Monday, July 25, 2016 at 09:50AM
By Washington Post Editorial Board July 22
DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance.
To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.
Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers.
This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.
Why are we so sure?
Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.
Donald Trump painted a dark picture of America during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, but some of his doomsday stats are rather dubious. The Post's Fact Checker examined 25 of his key claims. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him.
Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.
The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance.
He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact. Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that he opposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie.
It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief. Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three.
Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.
What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous. Allies are taking advantage of the United States. Immigrants are committing crimes and stealing jobs. Muslims hate America. In fact, Japan and South Korea are major contributors to an alliance that has preserved a peace of enormous benefit to Americans. Immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans and take jobs that no one else will. Muslims are the primary victims of Islamist terrorism, and Muslim Americans, including thousands who have served in the military, are as patriotic as anyone else.
The Trump litany of victimization has resonated with many Americans whose economic prospects have stagnated. They deserve a serious champion, and the challenges of inequality and slow wage growth deserve a serious response. But Mr. Trump has nothing positive to offer, only scapegoats and dark conspiracy theories. He launched his campaign by accusing Mexico of sending rapists across the border, and similar hatefulness has surfaced numerous times in the year since.
In a dangerous world, Mr. Trump speaks blithely of abandoning NATO, encouraging more nations to obtain nuclear weapons and cozying up to dictators who in fact wish the United States nothing but harm.
For eight years, Republicans have criticized President Obama for “apologizing” for America and for weakening alliances. Now they put forward a candidate who mimics the vilest propaganda of authoritarian adversaries about how terrible the United States is and how unfit it is to lecture others. He has made clear that he would drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to global security could be disastrous.
Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.
Worse, he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press.
He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.
Mr. Trump campaigns by insult and denigration, insinuation and wild accusation: Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Hillary Clinton may be guilty of murder; Mr. Obama is a traitor who wants Muslims to attack.
The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends.
Most responsible Republican leaders know all this to be true; that is why Mr. Trump had to rely so heavily on testimonials by relatives and employees during this week’s Republican convention. With one exception (Bob Dole), the living Republican presidents and presidential nominees of the past three decades all stayed away. But most current officeholders, even those who declared Mr. Trump to be an unthinkable choice only months ago, have lost the courage to speak out.
The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters. Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution.
Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.
Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 01:05PM
If a staff member of the DNC sent e-mail like this, they should be fired. The chair of the DNC Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D, Fla) will be replaced at the end of the DNC convention - which is the prerogative of the presidential nominee. Clearly there should be a house cleaning. But this inside baseball politics and the curious timing of the Wikileak's dump could cause problems in Philly.
In scanning the Wikileaks - Hillary files most of it is the DNC staff reporting on media coverage of the campaigns. This is not a Nixon "plumbers" operation. And the e-mail that raises questions of The Bern's faith was not acted on as far I can tell. But it's not unusual for 'campaign operaives' to prime big time media show hosts about questions to ask a candidate.
This makes me wonder of Glenn Greenwald's timing of e-mail he had in May - 2 months ago. Why not then, not on the eve of the DNC. Greenwald's purpose can be summed up in his own words - "I think the only means of true political change will come from people working outside of that [two-party electoral] system to undermine it, and subvert it, and weaken it, and destroy it; not try to work within it to change it."
Greenwald's words remind me of the anti-government guru Grover Norquist - "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub". If one is a committed anarchist I can appreciate the philosophical point but on the eve of an election where the choice is Hillary or The Donald - this is not s philosophical point.
Greenwald's source of the leaks - Russian hackers - has an ominous ring to it. Since nothing happens in Mother Russia these days without Putin's OK - the source and timing of the data dump is Putin's way of meddling in a US election in effect endorsing Trump. Greenwald being the willing "tool" of Putin's hackers is in effect endorsing Trump. Wikileaks joins the authoritians. Politics makes for strange bedfellows!
