Kathleen Parker – Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Wed, 22 Nov 2017 23:47:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Kathleen Parker: Groping a serious offense but context, circumstance important to consider http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/groping-a-serious-offense-but-context-circumstance-important-to-consider/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/groping-a-serious-offense-but-context-circumstance-important-to-consider/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1290625 It seems more than coincidence that the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency coincides with a trend that was heretofore unrecognized – groping.

Gropers abound, it seems. From Harvey Weinstein to Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore to Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken – and dozens in between – it would seem women are swimming in groper-infested waters.

One can hardly turn on the news without landing on a panel discussion of groping and punishment.

How long before groper-fatigue sets in? The challenge for everyone, but especially the media, is to not overwhelm ourselves with trivial pursuits and blind leads.

Groping is wrong and bad and awful, but it doesn’t rise to the level of rape as we commonly understand it.

And while a forced kiss is disgusting (and you want to brush your teeth forever), it wouldn’t seem to be a life-altering event. If it is, we’re talking about more than groping.

I’m not excusing anyone’s behavior. I find the whole bunch of accused men, including the president of the United States, revolting and pathetic. May every groper find a larger man’s hand down his britches and see how he likes it. Crude – my apologies. But this is what it’s come to.

While the debate about these offenses is, one hopes, constructive, there’s a tendency to put all these monkeys in the same barrel.

There are notable differences of degree among them and we should always give consideration to context and other possible extenuating circumstances lest we become blind to fairness and enamored of “justice,” with or without due process.

Do I believe every accuser who has come forward? I’m inclined to. In fact, without good reason otherwise, I’m inclined to first believe the woman in any case.

This isn’t because I happen to be a woman but because men historically have been unfairly believed over women. Assuming no relevant pathologies, why not believe the woman?

In Moore’s case, of course, there is credibility in numbers. Several women unknown to each other reported similar experiences. But are these alleged offenses from so long ago sufficient to end his Senate campaign and his political career?

The fact that Moore totes the “Ten Commandments” around like an ash sack of piety makes the allegations all the more repulsive – America hates the hypocrite more than the criminal – and makes people more inclined to send him packing.

But is it really fair to judge him based on unprovable recollections by women who were teens at the time? Is it not possible that Moore has repented or that, as he claims, these things never happened? Might four decades have changed him? Or don’t we care? We have to ask.

Franken is helped only insofar as he wasn’t yet a Minnesota senator when his guerrilla groping took place.

The fact that he expressed remorse and didn’t deny his acts is hardly courageous given that we’ve all seen a photograph of him as he’s about to grab a woman’s breasts while she was sleeping.

He and the woman, Leeann Tweeden, whom he reduced to an inhuman object for his audience’s amusement, were on a USO tour at the time.

In the picture, Franken, erstwhile comedian and, apparently, lifelong buffoon, is looking over his shoulder at the camera grinning like a baboon. It was a stupid, thoughtless and demeaning performance. Context for Franken may simply have been his outdated sense of humor. What’s funny for one generation isn’t remotely humorous to the next.

How does one punish a Franken? Democrats may be willing to sacrifice him since Minnesota’s Democratic governor would appoint another Democrat to replace him.

If so, they gain the high road over Republicans, who are stuck not only with Moore but with the leader of their party.

Trump, whom more than a dozen women have accused, is the gorilla in the ointment.

We know that he’s an admitted forced-kisser and a groper, thanks to the “Access Hollywood” tape. It’s easy to think he’s guilty as charged based on his generally dismissive behavior toward women and his alarming impulsivity.

What will happen to Trump is probably nothing. He, like Moore, stands only accused. We may not be at a point where recompense is possible for past aggressions, but there can be little doubt that groping, the trend that suddenly defined 2017, is on its way out.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/21/groping-a-serious-offense-but-context-circumstance-important-to-consider/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/11/1290440_Sexual_Harassment_Al_Franke.jpgMinnesota Sen. Al Franken faces a second accusation of inappropriately touching a woman, this one from a photograph at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.Mon, 20 Nov 2017 20:09:35 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Blame Bill Clinton’s 1990s misbehavior for today’s uproar over sexual harassment http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/07/blame-bill-clinton-for-these-recent-sexual-harassment-allegations/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/07/blame-bill-clinton-for-these-recent-sexual-harassment-allegations/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1283553 Twenty-five years ago on Nov. 3, 1992, William Jefferson Clinton was elected president of the United States – and Hillary Clinton is still trying to take his place.

As historians and pundits recall his third-way presidency, another slice of his legacy can’t be ignored – the trickle-down effect of his womanizing, his DNA-proved extramarital involvement with Monica Lewinsky in the nation’s most important workplace and the couple’s treatment of women overall, from “bimbo eruptions” to Paula Jones to Juanita Broaddrick.

The behavior of adults at the top of the food chain seeps into the culture and can’t be extracted from events of the future. Today’s eruptions of sexual harassment claims can be explained as a volcanic reaction to simmering rage among women, who as a group have been sexualized, victimized and silenced for too long. We have reached not so much a tipping point as a boiling point.

What goes up comes down, all right. But what goes underground – forced to steep in darkness and silence – comes back up with a vengeance.

A quarter-century is a long time to stew, and that’s about the span between Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991 against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas for sexual comments he allegedly made at work – the first widely publicized case – and the recent deluge prompted by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson’s takedown of network founder Roger Ailes.

This in-between period also corresponded more or less to the lifespan of the Clinton political machine, once essential to a Democrat’s successful run for office, now knocking and hissing as Hillary winds up her revenge book tour. It is also, roughly, the span of a human generation. The last of the baby boomers, who squired sexual amorality to the White House and secular relativism to most other institutions, are moving toward retirement and taking their boys-will-be-boys attitude with them.

President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton are shown in 1994, the year former Arkansas state employee alleged in a lawsuit that Bill Clinton groped her three years earlier. Associated Press File Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Bill Clinton wasn’t the first president to misbehave in the White House, as we are frequently reminded. But he was part of the first “two-fer” presidency, as he put it, with a first lady who championed women’s rights. Presumably, these rights would have included not being objectified or treated as human litter. And Clinton was the first, as far as we know, to have a sexual relationship with an intern.

It doesn’t matter if Lewinsky, then 21, pursued the president and “knew” what she was doing. Obviously, given the long-term effects of this episode on her life, she didn’t. In any case, it was Clinton’s job as her superior not to abuse his power by taking advantage of her.

He knew the rules. He didn’t care. Or he couldn’t control himself. Which is worse is hard to say. Meanwhile, Hillary’s dogged pursuit of women claiming to have been targets of her husband’s unleashed libido and her ultimate metamorphosis into Tammy Wynette cumulatively displayed a contempt for women rather than for her husband.

It is little wonder, then, that other men of the era didn’t feel compelled to curtail their proclivities, or that women felt their power to fight back minimized by the first lady.

Fast-forward to the present and each day seems to produce the name of another man accused of sexual harassment. Though they are being lumped together in round-up stories, it would be unfair to put them all in the same cell. There’s a world of difference between what movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is alleged to have done and, say, what another recently named Mother Jones writer is alleged to have done. Apparently, among other offenses of minor note, he gave gratuitous shoulder rubs.

With all due sympathy to victims of abusive behavior, I confess to a certain reticence as #MeToo momentum continues to grow. This isn’t because I know a few of the alleged harassers, who are disgusting if the accusations are true, but because we are becoming too comfortable with condemnation without due process. Life is unfair – and women inarguably have been on the receiving end of unfairness for long enough. But life shouldn’t be a zero-sum game, and men, even those one dislikes, deserve a fair hearing before their life and livelihood are taken away. Karma will take care of the rest.

Had the Clintons played their cards differently, our country might have become less coarse, and our infantile impulsiveness less pronounced. It might not have taken 25 years for women to find their voices. More men might have treated their female colleagues with greater respect. Who knows? Hillary Clinton might have become president. And Donald Trump, whose disrespect toward women is epic, might not have.

Karma, baby: It’s Bubba’s fault.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/07/blame-bill-clinton-for-these-recent-sexual-harassment-allegations/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/09/Bill.Hillary.1994.jpgPresident Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton wait to address a group of young Democratic supporters known as the Saxophone Club in Washington, June 22, 1994. The group cheered, whistled and stomped as a wound-up president delivered his stump speech and verbally thrashed Republicans who try to block health care reform legislation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Mon, 06 Nov 2017 21:27:58 +0000
Kathleen Parker: In his ‘Dear Donald’ speech, Bush says what needed to be said http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/24/kathleen-parker-in-his-dear-donald-speech-bush-says-what-needed-to-be-said/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/24/kathleen-parker-in-his-dear-donald-speech-bush-says-what-needed-to-be-said/#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1275632 George W. Bush’s speech last week at a forum hosted by his eponymous institute might as well have been titled “Dear Donald.” The 43rd president all but called out the current president by name as he lamented the tone and character of today’s political rhetoric.

“Bigotry seems emboldened,” Bush said. “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”

Indeed. Trump likes to label these theories and fabrications “fake news,” but “fake news” is Trump’s own invention – and his greatest fabrication to date. Now the rallying cry for millions of Trump supporters, “fake news” is a deflection, a decoy floated on the human sea of credulity to distract people from coverage he finds unflattering. The truth is, what Trump says and does is so often unflattering without embellishment that adjectives and adverbs needn’t apply.

One need look no further than last Tuesday when, trying to comfort the widow of a slain soldier, Trump reportedly couldn’t bother to use the deceased’s name and reminded the grieving woman that her husband had known what he was signing up for, but “it hurts anyway.” You could say that. Or not.

By contrast, Bush’s suffering on behalf of the injured and killed whom he sent into harm’s way as president is apparent in his visage, in the portraits of wounded soldiers he has painted, and in his ongoing work with troops and military families. Such actions don’t alter the pain of a deadly mistake, but they at least indicate a profound empathy that is utterly lacking in the current president.

No stranger to media criticism – crushing criticism – Bush never attacked the fourth estate. He also obviously recognizes that worse than a reporter’s or editor’s error is the undermining of public faith in a free press. Once the government succeeds in eliminating a country’s watchdogs, the government becomes the only source of information. Most people know, or should know, how that ends.

Trump’s “fake news” charge is very much in the vein of propaganda. He has created a false narrative to clear obstacles – such as questioning reporters or the hindrance of accountability. Russians are also very good at this. Recent revelations about fake Twitter accounts tied to Russia through which genuinely fake news was posted and distributed to influence the 2016 election remind us of how vulnerable we are to REAL fake news. Unfortunately, Trump has helped blur the line between propaganda and what is otherwise known simply as news.

That members of Trump’s campaign and family retweeted some of these real-fake news items demonstrates how difficult it can be to recognize what’s real and what’s not. This may be the greatest challenge of our times. Disinformation combined with generalized antipathy toward the traditional press may be the toxic combination that poisons unity and condemns democratic principles to the hazardous-waste dump. One cannot overemphasize the importance of these developments or of the president’s contributions to the undermining of institutions created by our Constitution to monitor government power.

Recall that a president’s primary duty, in addition to defending the country, is to protect the Constitution. Yet, in just nine months in office, Trump has done more to challenge the integrity of the First Amendment than any other president in history, including expressing interest in making it easier to sue journalists for libel.

He would never actually push such a measure because Trump is smart and knows he’d get nowhere. But he also knows that many among his base don’t know this. No matter. He’s rallied the base with rhetoric and reinforced the infrastructure of his greatest deception. Talk about fake news.

In other remarks clearly aimed at Trump, Bush addressed bullying and prejudice in public life that “sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.” And: “We can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the Industrial Revolution.”

One needn’t be a sleuth to infer that Bush was speaking to the man oft-referred to as our bully-in-chief, as well as to Trump-the-salesman, who convinced working-class Americans that he would bring back all those jobs lost to globalization.

As Bush suggested, globalization is the new age and the old one isn’t coming back.

A Republican president needed to say these things – and his name wasn’t Trump.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/24/kathleen-parker-in-his-dear-donald-speech-bush-says-what-needed-to-be-said/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/10/1273818_Bush_Center_Forum_83052.jpg.jpgFormer President George W. Bush speaks Thursday at a forum sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute in New York. He said, "The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them."Mon, 23 Oct 2017 20:47:23 +0000
Kathleen Parker: If now is not the time to talk about gun control, then when? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/10/kathleen-parker-if-now-is-not-the-time-to-talk-about-gun-control-then-when/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/10/kathleen-parker-if-now-is-not-the-time-to-talk-about-gun-control-then-when/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1268487 When President Trump said a few days ago that now isn’t the time for a debate about gun control, presumably he meant that we should respect a decent interval of time for mourning after the Las Vegas shooting before launching into a political discussion that historically has led nowhere.

If that’s how he felt, it would have been easy enough (and sane) to say. But he didn’t.

More likely, Trump doesn’t want any distraction from (a) his brilliant PR idea to toss paper-towel rolls to thirsty, hurricane-sogged Puerto Ricans (cake to follow); (b) his photo op Thursday evening with leaders of the armed forces and their spouses during which he teased the “fake news” media he had summoned that the dinner gathering with military brass could be “the calm before the storm.”

“What storm, Mr. President?” an intrepid reporter queried.

“You’ll find out.”

Whoa. Mr. Mystery Man has our attention now. Oh, so clever. Are we going to war? Will it be with the Islamic State? North Korea? Iran?

Just you wait, fake newsies, just you wait.

Or perhaps he wants to keep the spotlight on (c) his request that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate the media, without which his military charade would have merely been the world’s widest-angle selfie.

No, actually, his absurd (unconstitutional) request was, likely, a smokescreen itself, as was the paper-towel toss, one hopes (surely no one’s mind is that inert), and the photo op. Trump has mastered the Art of Distraction, lately to keep our eyes off the firefight within the White House and the ever-obvious fact this administration is staring at an eclipse without glasses and this president couldn’t lead a starving dog to a tenderloin buffet.

The revolving door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is like Saks’ at Christmastime. Latest to the lineup is Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Others have included FBI Director James Comey, chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus, press secretary Sean Spicer and national security adviser Mike Flynn, to name a few.

Next up, most likely, is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, not only because the president routinely undermines and contradicts the nation’s top diplomat but also because Tillerson clearly holds Trump in contempt. Most important, Tillerson recently told the truth.

Trump reportedly was furious upon returning from his “diplomatic coup” in Puerto Rico, which he seemed to have thought was a Spanish colony, only to see the face of his secretary of state on all his favorite TV channels.

According to NBC News, Tillerson had said the president is a “moron,” which caused most sentient humans to shrug and roll their eyes as if to say, “No, really?” But this slight likely bothered Trump less than the fact that Tillerson’s face, and not his, was on all the cable shows.

Trump’s fan base, of course, was unfazed by Tillerson’s reported insult, knowing that this term could not possibly apply to a president who recently had scolded Puerto Ricans for messing up the U.S. budget and implied that they were a shiftless lot who “want everything to be done for them.” No siree. That person would be a genius.

As Americans gnaw their nails wondering which war this way comes – or when Tillerson will be replaced – Trump is focused on decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran, continuing to taunt North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and trying to convince the rest of the world that he’s got everything under control.

Thus, the very last thing Trump needs right now is a political shootout over guns.

Now’s not the time, he says. Apparently, however, many if not most Americans – about 90 percent of whom would support expanding background checks – beg to differ. If not now, when?

The pessimist notes that if the murder of 20 6- and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School resulted in no sensible restrictions to gun ownership, then the slaughter of 58 country music fans isn’t likely to, either.

But wait, we have a headline: Even the National Rifle Association has called for regulating (not banning or confiscating) “bump stocks” – the attachment used by the Las Vegas gunman to essentially convert a semi-automatic into an automatic weapon, the better to kill the most. And Republicans are expressing a willingness to consider restrictions.

You’d think by the reactions – this is really, really huge, according to editorialists – that the NRA decided to support banning from private ownership all semi-automatic weapons, which were created solely for the purpose of killing human beings.

But, no. Like Coco Chanel, who always removed one bauble before leaving home, the NRA is offering to eliminate one accessory from a warehouse of gaudy, bloodletting fashions.

Talk about distractions. Or was this the artifice of a deal?

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/10/kathleen-parker-if-now-is-not-the-time-to-talk-about-gun-control-then-when/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/10/AP17275249403200.jpgA wounded person is walked in on a wheelbarrow as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)Mon, 09 Oct 2017 20:16:57 +0000
Kathleen Parker: ‘Family values’ party seemed to loosen up – then Alabama resurrected Roy Moore http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/03/kathleen-parker-family-values-party-seemed-to-loosen-up-then-alabama-resurrected-roy-moore/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/03/kathleen-parker-family-values-party-seemed-to-loosen-up-then-alabama-resurrected-roy-moore/#respond Tue, 03 Oct 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1264556 The political resurrection of Alabama’s Roy Moore – the Moses of the South – and the mortal end of Hugh Hefner are not entirely unrelated.

It’s not a straight line, mind you. But if Hefner’s recent death the day after Moore won Alabama’s Senate Republican primary runoff reminded us of how much American culture has changed in a couple of generations, then Moore represents the antithesis of those alterations and a mechanism for reversing them.

Hefner, who validated the objectification of women by embedding their sexualized bodies between the more-respectable pages of first-rate writing, embraced and championed libertinism and materialism. “Bad boy” behavior – philandering, licentiousness and exploitation – was re-imagined and sold as “freedom,” a philosophy as distant from the Testaments as Moore is from the zeitgeist.

That Hefner was rarely seen except in pajamas surrounded by Playmates dressed like inflated bunny rabbits was kitschy and self-parodying, if you were more inclined toward Roger Moore than Roy Moore. To the fan base of the latter, whom most will remember as the judge who fought the ACLU to keep a Ten Commandments plaque and pre-session prayer in his courtroom, Hefner might as well have been an agent of Satan. Perpetually stalled in adolescence, he was an early advocate of what Moore saw as the socially debased trends that led to the unraveling of the American family.

Never coy about his moral positions, Moore liked to keep The Ten Commandments posted in his courtroom so guests would understand that the tablets were the basis for our legal system. Among his more controversial and unwavering beliefs is that homosexuality isn’t only a sin, but also a crime.

Adding piquancy to Moore’s history, the case before his Alabama circuit court that attracted the ACLU’s attention involved two gay strippers, “Silk” and “Satin,” who were accused of murdering a drug addict. Moore, who had been appointed to the court, won election to a full term in 1994 by defeating none other than the prosecutor in the stripper/murder case. And in his successful campaign for the state Supreme Court in 2000, Moore argued that Christianity’s decline in influence “corresponded directly with school violence, homosexuality and crime.”

His tune hasn’t changed a note. Though Moore has never singled out Hefner for criticisms (that I know of), Playboy’s cultural influence surely ran counter to the values Moore hoped then – and his constituents hope now – to restore. Indeed, Hefner was long a supporter of the LGBT community.

Meanwhile, one notes that the current president of the United States may be Hefner’s most sterling achievement. Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with material excess and women worthy of male admiration, is both protege and prototype, the essential playboy who has acquired wealth and glamour – and boasts that he can do whatever he wants to women.

Last week, it was Trump – and, by association, Hefner – whom Moore ultimately defeated.

The runoff’s outcome may suggest that Trump’s political capital is in decline, but more important, it proves that the Republican base is still wedded to the biblical philosophy expounded by Moore. If many have doubted Trump’s Republican bona fides, there can have been little confusion over his professed Christian faith. “Donald Trump lives his life as Christ did,” no one ever said.

For the president, religion is a convenience – until it’s not. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, though no saint, is a Catholic who respects church doctrine, by his own admission, and is a street fighter for the hard-right. In Alabama, he, too, defeated Trump.

Although incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, whom Trump enthusiastically endorsed, wasn’t so far removed from Moore in his positions – including opposition to same-sex marriage – he was viewed, nonetheless, as part of the Republican establishment. His close association with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was no recommendation in the Bannon-Breitbart universe.

Alabama isn’t usually considered a bellwether state, and certainly can’t be viewed as a petri dish for political prognostication beyond the Mason-Dixon. But the standoff between Bannon and Trump via Moore and Strange may foretell the future of the Republican Party, which can’t survive without its Southern Christian base.

Ironically, Hefner, who put Trump on his magazine’s cover in 1990, penned an essay when the thrice-married reality TV star secured the Republican presidential nomination, defeating Ted Cruz, a pastor’s son. To Hefner, this victory signified “massive changes in the ‘family values party’ ” and was “proof of … a sexual revolution in the Republican Party.”

Not so fast, Mr. Hefner, not so fast.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/10/03/kathleen-parker-family-values-party-seemed-to-loosen-up-then-alabama-resurrected-roy-moore/feed/ 0 Mon, 02 Oct 2017 20:22:54 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Where in the world is Dail Boxley Dinwiddie, missing for 25 years? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/26/kathleen-parker-where-in-the-world-is-dail-boxley-dinwiddie-missing-for-25-years/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/26/kathleen-parker-where-in-the-world-is-dail-boxley-dinwiddie-missing-for-25-years/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1260836 Twenty-five years ago on Sept. 24, 1992, Dail Boxley Dinwiddie vanished.

Phffft. Just like that.

She was 23, a darling girl, anyone would say. Because even though she was, by age, a young woman, she was just 5 feet tall and weighed only about 100 pounds. She was a waif, an imp, a sweet spirit and an artist, who had come home after finishing college at Randolph-Macon to live with her parents, pursue graduate studies at the University of South Carolina – and, it turned out, to be my youngest son’s full-time babysitter.

Invariably, when I’d come home from work, I’d hear the tinkling sound of her laughter down the hall where she and John, then 8, were playing. The last time I saw her, she had brought John a miniature aquarium filled with sea monkeys.

The call from her mother, Jean Dinwiddie, came early in the morning. Dail hadn’t come home from a U2 concert the night before. Jean wanted to make sure I was at the bus stop where Dail met my son every day after school.

It took but a second for my eyes to begin burning. I knew in that instant that something terrible had happened because, above all, Dail was responsible and would never leave her little charge unattended. What we eventually learned was that after the concert, Dail and a group of friends had gone to the Five Points area of town where university students traditionally have kept the midnight oil burning. Dail was last seen about 1:30 a.m. by a bouncer at a now-defunct bar called Jungle Jim’s, when she left to go search for her friends.

Shortly after Jean’s call, I went to my office, which was located in a public relations firm run by Charles “Bud” Ferillo, a former Democratic officeholder and now the head of USC’s race and reconciliation program. I told Ferillo what had happened, whereupon he offered up his office, his phones and his staff. By afternoon, 20 or so high school and college volunteers had filled the hallways. Within hours, we had tacked up “Missing” posters all over town.

By week’s end, we had a building donated by a local law firm to use as a command center, Dail’s parents on “Good Morning America,” and posters in every state, thanks to a veteran Red Cross volunteer who strode into our new digs one morning carrying a bulging briefcase. Skipping formalities, he solemnly stated: “I need a desk, a map, and a telephone.”


Finally, someone who knew what he was doing. The rest of us were simultaneously paralyzed by shock and racing on adrenaline – working long hours, re-enacting the night Dail disappeared with her same group of friends, following each step while police investigators kept a close eye out for possible clues.

Our mission soon became a nonprofit organization called the Dail Dinwiddie Safe Streets Foundation, which was aimed at helping find any and all missing adults, as well as educating young people about personal safety.

Our board, of which I was president, included the executive director of South Carolina’s Adam Walsh Center, Margaret Frierson, our aforementioned Red Cross Guy, and other local leaders interested in helping find Dail but also in addressing a broader problem, which was that missing adults are typically on their own for 24 hours before police get involved. By then, the trail becomes cold and the missing person is less likely to be found.

Thus, we became sort of an on-call adjunct to the police department when an adult went missing, filling the 24-hour void with a public relations campaign, broadcasting the missing person’s name and face, and acting as intermediary between family and law enforcement.

Over the years, momentum waned. Volunteers graduated and migrated. Some, including our Red Cross guru, have died. A drawer in my office still contains Dail’s posters, bumper stickers and a few personal alarms we distributed to college students as part of a campus awareness project. In my brief experience as a quasi-detective, most of the missing turned up either dead or in jail.

As for Dail, who knows?


Each time a wannabe perp comes forward to “confess,” hope dims a little. Each time somebody long missing is discovered, hope is rekindled. Someone out there can solve this mystery if he or she chooses. Someone has the power to release Dan and Jean Dinwiddie from a horrific nightmare that has consumed them for 25 years.

