As Donald Trump approaches his first hundred days, I find it odd political commentators sometimes bend over backwards, awarding him points simply for heeding more experienced advisers.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently gave the man I call Trump the Pretender “credit” for reversing his NATO opinion, after declaring it obsolete during his lie-strewn campaign. Now, standing alongside NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.” This, despite NATO troops adjoining ours for years in the Mid-East. Later, Cooper called Trump a hypocrite for not admitting he’d changed his point of view, thereupon displaying his own tendency to flip-flop.
Similarly, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, generally known for criticizing the president chosen by almost 3,000,000 voters fewer than Hillary Clinton, said, after the bombing of Syria’s airbase, “Donald Trump became president of the United States last night.” Really?
Then Trump changed course on China after meeting with their President Xi Jinping. During the campaign he accused China of currency manipulation. Now, he says “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem....” The Media mentions the backsliding, nonetheless “appreciating” his capacity for “growth.”
How can he be taken seriously, showering praise on Xi, a man he’d maligned in the same way he excoriated Barack Obama, later extolling him during a post-election White House meeting. He similarly praised Hillary Clinton Election Night and at the Inauguration luncheon. Afterwards Obama and Clinton, without instigation on their parts, have been subjected to insulting Tweets and/or public statements belittling their efforts during Obama’s presidency. Is our president schizophrenic or just without shame?
Trump now refers to the military as great, even though he inherited a force built during Obama’s era, which is performing on par with what was done previously. Indeed, the recent MOAB assault in Afghanistan was decided by the on-site commander, and Trump admitted he wasn’t foretold, though took credit, saying he’d given them authority to do such things. In his mind he gets points for stuff he hasn’t done, makes excuses for things that go wrong and won’t admit that he’s changed course from an insane or bigoted position to one foisted upon him by clear-thinking associates.
While one might admit every action (though few) attributed to Trump isn’t wrong, there appears to be some journalistic necessity, in an attempt to appear balanced, to pat Trump on the back for doing the obvious thing, even if the “thing” means finally paying attention to those with lots more experience, such as Secretary of Defense Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster, after failing miserably following “advice” from Steve Bannon (Health Care and Immigration) and Michael Flynn regarding Russia.
In fairness, there’s lots more reportage spotlighting Trump’s reversals and outright lies via Tweets and interviews, but there’s a maddening tendency to coddle him with more respect than he deserves. Even liberal Trump blaster Van Jones is guilty of this. I believe, however, even when there’s improved policy or personnel changes (like Steve Bannon’s National Security Council expulsion) it shouldn’t necessarily be accompanied by displays of respect towards a man who, from day one, has shown extraordinary levels of incompetence, lack of knowledge and even a reluctance to learn the job.
His cabinet appointments have mostly been horrific, from Jeff Sessions, setting back immigration reforms and drug policy, to Tom Price at Health and Human Services, determined to undo Obamacare, even as Congress shows no sign of repeal. The Education Secretary is woefully unprepared, and his children, though reportedly more liberal and possibly putting the brakes on his more preposterous endeavors, are in power positions for which they have no experience.
Nepotism laws are being ignored, instituted after John F. Kennedy appointed brother Robert as Attorney-General. Except RFK had much experience as a Senate Counsel, whereas son-in-law Jared Kushner, given a portfolio from Middle East peace to reforming government infrastructure, has little to guide him other than being scion to a family fortune. Ivanka Trump, similarly, now has an office in the White House.
Trump has a history of moving aside experienced folks in favor of his children. On The Apprentice he initially had company executives George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher as right-hand associates. First Carolyn was fired from the Trump organization and George appeared seldom, both shunted aside for Ivanka, then Donald, Jr. and occasionally Eric to assess the contestants.
So, it’s not surprising Trump’s ego was such he’d put his children front and center and make a display of giving corporate control to his sons, as opposed to putting all he owns into a blind trust. Are we to believe his sons never talk to him about business, and that they’re unaware of what he’s planning to do before a decision is effected that might benefit his enterprises, which still enrich him?
Yet with all the marches about revealing his taxes, there’s still no action by congressional leaders like Elizabeth Warren, Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and others who issue statements, sometimes on Facebook, urging support for anti-Trump positions, never stating the most important reform necessary, changing the presidential election system to popular vote.
It can be done, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is in progress and Democratic National Committee money must be spent to campaign for its passage in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Colorado to reach the 270 magic number of Electors that will cause its ratification by 2020.
The people ― not a disproportionate alliance of small, geographically large states ― should determine the person who can effect change affecting all Americans. Let’s make this happen. Let’s march for that!
Michael Russnow’s website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com
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