Last night was supposed to be a great night for Donald Trump. You had Scott Walker and Marco Rubio voicing their support, attempting to unify the party around the nominee. Later, they would have Ted Cruz speak, putting some salve on still fresh political wounds from the brutal primary, although no one expected an enthusiastic endorsement. After that, the popular Newt Gingrich would fire up the crowd by emphatically extolling his friend, Trump. The night would be capped by Paul Ryan introducing Mike Pence and Gov. Pence introducing himself to the nation. They had just effectively cleaned up the Melania Trump speech mess, and they could now launch the Trump/Pence campaign from a foundation of party unity. Or so they hoped.
When Ted Cruz got on the stage to speak, the party was on egg shells, hoping for an endorsement, but perhaps willing to settle for something a bit less if it struck the right tone. What they didn't expect, was that the Texas Senator would drop a bomb that night, using his prime time speaking slot to tell voters to “vote their conscience” and to not stay home but to vote up and down the ballot for constitutionalist conservatives. These words may seem innocuous, but they are obvious dog whistles to the “Never-Trump” faction of the GOP. He confirmed the message this morning at an event where he told people that he wasn't in the habit of endorsing people who offended his wife and father.
This “principled stand” is very curious coming from a man who was The Donald’s cheerleader in chief during the early days of the campaign. Indeed, Sen. Cruz even had a co-rally with Trump at one point last year. He regularly said that he liked Trump and considered him a friend while pivoting to attack one of the other actual conservatives he was competing against. Interestingly, Cruz found his “principles” right before the Iowa caucuses and decided to sink his dagger into Trump’s back, going on a tear against his one time friend. Later, we would find out that there was truly nothing he wouldn't do to win when we found out he had betrayed perhaps the most beloved candidate in the race, Dr. Ben Carson. Gone was TrusTed and born was Lyin’ Ted.
Cruz lived up to that moniker last night. At one of the primary debates, the moderator asked him if he would STILL uphold his pledge to support Donald Trump. Cruz answered in the affirmative. He said that he would because he gave his word. As you can imagine, stock in Cruz's word isn't doing so well right now. Once again he made a political calculation under the guise of being principled. He calculated that by ostentatiously denying Trump an endorsement on national television, he would be seen as the principled warrior once again. This strategy was undermined by his past high praise for Trump and the violation of his pledge – it totally backfired. He was jeered off stage, and he was excoriated by the Fox News panel directly afterward for his hypocrisy.
So now we’re at the last day of the Republican Convention and Team Trump desperately needs to come out of tonight driving the narrative. On day one it was the Never-Trump floor “fight.” On day two it was Melania’s plagiarized speech and the botched damage control. Day three was Cruz's betrayal, taking the wind out of Gov. Pence’s sails. Today needs to be a win for Trump.
So what can he do? First, we've had three days of pure red meat with the speeches. While it is a Republican Convention, it's also free prime time attention that every news network is covering. It would be a totally wasted opportunity to do nothing but cheaply appeal to the base. We know that Trump needs to expand the tent if he's going to have a prayer of winning and he should start that process in earnest tonight. Trump ought to be optimistic and inspirational, not angry and boorish. He should appear presidential and make his case to the American people at large, not just his Republican base. Maybe he should comment on black community-police relations beyond just saying “blue lives matter.” Maybe he should go into some detail on his plan to take down ISIS. Maybe he should include a pitch for his tax plan. Maybe he should make the case to Latino voters, beyond just saying “I love the Hispanics.” Maybe he should do all these things, but one thing is for sure, he can't waste this opportunity. However if he does, at least the convention served to hopefully end Cruz's prospects for 2020. Maybe even sooner. Word is he may face a primary challenger now for his Senate seat after his Judas moment.
Last week, I had a thought that I wanted to write a piece on the tension that exists between the black community and police departments around the nation. As horrible as it sounds, I thought to myself the next time there is an officer involved shooting of a black man, I'll write it. They're becoming as dependable in America as tax day. Every few months or sometimes even days, there is news of another African American dying at the hands of police and just as predictable as the shooting itself, protesters take to the streets demanding that the violence against their community stops. They say they feel discriminated against. They feel afraid. They feel hunted.
But if you ask most police officers, they'll tell you it's the other way around. Politicians and ambitious prosecutors looking to make a name for themselves want to serve up officers’ heads on a stick as they see it. They have a tough job where they put their lives on the line to protect their community. Situations and encounters develop in seconds and near-instant decisions need to be made, later to be torn apart by the peanut gallery that has the privilege to watch video footage in slow-motion, from different angles. Some say they are afraid to do their jobs because they don't want to be the next vilified police officer that is accused of murder.