This is their fervent hope on this quarter-century mark. Please.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/26/kathleen-parker-where-in-the-world-is-dail-boxley-dinwiddie-missing-for-25-years/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/AP_840037824734.jpgJean Dinwiddie, right, talks to WIS-TV reporter Jack Kuenzie, left, about a new photo of what her daughter Dale Dinwiddie might look like today, on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 in Columbia, S.C. Police released a photo Monday of what Dale Dinwiddie might look like today. Dail Dinwiddie was last seen at a Columbia bar after watching a U2 concert in September 1993. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)Mon, 25 Sep 2017 20:30:04 +0000
Kathleen Parker: How the Democrats won the presidency, after all http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/19/kathleen-parker-how-the-democrats-won-the-presidency-after-all/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/19/kathleen-parker-how-the-democrats-won-the-presidency-after-all/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1257293 Rarely, if ever, have so many presidential winners and losers been so incessantly chatty.

Hillary Clinton – who lost the 2016 election, in case you weren’t sure – is on a book tour with her campaign memoir, “What Happened.” (Hint: She’s a woman, the Comey letter.)

Donald Trump – who is still campaigning despite having won – is chatting up Democrats to try to get something done. Anything! By week’s end, he was recanting every mean thing he’d ever said about illegal immigrants and was softening his vow to send “dreamers” (children brought here by their parents) back to their point of conception.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, who already had his turn but can’t quite quit, is still talking.

Finally, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost the Democratic nomination to Clinton, is still running and still ranting about Medicare for everyone. Given the likely eventuality of a single-payer health care system, he and Larry David may as well take a victory lap. It’s beginning to seem that Sanders won, after all. As did the Democrats.

On the losing side are the Republicans, who put their faith in a guy who promised the moon but has managed only to deliver a galaxy of tweets and several significant staff replacements. Trump the Republican was always a strain to credulity, but people can make themselves believe just about anything, as thousands of years of ritual sacrifice and snake dances confirm. Trump the salesman has always known this, either instinctively or as the result of his first successful con.

There are two things to know about con artists: One, they’re having fun; two, once a bluffer tastes the sweet satisfaction of scamming a sucker, he can’t stop.

Trump was never ideologically driven, though he did surround himself with ideologues as helpmates. Or were they the biggest suckers of all?

This thought finally began to take shape when Trump recently met with the enemy – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Depending on whose version one prefers, they discussed making a deal on both the future of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants and what Trump called “extreme security.”

Almost instantly, Breitbart slapped Trump with a nickname: “Amnesty Don.” How quickly Steve Bannon shape-shifted from former senior White House policy adviser and Trump’s personal Pravda to his antagonist. Other Republicans, presumably speaking for the base, declared Trump’s presidency kaput.

Then again, maybe Trump decided it was time to get something done. Maybe deep within, he has a heart. Or, more likely, he saw polls saying that most Americans think children brought here not of their own accord should be allowed to stay where they grew up.

Maybe he gets his wall in the process, maybe not. But what seems increasingly clear is that, while Clinton tries to purge her demons by explaining how she lost, Trump is busy fashioning a perfect world for Democrats to prevail. Which is to say, he may get more accomplished for the Democratic Party than Clinton could have with a Republican-dominated Congress.

Consider: Immigration reform is beginning to look a lot less draconian and a lot more Pope-ish. Bannon, a Catholic, notably remarked during a recent “60 Minutes” interview that the church has been “terrible” on immigration, encouraging forgiveness rather than wall-building, because, he said, it needs illegal immigrants to fill the pews. Such a charmer, that one.

Also, the wall is not, in fact, getting built, though repairs are being made to existing wall-like structures. Ditto health care, which, instead of being repealed and replaced, likely will be an Obamacare fix, followed by a single-payer system that Democrats wanted all along and that Trump supported before he became a “Republican.”

Thus, it would seem that Democrats really won the election and that President Trump, despite his faux-angry campaign promises, is a pretty good Democrat, after all. Congratulations, Mr. President, on your best performance yet. Congratulations are also owed to former President Obama, whose chief legacy survives. Congratulations, Sen. Sanders: Your day is nigh.

Finally, congratulations, Madame Secretary: Everybody knows you won, as well as why you lost. You get the last word, a great haircut, and you didn’t have to take the worst job in the world. Not a bad day’s work.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/09/19/kathleen-parker-how-the-democrats-won-the-presidency-after-all/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/1253796_Hillary_Clinton_Book_12370..jpgFormer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she's not finished with politics, but won't run for president in 2020.Mon, 18 Sep 2017 20:19:39 +0000
Kathleen Parker: High-wire verbal duel ushers in hot dog days of summer politics http://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/08/kathleen-parker-high-wire-verbal-duel-ushers-in-hot-dog-days-of-summer-politics/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/08/kathleen-parker-high-wire-verbal-duel-ushers-in-hot-dog-days-of-summer-politics/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1237116 What better way to usher in the hissingly hot dog days of summer, otherwise known as August, than with a high-wire verbal duel between CNN senior White House correspondent (and well-known cosmopolitan) Jim Acosta and White House sniper (and senior adviser) Stephen Miller.

The sniping began during a news conference last Wednesday, the same day President Trump endorsed Senate Republicans’ plan to reform legal immigration from family-based to skill-based standards.

Reactions were swift, predictable and hysterical:

“Oh my God, who’s going to harvest the crops? This is so un-American! Trump is a bigot!”

More or less.

Acosta contributed to the latter lament by citing what he called Trump’s three issues: Muslims, Mexicans and media, all of which the president presumably dislikes – except when he’s in Saudi Arabia, Mexico or appearing on Fox “News.”

Passions intensified when Acosta further suggested that Trump only wants immigrants from English-speaking regions, prompting Miller to accuse him of having a “cosmopolitan bias,” which seems like something one would like to have – or drink. “Cosmopolitan” means “worldly,” after all, and what’s wrong with that? Perhaps some interpret worldliness as globalist or elitist, but then Miller, a Duke University graduate from California, probably isn’t carving duck calls in his spare time.

As for Acosta, what could explain his apparent extrapolation that prioritizing English proficiency is tantamount to restricting immigration to certain races or ethnicities? Or that reforming immigration to emphasize skilled workers would exclude people from countries where English is not the first language? One may infer that Trump is a bigot in certain instances, but not necessarily in this one. Are there no other reasons besides bigotry to prefer skilled to unskilled workers?

Acosta’s accosting of Miller is why so many Americans see the media as biased. Let’s be honest: If Donald Trump discovered a cure for narcissism, no one would object if he used it first on himself, but most in the media would insist that the cure was simply further evidence that Trump is a narcissist.

To Acosta, the president’s bias in favor of English-speaking people is obvious and runs counter to the nation’s purpose as described in the poem on the Statue of Liberty welcoming the world’s tired, poor and huddled masses. Acosta, his inner soliloquist liberated at last, engaged in a recitation, whereupon Miller gleefully retorted that said poem, written in 1883 by one Emma Lazarus, was tacked onto the statue years after it was erected.

In 2017, we can’t welcome skilled workers, too?

Today’s wretched excess, if you will, is the direct consequence of the well-intentioned Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which gave preference to extended family members of people already here. Long lines ensued and increased quotas followed, as did the flow of immigrants too impatient for the legal process. Legal immigration has increased from 296,697 annually in 1965 to more than 1 million today. Of those, 39 percent are from Asia. About one-third emigrate from Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Before the law, 70 percent of legal immigrants were from Europe and Canada, compared with just 10 percent today.

Perhaps these figures account for Acosta’s sense that Republicans want to keep Americans hablando ingles. But might there also be other reasons to prefer skilled workers, who would find jobs waiting to be filled, pay taxes and contribute to the rising tide that lifts all boats?

If such preferences are tantamount to bigotry, then others have been equally guilty, including Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, as well as civil rights leader Barbara Jordan, who in 1972 became the first African-American woman from the South to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. As head of an immigration special task force, Jordan worried that opening the floodgates to unskilled workers would rob American citizens of jobs and strain social services. She, too, suggested focusing more on skilled immigrants.

Kennedy, who in 1965 downplayed such concerns and supported the immigration bill, later changed his mind and in 2007 joined Sen. John McCain in a push for skills-based reforms. But then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton opposed the idea because, hold your air horns, they couldn’t bear the idea that families (aka future Democratic voters) might be torn asunder.

Oh, the ironies. The Republican Party has finally defined exactly which families they value, while Democrats have clarified their need for the needy. It would seem we have a draw. Yet somewhere in all the squabbling is space for the “brain power” Jordan urged Americans to call upon for a rational conversation about immigration reform that best serves the national interest.

Meanwhile, thanks for the show, and enjoy ye dog days while ye may.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/08/08/kathleen-parker-high-wire-verbal-duel-ushers-in-hot-dog-days-of-summer-politics/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/02/1154857_Day_Without_Immigrants_Ca2.jpgDelilah Gutierrez, 10, left, holds a sign during a protest against President Donald Trump's efforts to crack down on immigration on Thursday in San Francisco.Mon, 07 Aug 2017 20:10:21 +0000
Kathleen Parker: When a meticulous and kind editor retires, the columnists get the last word http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/25/kathleen-parker-when-a-meticulous-and-kind-editor-retires-the-columnists-get-the-last-word/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/25/kathleen-parker-when-a-meticulous-and-kind-editor-retires-the-columnists-get-the-last-word/#respond Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1230615 Behind every great column is a great editor – a truism never more so than when Alan Shearer puts highlighter (not red pen) to copy.

Shearer, who’s run The Washington Post’s syndication operation for 26 years, has managed to ignore the wailing, weeping and lamentations of his devoted cadre of columnists and cartoonists, and retires this week.

To the dustbin of history goes not Alan, because his well-spelled words, his hyphenated adjectives and hyperbole-resistant attention to perfecting prose will persist through thousands upon thousands of published columns bearing someone else’s name.

It is time you knew his.

Shearer is editor to a stable of 20 writers, many of whom are destination columnists, including George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Fareed Zakaria, Eugene Robinson, Ruth Marcus and Dana Milbank, as well as this humble correspondent. At a farewell party Thursday, writers took turns praising Alan, who stood stoically to the rear betraying nothing and tolerating what he termed an excess of hyperbole.

That’s Alan: reserved, modest, generous, tough and thoughtful. It would never occur to him to take credit or even allow mention of his role in a writer’s success, though he deserves a great deal of it. That so many have received Pulitzer Prizes under his watch is no coincidence.

Based on last week’s testimonials, it’s safe to say that we don’t only admire Alan; we love him. Some even said so. He isn’t only a great editor but also a great leader with an eye for quality. He’ll leave behind another great editor, whom we also love, Richard Aldacushion, as well as editorial production manager Sophie Yarborough and operations manager Karen Greene, who keeps the ship afloat.

We have all been hand-picked by Alan. (I pause here to wonder whether “hand-picked” is hyphenated, knowing that Alan’s team will put it right. His epitaph, he once told me, would read: “The un-hyphenated life isn’t worth living.”)

Part of our affection for Alan stems from his dedication to our craft – for making us the best we can be – but also for his generosity in being invisible. The hand of a good editor should never be seen. When you, gentle reader, peruse the op-ed page and read a Kathleen Parker column, you will not know that someone else may have suggested a better word, or found that a fact was either lacking or incorrect (and corrected), or reminded me for the 100th time that there is no comma preceding “but” when the introductory clause begins “not only,” or that I keep writing “Medicare” when I mean “Medicaid,” dadgummit.

But never is a comma changed without the writer’s approval. This, too, is a credit to Alan, whose respect for and deference to writers are never in question. Edits at The Writers Group syndicate are always offered as suggestions for the writer’s final say. Most times, too, Alan will write a note of appreciation before the bloodletting begins with a “nice job” or “good stuff here.” On those rare occasions when he jots “Brilliant” or “Fantastic,” my feet don’t touch the ground until the next day.

You see, there’s nothing quite like knowing you’ve written something not bad at all. It is a joy that should be shared by at least two people, beginning with Alan, if only one of us gets the public credit. Such is the ultimate gift of the editor to the writer, for which we finally thanked him.

George Will began his comments by spelling a word – m-i-n-u-s-c-u-l-e.

“There,” he said, “I’ve finally mastered it.”

Apparently, even the longest-writing columnist among us is imperfect. I can’t account for how happy this makes me. Marcus said she was surprised to learn that Alan all along had been editing so many other writers as well as her. Like the rest of us, she had thought she was the only one. This is because Alan makes each writer feel that he or she is the most important, the most gifted, the most adored.

In addition to being the finest editor any of us have ever worked with, Alan is a thoroughly decent human being and a consummate gentleman. He is also kind. When I suffered a concussion and had to stop writing for a while, he held my place and my hand. That reminded me of how rare he is in a media world that has become heartless and self-important.

So, for now, farewell, fine sir – and thank you for bringing me to the party.

Editor’s Note: Alan Shearer recused himself from editing this column.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/25/kathleen-parker-when-a-meticulous-and-kind-editor-retires-the-columnists-get-the-last-word/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Parker.jpgMon, 24 Jul 2017 19:37:45 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Did the American media hope that Trump would fail abroad? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/11/kathleen-parker-did-the-american-media-hope-that-trump-would-fail-abroad/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/11/kathleen-parker-did-the-american-media-hope-that-trump-would-fail-abroad/#respond Tue, 11 Jul 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1223949 Many American journalists and others correctly objected to President Trump’s lambasting of the U.S. media in his speech Thursday in Poland, noting that his words were damaging to our international status and democracies around the world.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted that Trump “dilutes respect for American democracy & gives license to autocrats to crack down on their own media.” Haass was also critical of Trump’s denigrating of the U.S. intelligence community.

Kathleen Parker

How dare the president diminish his country’s revered institutions (please, hold your laughter until the end) while abroad? Clearly, the man is a bitter, narcissistic autocrat, one would have been justified in thinking.

Then Friday, as the world turned toward the much-anticipated meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it seemed the media were, without much self-awareness, committing the same sins for which they’d blasted Trump – basically undermining the president on foreign soil.

There was no mistaking a negative trend among commentators as they imagined what might transpire between the two world leaders. If the media weren’t consciously trying to undercut the president’s authority while he was overseas, then unconsciously, they were doing a pretty good job.

No wonder Trump voters hate us. It would seem that even his harshest critics could have found ways to highlight his likely success than broadcast to the world the many reasons why he’d probably fail. Karma suggests at least this much. Moreover, it’s hard to claim the moral high ground when one is guilty of same. Besides, isn’t it written somewhere in The Human Handbook that you can pile on your brother in your own backyard, but not when he’s in someone else’s? Finally, love or hate him, Trump is still the only president we have. When he’s traveling abroad, as last week to the G-20 summit, his success and failures belong to us as well.

I don’t mean to suggest we scribes and pundits should have been a cheering squad, something Trump seemed to have taken with him to Warsaw. But it’s important to fairly consider why journalists are in such disfavor among a majority of Americans. Is Trump’s aggressiveness toward the media, to some extent, earned? He’s not the first president to dislike the Fourth Estate, but he may be the president most disliked by the media since Richard Nixon.

As it turned out, Trump’s meeting went well enough with our principal geopolitical adversary (hat tip: Mitt Romney). Trump did reportedly bring up the hacking of the U.S. election, and the two did discuss Syria.

Both topics were the source of much speculation beforehand: If Trump didn’t bring up the hacking, then Putin, who admires power, would feel the victor and Trump would be guilty of dereliction of duty. This, more or less, was the overarching consensus. Excepting only those who gather in the Fox News green rooms, Trump was predicted to fail in his first meeting with Putin.

Or, did we in the media hope he would fail? This is a question every honest journalist must ask him- or herself. Let’s be honest: If Trump didn’t stand up to Putin – and several scenarios involving a fire hydrant suggest themselves – then critics’ early warnings about his dangerous inadequacies would have been confirmed. If he did well, or emerged with value gained, well, it’s a good thing shovels are cheap. Many of us have dug some cavernously deep holes.

Let me be clear: I’m not a fan. But this doesn’t mean I don’t want Trump to be a successful president. He has given Americans and the world few reasons to admire, respect or trust him, thanks to his impetuosity. But admittedly, we journalists don’t spend much time looking for positives. Some would say, that’s not our job. Holding the powerful accountable is our job. While true, our success as a democratic nation requires a balance of contending views.

As it is, we have media outlets for your view, mine and his – with no sense of a shared American view. As wrong as I believe Trump was to air his personal grievances on the world stage, we are often wrong, too.

Some watched Trump’s Poland speech and found it tedious and meaningless. Others heard him say: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? … I declare today for the world to hear the West will never, ever be broken, our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”

These were powerful, important words, let the record show.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/11/kathleen-parker-did-the-american-media-hope-that-trump-would-fail-abroad/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/07/1221121_trump.jpgPresident Trump's first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week at a summit in Hamburg, Germany, will be brimming with global intrigue, but White House aides have sought to play down expectations for the engagement.Mon, 10 Jul 2017 19:18:53 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Will Trump’s attack on Mika Brzezinski be the last straw for Republicans? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/04/kathleen-parker-will-trumps-attack-on-mika-brzezinski-be-the-last-straw-for-republicans/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/04/kathleen-parker-will-trumps-attack-on-mika-brzezinski-be-the-last-straw-for-republicans/#respond Tue, 04 Jul 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1220684 For months, Trump watchers have wondered: What will it take?

Meaning: What would finally force Republicans to face the fact, so obvious to so many, that Donald Trump isn’t quite right? Not in the “correct” sense but in the head sense.

The answer, apparently, is Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“This is not normal,” people are finally saying in response to Trump’s latest Twitter attacks in which the president of the United States limboed under his own low bar and chastised Brzezinski and co-anchor/fiancé Joe Scarborough with his usual knuckle-dragging flair. Applying his 140-character attention span, he squibbed:

“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

Classic Trump.

This probably isn’t the way Brzezinski would have preferred things to go, but in Trump’s vernacular, she’s been cruisin’ for a bruisin’ for a long time. That is, she’s been calling out The Donald with everything but an engraved invitation to duel at dawn.

And, high time, I might add. For months during the early part of Trump’s campaign, “Morning Joe” was a welcome station for the celebrity firing squad. Around Washington, people had begun referring to the morning manfest, where Brzezinski gamely serves as reluctant den mother, as “Morning Trump.” This was also the period when then-candidate Trump constantly bragged that he hadn’t spent any money on advertising – and no one wondered why. He regularly called in to the show, essentially running his campaign from Trump Tower.

Trump had ample coverage elsewhere as well. When your strength is branding and your name is the brand, there’s little challenge to getting airtime. Cable television anchors and producers not only became Trump’s unpaid marketers, but also bear much of the responsibility/blame for Trump’s election. Then, things got strange. Trump won. Then Trump became even odder than usual, even according to his friends and others inclined to like him. Always fiercely competitive, obviously, as well as flawed, Trump nevertheless was able to control his worst impulses before becoming president, Scarborough and Brzezinski co-wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed.

Or, perhaps, something is actually wrong with the guy. Plenty of physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists think so and have written me volumes in off-the-record diagnoses. A group of them have joined forces to co-author a book due out this fall.

It isn’t so much that The Donald always hits back, and harder, as his flacks boast. It’s that he’s so thin-skinned, such a political amateur – and so utterly lacking in the fine art of disregard – that he can’t let anything pass. This is the single greatest concern for the witted, not his idiotic tweets in the night. Impulsivity combined with narcissistic injury is a red flag to many for the man with access to the nuclear codes.

And so, as more and more Americans embrace “This is not normal” as the bumper sticker du jour, many are wondering again: Will this be it? Will the final straw be Brzezinski’s alleged badly bleeding face-lift, which she needlessly denied in the op-ed? She only tweaked some skin beneath the chin, she said. CNN’s Brian Stelter, meanwhile, has published a photo of Brzezinski on the day in question; she shows no evidence of surgery and certainly not blood. What woman has a face-lift and goes bleeding to a famous club where all the beautiful people are partying?

To the point, is this it? My friends, don’t count on it.

Nothing will happen until Republican constituents start shouting – and, remember, these are the same people Trump has taught to hate the media. Also, this is hardly the worst example of Trump’s errant charm. Yet, suddenly, his insulting Brzezinski, widely characterized as evidence of misogyny (what about “Psycho Joe”?), is supposed to send congressional Republicans into paroxysms of penitential rebuke and replace?

Mika Brzezinski is wonder woman – smart, strong, wealthy – and engaged to marry her best friend. I seriously doubt she’s been wounded by Trump’s pathetic second-grader taunts. But I get it. The most one can hope for these days is that enough Republican men can be shamed into defending Brzezinski, a woman many of them know personally – and who has thumbs-down power over potential guests on the show everybody in Washington watches.

Whatever works.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/07/04/kathleen-parker-will-trumps-attack-on-mika-brzezinski-be-the-last-straw-for-republicans/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/07/1219641_RTS195O6.jpgMSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski arrive for the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington in 2015. Reuters/Jonathan ErnstMon, 03 Jul 2017 19:34:32 +0000
Kathleen Parker: In the shooting aftermath, is this really the best we can do, America? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/20/kathleen-parker-in-the-shooting-aftermath-is-this-really-the-best-we-can-do-america/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/20/kathleen-parker-in-the-shooting-aftermath-is-this-really-the-best-we-can-do-america/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1213909 Kelley Paul had gone to bed Tuesday night as usual, with her cellphone set on “Do Not Disturb,” except for family and close friends whose calls would always go through.

That’s why, when Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul tried to reach his wife early Wednesday using a borrowed phone, the call went straight to voicemail. Paul had left his own phone in the baseball dugout he had abandoned when the shooting began.

It was after a neighbor started banging on the front door of the Pauls’ Louisville home that Kelley learned of the rampage at the Alexandria, Virginia, baseball diamond where her husband and others were practicing for the annual congressional game between Republicans and Democrats.

On this particular day, the gunman was hunting Republicans.

In an email exchange with Kelley, a friend since last year’s presidential campaign, she told me of waking up to the sound of loud knocking – the shooting took place shortly after 7 a.m. – and finding her best friend at the door. Fearful that Kelley might read or hear the news through some form of media, the neighbor had rushed over to be by her side.

“Thank God, because my first three texts were along the lines of, ‘Is Rand OK??’ ” Kelley said in an email. “I would have flipped out.”

Such moments, doubtless, were taking place all over the country as family and friends wondered if their representative, senator, loved ones or friends had been in the line of fire. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, whose condition was upgraded from critical to serious Saturday, was near second base fielding balls when he was hit. Most are familiar by now with the details, especially the acts of heroism by Capitol Police officers who were attached to Scalise. Sen. Paul noted in retrospect that the event might have been a massacre had it not been for Scalise’s security detail.

And, yet, in some wretched irony, it was Scalise who absorbed the worst of the gunman’s rage when a single bullet pierced his hip, shattering bones and ripping through organs, leaving the congressman fighting for his life.

Perhaps because I know Scalise, this particular horror hit hard. Kelley and I shared our emotional exhaustion and sorrow, as well as fear. It isn’t only the terrible suffering of Scalise or the others wounded that day. It’s the cumulative effect of so much violence pounding us from all directions, day after day.

What is the tipping point for the human psyche, when too many becomes too much? For a lot of us, the psychological trauma began with the blunt force of 9/11. From then, humanity’s death spiral has seemed unrelenting. From the first beheading by the Islamic State to the mock severed head of President Trump, a malevolent spirit seems to have penetrated the air we breathe.

Yet, we defend our great nation as the best there is. This is certainly true if you happen to be a Syrian refugee or a survivor of slaughter in South Sudan. But is this really the best we can do?

I’m not much interested in debating gun control or assigning blame. The media didn’t open fire on that baseball field, nor did Donald Trump. Some horrible guy did it. He was apparently political, based on his social-media ramblings against Republicans. But it’s highly doubtful that he was reacting to some random act of punditry or a presidential tweet, maddening though they can be.

More likely, he found the impetus to act out his narcissistic rage in the same interior space that other mass murderers mine for imagined meaning. Do we need a kinder, gentler nation, as former President George H.W. Bush put it way back in the relatively innocent 1980s? Yes, we do. So, let’s.

We can’t un-crazy crazy, but we can each try to stem the madness. It begins with simply caring: By looking up from our cellphones and making eye contact; by asking the checkout girl about her day; thanking the garbage collector; doing favors without a scorecard; giving away money because someone needs it more.

Sometimes a small gesture of kindness can change someone’s day – or life. If the cumulative effect of evil acts brings us down, mightn’t the cumulative effect of good deeds lift us up? Madmen likely won’t abandon history anytime soon, but the least the rest of us can do is better – for Team Scalise and for America.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/20/kathleen-parker-in-the-shooting-aftermath-is-this-really-the-best-we-can-do-america/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/06/1212725_APTOPIX_Congressman_Shot_32.jpgFBI Evidence Response Team members mark evidence at the scene of Wednesday's shooting in Alexandria, Va., in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others were shot during a congressional baseball practice.Mon, 19 Jun 2017 21:00:21 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Boy Scout James Comey was no match for The Donald http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/13/kathleen-parker-boy-scout-james-comey-was-no-match-for-the-donald/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/13/kathleen-parker-boy-scout-james-comey-was-no-match-for-the-donald/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1210104 As it turns out, Donald Trump is the hope-and-change president.

