kenyan but that didn’t stop Trump.” Ferrera, as most of you know, is American born and her parents are from Honduras.

Other female speakers from the night included a powerful speech from Donna Brazile, a glowing endorsement from Madeleine Albright who was the first female Secretary of State, and of course an always supportive speech from Senator Barbara Boxer. All of the female Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives also came out and spoke in a massive sign of support for Hillary.

Tony Goldwyn, who plays Republican President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal, spoke. I’ll ask the question we are all wondering…WHERE IS OLIVIA POPE?!

Now for the biggest moments…watching the roll call vote was such an exciting time. For the first time ever, a female was officially nominated by a major political party in the United States. To wrap up the roll call, Bernie Sanders took the microphone and asked the party to suspend the rules and formally nominate Hillary Clinton as the candidate as one final show of unity. After this, the Bernie or Bust fans got in line. When asked if any opposed it, only a few didn’t.

The next major moment was one of the most somber moments so far at either convention. The Mothers of the Movement came out and talked about the deaths of their children. They talked about how the overwhelming majority of cops are good and do an excellent job. But they called for support in ensuring that the police and the communities they patrol can come together. Andra Day’s took the stage and performed Rise Up immediately after them. It was such a powerful and somber moment at the same time.

Finally slick Willie came to the stage. Everyone knew Bill Clinton would deliver like only he can. But what a speech it was. He got very personal and talked about the first time they met, their first date, and how he proposed (3 times). He talked about all the ways she’s improved education and life in general in Arkansas while he was governor despite her having a job and being a mother. All of her highlights from her time as Secretary of State, like the Iranian sanctions and the 2012 cease fire between Israel and Palestine in Gaza. Bill called her a “change maker” and really made the case for supporting her. It was an incredibly moving speech and again highlights exactly what your family is supposed to do. They are there to humanize you and share those personal stories…something that was missing from the Trump kids (except Ivanka). He brought life to the caricature that the Republicans have built up about her.

The night ended with Meryl Streep giving a speech about the women’s rights movement and its fulfillment with Hillary’s nomination, followed by a performance by the one and only Alicia Keys. Alicia Keys has been my celebrity crush for about 15 years now so I may be a little biased but I thought she did an amazing job.

All in all, this was a solid day for the convention and certainly a day that will go down in history with Hillary officially being nominated. Tomorrow should certainly be another huge day when both Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be speaking.