US Opinion and Commentary

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Trump’s Unconventional Convention

Posted July 21st, 2016 at 5:24 pm (UTC-5)
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Perhaps it’s by design that the 2016 Republican National Convention would not — could not — follow the cookie-cutter design of conventions of the recent past. After all, 17 candidates were at one time running for the party’s presidential nomination. And the most unconventional candidate of any — Donald Trump — came out on top.

Trump’s flair for grandeur, unpredictability and frank talk combined with fissures within the Republican party over the bitter primary election raised expectations for a raucous convention.

There has been little disappointment.

From Monday night’s controversy over Melania Trump’s speech to Tuesday’s mock trial of Hillary Clinton to Wednesday’s booing of Ted Cruz for refusing to endorse Donald Trump, this week’s conclave has met those expectations.

Trump now has to summon all of his natural charisma and impresario instincts to deliver an acceptance speech that can bring Republicans together and convince a large swath of undecided voters that he can be their next president of the United States.

RNC Notebook: The GOP Unifies…But Around Who?

Posted July 21st, 2016 at 1:54 pm (UTC-5)
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Are Republicans more unified around Donald Trump or against Hillary Clinton?

James Comey’s Abuse of Power

Posted July 7th, 2016 at 4:08 pm (UTC-5)
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In a case where the government decides it will not submit its assertions to that sort of rigorous scrutiny by bringing charges, it has the responsibility to not besmirch someone’s reputation by lobbing accusations publicly instead…Comey ignored those rules…

FBI Director on Clinton’s Email: ‘Extremely Careless’ but No Prosecution

Posted July 6th, 2016 at 2:49 pm (UTC-5)
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Hillary Clinton will not be prosecuted for her “extremely careless” handling of email while secretary of state. But the country’s top cop called her credibility and judgment into question.

FBI Director James Comey’s explanation of and conclusions drawn from the investigation into Clinton was riveting as an act of political and legal theater. He did not deliver what Clinton foes wanted: an indictment, a prosecution.

But he did deliver something almost as damaging: a narrative that jabs at her Achilles heel, the issue of trust.

Political pundits and legal scholars are prosecuting their own cases.

How Foreigners Really Regard U.S. Power

Posted July 5th, 2016 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Americans in general have mistaken beliefs about how foreigners view the United States. The misbeliefs stem in large part from circumstances and experiences of the entire American nation….a couple of other factors that are infused with partisan politics account for most of the mistaken beliefs among Americans.

Trump & Clinton: Holiday on the Hustings

Posted July 1st, 2016 at 3:02 pm (UTC-5)
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Heading into the 4th of July weekend, the U.S. presidential race is still relatively close. The Real Clear Politics average of political polls puts Hillary Clinton 4.8 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump.

While it’s still too early to put much stock in polls, it’s notable that a Fox News poll shows a majority of Republicans would prefer someone other than Trump as their party’s nominee.

Trump spent the week blasting the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, taking on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, usually a reliable backer of Republican policies. He also said his former Republican presidential rivals should “never be allowed to run for public office again” because they are breaking a pledge to back the party’s nominee. Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Jeb Bush have yet to endorse Trump.

Clinton spent the week fending off two issues that claw at her credibility. Wednesday’s report from a special House of Representative committee investigating the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya and a meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch as an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server is still pending.

With party conventions scheduled for the last two weeks of July, Trump and Clinton are vetting possible running mates and trying to turn around what are still the highest disapproval ratings for any presidential candidate.

The Benghazi Report

Posted June 30th, 2016 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Benghazi. It’s one of those place names like Bhopal and Chernobyl that connotes death, horror and mistakes.

Benghazi has become a political flash point because the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission there was originally, and erroneously, blamed on reaction to an anti-Muslim video that had been circulated in the Middle East. Republicans say then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn’t do enough to prevent the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others and then lied to the American public about the attack.

This week, results from an eighth congressional investigation into the attack was released. Some new details were revealed, especially about the lack of intelligence about potential threats and bureaucratic errors that failed to help those trapped in the mission, despite orders from the very top.

One investigation committee Republican called Clinton’s leadership during the situation “morally reprehensible.” Clinton said the report found “nothing to contradict” previous investigations, adding “It’s pretty clear it’s time to move on.”

But with Hillary Clinton running for president, Republicans won’t be moving on, using Benghazi for maximum political advantage.

Bernie Sanders: Here’s What We Want

Posted June 23rd, 2016 at 10:16 am (UTC-5)
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“What does Bernie want?” Wrong question. The right question is what the 12 million Americans who voted for a political revolution want….They want real change in this country, they want it now and are prepared to take on the political cowardice and powerful special interests which have prevented that change from happening.

