Trump’s Worst Offense

Alan Zendell, December 6, 2019

I started this blog shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration. I was disturbed by the 2016 election, and by Trump, personally. His behavior during the campaign was despicable, the worst I have ever witnessed in a presidential election campaign, and I’ve lived through nineteen of them. My disgust was not in the least political. I was not a fan of Hillary Clinton, though I voted for her – after all what choice did I have? The issue was Trump himself who has behaved as he has in office throughout his life.

Since I was a New Yorker who grew up where Trump did during the same years, he was always an annoying, offensive presence in my life. His narcissistic hunger for attention, his lack of scruples in business, his disregard for truth and the rules the rest of us live by, and his willingness to hurt countless others in pursuit of wealth and influence mirror his performance as president perfectly.

As you watched the House of Representatives slip and slide toward impeachment, did you shake your head like I did and ask yourself how we got to this point? Nancy Pelosi never wanted to go down this road, but as we look back on three years of Trump’s presidency it seems inevitable. Since the day he took office, Trump has violated every norm and every rule, under the guise of needing to “shake up Washington and drain the swamp.”

To use Trump’s vernacular, that’s complete bulllshit. As his adoring base has said repeatedly, he was just being Trump. It’s how he operates. He always has.

Since he announced his candidacy in 2015, Trump lied shamelessly whenever it suited him and bragged about treating women as objects of his own pleasure. He relentlessly attacked the courts and the media, and demonstrated a complete lack of compassion, much less understanding of the plights of refugees seeking asylum, millions of people hoping to immigrate, and most egregiously, the millions of “Dreamers” who are innocent of any wrongdoing. He viciously attacked everyone who refused to kneel to him in fealty, obstructed legal, constitutional investigations every step of the way, and sought to have hostile foreign governments meddle in our elections for his sole benefit.

Underlying all this has been one constant theme. Like the ignoble Senator Joseph McCarthy, six decades ago, Trump views the presidency as his own personal playpen. He considers himself above the law, as he recklessly attempts to tear down institutions and values that are the basis of our Constitution and our republic. You can almost hear Roy Cohn, McCarthy’s henchman and consigliere to organized crime bosses whispering in Trump’s ear. “Just do whatever the hell you want, Donald. No one will be able to stop you because the system wasn’t designed to handle someone like you.”

To our great misfortune, Cohn was right. Trump’s opponents for the 2016 Republican nomination were like children having their candy stolen. And the last three years have demonstrated that most of our government and the leaders of our traditional allies were no better equipped to deal with him. The only people who seem to have known exactly how to manipulate and influence him were the leaders of our most dangerous adversaries – Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

In my view, Trump’s presidency is a clear and present danger to the future of our country. All the above aside, his most serious offense doesn’t fit anyone’s definition of a high crime or misdemeanor. Trump has reshaped what was once a respectable, principled party by forcing out everyone who placed his or her oath of office ahead of loyalty to the president and seduced the rest as surely as the serpent seduced Eve. The Republican Party now shamelessly plays by the same rules Trump learned from Roy Cohn. Truth is irrelevant, the Constitution has become an obsolete piece of paper, and all Trump’s allies care about is helping create a Trump dynasty with coattails they can ride.

The party Trump hijacked is incapable of compromise because its only agenda is blindly charging ahead with the Trump doctrine. They won’t stop until someone forces them to. Trump’s behavior compelled the Democrats to impeach him. He played them like a fine violin, knowing there was no chance he’d be convicted in the Senate.  A normal person would fear for his legacy, but in Trump’s alternate universe, truth is what he says it is. He will claim total exoneration when the Senate fails to convict him even if a majority of Senators think he’s guilty.

Trump has subverted the role of Congress, effectively negating Article 1 of the Constitution. The legislative branch is literally incapable of functioning unless it rubber stamps what he wants. That is precisely what our founders feared. They never imagined that 534 lawmakers would be trapped in hopeless gridlock, because one side chose to renege on its constitutional responsibility. Whatever your political leanings this has to concern you. Only we the people can collectively change things next November.

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The Winter of Our Discontent

Alan Zendell, December 1, 2019

We exit the Thanksgiving weekend thankful for time spent with family and friends devoid of politics. That was especially true in my own family, as thirty people with views all over the political spectrum got together to just enjoy being with each other a few miles from where we all grew up in New York. Though no one uttered a word about it beforehand, there was a tacit understanding that the holiday would not be tainted by the toxicity of the state of our nation.