The black community has a well-founded historical distrust of the police in general. The civil rights era molded how many from that generation view police. State troopers blocking black kids from going into white schools, the beat downs, killings, unleashing police dogs on peaceful civil rights protesters and the list goes on. That deep seeded distrust of law enforcement from those who experienced or witnessed that doesn't just go away and it's very likely that it gets passed down to their children. Other high profile abuses such as the Rodney King beating just cement those feelings of distrust and fear.
It's worthwhile to consider both perspectives. According to Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern policing, law enforcement is a relationship between the public and the police. Let's use a husband and wife relationship analogy. If a husband cheated on his wife, the husband needs to work vigorously to repair the relationship so that his wife can trust him again. Even if he's been faithful for 5 years but he hasn't done anything to proactively repair the trust, then there's a major problem with that relationship. For a relationship to work properly, both parties need to be on the same page. Whether the perceptions are real or imagined, both sides need to work to change those perceptions so that trust is reestablished.
And so it is with police. As public servants, it is incumbent on them to proactively work with the black community they serve to repair their relationship. Likewise, It is incumbent on the black community to be receptive to outreach and partnerships from police departments that are trying to do the right thing. Peel says in his Principles of Law Enforcement, “The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.”
Repairing this relationship isn't only the right thing to do, it helps make officers’ jobs easier and prevents violence. Peel says, “The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain public respect. The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, to the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.”
There’s no doubt that work needs to be done. The relationship needs to be repaired or else the bad blood will fester. Peel’s fifth principle: “The police seek and preserve public favor by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law... by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.” Let's consider the black community’s perspective of their relationship with police, and let's fix it.
Note: The night this piece was published, 5 police officers in Dallas, TX in apparent retaliation for the officer involved shootings earlier in the week, were killed. Dallas PD is among the best community policing organizations in the country. They set the trend for deescalation techniques and have the fewest officer involved shootings when compared with other cities of that size. Let's remember the fallen officers who were there facilitating a peaceful protest.
Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey audaciously announced to the American people that Hillary Clinton would face no criminal charges for her private, unsecured email server which trafficked in “very sensitive, highly classified information.” He said that Clinton and her staff had been “extremely careless” in their handling of that information. Furthermore, he said that “it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s email account." Alas, Director Comey said there is no “clear evidence” that there was criminal intent and therefore, the former Secretary of State is not culpable for the laws that she broke.
Clinton’s email scandal came to a head when former President Bill Clinton met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Director Comey’s boss) on board a private plane in Phoenix, AZ. Under fire, Lynch acknowledged that it was unseemly for the nation’s top cop to be yucking it up with the husband of the target of her Justice Department’s investigation. Interestingly, shortly after the airplane rendezvous, a story dropped in the New York Times saying that Clinton would consider retaining Ms. Lynch as Attorney General. If that isn't a thinly veiled quid pro quo, then I don't know what is.
And so, here we are. Comey not only exonerates Clinton of her crimes, but also reassures us that if we were to make such an error, we would face consequences: “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”
There you have it. They are scarcely even trying to conceal their arrogance. The rules do not apply to the Clintons. They know it and they want us to know it also. Hillary Clinton doesn't really care that she put the country’s secrets at risk. Bill Clinton doesn't really care that him boarding Lynch’s jet in the heat of the investigation was inappropriate. That doesn't matter to them. They just need to grease the right wheels to get the outcome they desire. They are quite above being judged by the likes of you or I.
Bill privately talks to Lynch about “grandkids” and “golf” for a half hour on July 1. Hillary is interviewed by the FBI on July 2 (which probably consisted of her pleading the fifth). The New York Times piece is published on July 3 quoting “anonymous sources” that Clinton may keep Lynch on as Attorney General. Break for barbecue on the 4th of July. Finally, Comey puts on this press conference theater on July 5, complete with a minor tongue lashing to feign the appearance of impartiality and objectivity. With that, the fix is in.
What could Comey do? The husband of his suspect was chummy with his boss (the Attorney General) and his suspect herself was flying on Air Force One that very day with his boss’s boss (the President) on their way to a campaign stop. You try going after the “friend” of both the Attorney General and the President of the United States. Oh, and by the way, you work for both of them. That's some serious pressure.
It's hard to imagine that Secretary Clinton will likely be the next President of the United States. Her total disregard for the law for her personal gain shows an unbridled ambition that is truly dangerous to the country. She is undoubtedly corrupt, that's basically universally accepted as fact. “Liar” is the word most often attributed to her in polls and her trustworthy ratings are pitifully low. It would be nice to be able to enthusiastically endorse a candidate that was at least somewhat more acceptable for the highest office in the land. Unfortunately, the alternative to Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump, who just yesterday thought it a good idea to praise Saddam Hussein for his strong handling of “terrorists.” 2020 can't come quick enough.