Friday, November 4, 2016

The November Surprise: Back to the 70s

By Mary Claire Kendall

If Donald J. Trump wins the presidency on Tuesday, November 8—and wins fairly big—you need look no further than the jobs report immediately preceding the vote.

While many are saying, “It’s the emails, stupid.” Or more accurately “It’s the server, stupid.” And, that’s true.  To say nothing of “It’s Benghazi, stupid.”  More than, anything, “It’s the economy, stupid.” 

Call it the November surprise.  While the jobs report has unemployment ticking down to 4.9%, the real shocker is the stunningly labor participation number—some 95 million jobless or a mere 62% of working age adults with jobs. It’s the lowest since 1977, and lower, for US working age males, than in France, said MSNBC’s Steve Rattner

The interesting thing is this current economic picture mirrors the economically dismal 70s, which paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s win in November 1980—a win, which, like today, few saw coming.

While Jimmy Carter blamed it on voter “malaise,” Hillary Clinton calls out the “basket of deplorables,” she considers “irredeemable.”  

In the 70s, in fact, they were “mad-as-hell-and-we’re-not-going-to-take-it-any-more” voters—many dubbed Reagan Democrats, immortalized by Peter Finch in Network (1976). 

Now Michael Moore points to the rust-belt-mad-as-hellers, calling them the “Brexit voters,” some of whom are featured in the report in Britain’s The Independent about the dying steel town of Weirton, West Virginia, on the border of Ohio. 

Films of the 70’s captured the situation brilliantly. Besides the aforementioned Network, films like Save the Tiger (1973), starring Jack Lemmon in his Oscar winning performance, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), also starring Lemmon, epitomized the desperation. 

The latter is about an out-of-work New Yorker, Mel Edison, who regularly goes out on his porch and screams, until one day his neighbor above pours a bucket of cold water on him, adding insult to injury, (2:45 minutes).  The former features a Los Angeles clothing manufacturer, Harry Stoner, losing his proverbial shirt. After his partner (Jack Gilford) cooks the books, thus allowing them to survive another year—what the government calls “fraud,” Lemmon reminds him—he gets really desperate.  

While many might demonize Americans who cast their ballots for Trump, the truth is, they are just responding to reality. 

The establishment might be shocked if Trump wins.  And, they are surely in denial now.  But, they will only have themselves to blame, given their failure to focus on the reality of countless voters’ lives, where desperation is a frequent, if not constant, companion.  

“Migrant Mother,” 1936 (Dorothea Lange, photographer).
Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection.  
This reporting failure, dramatized in Network, was not the case 80 years ago when Dorothea Lange captured, in her iconic photographs, the devastation of the Great Depression for all to see.  The furrowed brows. Tattered clothes. Empty stomachs. Desperation. She was working on behalf of the U.S. Government’s Farm Security Administration.

This reporting failure, dramatized in Network, was not the case 80 years ago when Dorothea Lange captured, in her iconic photographs, the devastation of the Great Depression for all to see.  The furrowed brows. Tattered clothes. Empty stomachs. Desperation. She was working on behalf of the U.S. Government’s Farm Security Administration.

Today, the damage is complete. We are almost entirely devoid of these tangible images in the establishment channels of communication. Instead, far too many are creating our own reality. 

Like in the current film Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, where the protagonist has the idea she can become an opera star. 
Shuttered steel mill in Weirton, WV. Credit: Andrew Buncombe, 
who writes: “The steel mills today employ fewer than 1,000 people.” 
In their heyday, they employed 15,000.

Only problem is, she can’t sing.  

And, the establishment evidently can’t see.  


Note: This piece was published in Daily Caller on November 7, 2016, the day before the election in which Donald Trump trounced Hillary Clinton, becoming the  45th President of the United States, which this author also predicted in Donald Trump: 45th President of the United States.”

Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based writer and author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends. She served four years in the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November's Election Will Capture America's Reality

By Mary Claire Kendall

One of the biggest shortcomings of this year’s presidential election is the failure on the part of official organs of public life, especially media and government, to focus on the reality of countless voter’s lives, where desperation is a frequent, if not constant, companion. 

This was not the case 80 years ago when Dorothea Lange captured, in her iconic photographs, the devastation of the Great Depression for all to see. The furrowed brows. Tattered clothes. Empty stomachs. Desperation. She was working on behalf of the U.S. Government’s Farm Security Administration. 