Today, two things are apparent in most of the country. It’s only December 1st, but winter has clearly begun. And the new week will start with Gerry Nadler gaveling the House Judiciary Committee into session to consider whether the president has committed acts worthy of impeachment. Knowing how Donald Trump has behaved throughout his life, no one will be shocked if the weeks preceding the Democratic primary race are even more hate-filled, divisive, and vicious than the previous three years have been.

A clear majority of the country disapproves of this president. They don’t like his behavior, his values, or his performance in office. But with only eleven months remaining before the next election it should be clear to everyone that whether Trump remains in office until next November is almost a moot point. The American people will then get to decide his fate, which is as it should be. I wish the word impeachment had never been raised, but that ship has sailed.

What is still to be determined is whether our Congress emerges from winter with a shred of dignity and integrity intact. That is the essential question for the future of our country. The events of the last decade have brought the viability of our two-party system into serious question. Approached objectively, it’s difficult to imagine how it will survive unless some as yet unforeseen cataclysmic event changes it. As moderates in Congress continue to abandon ship, the partisan impasse can only worsen. If our Congress were a single person, I’d recommend hospice care.

Which brings me to Michael Bloomberg, who at this moment does not appear to be helping the situation. That’s really a shame, because he’s one of a small number of Americans who could make a difference. We need more of his generally common sense centrist politics, but a failed presidential bid will only throw the Democrats’ chance of defeating Trump into even further disarray than they already are. If Bloomberg wants to fix the system, he’d be far better off spending his billions of dollars founding a moderate third party that can capture thirty or forty seats in the House and Senate.

Another thing that’s apparent to everyone except the people who most need to acknowledge it, is that it’s time for most of the Democrats running for president to drop out. I can’t name them all without looking them up, which is all I need to know. Be realistic. Mayor Pete’s a likable articulate guy, but America is not ready to elect a gay man president, period. Kamala Harris’s star has faded, as she has shown herself unable to manage an effective campaign. And Cory Booker, as impressive as he can be at times, won’t gain the traction he needs this year.

The other also-rans should say goodbye now while there’s time for the party to get its act together. Only then will viable candidates with moderate views find an open lane to compete in, and in that regard I’m looking at Amy Klobuchar. She’s the last woman in the field except for Elizabeth Warren, and one we need to hear more from. A tough prosecutor with impeccable academic credentials, (Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School,) this could be her time to emerge from the second tier if the others get out of her way.

Klobuchar is popular in the northern Midwest, especially the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin and Michigan, which the Democrats must win. I like the ticket of Biden and Klobuchar because aside from being someone with the strong moral character who is the perfect antidote to Trump, Biden will win Pennsylvania, and that should seal the election. Is Biden too old, too establishment, not in touch enough with young people? Is there a “perfect” candidate out there? Please, Joe, make amends with Anita Hill and move on.

Why Biden and Klobuchar? Because Elizabeth Warren, brilliant and courageous as she is, is simply wrong, as is Bernie Sanders. While most Americans support the ultimate goal of universal health care, trying to implement Medicare For All in one step would blow up our economy. The phased approach supported by Biden and Klobuchar is the only one that makes sense. What makes sense today is…

…Go Ravens! Go Seahawks!”

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Two Weeks Of Impeachment Hearings

Alan Zendell, November 23, 2019

Twelve witnesses, dozens of hours, and a few surprising revelations by witnesses who were, on the whole, professional and nonpolitical have left us precisely where we were six months ago in terms of the likelihood that the Congress would remove President Trump from office.

The main difference between the hearings conducted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the ones that resulted in President Nixon’s resignation wasn’t the “smoking gun tape,” in which Nixon was heard ordering CIA Director Richard Helms to get FBI Director L. Patrick Gray to terminate his investigation of the Watergate burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters. That tape convinced Nixon’s Republican supporters that he had indeed committed a crime worthy of impeachment. Schiff’s most notable accomplishment may have been to elevate the legacies of the Barry Goldwater-led Republicans who ultimately chose country over party loyalty.

We don’t need a smoking gun tape to prove what Trump did. He told us with his own mouth. He not only admitted trying to get Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, he openly suggested that China do the same. The testimony of eleven of Schiff’s twelve witnesses simply corroborated what Trump and his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney brazenly bragged about, and supplied some rather chilling details about the way the president went about undermining the norms of diplomacy and his own State Department.

