Alan Zendell, August 14, 2017
John Oliver often begins his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, by saying, “President Donald Trump – three words that should never appear in the same sentence.” Back in March, that seemed over the top. Today it sounds prescient.
It’s been twenty-seven months since Trump announced he was running for president. During that entire time his demeanor and behavior have been appalling and embarrassing. He has demonstrated in every tweet, every public pronouncement, every angry outburst that he is unfit to lead our country. The narcissistic billionaire has only one concern – himself. From the beginning, he has made every issue about Donald Trump.
His lie about intending to provide affordable health care for every American was never about health care. It was about how Donald Trump could do what no one else could because no one but Trump knew what needed to be done and only he could make the necessary deals. That should have been obvious to everyone when he cynically backed the House AHCA bill, which was the antithesis of what he promised.
And when the effort crashed and burned in the Senate, his petulant attacks on the Majority Leader were simply about his pique. Emperor Donald didn’t get what he wanted and there had to be someone else to blame. I have no desire to defend Mitch McConnell, but Trump’s rants had nothing to do with health care. They were the tantrums of a spoiled child.
His desperate need to be acknowledged as the best is clear in the way he attacks other presidents. Never has a sitting president criticized his predecessors the way Trump does. The fact that they were named Clinton, Bush, and Obama tells us all we need to know. As we have repeatedly seen, his need to belittle all of them to enhance his own image dominated issues like truth, decorum, and common decency. Did you ever expect to hear such vile, venomous language from the mouth of our president?
We’ve watched for months, hoping he would grow into his office, disappointed and embarrassed at every turn. Was withdrawing from the TPP about trade? Does the president even understand the nuances and complexity of reducing trade barriers? Or was his opposition motivated by his obvious hatred for Barrack Obama? Has any president in recent memory invested so much of his energy in denigrating the legacy of the person from whom he inherited the office?
Our concerns became deadly serious when Trump had to deal with threats from North Korea. Think back to the Cuban missile crisis. Diplomatic missteps aside, President Kennedy addressed the most serious nuclear crisis in my lifetime with measured strength. There was no name-calling, no hyperbolic threats, no breast-beating. Nothing in Kennedy’s demeanor said, “Look at me, everybody. See what a great hero I am?”
The wild screaming and threats all came from Fidel Castro. Neither Kennedy nor Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev let their emotions govern their words and actions, which is probably why we’re all still here today. Contrast that with Trump’s need to escalate the level of hyperbole to show everyone how tough he is. This isn’t schoolboy trash talk. The man who issued all those intemperate threats with no input from either his military advisers or Congress is the man who carries the nuclear codes wherever he goes. If there was ever a time for Trump to behave like a disciplined adult, it was then.
And now we’re dealing with Charlottesville. The chickens are finally coming home to roost. Trump’s pandering to the lowest aspects of human nature is what brought us to the White Supremacist violence in Virginia last weekend. Much of the country turned blind eyes when he urged his militant supporters to eject and beat protesters at his campaign rallies. They also seemed not to notice the similarity between Trump’s rallies and those of the Hitler supporters in the 1930s. Is it coming clear now?
For two days we’ve listened to shrill defenses of Trump’s indefensible silence by one hapless surrogate after another. Trump’s inability to ever admit a mistake or back down is bad enough, but even if he did at this late date, whatever he says now cannot nullify his failure to say it when he should have. Any responsible leader would have condemned the Alt-right (aka White Supremacist) movement instantly on Twitter while the neo-Nazi haters were wreaking havoc on the streets of Charlottesville. Was our television-addicted president unaware of what was going on while most of the country watched?
This is the final straw. As John Oliver has been telling us since he was inaugurated, there is no universe in which the words “President Donald Trump” even make sense. This charade is unacceptable and intolerable. And now it’s become dangerous.
A president who won’t stand up to Nazi violence and who doesn’t have the discipline to avoid escalating a nuclear confrontation with a rabid dictator has no business governing the country that’s supposed to be the leader of the free world. It’s up to all of us to use every legal means to end the Trump administration before it kills us.