“Migrant Mother,” 1936 (Dorothea Lange, photographer).
Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection.  The media conveniently  
fails to report the real poverty in America today that rivals the Great Depression.

Today, we are almost entirely devoid of these tangible images. Instead, what used to be official repositories of reality in America are creating their own reality.  Just consider the farcical images they employ to try and sway American voters versus the reality of unemployed workers, including, in proportionately greater numbers, our former fighting men and women, suffering drug addiction and the like.  

But, come November 8, the voters, especially in the industrial Midwest and New England, will, it seems increasingly clear, provide a wake-up call and indelible image of what Americans are really feeling and experiencing in their daily lives – an inkling of which is provided in this report by British reporter Andrew Buncombe about the dying steel town of Weirton, West Virginia, on the border of Ohio. 

To his credit, Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has focused on the positive – what America could be, most notably in his slogan, Make America Great Again – while stating forthrightly how far we have fallen, and how much work will need to be done to get us back on track. And, come November 9th, and officially, January 20, 2017, it is looking increasingly likely, given recent polls, that he will be able to take his positive vision and turn it into reality as the 45th President of the United States. And, along with the Washington swamp, we will begin to drain the desperation from our towns and cities, plagued, for too long, by joblessness and hopelessness.

Shuttered steel mill in Weirton, WV. Credit: Andrew Buncombe, 
who writes: The steel mills today employ fewer than 1,000 people.” 
In their heyday, they employed 15,000.

Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based writer and author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends. She served four years in the George H.W. Bush Administration.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Donald Trump: 45th President of the United States

By Mary Claire Kendall

On the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, after all the ballots have been cast, and counting done, we will wake up to learn that billionaire businessman Donald J. Trump has been elected 45th President of the United States of America.Or maybe not.
The liberal/media elite wants us to believe that the presidential race is essentially over, Hillary Rodham Clinton is the 45th president, and, with that glass ceiling cracked, America’s troubles are over.

Clinton has consistently led in national polls. Her current Real Clear Politics Average shows her besting Trump by 5.1% in the head-to-head match-up, and 5.4% in the 4-way race.

Forget the outlier polls: LA Times Daily Tracking, Rasmussen, Investor’s Business Daily and others.
Forget the fact that, now, the margin of error for polls is plus or minus 7%, not 3%.

Forget that President Barack Obama has been a human wrecking ball, as evidenced by his:
·         Unaffordable Affordable Care Act”;
·         Disastrous Middle East policy—the tragedy in Aleppo being compared to the Holocaust;
·         Paltry job creation record, except when it comes to secretarial, retail, food service and social worker jobs;
·         $20,000,000,000,000 debt; and
·         Some 2.5 million illegal immigrants crossing the Southern border since 2009… to name just a few salient examples.
And, forget that Hillary Clinton would represent a third term for Obama, and that over 60% of U.S. citizens believe America is on the wrong track.
Forget all this.
Hillary Clinton will win (has won) an historic landslide victory, possibly bringing along a newly Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
But, seriously, what’s a voter to believe?
In which regard, consider that:
·         Trump consistently beat his Real Clear Politics Average during the primaries.  In New York, he won by 7% more than the polls suggested; Pennsylvania, 10%; Rhode Island, 11%; Connecticut, 5%; Maryland, 9%; and Indiana, 11%.
·         Conventional wisdom suggests that voters are loath to admit they are voting for Trump.
·         WikiLeaks—regrettably the biggest “news” source this presidential election season—exposes inflated polls in its latest Podesta Emails release (10/23/16) in which Podesta is quoted suggesting “oversamples for polling” to “maximize what we get out of our media polling.”
·         Emerson reported on October 13 (tables tab, “Presidential Expect”) that African American support for Trump in Virginia is 41.8%; Ohio, 30.3%; and North Carolina, 23.7%; with another poll pegging their support in Florida at 20%—which would suggest a huge Trump win. 
·         Republicans are far outperforming Democrats in Florida, Michigan, and Iowa, according to early voting indicators culled by
·         Trump represents change, as most recently reflected in his 100 Day Plan to Make America Great Again presented in Gettysburg on Saturday, October 22, coincidentally the feast of Pope St. John Paul II.

Bottom Line: Ignore the national polls signaling the race is over and vote for the candidate who you think will take America in the right direction.  Hint: ‘Yes, America is heading in the wrong direction’ is winning in polls by a landslide now, which makes this year’s presidential vote essentially an IQ test.
Mary Claire Kendall is a Washington-based writer and author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends. She served four years in the George H.W. Bush Administration.


