Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Damning of Donald Trump, Part 2

Mom spent her entire career educating children and she was good at it too. Having a teacher as a mother meant she also impressed on me the importance of an education for a career. You have to learn a skill or a knowledge about what you want to do in life. It shaped my own activities at Auburn with few exceptions.

If you want to be a career politician you might want to sharpen up on politics. Many politicians are lawyers, but many simply learn through working with people. Abraham Lincoln would listen through the floor at the courthouse in Springfield, Illinois as his offices were located directly above the courtroom. Thus, he became a good lawyer and a good debater. He used those skills to become the first president from the Republican Party.

Many years I have heard people say we needed a real businessman in the White House. That may be true, but you have to pick one with a proven track record of solid decisions. They also need to know a little bit about our government and its basis, the Constitution of the United States. Some of the presidents have snuck past the Constitution’s limitations but they most often get yanked back by the rubberband of our republic.

Somehow it seems President Trump may have skipped out on high school civics classes and may also not have taken a political science course. It isn’t a prerequisite to be president and it would be up to the people to filter who they want in the job. But to be successful at the job one must somehow set a course based on the true intent of the Constitution.

The opening statement of the Constitution recognizes there will be change. Change does require some flexibility with forethought. But the context of the Constitution places a cornerstone and sets out the path for changes.

When Lincoln took office he faced a great division in the country. Several of the states had ceded from the union over an argument of state sovereignty against the federal government. They believed they had the right to set their own path while Lincoln’s party felt the union must have some sort of cohesiveness if it were going to survive. It was a heavy burden to find the balance because the authors of the Constitution meant for the new country to never experience tyranny again.

The actions of our current president seems to tilt that scale far away from that balance. The examples are many, but none so evident than the statement the president holds total authority. Of course that statement was made in reference to deciding how we exit the conundrum of virus vs. economy, but it delves deeply into state sovereignty. Somebody talked to him because 24 hours later, in true Trump fashion, he backed down and admitted the decisions remain with the states.

On the same day he pushed the rubberband again, withdrawing funding to the World Health Organization. It seems that the pressure of the job often causes the presidents to forget that the holder of the purse is Congress. The president is the executive branch because he is simply an administrator and holds only a fraction of the key. He isn’t the first president to have this problem, but the magnitude seems a little exaggerated with this president.

To see the problem we must look at the opposing view. Why would we need to stop funding the World Health Organization? His argument is that they fumbled their handling of the current pandemic. Did they? And what was President Trump doing during this time? Just as happened on the previous day, he was pressed to answer his actions. And just as it often happens President Trump lashes out rather than present a measured response.

Some of his supporters celebrate his brash reactions. They feel Washington is out of control and this pandemic is lighting the fires of fear. We have a little over 300 million opinions on how the president should act. The authors of the Constitution were only facing a little over 2 million opinions. Times have changed and the president is in a pressure cooker.

The question before us may seem like how to handle the current crisis. The question for President Trump is how his political career survives this quagmire. And I am afraid he is lacking the preparation for what is happening. Does that mean he won’t get re-elected? No. His base is immovable and his fortunes ride with who actually shows up at the polls.

It is very difficult to understand how President Trump wishes to be remembered. I am not sure he looks that far ahead or even cares. But I doubt the forthcoming history books will treat him well and depending on how this crisis plays out he may have less support than Warren Harding, one of the least liked presidents in history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Damning of Donald Trump, Part 1

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, unexpectedly entered the job on a rocky road. There are many ways to look at that statement. Supporters may see it as others treating President Trump “unfairly” before and after the election. His opponents may see it as the “impossible” happening right before their eyes. Either way, it has been a roller coaster ride.

One can liken President Trump to a boxer. The first three rounds, or years of his administration saw him playing rope-a-dope with his opponents, or so it seemed. They might say he had a couple of knock-downs, but he did his own fair share of knocking down. But by the beginning of the fourth round things began to look more dire.

Evidently he entered the fourth round punch drunk when he got caught by a left hand punch that seems to be setting him up for a climactic ending to the fourth round. Just like any other boxer he should be evaluating his opponent and calculating his next move if his thinking is still in order. The video is in slow motion, the left just bounced off his cheek, and we are waiting for the right uppercut that could change the fight.

The surprise jab came from the coronavirus. We’ve all heard more than enough news and we all have varying opinions. But I think it has been exceptionally challenging for an embattled president that wasn’t looking in the right direction. We can easily debate why he wasn’t looking, but the results would be the same.

Finally submitting to the pleas from scientists and doctors to almost totally shut down the economy was the left punch on the cheek. The rope-a-dope move of denying the seriousness of the virus evidently was a bad move. Attempting to deflect that failure and throw it on the World Health Organization made the blow solid.

The expected uppercut can come from several places and the only way to avoid a knockout is knowing how to avoid or at least lessen the blow. Will the Americans accept the decisions made? Did shutting down the economy provide the proper relief from death, and can you prove it? Was passing a world record emergency spending bill enough of a cushion, or was it too much debt?

I’m not a boxing expert so I will hear plenty about my description of boxing techniques. More likely I will hear the loud protests of Trump supporters. But the analysis of the questions before this administration is apolitical until the results are available. The fight can be debated, but the results are observed. Nobody would trade places with President Trump right now, if they are in their right mind.