Donald Trump is inept, unqualified, egotistical, immature, mendacious, petty, ignorant, illiterate, bombastic, improvisational, indecent, shameless, vindictive, mortifying, dangerous, selfish, cruel, disloyal, undignified. Need I go on? Regardless, I do not want him to be impeached. I want him to run for a second term and be soundly trounced, forced to leave the White House through the very democratic process he has worked diligently to undermine. Besides, “he’s just not worth it,” as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said.
I do think, however, that Donald Trump has taught us some valuable lessons. Inadvertently, of course, but important nevertheless. Trump came to Washington vowing to shake up things, and shake them up he has. And not just in Washington. And not necessarily for the better. What we need to do, even before he’s gone, is examine how he got away with that ostensible shake-up and learn from it. After all, if we do not learn from our history, we are condemned to repeat it.
His campaign was certainly unconventional. He refused to release his tax returns, claiming that they were being audited. Thus, he became the first candidate in 40 years to refuse to honor a long-standing tradition. Not a law. Just a tradition. Perhaps it should become a law. Perhaps then we would save ourselves plenty of inconvenience if we knew about a candidate’s financial chicanery right up front.
Speaking of which – ever heard of the emoluments clause of the Constitution before Donald Trump became president? I didn’t think so. Anyway, understanding human nature and its potential corruptibility, the Founding Fathers anticipated the possibility that personal greed would supersede public duty in government officials. Hence the emoluments clause, which forbids said officials from accepting payments and gifts from foreign governments or individual United States. So far, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have brought court challenges, alleging that, because his D.C. hotel does business with both foreign embassies and state officials, Donald Trump is violating the emoluments clause. Just down the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, by the way. And that doesn’t even include the properties he owns around the world or the ones to which he has licensed his name. If we had Trump’s tax returns, we could answer our questions about his business dealings and conflicts of interest.
He insinuated himself into just about every talk show, calling in and getting free air time. Why weren’t the other candidates calling? Perhaps they should. Why were the program hosts answering the phone every time he called? Perhaps they shouldn’t. Perhaps there should be an FCC regulation concerning free air time for candidates during presidential campaigns.
He was rude and insulting to the other candidates. Okay, that may be expected during a campaign, but ad hominem attacks reveal important truths about the person who’s lobbing them. Perhaps voters should pay more attention. Though we can’t legislate for that, perhaps we can teach civics and debate, and educate a more informed electorate who, perhaps, won’t tolerate name-calling masquerading as intelligence.
What wasn’t expected was Trump mocking a reporter with special needs, insulting Pope Francis, and reducing John McCain’s 5 ½ years as a prisoner of war to a snarky, “I like people who weren’t captured.”
This from a man with numerous deferments because of bone spurs who proudly claimed that avoiding STDs in the 1970s was his own personal Vietnam.
This from a man who, when given a Purple Heart by a veteran at a campaign rally, first asked if it was real, and then announced, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers who have been wounded or killed in action. Bones spurs do not make Donald Trump medal-worthy nor will this Purple Heart teach Trump about honor, sacrifice, and humility. I can’t help but wonder what Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman was thinking when he handed it over.
Trump said things on the Access Hollywood tape that sickened many of us but should have sickened all of us. Instead, he was elected president of the United States.
We definitely can’t legislate for decency, but we can vote against lewd, crude, rude behavior.
Did we expect the snarkiness to deteriorate into demagoguery? Maybe not from Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. But, unless we were living under a rock somewhere or weren’t even listening when he began his campaign, how can any of us forget that Trump instigated all of this by accusing Mexicans of being murderers and rapists. And it has only gotten worse, stoking fears and prejudices that, perhaps, reached an unfathomable low in his Charlottesville response. Or maybe his family separation policy on the border. Every criticism of or question about his competence, his policies, his rhetoric, his anything and everything, is “fake news,” a “hoax,” a “witch hunt” fomented by the “enemy of the people.” Even our intelligence agencies are “passive,” “naïve,” “wrong,” when it comes to North Korea, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. This from a president who does not read daily security briefings and issues foreign policy statements in tweets and emojis. This from a president whose advisors can neither anticipate nor educate him. This from an inveterate liar who could announce today’s date from the Truman balcony, and I wouldn’t believe him. This from a president who threatens that “things will get very, very bad” if his supporters among the military, police, and biker communities are “pushed too far.”
Why does the president of the United States sound like Nicholas Maduro?
Every presidential campaign and administration gives rise to a number of cottage industries: T-shirts, baseball caps, bumper stickers. The Trump administration has initiated yet another: the lie counter. Granted, this is probably more of a left-side-of-the-aisle kind of thing, but the fact remains that people have been tracking the number of lies Trump utters in a day – nay, in a sentence – and the results are staggering. How can anyone be expected to believe anything that he says? Why does his base continue to uncritically believe everything that he says? Why do Republican members of Congress loyally believe this president. Expediency? Fear? Party before country?
Whatever Donald Trump tapped into in 2016 – dormant racism and misogyny, economic fears, identity politics, nationalism camouflaged as patriotism – the 2018 midterms demonstrated that Americans have taken notice of what is happening to our Republic, and we do not approve. We do not like to be played, especially by the president.
Next we address the Electoral College.