This article was published in Daily Caller on Tuesday, October 25th, two weeks before the presidential election. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Trump: On the way to a ‘10’

With some advice, the Donald can be a knockout candidate

Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times 

By Mary Claire Kendall - - Tuesday, May 10, 2016


In the wake of Donald Trump’s huge win in Indiana, the shotgun wedding is complete. Republicans are hitched to “the Donald.” The honeymoon has now begun.

Well, not exactly.

The more apt analogy would be the runaway bride representing much of the Republican establishment — including, notably, former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and former Gov. Mitt Romney, the latter two the party’s 2008 and 2012 presidential nominees, respectively; and, now House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Admittedly, Mr. Trump is not exactly a “10.”

But neither are his rivals in the GOP.

It’s time to recognize the moment for what it is — a great opportunity for all of us in the Republican Party to come together and see what we can do differently to be at our best.
This Thursday, our prospective presidential nominee will have a sit-down meeting in Washington. Here is some of what the establishment should tell him.

The way you warmly embrace your audiences as you did in West Virginia in your first campaign stop after Indiana, where the scene was set by John Denver’s “Country Roads,” is awe-inspiring. And your earnest pledge to “make America great again” puts a bounce in our steps.

But we need to talk about how all of that good is sometimes undermined by your habit of talking in less-than-flattering terms about certain groups of people and individuals. Sure, it’s all part of your schtick as a larger-than-life New York business mogul and reality TV star. And a certain amount of candor is refreshing.

However, it’s a new day. You’re on the path to the presidency, and certain things must change.

For starters, you need to speak more inclusively about women. They’re about 54 percent of the electorate. We have no doubt you “love women.” But your words and deeds must align so that they feel the love.

Hispanics and Muslims, too. Building a wall the entire length of the southern border to keep out the former and indiscriminately banning entry to our great country vis-a-vis the latter, are nonstarters.

And you should think about reaching out and building a bridge to Pope Francis — the word “pontiff” means “bridge builder.” Calling His Holiness a “disgrace” in the lead-up to the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday based on incorrect reporting, while perhaps good politics, is no way to heal religious and sectarian divides.

Regarding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and their relationship to tackling the deficit and corollary gaping debt, we agree. Our Dudley Do-Right approach might need some retooling. Nonetheless, please acknowledge the reality that, in preserving those programs, we also need to ensure our nation’s fiscal health is restored.

And do not threaten NATO. We need NATO now more than ever.

Also, regarding tax policy, your constantly shifting positions are unhelpful. If you want to be Reaganesque, stake out a position and stick with it.

We know you can be a “10” and we’ll do our part, as well. Together, under your leadership, Americans will build a brighter, more secure future.

Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, is author of “Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood.”  She served in the George H.W. Bush administration.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose…

By Mary Claire Kendall 

This piece was originally published in The Daily Caller on May 2, 2016 at 4:19 PM EST. Since then, Senator Ted Cruz has lost in Indiana and suspended his campaign. 

Donald Trump’s trouncing in the Acela primary — including in the bluer than blue liberal bastions of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware, with 58.1, 56.5, 59, 64.7 and 62.6 percent of the vote, respectively — does not a nomination make.

It’s going to be a liberal-conservative smack-down in the state of Indiana this coming Tuesday as Republican voters try and make heads or tails of this dizzying race.

As if to underscore the point, in the wake of his Acela losses, Ted Cruz, winner of 9 states to Trump’s 27, picked conservative businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Cruz-Fiorina Indiana win would give the delegates the power to decide, at the convention, which candidate would be strongest against, presumably, Hillary Clinton in the fall. (The answer is not obvious. Trump, while engaging and guided by common sense, would, polls suggest, get clobbered by Hillary. Cruz, while young, brash and loathed by the establishment, is as brilliant as Abe Lincoln, and as skilled a debater.)

It’s as the founders intended it.

Wisely, our forebears built protections into the system to guard against someone ascending to power who does not quite have the qualities needed to steer the ship of state deftly.

Initially, the protections were seal-tight. Presidential candidates of national parties were chosen by Members of Congress. Period.

Then, in 1831, the era of conventions began when the small Anti-Masonic Party held the first such gathering.