According to James Comey, Trump hoped that the then-FBI director would find a way to drop his investigation of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and help blow away “the cloud” concerning the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia. When Comey didn’t, Trump changed Comey – right out of a job.

“You’re fired,” the apprentice-president bravely conveyed to Comey via the news media he so abhors, except when he doesn’t. Was Trump’s “hope” a “direction,” as Comey testified Thursday that he took it to mean? As in, The Don hopes ol’ Jimmy does the “right” thing. Or was it simply hope? As in, good golly, I hope it doesn’t rain this weekend?

If one were a young child, one might go for the weather-forecast interpretation – because what child wants it to rain on his or her parade? If one were an adult with full knowledge of the president’s pre-political history and the common sense of an investigator, one might reasonably conclude that the hoper-in-chief was making a strong suggestion, the ignoring of which could have dead-horse-in-your-bed consequences.

Comey, obviously, smelled a dead horse.

In his exchanges with the president, he carefully selected his words and took mental notes, after which he wrote down his recollections.

But Comey’s concentration on the president’s hope may have doomed him. Not only did he lose his job, but his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee seemed weak tea in the broader context of the president’s potential criminality. Expressing hope – a word that’s open to interpretation and nowhere near evidence of obstruction of justice – is clearly not a crime.

In his testimony, Comey further revealed that he personally had leaked his memos, again to the benighted media via a Columbia University law professor and friend. Comey said he was concerned that Trump might lie about their discussions and other details leading up to his firing.

Regarding the two men and whose word to trust, there’s no contest. But often what is obviously wrong isn’t necessarily illegal. I don’t doubt that Trump essentially threatened Comey because that’s what Trump does. (Count his lawsuits if you have a few free months.) Even as Comey testified, the president was regaling the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference with Scripture and tough talk: “We know how to fight better than anybody and we never, ever give up – we are winners and we are going to fight.” (Please, please, please read “Elmer Gantry.”)

During the hearing, several senators pressed Comey about why he didn’t ask obvious follow-up questions, as when Trump allegedly said to the director, “We had that thing.” What thing? Comey also might have queried, “Mr. President, what do you mean when you say you ‘hope’?” Or, as various commentators have suggested, why didn’t Comey say, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but this is highly inappropriate and I’m going to have to excuse myself”?

Ask any reporter, whose skills are essentially investigative, and the answer is: You don’t ever interrupt when the subject is spilling beans. Remember that Flynn was under investigation at the time, as was Trump’s campaign, though apparently not Trump himself. All of this was surely in Comey’s mind when Trump allegedly expressed his hope.

In real life, we rely upon our instincts, experience, interpretation of facial expressions and body language, and historical knowledge to make judgments and instruct our words and actions. We do this usually without conscious effort – unless we’re driven by a purpose.

For Comey, what was the higher moral position? To stop the president of the United States from talking – or keep the conversation going while you gather your wits and see what else might be forthcoming but could aid in an ongoing investigation? Most likely, Comey’s mind was frantically trying to assess the situation and wondering Lordy, why didn’t I wear a wire?

He hinted as much Thursday, albeit with weirdly undermining self-deprecations. Comey said he felt he needed to pay attention and was too stunned to react to the “hope” comment. “Maybe if I was stronger,” he said, explaining why he didn’t ask “what thing?” Please. What’s with the 6-foot-8-inch weakling act from a man routinely praised for his brilliance and integrity? Why telegraph feebleness to Trump, his lawyers and a skeptical public if he’s secure in his rectitude?

Presumably, Comey was trying to convey his humility juxtaposed with the steamrolling Trump. What Comey may be constitutionally unable to fully grasp, however, is that integrity is no weapon in a knife fight.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/13/kathleen-parker-boy-scout-james-comey-was-no-match-for-the-donald/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/06/1207730_california_shootings_fbi__j.jpgFormer FBI Director James Comey, shown in 2015, has submitted his written opening testimony as he prepares to appear Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.Mon, 12 Jun 2017 19:56:15 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Trump’s Paris decision was an accidental call to action http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/06/kathleen-parker-trumps-paris-decision-was-an-accidental-call-to-action/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/06/kathleen-parker-trumps-paris-decision-was-an-accidental-call-to-action/#respond Tue, 06 Jun 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1206921 A curious thing happened on President Trump’s way out of the Paris climate accord. American mayors, governors, corporate leaders and others immediately committed to meeting the agreement’s terms, anyway.

All politics is local, they say, and personal responsibility begins at home. Hasn’t this always been one of the operating principles of conservatism and anti-federalism? It is but a hop and a skip from opposing the concentration of federal power to the perceived concentration of power in other nations that many Americans view as NOCD – Not our class, dear.

That these localized pledges resulted from Trump’s blundering into anti-federalism on an international scale is a function of Gumpian invention. Andrew Jackson would be pleased as punch. Not only did Jackson have no interest in fashioning other countries in America’s image, as Peter Beinart has written, but he (and every other American) undoubtedly wasn’t much interested in the converse, either.

Trump’s Paris decision should have surprised no one – as a candidate, he promised as much – although his daughter did create suspense by arranging multiple discussions with tech and climate experts to try to convince him otherwise.

When will we ever learn that Donald Trump is always gonna be Donald Trump? To the glee of some who hired him, The Donald doesn’t evolve. Indeed, methinks at times, Eureka! Herewith, the missing link!

If nothing else, Trump has kept his promises to the approximately 37 percent of Americans who, seemingly no matter what, can find no fault in the man. If Trump told these loyalists that Russia had nothing to do with the 2016 election, by Godfrey, they’d believe it.

Many of these same good citizens also believe that climate change is a hoax – because The Donald said so.

That the consensus of scientists worldwide confirms that climate change is real (and dangerous) – and despite mounting evidence (melting ice caps, rising seas, increasingly powerful and frequent storms, etc.), Trump’s persistent base is content to cry “fake news” and let loose its havoc on more palatable prey. The “fake media,” for instance.

Killing the messenger seems never to go out of style.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on climate change. This would be foolish and irresponsible. In a previous life as a science writer, I learned enough to question the integrity of a study according to accepted protocols and peer review.

Given those qualifications, I nevertheless find it wiser to defer to the preponderance of evidence, assuming adherence to standards of scientific integrity, than to politicians and lobbyists.

Whether the accord was “fair” to the U.S., as opposed to, say, China or India, can be debated. But the need for a cooperative, global approach to reducing human contributions to climate change is irrefutable. And, contrary to Trump’s alleged strategy, the accord is not available for renegotiation. It’s a done deal, a concept that may be difficult for Trump to embrace.

As of this writing, about 100 businesses, 80 university presidents, three governors and 30 mayors have announced their intention to stick with the Paris program. Although the group hasn’t named itself yet, defying the laws of hashtag and beingness, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading the charge. Ever the optimist, Bloomberg predicts that this joint effort could still reduce America’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Keeping in mind that this would be a voluntary effort, as is the Paris agreement signed by more than 190 nations, Trump’s decision was more theatrical than immediately consequential. A full withdrawal reportedly will take years and the president could have achieved the same result by merely ignoring the pledge.

But pulling out to Rose Garden applause was both more cinematic and more likely to distract interest from that Russia mess.

Meanwhile, however, Trump has signaled in the starkest terms yet that he’s not interested in continuing America’s historical leadership role in the world. As French President Emmanuel Macron called for making the planet great again – and Germany’s Angela Merkel hinted that Europe could no longer rely upon the United States – Trump and his minions proudly trumpet “America first.”

The appeal of Trump’s message is manifest and perhaps summons the same logic of an airline attendant’s instruction to secure one’s own oxygen mask first before helping others.

The irony is that Trump, out of sheer political stubbornness, may have inadvertently reignited the spirit that made the nation great in the first place.

Which is not the same as saying he knew what he was doing – or that he’s right.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/06/06/kathleen-parker-trumps-paris-decision-was-an-accidental-call-to-action/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/06/Trump_Climate_45907.jpg-62.jpgPresident Donald Trump speaks about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Mon, 05 Jun 2017 21:07:07 +0000
Kathleen Parker: In Donald Trump’s world, reality isn’t real and the truth isn’t true http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/16/kathleen-parker-in-donald-trumps-world-reality-isnt-real-and-the-truth-isnt-true/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/16/kathleen-parker-in-donald-trumps-world-reality-isnt-real-and-the-truth-isnt-true/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1196596 Facts aren’t facts; truth isn’t true; reality isn’t real.

This is where we are.

It’s no wonder that “Orwellian” is the most widely used adjective derived from the name of a writer. We are living in the most surreal of times.

But Orwell’s days may be numbered as “Trumpian” has swiftly emerged to describe the president’s apparent intent to de-fictionalize Orwell’s dystopian vision. Either that, or he’s just plain addled. Or, it must be considered, the alien being that has inhabited the former Donald Trump’s body has been slow to absorb the intricacies and nuances of the spoken word.

Trump’s daily scrimmages with the English language make Bushisms seem like “Bartlett’s Best.” When not syntactically challenged, they’re jaw-droppingly mystifying. What possibly could he have intended when he suggested to NBC’s Lester Holt that he doesn’t know for sure if there’s an FBI investigation into “this Russia thing”? So the president doesn’t believe what every intelligence agency has said and what he has personally been told in briefings?

Choosing one’s truth is the essence of Trumpian logic. But the emanations from the White House can no longer be dismissed as mere incompetence. Something is very wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Inside the Oval Office golden walls, where even flies dare not land, democracy rocks perilously between the forces of light and darkness.

How perfectly evocative one recent night when press secretary Sean Spicer huddled with staffers behind a bush after news broke of FBI Director James Comey’s firing. The beleaguered Spicer finally agreed to come out and speak to the gathered media, but only if they extinguished their lights.

“Democracy Dies in Darkness,” read The Washington Post banner, seeming ever-more-apt by the day.

So what are we to make of Trump’s constantly shifting facts and truths? Is he lying? Pretending? Or is he so certain of America’s abbreviated attention span and willing self-delusion that he can speak nonsense with the same impunity as when he claimed he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his base wouldn’t care?

Or is it just possible that his campaign really is guilty of collusion with Russia? Does Vladimir Putin have something on the American president? There may, indeed, be nothing, as Trump insists, but the president goes out of his way to appear guilty. How difficult is it to say why he fired Comey? The variety of explanations over a matter of days was obviously a flailing for justification. Trying to track them felt like trying to solve a maze where the cheese keeps moving.

First, it was Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation. Next it was the Justice Department’s recommendation. Then it was neither. Trump was always thinking about firing him, he himself said. (Note to staffers: Trump is always thinking about firing everyone.)

The latest to slip Trump’s tongue was that Comey was a “showboater,” which the showboater-in-chief would see as competition. Also, Comey had lost the confidence of the bureau, said Trump, despite FBI testimony to the contrary. Finally, Comey wasn’t good at his job, which would be a rational basis, if only he’d thought of it sooner. Most agree that Comey exercised poor judgment in issuing Clinton investigation updates that could have affected the election outcome.

Several months forward, however, what could have prompted Trump to take action? In a Trumpian world, stalled somewhere between second grade and a prep school locker room, even the ridiculous seems plausible. So, let’s try a wild one: Maybe Trump fired Comey for being taller, at 6-feet-8. In light of his infatuation with size, one can easily imagine that a 6-foot-3-inch Trump would resent having to look up to the guy who was investigating possible collusion between his campaign and Russia.

In the adult world, however, the eye tends to land on other likelihoods, as in Comey’s Trump campaign/Russia investigation, his recent request for more resources for the investigation, his denial of Trump’s claim that former President Obama had wiretapped his office, and his refusal during a dinner with Trump to pledge loyalty.

Trump disputes all of the above, surprising no one.

But Trump couldn’t leave it alone. Friday, he launched a Twitter tirade that seemed to threaten Comey, saying the fired director had better hope there’s no tapes of their conversations if he starts leaking to the press. Just as Trump projected himself in calling Comey a showboater, one could reasonably extrapolate that Trump is the one concerned about what next might surface.

Then again, maybe it’s just that alien thing messing with Trump’s mind.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Trump’s 100 days: Major, major, bigly, bigly, enough, enough http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/02/kathleen-parker-trumps-100-days-major-major-bigly-bigly-enough-enough/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/05/02/kathleen-parker-trumps-100-days-major-major-bigly-bigly-enough-enough/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1189532 Donald Trump couldn’t be more relieved than this columnist at the end of the blasted first 100 days.

One more quantitative analysis of his (lack of) accomplishments or his (mis)deeds during this period would have put at risk the sanity of the Western world. It’s over, done, finis – thanks be to whatever deity gets you through the night – and now we can relax into a possibly “major, major conflict with North Korea,” as suggested by the president during a recent Reuters interview. Whew.

But seriously. The 24/7 news cycle has jumped the shark with its incessant critique of the first 100. Yes, I’m guilty as well, but a 750-word column takes a few minutes of one’s time and it’s all over. I confess as well to having been somewhat obsessed with this president, but I wonder how it could have been otherwise? He’s a scary dude, y’all.

Not necessarily insane, but potentially dangerous. His loose lips may have had no rival in presidential history. Thus, when he casually mentions that a conflagration with the crazier-than-thou Kim Jong Un may be imminent, I’m a tiny bit terrified.

This is not an irrational reaction, though perhaps it is irrational to continue covering the president in the same ways. It’s long been clear that his words are designed primarily to control that 24/7 news cycle. They’re often meaningless or at least intentionally hyperbolic for maximum media effect. Thought cloud: If we ignore him, will he go away?

The more logical approach to covering and commenting about this administration is to pay greater heed to the more-measured words of Cabinet members, such as United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both of whom have performed admirably in recent weeks.

Haley, quickly at home in her new position, has been at once firm and diplomatic in her statements about Russia. Southerners are exquisitely expert at being polite while adding arsenic to a glass of sweet tea.

And Tillerson, speaking Friday to the U.N. Security Council, was both more direct and less provocative than Trump in making a case for stronger, “painful” sanctions against North Korea. Specifically, he urged China, which accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, to join forces in putting an end to Kim’s nuclear aggressions. Tillerson didn’t take military action off the table but nor did he emphasize it.

To Trump, he and Tillerson may have been saying the same thing, but verbal precision and tone matter. The differences are distinctions, both clear and strategically paramount.

As for the 100 days, Trump did set himself up for review, but I can’t recall any other president being so thoroughly – or gleefully – scrutinized on this account. This doesn’t make the media “fake news,” it should be needless to say, but the extent of the reviews, regurgitated ad infinitum these past several days was political gluttony.

In the media’s defense, however, it’s a fact that Trump has failed to meet many of his own expectations, as well as deliver on promises.

The House punted on health care again Friday.

Earlier in the week, Trump withdrew his request for billions in funding for his benighted border wall when a government shutdown seemed inevitable. And he’s changed his tune about both NAFTA and NATO.

These failings and reversals are perhaps what prompted Trump to say recently that being president is harder than he thought it would be. Who knew?

On one thing Trump has been absolutely right, even if this, too, represents a corrected view: The 100-day sprint to transform the world is absurd. There was no way, as predicted often in this column, that Trump could meet his goals, not least because of his lack of political skill and experience.

Perhaps, as the BBC’s Katty Kay tweeted Friday, “Trump talks in superlatives. We should all get used to that. It doesn’t mean he acts in superlatives, too.” While likely so, some thanks are owed to Congress for applying the brakes on his bigger initiatives. What Kay’s comment really suggests, however, is profoundly distressing: We have a president who should be ignored.

To this end, I shall try. Disliking Trump, even for all the right reasons, is exhausting and unsustainable. It’s also boring. With 265 days still left of Trump’s first year – talk about exhausting – our highest calling is to encourage wiser men and women to prevail, to ignore most of what Trump says, and to keep our eye on the bouncing ball.

Where it lands, nobody knows.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Twitter mob serves a purpose, as United and O’Reilly prove http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/kathleen-parker-twitter-mob-serves-a-purpose-as-united-and-oreilly-prove/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/kathleen-parker-twitter-mob-serves-a-purpose-as-united-and-oreilly-prove/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1183247 Despite recent revelations that Fox News and anchor Bill O’Reilly had settled five complaints of sexual harassment against him to the tune of millions – his ratings went up.

A few days later, a United Airlines passenger was dragged from an airplane to make room for crew members on a full flight – and United’s stock initially went up.

And for this, we pay good money?

The shock wasn’t so much that monetary values seem to increase in direct correlation to the diminution of moral values but that we’ve become passive bystanders to appalling behavior and allegations. Well beyond defining deviancy down, as the great statesman Daniel Patrick Moynihan once described our cultural devolution – we hardly know what it is anymore.

Which reminds me of another great social observer, author Flannery O’Connor. Frequently asked why Southerners write so much about freaks, she replied that it was because Southerners could still recognize them. Whether this was ever true is debatable only beyond the Confederate states.

What is true today is that social media has become the church lady and the party-line operator rolled into one. If somebody misbehaves, not just two people know about it. Within hours or minutes, millions do. Like a single organism endowed with the accumulated moral fortitude of human society, Twitter demands justice.

In viral videos of the airplane fiasco, passengers are heard protesting as security officials dragged the man down the aisle toward the exit. But even their objections were relatively muted. Was this a one-off, crazy incident, they must have wondered? Or, was it just a matter of time until the blood-sucking, tentacled tripod machines in “War of the Worlds” reach down to select their next human cocktail to drain? But maybe that’s just me.

Still. It happened. Right here in the USA. On a plane. To a random guy.

United stocks rallied and the friendly skies were no wiser.

That is, until the outrage gathering on social media reached investors. By last Tuesday morning, United had lost millions in market share – not because of the airline’s treatment of the passenger, but because of investors’ loss of faith in the company’s ability to handle a crisis.

As for O’Reilly, o’really?

I was beginning to think I was the last person on the planet for whom mention of “O’Reilly” prompted the instant association to “loofah.” O’Reilly. Loofah. O’Reilly. Loofah. Yes, my fellow Americans, not only is O’Reilly a smug, sarcastic, windbag/anchor of the self-promoting commercial called “The O’Reilly Factor,” he is also allegedly a sex talker of some renown.

Thirteen years ago, O’Reilly settled with a “Factor” associate producer, Andrea Mackris, who sued for sexual harassment. Specifically, she alleged that in telephone conversations, he bragged about his global sexual exploits, encouraged her to release tensions with a mechanical aid, and spoke of a shower fantasy with Mackris and “that little loofah thing.” Later in the same conversation, for reasons unknown, she said he changed his terminology to that “falafel thing” – word of the day, eh? – which falls somewhat short of correcting the record.

“Your Honor, I did not say ‘her little loofah thing.’ I said ‘her little falafel thing.’ There’s a big difference, you know.”

The upshot of the Mackris and more recent Fox News scandals was that women were paid for their silence, in some cases quite well. Gretchen Carlson was awarded $20 million to settle her suit alleging that Fox News boss Roger Ailes sexually harassed her for several years. Ailes is gone; Carlson is rich.

Mackris was paid as well, though not nearly so well. The tapes she supposedly had that would have proved her case were never released, she faded into scandal history, and O’Reilly went on to become Fox’s ratings god for reasons I’ve failed to glean.

Then #bootoreilly was born and thousands of women shared their experiences with workplace harassment. At last count, more than 60 advertisers, including Jenny Craig, Advil and Mercedes-Benz pulled their commercials from the show. Even O’Reilly is only as valuable as the bucks he brings in.

In a pre-Twitter age, the United event might have gone unnoticed by more than a few reporters who corralled a few passengers for interviews – if that. Pre-social media, allegations of O’Reilly’s brutish behavior might have been passed off as just-a-guy having some innocent fun.

Alas, and for good, the party’s over for boors and bullies. Except, of course, for the president of the United States.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/kathleen-parker-twitter-mob-serves-a-purpose-as-united-and-oreilly-prove/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1180993_United_Passenger_Removed_13.jpgPeople with Asian community organizations protest after David Dao was removed from a United Airlines airplane by Chicago airport police at O'Hare International Airport.Mon, 17 Apr 2017 20:28:17 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Health care debate showed Trump trying to govern by ultimatum http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/28/kathleen-parker-health-care-debate-showed-trump-trying-to-govern-by-ultimatum/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/28/kathleen-parker-health-care-debate-showed-trump-trying-to-govern-by-ultimatum/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1173340 In a week that felt like a month, Americans got a clear view of Donald Trump’s governing style and also of his fabled dealmaking approach.

Or rather, I should say, Trump got a good sense of what governing is like – hard, hard, hard. And it’s bound to get more difficult given the president’s tactics of consent: “Do as I say or you’re dead to me.”

Even bolder, Trump told congressional Republicans that if they didn’t pass the American Health Care Act to repeal Obamacare, he was finished. Done. He’d walk away and move on to other things, he told recalcitrants. (To perhaps a new resort project, many were overheard praying.)

House opposition to the health care bill came both from moderates, as well as from hard-core, market purists, notably the Freedom Caucus. The latter didn’t want Obamcare Lite. They wanted obliteration. As negotiations continued until the vote was called off last Friday afternoon, the path to reform became increasingly muddled – and the way forward more complex. Fixing health care was never going to be a one-off.

But Trump, who promised repeal and replace (as has nearly every Republican the past seven years), has no patience with process. As the chief executive of his own company for most of his life, and notwithstanding his reverence for his dealmaking skills, he prefers quick results. And, hey, if things don’t tumble his way, well, there are other greens to sow and mow. And, certainly, a 30-foot wall to build.

To the 60-day president, it seemed, getting health care out of the way was mostly a means to checking a box – an important one, to be sure – but nothing to bestir his personal passions. Call it ego. Call it pride. Call it a day, but get it done, he commanded. Or else: “I’m gonna come after you,” Trump told North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, one of his fiercest foes in the Freedom Caucus opposition. The president was joking around, according to those present, but Meadows still might want to keep a close eye on his favorite bunny.

As many have observed, Trump’s spin of the wheel was risky business. He gambled on his own power to persuade (or bluff), the result of which could leave him holding Obamacare and conceding failure. What, then, do Republicans tell their base? And what would this say about the party in power? After years of harping on the collapsing health care plan installed by President Obama and the then-Democratically controlled House and Senate, they had their opportunity to govern responsibly.

You’d think seven years would be ample time to cobble something together that could replace Obamacare. The fact that Republicans didn’t confirms that such an overhaul requires the time and patience Trump and Co. haven’t been willing – or able – to spare. What we saw these past several weeks, meanwhile, was a frantic race to pass something virtually no one recognized as a workable piece of legislation, and which the Senate would probably reject.

Back in 2010, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Obamacare had to be passed so that we could find out what was in the bill, Republicans guffawed – and never let her forget it. At least, one observes, the Democrats had a bill. Republican lawmakers have been racing to pass something that isn’t fully written yet.

What’s with the rush, anyway? Why not take the time to get things right? While Democrats solicited input from experts in the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance industries, Republicans have spent most of their time fighting among themselves. The resulting bill was a patchwork of margin scribbles and crossouts, even including instructions to the Senate to figure out ways to make certain parts work. And the rush was mere drama. Last Thursday, the original deadline for the vote, was the seven-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage.

Once that deadline passed, Trump began acting like a child who didn’t get to have his birthday party on the precise day of his miraculous delivery into the glare. “Forget it. I don’t even want a party now.”

The truth is, many Republicans never seriously thought Obamacare could be repealed and replaced, probably for the good reason that it’s nearly impossible to do. The most sensible solution was to fix what was already in place until the inevitable day, coming soon, when we become a dual health care system: Single-payer for the majority of Americans and concierge health care for the wealthy. It’s just a matter of time.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at kathleenparker@washpost.com.

http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/28/kathleen-parker-health-care-debate-showed-trump-trying-to-govern-by-ultimatum/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/02/1160594_Trump_Speech_69747.jpg-1797.jpgPresident Trump said in his address to Congress on Tuesday night, "The time for small thinking is over."Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:56:47 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Presidential budget logic: Help single moms by building the wall http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/21/kathleen-parker-trumps-budget-logic-help-single-moms-by-building-the-wall/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/21/kathleen-parker-trumps-budget-logic-help-single-moms-by-building-the-wall/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1170053 From Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” to Donald Trump’s “Detroit single mom,” the unmarried mother remains a constant fascination to Republicans wielding budget-cutting scalpels.

