Thursday, June 29, 2017


Loyal Democrats were devastated when the results to the special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District were certified. They had pinned their hopes on a young man named Jon Ossoff, a political neophyte. The party had spent millions, believing they could take this Deep South red seat from the Republicans. They had started the night with the old strains of Jimmy van Heusen’s “High Hopes” dancing in their heads. But, alas, victory was not in the cards. Ossoff lost. “High Hopes” gave way to the proverbial “Dirge of Defeat.” 

Defeat is never easy to swallow, and this loss was especially painful to the Democrats. It was best expressed by Hazel Hunt, a woman “The Atlantic’s” Molly Ball described as “a middle-aged drama teacher.” Ms. Hunt told Ms. Ball how the results made her feel. “It makes me very sad. It tells me that despite all the wonderful people I met in this campaign, there are still a lot of people who support the meanness and ignorance and tearing each other apart.”

There you have it. Supporters of Democratic candidates are “wonderful people.” Trump supporters are mean and ignorant. It’s become a refrain of the Democratic Party. The words change, but the sentiment doesn’t. In 2008, Presidential candidate Barack Obama described un-progressive Mid-westerners as so bitter they cling to their guns and God. In her campaign for the Presidency, Hillary Clinton described half or more of Donald Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables.”

Were the remarks unfortunate Freudian slips? Were they misinterpreted? The Democrats claimed that was the case, but what else could they say?

I’ve never been a Donald Trump supporter. I’ve used some strong language in a few of my columns to describe him. My candidate was Marco Rubio. But, even though I didn’t support Donald Trump, I know a lot of people who did. I’ve disagreed with them, but I’ve never thought of them as “deplorables.” I don’t believe they’re ignorant or mean, nor do I believe they just “cling to guns or religion” to mask their hatred.

My usual custom in the morning and evening is to walk our dogs. I’ve always enjoyed walking by the Schumann’s place on the corner of 11th and Rural and occasionally taking a moment to chat with Gerald, when he was still alive, and his wife Orinne. My memories of those chats have always been pleasant.

One night, during the election season, I noticed that Orinne was uprooting some Trump-Pence campaign signs in front of her house. I’d known from our earlier chats that she was a Trump supporter and wondered whether she had changed her mind. I asked her about it and she chuckled a bit. “No,” she replied. “Every time I put them up in the morning, some angry person rips them up in the night. So, I just save them the trouble of venting their anger by taking them down myself at night and putting them back in the morning.”

Orinne and I disagreed about the election, but never disagreed on the really important things in life. We’re friends and we have a common faith. 

Orinne has never said an unkind thing to me or about me. About the only thing she ever said to me about my Presidential vote was, “Phil, I’m disappointed, but you’re still my friend.” We spoke a few times about her reasons for voting the way she did and they made good sense to me. She’s pro-life and that’s always been an important component in her decision making process. She’s also a faithful citizen. A little while ago we spoke and she said that Romans 13:1 is very meaningful to her. 

I’ve met a lot of really nice people since I’ve lived in Emporia, but I can’t thinking of anyone I’ve met who is as kind and caring as Orinne. She is one of those people who truly lives out her Christian faith. 

I don’t believe Orinne Schumann is an anomaly. There are a lot of Orinne Schumanns in this country. Like Orinne, they are loyal Americans. They love their families, their communities, and their country. Some of them serve in our military. Others have children who have done multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq while their critics spend their time sipping over-priced latte’s at Starbucks. Still others work at minimum wage to make ends meet. They’re kind, decent, people who vote based on the dictates of their conscience. They vote the way they do because they care about this country.

The Democrats can’t seem to figure out why they keep losing elections. Well, maybe if they stopped painting with such a broad brush and labelling Orinne Schumann and millions of decent, caring Americans as deplorable, hateful, or ignorant, they might be able to win them over and get their votes.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


The much anticipated James Comey show is over. People who should have been at work can go back to what they get paid to do and the nation’s watering holes can replenish their stocks. 

I watched some of it on C-SPAN, but decided it would be better to just read the transcripts of the testimony. 

What have I learned so far? I learned that Comey believes Donald Trump is a liar. I’m tempted to say I’m shocked about the President’s behavior, but I’m not. In fact, the only thing I find shocking is that James Comey somehow innocently stumbled upon something most Americans already know. Donald Trump lies. 

But then, catching Presidents in lies isn’t all that shocking. It’s like what Judge Judy says about teenagers. You can tell they’re lying because their lips are moving. Richard Nixon told us he wasn’t a crook. Lyndon Johnson told us he wasn’t going to send American boys to do what Vietnamese boys should be doing. Ronald Reagan lied about arms for hostages. Bill Clinton lied, straight faced, about Monica Lewinsky. Barack Obama lied about the Affordable Care Act. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

I also learned that James Comey doesn’t like Donald Trump. Well, welcome to the club, Mr. Comey. There are a lot of us who don’t like him, for obvious reasons. There’s a lot to not like. 

I got to watch Donald Trump in full bloom back in the nineties when Nancy and I lived in New Jersey. He was every bit as unsavory then as he is now. I would watch him and wonder, “What kind of experience could have formed the kind of man he was?” Years later I read portions of Timothy O’Brien’s “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald” and I saw very clearly how it happened. The most telling of the formative experiences came in 1964 when his father took him to the dedication of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The celebration should have been about Othmar Amman, the engineer/designer of the bridge, but that wasn’t what happened. As Trump recalled, Amman stood quietly in the rain and was “ignored as the city celebrated his creation.” Who took the credit? Who almost always does? The politicians, or as Trump described them, “jerks.” They were being applauded while the man who was responsible for the bridge’s creation was being “made a fool of.” 

As he watched the spectacle, a light of mini-revelation went off within him. This is how he put it: “I realized then and there something I would never forget. I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” 

That’s Donald Trump in a nutshell. It’s embedded in his D.N.A. Any time he thinks someone is making a fool of him, he swings back, almost always recklessly. He can’t help himself. 

I think this character flaw may be the thing that propelled him to the White House. In 2011, President Barack Obama made a fool of him at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. As Mr. Obama went on and on, savoring the moment, Donald Trump sat in the audience, stone faced. The President escalated the rhetoric to the boiling point. He had, rhetorically speaking, torn the Donald to shreds. The salvo was so caused Trump’s cheeks and forehead to turn as red as New Jersey beefsteak tomatoes and his glare became as icy cold as the surface of Europa. 

The impish grin on the President’s face spoke volumes. I think this is why Donald Trump decided to run for President. He was not going to be a fool of. 

Was the observation he made at the Verrazano Bridge when he was 18 entirely accurate? I doubt it, but I think there may have been a glimmer of truth in his observation. I’ve been exposed to a lot of politicians and political appointees in my life and the words of Holy Writ describe many of them quite aptly - “they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces…” (Matthew 23:6-7) 

What else did I learn? I learned that there doesn’t seem to have been any collusion and it does appear to be true that Mr. Comey told the President three times he wasn’t under investigation. Apparently, the New York Times and CNN got it all wrong. Shocking, isn’t it? 

I learned that, on the heels of her meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch applied a bit of pressure to Mr. Comey. It was subtle and linguistically clever. It worked! I learned that the President applied undue pressure to Mr. Comey when it came to Michael Flynn. And I learned something that really troubled me. Mr. Comey couldn’t summon up the courage to tell the President that what he was doing on behalf of Flynn was inappropriate. He didn’t offer to resign, which is what he should have done. 

All in all, it was quite an education.