Boomer Opinion: Remedies for Presidential Misbehavior

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.

Denmark … who wants to bicker with Denmark?

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.

Modern day Ku Klux Klan or KKK parroting words of hate.

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 mass shooting scene at El Paso, Texas.

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.

Adolph Hitler

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.

Tasiilaq, Greenland

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.

5 Comments

  1. Greg’s numerous observations of Trumpian behavior are always right on target. I only wish the majority of America’s journalists and politicians were as honest and insightful — instead of ignoring and normalizing this president’s repugnant, dangerous behavior. “When you see something, say something” truly applies in the case of Trump.

  2. In photos from the G7, we see America’s wannabe strongman … grossly obese, hunched over in his chairs, scowling or seeming to look indifferent or above it all or, just maybe, brain dead. He claims all his energy will be focused on the economy but perhaps after a round of golf and a few Big Macs. He has no time for climate-change or human rights. His sycophants suggest he wants to gut Social Security and Medicare, not to make a dent in balancing the broken federal budget but for another tax cut for the wealthy.

    Even though some world leaders seem to grovel when before him, Trump is not a strong man, he’s a Brooklyn bully, a con artist, as Michael Bloomberg warned years ago. Trump is a phony with a litany of failed business enterprises to his name.

    Meanwhile, bridges rust and crumble across America, gun violence continues, and international tariffs have the boomerang effect of crippling America’s farmers and businesses.

  3. Congress needs to get some backbone and act soon. This reported on CNN:

    The former chairman of psychiatry at Duke University said Sunday during an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter that President Trump may be responsible for more deaths than Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.

    “Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist,” Allen Frances, the author of “Twilight of American Sanity,” said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were. He needs to be contained, but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person.”

    1. It’s well-documented, approximately, how many millions of deaths Hitler, Stalin and Mao are responsible for. Document for us, please, how many millions of deaths Trump is responsible for?

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