That is the “crime” which should upset most Americans, because the rules of diplomacy and the committed professionals in all nations who abide by them are probably what has kept us from obliterating life on this planet. It was failures in those diplomatic norms that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, which triggered the first Gulf War. That Trump lumps traditional diplomacy into what he regards as the Washington Swamp is yet another indication of his ignorance and by itself is enough to demonstrate how dangerous his narcissism-driven willfulness is to the nation.

The partisan divide we suffer from today existed in 1974, too. What’s different today is the almost unfathomable willingness of Trump’s partisan supporters to invent lies and  conspiracy theories that persist well after Trump’s own administration debunks them. Therein lies the most insidious danger of Trump-style politics.

The president learned from his mentor Roy Cohn that the best defense against facts is muddying the waters and obscuring the lines between truth and fantasy. The evidence against Trump is every bit as clear as the evidence against Nixon. But Trump’s four-year-long attacks on the media and the courts, and a campaign described by senior advisor Kellianne Conway as propagating alternate facts (what the hell does that mean, anyway?) have given his allies the cover they need to defend him at any cost.

Republican attack dogs Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan continue to shamelessly spout nonsense that Trump’s entire security apparatus long ago disproved. Jordan was a professional wrestler before he became a politician, and it shows. He acts like a thug, and he’s as phony as the profession that nurtured him for years. Jordan and Nunes exemplify what the Trump presidency has wrought. Reality TV in place of reality. Crafted screenplays supplanting hard news and facts.

There’s still a possibility that people like former Trump National Security Director John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Vice President Mike Pence will suffer epiphanies and come forward to tell the truth. There’s even a small probability that hearing them could awaken a sense of duty in enough Republican Senators that they act to remove this president.

But here’s the thing – we hear ad nauseum that impeachment, like the twenty-fifth amendment is a political process. It was designed by our founders, albeit imperfectly, to give the rest of the government a peaceful means of removing a president who clearly acts against the interests of the nation he was sworn to defend. Forget the semantics about crimes and misdemeanors – the real issue is whether the country can tolerate a president who behaves as Trump does.

As I and many others have said for months, impeachment is almost surely a losing battle. The Democrats let themselves be suckered into launching a formal impeachment review when they could have conducted the same investigations without ever uttering the I-word, the same way the Watergate investigation that caught Nixon started. It was a worthwhile goal to gather evidence and make it public before the 2020 election, but doing it the way the Democrats did simply gives the Republican Senate the opportunity to acquit the president, which will allow him to claim he was exonerated.

That’s the way Vladimir Putin stays in power. Are Americans dumb enough to buy it or will they remember all this next November?

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Happy Days are (Almost) Here Again

Alan Zendell, November 6, 2019

Embedded deeply in my philosophy is the belief that baseball is an excellent metaphor for life. When the Washington Nationals completed their unlikely fight to win the World Series two weeks ago, their radio voice, Charlie Slowes said, “Remember where you were and what you were doing today. You may never see anything like this again.” He wasn’t suggesting that the Nationals would never win again, but that their fight for the championship, (in May they were given only a 1.5% chance to make the playoffs,) was one for the ages.

The team’s response to being invited to the White House was itself a metaphor. Seven players declined to attend in protest of the president’s policies, while most went along silently and two notably spoke in praise of the president. I was honestly in pain when team captain Ryan Zimmerman, my favorite Nationals player for fifteen years and a man generally regarded as a class act, praised Trump. I don’t know whether he was just being polite or he really meant what he said, but that too speaks volumes about the state of the nation. How many of us have had to question our relationships with friends and loved ones because of Trump?

After yesterday’s election results, I must reiterate what Charlie Slowes said. This moment will live in my memory as the day Trump’s decline began in earnest. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when John F. Kennedy faced off against Nikita Khrushchev in the Caribbean waters off the coast of Cuba; likewise, the day Kennedy was murdered. I remember where I was and who I was with when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, and when the Amazing Mets won their first World Series the same year. Today is even more momentous, an inflection point in our history, changing our national trajectory from Trumpism back to the principles on which America was founded.

Matt Bevin lost the Kentucky governor’s race to Andy Beshear in the reddest of red states for a number of reasons. Bevin ran for re-election as a Trump sycophant, and lost despite a last minute Trump rally in Lexington the night before the election. He lost because he attempted to govern like Trump while lacking the singular talent Trump possesses, the charismatic ability to sway masses of people without ever uttering a word of truth.

