This decision did not sit well with Evelyn Nunn, a woman in her late 60s, whom I visited last weekend at her one-storey brick house along a rural stretch of Route 20, outside Greenville. In her front yard stood a flagpole flying the battle flag, ragged around the edges, and a sign that said Trump.
Texas Governor George W. Bush:
Nunn is an active supporter of Donald Trump who emails advice to his campaign regularly and evangelizes for him on Facebook. As Trump himself wrote decades ago in The Art of the Deal, controversy sells. The Bush campaign and its patronage network would have us believe that a divisive, foul-mouthed conman is duping the media into ignoring the one sober candidate who is ready to lead the United States in troubled times. But the Bushes have long been aristocrats with knives in their pockets.
In politics since the s and in the White House for 16 of the last 28 years, this dynastic family embodies more than any other the transformation of the Republican party from a coalition of north-eastern social liberals and economic elites to one of southern, religious conservatives and free-market extremists. And Jeb went to macabre lengths in proving his own devotion to the pro-life agenda as governor of Florida, personally intervening to prevent the husband of Terri Schiavo, a brain-dead woman, from taking his wife off life support.
The difference being that where the Bushes used henchmen, Trump is his own — and all the more effective for it. It is a brutally accurate and succinct description of how first southern Democrats and then southern Republicans and then, it must be added, Bill Clinton wove appeals to racial hostility into the very fabric of their policy agendas.
Bush won the primary, but in order to win the presidency — after losing the popular vote — he required another intervention by the family retainers: a fake riot at the Miami-Dade election offices during the Florida recount, which set off a media frenzy about election chaos, ginning up national anxiety and creating the demand for the quickest possible resolution. As Trump says, controversy sells.
And so does violence.
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Of all the instances of Trump employing openly what the Bushes have authorized but disavowed, this is perhaps the most damning to both parties. While strenuously seeking to keep secret the memos that permitted the CIA to engage in torture, George W Bush ran for re-election in as the strong-man savior the country needed to protect itself from another terrorist catastrophe, all while his campaign and its various tendrils belittled and effeminized a Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, much as Trump has ridiculed John McCain.
Beyond specific tactics and policies, there remains another, in some ways more insidious connection between the stratagems of the second Bush presidency and the rise of a reality TV star to leading candidate for president.
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It can be seen in an interview that Karl Rove gave to Ron Suskind for Esquire during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in As Suskind later described it :. I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. I will never forget, in , listening on the radio to an interview with the mother of a soldier who had died in Iraq. Bush's administration, Reid was the Republican president's chief antagonist in the Senate. He famously called the 43rd president a "loser," and a "liar," and even the worst president the country ever had.
Having covered all of that in real time, I almost fell off my chair when Reid told me that he now wishes for Bush again "every day. Our battles were strictly political battles," Reid said. Donald Trump wouldn't make the team," Reid added. Reid dismissed calls for Trump's impeachment as a "waste of time" because Republicans who have the majority in the Senate "are so afraid of Trump that they're not going to get involved in this. But he doesn't think Democrats need to worry about the backlash if they decide to move forward.
That's also the basis of advice for Democrats running for the White House in Everyone knows, even those people supporting knows what problems he has," Reid said. His wry sense of humor still very much intact, Reid proudly displays a framed letter on his office wall that Trump wrote him in congratulating the Nevada senator for winning his tough re-election bid that year. Several months ago, Trump brought Reid back into the fold -- tweeting about a speech Reid gave in criticizing birthright citizenship. Reid has long called that a mistake one he says his Jewish born wife and daughter of immigrants lashed out at him for.
Reid's criticism isn't reserved just for Trump. He also has harsh words for former FBI Director James Comey for not doing enough to combat Russian interference during the election. He said Comey did not respond to two letters that Reid, then the Senate Democratic leader, wrote to him asking for more information about intelligence reports that Russia was meddling in the election. The last time I was in Las Vegas with Reid was four years ago, after he announced that he would retire after three decades in Congress.
During that interview, I asked about one of his more controversial political moves: going on the Senate floor during the presidential election and questioning whether then Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid taxes. Reid gave me a flip response -- "He didn't win did he? Needless to say, there was very bad blood between Reid and Romney.
Now, Reid revealed he made peace with Romney, reaching out through a mutual friend, former Utah Gov.
George W. Bush
Mike Leavitt. According to Reid, that's exactly what happened. He said they "had a nice visit" and "shook hands and put stuff behind us. My history is such that I kind of follow what Lincoln said: 'The best way to make an enemy go away is to become their friend. Reid also had a complicated relationship with the late John McCain.
The two came to the House the same year, , and then served in the Senate together for some 30 years as well. They locked horns often along the way, but Reid said they talked several times as McCain was spending his final months in Arizona, conversations that now make him smile.
I knew he was mad. I could see him still walking towards me, and he said, 'I'm going to knock the shit out of you,' Reid recalled with a chuckle. Never be a quitter. Never look back. That has always been Reid's motto. I was never part of that gathering because there was not a damn thing I could do about what I'd written, so I didn't do that. I took the test; that's all I could do. Don't look back," said Reid.
But for a man who spent over 30 years as a fixture in Washington, there's plenty to look back on. Unprompted, he offered his biggest regret: voting for the Iraq War. He talks openly about his proudest accomplishments. Top of his list are being the "quarterback" for making the Affordable Health Care Act a law, stabilizing the financial markets after the economic collapse, and preserving public lands in Nevada.
A little-known fact about Reid is that he was an advocate for women in his Senate office, especially women with children. Harry Reid's love story. And if that baby is sick, let them stay home.
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If that babysitter's not available, they can stay home. Those women became very [loyal] because I was the only senator that did that originally. Reid applauds the big increase in women elected to the Senate, saying he saw first-hand how different, for the better, the body changed.
Things dealing with violence. I think the best advocates we have for gun control are women.