Tennessee editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Chattanooga Times Free Press on criticisms of President Donald Trump’s health:
The same national media that couldn’t see past their personal biases to gauge the strength of presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016 don’t understand how much empathy they lend to the now-president with their obsession about his health.
Rats, the economy is good, their thinking has to be. Darn, he signed a tax reform bill. Phooey, the Russia investigation is going nowhere.
But Trump’s health? Ha, we’ve got him. As soon as he submits to a thorough health screening like every president does annually (though voluntarily), we’ll have him. Doctors can’t possibly judge him as healthy.
After all, he loves McDonald’s food, The Washington Post having “exposed” that his go-to order is two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, two Big Macs and a chocolate shake.
Indeed, a former aide insisted he’d never seen Trump eat fruit or nuts. His favorite Air Force One snacks, reportedly are Lay’s potato chips and Keebler Vienna Fingers cookies.
It is whispered he drinks up to 12 Diet Cokes a day. He loves big steaks prepared so well done they would “rock the plate,” according to The New York Times.
And don’t forget Time’s breaking news story on Trump’s ice cream insistence. The magazine reported he gets two scoops of ice cream with his chocolate pie while others around the table get one.
Of course, the only kind of exercise he gets is playing golf. And even there, he rides a cart.
Oh, the horrors. What kind of monster do we have in the Oval Office?
So it was with no lack of interest that the media salivated over a more detailed assessment from doctors after Trump’s physical examination last week, an examination that initially revealed only that the president was in excellent health.
For almost an hour last week they grilled Navy Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson.
What about his mental fitness? What about him once supposedly slurring his words? What about the possibility of him being removed from office through the 25th Amendment because he is unable to “discharge his duties”? What if doctors are missing signs they might have overlooked with former President Ronald Reagan, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years after he left office?
Jackson remained calm, giving them information as detailed as the fact the non-drinking, non-smoking, non-coffee-drinking Trump, 71, has “excellent” cardiac health, has “incredibly good genes” and scored 30 out of 30 on a cognitive test often given patients at Walter Reed Medical Center.
“I think that, you know, there’s no indication that he has any kind of cognitive issues,” he said.
Still, they pressed, wanting the doctor to come up with something to explain why he tweeted rude remarks, to explain why he (in their minds) is a racist, to explain why he won’t kowtow to them like most politicians.
“You know,” Jackson finally said, “I would think that, you know, the people shouldn’t be making the assessments about the president unless they’ve had the opportunity to get to know him and examine him and, you know, in my opinion, (innuendo about the president’s health is) just tabloid psychiatry, and I just don’t — you know, I’m not going to address it or fall into responding to those questions or accusations.”
Now, recall, if you will, the intense questioning former President Obama’s doctor took over Obama’s smoking, over his admitted drug use (when his was younger) and over his desire to escape first lady Michelle Obama’s insistence on healthy eating by grabbing hamburgers.
Right, there wasn’t any.
Or the concern about Bill Clinton’s diet in the White House, where he reportedly arrived after gaining 30 pounds on the 1992 campaign trail following a diet of Big Macs, barbecue and mayonnaise salads.
Right, there wasn’t any, though the former president later was diagnosed with heart disease and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004 and became largely a vegan.
A case easily could be made, as it could in so many other aspects, about how the media treats the health of Republican presidents versus the health of Democratic presidents.
Recall, after all, the cover-ups of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s polio, John F. Kennedy’s Addison’s disease and Lyndon B. Johnson’s depression. But Republicans? Eisenhower’s heart attack and ileitis were big news, George H.W. Bush’s stomach trouble at an international dinner made headlines and the fit, active George W. Bush was whispered by pundits who didn’t like his policies that he must have early onset dementia.
As for Trump, it was just the latest attempt to find something — anything — that will destroy his presidency.
With that knowledge, reporters who heard Jackson’s conclusion about the president’s potential tenure in office must have felt a giant dagger over their latest attempt.
“I feel very confident,” he said, “that (Trump) has a very strong and a very probable possibility of making it completely through his presidency with no medical issues.”
Elsewhere, the president’s supporters — especially those who enjoy an occasional Big Mac and Diet Coke and play a little golf — just laughed.