Beshear’s victory (I’m certain it will survive a recount) is yet another metaphor for American life. Like Trump, Bevin attacked the basic cornerstones of our values. He attempted to trash the financial well-being of teachers, police, and other civil servants, and denigrated our legal system. But even in a state Trump won by thirty points in 2016, Kentuckians proved their mettle yesterday. They showed that they understand that their future depends on public education and safety.

Imagine the plight of a teacher who has devoted her life to educating young people; someone who accepts twelve-hour workdays earning far less than comparably educated professionals in almost every other career path; someone who never expects to live in a fancy house or drive a Mercedes, because teaching is her chosen calling. And in a state like Kentucky, she has to deal with regressive attitudes that restrict academic curricula, especially in science. She’s down with all that, until her Trump-wannabe governor tries to trash her retirement system. Kentucky teachers saw it happening, and they said, “No.”

Virginia, once a highly coveted swing state, turned completely blue on Tuesday. For the first time in twenty-five years, Democrats control both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature. Virginia remains polarized on issues like gun control and health care, but Tuesday showed that its majority sentiment is to end the hate-inspired nativism and divisiveness that has characterized Trump’s time in office. And Virginia values its teachers.

Even Mississippi, which elected a Republican governor by a nine point edge, was part of the negative response to Trumpism. The last governor’s race in Mississippi went to a Republican by a margin of two-to-one.

While I strongly believe yesterday’s election was a tipping point, more precisely an extension of the trend begun in the 2018 Congressional election, this is no time to fall asleep at the wheel.

Democrats have the momentum they need to reverse the evils of the last three years, but they can also blow it if they’re not careful. The message is clear. Democrats will win with centrist candidates. In the current Democratic primary field, that means people like Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar. While I have great respect for Elizabeth Warren, her long-time advocacy for what most Americans regard as socialism make her the wrong candidate for 2020.
Happy days aren’t here again yet, but I plan to spend today rejoicing anyway.

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Mitch’s Choice

Alan Zendell, November 3, 2019

Ask 100 Americans what they think about the partisan divisions in our country, and ninety-nine will decry how awful they are, and how, if allowed to continue, they could destroy what remains of our democracy. Ask them in the context of the House impeachment inquiry, and the results would change only in that they would be more intense, which places Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell right at the fulcrum of the most critical decision the Senate has had to make in nearly a half century.

McConnell is the quintessential political animal of his generation. Immediately after Barrack Obama’s first inauguration, McConnell said his job was to assure that Obama would be a one term president, at a time when the nation’s economy was teetering on the brink of collapse. Obama put politics aside and retained the services of President Bush’s economic brain trust to provide continuity in a crisis instead of blaming them for causing it.

Until a few weeks ago I was still writing that impeachment was a huge mistake, that there was virtually no chance that the McConnell led Senate would ever vote to remove Trump from office. Nothing would be gained except further rancor and division. But then two things happened. A whistleblower in the Intelligence community accused Trump of using his power as president to blackmail a foreign country to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, who national polls said had the best chance of defeating him in next year’s election. Then the president ordered American military forces out of Syria at the behest of Turkey’s President Erdogan, whose troops were poised on their border with Syria to wipe out the Kurdish allies who had destroyed the ISIS Caliphate for us at a cost of 11,000 of their own fighters.

As it became clear that the whistleblower’s complaint would be corroborated by testimony from nonpolitical career diplomats, House Democrats felt they had no choice but to formally pursue impeachment. At the same time, key Senate Republicans, notably Lindsey Graham and McConnell himself pointedly attacked Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds to Turkey which if not stopped might carry out the ethnic cleansing it had been threatening for decades.

When it was clear that the fate of Trump’s presidency would soon rest in the hands of the Senate, McConnell showed that he retained a shred of the statesmanship we expect from someone in his position. His condemnation of Trump’s decision to abandon the Kurds against the advice of literally everyone who understood the situation answered the question of what it would take to end Republicans marching in lockstep with the president.

The game suddenly and unexpectedly changed. No longer can Trump count on blind loyalty from the Senate, which again poses the question, “What will it take?” We still don’t know, as every Senator weighs self-interest against sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. Republican Senators had to weigh the same decision in 1974, as a clear bipartisan majority of the House was poised to impeach Richard Nixon. Presidential historian David Greenberg discussed this in Sunday’s Washington Post.

