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To Tell the Truth

June 2, 2018

Perhaps the world has never seen or heard an American President with as distant a relationship to the truth as does Donald J. Trump. Starting with his questioning the place of Barrack Obama’s birth (and hence the legitimacy of his Presidency) before he even announced his candidacy for the position himself, our current Commander-in-Chief has subjected the American people, and by extension the world at large, to a seemingly endless stream of falsehoods to justify his own legitimacy in the position and the actions he has taken in order to demolish as much of the legacy of his predecessor as possible and replace it with legislation and policies to create a greater, more lasting legacy of his own brilliance.

Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump was constantly using insults, innuendo and otherwise derogatory remarks to put down his primary opponents and their various political stances on the issues of the day. He further used his demagogic talents to slander and misrepresent millions of people, foreign and domestic, in advocating policy changes that would harmfully impact the lives of countless immigrants, young and impoverished people and foreign trade, economic, political and military relations with longtime allies and adversaries alike. Since taking office, he has done little to temper his brash and often confrontational style of trying to get his own way against all opposition by force of personality and use of his bully pulpit.

Through his use of appointments to his cabinet level and other key Executive Branch positions, as well as judicial appointments he is responsible for (with advice and consent of the Senate in many instances) he has attempted to mold an administration to facilitate his vision of what he wants the government to be accomplishing under his leadership. This is expected of any President. What distinguishes the way in which President Trump has performed these duties from others who have preceded him is the fact that he has often gone out of his way to appoint people whose main goal seems to be to dismantle the Department or Agency which they have been nominated to lead, or to use their agencies to achieve results which are diametrically opposed to stated reasons they were created for in the first place. The poster child for this particular form of ill-conceived appointment is Scott Pruitt, who has done an excellent job of beginning the transformation of the EPA into the Environmental Poisoning Agency while simultaneously reaching whole new levels when it comes to wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

Questionable business practices on the part of this President also leave much to be desired. His properties are definitely getting richer at taxpayer expense, if only in terms of money brought in through increased security when he visits them (which at least in the case of Mar-a-Lago in Florida has been quite frequent). Money spent by foreign governments and various lobbying groups at locations owned by the Trump business empire are also called into question by many who are used to high ranking elected and appointed officials divesting or placing their wealth in blind trusts while in office so as to not raise questions of corruption. Add to this the fact that this President has thus far successfully refused to disclose his personal tax returns and a picture emerges of a person who not only expects to rule rather than lead this country but views himself immune to the expectations we have of our public officials in terms of transparency when it comes to both personal conduct and financial dealings.

While President Trump spends an inordinate amount of time berating political opponents (here and abroad) as well as virtually the entire media industry (save Fox News) and even his own cabinet members and the GOP leadership of both Houses of Congress, he constantly spices his commentary up by making easily refutable statements as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He gets away with it by denouncing those who call him out on his lies as purveyors of “fake news”. He has a sizable base that accepts everything he says as either unassailable gossip or of no importance at all. For the most part, Democrats pointing out his lies are only acting as is expected of political opponents. The only GOP Congresscritters who call him out are themselves calling it quits, so they don’t count either when it comes to changing Trump’s approval ratings.

The effect that Trump’s erratic public pronouncements (most glaringly apparent in his Twitter rants) will have on foreign relations remains to be seen. He will probably find that his bullying, authoritarian leadership style (I used the term “leadership” in relationship to what he does very loosely) does not go over as well in foreign countries as it does here. His recent handling of the Iran nuclear deal, the way he has been dealing with the on-again/off-again summit meeting with North Korea and the recently announced tariff war he seems to be aiming at Canada, Mexico and Europe will undoubtedly further hurt his standing among most of our nearest and dearest military, political and economic allies going back at least as far as World War II and the Cold War. He cajoled France and the UK in join in that farce of an attack in Syria in response to an alleged chemical attack by Assad, but it remains to be seen what sort of response his aggressive stance on Iran will get when it comes to adhering to his sanctions regime.

