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Sunday, April 2, 2017

The LA Times Sends A Love Letter To Trump. NOT!!


Our Dishonest President

It was no secret during the
 campaign that Donald
Trump was a narcissist
and a demagogue who used
 fear and dishonesty to appeal
to the worst in American voters.
 The Times called him
unprepared and unsuited for
the job he was seeking, and
 said his election would be a
“catastrophe.”
Still, nothing prepared us for the
 magnitude of this train wreck. Like
millions of other Americans, we clung
 to a slim hope that the new president
 would turn out to be all noise and bluster,
 or that the people around him in the
White House would act as a check on his
worst instincts, or that he would be
sobered and transformed by the awesome
 responsibilities of office.
Instead, seventy-some days in — and with
 about 1,400 to go before his term is
completed — it is increasingly clear that
those hopes were misplaced.
In a matter of weeks, President Trump has
 taken dozens of real-life steps that, if they
 are not reversed, will rip families apart,
foul rivers and pollute the air, intensify the
calamitous effects of climate change and
profoundly weaken the system of American
 public education for all.
His attempt to de-insure millions of people
 who had finally received healthcare
 coverage and, along the way, enact a
massive transfer of wealth from the poor
to the rich has been put on hold for the
moment. But he is proceeding with his
 efforts to defang the government’s
regulatory agencies and bloat the
Pentagon’s budget even as he supposedly
 retreats from the global stage.


These are immensely dangerous
developments which threaten to weaken
 this country’s moral standing in the world,
imperil the planet and reverse years of slow
 but steady gains by marginalized or
impoverished Americans. But, chilling
as they are, these radically wrongheaded
policy choices are not, in fact, the most
frightening aspect of the Trump presidency.
What is most worrisome about Trump is
Trump himself. He is a man so
unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant,
 so full of blind self-regard, so untethered
to reality that it is impossible to know
where his presidency will lead or how
much damage he will do to our nation.
His obsession with his own fame, wealth
 and success, his determination to
vanquish enemies real and imagined,
his craving for adulation — these traits
were, of course, at the very heart of his
scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed,
some of them helped get him elected. But
 in a real presidency in which he wields
 unimaginable power, they are nothing
 short of disastrous.


Although his policies are, for the most
 part, variations on classic Republican
 positions (many of which would have
been undertaken by a President Ted
 Cruz or a President Marco Rubio), they
become far more dangerous in the hands
of this imprudent and erratic man. Many
 Republicans, for instance, support tighter
 border security and a tougher response to
illegal immigration, but Trump’s
cockamamie border wall, his impracticable
 campaign promise to deport all 11 million
 people living in the country illegally and his
 blithe disregard for the effect of such
proposals on the U.S. relationship with
Mexico turn a very bad policy into an
appalling one.

In the days ahead, The Times editorial
board will look more closely at the new
 president, with a special attention to
 three troubling traits:
1Trump’s shocking lack
 of respect for those
 fundamental rules and
 institutions on which our
 government is based. Since Jan. 20, he
 has repeatedly disparaged and challenged
 those entities that have threatened his
agenda, stoking public distrust of essential
 institutions in a way that undermines faith
 in American democracy. He has questioned

 the qualifications of judges and the integrity
 of their decisions, rather than
acknowledging that even the president
must submit to the rule of law. He has
clashed with his own intelligence agencies,
 demeaned government workers and
questioned the credibility of the electoral
system and the Federal Reserve. He has
lashed out at journalists, declaring them
 “enemies of the people,” rather than
defending the importance of a critical,
 independent free press. His contempt
 for the rule of law and the norms of
government are palpable.
2His utter lack of regard
 for truth. Whether it is
 the easily disprovable
 boasts about the size of
 his inauguration crowd or his
unsubstantiated assertion that Barack
 Obama bugged Trump Tower, the new
 president regularly muddies the waters
of fact and fiction. It’s difficult to know
whether he actually can’t distinguish the
 real from the unreal — or whether he
 intentionally conflates the two to befuddle
voters, deflect criticism and undermine the
very idea of objective truth. Whatever the
explanation, he is encouraging Americans
 to reject facts, to disrespect science,
 documents, nonpartisanship and the
mainstream media — and instead to
 simply take positions on the basis of
 ideology and preconceived notions. This
 is a recipe for a divided country in which
 differences grow deeper and rational
compromise becomes impossible.
3His scary willingness
 to repeat alt-right 
conspiracy theories,
racist memes and crackpot,
 out-of-the-mainstream
ideas. Again, it is not clear whether he
believes them or merely uses them. But
 to cling to disproven “alternative” facts;
 to retweet racists; to make unverifiable
 or false statements about rigged elections
 and fraudulent voters; to buy into
discredited conspiracy theories first floated
on fringe websites and in supermarket
 tabloids — these are all of a piece with the
 Barack Obama birther claptrap that Trump
 was peddling years ago and which brought
 him to political prominence. It is deeply
 alarming that a president would lend the
 credibility of his office to ideas that have
been rightly rejected by politicians from
 both major political parties.

Where will this end? Will Trump moderate
his crazier campaign positions as time
 passes? Or will he provoke confrontation
 with Iran, North Korea or China, or
 disobey a judge’s order or order a soldier
 to violate the Constitution? Or, alternately,
 will the system itself — the Constitution,
 the courts, the permanent bureaucracy,
the Congress, the Democrats, the marchers
 in the streets — protect us from him as he
 alienates more and more allies at home
and abroad, steps on his own message
 and creates chaos at the expense of his
 ability to accomplish his goals? Already,
Trump’s job approval rating has been
hovering in the mid-30s, according to
Gallup, a shockingly low level of support
 for a new president. And that was before
 his former national security advisor,
Michael Flynn, offered to cooperate last
 week with congressional investigators
 looking into the connection between the
 Russian government and the Trump
 campaign.


On Inauguration Day, we wrote on this
 page that it was not yet time to declare
 a state of “wholesale panic” or to call for
 blanket “non-cooperation” with the
Trump administration. Despite plenty
 of dispiriting signals, that is still our
 view. The role of the rational opposition
 is to stand up for the rule of law, the
electoral process, the peaceful transfer of
power and the role of institutions; we
 should not underestimate the resiliency
of a system in which laws are greater than
 individuals and voters are as powerful as
 presidents. This nation survived Andrew
 Jackson and Richard Nixon. It survived
slavery. It survived devastating wars. Most
 likely, it will survive again.
But if it is to do so, those who oppose the
 new president’s reckless and heartless
 agenda must make their voices heard.
Protesters must raise their banners. Voters
must turn out for elections. Members of
Congress — including and especially
Republicans — must find the political
courage to stand up to Trump. Courts
 must safeguard the Constitution. State
 legislators must pass laws to protect their
citizens and their policies from federal
meddling. All of us who are in the business
 of holding leaders accountable must
 redouble our efforts to defend the truth
 from his cynical assaults.
The United States is not a perfect country,
and it has a great distance to go before it
fully achieves its goals of liberty and
 equality. But preserving what works and
 defending the rules and values on which
 democracy depends are a shared
responsibility. Everybody has a role to
play in this drama.
This is the first in a series.