Greenberg noted that the situations are not the same, as the Congress was far less polarized back then. However, he made some interesting observations about what might motivate Senators today. In 1974 the investigation into Nixon’s crimes dragged on for more than a year, and for most of that time it seemed as unlikely that the Senate would convict him as that they’d convict Trump. But McConnell’s counterpart, Barry Goldwater decided to disregard politics when it became clear that Nixon had lied and attempted to cover up his abuses of power, and just like that, Nixon was done. Miracles do happen.

Greenberg asked when Republicans might decide to jump ship. He relied on history, noting that the Republicans who took an early stand against Nixon were generally viewed as heroes both in the years immediately following his resignation and still today. The president had committed felonies in office that threatened the integrity of our electoral process, and the leaders of his party acted to defend the nation. On the other hand, Republicans who jumped on the impeachment bandwagon only when the outcome was clear, with few exceptions found their political careers ruined.

That surely puts impeachment in a different light. Today’s Republican Senators not only have to weigh the dangers of angering Trump’s base against their personal duty as guardians of the Constitution, but history says their timing has to be right, too. If they act now and Trump is acquitted their own re-election chances might be shattered. If they act too late and Trump is convicted, history will write them off as self-serving cowards.

Sounds like a tough choice — except it really couldn’t be simpler. Congress is elected to serve the American people, not themselves. Now’s the time to let everyone know where they stand.

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To Impeach Or Not to Impeach

Alan Zendell, October 23, 2019

The latest Quinnipiac University poll, released this morning, found that 59 percent of registered voters believe President Trump acted in his own interest and against the interest of the United States in his dealings with Ukraine, and 48 percent supported his removal from office. 55 percent now support the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, while Trump’s overall approval rating has slipped to 38 percent.

The results are a snapshot of voter sentiment from last week, prior to yesterday’s devastating testimony by acting Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor. Taylor corroborated the whistle blower complaint that started all this and offered excruciating detail providing context that painted a bleak picture for Trump. Perhaps more significant than the numbers themselves is that all three poll results continued negative trends that have been consistent since the last week in September.

That’s important because Senate Republicans read those trends, and Trump’s fate ultimately rests with them when (not if) the House votes to impeach him. Until now, those same Senators, with just a few exceptions, have marched in lockstep in their public statements supporting Trump, but conventional wisdom says that will change if Trump’s approval numbers continue to go south.

And here’s something even more interesting that was reported by the Conservative website, The Daily Caller. The Caller polled all fifty-three Republican Senators, asking if they would rule out removing Trump from office when the impeachment trial lands in the Senate. Only seven of the fifty-three were willing to state unequivocally that they would. Of the other forty-six, about half gave equivocal responses, meaning they wouldn’t go on the record until they heard all the testimony, while the rest chose not to respond at all. As in the Quinnipiac poll, almost none of the results to The Caller’s inquiry reflected reactions to Ambassador Taylor’s testimony.

I’m not a fan of hypothetical speculation, but this is an opportune time to ask a couple of “what-if” questions. By now, every American is clear that impeachment trials are not necessarily about breaking laws, and the standards of proof and evidence have little resemblance to those used in criminal court trials. Impeachment is one hundred percent political, which means each Senator will be weighing the evidence of harm to the nation against his or her own political future. In the simplest terms, if they feel vulnerable to Trump’s base, and they see that base holding firm, it’s going to take a mountain of damaging testimony to get them to vote for removal.

What if the downward trends for Trump continue? How bad do his approval numbers have to get before Senators perceive Trump’s base as soft enough to not threaten their own re-election chances? In other words, when will it be safe for integrity to win out? The Republican Party used to be all about conservative defense of the Constitution. But in this administration, Senators like Jeff Flake, who believed in that kind of conservatism have largely been forced into retirement.  

Until now the Republican defense of Trump has officially been along the lines that impeachment is simply a partisan reaction to a president Democrats hate. But the testimony heard by the House this week was given by career diplomats and State Department professionals who are the most apolitical people in government. There was clearly no partisanship in Ambassador Taylor’s testimony, nor did the DNI Inspector General find any in the whistle blower’s complaint. So let’s assume, for the sake of argument that the deluge of damaging information from professionals with no political ax to grind continues.

