We’ve run plenty of columns about President Trump here on BoomerCafé by our co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs, whose career as a network television journalist included many presidential campaigns and presidential trips. Most of those columns have not been complimentary. So while some will disagree with Greg’s conclusions, he writes in this Boomer Opinion piece about remedies for what he considers a constant cacophony of presidential misbehavior.
A good friend emailed me the other day, complaining that I write a whole lot about what a pathetic president Donald Trump is, but never offer remedies.
I could fire back a cheap shot and say the best remedy is, get rid of Trump.
I also could respond by arguing that when I write about yet another egregious exhibit of offensive behavior by the president, the remedy is implicit: don’t do it the way Trump does it. And definitely don’t degrade our destiny by throwing temper tantrums on Twitter.
But those would just be lazy shortcuts, because my friend’s wish for remedies is fair. However, the bandwidth of my beefs is too big for a short column, so I’ll limit it only to grievances of the last few weeks: immigration, white nationalism, guns, Israel, Democrats, tariffs, the deficit,… and for reasons I still can’t fathom, a rift in America’s relationship with a loyal ally that has sacrificed on our behalf. That should be enough.
I’ll begin with the trade war and tariffs, since on Friday the president amped up his frightening game of chicken with China as if it’s only his own empire at stake and not every American’s. There’s nothing wrong with amping it all up if we are being abused, but plenty wrong with going so far, just to look tough, that you end up weakening the very economy you set out to strengthen. That’s what Trump has done. With China, and other key global traders too. Remember when he said, “Trade wars are easy to win?” White House PR protestations notwithstanding, his trade war has driven our costs up, not down. And even Government figures confirm, it has made our factories sicker, not healthier.
The remedy? Win influence over economic rivals with negotiation, not a bludgeon. And learn a hard fact that is true in every kind of negotiation, including war: the other side also gets a vote. As China proved, yet again, this week.
Which takes us to the deficit, which the Congressional Budget Office says is headed to record levels. Which seems to surprise some Americans who believed in a presidential candidate named Trump. The remedy? If you intend to raise spending and cut taxes, don’t pledge to reduce the deficit. Even with an abacus, you can’t make that work.
Since it was my column about Trump echoing the language and loathing of white nationalists and the impassioned issue of immigration that prompted my friend’s email, I’ll go there next, and the remedy is simple: a president who purportedly speaks for all Americans should stop stoking hate and fear toward some. A president who understands the value that immigrants have added to America— some in his own lineage, by the way, not to mention his own bed— should concede that while people on the Right and people on the Left sometimes choose different paths toward a better nation, having a better nation is our common goal. The remedy there is for the president to stop savaging everyone who sees the world through a different lens than his.
Such a president should also understand that the inscription at the Statue of Liberty about helping people “yearning to breathe free” has been a proud principle of this lucky nation. The remedy is to accept that while politics may be fluid, principles are not. I agree with the president that if millions of citizens from other nations faithfully follow the law to live here, coming in illegally because you inherited the short end of the stick should not be encouraged. But punishing illegal immigrants and their children the way Trump keeps doing flies in the face of our most sacred founding principles. The remedy is to respect those principles— even taking the bad with the good— because they have long given us more good than bad.
The remedy on guns? Already, the pain of Dayton and El Paso has dulled. As did the pain of Newtown, of Las Vegas, of Aurora, and countless other fields of fire. And that has given cover to a president who self-servingly talks the talk but never walks the walk. Background checks, red-flag laws, gun show regulations, limits on the contents of magazines, boundaries on the sale of assault weapons. Maybe none of those would prevent the achingly familiar carnage. But maybe they would; maybe they would make it harder for some demented shooter to leave holes in his victims the size of a human fist… without making it impossible for well-intentioned law-abiding citizens to have what they want in their arsenals.
So, the remedy? Listen to the unnerved people of your nation, not to the unbending lobbyists of the NRA. Cajole and coerce and coax the powers-that-be until something sensible happens. True, as the president said, ”It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it’s the person holding the gun.” But make it harder for that person to get that gun in the first place. That’s a remedy.
On another issue, maybe there’s no hope. When Donald Trump said last week, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” it showed a total lack of history. In the run-up to World War II, Adolph Hitler called Jews traitorous, treacherous, disloyal. The nerve, of an American president, to reopen that blackened box, purely for the purpose of demonizing his opponents. The remedy here is obvious, although given the character of the bully-in-chief, probably not obtainable.
Finally, Greenland, and Denmark, which really conjure up the fiasco of Donald Trump’s foreign policy and amplify the unstrategic patterns of this president. On its face, trying to buy a mineral-rich province might not seem ill-advised, although Denmark’s prime minister nailed 21st Century geopolitics when she said, “Thankfully, the time when you buy and sell other countries and populations is over.” But what was unseemly was Trump’s response when she called the idea “absurd.” He called her “nasty.” We shouldn’t be too surprised; the president has a penchant for pummeling our democratic partners, while never calling truly tyrannical adversaries anything close to “nasty.” The remedy for his bass-ackwards approach to other nations? Do it the other way around.
So if I had to sum up the best remedies for Trump’s abysmal blunders, it would be this: try (for a change) to think about how your policies, and your performance, reflect on the American people. Not just how they reflect on you.
And that’s just from the last couple of weeks.