Author: Howard Fineman

You Need To Know About The Life of Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney

THE HUFFINGTON POST WASHINGTON – Daniel Rooney died at 84 last Thursday during Holy Week in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He will be buried there on Tuesday after what will surely be one of the most crowded, loving and civic funeral masses ever held in St. Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of the city. The day before the mass there will be a public viewing in the Champions Club at Heinz Field, where the Steelers play. Thousands are expected. It’s the Steel City equivalent of lying in state. If Pittsburgh, founded as a military outpost by...

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Trump In The Belly Of The Beast

  WASHINGTON ― Only in America could a billionaire developer and TV star be an “outsider.” But that is how Donald Trump marketed himself, winning the Electoral College thanks in part to rural white voters who accepted his lies and loved his loathing of the Establishment. On Tuesday, at 9 p.m. EST, Trump is set to take his outlaw act to the very heart of the federal capital and its culture. As he addresses his first joint session of Congress, he will literally be surrounded by leaders of the institutions and forces he claims to despise ― people whom he now needs to harness, or at least pacify, if he is to succeed. How will he behave, and what will he say, in the belly of the beast? His first five weeks as president have been, frankly, a mess. True, he has made a start ― largely symbolic ― on implementing some of his anti-regulatory and anti-immigrant ideas, following the pattern of his predecessor in using executive orders. But at the same time, Trump has fought a war with the press, with his own staff, with the bureaucracy in general and the intelligence community in particular, with foreign allies, with a federal appeals court ― and with himself, if his bizarre, stream-of-consciousness press conference this month is any indication. He has emitted a steady stream of boasts, “alternative facts,” accusations and...

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The White House Is Already In Flames

WASHINGTON ― National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is gone ― that didn’t take long ― but he leaves behind a famous and fateful question: What did the president know and when did he know it? Donald J. Trump has been president for less than a month, and already the Watergate query is all the capital is talking about, and, as a result, there is a widespread sense of a White House in deep, perhaps cataclysmic, trouble. The list of failures and missteps of the Trump administration is as well known as it is long: a litany of patently obvious lies to the public and the press; mismanagement and vicious infighting; several malodorous Cabinet choices; mixed messages from on high, many of them coming within minutes of each other; leaks that gush like a fire hydrant; national security lapses that would be comical if they were not so risky; and a job approval rating lower at this point than that of any new president in memory. But all of that is as nothing compared with the conflagration now. Flynn resigned after it became clear that federal investigators and the national media were closing in on his close relationship ― bought and paid for, it appears ― with Vladimir Putin and his henchmen in Moscow. Then acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed Trump and his circle weeks ago that the FBI...

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Rebuking Trump, Obama Channels His Native Hawaii

POIPU, HAWAII ― Bumper stickers for sale at the beachfront Nukumoi Surf Co. shop here offer pidgin English clues to this state’s modest, tolerant — and exceedingly un-Trump like — version of 21st century America.  My favorite: “No ACK, bruddah.” As the surfer dude behind the counter told me, the phrase reminds the world that Hawaiians don’t tolerate egotistical, chesty douchebags. “It means don’t be a showoff,” he explained. (I bought one.) These and other such chachkas were available long before a certain New York real estate mogul won the presidency. And ACK notwithstanding, Donald Trump’s name is on a lavish hotel in Waikiki on the neighboring island of Oahu.  Yet the bumper strip seemed especially relevant now, one of many reminders here that Trumpism is but one strand of the American story ― and perhaps not the one that will prevail in the long term. On vacation here during the final weeks of his tenure in the White House, President Barack Obama, a Hawaii native, seems determined to put his sunny state spirit on display. In one of his last public ceremonies, he will accompany Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the memorial honoring the Americans who died in Japan’s surprise attack at Pearl Harbor 75 years ago. At a time when the incoming president-elect is tweet-threatening the world, Obama is using his hometown stage to send a...

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Trump TV Is Gonna Be Yugely Big League, Etc.