Whereas Reagan was propagating a stereotype of the fraudulent abuser of public largesse when he popularized the term in 1976, framing welfare policy thereafter, Trump’s budget blueprint purportedly is aimed at helping single mothers (in Detroit, for some reason) by building a better military.

If you’re having trouble connecting the dots, welcome to the fracas.

The budget, which includes massive cuts to spending in the arts, sciences (including medical research) and diplomacy – mostly in the interest of increasing military spending by $54 billion and subsidizing that blasted wall – was designed by asking: Can we ask the single mother in Detroit to pay for this?

This is how White House budget director Mick Mulvaney explained the administration’s calculations on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Apparently cognizant of diversity’s fealty to both sexes (not to be confused with genders), Mulvaney also mentioned coal miners (with apologies to Barbara Burns, noted groundbreaking female miner).

“One of the questions we asked was, can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” Mulvaney queried. “The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

Are there really no single mothers in Detroit listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air”? Or whose kids watch “Sesame Street”? Although the CPB receives $450 million annually in federal funds, much of that money is distributed to local television and radio stations and producers. National Public Radio, long an object of Republican contempt, probably will be fine thanks to donor support, but not so the local shows, which often are educational and/or public safety-oriented.

The end objective, Mulvaney said, is to keep Trump’s campaign promises while not increasing the budget deficit. Among those promises: Build the wall (delete: I will make Mexico pay for that wall); and beef up national security.

And, of course, the ultimate goal in whittling away programs that serve the poor or protect the environment is to Make America “Great” Again. “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means,” as Inigo Montoya said in “The Princess Bride.”

Before we parse the meaning of the word “great,” a few facts: The proposed budget, which is really just a collection of bad ideas or suggestions, doesn’t stand a chance of congressional approval as is. To pass the Senate, over which Republicans hold a relatively slim majority (52-48), it would require Democratic support. The blueprint’s strong emphasis on defense and security, notwithstanding cuts in airport policing, at the expense of domestic programs is a no-go.

Although many Republicans also oppose some of the more draconian cuts, others want yet more defense spending. Both Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and John McCain, R-Ariz., chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, respectively, want $640 billion rather than the measly $603 billion proposed.

Given Trump’s commitment to a military buildup – and the formerly silent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent remarks that military action may be necessary to end North Korea’s nuclear games – investing in defense might not be a bad gamble.

But hope for a cancer cure might be. The National Institutes of Health – the nation’s premier research institution – is threatened with losing about 20 percent of its budget. And bets on climate-related concerns would be long shots. Among many related cuts, the budget would eliminate four NASA missions, including the Deep Space Climate Observatory, which monitors climate change from its position 1 million miles from Earth. Collect information that might suggest the need for environmental regulations? LOL.

By tragic coincidence, we learned the day before Trump’s budget was released that vast portions of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, one of Earth’s largest organisms, are dead from overheated seawater caused by greenhouse gases emitted via the burning of fossil fuels.

But never mind. Greatness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder – and Trump’s idea of both tends toward reactionary excessiveness unburdened by history’s future judgment. Besides, what do NASA missions have to do with coal miners or single moms?

Not one thing, other than a future for all those fatherless children in Detroit – and the coal miner’s daughter, who probably needs essential social services more than she does that blasted wall.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: It’s the Democrats’ turn to take a tip from the Republicans http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/07/kathleen-parker-its-the-democrats-turn-to-take-a-tip-from-the-republicans/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/07/kathleen-parker-its-the-democrats-turn-to-take-a-tip-from-the-republicans/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1163406 JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — If the Democratic Party is ailing nationally after losing the presidency to Donald Trump, state parties are on life support.

Here in the long-ago Democratic stronghold of Alabama, the party is all but dead, say some of its disheartened members. Consider: Not a single statewide office is held by a Democrat; the state Legislature is dominated by Republicans with just 33 Democrats out of 105 House seats and eight of 35 Senate seats.

Democrats haven’t won a U.S. Senate election in Alabama since 1992 or the governorship since 1998. There are no Democratic appellate judges, nor any Democratic members of the state’s Public Service Commission. Democrats also are becoming scarcer in county offices.

“The Democratic Party in Alabama is on a crash-and-burn track unless something drastic happens to stop this runaway train,” according to Sheila Gilbert, chair of the Calhoun County Democrats, who hand-delivered a letter outlining the party’s problems after a speech I gave at Jacksonville State University as the Ayers lecturer.

The letter was signed by Gilbert as a leader of the Alabama Democratic Reform Caucus and 17 other members in attendance. The group, which formed two years ago to try to help revive the state party, wasn’t coy about its reason for approaching me.

“We need a spotlight on Alabama and some outside effort to avoid becoming a totally one-party state,” Gilbert said.

I didn’t bother to mention that the current U.S. attorney general, former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, was shining quite a spotlight on their home state. Whether Sessions is forced to resign after already recusing himself from any investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election campaign remains to be seen. The fall of such a high-profile Republican could be useful to Democrats back home trying to defibrillate the party.

But Gilbert’s group has been critical of state Democratic Party officials for missing an opportunity to recruit candidates when other Republican politicians were in trouble, including the governor and House speaker. A recent meeting of county and state party leaders reportedly became heated, as when state Chairwoman Nancy Worley offered to call police to escort one county chairman from the room – and may be emblematic more broadly of the party’s disintegration from within.

The Republican Party went through this same sort of infighting and navel-gazing on the national level several years back. After losing the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008, it regrouped, reformed itself, became disciplined and has taken the House, Senate, the White House and most of the nation’s governorships, while also successfully gerrymandering congressional districts that have given Republicans the advantage in many states – at least until the next redistricting in 2020.

Democrats are readying themselves for that fight, but they’ll need to do more than try to redraw the map. While Democrats were basking in Obama’s sunny smile, Republicans were busy building benches of future leaders, especially at the state attorney general level, where they are now in the majority. The strategy has been to recruit and help elect strong attorneys general who could be groomed to become governors, senators – and possibly president.

What, meanwhile, can Democrats do, a fellow in the audience asked me? There was a plaintive tone in his voice and I wanted to help, though the truth is, I’m not accustomed to Democrats asking my advice. But in the spirit of “it takes two to tango” – and the fact that I’d rather not live in a country exclusively run by either party – I’ll give it a fresh, morning-after stab. What’s really ailing Democrats is they’ve fallen in love with abstract principles, as reflected on an Alabama Democratic Reform Caucus handout, without building a foundation where goals such as fair pay, transparency, diversity and such can be played out. Trump may have been coarse and loose at times during the campaign, but he spoke in plain language with plain meaning: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

Whether Trump can fix trade, create jobs and make money for the rest of us was a gamble people were willing to take. Fixing the economy was Obama’s mandate, too, but he decided to focus on health care instead. This is where lust for legacy interferes with good governance. Obama did manage to help turn the economic steamship around – the market bounced from just under 8,000 when he took office to nearly 20,000 – but Wall Street’s recovery didn’t trickle down to the middle class, where Trump planted his flag.

When in doubt, look to the victor.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/03/07/kathleen-parker-its-the-democrats-turn-to-take-a-tip-from-the-republicans/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/09/1062168_953028-20160916_GR_BIW_3.jpgWorkers leave the main gate after first shift at Bath Iron Works in Bath on Friday. Shipyard officials have said there might be 1,000 or more layoffs unless it landed the Coast Guard contract.Mon, 06 Mar 2017 19:28:51 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Nothing fake about ongoing news of an erratic president http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/21/kathleen-parker-nothing-fake-about-ongoing-news-about-an-erratic-president/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/21/kathleen-parker-nothing-fake-about-ongoing-news-about-an-erratic-president/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1156034 To sum up President Trump’s first month in office, he has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

To those who opposed him, he’s worse than expected. To those who supported him, he’s done exactly what he said he would do and more.

And everyone hates the media.

Regarding the observation that the media took Trump literally but not seriously, it would appear that we didn’t take him literally enough.

It bears saying, I suppose, that I’m not a Trump hater, as my ever-vigilant critics insist. I’d like to get on with things – but the right things, in the right ways. Of course, I want the president of the United States to be successful, but correctly. That is, constitutionally, cautiously and considerately. Overall, my hopes and goals for the nation are more or less the same as any other well-adjusted American’s, even if we may differ in the how.

Based on my mailbag, which is as good a barometer as any of how people are thinking, the greatest obstacle before us isn’t this president or that policy but our distrust of each other, especially the public’s toward the media. We scribblers have never been the most popular people on the block. On my first day of work, my editor told me, “If you want friends, you’re in the wrong business.” I’ve accepted that, but I can’t accept the perception – and the president’s mantra – that journalists are the enemy of the people. (Enemies of the people are much, much richer.)

For the record, I’m a paid opinion writer, so to those who write accusing me of being biased and opinionated, I say, “Stay strong.” To the rest, setting aside the death threats and batches of truly revolting insult, I’m reading and taking it all in.

The overarching theme is that no matter what Trump does, he’ll never get a fair shake from me and my ilk. (Other letter writers say, “Thank you.”) The president and his staff just need a little time to adjust, these readers implore. “Give the man a break!” He has a steep learning curve, after all. True, but this is precisely the problem for many veteran journalists, whose careers constitute the equivalent of several advanced degrees in public policy and government along with, cumulatively, several centuries of White House experience.

Me and my ilks, she wrote in a purposely ungrammatical way, get set in our ways, too, and have expectations of a certain level of knowledge, decorum and protocol. The Trump White House is overrun with amateurs and ideologues who are running the country like they’ve been up all night on bath salts.

It doesn’t seem to bother Trump’s fans that he has hit a few snags – court rulings halting his travel restrictions; the dismissal or withdrawal of a top official here and there. Or that there seems to be an irregular relationship between Trump’s and Vladimir Putin’s “people.”

Maybe there was nothing much to the chats between short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador. Maybe there was no collusion between Trump campaign aides during multiple communications with Russian operatives during the 2016 election.

But given (1) Trump’s solicitousness toward Putin, (2) the administration’s unwillingness to declaim moral equivalence between Russia and the U.S.; combined with (3) Trump’s campaign threat to rethink U.S. involvement with NATO – wouldn’t the media be derelict in their duty if they did not relentlessly scrutinize these issues and events?

There’s nothing “fake” about these reports. And though the media can be accused of vigorously pursuing such stories, even at the risk of appearing “negative,” isn’t this their job? Resistant as I am to the cheap comparison, can you imagine the Republican reaction if this same set of facts emerged during the first month of a Hillary Clinton administration – especially if Trump had won 3 million more votes?

If sometimes the media are wrong, professional mechanisms are in place for correction. People can have faith in this real fact. Not so a White House that doesn’t appear to believe in acknowledging mistakes, much less correcting them. The difference between these two is the difference between reliable sources and propaganda.

There’s room for improvement, and we in the media bear the burden of winning back reader trust. But those who would give Trump the benefit of the doubt – no matter what – should be willing at least to give responsible, proven journalists an open-minded reading and a fair hearing.

Remember, the enemies of freedom always silence the reporters first.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/21/kathleen-parker-nothing-fake-about-ongoing-news-about-an-erratic-president/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/02/1155031_314225-Trump_conf.jpgIn the midst of airing his grievances and defending his administration, President Trump said, "I'm not ranting and raving – I love this."Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:06:21 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Opponents are distorting record and views of Supreme Court nominee http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/07/kathleen-parker-opponents-distorting-record-and-views-of-supreme-court-nominee/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/02/07/kathleen-parker-opponents-distorting-record-and-views-of-supreme-court-nominee/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1149358 To review the left’s reaction to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is to infer he’s the spawn of Dracula – a cruel and bloodless beast who shrinks from the light and plays havoc with history.

Among the many distortions: Gorsuch is against clean water, consumers, women’s health, dying people and workers. The liberal Alliance for Justice declares him worse in some ways than Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat Gorsuch would assume if confirmed. People for the American Way claims he’s an ideologue “far outside of the judicial mainstream who has a record of warping the law to serve the powerful over the interests and constitutional rights of ordinary Americans.”

Or, one could argue that he is courageous in protecting the people and the Constitution by adhering to text and original intent without concern for his popularity.

As background, Gorsuch has served since 2006 on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where his reputation as a brilliant jurist and writer gained national attention. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he also earned a doctorate from Oxford in legal philosophy. His dissertation was on euthanasia, which has raised flags among those fighting for death-with-dignity laws. If Gorsuch opposes assisted suicide for the terminally ill, goes the thinking, then he must also oppose a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

Gorsuch has said that human life has intrinsic value and that no other human has a right to destroy another’s, which seems on its face to be manifest. He has never written or ruled specifically on abortion, so this remains a hazy correlative. He is, indeed, an originalist, as was Scalia, and his rulings might not differ much from his conservative predecessor’s.

Fundamental to his approach is the understanding that legislatures, and not courts, should create laws. This position also extends to administrators and bureaucrats. Liberals have sometimes preferred to fashion law through the courts, rather than navigate the legislative process, which is burdensome, stubborn and slow. It’s so much easier to create law in the courts and let people adapt.

This view would seem almost Trumpian but for his selection of Gorsuch, who is of the opposite inclination. After two dizzying weeks of confounding (Mexico), outrageous (travel ban) and absurd (Australia) first acts, Trump’s naming of Gorsuch brought a welcome pause. Yes, it was showmanship – prime time and all that – but, seriously, who cares? It was far and away the most presidential performance we’ve thus far witnessed, notwithstanding Trump’s nearly separating Gorsuch’s arm from its socket during a handshake.

Should Gorsuch be approved, the court’s composition obviously doesn’t really change. The balance would remain the same, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom Gorsuch clerked, as the swing vote. It’s the next seat for which Democrats should save their fire, lest they be viewed as intractable as the Republicans were the past eight years. No one wins this war.

Democrats are entitled to their indignation over Republicans’ refusal to consider Merrick Garland, President Obama’s choice for Scalia’s seat. But their energies will be spent for naught – and they could do far worse. Besides, there’s no real knowing how a justice will rule.

Chief Justice John Roberts shocked conservatives when he ruled favorably on the Affordable Care Act, but his decision was double-edged.

By deciding that the penalty in Obamacare, intended for people who refused to buy insurance, was really a tax, Roberts also exposed the dishonesty in the Obama administration’s presentation of the health care plan. Throughout the legislative process, the administration insisted that it was not a tax.

Though cold comfort to conservatives, the ruling bolstered arguments that Obamacare was based on false pretenses and the assumption, as one of the law’s architects later boasted, that people would be too stupid to know the difference.

The upcoming debate should be scintillating theater as it strikes at the heart of a judge’s role. Gorsuch has made himself clear on this.

In a 2016 concurrence, he wrote: “Ours is the job of interpreting the Constitution. And that document isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams for a new and perfected tort law, but a carefully drafted text judges are charged with applying according to its original public meaning.”

I wouldn’t wish on anyone the task of proving that wrong.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Pray that our country survives the next few years under Trump http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/24/kathleen-parker-pray-that-our-country-survives-the-next-few-years-under-trump/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/24/kathleen-parker-pray-that-our-country-survives-the-next-few-years-under-trump/#respond Tue, 24 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1142438 So, that happened.

Let us pray.

Yes, of course, you can go back to sleep, Mr. Van Winkle, but it won’t change the facts. Donald Trump is the president of the United States.

The humble, warm and engaging Trump we’d hoped to meet on Inauguration Day failed to make an appearance. We’ve heard he exists, but shtick is shtick, and Trump is Trump. He was, is and apparently intends to run the nation as a populist. Elites, stand down.

To sum up Trump’s mercifully short-ish speech: We’re Americans, America comes first, we love America, America will be great again. In other words, he said nothing new – or remarkable – except perhaps when he said people would look back on Jan. 20, 2017, and remember … I didn’t hear the rest because I was paralyzed by the foreboding in his fierce countenance and the possibility of so many perilous things that could potentially flow from that moment.

In all other respects, it was a run-of-the-mill campaign speech. And while Trump spoke of inclusivity, saying that prejudice has no place in his America, he certainly conveyed something entirely different during the past 18 months. No one reading this needs to be reminded of the many examples related to Mexicans, Muslims and others.

Notably in low attendance at the speech were African-Americans, which needn’t have been the case. Trump’s message of jobs, better education, immigration reform and other tenets of his campaign should be equally appealing to all. Vexing was always the how. And the style with which the celebrity-bully expressed his intent.

Trump may fervently wish to improve conditions in the inner cities where so many black families suffer, but telling black America, “What do you have to lose?” wasn’t the most effective way to build solidarity.

Meanwhile, a large bulk of the nation mourned or prepared to protest. As I wrote this on Inauguration Day at The Washington Post building, police barricades were blocking hundreds of demonstrators who seem itching for a fight. Elsewhere, millions are filled with despair amid the alienation from a country they barely recognize. Trump’s months of insults aimed at igniting resentment toward “others” can’t be erased by his citing the Bible telling us “how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

There’s a reason people were clashing with police. There’s a reason a large throng of women (and their male sympathizers) protested the new president and his boasts about manhandling women at his pleasure.

These are among the reasons one might have hoped that Trump would rise to the occasion of this quadrennial event when America swaps out presidents for a new charge toward a better future. This go-round, the future felt up for grabs as Barack Obama and the former first lady lifted off in a military helicopter. One needn’t have approved of the past eight years of liberal policies to appreciate (and soon miss) the contagious sense of calm Obama exuded. He was all grace and, yes, beauty when he waved, and smiled and, said, “Come on, man.”

Perhaps Trump’s fist-punching finale was mere punctuation to his patriotic song of nationalism, but it somehow felt threatening. Most presidents and politicians show an open hand of nonthreatening conciliation as they wave to a crowd. Not Trump. He’s all fist and in your face.

From what Trump has said and projected, it’s not a leap to imagine an increasingly militaristic society in which individual choices (to pray or pledge) are not so voluntary. Already we’ve seen hints as Trump trashes dissenters and tries to diminish reporters and news organizations as “fake news” to the detriment of a free society that, without a robust media presence, isn’t likely to long remain free.

Even with all of that, Donald Trump is our president. He deserves a chance to prove us doubters wrong; to create a government that he thinks will bring jobs and money back to the U.S.; to enhance educational opportunities for the less-privileged; to enhance our military defense without yearning to test it; to reform the tax and regulatory codes with deference to economic realities.

I had intended to mention our role as wards of the planet, but it would appear that this has already been resolved. All mention of climate was removed from the White House website moments after Trump took office. So that also happened.


Pray that our country survives these next few years and that the new president is both wiser and less impetuous than he seems. It’s the least and the best we can do – for now.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/24/kathleen-parker-pray-that-our-country-survives-the-next-few-years-under-trump/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/01/AP17020619188936.jpgMon, 23 Jan 2017 19:46:37 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Real concerns about Russia, Comey should rise above partisan fighting http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/17/commentary-real-concerns-about-russia-comey-should-rise-above-partisan-fighting/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/17/commentary-real-concerns-about-russia-comey-should-rise-above-partisan-fighting/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1138849 Republicans can argue until their last breath that Trump objectors are sore losers, but isn’t more at stake than “mere politics”?

This phrase has been rendered quaint by such serious issues as: Russian hackers apparently trying to tilt the election toward Donald Trump; the FBI’s possibly politically motivated practices; Trump’s initial resistance to the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community; Trump’s refusal to release tax records, which might mollify concerns about his relationship with Russia.

These aren’t partisan issues, or shouldn’t be, as evidenced by the Justice Department inspector general’s decision to investigate how FBI Director James Comey handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email and private server. The focus will be on Comey’s statement in July that Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless” with classified information but that he wasn’t recommending criminal charges – as well as his announcement to Congress just a week and a half before Election Day that, because of new information, he was reopening the investigation.

This fresh look pertained to new emails found on the laptop of Carlos Danger, aka Anthony Weiner (but, really, why the name change?), estranged husband of top Clinton adviser Huma Abedin.

The emails subsequently were found to be inconsequential, but if there were any fence-sitters left at that point, at least many of them probably toppled into Trump’s camp, from sheer exhaustion if not outright disgust.

Let me help you: Eleven days to go and the man who had said there’s nothing to see here suddenly says, Hey, there might be something after all! And no one’s supposed to think this affected the election?

How could it not have? Anecdotally, I can report at least a dozen friends who say, “That was it for me.” But polling, too, suggests a consequential voter shift in the final days of the campaign.

FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s polling/analysis group, reported that Clinton had an 81 percent chance of winning in mid-October. About a week after Comey’s announcement, that number dropped to 65 percent.

This rapid shift didn’t occur because people suddenly recognized that Trump is a brilliant foreign policy strategist. It’s true that undecided people often return to their party at the last minute, but this might not account for Clinton’s sudden drop.

While it’s impossible to prove that Comey had any impact, there’s enough reason for dissatisfied Americans to continue to protest the results – even on Inauguration Day.

For certain, Comey acted against bureau policy never to interfere politically or discuss investigations so close to an election. If there’s any justification, Comey may have felt that the information would be leaked anyway.

Adding suspicion to skepticism, the hacking and release of Democratic National Committee emails also may have affected election results, though, again, it’s impossible to know how much since, as far as I’m aware, we can’t read people’s minds (yet).

Thus, we’re left to draw inferences from suppositions from what little else we know.

We do know that our intelligence community concluded that Russia hacked the DNC, and Trump finally accepted this last week.

To concede that Russia was behind the hacking (rather than a 400-pound person sitting in a bed somewhere, as Trump at one point theorized) was, presumably, to admit that Russia helped him win. Well, didn’t it? Didn’t Trump loudly call upon Russia to hack Clinton’s emails?

For the undecided (or the unpersuadable), let’s pose a hypothetical: What if Clinton had publicly asked Russia to hack Trump’s records and release his tax returns – and Russia did?

And what if the FBI announced less than two weeks before Election Day that it was going to investigate fraudulent practices at Trump University? Let’s say that Trump’s number dipped dramatically and he lost.

Do you reckon Republicans would be a tad upset?

The inspector general’s investigation into Comey’s conduct, as well as Congress’ investigation into Russia’s apparent interference in the election, are urgent, overdue, and probably useless.

Mostly, Comey is guilty of poor judgment. And Russia is being Russia – a fact best quickly absorbed by the soon-to-be president.

Yes, democracy needs saving and the republic’s foundation is showing wear. But isn’t the crucial question the very one that can’t be answered: Did we really elect Donald Trump to be president of the United States?

We may never know precisely who sowed the wind, but to be sure, we’re all going to reap the whirlwind.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2017/01/17/commentary-real-concerns-about-russia-comey-should-rise-above-partisan-fighting/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/10/1102278_Campaign-2016-Comey-Caree6.jpgFILE - In this Dec. 9, 2015 file photo, FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington. Comey's announcement that his bureau was reviewing new emails possibly relevant to Hillary Clinton's private email server investigation has thrust him into the public spotlight again just days before Election Day. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)Tue, 17 Jan 2017 10:53:29 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Congratulations, Mr. President-elect, from one of your fiercest critics http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/27/kathleen-parker-congratulations-mr-president-elect-from-one-of-your-fiercest-critics/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/27/kathleen-parker-congratulations-mr-president-elect-from-one-of-your-fiercest-critics/#respond Tue, 27 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1129086 You won. Welcome to hell.

And to think, I thought you’d become president when hell froze over.

Now that the election is finally behind us, may I ask a tiny question: Why did you want this job? Was it on your bucket list? After so many square miles of golf courses, trophy wives, gilt mirrors and crystal chandeliers, was there nothing left to mess with?

I wasn’t surprised, by the way, when you said you’d spend half your time in New York. I mean, it’s New York! And the White House is a tad bourgeois in an Epcot-y sort of way. All that marble, heavy drapes and selection of new china. Why do we treat incoming presidents and first ladies like they just got married? And who needs a balcony overlooking the National Mall when you’ve got a four-corner office in your own tower overlooking Fifth Avenue?

Don’t worry about all the whining from Mayor Bill de Blasio about the high cost of security. It’s just like a Democrat to want the feds to pay for it, right? All de Blasio has to do is tax facelifts on the Upper East Side and he can build a Trump Armory.

Anyway, I’m writing to say, congrats, despite my having done everything in my limited power to block you. When I wrote column after column about why you were unfit to be president and wouldn’t do half of what you were promising, I was serious. And of course, I was right.

But being a businessman, you know how we say things. It’s not personal. It’s not like you were waking up to a dead chicken in your bed. Besides, I’m pretty sure you didn’t care when I (and many others) called you a con man, a carnival barker, a bully and a snake oil salesman. Admit it. You were thinking: “So what? I’m winning!”

And so you did. Win.

The reason I knew you wouldn’t do most of what you promised is, one, my baloney detector is from the same Queens DNA as yours (via my paternal grandmother, who was quite a dame, by the way). Two, you logically or legally can’t do much of it. Three, you’re Donald Trump, which is synonymous with “whatever works.”