Republican Senators may find themselves as exposed as the emperor with no clothes as they defend their positions before the court of public opinion. Will integrity win in the end? How many will execute their sworn responsibility to defend the Constitution?

Though most people (including me) previously predicted that Trump would never be convicted by the Senate, I recall feeling the same way in 1973. We all knew Richard Nixon had committed felonies in office, but as we’ve said, the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” doesn’t imply what it might mean in criminal court. In the end, the Republican Senators who had supported Nixon throughout the Watergate inquiry found that they could not any longer. Nixon’s resignation was a result of his Senators telling him he had no choice but to quit. So who knows? Just when things look darkest……….

In the end, the real question may be what Trump does if he finds his back to the wall with nowhere to turn. He’s threatened civil insurrection more than once. I wouldn’t put it past him to call his base to arms.

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Cleaning Up Trump’s Mess

Alan Zendell, October 17, 2019

Mitt Romney’s remarks on the Senate Floor were perfect. He described President Trump’s impulsive withdrawal of American forces from Syria as a bloodstain on the annals of American history. He said what most Americans were thinking as they heard the president spin and distort the events of this week almost beyond recognition: “The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory. Serious questions remain about how the decision was reached precipitously to withdraw from Syria and why that decision was reached.”

Romney called for immediate hearings by the Senate to determine exactly how we got to this point. The remarkable thing about what he said wasn’t the words themselves, but  that it was a Republican Senator from a very red state who uttered them.

I and many others have long believed Trump’s support in the majority Republican Senate was razor-thin and based on the fear of his base by those who are up up for re-election in 2020. The Senate’s partisan gridlock over Trump has always been about the tug of war between the desire to be re-elected and the constitutional responsibility of protecting the nation. Most Senators are as embarrassed and shocked by the president’s behavior as the rest of us, and it’s been reported that as many as thirty-five of the fifty-three Republicans in the Senate would happily remove him from office if it could be done quietly and bloodlessly – their own blood, that is.

Vice President Pence’s announcement of a cease fire in Turkey was a combination of Orwellian Doublespeak and Dorothy drawing the curtain to reveal the Wizard as a fraud. Trump’s comments claiming that it was a victory for everyone including the Kurds was the surest sign yet that he has retreated into his own schizophrenic alternate reality. Perhaps the most telling moment came when Trump turned and walked away from the camera. For a few more seconds, viewers could clearly see the President applauding himself as though he’d just completed an episode of The Apprentice. The absolute gall of these people!

Trump claimed that the pause in hostilities was the outcome everyone wanted and all parties were happy. Does that include the 160,000 Kurds who saw their towns destroyed and families of the people killed in the Turkish assault? Trump’s claim that his lone wolf decision to withdraw troops was the only way that outcome could have been achieved is absurd. He acted against the recommendations of advisers far more qualified than himself and without any idea how it would turn out. It was like remodeling your house by blowing it up and hoping the pieces happen to fall where you want them.

Romney asked what most of the world was asking. If the creation of a safe zone in Syria along the Turkish border was the outcome desired by all parties, why didn’t Trump initiate negotiations to accomplish it? The answer is simple and obvious. He was rolled by Turkish President Erdogan. The Turkish assault on the Kurds is simply the latest consequence of Trump’s incompetence. The blood of every Kurd who died this week is on his hands, and the Turkish Foreign Minister acknowledged that Turkey got everything it wanted and paid no price for it.

What may be even worse is the cavalier manner in which Trump described the displacement of 160,000 people. After all the atrocities we’ve seen in Syria under Assad, does he believe that herding the Kurds into refugee camps at the mercy of the Syrian dictator is in their interest?

Finally, there’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room, the President’s mental state as he desperately tries to deal with the growing wave of sentiment for his removal. This entire affair was just another attempt to distract attention from his abject failure as president, and his delusions about how he is perceived on both the world and the national stages.

Left unsaid in the administration’s attempt to spin this disaster as a victory are the changes on the ground in Syria that will be impossible to undo. The Assad regime has been immeasurably strengthened, and Russia’s foothold in Syria is now virtually unassailable. Trump, the only player in this game who couldn’t see them coming, ignore those unanticipated consequences.

As the political sharks who value their own futures over their responsibilities to the nation begin to sense Trump’s weakness, they will descend and rip his presidency to shreds. That is very much what Donald Trump deserves, but it will be a tragedy for America whose implications will plague us for years.

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