Dan Rather

As with many of my fellow Americans, I don’t consider myself partisan politically - never have. I am a registered independent voter and have been for most of my life. With that in mind, I submit the following:

Can we please get this out of the way? None of what is happening at the top of government now is normal. None of it. And no one should normalize it. No one.

We have a President who lies without a second thought. Big bold lies that are easily disproven. That is not normal.

We have serious allegations around obstruction of justice by that President. That is not normal.

We have an FBI director fired for insisting to continue pursuing a serious investigation into the sanctify of our republic. It has never happened before in our history. That is not normal.

We have a hostile foreign power attacking and undermining our electoral process. That is not normal.

We have an Attorney General under a serious shadow of association with said foreign power, with indications that there is much more to this story than we yet know. That is not normal.

We have Federal judges, our closest foreign allies, and the free press under scurrilous attack from the President and his enablers. At the same time we have despots praised. That is not normal.

We have an Administration fanning the flames of division over race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and gender. That is not normal.

We have an overhaul of our entire health care system being written in secret on a rapid time frame. That is not normal.

We have a sordid confluence of the President’s business interests and his political power. That is not normal.

What concerns me even more than any of these items is the fact that they are largely being met by a shrug or excuses from most Republican elected officials. Even many Democrats seem overwhelmed and are inclined to let some of this just ride. That may be how politics works. But this is bigger. It’s about our nation.

We are shifting the goalposts for our democracy. We are failing to be outraged by the outrageous because there is something even more outrageous that always seems to hit the news cycle. And that is dangerous.

What gives me hope is we have had waves of abnormality in our country’s history. And we’ve had times when what we would consider now to be not normal, like segregation, was considered normal. What has centered and saved our country time and again is civic engagement. I believe that most people in this nation don’t think any of this is normal. And they could very well vote out those elected officials in both parties who are normalizing these outrages.

My Friday Night
  • Other kids my age on a Friday night: Out with their friends, having a good time.
  • Me: Watching Bob Ross with my mom in bed.

It is as was feared. President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. This is momentous. It is ominous. And it throws the future health of the planet into grave doubt.

Some who are knowledgeable on this topic think the damage could be minimized by a renewed effort by the rest of the world, and action here at the state and local level as well as in the private sector. Others fear this could be a death knell for our global environment, as countries will shirk their responsibilities and the Paris deal will unravel. History will tell.

But whatever happens, this was a reckless and intemperate action. It is not based on science or reason. And it will not strengthen the United States.

How will President Trump argue for his actions? Who really cares? The world is watching, future generations wait in judgement, and we have shirked our moral responsibility as a member of the world community.

We can only hope that when we look back at this, it is seen as a nadir on our path back to sanity. Will this awaken voters, business interests, and reasonable politicians? We can only hope and vow to do our part.

—  Dan Rather
Dan Rather slams Donald Trump in viral Facebook post

Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now. It was the closest we came to a debilitating Constitutional crisis, until maybe now. On a 10 scale of armageddon for our form of government, I would put Watergate at a 9. This Russia scandal is currently somewhere around a 5 or 6, in my opinion, but it is cascading in intensity seemingly by the hour. And we may look back and see, in the end, that it is at least as big as Watergate. It may become the measure by which all future scandals are judged. It has all the necessary ingredients, and that is chilling.

When we look back at Watergate, we remember the end of the Nixon Presidency. It came with an avalanche, but for most of the time my fellow reporters and I were chasing down the story as it rumbled along with a low-grade intensity. We never were quite sure how much we would find out about what really happened. In the end, the truth emerged into the light, and President Nixon descended into infamy.

This Russia story started out with an avalanche and where we go from here no one really knows. Each piece of news demands new questions. We are still less than a month into the Trump Presidency, and many are asking that question made famous by Tennessee Senator Howard Baker those many years ago: “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” New reporting suggests that Mr. Trump knew for weeks. We can all remember the General Michael Flynn’s speech from the Republican National Convention - “Lock her up!” in regards to Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton had done one tenth of what Mr. Flynn had done, she likely would be in jail. And it isn’t just Mr. Flynn, how far does this go?

The White House has no credibility on this issue. Their spigot of lies - can’t we finally all agree to call them lies - long ago lost them any semblance of credibility. I would also extend that to the Republican Congress, who has excused away the Trump Administration’s assertions for far too long.

We need an independent investigation. Damn the lies, full throttle forward on the truth. If a scriptwriter had approached Hollywood with what we are witnessing, he or she would probably have been told it was way too far-fetched for even a summer blockbuster. But this is not fiction. It is real and it is serious. Deadly serious. We deserve answers and those who are complicit in this scandal need to feel the full force of justice. — Dan Rather 

From Dan Rather:

“There are some who say Hillary Clinton shouldn’t have written a book. Even some Democratic supporters are being quoted (often anonymously) as saying they wish she would settle quietly into retirement.

"Really?

"Whatever you think of Secretary Clinton - her policies, her campaign, her decision making - you cannot deny she is an historic part of America’s political landscape. And she had a front-row seat to the most surreal and arguably one of the most consequential presidential elections in American history.

"The more we learn about Russia’s involvement, the more the election - and Secretary Clinton’s role in it - must be cast in a new light.

"I believe, with every fiber of my being, that we benefit as a society from more information, not less, from more voices, not fewer, from more ideas that challenge our own preconceptions, not remaining in our own bubbles. Secretary Clinton is raising a lot of provocative ideas in her book and media tour. Agree or disagree, these are important ideas with which our society should grapple. Meanwhile, I imagine there are many women out there who have experienced some version of what Secretary Clinton is facing, of being told their voices are too shrill or unnecessary.