So the anger was a ruse. The promises were slogans. The nasty rhetoric was juice for the base. Not your best moment, Mr. President-elect. And, frankly, not your best timing. You may have missed the coincidence, but the very day that the Electoral College officially affirmed your victory, the world exploded. One after another, whether connected or not, possible terrorists staged attacks in three countries.

In Ankara, a Turkish cop assassinated Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, shouting “Remember Aleppo.” In Berlin, a commercial truck crashed through the Christmas market, killing at least a dozen people and injuring dozens more. In Zurich, a gunman entered a Muslim prayer center attended mostly by Somalis and opened fire, wounding at least three people.

Naturally, you immediately characterized the attack in Ankara as being perpetrated by a “radical Islamic terrorist,” which may be likely given his shout of “Allahu akbar,” but you do realize that as president, you’re going to have to wait for the facts before commenting? Meanwhile, cue media, the assassination is being characterized as a prompt for the U.S. and Russia to form an alliance in the fight against terrorism. Voila. Just what you and Vladimir Putin have been angling for.

Anyway, you can now start hanging with Putin. Just don’t look into his eyes, which, apparently, can make you think he has a soul. (It’s an old KGB trick.) You’ll have to figure out how to handle the Vlad and his other pal, Syrian President Bashar Assad, since the two of them have been mass murdering the very same people of Aleppo invoked by the assassin. I’m not feeling the love triangle here, but you’re the magician.

Maybe you can convince them that it’s better to kill terrorists than children. Maybe you and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim can cut an immigration deal and build a succulent, spiny hedge along the southern border. And just maybe, you and China can renegotiate a trade deal – maybe swap a few resorts for Smithfield Foods, Ingram Micro, General Electric Appliance Business, to name a few of the top American companies Chinese firms now own.

Good luck with all that. As I said, welcome to hell. (P.S. Stop tweeting!)


Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/27/kathleen-parker-congratulations-mr-president-elect-from-one-of-your-fiercest-critics/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Parker.jpgMon, 26 Dec 2016 17:32:18 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Execution would be too good a sentence for Dylann Roof http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/20/kathleen-parker-execution-would-be-too-good-a-sentence-for-dylann-roof/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/20/kathleen-parker-execution-would-be-too-good-a-sentence-for-dylann-roof/#respond Tue, 20 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1126115 CHARLESTON, S.C. — In the parable of the sower, a farmer sprinkles seeds upon four different types of terrain, one of which is rocky where seeds fail to thrive.

As interpreted by scholars, the rock refers to the human heart that’s made of stone and therefore resistant to the seed (the Word of God), and therefore lost to salvation.

This was the topic of Bible study at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church the night that white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American parishioners as they closed their eyes in prayer. Roof can be seen as a parable within a parable, his heart a stone and he, impervious to the love and fellowship offered him by strangers.

After a federal jury found him guilty last Thursday on all 33 counts, including hate crimes, Roof’s salvation is very much in question.

To anyone following the trial, the verdict came as no surprise. Roof had confessed to the massacre, video captured him entering and leaving the church, and two survivors identified him as the gunman. Roof’s attorney began his opening statement by acknowledging his client’s guilt. The purpose of the trial was essentially to determine whether Roof should live out his days in prison or be executed.

The sentencing phase, during which Roof intends to represent himself (the better to create a path for appeal), will begin Jan. 3.

If anyone deserves to die for a crime, especially one so infused with racial hatred, Roof is surely that person. The 22-year-old, whose bowl haircut and baby face make him seem more boy than man, is a poster child for evil incarnate.

Yet, execution would be the wrong sentence.

It is both too good for him and too awful for the rest of us.

As a general matter, I oppose the death penalty for reasons both moral and practical. The moral issues should be obvious: Not only do I, as a citizen, not want to be part of anyone’s murder, regardless of whether it’s state-sanctioned (maybe especially so), I can’t countenance anything less than a foolproof system.

One mistaken execution is one too many, and we’ve seen too many reversals based on subsequently available DNA evidence. Also, the fact that death sentences are sometimes arbitrarily or unevenly assigned on the basis of race is untenable in a just world.

As a practical matter, death sentences don’t work. Yes, certainly, they ensure that the sinner doesn’t sin again, but they’re ineffective as a deterrent. And, it can be costlier than life behind bars thanks to lengthy appeals.

Now, to the part I am loath to admit: Death is too easy.

There is in each of us a temptation to vengeance, and this is my confession. Somewhere deep inside my brain is a tiny cell where marauding angels (not the better sort) bicker and shout and curse the day. They sleep with spite and dream of malice, plotting revenge and delighting in the prospect of another’s suffering.

I’m recommending that it’s better to condemn Roof to a lifetime of suffering than to end his miserable life. Easing him to eternal rest does nothing to heal the wounds he has inflicted. But ensuring that he has to live every day for the rest of his life with the same horror, pain and, eventually, perhaps even recognition of the sorrows he caused is the punishment I wish for him. Life in prison without possibility of parole is what he deserves.

Although his guilty verdict and a life sentence in federal court would remand him to the relatively plush prison environment, not so a state prison where he could wind up. After this trial, Roof faces state charges on nine counts of first-degree murder. Again, his guilt isn’t in question, but his sentencing provides a fresh opportunity to debate his fate.

Perhaps the most important reason to spare his life is that this is what the victims’ family members say they prefer. These are the same folks who forgave Roof less than two days after the shootings when they faced him at his bond hearing.

Because they have found it in their fertile hearts to leave Roof’s fate to the final arbiter of justice, killing him would be a betrayal of their higher purpose and their faith in the power of redemption.

Pray the jurors see it this way.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/20/kathleen-parker-execution-would-be-too-good-a-sentence-for-dylann-roof/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/12/1124219_charleston_shooting_jpeg_24.jpgDylann Roof, shown via video in 2015, was convicted Thursday of killing nine people inside a black church in Charleston , S.C.Mon, 19 Dec 2016 20:09:29 +0000
Kathleen Parker: At trial for 9 murders inside church, the ‘why’ is not fully answered http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/13/kathleen-parker-at-trial-for-nine-murders-inside-church-the-why-is-not-fully-answered/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/13/kathleen-parker-at-trial-for-nine-murders-inside-church-the-why-is-not-fully-answered/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1122754 CHARLESTON, S.C. — A deep stillness settled over the federal courtroom as graphic photos were shown of the nine people murdered last year at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church.

The defendant, Dylann Roof, sat motionless throughout, as he has since his death penalty trial began last Wednesday. Behind him sat his paternal grandparents, media and members of the general public. Although Roof has pleaded not guilty, his attorney David Bruck, a renowned anti-death penalty advocate, told jurors that he didn’t expect them to find his client not guilty. At stake is whether the 22-year-old Roof deserves to die or spend the rest of his life in prison.

Roof, who posed in online pictures with the Confederate battle flag, allegedly told his victims he had to kill them because blacks were taking over and were “raping our women.”

In a serendipitous display of unwanted irony, the Southern racial divisions that Charleston, especially, has worked so hard to bridge were refashioned by happenstance and logistics in the courtroom itself. Reserved seating placed the victims’ family and friends, primarily black, on one side of the room and the defendant’s family and the mostly white media on the other. This imposed segregation was purely circumstantial, but painful nonetheless.

Before the photo display, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel repeatedly warned family members that the pictures were graphic, saying there was no shame in sitting out this portion of the trial. The quiet was profound as each person in the room tried within his or her own space to convey respect for the dead and the bereaved. The pin-drop silence was interrupted only once, when a young black man, upon seeing the body of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, bolted from the courtroom.

Most striking of the photographs was that of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who seemed to have been running toward the altar when he was felled by three bullets, according to the autopsy report. He had pitched head-first toward the raised lectern in a prone position reminiscent of reverential prostration. A ribbon of blood streamed away from his head for several feet before vanishing from the frame.

Those who have followed the events of June 17, 2015, and thereafter are familiar with Pinckney and the eight black parishioners who died. Over time, we’ve learned their names and faces, and feel as though they were friends or people we’d like to have known. Seeing their photos in the courtroom, their bodies labeled with a number as the only way to identify them initially, refreshed a sense of the killer’s anonymous presence among them that night and the deft, dispassionate brutality with which he dispatched them.

From the evidence, it was easy to discern how the shooter went about his business. Shell casings and empty magazines were found around the perimeter of the room, indicating that the killer was moving around while shooting. One magazine was left on one of three round tables in the center of the room where the Bible study group was meeting and where most of the victims were found. This particular table was draped with a yellow-and-green-patterned cloth. Next to the dark, empty magazine was a large, open Bible and a piece of paper.

Bullet holes in another of the tablecloths and an indentation in the metal frame underneath suggested that the shooter deliberately aimed under the tables to kill those crouched below. The precision of his execution would deliver a staggering psychic blow to any decent human being.

For almost an hour, according to previous reports, Roof sat among these welcoming people, pretending to share their spiritual purpose, and then opened fire in a blaze of resigned fury. When a wounded Tywanza Sanders begged him to stop, Roof kept firing until four bullets riddled Sanders’ body. How could he? How could anyone?

By anyone’s definition, Roof is a racist, but surely this is too facile an explanation. The rational mind wants more. Insanity? Not according to a psychiatrist who examined him. What then?

The “what” will be the focus of defense attorneys who will try to persuade jurors to spare Roof’s life. If they do, he still faces another death penalty state trial next year. Whatever is decided here – and again later – it may be difficult to get beyond the way survivor Felicia Sanders described the assailant as the prosecution’s first witness. Looking directly at Roof, she said, “Evil, evil, evil.”

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/13/kathleen-parker-at-trial-for-nine-murders-inside-church-the-why-is-not-fully-answered/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2015/08/686371_RTX1HB17-1.jpgDylann Roof, 21, faces 33 federal charges in the June 17 shootings at a church in Charleston, S.C. Eighteen of those charges potentially carry the death penalty.Mon, 12 Dec 2016 20:26:56 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Trump assaults the Constitution and our 1st Amendment freedoms http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/06/kathleen-parker-trump-assaults-the-constitution-and-our-1st-amendment-freedoms/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/06/kathleen-parker-trump-assaults-the-constitution-and-our-1st-amendment-freedoms/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1119295 On the first stop of his “thank you” tour in Ohio last Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump hit replay on several of his campaign tropes.

Among the crowd-pleasers, he heckled the “crooked media” prompting boos from the audience, and reiterated his pledge to criminalize flag burning.

And he’s not even president yet. More than a month and a half away from Inauguration Day, Trump’s only discipline seems to be making good on bad faith. His attacks both on the media and on those who, rather rarely, burn an American flag, are fundamentally assaults on the Constitution and the First Amendment.

Do Trump followers really not care about these founding documents and their bearing on all the freedoms we take for granted? Or, could they really not know any better?

Most disturbing is the absence of objections from the right. Where are the Republicans when the leader of their party speaks so dismissively toward our principles of freedom and the journalists, many of whom they know personally, who practice in good faith the spirit of the law? How long before Trump’s words convince some off-balance Second Amendment “patriot” to take out a “crooked” media person, fully expecting to be applauded by the president-elect?

We the people believe in free speech and a free press not so that we can burn flags but so that we can expose government corruption, protest oppression, and express opinions that others may find disagreeable without fear of repercussion.

As offensive as flag burning is to patriotic Americans, it can also be an act of patriotism, a proposition I offer as argument not endorsement. If you love your country and fear that it’s being led toward tyranny, you might well burn a flag to demonstrate such concerns. To the extent that the flag is a symbol of freedom, burning it is also a symbolic act. I’d argue that many, if not most, veterans, including those in my family, fought, suffered and died for the right of all Americans to speak freely.

Indeed, objectionable expression is the true test of the strength of our freedoms. We don’t need a First Amendment to protect get well cards or love letters. We don’t need it to protect Christmas carols. But should someone challenge the latter, given its religious content, wouldn’t many of those Ohioans cheering Trump’s demagogic illogic be grateful that free speech protects their right to stroll the streets singing songs of praise?

Understanding the crucial importance of free speech and a free press to all other freedoms compelled the Supreme Court to rule that even flag burning is protected. And this is why Trump, a man who professes to love freedom and has presented himself as the best person to lead the free world, should be roundly condemned for suggesting that anyone who burns a flag should be punished by imprisonment or even loss of citizenship.

Or why his persistent attacks on the media, threatening to restrict press freedom, are so misplaced, potentially dangerous and, not least, impossible for him to do constitutionally. Either Trump knows this, which makes his crowd-baiting not only offensive but also irresponsible, or he’s unfamiliar with the Constitution, the defense of which is one of the primary functions of the presidency.

As to the crooked media, Trump’s gibes are ludicrous. Was he over-covered? Perhaps, but he was early on the Republican frontrunner and subsequently the nominee. The media could hardly ignore him, much as many of us would have liked to. Yes, some members of the media are biased, but not most, and they’re usually drummed out through peer review.

It should be obvious that without the so-called mainstream media, especially newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, no one would know anything that has any basis in objective fact – and yes, there is such a thing. We will rue the day we forgot that newsgathering is a profession with demanding standards regarding performance and ethics. Notwithstanding the billion-member global newsroom, it’s nice to have smart, experienced reporters and editors to pluck the pearls from the muck.

Therefore, the highest service the president of the United States could perform would be to actively engage the media in the national interest of nurturing an informed populace, without which a democratic Republic cannot long survive.

To do otherwise is the first act of the dictator.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/12/06/kathleen-parker-trump-assaults-the-constitution-and-our-1st-amendment-freedoms/feed/ 0 Tue, 06 Dec 2016 04:00:00 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Public’s disgust at, distrust of legitimate journalism threaten democracy http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/22/kathleen-parker-publics-disgust-distrust-of-legitimate-journalism-threatens-democracy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/22/kathleen-parker-publics-disgust-distrust-of-legitimate-journalism-threatens-democracy/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1113170 Of the losers in this season of discontent, the mainstream media top the list. I don’t say this lightly, and I sincerely fear loss of faith in journalism ultimately will do more harm to the nation than any enemy could hope to cause.

Only 18 percent of Americans trust national news and just 22 percent trust local news, according to the Pew Research Center. That said, three-fourths of Americans think news organizations keep political leaders in line, though about the same percentage think the news media are biased.

Not surprisingly, Republicans more than Democrats think this way. It hasn’t helped that Republican politicos and conservative cable and radio outlets have convinced their constituents that the media are the enemy. It seems we’ve forgotten that the purpose of a newspaper, as Chicago Evening Post journalist and humorist Finley Peter Dunne put it in an 1893 column, is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Could there be a better reason to give Donald J. Trump a rough ride?

Nevertheless, distrust of legitimate journalism is no joking matter. What happens to democracy when an uninformed, misinformed or dis-informed populace tries to make sound decisions? The simple and terrible answer is: Democracy fails.

We’ve reached this critical juncture thanks largely to the digital revolution. Until relatively recently, most people relied on a limited number of trusted news sources, which provided a basis for what we referred to as “common knowledge.”

Today, of course, anyone with a smartphone to photograph or video in real time can create a virtual newsroom of one that can communicate with countless others through tweets, retweets and created buzz on fact or fiction. If you’re suddenly put in mind of insects, you’re not far off.

To those who complain that Trump received more negative coverage than Hillary Clinton did, I’d merely point out that correctly quoting the man was inherently negative. He said a lot of awful stuff and offered little of substance to offset the headlines. Moreover, the media have covered every follicle of Hillary Clinton’s scalp for 25 to 30 years. Her flaws and failures are well known to anyone who’s been half-awake, while Trump was essentially new on the political stage.

Trump’s own criticism of the press was as trumped up as many of his campaign slogans, created to deflect attention from, among other things, the fact that his manipulation of the media was the engine that propelled him to the top of the heap. But he knew that media bashing was popular among his base and gave them what they wanted.

Also contributing to the growing distrust is the perceived blurring of news and opinion, which can be a legitimate beef. Advocacy journalism, in this opinion writer’s view, belongs on the editorial and op-ed pages, though many news organizations subscribe to the notion that advancing a social cause or, perhaps, derailing an unfit candidate justifies aggressive coverage. Objectivity be damned.

It is worth noting, however, that when a mainstream reporter or editor is found to be deliberately dishonest, he or she is quickly dispatched to the outer darkness. The same can’t be said of the alternative news world or of social media. On Facebook, “fake” news creator Paul Horner recently marveled that his viral, made-up stories helped get Trump elected.

Fortunately, only 4 percent of Americans trust social media “a lot” as a news source, and 30 percent trust it “some,” according to Pew. But sometimes it’s hard to tell fake from true, or advocacy from propaganda, and therein lies perhaps the greatest challenge of our time.

News consumers must be extra vigilant in selecting news sources, while also being self-critical about those choices. The mainstream media need to work harder at presenting balanced reporting to rebuild trust. And education programs aimed at teaching students how to evaluate news, like those created by The News Literacy Project, need greater public support and an accelerated timeline.

Words to this effect from our next president wouldn’t hurt. Trump would see headlines change quickly in his favor, the world would rejoice and the Trump brand would be golden forever. Come on, do it.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: White-tie dinner shows why so many prefer Trump to Clinton http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/25/kathleen-parker-white-tie-dinner-shows-why-so-many-prefer-trump-to-clinton/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/25/kathleen-parker-white-tie-dinner-shows-why-so-many-prefer-trump-to-clinton/#comments Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1099377 If Beltway insiders and other East Coast elites ever wondered why so many Americans prefer Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, all they need do is watch a rerun of last Thursday’s 71st annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.

There they were in their finery, A-listers from the once-cherished institutions of church, state and the Fourth Estate – including the two aforementioned major-party presidential candidates; Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the evening’s host; and, hardly least, Maria Bartiromo’s candy apple red dress, long sparkling earrings and elbow-length gloves.

Oh, but the delectable humor, jarring jokes and quivering quips – the titters they brought to bleached smiles and knowing nods – and all for the good of disadvantaged children for whom the dinner raised $6 million. What could be better than dining with a few close friends, amusing oneself as the future president and the inevitable loser trade insults, as millions of viewers remember why they hate Washington?

Homage also was paid to the dinner’s namesake, Al Smith, the first Catholic to run for president of the United States and at a time (the 1920s) when Catholics were viewed as Satan’s spawn by people such as Trump’s own father – who took part in a Ku Klux Klan-sponsored, anti-Catholic rally, as Washington Post political writer Philip Bump has documented.

God bless America, how far we’ve come.

But not really, as Trump came to remind the boo-and-hisser crowd. As though he cared. And, as though all the deplorables and Trump sympathizers watching at home weren’t perfectly delighted by Trump’s performance.

To them, the dais was a diorama of self-congratulatory elites, smugly tittering at insider humor and then, suddenly, betraying white-tie outrage at their redneck Gatsby, who hocked up his couth and hurled it into the nearest vat of Dom Perignon.

The dinner is supposed to be a gentle roast at which political foes parry a bit but always with rubber rapiers. Attendees faithfully present themselves as priests and priestesses of the Highest Order of Civility, Good Humor & Charitable Hearts. A good time is supposed to be had by all.

Trump knows the rules, all right, and even mentioned that he’d been attending the dinner for years, beginning when he was a young man accompanying his father. But being Trump means never playing by the rules.

He began his remarks well enough, looking comfortable in a formal environment bloated with swells. But Trump carries within him a little bit of Gollum mixed with a touch of Truman Capote.

Like Gollum, he loathes what he loves and can’t resist sabotaging himself. Like Capote, he turns on his own. If Capote alienated all his “swans,” the belles of Upper East Side New York, by betraying their confidences in “La Cote Basque, 1965,” Trump betrayed the hopes of his powerful and wealthy colleagues that he could be trusted to behave.

Some of his jokes were very funny: “After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore,” he said. When Clinton took her turn, she jabbed back with: “And looking back, I’ve had to listen to Donald for three full debates, and he says I don’t have any stamina!”

But about midway through, Trump’s lightness turned dark.

“Here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” he said of Clinton, who was seated next to Dolan. (Boos.) Trump was referring to the WikiLeaks email in which an exchange among Clinton campaign staffers seemed to be condescending to Catholics.

He earned more boos when he said Clinton was so corrupt that she’d been kicked off the Watergate Committee. And, “She knows a lot about how government works. And according to her sworn testimony, Hillary has forgotten more things than most of us will ever, ever, ever know.”

Reading over the transcript, the jokes don’t seem so bad – or so good. Delivery really is everything. But watching the speeches in real time, Trump’s cuts contained a palpable hint of malice that wasn’t present in Clinton’s.

To the booing select, Trump’s performance was the final nail in his coffin. But to the great “unwashed,” you can be sure, Trump was doing his job and sticking it to the elites, which is what tens of millions of Americans deeply yearn to do.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: The greatest fear of all is what happens after the election http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/18/kathleen-parker-the-greatest-fear-of-all-what-happens-after-the-election/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/18/kathleen-parker-the-greatest-fear-of-all-what-happens-after-the-election/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1096085 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If I were to distill a recent public discussion about the state of our nation to one word, it would be “worried.”

Not fearful, not angry, but worried – about the future; about an election season that has made evil-clown sightings seem weirdly apt; but mostly about what will happen after the election. How do we mend the deep divisions that have evolved during this thoroughly nasty – and, at times, X-rated – campaign season? How does the country salve its wounds and reunite in common purpose?

Audience members here at the Poynter Institute’s “Community Conversation,” at which I was invited to speak last Thursday, posed these and other questions. The 150 or so attendees were a cross-spectrum mix of students, professionals, retirees and a few notables – a diverse group, in other words, with no protesters, rabble-rousers or armed combatants in search of a revolution. The latter may have been occupied in nearby Lakeland, where Donald Trump had pronounced a global conspiracy against him the day before.

Clinton supporters at the Poynter event told me privately that they were afraid to put “Hillary” signs in their yards for fear of retribution, not from roaming vandals but from once-friendly neighbors. My suggestion that this campaign was reminiscent of the run-up to the Iraq war, when politically opposite friends avoided each other, was received with nods of agreement.

Whether for Trump or Clinton, neither side can conceive of what compels the other. In this duplex of horrors, Clinton is a corrupt, lying, hypocritical career politician, and Trump is a sleazy, lying, narcissistic autocrat and an (alleged) sexual predator. Never the twain shall meet.

Once the votes are counted, who knows what’s next? President Obama’s final two months may require his coolest touch yet.

Meanwhile, the questions posed here did not readily present answers. What’s needed, I posited half-seriously, is a superhero. Someone to rise from the marshes and cut through the fog of our discontent, someone who can summon our better angels and help restore the country’s self-respect.

At least for now, one is optimistic without reason.

We can know with near certainty that a defeated Donald Trump will unleash the armies of Mordor, comprised of a fan base that will embrace his dark conspiracy theory that the election was rigged. To their minds, his loss couldn’t possibly be linked to a very long list of objectionable, as well as dishonest, statements he’s made, only one of which is the sex-talk video we needn’t view again.

Talking dirty has become the new normal, as anyone walking down a city street can confirm. And the objectification of women isn’t remotely limited to Trump’s warped view. As disgusting as Trump’s verbal (and possibly physical) assaults have been – and, yes, hurtful, too, as Michelle Obama so passionately said last week – a certain contingent of his supporters are reluctantly willing to overlook the nastiness for the sole reason that they dislike Clinton more.

Others aspire to loftier goals, such as preventing a liberal Supreme Court or reducing the tax burden with an eye toward economic growth. These are certainly legitimate reasons. But Trump’s willingness to pave the way for a “revolution” were Clinton to win should be sufficient evidence that this man isn’t fit for the office.

To what extent are Trump sympathizers willing to express their disappointment? Well, who knows? But many will have seen the interview with a woman at a Trump rally last week who said she and her comrades are prepared to take their country back, cheerfully reminding the interviewer that “you’re in the South. We’re all Second Amendment pros.”

Is she talking about a well-regulated militia, perchance?

This is the mindset Trump has nurtured these past many months. These are the people he will summon at the end. These are the reasons the less-emotionally taut are so worried.

More worrisome still is the opposite result: What if Trump wins? We can presume that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be delighted, his possible WikiLeaks alliance having paid off. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who has called Trump a “wise politician,” will order extra platters of chicken wings to celebrate.

As the Japanese proverb goes: When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.

Remember, too, that Trump has vowed as president to make it easier for people to sue the media, which, constitutionally, he can’t. But as all authoritarian figures tend to do, Trump has to blame someone else for his failures. The media are handy bait for the credulous and misinformed.