The effect that his sudden imposition of tariffs on European, Canadian and Mexican goods may also blow up in his face, if the economy sees a significant downturn as a result of what amounts to a large tax increase affecting huge segments of our economy actually does occur as many economists are predicting. Alienating Mexico seems to have been a long-simmering need for Trump. He never seems to have anything good to say about the country, its people or its government and thinks he can just command them to build his wall to end our immigration problems for once and for all. Now he’s also attacking Canada on trade. The most recent economic reports were excellent in terms of employment, wages and profits are concerned. He loves praising his economic genius every chance he gets. He probably will have a different take once his blunders start having a negative impact on future reports (tweet firings of key economic advisers, perhaps?).

The overarching way in which Trump appears to be trying to do his job as President is troubling. He seems to be trying to run our government as if it is his government to do with as he pleases. Laws and rules that have operated successfully to differing degrees for hundreds of years are being thrown out the window. He’s getting away with quite a bit that other Presidents would not attempt because they saw their powers limited by the Constitution. Courts have stood up to some of his executive orders and prevented some of the harsh attempts at policy change from taking place, but his party controls the Senate and is busy ratify federal judges as opposed to refusing to do so when Obama was President. Given enough time, those courts may be shaped in a manner more amenable to Trump for decades to come (lifetime appointments vs the need for re-election for Congress Members, for instance).

Congress needs to step up its game when it comes to fulfilling its Constitutional duties as a check on the powers of the Presidency. That means the GOP leadership and other members need to either be willing to stop the overt and covert attempts Trump is making to run the country like an autocratic organization such as his private corporations and restore the democratic foundations that give a greater voice to the people as a whole. We don’t need to further devolve into an oligarchy which gives power to wealth and vice-versa, limits advancement opportunities for most and subject ever more people to the ravages of poverty. Stopping him in his tracks when he tells blatant lies, whatever they may be, would be a good start.

Suggested Further Readings:

Bill Maher Wants Obama and Comey To ‘Start Penalizing Liars’ Like Trump — Here’s How

Grab onto something steady. Trump’s on the phone.

There is no one who can save Trump from himself

Team Trump: Arrogance as a virtue

Trump’s Rate of Lying Has Increased Almost 33 Percent Since Ranking After First 100 Days

Here Is the Psychological Condition That Best Explains Trump’s Twisted Worldview

Shepard Smith Dings Trump’s Gun Control Turnaround At NRA Convention

Trump Is an Unrepentant Liar—The Mainstream Media Is Finally Calling Him One

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3 Comments
  1. Thoughtful words Rick and hope we the people of Canada and US remain friends even if Trump puts sanctions on friendships. He has hit Canada with big tariffs on steel, aluminum, lumber products and he’s aiming at our agricultural and farm industries. We had no idea Canada was a “security threat” to our long time friend the US. The rifle shots were silenced after the war of 1812. Some EU countries announced this morning they want to remove the sanctions against Russia and put a stop to Trump. China also announced they reserve the right to retaliate against more tariffs Trump wants to impose. You already know, everyone except Israel, are ignoring sanctions on Iran.

    Here’s a question for you. Who is the alternative Presidential candidate to beat Trump?

    PS: He’s in Canada for the G7 June 8-9 and farmers were asked to avoid spreading manure on their fields before the meeting. Most likely the Quebecers will do the opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It remains to be seen who the Democrats will allow to run under their banner. As things stand now, I don’t think any mainstream establishment Democrat can beat him. Of course we’ll have to see what happens. Two years is a long time and midterms this November may shake things up again.

      Like

  2. And this is what is so maddening about Donnie squatting in the White House (which is how I refer to it): the Repugs have almost uniformly fallen in line behind him while most of the corporate media has his back. He is becoming more emboldened to do what he wants because no one has stopped him so far. Some in the GOP claim that if he pardons himself and/or fires Mueller he will be impeached. The DNC and Nancy Pelosi have stated impeachment is off the table or they refuse to discuss it in an election year. I hope the Dems with the guts to talk impeachment get elected for that very reason. We have to get this child idiot tossed out of politics and into federal prison, along with his oldest kids.

    Liked by 2 people

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