Mac Deford: American Exceptionalism; The Flip-Side
Thursday, March 09, 2017 10:45 AM
Erratic. Self-destructive. Immature. Irrational. Delusional. Psychotic. Take your pick.
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un may be the only well-known international leader who is even more erratic than Trump.
The first 100 days of a modern president: that time when he gathers his team, charges into high gear, outlines his list of priorities, sets the tone for the next four years and, most significantly, defines himself. Quicker than most, President Trump has defined himself, and in stark terms — see above — that make one wonder, once again, How in the world did we elect him?
His latest self-inflicted wound is of course his totally unverified charge that President Obama was wiretapping Trump’s digs at his namesake Tower during the month before the election.
Both the former Director of National Security, James Clapper, as well as current FBI head Comey have rejected his claim; they would have been aware of the operation if Obama had initiated one — unless, of course, Obama, with a few of his Oval Office buddies, had slipped into Trump Tower in the middle of the night and tapped Trump’s wires himself.
Republican Congressmen have distanced themselves from Trump’s off-the-wall charge, while White House officials, forced to defend their boss, have relied on a variation of “He’s the president, he said it, so it must be true.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s inspiration — if that is the appropriate term for such irrational garbage — has turned out to be a far-right news program that offered, of course, no evidence to back up its broadcast graffiti.
But why, without any verification, would Trump believe the accusation that Obama had wire-tapped him? Why would Trump call the former president “sick,’” then add in charges of “McCarthyism” in the same tweet? Some have speculated that it was a clever, well-timed plan to distract the public from the charges tying the Trump campaign to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
If so, it certainly has worked: the public has forgotten the Russian connection for the time being — even while Congress is gearing up to investigate it — as it focuses instead on the downward mental spiral that has characterized the Trump presidency less than halfway into its first 100 days.
For those of us who were appalled at the prospect of a Trump presidency, the reality is considerably scarier than the previews.
The guy never rests on his laurels. Tuesday, he tweeted derisively, a propos of nothing, that “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield.” The fact is that 113 of those were released by the Bush administration, 9 by Obama. Alternative facts, alternative reality. With Watergate-enmeshed Nixon, we worried “What did he know and when did he know it?” With Trump, we worry whether what he knows is fact or fiction.
American exceptionalism comes to mind: what could be more exceptional than that the richest, most powerful country in history, the sole remaining superpower, the bulwark of NATO, the nation that sets the standard for Western civilization, has the most exceptionally insecure, erratic, unbalanced president in our 225-year history?
There’s never a good time, of course, to have a nutcase in the Oval Office. Thankfully, the Cold War is behind us. But there are, I’m afraid, still a few difficult challenges out there.
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un may be the only well-known international leader who is even more erratic than Trump. North Korea has artillery just over the DMZ that could destroy Seoul and missiles that could devastate the rest of South Korea. And they are testing, and rapidly developing, nuclear weapons that could threaten the US mainland before the end of Trump’s presidency. How will he deal with the North Korean threat? A few insulting tweets aimed at Kim at 5 in the morning?
And then there’s Russia. Putin is a serious man, sufficiently aggressive, as he demonstrated in Georgia and Crimea, to maintain his popularity in a country that — demographically, economically, geopolitically — is on a downward slope. At the same time, Putin holds back from riskier moves, such as action in the Baltics, that might force NATO to engage. Will Trump as president, especially with that ongoing suspicion over his past dealings with Russia, destabilize this delicate balance?
The Democrats should be gearing up — now — to impeach this man. They should be working behind the scenes with those Republicans who, increasingly, are aware of the mental instability in the Oval Office — and who are equally aware, most compellingly for their party, that he will be a dead weight on Republican Congressmen in the mid-term elections just over a year and a half down the road.
In less than 50 days, Trump has shown himself to the American public — and to the rest of the world — to be not only perilously thin-skinned but delusional. He’s laid his glaring faults before the public as if they were something to be proud of. He’s demonstrated a bizarre and self-destructive insecurity that makes him not merely an unqualified president but, much worse, a potentially very dangerous one.