Don’t be afraid, but be worried.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/18/kathleen-parker-the-greatest-fear-of-all-what-happens-after-the-election/feed/ 54 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/TRUMP.CLINTON.2pack.jpgMon, 17 Oct 2016 18:46:58 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Trump’s beauty queen fiasco shows how old news becomes today’s headlines http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/04/kathleen-parker-trumps-beauty-queen-fiasco-shows-he-doesnt-have-the-best-temperament/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/04/kathleen-parker-trumps-beauty-queen-fiasco-shows-he-doesnt-have-the-best-temperament/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 04:01:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1087636 Only in the strangest-ever presidential election could a former beauty queen’s weight be considered a deal-breaking issue of, if I may, gargantuan proportions.

Pretend it’s two weeks ago: Who is Alicia Machado?

Now: How happy is Alicia Machado?

If I weren’t paid by the word, I’d be speechless.

The former Miss Universe of 1996 has risen from the ashes of former fame to become the nom du jour thanks to some delight-inducing opposition research by the Clinton campaign. As everyone now knows, Donald Trump was once nasty to Machado, whose coronation as the most beautiful figure in the world apparently coincided with the arrival of her appetite.

According to Machado, who has appeared on numerous talk shows, Trump called her “Miss Piggy,” “eating machine” and “Miss Housekeeper,” by which we are to infer that he was cruel, lacking in compassion – though he says he interceded when pageant officials wanted to fire her – and a classist, racist, misogynist ogre.

I’m sorry. Who didn’t know?

More baffling than the fact of the political twist that we’ll naturally call “weightgate” is the breathless, hand-over-mouth reaction, primarily, it must be said, among the media and the Clinton campaign – not that Trump hasn’t participated in giving this story rather good legs.

News flash: Donald Trump was mean to a beauty queen, who, in violation of her contract, according to him, gained too much weight. Pardon, but have The Deeply Offended been circling the moon the past 20 years? Trump didn’t suddenly become a jackass; he didn’t suddenly begin treating women as chattel; he didn’t suddenly show his nasty attitude toward those he considers beneath him.

If his long-ago comments to Machado, resurrected by a very clever Hillary Clinton during the first presidential debate, have provided enlightenment to anyone over the age of, say, 10, well, then, just awesome sauce. For the rest of the polity, this is hardly revelation.

It’s just ol’ Donald being ol’ Donald – then, still and always.

What makes this dusty offense resonate now?

Ostensibly, it’s because our daughters, our granddaughters, wives, sisters and selves have body image issues. Thus it has always been, though lately (meaning the late 20th century to the present), we’ve become more attuned to how girls and women feel about their bodies – and, of course, what the president of the United States can do about it.

This isn’t to make light of eating disorders, which are serious health concerns. But this episode in political un-reality demands perspective. Plainly, Clinton tossed in the Machado tidbit knowing that Trump would seize the bait and get tangled in the nets. He can’t help himself, as any witness to recent history knows.

That he would double and triple down, tweeting in the middle of the night four days later, is more than Clinton could have hoped for. Early last Friday, Trump apparently couldn’t sleep for thinking about it and tweeted that Clinton had been duped into mentioning his comments about the “disgusting” Machado.

Keep it up, Donnie, and Machado will have her own reality show before you get yours back.

Clinton’s expectation, which is somewhat sexist in itself, was to capture the women’s vote by exposing Trump’s bullying of Machado. This expose would be especially effective, presumably, because every woman in America has uttered the words: “Does this make me look fat?”

I once asked my father this question when, three months after giving birth and still wearing 30 extra pounds, I donned a cashmere poncho with Western-ish markings to greet friends I hadn’t seen in years. He sized me up and replied: “No, you look like three Indians in a teepee.” We died laughing. The old man raised us to survive a harsh world but not so much with sensitivity training.

Clinton also hoped to gain the support of millennials, who, we’re told, are more recent to the body-image struggle – just possibly exaggerated by constant self-documentation? – and are also more sensitive to older generations’ attachment to stereotypes and -isms.

Whether voting-age women will clamor to vote Clinton because of remarks Trump made nearly 20 years ago will keep the commentariat chewing the fat for a bit. The meat of the matter, meanwhile, is what Trump’s remarks then and now tell us what is crucial in a presidential election: The man can’t control himself.

This should be enough.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/10/04/kathleen-parker-trumps-beauty-queen-fiasco-shows-he-doesnt-have-the-best-temperament/feed/ 6 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/10/AP16271425633326.jpgFILE - In this June 15, 2016, file photo, former Miss Universe Alicia Machado speaks during a news conference at a Latino restaurant in Arlington, Va., to criticize Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Machado became a topic of conversation during the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on Sept. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Luis Alonso Lugo, File)Mon, 03 Oct 2016 19:43:05 +0000
Kathleen Parker: The birther movement was racist to its core, and Trump led the charge http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/20/kathleen-parker-the-birther-movement-was-racist-to-its-core-and-trump-led-the-charge/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/20/kathleen-parker-the-birther-movement-was-racist-to-its-core-and-trump-led-the-charge/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1066473 At long last, Donald Trump has set himself free.

At a highly choreographed event last Friday, the Republican candidate for president of the United States finally issued his verdict on the birthright of our two-term president, who, it turns out, is a real American!

“Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump intoned to the great relief of no one.

Well, howdy-do. Welcome to planet Earth, son.

But Trump’s announcement was merely a curtain call on a theatrical production otherwise known as Free Publicity for Trump. For the preceding 24 hours, Trump had gleefully baited and dragged the media through Con Man’s Swamp, first refusing to answer the question posed by The Washington Post’s Robert Costa about whether Trump still thought Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., then building suspense Friday morning that he would make a “big announcement.”

As reporters drummed their fingers and cameramen shifted their feet, Trump dilly-dallied, finally arriving late to the venue, which happened to be his very own new hotel in Washington. Awaiting him on the dais was a gathering of war heroes, who spent 20 minutes extolling Trump’s virtues, many of which one has never before associated with the nominee – his intellectual curiosity, his great temperament and his raw intelligence.

Only Trump could believe such things about himself – and he obviously did. He beamed like a boy with a brand-new toy.

Now, I don’t doubt that those on the stage sincerely support the Republican candidate. And nothing I say about Trump is intended to reflect on these extraordinary Americans, especially not on Michael Thornton, a retired Navy SEAL, whom I single out because he happens to be a friend. I commend his remarkable story to anyone seeking perspective and inspiration.

My heart sank just a little when I saw Mike standing behind Trump, even though I’m aware that it’s difficult for many battlefield veterans, especially those from the Vietnam era, to find a Clinton acceptable as commander in chief. Although no American women engaged in direct combat in Vietnam, thereby eliminating any expectation that Hillary should have served (we were saner then), she still bears the burden of Benghazi, justified or not. But Bill Clinton dodged the draft, while 58,000 members of his generation fought and died. To many Trump-supporting veterans, once a twofer always a twofer.

Seeing Trump wedged among men who had served heroically, several of whom risked their own lives to save others, had an effect more minimizing than elevating. Trump avoided the draft, too, with a doctor’s excuse, often available to sons of the rich, and otherwise isn’t qualified to stand shoulder to shoulder with Medal of Honor recipients.

As I watched them dutifully take turns saluting Trump, I recalled something I had read several years ago about heroes. It was a column by military scribe W. Thomas Smith Jr., who was writing about Thornton and three other MoH recipients. Smith, also a vet, was describing what it takes to be a hero – and those characteristics that would be antithetical to the heroic impulse.

He wrote: “Selfish men, bullies, and braggarts don’t perform well in battle. And those believing in their own extraordinariness rarely if ever accomplish feats worthy of the MoH.”


Obviously, the commander in chief doesn’t necessarily have to have participated in war to be effective. Nor will he or she ever physically act in war once elected, except in movies. But it does seem that qualities, values and virtues that we expect from our military troops and commanders – and that we recognize in our heroes – are no longer required of our political leaders.

In making his announcement, Trump also repeated two familiar refrains that are factually false. One, that Hillary Clinton first raised the question of Obama’s birthright. Even though it was raised by at least one of her supporters in 2008, it was Trump who, for years, led the birther movement and then used the notoriety to launch his campaign.

Trump also said that, thanks to him, Obama was forced to provide his birth certificate. Wrong again. And, by the way, does anyone think that the Clinton machine wouldn’t have produced contrary evidence of Obama’s citizenship had it existed?

It’s good that Trump has finally owned up, if way too late to make any difference. But one should keep in mind that the birther movement was racist to its core. And the man who would be president led the charge.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/20/kathleen-parker-the-birther-movement-was-racist-to-its-core-and-trump-led-the-charge/feed/ 199 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/830564_Campaign-2016-Obama-Trump.J.jpgRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump atook a hit in Wisconsin with a double-digit loss to Ted Cruz but now looks ahead to his home state of New York.Mon, 19 Sep 2016 19:49:26 +0000
Kathleen Parker: NBC forum shows presidential campaigns lack substance http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/13/kathleen-parker-nbc-forum-shows-substance-is-lacking-from-presidential-campaign/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/13/kathleen-parker-nbc-forum-shows-substance-is-lacking-from-presidential-campaign/#comments Tue, 13 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1055757 America has had better weeks than the one just past.

Only days away from the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates convened for what was dubbed the “Commander-in-Chief Forum,” sponsored by NBC News and hosted by “Where in the world is Matt Lauer?”


Lauer apparently just got wind that Clinton used a private email server because he devoted one-third of her allotted time to questions about the email, which has been investigated exhaustively, including by the FBI, for about two years. Otherwise, we learned that Clinton’s top counterterrorism goal is to defeat the Islamic State, which failed to awaken any of the thousands of people who requested an induced coma until Nov. 9.

From Trump we learned that he built a great company, which was news to us, and that he has a plan for defeating the Islamic State but he’s not about to tell anyone, because he might win the election and then the terrorists would know that he intends to ask his top generals for a plan.

We also learned, because we’ve never heard this before, that the U.S.-led Iraq invasion was a mistake that Clinton once favored and that Trump did not, except that he did. But who, pray tell, ever cared what Trump the New York real estate developer thought about our military plans for Iraq? Why not just ask Joe the doorman at 30 E. 76th Street?

Today, let’s face it, everybody’s against it after they were for it.

Clinton seems to have abandoned even her qualifying trope for voting for the Iraq invasion – “based on the intelligence we had at the time.” At the forum, she simply and solemnly intoned that it “was a mistake.”

This was a noteworthy moment, obviously premeditated in anticipation of the question, and seems to have been choreographed to convey gravitas. A curious choice when speaking to the military audience gathered and an unqualified obscenity to the ears of families whose loved ones perished. Why not use the opportunity to say that as commander in chief, her first order of business would be to ensure no such intelligence failure ever happens again?

Similarly curious was Trump’s response outlining his qualifications to command the military: “I’ve built a great company.” For real? He missed an obvious opening to say something thoughtful and original that highlights what he has over his opponent – a record of dealmaking and negotiation. He had a chance to create a new narrative: If war is a failure of diplomacy, then Trump could say he’s uniquely qualified to use his talents to end all wars.

This isn’t necessarily so, but it sure beats his usual campaign Big Talk about nukes and nationalistic jingoism. Instead, he essentially finessed the forum by saying so little of substance that his supporters can continue to invent whatever fantasy narrative gets them through the night. Including, it would seem, that it’s OK for the Republican nominee to blow kisses at Vladimir Putin, whom Mitt Romney long ago, and to much eye-rolling, identified as our greatest geopolitical foe.

Not to Trump, who declared last Wednesday that Putin is a far better leader for Russia than Barack Obama has been for the U.S. Never mind that Putin – former KGB officer, aggressor, oppressor and, yes, dictator – leads in part by ensuring that his opponents cease breathing. Is this really Trump’s idea of leadership? What could go wrong?

To distill the week: Clinton proved herself knowledgeable, if foggy, and experienced in public affairs, as well as in artifice. Trump is a substance-free figment of his own imagination, whose stated reason for running for president is that he thinks he can win.

Missing Romney yet?

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/13/kathleen-parker-nbc-forum-shows-substance-is-lacking-from-presidential-campaign/feed/ 13 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/09/1048416_Campaign-2016-Trump.JPEG-ed.jpgDonald Trump speaks with Matt Lauer during Wednesday night's NBC forum in New York. He said he privately has a plan for defeating the Islamic State but would not disclose the details.Mon, 12 Sep 2016 21:19:13 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Why Trump’s call for the African-American vote sounds so flat http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/06/kathleen-parker-why-trumps-call-for-the-african-american-vote-sounds-so-flat/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/06/kathleen-parker-why-trumps-call-for-the-african-american-vote-sounds-so-flat/#comments Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:13:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1046397 When Donald Trump says he has a great relationship with “the Blacks,” I wonder if he also gets along well with the Smiths. We know he’s tight with the Whites.

But what’s with the definite article?

During a brief dalliance with Google, I learned that Trump has used “the” before whites at least once – when commenting that Black Entertainment Television doesn’t offer awards to “the whites.” But for the most part, he reserves “the” for “the blacks,” or, as most people would say, “blacks,” if they don’t say “African-Americans.”

Oftentimes, you’ll find the word “people” following black, as in: “Black people are people, too,” which is what I want to say to Trump every time he says, “the blacks.”

“The blacks” is such an odd way of referring to any group of people (“the Asians,” “the whites,” “the Latinos”) precisely because it does what it shouldn’t. “The,” as Trump uses it, effectively functions as a separatist term, which tells us a great deal about Trump’s attitude toward, if I may, black people.

Even while insisting that he has a good relationship with “the blacks,” Trump betrays an objectifying posture that would suggest otherwise. I don’t doubt that he has friends who happen to be black or black employees with whom he is cordial, if not friendly. At a certain economic level, race erases itself and racial identity becomes irrelevant.

But these associations are quite apart from speaking to a broad African-American community, not to mention non-African-American people of color, or from having empathy for minority groups.

Digging up old photos of Trump snuggling with Al Sharpton is laughable as evidence that Trump has any connection to a diverse community of black people.

Nor is speaking to a largely African-American community in Detroit – or to an Iowa rally of mostly whites about “the blacks” – likely to shift Trump’s dismal poll numbers showing that his appeal to black voters is approximately commensurate with the number of older white males who pray for a President Hillary Clinton.

This, among other reasons, is why Trump most likely will not be the next president of the United States. You can’t fake love, and nothing’s worse than a would-be wooer who says all the wrong things.

Trump can still win the presidency without blacks, but he can’t win without a healthy chunk of non-white voters, including Hispanics and Asians, whose numbers have dramatically increased the past couple of decades. Nor can the Republican Party long survive without attracting minorities and young voters.

The future of the Republican Party and the presidency comes down to simple math. White birth rates are down to almost nil. Minorities are swelling the electorate with high birth rates and immigration. This can be done without a calculator.

Given Trump’s egregious, minority-slamming rhetoric, combined with his uniquely offensive charm, there seems little chance he’ll be pulling in enough non-white votes to win. Meanwhile, the white electorate is shrinking. In 2012, whites were 72 percent of the electorate, compared with 88 percent in 1992. Estimates by Republican pollster Whit Ayres are that the 2016 electorate will be 69 percent white and 31 percent non-white. Thankfully, we acknowledge Ayres’ book, “2016 and Beyond,” in which he does the math so we don’t have to.

So let’s say that Trump wins the same number of white votes that Mitt Romney did in 2012 – 59 percent. He still needs 30 percent of non-white votes to win the election, according to Ayres. Recent history offers little hope of this outcome: Romney won only 17 percent of the non-white vote and John McCain just 19 percent.

Alternatively, Ayres suggests that if Trump doesn’t exceed Romney’s 17 percent non-white vote, then he’ll need a whopping 65 percent of white votes to win, and droves of white Republicans have already abandoned ship.

Moreover, such a landslide has happened only once in the past 40 years – in 1984, when the Republican nominee won 66 percent of white votes, as well as 9 percent of blacks.

Needless to say, The Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:

http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/06/kathleen-parker-why-trumps-call-for-the-african-american-vote-sounds-so-flat/feed/ 5 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/Columnist-Parker.jpgTue, 06 Sep 2016 12:14:42 +0000
Kathleen Parker: New campaign manager could give Trump change we can believe in http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/kathleen-parker-new-campaign-manager-could-give-trump-change-we-can-believe-in/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/kathleen-parker-new-campaign-manager-could-give-trump-change-we-can-believe-in/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1025425 When my syndicate editor told me a few clients had been asking, “Don’t you have anyone over there who can write something positive about Donald Trump?” I thought, well, that could be fun.

But hard.

Then, as if the Muses and Fates had conspired to help me in this Olympian task, everything in Trump World changed. Not only did Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort resign following reports of his involvement in Ukrainian politics, but Trump hired a woman, Kellyanne Conway, to become his new campaign manager.

And: He suddenly started being nice.

Call it a woman’s touch or the desperation of a faltering candidate, but Trump was even kind of cute last Thursday when he expressed regret for some of his ill-chosen words during the campaign, especially those that might have caused personal pain, presumably in others. What’s next – a prayer for forgiveness of sins?

If his comments weren’t strictly an apology, they at least were an acknowledgment of error. They also indicated that Trump can learn new tricks. He’s trainable and, apparently, is open to ideas not his own.

Clearly, this was a tectonic plate-shifting moment in a campaign previously defined by insult and arrogance.

“Sometimes I can be too honest,” he said, brilliantly setting up his opponent’s fatal flaw: “Hillary Clinton is the exact opposite. She never tells the truth.”

It’s no coincidence that Conway, a veteran of the anti-Clinton wars, is also a pollster. Who better to turn things around than someone who pays her bills by measuring the public’s temper? More important, Conway specializes in women voters. Her firm, The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend, has monitored women’s thinking on a wide variety of issues since 1995.

Her handiwork, which previously has included telling Republicans to stop using the four-letter word “rape” in campaigns, is in clear evidence with her newest client.

Which means, I suppose, that this positive Trump column is really about Conway.

Will her magic work to shift women and swing voters toward Trump? Which is the real Trump? The guy who insults everybody, or the one who almost says he’s sorry and wants to bring the country together? Can he sustain this new persona and for how long? Attention span isn’t his strong suit, but then neither is it America’s.

We’ll wait and see. Unless Trump has been projecting someone else the past year just to capture the conservative, white male voter who was never going to vote for Clinton anyway, there’s every reason to believe his impetuousness will prevail.

Moreover, it’s questionable whether voters can be swayed by a sudden personality change, even among those who readily grant second chances to the penitent.

Will women suddenly forget everything Trump has said while being “too honest”? Will African-Americans buy Trump’s promise that their lives will be “amazing” if they vote for him? Will the seed Trump planted of Clinton’s bigotry, seeing blacks only as votes, take root?

Such a statement from any other Republican would burst into flames from the volatile combination of hypocrisy and absurdity, but nearly everyone understands that Trump isn’t really a Republican.

The outsider non-politician who regrets saying hurtful words, who is sometimes “too honest” but “will never lie” to the people may surprise us. At least he has offered a sliver of decency to those looking for something to cling to – a little humility, a smattering of remorse, a human connection – to help them justify voting for anybody but Clinton.

Trump has been losing ground essentially because of the cumulative effect of his persistent nastiness. Add to this his off-the-cuff remarks about maybe using nukes, leaving NATO to its own resources, his praise of dictators and strongmen, and he was someone you wouldn’t want anywhere near the football.

Or oneself, as Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt wrote so brilliantly, saying Trump was the person you hoped wouldn’t be seated next to you at a dinner party. On the other hand, I’ve long admired the sentiment popularized by Alice Roosevelt Longworth: If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.

Who better than Trump?

The man is funny, even at his meanest. What many have found repugnant about his style was indeed the secret to his success. People love hearing said aloud what they’re really thinking.

But that was then – and for now at least, it appears to be Conway’s show: No more insults, stick to script, focus on Clinton’s dishonesty.

It just might work.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/kathleen-parker-new-campaign-manager-could-give-trump-change-we-can-believe-in/feed/ 16 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/08/AP16230450739831.jpgFILE - In this May 9, 2015 file photo, Kellyanne Conway speaks at the Freedom Summit, in Greenville, S.C. Republican Donald Trump announced a shakeup of his campaign leadership Wednesday, the latest sign of tumult in his bid for the White House as his poll numbers slip and only 82 days remain before the election. Trump promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)Mon, 22 Aug 2016 19:22:58 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Sorry, puppies, but newspapers show journalism is worth paying for http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/16/kathleen-parker-sorry-puppies-newspapers-show-journalism-is-worth-paying-for/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/16/kathleen-parker-sorry-puppies-newspapers-show-journalism-is-worth-paying-for/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1015855 Every couple of years or so, I feel the need to whine about the plight of newspapers. It’s August. I’m Trumped out. So today’s the day.

Except that HBO’s John Oliver beat me to it with the best defense of newspapers – ever. His recent “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” monologue about the suffering newspaper industry has gone viral in journalism circles but he deserves a broader audience.

Besides, it’s funny.

Leavening his important message with enough levity to keep the dopamine flowing, Oliver points out that most news outlets – faux, Fox and otherwise – essentially rely on newspapers for their material. This includes, he says, pulsing with self-awareness, Oliver himself. He’s sort of part of the problem, in other words, but at least he knows it, which makes it OK, sort of.

The problem: People want news, but they don’t want to pay for it.

Consequently, newspapers are failing while consumers get their information from comedy shows, talk shows and websites that essentially lift material for their own purposes.

But somewhere, somebody is actually sitting through a boring meeting, poring over data or interviewing someone who isn’t nearly as important as he thinks he is in order to produce a story that will become news. As Oliver points out, news is a food chain, yet with rare exceptions, the most important members of the chain are at the bottom, turning off the lights in newsrooms where gladiators, scholars and characters once roamed.

Some still do, though most are becoming rather long-ish in the tooth. (You can actually get that fixed, you know.)

That any newspapers are surviving, if not for much longer in any recognizable form, can be attributed at least in some part to the dedication of people who really believe in the mission of a free press and are willing to work harder for less – tweeting, blogging, filming and whatnot in addition to trying to write worthy copy. Most of the poor slobs who fell in love with the printed word go unnoticed by any but their peers.

An exception is Marty Baron, the unassuming executive editor of The Washington Post, recently featured in the film “Spotlight” about the Boston Globe’s stories under Baron’s leadership about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

It’s a good movie, not just because of great casting and acting but also because it’s a great tale about a massive investigative effort that led to church reform and the beginning of healing for victims. (Not to worry: My pay comes as a percentage of the money I make for the company. This won’t make a dime of difference.)

My point – shared by Oliver – is that only newspapers are the brick-and-mortar of the Fourth Estate’s edifice. Only they have the wherewithal to do the kind of reporting that leads to stories such as “Spotlight.” What happens to the “news” when there are no newspapers left?

We seem doomed to find out as people increasingly give up their newspaper subscriptions and seek information from free-content sources. And though newspapers have an online presence, it’s hard to get readers to pay for content.

As Oliver says, now is a very good time to be a corrupt politician. Between buyouts, layoffs and news-hole reductions, there’s hardly anyone paying attention.

Except, perhaps, to kitties.

In a hilarious spinoff of “Spotlight” called “Stoplight,” Oliver shows a short film of a news meeting where the old-school reporter is pitching a story about city hall corruption. The rest of the staff – cheerful human topiaries to the reporter’s kudzu-draped mangrove – are more interested in a cat that looks like a raccoon.

And then there’s Sam Zell, erstwhile owner of the Tribune Co., who summed up the sad trajectory of the nation’s interests and, perhaps, our future while speaking to Orlando Sentinel staffers in 2008. When he said he wanted to increase revenues by giving readers what they want, a female voice objected, “What readers want are puppy dogs.”

Zell exploded, calling her comment the sort of “journalistic arrogance of deciding that puppies don’t count. … Hopefully we get to the point where our revenue is so significant that we can do puppies and Iraq, OK? (Expletive) you.”

Yes, he said that.

Moral of the story: If you don’t subscribe to a newspaper, you don’t get to complain about the sorry state of journalism – and puppies you shall have.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Trump’s tower shows signs it might be missing a few neurons http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/09/kathleen-parker-trumps-tower-shows-signs-it-might-be-missing-a-few-neurons/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/09/kathleen-parker-trumps-tower-shows-signs-it-might-be-missing-a-few-neurons/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1006042 Two years ago, Karl Rove caused a stir when he suggested that Hillary Clinton might have suffered brain damage from a fall.

My, how things have changed.

Today, Clinton’s brain seems to be working just fine, though it’s less than clear that Donald Trump’s is.

Much has been written about Trump’s narcissism, by which most people mean something beyond the garden-variety “he’s such a narcissist.” Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is a board-certified psychiatrist, wouldn’t officially diagnose such a thing in print, but in a recent column, he described Trump in terms that are recognizable to those familiar with the personality disorder.

But perhaps there’s something more going on with Trump. Charitably, I wonder if he is suffering some degree of dementia. Could his quick-to-anger, unfiltered outbursts be attributable to something akin to what Rove once worried about?