Johnson City Press on public schools and state funding:
There is a line in the Tennessee Constitution requiring the state General Assembly to “adequately” fund public schools. The term adequate on Capitol Hill has often been defined as the bare minimum.
It’s often argued that you can’t solve every problem by simply throwing money at it. Even so, when it comes to improving schools in Tennessee, state lawmakers have never bothered to even try.
Just ask educators across this state who are struggling to fund the basic essentials in the classroom. If only schools in Tennessee had the money needed to develop innovative programs to improve the educational outcomes in those classrooms.
If only more schools had the money to offer the art, music and other cultural programs that often fall victim to the budget-cutting ax. If only school systems had the money to attract top educators to teach advanced science and math classes.
If only lawmakers would do more than give lip service to improving the quality of education for all students in Tennessee.
Recently, Johnson City officials met with local legislators to outline the city’s agenda for this year’s session of the General Assembly. As Press staff writer Zach Vance reported in December, school funding topped that list. City leaders are once again asking state legislators to close a “loophole” that gives counties the ability to avoid sharing certain capital expenditures proportionately with city school systems located within the same county.
“Counties can appropriate one-time expenditures to county schools without sharing those funds with the city schools within the county,” the legislative agenda states. “City property owners pay both city and county property taxes, and this effectively deprives city property tax payers of the benefit of an expenditure that is funded in part by their property taxes.”
Eliminating this loophole is just a start. State officials should also engage in a deep examination of how public education is funded in Tennessee, and how that system can be improved. Lawmakers should revisit a proposal that was never given serious debate a few years ago that called for the state to pick up the total costs for the classroom (teacher pay, curriculum and supplies) and leave brick and mortar costs up to local school systems.
The Commercial Appeal on nuclear worries:
For 37 minutes on a sunny Saturday morning in an American paradise, Hawaiians and their guests stopped what they were doing and considered whether they had spent their days on this earth the way they would have wanted to.
BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII their cell phones told them at 8:07 a.m. Jan. 13. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Some texted their children back on the mainland, and for what they thought might be the last time told them how much they loved them.
Guests at beachfront condominium developments left their units, raced to the office to find out if there was any place there to shelter and were told that there was none, to just go back to their rooms and see what happens.
At grocery stores, shoppers abandoned their carts in the aisles, headed to the parking lots and pulled out onto roads that under the best of circumstances are bumper-to-bumper already.
Some took the news with great calm, submerging themselves in hot tubs or spreading beach blankets on the sand maybe for one last time. Some cried. Some comforted crying children the best they could. A common refrain on the streets and sidewalks and patios of Hawaii was that the idea of seeking shelter was a bit of a farce.
If the bars had been open, some early mai tais would have gone down the hatch, and make it a double.
Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s Twitter followers found out 12 minutes after the alert was issued that it was a false alarm and began spreading the word. But for others, no less than 37 minutes passed before they found out by way of the second text from the state’s emergency management agency that the agency’s earlier warning could be disregarded.
More than half an hour after the notion began to sink in that a disaster was on the horizon, that the universe might have to get along without them from now on, their stomach muscles began to relax and tears began to dry.
It’s impossible to say how much the bellicose ramblings of President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un contributed to the psychological trauma experienced by those who had seen the warning or heard about it.
But this much is clear: We don’t want to hear any more about the size of their nuclear buttons.
What happened? Officially the word from officialdom was that an employee of the agency had clicked on the wrong alert option during an internal drill.
Of course, alternative theories quickly circulated around the islands: There really was an attack, but the missile had been shot down; the wrong-button explanation was just to prevent a greater panic.
The scariest theory of all: the system had been hacked, and — who knows? — maybe hackers were just demonstrating that they were in control of the nuclear arsenal.
Some eternal optimists in the crowd said they thought the trauma experienced on the island state would persuade Trump that his chest-thumping was not just unhelpful but unbecoming.
In fact, no one heard much from the president after the Big Scare. His first tweet after things had calmed down was all about “the Fake Book of a mentally deranged author, who knowingly writes false information. The Mainstream Media is crazed that WE won the election!”