Let’s be honest: You know you’d be curious about Trump TV ― the presumed fallback venture for GOP candidate Donald Trump if he loses the election. We certainly would be. Trump, a car crash that learned how to walk and wear suits, is addicted to attention, and the media is addicted to giving him attention. None of that will change if he loses to Hillary Clinton. Trump himself said this week that he has “no interest in Trump TV,” but Trump says a lot of things, so it’s worth at least speculating about what the network would look like. The enterprise would definitely have potential, at least for the Trump base and America’s most committed hate-watchers. As a streaming and cable TV star, Trump would be second to none. He’d be capable of gobbling the Kardashians’ lunch, dinner and the next day’s elevenses. How could he not? As the poet Patricia Lockwood has said, Trump is “human meth” ― a singularly galvanizing and destructive blend of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Beavis and Butt-Head, Michael Moore, Alex Jones, George Wallace, Benito Mussolini and Vince the ShamWow Guy. And if you think about it, he’s made it this far based on little more than a skill set gleaned from years in the reality-teevee trenches and a lifelong fascination with television. So it really could work. But even Donald Trump can’t...

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Welcome To The Mexican-American Election

 AP Photo/Gerald Herbert WASHINGTON ― First, Donald Trump vows to build a “great” wall along the 1,989-mile U.S.-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it. Then Vicente Fox says there is no way his country will pay for a “fucking wall,” and Enrique Peña Nieto compares Trump’s “populism” to that of Hitler and Mussolini. Hillary Clinton, not to be outdone, attacks Trump as a dictatorial bigot, in large part because he called Mexican immigrants to the U.S. criminals, drug dealers and rapists. Even the appearance of a taco bowl has become a key moment in the U.S. presidential race. Was Trump innocently trying to honor Mexican culture with his Cinco de Mayo tweet, or rudely taunting his critics? (The latter, I confirmed.) And that was just the start of a North American political melodrama. On Wednesday ― in the strangest chapter yet, although every chapter has been the strangest chapter yet ― Trump flew to Mexico City at Peña Nieto’s invitation for a meeting of two men desperate for respect. Trump is way behind in the campaign polls, while Peña Nieto’s approval rating is an abysmal 23 percent. Peña Nieto had issued a separate invitation to Clinton, but she is wisely staying out of the way for now, the better to watch the Mexican president and the American candidate somehow try to ignore a year’s worth of some of...

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The 9 Stages Of A Trump Statement

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images) We deal with a lot of tough things in life ― grief and various addictions, among other things ― in stages. The same is true when Donald Trump makes one of his patented inflammatory, fantastical or threatening statements. After one of these remarks, the bilious billionaire, his aides and the Republican Party run through a series of syntactical and spin-doctoring steps in a Houdini-like effort to escape the submerged steamer trunk into which he had locked himself (and them). At the end of the process, most fair-minded observers conclude that Trump never really escapes, and that he is running out of oxygen somewhere in the deep waters off the coast of American politics. But not Trump! With powers of self-delusion far beyond those of mortal men and strategy from his own The Art of the Deal, he views his utterances as merely the opening bid in a never-ending negotiation over meaning. And the meaning is what he says it is, or isn’t, or may be, or what you want to hear, or don’t to hear. And for The Donald, any publicity is good publicity, and any accusation ― no matter how outrageous or phony ― sticks. You’d think that this method ―...

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Donald Trump’s Speech Was Not Very American

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party’s nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) CLEVELAND ― Donald Trump just went Richard Nixon one better ― or rather, one worse. As signaled last Monday by his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Trump channeled Nixon’s 1968 acceptance speech when he addressed the Republican National Convention here Wednesday and promised to bring “law and order” to what he described as a chaotic society, with war in the streets and poisonous danger from abroad. He would do so in the name of the “forgotten Americans,” whom he knew and understood, because he had been one of them. But it wasn’t until six years later during the crisis of Watergate that Nixon let the rest of that cat out of the bag: He told a small circle of aides that, since he was president, he could do what he wanted. The “imperial presidency” was banished shortly thereafter, as Nixon fled town and the Oval...

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