I think I’m in a unique position to ask this question because of events visited upon me shortly after and pertaining to Rove’s remarks. Appearing on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on May 22, 2014, I was asked about those remarks, which I characterized as unfair and premature. I mentioned that I’d once suffered a concussion and that, though serious, symptoms aren’t necessarily persistent over time.

Cue Irony.

Just minutes later, when I was forced by a broken elevator to take the stairs, a slippery step sent me airborne and at the mercy of gravity. The resulting concussion, compounded by my previous one, left me in a vague state for several months.

As it turned out, symptoms can be persistent over time, I quickly learned. Twenty-six months later, I am constantly surprised by incremental improvements after I thought I was well healed months ago.

I recount this history to establish my bona fides in discussing Trump’s often-bizarre and impetuous behavior. Not only did I experience brain damage sufficient to prevent my working for almost a year – irreparably damaging my career and financial stability – but also I’ve studied traumatic brain injury for a book I’m writing.

My own symptoms often mimicked the early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia. I simultaneously experienced being childlike as well as elderly, variously filled with awe and wonder as well as confused, disoriented, depressed and uncertain.

My particular injury was to the frontal lobe, which governs executive functioning, including decision-making, problem-solving, memory, language, initiative and motivation. Additionally, it regulates inhibition, impulse control, judgment and social behavior. One of the questions neurologists routinely ask friends and family of brain-injured people is whether they’re quicker to anger. In my case, oddly, everyone said, “Oh, no, she’s much nicer!” (This has passed.)

Also, oddly, while I was unable to think of words – calling an umbrella an elephant and saying that my closet, though large, “doesn’t have much parking” – I could conduct mathematical calculations in my head seemingly without thinking.

The brain is a mysterious place.

Trump’s seems especially so – unless he is simply displaying signs not of brain injury, necessarily, but of atrophy associated with aging. If so, then this would help explain his impulsiveness, his inappropriate language, his quick temper and a “mean” streak.

Some of Trump’s Palm Beach neighbors have told me that the man they’re seeing on the stump isn’t the man they’ve known. Although he always has been boastful and consumed with greed and self-promotion, he’s hardly alone in these categories.

What is unique, at least among presidential candidates, is his utter lack of social skills in saying things that would get a schoolchild sent to the principal and very likely to a psychologist. The inhibitory filters that keep most of us from saying whatever pops into our head seem in Trump’s case to be on the blink.

Painful as it is to admit, I, too displayed some of these very symptoms in the first several months after my fall. Ordinarily polite, I was suddenly prone to interruptions and would blurt out things that never would have left the lips of my previous self. Temperamentally reserved, I became almost aggressive in telling anyone everything. Who was this person?

The thing is, as I read somewhere, when your brain is damaged, your brain is damaged. And while the marketing/branding portion of Trump’s 70-year-old brain seems to be as finely tuned as ever, his general behavior of insults, diatribes and distortions suggests that some key neurons may have left Trump’s tower.

These observations, offered without malice, are made necessary by the fact that Trump is to be provided classified information and by the possibility that he could become president of the United States.

Paging Dr. Rove.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Reputable Republicans can tell Trump, ‘Thanks for nothing!’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/02/kathleen-parker-reputable-republicans-can-tell-trump-thanks-for-nothing/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/02/kathleen-parker-reputable-republicans-can-tell-trump-thanks-for-nothing/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=994800 A longtime Republican friend texted just as the Democratic National Convention was burying itself in balloons: “I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m a Democrat.”

Another Republican friend called after President Obama spoke last Wednesday: “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m a Democrat.”

No apologies necessary. But thanks surely go to Donald Trump and his spineless Republican enablers. The party of Lincoln, a sometimes laughable bragging point for die-hards whose racial attitudes survived the Civil War intact, is long gone. Its dissolution began at least with Richard Nixon, who embraced a Southern strategy that pandered to racists and set the course for today’s Republican Party.

The party of angry men and patient women tried to add a little sugar and spice, plunging itself ever-lower on the curve when it embraced a cute little winkin’, blinkin’ and noddin’ gal-gov from Alaska as vice-presidential running mate to John McCain – and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Next came the tea party movement to which Sarah Palin briefly attached her Winnebago, followed by the government shutdown, and culminating with the glittering, twittering Tower of Trump.

That many people on both sides of the aisle are furious and feel marginalized by the pitiless evolutionary march of globalization is understandable. That any one person can make it all better, as Trump has claimed, is a joke that even the mirthless Vladimir Putin surely finds laughable. I imagine him practicing a line he learned in Crawford, Texas, while revealing his soul to George W. Bush: “Bring ’em on!”

“I alone can fix it,” Trump has said. So averse to the first-person plural is Trump that he probably thinks the unum in e pluribus unum – is about him. Out of many, Trump.

Trump’s lack of cool and couth reminds me of the old quip, “Who’d want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member?” For many Republicans, the question is: “Who’d want to be a member of a party that would have Donald Trump as its leader?”

Not I, you may have noticed. At least a few dozen readers have taken note and written to express their disappointment. “You used to make so much sense,” they say. Or, “You’re obviously a tool of the left.” (I was hoping for Satan, but no luck.) The most popular: “You’re obviously a member of the liberal media cabal.”

Yep, that’s me. We cabals just sit around plotting our next mass assault on the candidate who, if elected, would keep us employed at least another four years.

I suppose it’s time for a confession: I’ve never been a Republican and never said I was. I’ve been an independent since the early ’80s and was a Democrat before that. If you’re disappointed, well, sorry. It’s not I who has changed.

Although I find Trump reprehensible and have written continuously out of a sense of duty to country, I’m not about to become a Democrat. What for? Parties, clubs and groups hold little interest for a person who delights in her own company and identifies with Florence King, the brilliant curmudgeonly commentator and author who once wrote: “We may be psychopaths in our own fashion, but we behave because we know that prison life is communal.”

Relax, snowflakes, she was being irreverent.

Like King, I’m a conservative, if this means everyone will leave me alone. Its further appeal, as defined by theorist Russell Kirk, is that conservatism is the negation of ideology.

In a world gone barking mad in defense of this or that ideology or religion, I’m fine with the blank page and the wisdom of ages. In a lecture called “Ten Conservative Principles,” Kirk explained: “A people’s historic continuity of experience … offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers.” Hear, hear, though I as much as anyone do love a caffeinated debate about the meaning of squid.

Dearest to my heart is Kirk’s conviction that conservatives “uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.”

This gets at the essence of our debate about the role of government. Decentralized authority – to the extent reasonable and practicable – seems the obvious preference, given the alternative. But opposing collectivism also means opposing collectivist thought, which has increasingly come to define the Republican Party.

With its acceptance of Trump, the party has implicitly embraced the most un-American of litmus tests for citizens and immigrants based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Republicans are becoming ideologues of exclusion and marginalization, with hints of oppression to come.

Who’d want to be a party to that? Not I.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: From Trump’s daily diatribes, disturbing echoes of a despot past http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/26/kathleen-parker-from-trumps-daily-diatribes-disturbing-echoes-of-a-despot-past/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/26/kathleen-parker-from-trumps-daily-diatribes-disturbing-echoes-of-a-despot-past/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=985543 Donald Trump was a man in full last Thursday night as he accepted the Republican nomination: full-throated, full of fury and full of himself. “I am your voice.” “I alone can fix it (the system).” “I am the law and order candidate.”

And the teeming throng of red-, white- and blue-bedecked patriots loved all 75 minutes of an acceptance speech in which the candidate promised to – stop me if you’ve heard this – make America great again.

Personally, I’d settle for a smile, an expression that rarely bothered Trump’s facial features, and a national day of no-yelling. All week, there was so much shouting and pointing. So much posturing and clenching of fists. So much anger as the crowd roared in unison: “Lock her up, lock her up, lock her up.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, serving as a prosecutor/provocateur, enumerated her crimes.

“Guilty or not guilty?” he shouted from the dais, at least once struggling to keep a straight face. “Guilty!” the crowd screamed with the bloodlust of Romans waiting for Nero’s thumb.

Ah, but it’s just politics, giddy commentators reminded us the day after. This is what conventions are all about, riling the ready for the final slog. Nothing to see here but faith in the promise of a better, stronger, safer America – all made possible by a ham-fisted, copper-coiffed casino broker who until very recently was a reality show celebrity who jabbed his finger toward trembling wannabes and decreed: “You’re fired!”

Heads will roll, we can presume, but whose? If I were Ted Cruz, I’d keep mine down.

The grandest of marketeers, Trump has cast a spell over a swath of America, inspiring them not with soaring rhetoric but with dark harbingers of worse to come. In the familiar way of despots, tyrants and kings, he has made the many feel better by singling out the few to fault.

It is not for nothing that many have compared Trump’s brand of rhetoric to some of humankind’s worst, including, unavoidably, Adolf Hitler.

Observing the convention, I was taken back to my uncommon childhood, when I was exposed to Hitler’s speeches. My father, a World War II Army Air Corps pilot, was also a kitchen historian who, post-war, studied Hitler in an effort to better understand him. This involved listening to his recorded speeches, which, in the dark, Before Apple era, meant we all listened to them. They made a lasting impression.

Without understanding a word of German, it wasn’t difficult to translate Hitler’s message. The ferocious shouts of thousands of citizens, inflamed by and enamored of this strange little man, merged into a solid note – a deafening roar freighted with the fears and furies of mankind’s primeval past.

“Lock her up” sounds a lot like “To the stockades.”

We affirm that such a thing could never happen here. Our Constitution and our system of checks and balances protect against totalitarianism. I share the faith that America yet remains too good and too strong for a complete breakdown of our ordered liberty.


There are reasons for the comparisons between tyrants and Trump that transcend mere politics. There is also good reason that so many have accepted Trump as their leader. As one Republican loyalist explained to me: “He’s a tough guy. They think he’s going to punch (bad) people in the face.”

Indeed, Trump promised to end the Islamic State and to protect the LGBTQ community from “the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” just as he has promised to bring back jobs and renegotiate trade deals. The “how” of these several vows remains a mystery.

More pressing, meanwhile: What will be required of America in the process? How much freedom does law and order cost? We don’t know because Trump probably doesn’t know. What I do know is that the sound and fury I recall from my father’s records are similar to what I heard in Cleveland from decent people who would recoil at the comparison.

But imagine you’re the person about whom thousands are chanting with the cadence of a lynch mob, “Lock her up!” How frightening that would be, even to a tough pro like Hillary Clinton. How horrifying it should be to all of us that the next president of the United States could be the man who inspired it.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/26/kathleen-parker-from-trumps-daily-diatribes-disturbing-echoes-of-a-despot-past/feed/ 81 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/07/GOP-2016-Convention_Byun14.jpgRepublican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, flashes a thumbs up during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Mon, 25 Jul 2016 19:10:25 +0000
Kathleen Parker: When it comes to appearances of impropriety, Bill Clinton’s flying blind http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/05/kathleen-parker-when-it-comes-to-appearances-of-impropriety-bill-clintons-flying-blind/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/07/05/kathleen-parker-when-it-comes-to-appearances-of-impropriety-bill-clintons-flying-blind/#comments Tue, 05 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=954302 But of course Bill Clinton wants his wife to become president of the United States and make history as the nation’s first female commander in chief.

Why, he’d be pleased as punch and proud as proud can be.

Plus, it would be tons of fun to return to the White House as the first husband. Bill would throw on an apron and start baking cookies so fast, Annie Leibovitz wouldn’t have time to wipe her lenses.

Or so one might plausibly speculate.

But this would be conscious Bill. Public Bill. Political Bill. Loves-to-be-loved Bill. Unconscious Bill might just be a different matter, as his actions often make one wonder: Does Unconscious Bill really want his wife to be president?

The answer is not so clear.

No sooner is Hillary Clinton poised to win the nomination of the Democratic Party – and, quite possibly, the presidency – than big ol’ goofy Bill trips all over himself to make this outcome more difficult.

He just can’t help himself, or so it seems. How else can one explain his private conversation with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the midst of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal server for email that included classified information?

To recap: The former president postponed his departure from the Phoenix airport when he learned that Lynch would be landing soon and then sought her out for a 30-minute chat. Why not? Well, there’s that ongoing investigation over which Lynch had the final say. There’s that. And there’s the November election.


It doesn’t matter that few thought that Lynch was likely to indict the presumptive Democratic nominee – or that the FBI will recommend it. It also doesn’t matter that both Lynch and Bill Clinton swear they only chatted about ordinary matters, such as grandchildren and whatnot.

What matters is that it happened. The meeting in and of itself was enough to cast doubt on the investigation and upon whatever transpires.

Both Lynch and Clinton obviously should have known better, as many have pointed out. Then again, perhaps Lynch felt she couldn’t tell Bill to get lost – or didn’t think it was necessary. Maybe she was flattered.

Whatever the case, Lynch, who is highly respected as an independent actor, allowed herself to be placed in a position that would invite skepticism about her integrity.

Continuing the devil’s advocacy, maybe Clinton, who after all is just a good ol’ Arkansas boy, couldn’t imagine not speaking to the attorney general when they were both, serendipitously, soon to be on the same tarmac. What a coincidence!

OK, never mind. I don’t doubt the coincidental part, but it still seems profoundly odd, not to mention stupid, that Clinton would do such a thing. He’s not dumb, so you have to ask: Does a former president really hold his private jet only for the purpose of chatting about grandchildren with the attorney general whose dispensation of his wife’s case could alter the presidential race and the course of history?

Republicans, Donald Trump and even some Democrats aren’t buying it – or at least they’re questioning Lynch’s judgment and the appearance of impropriety. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has called on Lynch to appoint a special counsel. Others have asked her to recuse herself. Lynch has refused, but said she will accept the FBI’s recommendation.


Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton defaults to her familiar template as though on autopilot. She smiles and waves, tosses off something benign and turns the subject elsewhere. In the back of her mind, she must be turning over a few choice words along with questions of her own: How could he? How dare he? It’s my turn.

It is, in fact, past her turn. And now it’s so close she can almost feel the whisper of air on her cheek as a uniformed Marine pulls open the door: Madame President. And it just may be that Bill Clinton unconsciously can’t stand it. Invariably, he creates drama that brings the spotlight to him and brings trouble to his bride.

No ill may come of the Lynch encounter or of the FBI investigation. But even if Hillary Clinton’s record is cleared, there will always be a kernel of doubt about whether it was a clean deal. As it was in the beginning, is now – and ever shall be?

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Brexit in Great Britain, meet Trexit in the United States http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/kathleen-parker-brexit-in-great-britain-meet-trexit-in-the-united-states/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/kathleen-parker-brexit-in-great-britain-meet-trexit-in-the-united-states/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=945368 With Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, did Donald Trump just win the presidential election?

On the surface, this may seem an odd question, but the concerns that led a majority of Brits to vote “leave” last Thursday are similar to those that have catapulted Trump to the Republican nomination – immigration, refugees, underemployment.

Also similar have been reactions to Brexit and to Trump’s political rise. Analysts and market speculators were shocked that the prediction models they used were wrong. Overnight, the political playbook seemed to have become a relic of some distant past.

The biggest gambler of all was Prime Minister David Cameron, who held the referendum despite his preference to “remain.” His resignation essentially marked the death of the establishment and a rebirth of people who have risen in protest of a world they refuse to accept.

The populist, anti-establishment movement we’ve been witnessing in the U.S. isn’t purely local. Other countries, especially in Europe, are feeling similar stresses to their psychic as well as their material infrastructure, leading to renewed calls for nationalism. Already, other nations are queuing up to join merry old England on the exit ramp.

The ground has shifted and, with it, global markets. Immediately, the pound plunged along with stock values. Rattled investors tried to regain their equilibrium. The world gaped in breathless wonderment as a new, upside-down landscape took shape.

All, that is, except for Donald Trump.

Conveniently in Scotland to visit his Turnberry resort, the brand-brandishing baron of bombast opined that Brexit was “a great thing.” Never mind that the “Scotch,” as Trump recently referred to his Scots heritage, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and likely will hold a referendum soon to separate from Britain.

What matters is that Trump saw in Brexit an opportunity to profit. Because that’s what Trump does. One impoverished fellow’s home foreclosure is Trump’s business opportunity. One nation’s lost cause is his tourist bonanza.

You probably thought Brexit was about national independence, didn’t you? Trump thought it was about him. The pound’s decline, he explained, could mean more travelers to his resorts – and what could be better than that?

Trump further explained that it was great the British people are taking their country back, just as Trump supporters are hoping to do in November. Indeed, in many respects, Trump is America’s “Trexit” – a ticket to leave the establishment and entrenched bureaucrats whom Trump’s admirers – and Britain’s leavers – see as responsible for their respective nation’s problems.

This message, though we’ve heard it a thousand times, has taken time to penetrate the minds of commentators and analysts who now humbly acknowledge that they didn’t see “it” coming – neither Brexit nor Trump. It was easier to name the manifestations – xenophobia, racism, sexism, “fear of the other” – than it was to recognize the root causes, which, distilled, amount to a looming sense of lost identity.

The smartest thing Trump has said during his campaign was in a speech last week. Citing Hillary Clinton’s slogan “I’m with her,” he said his slogan is “I’m with you, the American people.”

Brilliant. When Trump frames things this way, he wins. When his critics point to his xenophobia and racism, legitimate though these observations may be, he wins again. To his fans, the critics don’t get it. When Trump supporters hear post-Brexit analysts say the “leavers” suffered “fear of the other,” they hear fools ignoring the realities of unsecured borders, possible terrorists posing as refugees and illegal immigrants demanding entitlements.

A majority of Brits apparently heard the same thing. Their retreat isn’t only away from the European Union and, inferentially, from globalization, concubine of the New World Order. It is rather a turning back toward home, the idea as well as the place. Home is who we are, the values we share, the traditions we practice and the one flag to which we all pledge allegiance.

This is the red meat of the matter.

Those who miscalled Brexit haven’t – or hadn’t – fully grasped the gravity and intensity of the identity imperative. Trump, love him or hate him, grasped it, embraced it, gave it a helicopter ride and promised to respect it in the morning. He placed all bets on the power of nationhood and on his unique power to harness and reinvent globalization in his own image.

Clinton would do well to heed these identity concerns, lest she become America’s Cameron to Trump’s Trexit.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/06/28/kathleen-parker-brexit-in-great-britain-meet-trexit-in-the-united-states/feed/ 12 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/943967_Britain-Trump.JPEG-067992.jpgRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump visited the Trump International Golf Links at Balmedie, near Aberdeen, Scotland, on Saturday. Republican elected officials have awkwardly tiptoed around their likely nominee despite broad public disapproval of his comments.Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:12:13 +0000
Kathleen Parker: Given the candidates, American voters are facing an unpalatable choice http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/24/kathleen-parker-given-the-candidates-american-voters-are-facing-an-unpalatable-choice/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/24/kathleen-parker-given-the-candidates-american-voters-are-facing-an-unpalatable-choice/#comments Tue, 24 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=893112 On rare occasions, Americans coalesce around a common cause, usually following some calamity – a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or, say, during a presidential election.

Take today. Or rather, take the past several months during which Americans have begun to face the likely probability that they’ll elect a president they don’t much like. Polls suggest as much, as do my own conversations with strangers, family and friends, from which I’ve deduced the following: When it comes to whom they’ll select for their next president, most Americans are stranded in a political no man’s land. There’s no one to vote for.

“What are we going to do?” people keep asking me.

Obviously, the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump bases are as un-confounded as ever. Hillary Clinton has her usual camp, including half of women voters. But a vaster number of people who identify as independent or moderate – or have become so thanks to the past year’s cannibalizing circus – are dissatisfied with both presumptive nominees.

The adage that our presidential election is a nose-pinching exercise – or a choice between lesser evils – doesn’t approach the rising level of ennui flooding the American street.

I would characterize this larger constituency as also including people who, though they may lean left or right, suffer a greater repulsion to the political moment than to a single candidate, though there’s plenty of revulsion to go around. To the extent that the remaining candidates are central to the current environment of anger, paranoia and, in some cases, violence, all are equally unappealing.

There is only one candidate for whom this middle bloc of voters could reasonably stomach voting. Given that Trump is such an unpleasant character and, by virtue of his own statements, unqualified to lead the most powerful nation on earth; and given that Sanders wants to create a nation that most Americans wouldn’t recognize; be it resolved that the saner choice is Clinton (notwithstanding everything you hate about her).

Hence the malaise that passeth all understanding.

If only by default, Clinton holds the higher ground. That even many Democrats find her unappealing – and others wouldn’t like her if she saved every beast and bog from extinction and cured cancer with a single pill – is understood. As lightning rods go, she has no peer.

Add to the well-known list of public concerns about her – a lack of transparency, perceived deceptions, those emails, Benghazi and the current FBI investigation – a potentially more damning development: Her pivot to the left.

This was made necessary, of course, by Sanders’ anthem of class warfare, but as Clinton pirouetted stage left, she added another layer of doubt to the disenfranchised middle, gave progressives another reason to question her loyalty to their goals and made it more difficult for Trump-repelled conservatives to consider her as acceptable alternative.

One might wish that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s quip about a contest between her and Trump were correct. More or less, he said that corrupt beats crazy every time. But even Graham has surrendered, locking arms in the Trump parade. “Party before Clinton” has prevailed as well among most of the stop-Trump crowd, a fleeting movement among a handful of Republican “formers.”

For Clinton to prevail over Trump, she’ll need to win over Sanders’ supporters, a dimming prospect at the moment, as well as the vast middle where mortals roam in wounded unity. But support among the latter depends on the answer to a tricky question: Is she really as liberal as she’s promising to be, or is she faking? Trump-leaning voters face the same challenge: Is he really as awful as he seems, or has he just been bluffing?

Given the high stakes, a contest between a scheming fake and a dangerous bluffer inspires little confidence and possibly little interest in voting. To the plea – what are we going to do? – the correct answer is, of course, vote. The high ground may be more molehill than mountain, but it still beats the gutter.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Don’t approve of Trump? Change the Republican nomination process http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/17/kathleen-parker-dont-approve-of-trump-change-the-republican-nomination-process/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/17/kathleen-parker-dont-approve-of-trump-change-the-republican-nomination-process/#comments Tue, 17 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=882849 It should be obvious to all by now that Donald Trump knows nothing of what he speaks. His disastrous economic ideas are but the latest in a litany of nonsensical proposals.

Yet, and still, his supporters – that Republican base so carefully nurtured by the very operatives and politicians who now find its members so distasteful – proclaim his supremacy with such bracing observations as, “Well, at least he’s got (gonads),” or “At least he speaks his mind,” or “At least he doesn’t suck up to anybody.”

These selections from the morning mail share a common element – “at least” – which seems apt enough, though “the least” seems more to the point. Trump was the least of so many other Republican candidates who offered governing experience, knowledge and even, in some cases, wisdom.

So why didn’t these superior candidates win, especially given his consistently low favorability ratings? Indeed, both Trump and Hillary Clinton, presumptively speaking, would be the most disliked nominees at this stage of any in the past 10 presidential cycles, according to a recent FiveThirtyEight analysis.

Trump’s average “strongly unfavorable” rating of 53 percent – 16 points higher than Clinton’s – is at least 20 points higher than every other candidate’s rating since 1980.

Never mind the many elected Republican leaders who are distancing themselves from his candidacy. Not enough of them, to be sure, which is disgraceful and surely will be noted by future historians as cowardly. My own running list of sycophants remains handy for the duration of their likely shortened political careers. Nearly half of voters say they’re less likely to support candidates who have aligned themselves with Trump, according to Morning Consult, a group that conducts weekly polls of 2,000 voters.

To answer my earlier question, the better candidates didn’t win because, obviously, so many of them siphoned votes from stronger ones, giving Trump the lead and all-important momentum. Thus, the constant refrain from Trump supporters that the “establishment” is ignoring the “will of the people” is only true to a point. Trump is the choice of a plurality of the Republican Party, but not of a majority – a distinction with a crucial difference.

At this stage, as the Republican Party convenes its circular firing squad composed of party leaders, operatives, hacks, flacks, politicos – if you’ll pardon the redundancy – and, yes, certain media, they might better expend their energies considering alternative voting methods that might have prevented Trump’s ascendancy and likely would prevent future demagogues.

One of these methods, already used by a variety of professional organizations to elect officers, as well as by the United Nations to elect the secretary-general, uses an “approval” ballot, by which voters rank all the candidates of whom they approve rather than select just one. Far from new, this idea was suggested in 1770 by French mathematician and astronomer Jean-Charles de Borda, who expressed concern that several similar candidates would split the majority vote and allow a non-consensus candidate to win.


