- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2020

Thirteen former press secretaries and foreign service and military officials have issued a joint op-ed titled “Why America needs to hear from its government” which makes the case that the daily White House press conference should be reinstated after almost a year’s absence.

“A well-informed citizenry would be better equipped to understand the difficult choices and decisions presidents must make, especially in times of crisis and challenge. Bringing the American people in on the process, early and often, makes for better democracy,” the group wrote in its editorial, published by CNN.

Well, yeah, that’s a viable thought.

But what is missing in the discussion is the state of the press briefing itself. After President Trump took office, the traditional decorum and conviviality of the exchange faded and the mission of informing the public appeared secondary.

“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the podium much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!” President Trump tweeted on Jan. 22, 2019, after Mrs. Sanders, then the press secretary, experienced some, uh, disappointing moments with the press corps.



“To be honest, the briefings had become a lot of theater, and I think that a lot of reporters were doing it to get famous. They’re writing books now. They’re all getting famous off of this presidency,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News at one point, also noting that Mr. Trump was an excellent spokesman in his own right.

Indeed, the president’s unprecedented and productive use of social media and live speeches have changed the playing field altogether. Mr. Trump has “transformed” the presidency, historian and author Doug Wead recently told Inside the Beltway.

Mrs. Sanders ultimately resigned from her post at the White House with dignity and grace.

“I couldn’t be prouder to have the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this president. I’ve loved every minute — even the hard minutes,” she noted publicly.

In the meantime, the earnest spokesmen who penned the op-ed should consider that if a truce is called and the White House press briefing reinstated, it must be a two-way street. Members of the press must also agree to contribute to the return of productive question-and-answer sessions, and the old school decorum which kept the session on track. A tricky business of course, but necessary.

BAGGY BERNIE CHIC

Elle magazine reports that the newest must-have item for the stylish lady is baggy pants, as worn by Sen. Bernard Sanders, presidential hopeful and democratic socialist.

“Let’s praise his presidential crusade for the next it-pant: grandpa slacks,” the magazine advises.

The pants in question must be pleated in the front, have a high-rise waist, wide legs and feature muted “easy to chew shades likes oatmeal, meatloaf and squash.” The Bernie-inspired paints do not come cheap. Fendi, in fact, is now featuring a version which retail at $570 each.

Yes, well. That may not be what the frugal-minded candidate would recommend.

LINDSEY EXPLAINS EVERYTHING

What should the nation make of the House passing a resolution under the War Powers Act? Some lawmakers certainly have something in mind.

“They think they’re preventing the president from going to war with Iran, but it is basically a meaningless resolution, is it not?” Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday.

“Yes, it’s a concurrent resolution that has no effect of law. All they’re doing is emboldening the enemy,” the South Carolina Republican replied. “The Congress has the power to declare war. That doesn’t mean that the commander-in-chief can’t use military force to protect the country without Congress. We’ve declared war less than 10 times in the history of the country. But we’ve had military engagements hundreds of times You cannot have 535 commander-in-chiefs.”

POLITICAL DEADLOCK AND THE U.S. ECONOMY

Here’s the strongest cue yet for battling political parties to cooperate with one another for a change. Kiplinger Personal Finance now reveals that typical Americans now consider “political deadlock” to be the greatest threat to the U.S. economy. Lawmakers, are you listening? Your constituents are watching, and they are troubled by what they see.

The new research from Kiplinger — which has been advising the nation about personal and business finance since 1920 — says “political deadlock” tops the list of economy-busting factors according to 28% of the respondents in a new survey. Global trade and tariffs was listed second, also feared by 28%. “Geopolitical tension” concerned 13%, followed by inflation (10%) and slowing employment growth (8%). The remaining 13% cited various “other” fears.

In the meantime, Americans who are currently saving for retirement are reasonably confident at the moment. Seven out of 10 say they have a long-term financial plan.

“Only a third (33%) say the market will go lower in 2020 and only 3 in 10 say the U.S. will enter a recession,” the Kiplinger analysis said, also noting that a surprising 53% of the respondents have confidence in Social Security. In the case of a volatile stock market, 43% say they are “Staying diversified and waiting it out.”

All of this suggests that the big population of Americans in this research — they ranged from age 40 to age 70 and up — are enjoying a little optimism at the moment. Message to Congress: imagine how things would be if the “political deadlock” factor faded?

POLL DU JOUR

• 62% of U.S. adults currently saving for retirement worry about future high health bills.

• 44% worry about running out of money when older, 40% worry about “not having enough money to live.”

• 23% worry about “finding new activities” to fill their time; 22% worry about not getting a regular pay check.

• 16% worry about not being able to retire when they want; 16% check their retirement account daily.

• 15% worry about leaving a job they enjoy, 6% worry about having to rely on adult children.

Source: A Kiplinger-Personal Capital poll of 850 U.S. adults currently saving for retirement. The poll was conducted Oct. 17-21 and released Friday.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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