Trump & Clinton: It’s on, to November

Posted June 22nd, 2016 at 3:11 pm (UTC-5)
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“Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”
“Trump would throw us back into recession.”
Those quotes from the presumptive presidential nominees came 24 hours apart.
As the fact-checkers busily scour the words from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for accuracy, the political pundits are parsing their words to determine which way the winds blow.
The polls show Clinton with her widest lead since mid-May while the latest campaign financial filings show Trump well behind in the fund-raising race.
And it’s only June.

Sanders May Have Lost the Primary, but He’s Already Won Key Concessions on Foreign Policy

Posted June 16th, 2016 at 2:06 pm (UTC-5)
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He has succeeded — and even exceeded observers’ expectations – in forcing the Democratic Party to re-evaluate its long-held assumptions about the use of military force abroad. Clinton embodies many of those views, and Sanders won millions of votes by coming at her from the left and arguing for a less interventionist foreign policy.

Madmen and the Politics of Islamophobia

Posted June 13th, 2016 at 2:32 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin The worst mass shooting in U.S. history – at a gay bar in Orlando, Fla. – brings to mind another slaughter of innocents by a madman claiming allegiance to an ideology: the 1977 killing of 77 people, most of them children at a holiday resort, by Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik. Like Omar […]

Trump, the Judge and the Campaign

Posted June 9th, 2016 at 12:32 pm (UTC-5)
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By the time House Speaker Paul Ryan finally backed Donald Trump on June 2, the polls showed Trump and Hillary Clinton in a virtual tie. Clinton was still fending off a Democratic primary challenge from Bernie Sanders while Trump was slowly uniting a fractured Republican Party once his final challengers dropped out in early May.
How things changed in just one week.
Trump has been pilloried by opponents and supporters for what has been called racist comments about a judge presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University. Trump has said the judge, Gonzalo Curiel, could not be impartial because of “his Mexican heritage.”
Five days after his endorsement, Ryan had to distance himself from Trump’s comments, saying it is the “textbook definition of racist.” But Ryan has not withdrawn his endorsement of Trump.
Trump has tried to defuse the controversy, saying the comments were “misconstrued”, but several Republicans are calling on him to apologize and retract his comments. Democrats will continue their attacks on Trump as a racist.
Will Trump’s head start on unifying his party wither under the weight of the candidate’s own words?

The Great Race

Posted June 8th, 2016 at 3:28 pm (UTC-5)
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She made it.
Hillary Clinton has gone from First Lady to U.S. Senator to Secretary of State to, now, Democratic Party’s nominee for president.
It sets up a historic presidential election in November: the first woman nominated by a major political party versus a businessman, the first nominee since 1952 who has not held public office.
Both Clinton and Donald Trump have work to do to unite their respective parties behind their candidacies. Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, has yet to concede, although he has sounded more conciliatory.
Trump has more work to do, thanks to his comments about a federal judge of Mexican descent who is presiding over a lawsuit involving Trump University — comments that have been called racist by foes and supporters alike. One Republican senator seeking re-election retracted his endorsement of Trump. Pressure will build for others to do the same.
Election Day is five months away. By then, history may take a back seat to histrionics.

The Unraveling of Donald Trump

Posted June 7th, 2016 at 2:52 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Maybe Donald Trump is a closet Hillary Clinton supporter. That’s one possible explanation for why the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has kept digging himself into a giant political hole even as Clinton on Monday clinched the 2,383 delegates required for the Democratic nomination. Like an animal that keeps gnawing at a wound, […]

Clinton: Trump Foreign Policy Ideas “Dangerously Incoherent”

Posted June 3rd, 2016 at 4:58 pm (UTC-5)
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Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy speech was more of an evisceration of Donald Trump, using the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s own words to make the case that he is “temperamentally unfit” to be president.
Trump countered Thursday evening, telling an audience “My temperament is so much tougher, so much better than hers.”
Standing in front of 15 American flags, Clinton used her 35-minute speech to tout her experience and successes as Secretary of State while reminding the audience of Trump opinions and statements. She made a point of saying “America is an exceptional country” while criticizing Trump for his “Make America Great Again” since, in her words, “America is great, just like we’ve always been.”
Clinton still has unfinished business in her quest for the Democratic nomination. She and Bernie Sanders will face off in six primaries next Tuesday that should deliver the requisite number of delegates for Clinton, barring overwhelming victories for Sanders.
If Thursday’s speech is any indication, a Clinton-Trump presidential match-up will be no holds barred.