Sunday, November 8, 2020

Day 244 Nat'l Emergency: Washington Musings


Aside from retiring Donald Trump from the White House, will Joe Biden retire the word “beautiful” from the presidential speechmaking lexicon? Surely it deserves a rest after four not so beautiful years.

Post Presidential Perks: After January 20 Trump will continue to feed off the public teat. As an ex-president he is entitled to a slew of taxpayer-paid benies. These include, according to Politico, “a roughly $200,000-a-year pension for life, about a million dollars a year for travel and office expenses, and so-called franking privileges, the ability to send mail postage-free.” 

He also is entitled to use “a special government-owned townhouse on Lafayette Square, across from the White House, reserved exclusively for former presidents visiting Washington.” 

Even Secret Service protection, a standard benefit, could fatten Trump’s coffers. “He’ll also inform the Secret Service what homes and offices he’ll want secured on an ongoing basis as a former president,” said Politico. “Unlike other former presidents, Trump could presumably direct much of the spending intended to protect him back to his own properties and own businesses, just as he’s done while in officecharging the Secret Service $17,000 a month for a cottage at his Bedminster golf course, $650 a night for his room at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and even $130,000-a-month for the military to run a command center out of Trump Tower in New York, a place he’s rarely visited at all as president. The Secret Service even paid $179,000 to rent golf carts and other vehicles” this summer at his New Jersey resort.”

The grifting never stops. But on balance, whatever he takes is well worth it in exchange for his being an ex-president.

Of course, if he is prosecuted, convicted and assigned to prison he would get government supplied accommodations again. However tantalizing that image might be in your mind, don’t count on that happening. 

Public Paintings: Portraits of presidents and first ladies arrayed in the White House are among the most visible and recognizable artifacts of our nation’s history.

Not being a student of history but rather being a practitioner of petty revenges, Trump refused to abide with the practice of unveiling the portraits of the prior occupants of the White House. Just another childish way to demean Barack and Michelle Obama. For good, make that bad, measure Trump also relocated George W. Bush’s portrait from a position of public prominence to a restricted area.

No doubt one of Biden’s first public presidential acts will be to invite the Obamas back to their home of eight years for the formal unveiling of their portraits which have received almost universal praise. It will be a grand homecoming.

Biden could be expected to display bipartisan decency by restoring the Bushes’ portraits to respectable locations.

I’m not so sure his magnanimity will extend to Trump and Melania when their portraits are ready.   

How much does Mitch McConnell love his wife? Enough to shield her from investigation that could land her in prison? Enough to play softball with Democrats and permit Biden to implement some of his agenda, including rollback of tax cuts for the wealthy and approval of another COVID stimulus plan?

In case you didn’t know, Elaine Chao is McConnell’s wife and secretary of transportation.

Her positions attracted probing eyes of federal investigators. They must have been close to hitting a mother lode of data because Trump removed the lead federal investigator back in May and replaced him with someone hubby Mitch found acceptable (

Will Biden have the cohones to push the current Senate majority leader not to thwart his legislative agenda in return for not turning up the heat on the Elaine Chao probe?

Don’t be naive. Deals like this happen all the time. The only question is, will Biden play hardball so McConnell plays softball?

The Doc Needs a Vacation: There is trepidation Trump will fire Dr. Anthony Fauci. In an ironic way, perhaps that would be the best thing Trump could do for the country.

Before you think I’ve gone bonkers, keep in mind that president-elect Biden has said he would rehire Fauci. So the renowned infectious disease specialist’s time on the sidelines would be short. Let’s look at a Trump dismissal as what it would be—a well-deserved vacation after almost a full tension-filled year without pause.

Hunting Hunter: Let’s be honest. No matter how ecumenical Biden is in hoping to bridge the political divide, you can make better than even money if you bet Trumpian senators will vigorously investigate Hunter Biden and, by extension, his father, à la their continuous probes of Hillary Clinton and as payback for the House impeachment of Trump.

Counting Down Days: For eight months I have labeled each blog entry with the number of days we have collectively lived in a state of national emergency declared by Trump on March 12 to combat the coronavirus pandemic. What has he accomplished? Nothing. Instead, without a uniform national response, more than 10 million Americans have contracted COVID-19. More than 243,000 have died.

With Biden’s election I think it appropriate to start a different count. A countdown to his inauguration. Now, what should I call it?  “X Days to ... A Fresh Start? A New Beginning? A Time of Hope? A Return to Normalcy? An End to the Nightmare?”

If you have a favorite, or a suggestion of your own, let me know. Though today’s blog is still monikered as Day 244 of the National Emergency it also is Day 73 of the Countdown to January 20.