Capitol View Commentary: Friday, August 11, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice President, DVL Seigenthaler Public Relations, a Finn Partners Company
August 11, 2017

MAYOR MEGAN BARRY ON INSIDE POLITICS; THE SECOND TIME AROUND; AND SO IT BEGINS; HOW TO
SPEND A PRESIDENTIAL SUMMER VACATION

MAYOR MEGAN BARRY ON INSIDE POLITICS

We are honored to have Mayor Megan Barry as our guest on INSIDE POLITICS this week.

She and her husband Bruce have shown remarkable strength, poise and transparency over the last nearly two weeks in publicly grieving the death of their son Max to a drug overdose.

We’ll talk about her decision to return to her official duties this week and how her only child’s death has opened the opportunity for her to become a national leader in the fight against the epidemic of opioid drug related deaths that are sweeping the country.

I am sure she will take another opportunity to thank the thousands of people, many of them strangers who have offered their love, prayers and support during this very difficult period.

Of course, we will discuss her work as mayor, including the increasing possibility of a new stadium being built for a major league soccer team to come to Nashville; the direct international air service to London announced this week to begin next spring; the hoopla over the total solar eclipse coming to town on August 21, and of course, the major mass transit improvements she wants voter support to help fund in 2018.

And there are still lots of other interesting topics that will come up during our conversation, as the Mayor approaches the two-year, halfway point of her first term.

So don’t miss us!

This week we are also pleased that INSIDE POLITICS will air on the main channel, NEWSCHANNEL5, at 6:30 p.m. Friday night immediately following NEWSCHANNEL5 at 6:00.

INSIDE POLITICS also airs several times each weekend on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS. Those times include 7:00 p.m. Friday; 5:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday; along with 1:30 a.m. & 5:00 a.m. on Sunday.

THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 182 and on NEWSCHANNEL5’s overthe-air
digital channel 5.2.

One option for those who can’t see the show locally or who are out of town, you can watch it live with streaming video on NEWSCHANNEL5.com. Just use your TiVo or DVR, if those live times don't work for you.

This week’s show and previous INSIDE POLITIICS interviews are also posted on NEWSCHANNEL5’s website for your viewing. The latest show with Mayor Barry will be added next week.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND

As I mentioned earlier, a new five-day-a-week, direct international air service to London is coming to Nashville next May.

It’s another major landmark accomplishment for our city as its brand worldwide continues to grow even stronger.

But it hasn’t always been easy.

I remember the first two weeks I came to work in Mayor Fulton’s office in May, 1985, the GM Saturn Plant was announced for Maury County and American Airlines confirmed one its hubs was coming to Nashville, bringing many new flights to dozens of cities.

Wow! I thought if every two weeks was like this, this job in the mayor’s office was going to be really great!

But the American hub also required accelerating construction of a new (current) airport terminal and of a new runway. People began loudly complaining about increased noise around the airport.

The hub did bring those new flight connections, but American hedged its bets from the beginning by splitting off some of the hub flights to Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Later the whole hub was pulled when American saw greater opportunities in Miami when Eastern Airlines faltered.

But American did begin our first direct air service to London in the early to mid- 1990s. Nashville was so proud to have that flight and its seats were mostly full. But American was not happy about the customer mix (not enough business travelers in particular) so the London service was cancelled.

Ever since that occurred, a number of civic leaders and the Metropolitan Airport Authority have worked hard to bring a marquee international flight back to the Music City. This week with the help of state government and Governor Bill Haslam, along with Metro government and Mayor Barry, those community leaders made it happen with British Airways providing the air service the second time around.

In another sign of how far Nashville has come as a diverse business community, the music industry played a role. The Kings of Leon group took time to meet with airline officials when they were across the pond for a gig. They sang the praises of our city which reportedly made a real impression with the Brits they met. The group is even doing a video to promote the air service.

So will Nashville make out better with this London flight than two decades ago? Governor Haslam and Mayor Barry think so. They and others believe it will open the door to other international flights particularly for service to Japan and the rest of the Far East.

But just in case Nashville, the state, and the Airport Authority are together providing a $2 million subsidy in dollars and marketing support to help keep the London flight in the black.

So Big Ben meet the Batman Building! Hot chicken meet Sunday Roast with Yorkshire Pudding. Life together between London and Nashville sure looks like it will better the second time around.

AND SO IT BEGINS

With the field of hopefuls to run for the Republican nomination for governor now likely finalized for 2018, the sharp elbows and verbal jabs are starting to emerge among some of the candidates.

During one of what will be many candidate forums that will be held over the next few months, the newest GOP candidate Congressman Diane Black took a straight shot (although no names were mentioned) at one of her opponents, House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville.

According to THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS and Tom Humphrey’s blog, Black said:

“We can find Republicans who are too weak or too meek right here in Nashville as well. The people of Tennessee did not give us a majority to be meek. They made us the majority so we could do what we say we can do. And that’s the job of our next governor. To lead this state in a way with a firm hand and a strong spine. And that’s what the state of Tennessee needs is a strong leader.”

