If it once seemed to us that politics in modern times couldn’t get any angrier, we were wrong. That’s why BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes in this Boomer Opinion piece that we have to draw a line, and we have to draw it now.
Let’s be clear, and, for those who still support Donald Trump, honest: whenever this president does something or says something that goes well beyond the once-respected norms of careful deliberation, conscientious honesty, or common decency, the excuse that “It’s just Trump being Trump” is no longer acceptable.
It’s not even moral.
Because his behavior is not just over the top. It’s savage. And destructive. And crippling. It cripples our reputation, it cripples our security, it cripples our civility, it cripples our founding principles, which have served us pretty darned well til now.
- If we had a 7-year-old acting the way Trump acts, we’d send him to bed without dinner. Or worse.
- If we had a teenager acting the way Trump acts, we’d take away the car keys. Or worse.
- If we had a candidate acting the way Trump acts, we’d roundly denounce and defeat him.
- And if we had a president acting the way this president acts, we’d impeach him and send him packing.
Think about the past week. Just the past week.
For starters, the United States abruptly and unaccountably turned its back on the Kurds, allies who have had our back in Middle East wars for decades. I’ve long had a special place in my heart for these people who have sacrificed and suffered at the hands of rivals in every direction, because while I have seen some awfully grotesque scenes in war zones around the world, none was more monstrous than piles of Kurdish corpses— thousands of men, women, and children— after Iraq’s Saddam Hussein attacked them with mustard gas before the first Gulf War.
Now, the next generation is in the sights of Turkey’s gun barrels. All with the consent of Donald Trump. His egregious excuse? “They didn’t help us in the Second World War. They didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example.” It’s hard to even know what to say to an imbecilic declaration like that. North Korea didn’t help us in Normandy either, but that didn’t stop Trump from declaring he “fell in love” with the deadly dictator who runs it, or with brutal despots of other nations who also didn’t storm the beaches alongside us.
By leaving the Kurds to defend themselves without our help, we strengthen ISIS, and Iran, and Russia. We also leave the world to wonder, can we ever accept America’s word again, can the United States still be trusted? And this enhances our security? But of course we are supposed to ignore the outcomes of this man’s temperamental turbulence. After all, he assured us that he would be reacting to events “in my great and unmatched wisdom.”
That’s on a par with his infamous claim, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” (which you can add to his ego-inflated avowals that “I know more about drones than anybody,” “I know more about courts than any human being on Earth,” “I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth,” and “nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump.”) What worries me is, what are the perils in a president who thinks he knows it all, when everyone who ever served before him tells us, he can’t. No one can.
Then, of course, there’s impeachment. It has rarely been used in this country but when it has, it has run the course the Founding Fathers intended it to run. Investigations, subpoenas, hearings, witnesses, and ultimately, a vote.
But for Trump, the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers created in our Constitution are inconveniences. He has taken a pile driver to the concrete they cast.
“Put simply, you seek to overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen.” This is the verdict he reached, and communicated to Congress. And with that, he proclaimed that while there may be investigations and subpoenas and hearings and witnesses, they will occur with no cooperation from his White House. In other words, he belligerently built a stone wall around the entire Executive Branch of the United States Government. “Never before in our history has the House of Representatives,” Trump’s letter continued, “taken the American people down the dangerous path you seem determined to pursue.”
And what do you say to all that? Only this: it is not his White House. It is ours. And history has seen it before, against presidents a lot less repugnant than Trump. And if ultimately he is impeached on legitimate grounds and, beyond that, the Senate conjures up the courage to convict, it is Trump who has put us on the dangerous path, not Congress. It will be important to keep that in mind if he loses his battle but refuses to cede the battlefield.
Then, finally, all in this one week, there’s “Trump being Trump” on the stump, and to be honest, this is what sent me back to my keyboard. In a political rally Thursday night in Minneapolis, Trump denigrated Democrats as “very sick and deranged people;” he said of the Speaker of the House, “She’s either really stupid or she’s really lost it;” and when he came to Joe Biden, “He was only a good vice president because he knew how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”
I won’t debate the truthfulness of Trump’s tantrum. Millions of Americans will agree with every word.
But excuse me, this is the President of the United States. A president sets the tone for the rest of us. When he starts sounding like a barroom brawler (as if he only just started sounding like one this past week), the message to the rest of us is, you too can go down this path.
It is not a path we should take. It’s not acceptable. It’s not moral. “Just Trump being Trump” has become an excuse for behavior that cheapens some of the most cherished canons of our country.
To those who still make that excuse, stop. Careful deliberation, conscientious honesty, and common decency have made us what we are. A great nation. Even before Trump.