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Kennedy Leaves Trump And O’Reilly In The Stardust

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep…

WASHINGTON — John F. Kennedy spoke this passage of Robert Frost’s New England poetry often in speeches, capturing a snowy evening on horseback. The point was not to dwell on his state of Massachusetts.

It was a sure way of saying to people that he’d keep his promises. One made in his first White House spring: to land a man on the moon “before this decade is out,” the 1960s. Kennedy would not live to see his vision happen on a summer’s day in 1969. Yet the promise was kept, poetically. His 100th birthday comes in May. Could the time chord be any more bittersweet?

Thoughts of Kennedy hang heavy, given a president who publicly promises an “armada” steaming one way, when in fact our aircraft carrier and other ships were headed the other direction. Who knows what the world must think of us.

President Trump’s churlish ways were clear from the campaign — remember his vulgar words about women? “Carnage” was not a nice word in an inaugural address, especially compared with “Ask not what your country can do for you…” The broken promise to release his tax returns stings like a jellyfish in April. And he said NATO is obsolete — then again, it’s not.

Less than a lifetime ago, it was a pleasure to hear a president speak. (Barack Obama’s prose could soar, too.) Now Trump has murdered presidential truth and promises with less than 100 days in office. The American circus is on its final farewell tour, but who needs Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey when we have the meanest clown in town and country?

In Boston, Kennedy looms large as the city prepares for the centennial celebration. Here, the Kennedy Center is already alive with anticipation; the postage stamp is out.

Born the second son in 1917 to Rose and Joseph Kennedy, the boy’s grandfather was mayor of Boston. He grew to have a sharp intellect, a Pulitzer Prize, and a cool temperament that might have rather taught as a history professor. But the first son, Joe, died in the sky on a World War II mission. In the ferociously competitive clan, Jack was elected president, first in his father’s eyes.

It does make you wonder how we survived a thousand days of the Kennedy presidency with no tweets trumpeted in the darkness before the dawn. Our president also offers running commentary on popular culture, like this gem: “I don’t think Bill (O’Reilly) did anything wrong.” Wrong again.

Enormously popular with Trump voters, the cable show host was just fired by Fox News for mounting millions of dollars in lawsuits by several women who presented evidence of sexual harassment.

Trump spoke as if he’s an expert on harassment — maybe so.

The pictures were too perfect, the day O’Reilly was fired, of the sneering, brash 67-year-old standing in St. Peter’s Square, hanging with Pope Francis. The pope’s stardust provided the ideal time and place to confess.

For me, O’Reilly’s firing was second only to the Women’s March as a bright spot during the dreary winter of Trump’s days. I speak for many in saying this is vindication for the women who told truths, forming a pattern.

His public shaming will act as a serious deterrent, becoming a larger victory for all women in the workplace. The advertisers who fled the show touched the stone heart of the company. But the owners, the Murdoch father and two sons, did the right thing. O’Reilly’s poison has left the well, and the sneer has left the foxhole.

(I know, I know. Tucker Carlson, tapped to replace O’Reilly, wears a first-class sneer.)

A word of advice to gruff billy goat Trump, 70, and pal Bill. Go back to graceful Jack Kennedy, who charted courses for the country, but never combed gray hair. Self-deprecating wit is the secret sauce to disarming people. Try it sometime. Though it might be easier for these men to land on the moon.

Yet it works wonders. Asked how he became a war hero, Kennedy said with brio, “It’s easy. They sank my boat.”

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

Media’s Email Hysteria: Why Are Republicans Exempt?

It is almost eerie how closely Hillary Clinton’s current “email scandal” parallels the beginnings of the Whitewater fiasco that ensnared her and her husband almost 20 years ago. Both began with tendentious, somewhat misleading stories published by The New York Times; both stoked highly exaggerated suspicions of wrongdoing; both were exploited by Republican partisans, whose own records were altogether worse; and both resulted in shrill, sustained explosions of outrage from reporters and commentators who could never be bothered to learn actual facts.