Speaker Harwell was also at the same candidate forum in Williamson County. The event was hosted by
State Senator Jack Johnson. Harwell did not seem to take kindly to the Congressman’s attack and
offered both a defense and a counterattack.

Continues the FREE PRESS article:

“I am very proud of what the Republicans, since we have been in the majority party, have done in this state,” Harwell later told reporters from the Times Free Press and The Associated Press.
And in a direct jab at Black, Harwell added that since Tennessee Republicans assumed total control of the General Assembly seven years ago, GOP lawmakers “have made the transition from being just a political party to being the governing party of the state, and we actually are governing — unlike what you see at the federal level.” That was a reference to the national GOP’s inability after years of promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Meanwhile, although Black’s Budget Committee has passed a federal budget blueprint, it has yet to make it through the full chamber, let alone start moving in the U.S. Senate.”

A third GOP candidate also present was State Senator Mae Beavers. She couldn’t help but put her jab in
too according to the FREE PRESS report:

“In her remarks (she said) that she decided to join the race after fielding calls from supporters who said they wanted a “good conservative in the governor’s race.” In response to Black’s campaign announcement last week Beavers tweeted:

“The more moderates in the Governor’s race the better!”

It’s only just begun…expect more jabs and retorts to come all the way to next August when the Republican primary is held.

HOW TO SPEND A PRESIDENTIAL SUMMER VACATION

When most people go on summer vacation, they kick back, maybe play some golf, and lighten the load. For President Donald Trump, this week it’s been more “lock and load” and “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Sure there’s been some golf played, but the continued and bellicose threats from the U.S. President against North Korea and its growing nuclear prowess, have been rather unprecedented coming out of the mouth of the Leader of the Free World. The remarks have sent shock waves of concern and uncertainty around the world, particularly in neighboring South Korea, Japan and China along with Guam, a U.S. possession in the Pacific, which the North Koreans is threatening to launch missiles against later this month.

In the middle of the week the President even verbally upped the ante, saying his “fire and fury such as the world has never seen” comments were not strong enough. Really? You threaten nuclear war against a country, how much stronger can you be?

I think the President means he is going to do, as he always does, on an issue or a controversy on which he is focused. He is going to double down again and again to get his message out (and he is). Maybe his real target is as much China as it is North Korea. That country had the closest ties to North Korea and if the latest U.S. and U.N. sanctions (which were approved immediately before this latest crisis erupted) are to be effective, China must lead that effort.

Of course it wouldn’t be the Trump administration if there weren’t mixed messages being sent with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging negotiation and telling the North Koreans “we are not your enemy.” So will “good cop, bad cop” work better than saber (nuclear arms) rattling?

I am nowhere near a foreign policy expert, so I can’t say how Mr. Trump’s more bellicose language will work in defusing the crisis which may be the most tense I can recall since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when I was only 10 years old.

But even a conventional land war in Asia looks very foreboding. Given the close knit geopolitical geography of the region, we likely can take out the bad guy, but only at the costs of hundreds of thousands of casualties in South Korea and maybe elsewhere in the region. It would be a war more like WWII or the conflict we waged in Korea in the early 1950s, as compared to the more recent Middle East conflicts we are still waging now in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Back home, President Trump has upped the stakes in the budding feud he is developing with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell says the President has “excessive expectations” about what Congress can achieve, and that Congress has a two year term to get things done, not just one year.

But Mr. Trump (and many GOP conservatives) aren’t buying it. The President says the only way for Leader McConnell to fix things is have the Senate come back and “repeal and replace Obamacare”, cut taxes, approve his budget, and pass an infrastructure improvement bill (even though I am not sure the White House itself hasn’t even finalized legislation on all those topics). Good luck, Mitch. And good luck, Mr. President, since most Senators seem to be lining up on the GOP Leader’s side in this fight.

Of course the Russia investigation continues with the big development this week (as of this writing on early Friday afternoon) the disclosure of a dawn FBI raid a few days ago on the home of one of the Trump’s former campaign managers, Paul Manafort. It’s goal apparently was to seek to seize undisclosed documents that might relate to his or the Trump campaign’s relationship to Russia. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is continuing a very thorough investigation and that probe continues.

One final Russia related note: I keep hearing we are not supposed to take what the President says literally. I hope that is right because I have a real concern about how Mr. Trump (finally) reacted to Russian President Vladimir Putin after he kicked out 755 American embassy workers in that country. They are being ousted in the wake of new congressional sanctions against Russia, signed into law by the President, for Russian meddling in our 2016 elections.

The President “thanked” Mr. Putin for his action! Mr. Trump added he was looking to cut the budget (of the State Department) anyway. That seems pretty insulting to those 755 employees who have been serving this country overseas. They surely deserve a better thanks and welcome home than that from their Commander in Chief!

Of course, The Donald is consistent. He NEVER has anything critical to say about Vladimir Putin. Maybe he will hear in a few days President Trump was just joking again when he made his remarks. I hope he also points where the humor is because I am not sure not I can find it. 

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