The following year, the two national parties, Whigs and Democrats, adopted this new model and selected, respectively, Henry Clay of Kentucky and Andrew Jackson of Tennessee as their nominees. When all was said and done, Jackson ascended to the presidency bringing with him his mud-caked, unruly, and enthusiastic supporters. It was a great moment for American democracy. But, in fact, his band of followers were not the ones who had actually elected him. Rather, it was the electors, as established in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. And, I quote:

“Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.”

Electors sometimes upend the popular vote. Recall that in the year 2000 George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College and became President of the United States — just as John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison did in 1824, 1876 and 1888, respectively, dashing the hopes of Jackson, Samuel Tilden and Grover Cleveland, respectively.

For 140 years, nominating conventions elected their party’s respective presidential candidates. There were some quite dramatic moments — perhaps none as dramatic as the 1924 Democratic convention when it took 17 days and 103 ballots for the delegates to finally settle on John W. Davis as their nominee.

In 1972, everything changed.

The contentious 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, four years earlier, had ushered in democratic reforms and the era of primaries — with hopes of giving voters more say in the choice of president.

Even so, voters were still choosing delegates, who would, in turn, choose their respective party’s presidential candidate at the nominating conventions.

It is those delegates who still have the ultimate say over who will be the party’s nominee. And, the state parties set the rules over their own delegate selection process. The national party weighs in, too. For instance, after the 1972 Democratic primary process produced the disastrous choice of George McGovern, the Democratic Party gradually instituted “Super Delegates” to ensure more electable candidates going forward. McGovern had lost 48 of 50 states, including his own state of South Dakota, while losing the popular vote in the second biggest landslide in American history.

Which brings us to the present primary season and the contest over who will be the next President of the United States.

Problem is, only one can be president. And, as Lee Atwater used to say, those who can be president occupy a little boat and there are only so many in that boat.

Which brings us to Grantland Rice’s famous line.

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Now we are playing the biggest game in American politics. As in sports, this game has rules, which those who are truly presidential will follow with grace and class. (Robocalls to delegates threatening their well-being if they do not vote a certain way conjures up the exact opposite image.)

The stakes, in terms of realizing America’s vast potential, while mending the hole in her soul and infrastructure, to say nothing of her fiscal picture, and national security, could not be higher.

Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, is author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Replacing the Irreplaceable Justice Antonin Scalia

By Mary Claire Kendall

Following Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death, most Senate Republicans aligned behind the idea that the next president, not President Obama, should nominate someone to fill the vacant seat. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Last week*, the White House, feigning accommodation with the GOP over President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, began vetting Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. Not surprisingly, Sandoval is liberal on immigration, the pivot of Obama's calculus. His amnesty proposal created a loophole for illegal immigrants to vote in November and if the Supreme Court gives it a pass, game over. (Sandoval has since pulled his name out of consideration.)  

In the wake of Justice Scalia's untimely death on February 13 (or 12), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated forthrightly that President Obama need not nominate anyone because he will not schedule a Senate hearing or vote. The country is too divided, he said, and 'we the people' must first have our say in November on the next president.

Most Republican Senators went along with that.

Then came the second thoughts.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, though initially on board, said, according to Radio Iowa, "I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions."

Furthermore, Senator Thom Tillis said, "I think we fall into the trap if just simply say sight unseen… " But, he said, "If he puts forth someone… in the mold of President Obama's vision for America, then we'll use every device available to block that nomination." (He was speaking on the Tyler Cralle Show.)

Then Majority Leader McConnell's asserted he would not even meetwith the nominee.
But the meeting with Obama solidified Senator Grassley's stance. Waiting until the next president to fill the open seat, he said, is "a fair and reasonable choice."

It's like watching a tennis match!

If the president is sincere about wanting to work with Republicans, he should think seriously about nominating someone who was once on President Ronald Reagan's short list for the Supreme Court, who also happens to be a close friend of the late Justice Scalia.

When I spoke with Justice Scalia's grieving friend on Sunday, February 14, he told me the late great justice was his "best friend in the law" and that his death was "the worst thing for the country" at this critical time, given his pre-eminent role in preserving the values that made our country strong. There is no other, he said.

Well, almost no other.

His name is Judge Thomas J. Aquilino, Jr. He serves on the United States Court of International Trade. Born in 1939 in Mount Kisko, New York, he received his B.A. from Drew University and J.D. from Rutgers, before serving in the Army, 1962-65. A former clerk to Judge John M. Cannella, he worked in private practice in New York City and was an adjunct professor of law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

As Justice Scalia's legal soul mate and, at age 76, his peer, he would, quite naturally, be the most logical and smart nominee.