Fortunately for Secretary Clinton and the nation, she won’t be subjected to another fruitless $70 million investigation by a less-than-independent counsel like Kenneth Starr. The chances that the innocuous email flap will damage her nascent presidential campaign seems very small, according to the latest polling data.

Yet the reaction of the Washington media to these allegations renews the same old questions about fairness. In this instance, the behavior of Republican officials whose use of private email accounts closely resembles what Secretary Clinton did at the State Department has been largely ignored – even though some of those officials might also seek the presidency.

Recently Jeb Bush released a large volume of emails from the personal – i.e., non-governmental – email account that he routinely used as Florida governor, and then praised his own transparency with self-serving extravagance. The only problem is that those released emails represent only 10 percent of the total. The rest he has simply withheld, without any public review.

When Scott Walker served as Milwaukee county executive, before he was elected Wisconsin governor, he and his staff used a secret email system for unlawful campaign work on public time; that system emerged as part of an investigation that ultimately sent one of his aides to prison (another was immunized by prosecutors). Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has used a personal email account for government business, as has former Texas governor Rick Perry. So have Florida senator Marco Rubio, and various congressmembers who have been heard to spout off about Clinton’s emails, such as Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Those examples epitomize hypocrisy, of course — yet none compares with the truly monumental email scandal of the Bush years, when millions of emails went missing from White House servers – and many more were never archived, as required since 1978 by the Presidential Records Act. Dozens of Bush White House staff used a series of private email accounts provided by the Republican National Committee (whose loud-talking chairman Reince Priebus now mocks Clinton as the “Secretary of Secrecy”). The RNC’s White House email clients most notably included scandal-ridden Bush advisor Karl Rove, who used the party accounts for an estimated 95 percent of his electronic messaging, and by Rove’s staff.

Among many other dubious activities, Rove aide Susan Ralston used her private RNC email to discuss Interior Department appointments with the office of crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who wanted to influence the department on behalf of gambling interests. According to Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, another White House official explained to him that “it is better not to put this stuff in their email system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc…” While Rove was forced to surrender some emails involving his notorious exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame, he retained the capacity to delete thousands of emails.

Various investigations and lawsuits uncovered the astonishing breadth of the Bush White House email fiasco, such as the “recycling” of backup tapes for all of its emails between Inauguration Day 2001 and sometime in 2003. This evidently meant that vast troves of messages pertaining to the 9/11 terrorist attack went missing, of course – along with whatever Rove and his aides might have communicated on that topic, or weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or countless other topics of public concern.

And former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose office was also involved in both the Plame and WMD scandals, admitted recently that he used private emails in office – but that he turned over and retained none of them – zero. (Powell’s successor Condoleezza Rice claims she didn’t use email at all.) By contrast, Clinton has turned over tens of thousands of her emails to the State Department.

Thanks to a federal lawsuit filed by two nonprofit watchdog groups, the National Security Archive at George Washington University and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a small proportion of the missing Bush White House emails were eventually restored – but only when the Obama administration finally settled the case in 2009. Those strict Obama rules for preserving emails (which Clinton stands accused of ignoring) resulted directly from the new administration’s determination to avoid the mess engendered by the deceptive and unlawful preservation practices of the Bush White House.

Now if Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account is so shocking to the Beltway media, why did they barely notice (and care even less) when millions of emails disappeared during the Bush years?

The current hysteria may reflect the intense press prejudice against Clinton that several well-placed Washington journalists confessed during a brief moment of introspection following the disgraceful coverage of her 2008 campaign. And it should serve to warn voters that what Arkansas columnist and author Gene Lyons famously calls “the Clinton rules” – which encouraged inaccuracy, bias, and other forms of journalistic failure in the 1990s – are back in all their malignant effrontery.

Photo: Ripon College via Flickr