Through election by order of merit, now known as the “Borda count,” each candidate was awarded a number of votes equal to the number of candidates below him on each voter’s ballot. The candidate with the most votes won.

Fast-forward a couple of centuries to 1977 when New York University politics professor Steven J. Brams and decision theorist Peter C. Fishburn devised “approval voting,” which is similar but even simpler. By their method, voters would cast a vote for each candidate of whom they approve, in no particular order. The candidate with the most votes would win.

Another ranking method, advanced recently in The New York Times by economists Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen, was developed by 18th-century mathematician and political theorist Marquis de Condorcet. This process called for ranking candidates in order of approval – or not ranking them at all as an indication of disapproval. The candidate with the highest approval ranking would win.

Longtime voters might find such suggestions jarring, but a Trump nomination could be a rule-changer. He can brag that he has won a couple dozen contests but the reality is that another of the other primary candidates might have beaten him if not for voters scattering their ballots among so many. This is to say, the majority of Republican voters rejected Trump.

Had an approval system been in place, it’s conceivable that John Kasich could be accepting the nomination in July. And Trump would be piling up approval ratings where he belongs – on reality TV.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Full-blown Republican identity crisis: Signed, sealed … delivered in July http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/10/kathleen-parker-full-blown-republican-identity-crisis-signed-sealed-delivered-in-july/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/10/kathleen-parker-full-blown-republican-identity-crisis-signed-sealed-delivered-in-july/#comments Tue, 10 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=873117 It wasn’t precisely an act of moral courage, but House Speaker Paul Ryan’s comment that he’s not ready to support presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump was at least … something.

Whether it’s a start or a finish remains to be revealed, but it would seem that we’re witnessing the beginning of the end. To wit: A Republican friend, who has abandoned her behind-the-scenes work of getting conservatives elected, called me recently to express her condolences. “I feel sorry for you,” she said, “because you (given your job) can’t ignore the collapse of Western civilization.”

Now a renegade from the nominating process, she is like so many others disillusioned by the Trump movement who’ve slipped the noose of politics in search of meaning beyond the Beltway. But Trump’s triumph, though most insiders thought it impossible, should have surprised no one. He was inevitable not because he was The One but because he’s a shrewd deal maker who has deep pockets and is unencumbered by a moral compass. Both his platform and style were crafted to fit the findings of extensive polling that he commissioned before announcing his run.

In other words, Trump didn’t write a book you loved; he wrote the book you said you’d love. If people were outraged about immigration, why, then he’d build a wall. If they were upset about manufacturing jobs lost overseas, well, fine, he’d kill the trade agreements.

Trump was never about principle but about winning, the latter of which he kept no secret. What this means, of course, is that his supporters have no idea whom they nominated. He simply paid to read their minds and then invented a drug that would light up the circuit boards corresponding to pleasure and reward.

“Believe me,” he crooned to the roaring crowd.

“I’m not there right now,” said the speaker, crossing himself in the sign of the cross.

Poor Ryan – a man of conscience in an unconscionable time. He wants to support the Republican nominee, but, at the end of the day, he has to answer to a higher authority. Trump, the party’s standard-bearer, isn’t bearing the standard, Ryan said.

But what Ryan expressed as the basis for a desired meeting of the minds isn’t about those standards, except the hope that Trump will behave better in the future. You know, act presidential and all that. Otherwise, Ryan is standing by the phone to hear that Trump will unify the party. How, pray tell? What would satisfy the Ryans of the party? For Trump to say, “Hey, I was just kidding”?

The problem, as with all relationships, is that certain words, once expressed, can’t be taken back. No amount of backtracking can erase memories of what Trump really thought and said in a particular moment. It isn’t only that his wildly conceived and frequently revised positions are at odds with those of leveler heads, but Trump has embarrassed those who can still be embarrassed.

Among those with either the gumption or nothing to lose by expressing no-support for Trump are both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush. Neither will endorse the Republican nominee. Laura Bush, a consistent voice of sanity, recently hinted at a “Women in the World” conference that she’d rather see Hillary Clinton as president than Trump.

This is utterly treasonous to most Republicans. Not only is Clinton a Clinton, notwithstanding her Rodham-ness, but the next president likely will select up to four Supreme Court justices. Republicans magically think that at least Trump would pick good justices.

But upon what shred of fact or fiction do they base this assumption?

Still other Republicans are expressing disapproval by vowing not to attend the party convention in July. These include the last two Republican presidential nominees, Mitt Romney and John McCain, though McCain is on record saying he’ll support Trump, which can be viewed as loyal or merely sad.

The “sads” have it.

McCain seemingly has forgiven Trump’s remark that he was a war hero only because he was captured. “I like people who weren’t captured,” said the anti-hero who managed to avoid service and once compared his navigation of the sexually risky 1960s to “sort of like the Vietnam era.”

This is the man who would become commander in chief.

Meanwhile, we’re told, the party that adopted Trump without really knowing him is suffering an identity crisis and facing a moment of truth.

Phooey. The Republican Party began digging its own grave years ago and dropped one foot in when McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. With Trump’s almost-certain nomination, the other foot has followed.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Trump’s derogatory words against women condemn him as a candidate http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/03/kathleen-parker-trumps-derogatory-words-against-women-condemn-him-as-a-candidate/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/03/kathleen-parker-trumps-derogatory-words-against-women-condemn-him-as-a-candidate/#comments Tue, 03 May 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=862469 One of the most effective political ads of the season features women repeating the many derogatory statements Donald Trump has made about the fairer sex.

No editorial comment is needed when a candidate’s own words stand alone to expose his flaws, and thus to condemn him.

Just ask Mitt Romney, whose 47 percent remark effectively ended his presidential aspirations. Saying that he wasn’t worried about the 47 percent of people who are on some form of welfare was perceived as exposing a lack of compassion for the poor. His ruin on that account may not have been fair, but it was enough.

Trump, by contrast, can say nearly anything and escape judgment from a majority of Republican primary voters. Hearing him refer to women as “bimbo,” “dog” or “fat pig” has left him sufficiently unscathed.

Moreover, Republicans rarely suffer for criticizing Hillary Clinton. “Hating Hillary” is a chronic obsession on the right, especially among men for whom Trump spoke when he recently told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that it was too early in the morning for him to listen to Clinton’s “shouting.”

There’s no denying that a woman’s raised voice is every man’s nightmare – for so many obvious reasons. For similarly obvious reasons, it is never politic for a man to point this out.

Unless it seems, you’re Trump.

He and Scarborough were chatting about Trump’s recent comment that all Clinton had going for her was the female vote and accused her of playing the “woman’s card.” Just being a woman apparently is playing this card in Trump’s world.

Despite the daunting competition, nothing else Trump has said has been further from the truth. That is, until he said it. In no time, Clinton’s campaign was offering a pink, credit card-sized “Woman Card” to online donors. Trump also provided Clinton the sort of touché moment atheists pray for:

“Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in,” she said in an impassioned voice. (Trump-lator: Screeching like a wounded owl.)

Adding confetti and champagne to his gift, Trump went on: “And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. … And the beautiful thing is that women don’t like her, OK?”

Oh, thank you, roared the columnist from her bunker. Do we hear a hallelujah? Hallelujah!

Thus heralding the obvious question: What if Trump were a woman? Imagine a Donna Trump running as a Republican who:

n Got her start with more than $1 million from her father’s business, parlayed into billions via four bankruptcies and various business failures.

n Wouldn’t disclose tax returns and donated to many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton.

n Ran a university wracked by allegations of fraud.

n Imported two of her three husbands from overseas, one of them on a “model” visa, and dumped the second husband days before their prenuptial agreement could hurt her wallet.

n Said that if abortion were illegal, women who had abortions should be punished.

n Knew nothing about foreign policy or even how to pronounce the names of countries.

n Routinely cursed, called people names, demonized her opponents, Mexicans, Muslims and others, and called men “dogs,” “morons” and “fat slobs.”

If Trump were a woman, not only would he not get 5 percent of the vote, he’d be tarred, feathered, branded and ridden out of town backward on a donkey. Voters male and female would recognize immediately that such a woman was inappropriate, lacking in quality and character – and utterly unqualified to be president of the United States.

The only thing Trump’s got going for him, one’s tempted to say, is the men’s vote, which is no way to deflect accusations of a Republican war on women. But as Trump himself would assert, at least he’s keeping it classy.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: Sanders fails to realize that Southern black votes matter – a lot http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/26/kathleen-parker-sanders-fails-to-realize-that-southern-black-votes-matter-a-lot/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/26/kathleen-parker-sanders-fails-to-realize-that-southern-black-votes-matter-a-lot/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=852644 African-Americans in the South can’t get a break when it comes to voting, as history can’t deny.

After all they’ve endured through slavery, Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, their voices are still treated dismissively by tone-deaf politicians who would ask for their votes.

If you’re thinking Bernie Sanders, you’re partly right.

Earlier this month, having lost massively to Hillary Clinton across the Southeast, Sanders said that the bevy of early Southern primaries “distorts reality.” Soon thereafter, perhaps covering for a lapse in political acumen, he clarified that those early states are the most conservative in the country.

Not really. And not really.

While some segments of the South are undeniably conservative, Dixie is also home to a large and reliably Democratic cohort – African-Americans. Many of the most liberal people serving in today’s Congress were elected by Southerners, especially black ones. Sanders failed to earn their votes in part by treating the South as a lost cause.

Many took Sanders’ remarks as insinuating that the black vote isn’t all that important. Adding to the insult, actor Tim Robbins, a Sanders surrogate, said that Clinton’s win in South Carolina, where more than half of Democratic voters are African-American, was “about as significant” as winning Guam.

Not cool, Mr. Robbins, though you were great in “The Shawshank Redemption.”

The gentleman from Vermont (black population: 1 percent) and the gentleman from Hollywood failed to charm Southern Democratic leaders, who recently responded with a letter condemning Sanders’ remarks. The signatories, including the Democratic Party chairs of South Carolina (an African-American), Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, expressed concern that Sanders’ characterization of the South minimized “the importance of the voices of a core constituency for our party.”

The letter writers also pointed out that some of Sanders’ victories have been in Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho, states that are more conservative than Southern ones.

That black voters would prefer a familiar candidate such as Clinton over someone whose personal experience among African-Americans seems to have been relatively limited, notwithstanding his participation in civil rights demonstrations, is hardly surprising. For decades, the Clintons have worked for issues and protections important to the African-American community.

But the Clintons, too, have been dismissive toward black voters when things didn’t go their way. During the 2008 primaries when it was clear that Barack Obama would trounce Hillary Clinton in South Carolina, Bill Clinton remarked that Jesse Jackson also had won the state in both 1984 and 1988.

No one needs a translator to get Clinton’s meaning. His next hastily drawn sentence – “Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here” – did little to distract from the implication that Obama would win because he was black.

Not cool, Mr. President.

Hillary Clinton got herself into a hot mess in 2008 when she asserted that President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the Civil Rights Act, which many saw as dismissive of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s legacy. She scrambled to mitigate the damage, but feelings once hurt are hard to mend.

Then again, time works miracles, and all is apparently forgiven. Hillary Clinton has been duly rewarded for her loyalty, patience and sportsmanship. She played nice with Obama, crushing her resentment beneath her sensible shoes and erasing from memory Obama’s condescending “You’re likable enough, Hillary” during a debate.

On the campaign trail, Clinton now tosses rose petals at Obama’s feats, promising to carry on his policies not because she necessarily agrees with them but because it’s politically savvy. For his part, the president has all but endorsed Clinton, returning the favor of her indulgence and her husband’s vigorous support.

The truth is, only Obama could have defeated Clinton for the 2008 nomination, and he probably did win at least partly because he was African-American. The country felt it was time for a black president, and Obama’s message of hope was intoxicating. He was a dazzling diamond in the rough world of partisan politics.

Clinton shares none of Obama’s sparkle, but she has more than paid her dues and African-American voters have rewarded her loyalty. For his part, Sanders not only confirmed African-Americans’ concerns about his disconnect from their daily lives but was also badly mistaken about the South’s distance from reality.

In the South, black votes matter – a lot – and no one has understood this better than the Clintons.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


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Kathleen Parker: North Carolina proves itself a valley of ignorance by passing ‘bathroom bill’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/19/kathleen-parker-north-carolina-proves-itself-a-valley-of-ignorance-by-passing-bathroom-bill/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/19/kathleen-parker-north-carolina-proves-itself-a-valley-of-ignorance-by-passing-bathroom-bill/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=841868 It’s been a long while since South Carolina could look down upon its neighbor to the north.

Thanks to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation (HB2), also referred to as the “bathroom bill,” the state effectively has begun redefining itself from its long-popular characterization as a “valley of humility between two mountains of conceit” (South Carolina and Virginia).

The new law, which ludicrously requires transgender people to use the restroom consistent with the sex on their birth certificates, has liberated South Carolina from its persistent place as the brunt of late-night jokes. Remarking on the law, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said her state doesn’t have “that problem.” Brava.

The law in question was hurriedly passed last month and signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in response to what one state official called a restroom free-for-all, referring to sudden hysteria over the possibility of transgender individuals using the “wrong” restroom. How would anyone know? Will officials now post monitors at public restrooms to check birth certificates and human bladder-evacuation portals?

This would be riotously funny if it weren’t so patently discriminatory.

Many bad deeds go unpunished, but not this one. The economic fallout from the law already is being felt and the price of not doing business is about to go up. Bruce Springsteen recently canceled a concert in Greensboro, and Deutsche Bank has frozen a planned 250-job expansion in the state. But the real showdown was last weekend, at the semiannual High Point furniture market – the largest in the nation and the state’s biggest economic event.

A recent study by Duke University placed the annual economic impact of the High Point market at $5.38 billion. The furnishings industry also generates more than 600,000 visitor days to the state each year and accounts for 37,000 jobs.

If there were a Darwin Award for states, North Carolina would win hands-down. The full impact of HB2 on the market won’t be known until organizers have had a chance to gather and analyze attendance data – which will take about two weeks – but the High Point Market Authority predicted that hundreds or thousands of the 75,000 retailers and designers who annually attend the market wouldn’t be visiting this year because of HB2, which, come to think of it, sounds appropriately like a disease.

Many of those who planned to attend expressed deep reservations amid likely plans to go to the relatively new Las Vegas furniture market next go-round. Among them was Don Wooters, interior designer and co-owner of Easton’s Dwelling and Design, who told me before the High Point market that he felt guilt about going to North Carolina.

“I feel like a traitor going to High Point, putting capitalism before human rights,” he said. “I don’t feel good about that and I know it’s wrong.”

Wooters wasn’t only baffled by the bigotry of the legislation but also by whatever generates the fear behind it.

“Why do people feel they have to be afraid? It’s a big sign of how uneducated America is.”

Another local designer, Jamie Merida, owner of Bountiful, told me he decided to go if only to make his case to vendors that they have six months to straighten out this mess or he, too, will be off to Las Vegas next time.

Although North Carolina has been noted in recent years for its increasingly hard-right politics, it is still shocking that a state that boasts several of the nation’s top colleges and universities and is home to the famed Research Triangle, could codify what is so plainly a discriminatory law. In comments last week, McCrory, feeling the pressure, softened his defense of the law but stopped short of opposing the provision on bathroom use by transgender people.

As in all other times when bigotry raises its hideous head, better angels will prevail. Either the courts will overturn the law or the state will come to its senses, if only for economic reasons.

As to that valley of humility? In 1900, when Mary Oates Spratt Van Landingham, a cultural leader and author, first conjured the image in a speech, she was bemoaning her state’s then-lesser “native literature.”

“Could it be that being located between Virginia and South Carolina, our people for so long have been furnished such conspicuous illustrations of self-appreciation that they have, by contrast, learned modesty and silence?” she said. “Where there are mountains of conceit, there are apt to be valleys of humility.”

Today, those mountains have good reason for self-appreciation by comparison. And North Carolina has proved itself a valley of ignorance, whose legislators and governor could use a moment of silence to consider their ill-conceived conceit.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/19/kathleen-parker-north-carolina-proves-itself-a-valley-of-ignorance-by-passing-bathroom-bill/feed/ 12 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/04/832236_LGBT-Rights-North-Carolina..jpgIn this Feb. 20, 2016, file photo, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks with reporters following the opening session of the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington. McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper are tapping into emotions about a new North Carolina law getting national attention to raise money in their high-stakes gubernatorial race this fall.Tue, 19 Apr 2016 19:32:10 +0000
Kathleen Parker: As Sanders heads for the Vatican, let’s not make him Pope Bernie http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/12/kathleen-parker-as-sanders-heads-for-the-vatican-lets-not-make-him-pope-bernie/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/12/kathleen-parker-as-sanders-heads-for-the-vatican-lets-not-make-him-pope-bernie/#comments Tue, 12 Apr 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=833108 Imagine emerging from a rocky political week only to announce, as Bernie Sanders did, that, oh, by the way, the Vatican called. Actually, it was the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, but close enough, I suppose.

Hillary Clinton thought bubble: “He’s Jewish, for crying out loud. What am I, chopped liver? No, I’m Methodist! But if I can become a New Yorker, I can become a Catholic!”

Some people have all the kismet. Or, sometimes people just happen to agree that communism isn’t really so bad. OK, I’m exaggerating, but only a smidgeon.

Sanders is merely a democratic socialist, which sounds almost nice but means more or less equal misery. The pope is something else entirely. A pastoral leader who washes the feet of the homeless and eschews the elaborate trappings of the corner office, he’s the real deal, as in living as Christ did. He’s also a great big troublemaker.

“People think Bernie Sanders is radical,” Bernie Sanders said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last Friday. “Uh-uh. Read what the pope is writing (these days).”

Indeed, Francis is a radical, just as Jesus was in his time.

What’s radical about this pope is that he, like both Sanders and Jesus, says fresh, untraditional things that sound an awful lot like liberal ideas. But he’s speaking and writing as the pope, not as a president of the United States. His ideas are aspirational both in scope and in application. He calls us to love one another, as he should, but love doesn’t usually enter into the equations of a government-run economy. It can get rather messy at times – and mean.

The pope really believes that it’s better to give than to receive, which is why so many love him. Sanders thinks more or less the same way. The difference is that one wants to raise consciousness about our obligation to the less fortunate; the other wants to restructure America’s economic institutions to ensure that money trickles down – mandatorily rather than charitably.

Theoretically, this is a noble concept. It’s how you do it that causes taxpaying citizens to seek shelter. Let’s face it, most of us work hard not for the satisfaction of a well-made widget but for a paycheck. As the taxman chisels away at such monetary rewards, where goes the incentive to work hard? This is common sense, obviously, but less common than it once was, judging by the popularity of Sanders’ proposals.

His bid to break up the too-big-to-fail banks sounds awesome enough, especially if you’ve yet to pay any income taxes. Let’s stick it to the fat cats and watch them squirm. But will it really help the poor, or might such draconian action ultimately hurt more than it helps?

It’s important for Francis to speak out as a messenger for the greater good. It’s important, too, that we be reminded of our moral obligation to each other. It’s also his job – and something else entirely to conflate a pope’s message of Christian charity with a political candidate’s promise to remake America’s economic system.

The “rampant individualism” that Francis condemns is precisely what has driven American ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a level of prosperity unmatched in human history.

That more people are doing less well – and the middle class has suffered – means there’s work to do, but it doesn’t necessarily require radical restructuring. The striving for greater equality is always a proper principle, but, again, is aspirational. The imposition of equality by a third party – the state – inevitably carries the penalty of less freedom. It’s a balance we should seek rather than extreme measures that more likely would have a destabilizing effect.

A pope needn’t worry about such things and is free to ponder the universe through the pulpit’s lens. He is also free to chat with politicians who share his worldview, though from Sanders’ confusion about his Vatican invitation, it isn’t clear whether he and the pope will convene. And his invite wasn’t, as it turns out, quite so beneficently extended.

“Sanders made the first move, for the obvious (political) reasons,” Margaret Archer, the academy’s president, told Bloomberg News. “I think in a sense he may be going for the Catholic vote, but this is not the Catholic vote, and he should remember that and act accordingly – not that he will.”

At least one person we can guess was delighted by this amended news. Imagine emerging from a rocky political week only to learn, as Hillary Clinton did, that, oh, by the way, the Vatican just called your opponent. Miracles never cease.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She can be contacted at:


http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/12/kathleen-parker-as-sanders-heads-for-the-vatican-lets-not-make-him-pope-bernie/feed/ 5 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/03/811427_180290-20160302_BernieWH_6.jpgBernie Sanders told the State Theatre crowd that he tends to fare better in caucuses with large voter turnouts. “If we have a large turnout here in Maine, we will win the state,” he said.Mon, 11 Apr 2016 19:09:15 +0000
Kathleen Parker: South Carolina is three states in one, so predicting a winner is tricky http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/16/kathleen-parker-south-carolina-is-three-states-in-one-so-predicting-a-winner-is-tricky/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/16/kathleen-parker-south-carolina-is-three-states-in-one-so-predicting-a-winner-is-tricky/#comments Tue, 16 Feb 2016 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=801964 CAMDEN, S.C. — Out on the hustings, people often ask me: “Can you explain South Carolina?”

I just shake my head.

It’s complicated, I say.

The simple answer, eternal and everlasting, is anti-secessionist James Petigru’s remark: “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”

For those keeping an eye on the upcoming South Carolina primary contests, including the droves of journalists now combing the state for fresh fodder, a bit of background is in order. As to my bona fides, suffice it to say that my family settled hereabouts in the late 1600s.

Essentially, the state is three within one, each with its own personality and voting history – Upcountry (conservative), Midlands (mixed) and Lowcountry (liberal) – plus the separate nation of Charleston, which is its own, singular place.

The city is a Democrat’s town, owing not least to its large African-American community. But also, port towns tend to play a little looser than the land-locked.

Most of South Carolina otherwise consists of small rural towns that honor tradition in all its forms.

Most important, however, South Carolina is the joker in the nation’s deck. Although increasingly difficult to put the state in a box politically – so many non-natives have discovered its charm and beauty – certain relevant characteristics of its indigenous peoples bear mention.

First, South Carolinians aren’t just anti-establishment. They’re anti-everything if it means they’re expected to perform or respond in certain predicted ways. This tendency is especially acute when elites (aka not from around here) are involved.

Thus, a local might do the opposite of what is anticipated based on history or demographics, even if against his own interests.

Companion to this quirk is a strong current of what-the-hell-ism that courses through the veins of generations of good ol’ boys and girls, i.e. descendants of the Scots-Irish with all their stubborn pride. If they don’t much cotton to foreigners (see above), they also don’t care much for authority.

In their book, the fact that candidates think they should be president pretty much disqualifies them for the office. But you gotta vote for somebody. May as well be Donald Trump.

Is he everything a true Southerner dislikes in another human being? Absolutely. “But if the elites don’t like him,” goes the thinking, “then maybe I do.” See how this thing rolls?

Same thing on the Democratic side. At any other time, Bernie Sanders would be an impossible candidate – unfamiliar and beyond the norms of Southern rectitude. He’s loud, angry and graceless with an accent you don’t hear much in these parts.

But Sanders has something the others don’t: He’s real as dirt. If there’s one thing a native son or daughter can’t stand, it’s fakery. Whether from the ladies who smile and say, “How nice,” when they mean something extremely different – or the politician who suddenly can’t take his hands off a gun or Bible – Southerners have a knack for spotting a fraud.

Hillary Clinton enters troubled waters here, particularly among African-Americans. Despite a likely endorsement from the ever-influential Rep. James Clyburn, it may not matter enough. As just one signal, Clinton’s recent visit to the state for Martin Luther King Day celebrations left many feeling colder than the weather dictated.

She was nowhere in sight for the march in Columbia, where Sanders joined the front line. At a ceremony on the State House steps, she breezed out of the warmth of the building, took her seat and read her prepared remarks. People notice these things.

At another service later in the day, half of the black audience held Sanders signs, according to Bud Ferillo, a longtime South Carolina political operative and now head of the nascent South Carolina Collaborative on Race and Reconciliation.

The message? The Clinton machine is showing its age and is out of touch with Democratic voters in 2016, says Ferillo. His prediction: Clinton might still win the Palmetto State, but if Sanders puts in the time Barack Obama did in 2007-08 (“he lived here”), he could pull an upset.

An African-American friend in Camden responded to my plea for comment with only a photo showing Clinton dancing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” with the host’s black DJ. The caption, playing off the rap hit “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)”: “Now watch me beg, for all the black votes.”

Ouch. So there you have it, much condensed but representative based on my own several conversations and interviews. Then again, what the hell, it’s South Carolina. All you know for sure is that whatever happens, there will be blood.

Kathleen Parker is a columnist for The Washington Post. She can be contacted at:


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