An Out of Control President

Alan Zendell, December 19, 2020

During the past few weeks, America and indeed the entire world have seen a spectacle evolve in the White House that we used to associate with tin horn dictatorships in Third World countries. The only way to describe what Trump and some of his people are doing is attempting to stage a coup. That it never had a chance of succeeding is beside the point. The president’s use of Twitter has aired our nation’s filthy laundry for anyone who can stomach looking at it, and Trump’s lawyers have turned his threats of litigation into a standup comedy routine, if you don’t mind sick humor.

All this is just an extension of how Trump has behaved from the moment he announced his intention to run in 2015. He has been in constant attack mode, insulting and picking fights with everyone that didn’t take a knee in obeisance to him. No matter that most of his loyal opposition displayed incredible restraint in dealing with a president who has no use for courtesy, grace, or political norms, and has been completely unbound and often disgusting in his constant attacks.

With a month to go before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration, Trump’s behavior is a fitting coda to the worst presidency I have ever witnessed. Our angry, spiteful president has shown us that much like a spoiled child who can’t have his way, he’d rather smash everything than accept his fate. He hasn’t been shy about his motive, one of them, anyway. He wants payback for the way he was treated as president, chief among which were the Mueller probe and being impeached by the House of Representatives.

If Trump’s latest antics are in fact an attempt at payback, I have to ask against whom. The Democrats? He seems to be doing more harm to the Republican Party. It’s really not clear who his intended victim is. Why would he want payback against Biden? The President Elect had no role in either the Russia probe or the impeachment. His only sin from Trump’s point of view, is being a decent moral counterpart to Trump himself. If Trump failed that taste test he has only himself to blame.

The most important issue at this moment is how far Trump will go in his attempts to further divide the country. He pardoned Michael Flynn, who immediately appointed himself the leader of the attempted coup. Flynn has been pushing idea of Trump declaring martial law and holding a new election supervised by the military, which military leaders have flatly said will never happen. Despite that, Trump gave the idea legs again this weekend in an Oval Office meeting that horrified even some of his own advisers.

Trump has been focused entirely on attempting to overturn the election. For almost seven weeks he has ignored the pandemic, which is now claiming three thousand American lives every day, and infecting one-and-a-half million more of us every week. He is also ignoring the fight in Congress over a stimulus bill, despite tens of millions of Americans being out of work, facing eviction from their homes, and unable to feed their families. And in the face of reports this week by dozens of credible sources that Russia is engaged in a massive cyber attack against our government, many of our major corporations, and our power and transportation infrastructures, Trump claimed it was all Fake News. Otherwise, he might have to face up to Vladimir Putin, something he has never been willing to do. Is he holding out for an extradition-free haven from prosecution after January 20th?

Republicans have been in a quandary because of the upcoming Senate elections in Georgia. Fear of losing control of the Senate to Democrats has made them unwilling to speak out against the president’s actions until a few days ago, when the Electoral College declared Biden the winner. Yet, even now, after Mitch McConnell and a number of other Republican leaders have acknowledged Biden’s victory, Trump is again interfering with the transition by shutting Biden’s team out of Defense Department discussions.

In all this, there is only one victim – the American people. Trump has made it clear that he intends to blow up everything he can as he leaves the White House. Can we afford that with thirty-two days to go? Let us remind Vice President Pence once again that he has the power to stop this if he has the will. He knows what’s best for the country, and he has the 25th Amendment in his pocket. Does he have the guts to do the right thing and use it?

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