The two men met while working on the "legislative veto," which President Reagan appealed and won in 1982. Since then, their bond was unbreakable and it's safe to say, their friendship was almost like that of brothers. (Scalia was an only child.)

Judge Aquilino holds firmly to the same principles of conservative jurisprudence Justice Scalia fought for his whole life. President Reagan had considered appointing him to the same Supreme Court seat Justice Scalia ultimately filled for thirty years and subsequently nominated him to serve as a Judge on the aforementioned court, which position he held from April 1985 to December 2004, when he assumed "senior status."

On a personal note, I met Judge Aquilino while working, in 2012-13, with many friends of Reagan to save the former president's childhood home in Chicago. We were introduced by our mutual friend, the late Redd Griffin, who had championed the cause. The two had met in Germany while serving in Army intelligence. Judge Aquilino reached out to his friend "Nino," who assured him, vis-à-vis persuading the University of Chicago, where he taught law from 1977-1982, to preserve Reagan's home, that his weighing in would have the exact opposite effect. We did not save the home.

Now, more importantly, we need to save our Republic. Judge Aquilino would play a vital role in this regard, stepping in to fill his friend's seat, while the country takes a much-needed long, deep breath.  

Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, is author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends. 

*Published in The Washington Examiner on March 3, 2016.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Hampshire's Jump Ball

By Mary Claire Kendall

On the eve of the GOP New Hampshire primary, the picture is becoming clearer and what is emerging is the lack of a clear GOP presidential front runner, as exemplified by the latest Monmouth poll, showing Trump on top with 30%; Kasich (14%), Rubio (13%), Bush (13%), and Cruz (12%), clustered in the middle; and Christie, Fiorina and Carson, bunched at the bottom with 6, 5 and 4 percent, respectively.

While this one poll is but a snapshot in a constantly changing race, it is instructive to see how the is race tightening, where, at this point, any of the middle tier candidates could surprise by defying expectations and “win” with a second, third, or even fourth place finish. 

“Volatility is the name of the game in 2016’s first primary contest, just as it was in the first caucus state last week,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Polling Institute at Monmouth University. “While Trump’s placement as the top finisher seems fairly secure at this point, the margin of victory and final order of the remaining candidates are still very much up for grabs.”

Marco Rubio beat expectations and came in an unusually strong third in Iowa, as analyzed for Daily Caller. Donald Trump’s decision to skip the Iowa debate was a mistake, as predicted in Town Hall and was, it seems, one of the main contributing factors in Trump’s loss.

But, two days from now in New Hampshire, it seems, a whole new story will be told.

It’s the story of how, finally, the “establishment” candidates – the three governors: Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie – are starting to emerge as real contenders.  Saturday’s ABC debate at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire was replete with examples of how these candidates are fighting and fighting hard.  Monday’s Emerson poll reinforced this storyline. “Bush and Kasich have the highest favorability ratings among likely GOP primary voters,” the poll reported.  Bush, polling second place at 16% to Trump’s 31%, suggests this son and brother of two former presidents is closing in.

It’s also the story of how the first place winner in Iowa, Ted Cruz, who was establishment when establishment was cool during the George W. Bush era, now running hard as an outsider, may lose traction. 

But, more than anything, it’s the story of how long and drawn out the process of choosing a president is.  Before the New Hampshire primary, the 100th anniversary of which we celebrate this year, party bosses overtly picked the candidate in smoke-filled rooms.  No one would argue a return to those days. Just a little more predictability.  Yet, if drama is what you want, Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, like any good movie script, will not be wanting.

February 10, 2016 Postscript 

The above prognostication was fairly accurate. Trump somewhat over-performed his polls, coming in first with 35%, almost half of which came from non-Republicans. Kasich, mirroring election eve polls, had a solid second place showing with 16%. Cruz, as predicted, lost altitude, coming in third with 12%. And, Bush, in the surprise of the evening, finished fourth at 11%, beating out Marco Rubio.  Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina, garnering only 4%, suspended her campaign today. And, Chris Christie went home to New Jersey to take a time out and then announced at 4 PM, he was indeed pulling out of the race.  Needless to say, South Carolina promises even more surprises. 

Mary Claire Kendall, a Washington-based writer, is author of Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends.