Christie: Blog poll shows Florida voters want to see former Gillum rivals out on campaign trail

ORLANDO, Fla. — Andrew Gillum the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor with his wife, R. Jai Gillum, campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on Aug. 31. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

So last week, I raised a question that was on the minds of an increasing number of Democratic voters I was running into: Are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s former Democratic primary rivals going to get out on the campaign trail and stump for him?

RELATED: Christie: Waiting for his Florida Democratic primary rivals to begin campaigning for Gillum

It seemed like a rather basic question; but also a strange one given the stakes in this election. A state Democratic party energized by the charismatic Gillum has most supporters — and political observers — truly believing they have a strong chance of retaking the Governor’s Mansion after a 20-year drought. Not only that, of electing the first African-American to statewide office.

RELATED: Read all of The Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.

I observed that neither former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene nor former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine had been seen out stumping for Gillum since the early days following his stunning Aug. 28 primary win.

I did mention that Levine stepped up with a press release in defense of Gillum running-mate, Orlando businessman Chris King, over accusations of being anti-Semitic.

Former Democratic primary candidate Philip Levine has provided financial support to Andrew Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Afterwards, former Levine campaign operative Christian Ulvert reached out to let me know that Levine’s done more, and shouldn’t be “lumped in” with the others. Ulvert said that in addition to two private fundraisers, Levine has allowed Gillum’s campaign the use of a few of his former campaign offices around the state.

Noted. Financial support is important to political campaigns these days. Especially when it comes getting the message out via pricey advertising. Very important.

Arguably more important, however, is motivating people to actually vote. (After all, that is how Gillum managed to beat three more well-financed opponents in the primary.)

That’s why we asked in a poll last week: “Should Andrew Gillum’s Democratic primary opponents campaign for him in the general election?”

As of today (Monday), out of some 200 reader votes, about 72 percent gave a resounding “yes.” The post also received nearly 370 Likes on Facebook.

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One of Levine’s private fundraisers for Gillum was with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Bloomberg went further, and actually stumped with Gillum. Following an Oct. 5 event in Coral Springs on behalf of his Everytown for Gun Safety, the possible 2020 presidential candidate appeared in West Palm Beach Oct. 6 at a Democratic Party fundraiser and then with Gillum Oct. 7 at a Century Village Jewish center in Pembroke Pines.

Voters are fickle. That’s why turnout is so crucial. Maybe it won’t matter to Democratic loyalists and crucial No-Party Affiliation (NPA) voters when they don’t see Gillum’s former rivals out on the stump with him, and they will show up at the polls anyway. Maybe.

And if you haven’t taken our poll yet, you can get to it here.

Christie: Waiting for his Florida Democratic primary rivals to begin campaigning for Gillum

Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left: Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene, Chris King, Philip Levine, and Gwen Graham participated in an hour-long debate at WPBF television studios in Palm Beach Gardens on August 2. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Has anyone seen former Congresswoman Gwen Graham?

How about former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine?

Where has West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene been since Aug. 28?

Not since a big Kumbaya “unity” rally in Orlando days after Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s historic victory in the Democratic primary for Florida governor (minus Greene), has anyone heard from three of Gillum’s primary opponents on the campaign trail.

RELATED: Watch Editorial Board interviews of the 5 Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

I mean, one can kind of understand why Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is not out stumping for Republican primary winner Ron DeSantis. Putnam was practically measuring the drapes in the Governor’s Mansion before the Parkland shooting and President Donald Trump reared his ugly head.

But the Dems always gave off this vibe of being respectful, if not friendly adversaries.

So are they low-key campaigning? Maybe recording robo-calls? Or saving themselves — and their money — for the home stretch?

Gillum, the first African-American to secure a major party gubernatorial nomination in the state’s history, picked Orlando businessman Chris King to be his running mate as lieutenant governor. The two apparently clicked and became “bros” while campaigning during the primary race.

There was less “clicking” with Graham, as the consensus front-runner became the focal point of attacks from her all-male competition. Less so by Gillum’s campaign, but more so by a PAC that supported the mayor and whose negative message he refused to publicly disavow.

Graham, the Post Editorial Board‘s pick to win the Democratic primary because it was felt she had the best shot of winning in the general, may still be smarting too much from those attacks to drop everything and campaign for her former rival. Or maybe Gillum just hasn’t asked.

Levine wasn’t heard from until a few weeks ago, when he stepped forward with a statement defending the Gillum campaign after Republicans looked to paint Gillum as an anti-Semite for bringing on King, who had made anti-Jewish comments when he was a college student. This was first dredged up during the primary campaign and King apologized then.

As for Greene, the question is not whether or not he should be out campaigning but whether he is writing any checks to the Gillum campaign, or any other Florida Democratic election efforts. If he has, it hasn’t been substantial enough to be publicized, a’ la fellow billionaire Tom Steyer. But we should remember that during the primary campaign, Greene — who wanted to radically improve public school education in Florida — did promise to financially support the primary winner and other Democrats.

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So, with time to campaign in a tight gubernatorial race coming down to the wire, one has to wonder whether Florida voters — especially those on her home turf of North Florida — will see Graham out stumping for Gillum to help give the party the best chance it’s had of taking back the Governor’s Mansion in 20 years.

It’s tough to see Gillum pulling off the victory without Graham enthusiastically campaigning for him. The same can be asked about Levine, and Greene’s ample checkbook.

But then, no political expert saw Gillum pulling off the primary upset either.

Take our poll here, and tell us what you think they should do.

Christie: Sex assault allegations make it tough to have Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault is willing to testify about her allegations before Congress, her attorney said Monday. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times)

As the old saw goes: “What a difference a day makes.”

On Saturday, the sexual assault allegations contained in a leaked confidential letter from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was being treated like an act of political desperation on the part of Democrats.

In fact, it was being characterized as a joke by many political insiders and even veteran journalists, as this Friday image from editorial cartoonist Signe Wilkinson shows:

CARTOON VIEW SIGNE WILKINSON

By Sunday morning, however, the allegations were no longer joke-worthy. Christine Blasey Ford, a Stanford University research psychologist, told The Washington Post that she is the woman alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.

As one might expect, no one’s been laughing since. In this age of #MeToo, when powerful men are being taken down all over the place for sexual misconduct going back years, the seriousness of Ford’s allegations cannot be understated.

To that end, Wilkinson caught on quick and sent out another cartoon Monday morning:

CARTOON VIEW SIGNE WILKINSON

For the record, Kavanaugh has strenuously denied that the sexual assault recounted by Ford ever happened. A Republican-leaning group is preparing to launch a $1.5 million advertising and marketing campaign in his defense; focusing I’m sure on how desperate Dems timed the release of these allegations to shut down an upcoming vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Well, mission accomplished.

There’s really no way, either politically or ethically, that the Republican-controlled Senate can move forward without a complete airing of these accusations. Truth be told, the Kavanaugh confirmation process has been a politically motivated cluster from the beginning. After being rushed by the Republican leadership, tens of thousands of pages of documents were dumped on Democratic committee members hours before the confirmation hearings began. Democrats, knowing they couldn’t stop the confirmation, fostered an almost circus-like atmosphere during the hearings.

It’s been almost laughable. Which is probably why when Feinstein released Ford’s letter, in which Ford had asked to remain anonymous, most saw it as just a last-ditch attempt to stymie the inevitable.

But then Ford, seeing this decided that she wanted to be the one to tell her story. To say that she isn’t a joke. That she alone has had to bear this trauma for 35 years; and that despite a successful career, marriage and family, the scars from being held down with a hand over your mouth while your clothes are being pulled at never really go away.

This is what Republican leaders must now navigate. They must somehow re-assure the thousands of American women like Ford. Though highly educated and successful, they carry around the memory of heinous incidents from their youth that they are loathe to discuss, even with those closest to them.

And by the way, here we are again, nearly 30 years after the infamous confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, with a group of old, white men — at least on the GOP side of the judiciary committee — presiding over a woman’s virtue.

But this is not the same culture that greeted Anita Hill.

Not taking the claims of woman willing to go public, and on the record with serious allegations of sexual assault allegations would likely carry a steep political price for the party in power.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an executive business meeting to consider the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Thus, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley has already offered for both Ford and Kavanaugh (again, who denies the allegations) to testify before the committee. But not in public.

As of Monday, Grassley and the rest of the GOP leadership still seem determined to rush this confirmation through.

That could be a mistake, especially since Ford has offered to testify publicly. Also, at least two GOP senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona (a member of the judiciary committee) are no longer solid “yes” votes for Kavanaugh. And that can hardly be afforded with a narrow 51-49 vote margin in the Senate.

To be sure, the margin for error for handling Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh is razor thin. But the GOP also faces a political deadline in that their control of the Senate could be gone on Nov. 6.

The Senate could delay a confirmation vote on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to allow for a complete vetting of the sexual assault allegations against him.

But should it?

Take our poll and let us know what you think.

Christie: Voters questioning Florida’s closed primary elections — again

Even municipal elections, which are non-party races, can be affected by closed primaries on the same ballot. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

It never fails.

Every Florida primary election, thousands of voters from Milton to Marathon vent frustration about heading to the polls (or filling out a mail-in ballot) and once again not being able to vote for the major party candidate.

I understand their frustration. As a registered independent or No Party Affiliation (NPA) voter myself, it’s a little rough feeling like a player who keeps getting left out of the game. But that’s the system we all signed up for here in the Sunshine State.

Florida is one of just 11 states that have strictly “closed primaries” — that is, primaries in which only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary, and only registered Democrats in the Democratic primary.

A growing number of Floridians believe state lawmakers should think seriously about joining the 11 states that allow open primaries, in which any voter can cast a ballot in either party’s primary. Or the 24 states that have a mix of rules, with some allowing voters to cross party lines to vote, others that allow unaffiliated voters to participate.

RELATED: Primary election day should be independents’ day as well

Thought Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam would be the best gubernatorial candidate for the Republican Party? Tough.

Thought former Congresswoman Gwen Graham would be the best standard-bearer for the Democrats in the same gubernatorial contest? Too bad.

Or how about voting for your choice of which Democrat or Republican would best represent you in the state House or Senate? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until November.

Not surprising then that an increasing number of Florida voters are losing patience with this current “closed” system that shuts out some 27 percent of registered voters — read that, taxpayers.

That’s more than a quarter of Florida voters who are now choosing to identify as NPA. Why? Because they are tired of major party politics that produce lawmakers doing a poor job of lawmaking. And that’s a trend that many political observers say needs to be addressed.

A small crowd of voters streams into the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office on S. Military Trail in West Palm Beach as the doors open for early voting. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A couple other factors: the number of registered voters, both Democrat and Republican, who regularly cross party lines during general elections; and the remaining “Dixiecrats” in the state who haven’t voted for a Democrat since Harry S. Truman but don’t bother to change their party affiliation.

Post readers have weighed in this over the past couple of weeks.

From Allen Smith of Port St. Lucie:

Open primaries can lead to shenanigans

In a situation where one party has an incumbent running while the other party has four or five folks contending for the right to represent their party, it is possible and very likely that people registered with the established candidate’s party will cross over and vote for the least likely candidate of the opposing party.

In Michigan, where there are open primaries, this cross-party voting has taken place on numerous occasions; when there are a number of candidates running for a position, just a few votes can make the difference in who wins the opportunity to represent the party.

By swaying the election in the primary, the opposing party can assure victory in the general election. This is called political shenanigans and has prevented many good candidates from being the choice of their own party…

From Ann Malachowski of Tequesta:

Primaries should be open to all

I felt the pain of the letter writer who attempted to vote in the recently held primaries. I also attempted to vote 20 years ago, as a newly transplanted Florida resident, as an independent. Such an archaic, nonsensical law.

There is good news, however. The organization Florida Fair and Open Primaries is trying to add a constitutional amendment to the election ballot to change Florida primary elections from a closed political party system to a voter-nominated top-two open primary system.

I suggest that you look them up sign their petition then get everyone you know to do the same.

From Wayne Whitson of Lake Clarke Shores:

Nonpartisans should not get say in primary

I highly disagree with the letter “NPA voters shut out of primaries” (Tuesday).

Primary elections are “partisan business matters” conducted by the members of Republican and Democratic parties. This is how the main political parties select their slate of candidates for a general election.

If you choose not to be a member of either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, why do you feel entitled to vote in Republican or Democratic primary elections?

Using religion as an example, why should a rabbi or ordained minister (of any faith) be allowed to have a say as to who will become the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church? The obvious answer is: They can’t; they’re not members of the Roman Catholic Church…

And from Leslie Shenkel of Greenacres:

Independent, non-affiliated should not vote in primaries

Many independents and many non-affiliated voters feel they should have the right to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Let me tell them why they don’t and shouldn’t have.

These two organizations are semi-private clubs. Anyone can join the club, but you have to join. I live in Palm Beach County. I can not vote in Miami-Dade County. If I wanted to vote in Miami-Dade, I just have to move to Miami-Dade. No one could stop me, but I would have to move.

Move to where you want to vote. New York, California, Florida, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade or Democratic Party or Republican Party.

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Clearly, this debate isn’t going away.

The two major parties are not going to do anything that dilutes their power and influence. But why should they? As mentioned above, opening their primary makes the process susceptible to bad actors.

Still, as the rolls of NPA voters continues to grow, so do their own power and influence — especially as taxpayers.

And it gets harder for state lawmakers to ignore the cries of, “I want in!”

Tell us what you think by taking our poll, and leaving a comment here.

Christie: Is America losing its standing in the world under Trump?

President Donald Trump’s “America First” strategy is seen as a sign of strength by some and making the U.S. weaker on the world stage by others. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Depending on your “point of view” the United States has either re-asserted its dominance on the world stage or confirmed its conspicuous exit.

To be sure, conservatives would argue the former saying that President Donald J. Trump’s tough talk and “America First” strategy leaves no doubt that American interests are what matters most when it comes to foreign policy. But liberals argue that such a self-centered mindset in an increasingly inter-connected world leaves us not only vulnerable, but looking kind of foolish.

At least, the latter was the gist of the reader Point of View in today’s Palm Beach Post:

Do we realize or care that as the world becomes increasingly one global interdependent economy, America’s marginalization will not only threaten our safety but our partnerships? Americans will feel more isolated and more paranoid, but continue to create more detachment and segmentation amongst us that will harm and change these United States irreparably?” ask Burton and Barbara Halpert of West Palm Beach.

Well, that’s a pretty hard line. It’s also indicative of a philosophical split within the Republican Party, according to an October Pew Research poll. (BTW, the same polled also revealed a similar split within the Democratic Party.)

“On questions of the U.S. role in the world, the country-first group is obvious. Three-quarters consider immigrants to be a burden to society; only 4 in 10 think that involvement in the global economy is good. About two-thirds think that openness to the rest of the world puts America’s identity at risk and believe that we should focus more on America’s problems.”

President Trump obviously plays to this crowd as America will no longer allow other nations to dis us while they are taking our money… Take that United Nations! Take that Pakistan! Take that Palestinians!

But does this present an image to the world of a divided America that is closing itself off?

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks in favor of a resolution at United Nations headquarters. The U.S. government last month negotiated a significant cut in the United Nations budget. Haley said that the “inefficiency and overspending” of the organization is well-known, and she would not let “the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of.” (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

POINT OF VIEW: U.S. is losing its standing in the world

In 2017, America saw the loss of nearly everything we have gained since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. That is, how we and the rest of the world view how America approaches democracy, inclusion, humanity, and a place where morality, principals and ethics are not only embraced but openly debated.

Our current “leadership” has encouraged divisiveness not seen in this country in many decades. There is so much friction and hatred that friends who do not see eye-to-eye politically may not be able to salvage relationships. Families are urged not to discuss politics at gatherings so as not to create irreparable upheavals.

In the old days, contentious ideas were encouraged to nourish and build upon the foundations of which our country was established — morality, respect for those who are different from us and celebration for how a united country could contain such disparities with grace, dignity. There was an insistence that our elected officials try to promulgate these ideals.

Donald Trump was elected because he was seen as a political outlier and, indeed, he has proven to be so. His attraction for many who voted for him is that he will shake up Washington, and that he is like the common man. Well, he has shaken up Washington and the common man (and woman) will be paying for it for many years to come in terms of loss of health care options, short-term financial gains which after 2025 drastically cost the middle class, and making the wealthiest companies and individual much more so. Is Trump really like the common man who voted for him?

Our country has lost the respect of the world as we lose credibility with allies and foes alike. We are becoming increasingly destabilized in a global world because our leadership has no education of history, and therefore cannot utilize critical strategies to make our country safer without insulting other cultures. The bravado our president spouts about our country being stronger than ever before is “fake news.” Foreign news reporters say their jobs put them more in peril now then ever before because other countries are so hostile towards the United States. Is this what we sought when we elected Trump? Do we realize or care that as the world becomes increasingly one global interdependent economy, America’s marginalization will not only threaten our safety but our partnerships? Americans will feel more isolated and more paranoid, but continue to create more detachment and segmentation amongst us that will harm and change these United States irreparably?

Our leadership uses masterful manipulation to claim that we are victims. Trump models how not to be a victim by shouting, insulting, bullying and keeping a stable of lawyers employed to fight the multitudes of lawsuits that have been waged against him. And all the while doing so with billions of dollars in the bank. Is this really a role model that we can all identify with?

America needs to wake up and realize that gross mistakes have been made; and that it is OK to admit to mistakes because only then can we try and rectify them. Our country is the laughingstock of the world. And if you feel this is what is making America great again, then we can sink only further into the abyss.

May God bless and save the United States of America.

BURTON AND BARBARA HALPERT, WEST PALM BEACH

Christie: Trump a role model for kids whether he (or we) likes it or not

Friday’s Post Editorial CARTOON VIEW by award-winning cartoonist Lee Judge criticizing President Donald Trump for not being a good role model.

I love our readers. A phone call from one this morning critical of our choice of today’s editorial cartoon (above) touched an ongoing public debate about President Donald J. Trump.

“What is this supposed to be about?” the caller asked.

You see, among all the criticisms from the left (and right) about President Trump, an underlying theme appears to be either his fitness for the office or being a “role model” for our kids.

By the way, which side do you fall on this?…

 

The deluge of commentary from liberals is, of course, no surprise. But a steady stream of criticism from (establishment) conservatives can also be counted on.

Even the large stable of syndicated editorial cartoonists (about two dozen) that The Palm Beach Post subscribes to are not immune from this debate. Their takes often make for biting, some might say harsh, criticism of how President Trump’s actions and words raise questions about whether we should be shielding our children’s eyes and ears from his latest Twitter rant.

The cartoons, as is their wont, can evoke some pretty emotional and negative criticisms of their own from some readers as to their fairness, or bias for or against the president.

Then again, the cartoons are the opinions of the cartoonists, so by that very definition they are biased. The real question is whether or not they’re unfair. Let’s leave that one for another day.

Anyway, today’s cartoon by award-winning cartoonist Lee Judge, of the King Features Syndicate, sparked a bit of emotion (via phone calls) from a couple of readers.

The cartoon (above) depicts a little boy pulling a little girl’s hair in a sandbox, as one of the parents says: “Look at that… He’s acting presidential.”

The cartoon is obviously a shot at President Trump. It was sent in the wake of his Twitter war with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Recall that what stood out most from that highly publicized back-and-forth was the president’s comments about Brzezinski.

Well, there you go.

You know, the president could just go the route of NBA legend Charles Barkley and just declare that he’s not a role model.

 

 

Or maybe we should just take Barkley’s advice.

Christie: Just one question, President Trump, ‘Where’s the plan?’

President Donald Trump aims to reset his agenda with the American people through his first speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump aims to reset his agenda with the American people through his first speech to a joint session of Congress tonight. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

When President Donald J. Trump speaks to a joint session of Congress tonight to lay out his budget priorities, he hopes to reset his agenda with the American people.

It’s been a rough month or so for the new president as he’s stubbed his toe more times than he would have liked stumbling around the dimly-lit hallways of government policymaking.

This Joint Address to Congress — not technically called a State of the Union because he’s in his first year — though comes at a pivotal moment and with a crucial bottom-line question: What’s the plan, Mr. President?

To this point, there has been plenty of rhetoric (some of it caustic and divisive) and arguably ill-conceived executive orders that have certainly pleased the base of supporters who voted for him. But poll after poll has shown that these moves — and Twitter rants — haven’t galvanized a broad swath of the American people behind him. A mere 44 percent of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing as a newly inaugurated commander-in-hief. In contrast, 48 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Feb. 18–22.

Again, this won’t begin change until he begins answering the big question: What’s the plan?

It’s no longer good enough to call Obamacare “a disaster” despite the facts showing otherwise. Trump now needs to show us a viable plan for repealing and replacing the beleaguered and belittled health care law. There are at least 20 million increasingly vocal and impatient Americans waiting on an answer.

And Trump’s statement before the National Governors Association on Monday that no one knew how “unbelievably complex” and complicated the nation’s heath care system is didn’t give anyone confidence that a plan is coming anytime soon.

It’s no longer good enough to say “we’re going to destroy ISIS,” also known as Islamic State. How are we going to do that without putting more military on the ground, and thus put more U.S. soldiers in harm’s way? Do Americans really have the stomach for another foray into Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or even Yemen? And for how long?

Where is the plan to deliver the promised help to the nation’s inner-cities beyond sending in U.S. troops? How will that bring the jobs and better schools that Trump promised on the campaign trail and since?

Then there’s the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Where is the plan to rebuild roads and bridges that seem to be collapsing on a weekly basis from California to Missouri to Texas to Georgia?

The time for tough talk, and incremental executive orders attempting to erase the previous president’s legacy is over. We know that President Trump can talk a good game, and can sign paperwork accompanied by specious claims of creating 70,000 jobs.

What we need to know is now is whether he can govern and push through legislation to fulfill promises to fix whatever problems ail us.

In other words, “What’s the plan, Mr. President?”

Christie: GOP silencing of Elizabeth Warren was outrageous, divisive

The U.S. Senate’s rebuke of Elizabeth Warren last night for reading a letter from Coretta Scott King that criticizes Sen. Jeff Sessions is an outrageous abuse of freedom of speech and a dismaying display of the extreme partisanship that has helped poison our politics.

Republican senators formally silenced Sen. Warren, the Democratic firebrand from Massachusetts, during debate on Sessions’ nomination for attorney general as she read from a letter that King wrote in 1986, when Sessions was being considered for a federal judgeship.

In that 31-year-old letter, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged senators to reject the then-U.S. Attorney in Alabama because he had “used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, interrupted Warren as she read the letter, objecting that she had demeaned a peer, invoking a rule against insulting fellow senators. The Senate then voted, 49-43, along strict party lines, to force Warren into silence, at least on the Senate floor, until the battle over Session’s attorney general confirmation is finished.

In one blow, the Republicans moved to muzzle both Warren, who has been a piercing critic of the new Trump administration, and Mrs. King, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.

They looked clumsy in doing so. Warren later went on Facebook Live outside the Senate chambers to read the letter in full. Twitter and social media erupted with support for her.

And hours later, Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, picked up the Coretta King letter and read it in full. He received no censure.

That fact alone suggests powerfully that, as much as Republican senators wanted to protect the reputation of Sessions, one of their own, they were equally keen to squelch Warren. She must be getting under their skin.

They sure didn’t worry about the optics of sexism. Especially when McConnell justified his move by saying this:

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The hashtag #ShePersisted became a top trender on Twitter.

And quite frankly, the notion of being forbidden to criticize a fellow senator when that senator is up for confirmation for a Cabinet post — especially top law-enforcement official — is ludicrous.

Animosities are clearly rising to boiling point in the Senate, where the Democrats are doing all they can to slow, if not defeat, the confirmation of Trump cabinet nominees. Republicans, some of whom had once promised to be a check on Trump, are complaining that the Democrats are being obstructionist. But the Democrats are fighting an almost comically inappropriate host of nominees: an education secretary who doesn’t believe in public education; an Environmental Protection Agency administrator who opposes the Environmental Protection Agency; and an attorney general who disdains the Voting Rights Act.

But these heavy-handed tactics by McConnell are likely to backfire. Yes, the Republicans look like heroes to their base, but Warren is also looking more heroic to progressives.

As Barack Obama’s former political adviser, David Axelrod, put it:

 

 

Christie: Post readers take us to task over op-ed criticizing Women’s March

People take part in the Women's March on Palm Beach at the Meyer Amphitheatre Saturday afternoon. Those who participated said the came out to show a united front in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. Organizers estimated that 7,000-plus people showed up for the rally. (Damon Higgins / Daily News)
People take part in the Women’s March on Palm Beach at the Meyer Amphitheatre Saturday afternoon. Those who participated said the came out to show a united front in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. Organizers estimated that 7,000-plus people showed up for the rally. (Damon Higgins / Daily News)

Our readers took us to task this week over our publishing of a Point of View letter from Donna M. Carbone of Palm Beach Gardens.

Ms. Carbone, a frequent letter writer, took issue with the reasons and necessity for the Women’s March events on Saturday — including the event held here in West Palm Beach attended by 7,000-plus people.

“The civil rights movement was about real injustice — active wrongs that people were trying to make right. The Women’s March was about perceived injustice — the potential for wrongs that would need to be made right if they actually happened.”

And many of our readers took issue with us for running Carbone’s  Point of View.

Among the more than 225 comments on the commentary was this from Josie Crespo:  “You guys published an article about a Palm Beach Gardens resident’s point of view and we should care. Why?”

This from Donna Courtney: “Who cares what a comfortable white woman has to say? Get back to your Mah-Jong game and let the rest of us save the country.”

And this from Angie Dimos Gonzalez: “I love an article written by someone who wasn’t there. Nice going Palm Beach Post, doesn’t get much dumber than that.”

That’s fine. We can take it.

We appreciate the level of engagement on this controversial topic, but we want to remind folks that we value the diversity of opinions in our community; and Ms. Carbone is certainly welcome to hers.

We don’t have to agree or disagree with a reader’s opinion to publish it. We ask only that it is civil, topical and doesn’t play fast-and-loose with known facts.

What’s more, it is a fact that not every woman agreed with the “Women’s March.” We felt that if Ms. Carbone was willing to share her feelings with the Post, the community would benefit from engaging in a healthy debate.

As a result of the comments on her commentary, Ms. Carbone responded with her own today. She writes:

“As is so often the case these days, many people read my editorial through an ideological lens rather than taking the words at face value. I have no doubt that 90 percent of the women who attended the march did so with pure hearts. I believe they actually thought they were marching for a cause. Unfortunately, all the media allowed to be heard was more hateful rhetoric spewed by celebrities who turned the march away from an event about SOMETHING and made it a revolt against SOMEONE. The minute it became a hate fest, any hope of being heard in Washington was lost…”

You can read the entirety of her post here.

And thanks again for engaging with us, and we appreciate your taking time to comment.

Goodman: In inaugural address, Trump comes out like a boxer, squaring off for a fight

President Donald Trump takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, as his wife Melania holds the Bible, and with his children Barron, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Pool Photo via AP)
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, as his wife Melania holds the Bible, and with his children Barron, Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany, Friday on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Bourg/Pool Photo via AP)

A billionaire who has spent his lifetime enriching himself and feeding an insatiable ego began the 45th presidency of the United States by telling the American people that “this moment is your moment, this moment belongs to you.”

In his inaugural address, the newly installed President Donald J. Trump revisited the dark caricature of the United States that he depicted in campaign rally after rally: a nightmare of shuttered factories and gang-infested inner cities, of out-of-touch elites that ignore the forgotten man and woman, of a government that placates foreign countries but leaves its own southern border unprotected.

“The American carnage,” as he called it, “stops right here.” He sounded more like a guy squaring off for a fight than a statesman celebrating the peaceful passing of power and the continuance of America’s traditions of freedom.

Read Donald Trump’s inaugural speech: the full transcript

The new president did not mention that the Dow is approaching 20,000, the unemployment rate is down to 4.7 percent, average hourly wages are almost 3 percent higher than a year ago, or that we’ve had 75 straight months of job growth, a record for the modern era. These facts did not fit his narrative of a country in dire straits, desperate for a dramatic rescue.

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump declared. “It’s going to be only America first, America first.”

Surely Trump knows that the phrase “America First” was the name of Charles Lindbergh’s pro-German isolationist movement that preceded World War II. Just as surely, he doesn’t care.

Consistent with his campaign, Trump insisted that every decision on economics, foreign affairs and immigration will be made “to benefit American workers and their families.” That’s a worthy goal, but how will that be accomplished with a Cabinet led by billionaires who oppose environmental regulation, public schools and universal access to affordable healthcare?

“Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength,” the new president said — an assertion that must surprise the many economists who warn that protectionism is more likely to lead to countermeasures, trade wars and possible recession.

Trump invoked no history in his address. He gave no indication that he stood on the shoulders of giants. Instead, he spoke of his inauguration as the beginning of a new glorious epoch, a separation from a disappointing past. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams,” he said.

Although he talked about how this day, this moment, belongs to “the people,” Trump had nothing to say about how these decisions would be arrived at. There was mention of the people’s collective wisdom. No talk about the give-and-take of democratic discussion. Instead, he told Americans, “You will never be ignored again.” And, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body and I will never ever let you down.”

Trump wants us to enter a new mythos. He, the superhero who takes down the selfish elites. He, the fighter for the little guy who would be helpless without him.

“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

He finished by pumping his arms in the air, the gesture of a winning prizefighter.

Trump protesters gather in West Palm, just west of Mar-a-Lago