The problem with Trump has never really been about policy

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 9:00 PM | comments: 0

Former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress today about a bunch of stuff that we mostly already know about, even if it was previously attributed to anonymous sources. Cohen is arguably one of the dirtiest people associated with the president, and a liar on top of that. But it's telling that the committee members attacked his credibility without even once trying to defend the man who has lied thousands of times, undisputedly, specifically the man in the White House.

Presidents in my lifetime have all faced a great deal of valid criticism over their policy. Obama's health care plan was always controversial. Bush's war in Iraq arguably hatched the next wave of terrorism. Clinton screwed himself by screwing around with an intern. The elder Bush promised no new taxes and passed them anyway. Reagan insisted that trickle-down economics were a thing (we still haven't been able to shake that one). I barely remember Carter, let alone Ford and Nixon, so I can't comment on those with first-hand knowledge, though I think we all know how Nixon went out.

So American presidents have all been unpopular for one reason or another, to varying percentages of the public. But even with those that I strongly disliked, and I can assure you I strongly disliked Bush, my disagreement with them was always about their policy, and never about the people themselves. I can't believe we had to endure eight years of Bush, but I can recognize that despite making terrible decisions, his intent was probably in the right place. Certainly he handled the days and weeks after 9/11 as well as anyone could.

Trump is something different. He's never really had any policy positions to speak of, only rhetoric that brown people (and Democrats) are ruining the country. "Make America Great Again" is inherently racist and a classic from the fascist playbook, that suggests the good old days were worth revisiting. The problem is that those days involved fewer civil rights for all minorities, including women, so I'm not aware of any greatness in that sense. Disenfranchised people have wholeheartedly bought into this, and they have nothing to show for it. Trump has not successfully done anything other than sign a bill with massive tax breaks for the wealthy in his first two years, despite having same-party control in both houses. No president in my lifetime has done so little.

Absent of real policy, the distaste for this president is rooted in his character. He's a pathological liar, in a way that no one can dispute. He is, again without dispute, lying more and more on a daily basis. There is strong evidence that he had affairs. By his own words he believes he can "move on women like a bitch" and "grab them by the pussy." He's an apologist for the Russian autocrat. He's on pace to take more vacation days in 2.5 years than Obama did in 8 (and he promised in the campaign that he wouldn't have time to golf). It has been proven that he did not build his own fortune. He's had countless failed businesses. He refuses to share his taxes, which we can only assume means they'd further show what a fraud he is. He has disparaged and disrespected veterans over and over again, including John McCain. But worst of all, he and his supporters attempt to overlook all of this on the basis of "but Hillary" or other people who oppose him. Think about that... justifying reprehensible behavior by comparing it to (allegedly) reprehensible behavior by others. Is that really how low the bar has become?

Culturally, we're so exhausted by this that we've allowed it to become normal. A significant, but minority, part of the population is willing to overlook the actions of an objectively immoral man only because he aligns himself with the "right" team. If he were a Democrat, I can't imagine that anyone with a functioning moral compass would feel any different about him. He might not be making any real policy, but the toxicity he's injected into our daily conversation has not been good for the country.

The problem with Donald Trump has never been his party affiliation. He's just an immoral person.

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