Don't get me wrong - any e-mail like this was wrong and politically stupid. And Greenwald is exercising his lst Amendment rights albeit from Brazil. He's hardly profiles in courage. But the timing bothers me and the double standard - hacking DNC e-mail not RNC e-mail...
This critical election is about the preservation of the American democratic system as some flirt with Trumpist fascism. Greenwald has given the DNC nor Hillary little time to factor his leaks into the conversation at the DNC in Philly. Frankly, this is a classic cheap shot by an award winning journalist who living in Brazil has nothing to lose while he plays the role as the hero "whistle blower."
On a factual basis, the Bern is not a practitioner of religious Judaism, any more than The Donald is a practicing Christian. The Bern is more of a secular humanist. That's OK with me. But the bottom line is that Hillary NEVER brought this issue up in the primary season. So again I ask what's the point at this time Brother Greenwald? By the way, why didn't you hack The Donald's e-mail while you were at it?
This could light a fire in Philly this weak and change the optics at the DNC convention. One wishes the DNC staff were professionals not acting out like a bunch of spoiled brats. They may have given The Donald what he needs to stop any post-DNC momentum for Hillary. One hopes by the fall - this story line will disappear but it will make The Bern's speech tomorrow interesting viewing.
I hope The Bern will say I don't care about the e-mail my "political Revolution" is now mainstream in the Democratic party. "Mission Accomplished" turn the page stop Trump!
Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 07:52PM
In Trump's America it's not Reagan's 'Morning in America; it's 'Midnight in America'. He offered us the politics of fear and threats. His focus was on the politics of fear both at home and abroad. But within this gloomy rendition of the state of our union he provided no coherent road map just a recitation of his familiar campaign stump speeches. But it was a disciplined speech.
My take before the speech was that Trump had to accomplish the following things in his acceptance speech:
To mitigate the damage of days 1-3 The Donald must 1) look presidential not like a mob boss; 2) must be policy-specific - what he's actually going to do and how he's going to do it; 3) how he plans to work with a Congress where House and Senate leadership clearly doesn't like him. This is a tall order in an acceptance speech by a candidate who demonstrates no discipline and seems to suffer from attention deficit disorder...
Trump looked presidential if one's model is Mussolini. He never smiles and his waves to the crowd are perfunctory and his leaving the stage was unusually fast not celebratory with Mike Pence his VP choice. And no Republican notables from Congress were on stage showing solidarity.
He wasn't policy specific at all - he offered no game plan - just a promise to be the a la Nixon in '68 the 'law and order' president here and abroad. His face was the look of a man under siege not a man who looked forward to a challenge but like Nixon - a candidate burdened by the challenge before him.
He gave no indication of working with Congress. He clearly thinks on day 1 he can simply order change via presidential fiat. Like all presidents before him he'll find, if elected, god forbid - that's not the way our political system of checks and balances works.
Trump reminded me of Spiro Agnew who Oregon's Tom McCall acidly reacted to in a speech Agnew gave at a Western GOP governor's conference. When the media asked what he thought of Agnew's speech they quoted Tom saying it was "a bigoted little speech." The next morning Tom corrected the press saying he didn't say "little." It was classic McCall, who was a Republican and Oregon's most revered governor.
Trump always looks angry like Agnew did and he's always negative while asking the voters to trust him to make America safe and great again. Even Nixon had a "driving dream." Trump the rhetoric of fear. His appeal is to a White nationalist base or the so-called Nixon 'Silent Majority' which is 32% of the voting public. Yes, he recognized LGBTQs, tempered his critique of NAFTA and Ivonka embraced family leave and pay equity.
So the question remains is who is the Real Donald? The foul mouthed reality show actor, a corporatist moghul who knows how the game is played or a closet anti-war neo-liberal?
Stay tuned. As Ed Murrow used to say after every broadcast - "good night and good luck." We'll need it as this authoritarian personality who reminds me of Argentina's Peron or Italy's Il Duce pursues his prey.