"I have yet to read What Happened, but I plan on doing so, and the early reviews are better than many expected. Secretary Clinton has a voice worthy of being heard. If you don’t like it, don’t buy the book or turn the channel when she’s on. That’s your prerogative. Her prerogative is to tell her story.”

Donald Trump’s speech last night in front of the Boy Scouts of America was not only highly inappropriate. It was disgusting.

I would like to hope it is a nadir in our country’s political discourse, but it seems like the slide downward only accelerates. So it stands as a sad encapsulation of our current age.

No doubt many in the crowd were riled up by Mr. Trump’s stale rhetoric of “fake news” and lies about his “massive” electoral victory. But the Boy Scouts is a diverse organization with chapters in every corner of this nation. And today, many are no doubt wondering whether they belong in a group that is supposed to be built on community and service. Many of these boys may be wondering more broadly whether they belong in a country led by a man like this.

Scouts learn the importance of being “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” How few of those adjectives apply to our current Commander in Chief. A man who can’t control himself to act in a manner befitting the setting, is a man without the steadiness of character to run a nation. A grown man who is so insecure as to seek affirmation in a group of teenagers is not a man with the maturity to lead a nation. A man who is so self-absorbed as to make every utterance about himself and his needs is not a man with the vision to elevate a nation.

Part of being president is to be the leader of the entire country. And every president I can remember (and that’s a lot of them) revelled in moments when they had a venue to shake off the partisanship of Washington and speak in exalted tones to the people. But whether it’s dedicating an aircraft carrier or talking to Boy Scouts, Mr. Trump so far has seemed incapable of performing that simple task.

Bluntly put - and there is no joy in having to say this – he is tearing apart the norms of our nation. So it is incumbent on those who recognize the damage being done to stitch back the bonds that unite us and work hard to muffle the echoes of his divisiveness.

- Dan Rather

What has unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia today is a national tragedy fueled by bigotry, white nationalism, and home grown terrorism.

Freedom of speech is not a license for the incitement of violence. And the neo-Nazis and KKK members who gathered are anathema to everything this country should stand for.

For too long President Trump was silent. But when he did speak his refusal to call out the hatred for what it is, and his general message of false equivalence was disgusting and counterproductive. “This egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” That’s a dangerous misrepresentation of history from a politician who has bigotry as a large part of his base.

All decent Americans of all political persuasions cannot allow these actions to remain unchallenged - both the hatred on display in Charlottesille and the rhetoric of the President.

—  Dan Rather

The plot thickens. The drum beats increase. The pressure mounts. And a question I never thought I would ever hear asked again with such urgency and stakes looms large: “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

The latest reporting out of CNN suggests the FBI has evidence that “associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” It is impossible to overstate the seriousness of this allegation - Americans associated with Donald Trump illegally colluding with a foreign power.

Once again, all the caveats must hold. This isn’t proven. Allegations and suspicions are not an indictment. But with each turn of this story, the level of seriousness deepens. Add to this some unorthodox actions by the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, briefing President Trump on details of investigations, and we are long past having any excuse not to launch an open bipartisan investigation and a special prosecutor.

I have seen a lot in my lifetime. But I have never seen anything like this. No one has. The cauldron of chaos and confusion which engulfs President Trump in his early days in office is simply unprecedented.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? The vote on the health care bill is shaping up to be its own mess. Can President Trump arm twist his own party members to deliver victory in the House? What last minute concessions will have to be made to bring along conservatives? Should we really be rushing a bill on heath care with major changes hammered out for politics instead of policy? What will this mean for the Senate?

The White House is under siege. The President’s poll numbers drop to record lows. The fires of scandal are encroaching. Around and around it goes, where it stops nobody knows. Dangerous times.

Dan Rather

10

Exy Monthly: The Palmetto State Foxes Exclusive

Excuse me, Mr. President but your tantrum tweet storm this morning attacking the mayor of San Juan, a fellow American citizen dealing with a real-time life and death struggle for hundreds of thousands of her constituents on an island of millions in crisis, is not only far below the dignity of the office you hold. It fails even the most basic test of humanity.

Did she have harsh words for your Administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria? Yes. It’s called a reality check, and one that conforms to every firsthand account coming out of Puerto Rico no matter how much you try to deflect with your “Fake News” epithets. To take this personally is to put ego before country. And you also blame the Puerto Ricans themselves? That they want “everything done for them”? No. They just expect to be treated as any other American would.

I have seen more than my share of wretched desperation over the course of my career. I have reported from crisis zones where matters of life and death hang moment to moment in the balance between action and inaction, where communication is limited, and the sense of panic is building. I have seen the most steadfast of leaders feel the crushing weight of responsibility as they survey a landscape of almost incomprehensible need.

It does not take a saintly amount of compassion or empathy to feel for those who are struggling to stay alive, who are worried for the fate of family and friends, and who have seen so much that they have known and loved blown and washed away. You swore to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and that means a responsibility to look out for all Americans, even if they live on an island in the ocean, or look different or even speak a different language than what you think is America.

I worry that whoever has your ear has not adequately impressed upon you the gravity of this situation, or even the political price you are likely to pay (although that can be no where near the top concern at the moment). Or perhaps you have been told and haven’t listened.

Regardless, what Puerto Rico needs now is not rhetoric but help, not a bumbling response, but the precision and competence we expect of our government. I do not believe “blame the victim” is what Americans expect of their president.

Dan Rather