What To Make of Trump This Week?

Oh, what a long strange trip it’s been, and we’re only a month and a half into the four years of the Trump presidency.

Today, on the intelligent conservative side of the political spectrum:

Here’s Eric Posner saying he’s your crazy uncle listening to Fox News with the volume up.

And yet here’s Ross Douthat saying maybe he’s the most politically savvy Republican of our time.

From the journalism, just-the-honest-facts world, here’s the New York Times reporting that none of the president’s political allies want to back him in his tweet storm alleging President Obama wiretapped him.

And on the progressive side of the political spectrum here’s Steve Almond (of Cognoscenti) dressing Trump as a second coming of McCarthy (complete with Roy Cohn whispering in his ear), seeing Trump as doubling down on the maxim that the best defense is a virulent, smeary offense.

All saying this at the same point in time.  Got your head spinning?  Could they all be correct?

Time to remind us of Doug’s Rule #1: Pay as little attention to what Trump says as possible.  Rather, pay attention to those he puts in positions of authority and responsibility, and pay attention to the Republicans in Congress.

From that perspective, I like what Almond says at the end of his post:

But the day will surely come when a foreign enemy, or enemies, attempts to exploit Trump’s fatal flaws: his brittle vanity, his reflexive aggression, and his towering ignorance of the damage he might do in using American military might to settle his scores.

The journalists who have bull-horned the president’s every intemperate tweet will have to face their own complicity in having helped usher a wave of McCarthyism into the Oval Office.

And the Republicans in Congress who have stood by and watched him trash the integrity of the American presidency, in the naked hope of passing a rich man’s legislative agenda, will rue their cowardice. If any of them have even a speck of decency, they do already.

Do they? That’s the question we need to ask: do they embrace him, still empower him, or are they prepared to separate themselves from this unfit president? The Republicans he has appointed and the Republicans in the Congress need to hear that question every hour of every day.  We need to be asking.

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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