Get our newsletters

Charles Meredith: A president representing himself


Dear Friends,

Good morning and Happy New Year. I thought about my friend J. Lawrence (Larry) Grim when I read about the resignation of President Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State.

As each day passes, it seems as if those advising the President are quitting, thus leaving Donald Trump more isolated.

Are we seeing a president who relies mostly on his own instincts rather than seeking advice from others? And that takes me to the quote that my friend Larry Grim often uses: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Actually it was Abraham Lincoln who is credited with that quote.

I used to think that George W. Bush was America’s worst president, leaving President James Buchanan (Pennsylvania’s only president) in the dust. How could one find a more abysmal president than Buchanan who, on the eve of the Civil War, said that the South could not secede from the union because there was no provision for secession in the U.S. Constitution?

George W. Bush eclipsed my poor opinion of James Buchanan when he listened to his vice president, Dick Cheney, plus his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld and marched into Iraq. What a terrible mistake. Surely George W. was America’s worst president. True?

But all this pales in comparison when one examines the Trump Presidency … which leads me to Thomas Friedman’s column in the New York Times (Dec. 26). “It’s time for the GOP to threaten to fire Trump,” the headline stated.

This is what Friedman wrote: “I believe that the only responsible choice for the Republican Party today is an intervention with the president,” Friedman began, “whether this man and his demented behavior … which will get only worse as the Mueller investigation concludes …are going to destabilize our country, our financial markets, our key institutions and, by extension, the world. The GOP has no choice but to press for his resignation or join calls for his impeachment.”

We’ll soon find out whether congressional Republicans have enough gumption. In my view, it’s the only way for the GOP to regain credibility.

And now to the local scene. Last week, the Bucks County government announced that there would be no tax increase for 2019. David Boscolo, the county director of finance and administration, said that the multi-million dollar spending gap was closed by finding additional revenues, projecting lower health and personnel expenses, and using $1.3 million of the county’s $35.6 million general fund reserves.

That’s a good thing but won’t ensure that the GOP will continue to dominate the Bucks County Commissioners Office. As you know, the Bucks government uses the majority-minority governing system, meaning that two of the commissioners form the majority, and one serves as the minority. Thus, the commissioners are both executives and legislators.

For most of the 20th century and the first 18 years of the new century, the Republicans have served as the majority commissioners. Every four years, two Democratic candidates face off against two Republican candidates. The top three vote getters become the commissioners.

With Republican Commissioner Charley Martin announcing that he would not seek re-election, the Republican Party is facing a dilemma. Yes, it probably has incumbent Commissioner Rob Loughery willing to run. But the Republican Party no longer has the advantage of a significant lead in voter registration. In fact, the GOP is now the minority party (by 10,000 votes).

So, the Republicans need an ace in the hole to ensure victory.

What could that be? I have a suggestion for Pat Poprik, the chair of the Bucks County GOP. Run Marguerite Quinn, the former Pennsylvania state Representative for Central Bucks. Quinn did not seek re-election in the 143d district because she chose to run for the state Senate. She lost that bid and is now foot-loose and fancy free.

If Commissioner Charley Martin could be convinced to resign, the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas must appoint a Republican (because Martin is a Republican). Undoubtedly, the court would ask the county Republican Party for a candidate to consider. Usually, that’s exactly what the court does … not always, but usually.

You historians remember 1966 when the court did not agree with the GOP’s first choice … when then Bucks Commissioner John Justice Bodley resigned to become a judge.

The court did not appoint William O. Kline whom the party nominated. To the surprise of all, the court chose me, a 31-year-old from Quakertown. Who would have “thunk” it?

But Marguerite Quinn has a good reputation and she’s a woman. The Democratic Party would have a difficult time beating her. We’ll see if the Bucks County Republican Party follows my suggestion. Stay tuned.

Sincerely, Charles Meredith