Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Call to Sobriety and Courage

In college, I remember the enormous impact one classmate had on our culture. His dominate and unyielding personality allowed him to impose his negativity on those around him. With surprising speed, his way became an acceptable norm.

That is precisely what Donald Trump has done to our nation. Initially, he infected the GOP campaign and analysts all said his reckless and vulgar behavior would change as the campaign developed. Then it would change with the nomination. Well, certainly we were told, it would change when he was elected. But the fact remains that his behavior is constant and will not change. And, we the people are his enablers.

Those of us who supported Hillary Clinton have wondered aloud how the Republican Party would treat her were she President and behaved in an identical fashion. But that approach simply results in an irrational tirade.

However, suppose the President were a Bush. Would Republicans act the same way? Would the party who for generations blistered Democrats for being “soft on Communism” be so quick to embrace a Bush Presidency that was rolling in Russian embraces? Would they accept the daily untruths and the eye rolling exaggerations? Add to this the contradictory messages, the absence of any system that resembles competency in management and the willingness to transfer so much domestic policy development to the Congress.

The realty is that we have granted Trump special treatment and assigned him very low standards because we have yielded to his dominance. It has also become increasingly clear that Trump lives in an alternative world. It is the world of rallies where he is the adored commander of all. Every utterance is cheered and all ideas are celebrated as the greatest ever. In that world, Trump possesses all truth and goodness and those who question or disagree are liars and obstructionists.

The world we identify as real is to Trump “fake” and, I suspect, he truly believes that. Tweeting is Trump’s link between the two.

Welcome to the world of government by chaos as predicted by Jeb Bush.

For those who regard this as alarmist, I ask you to reflect on Trump’s behavior. Does it pass any standard of normalcy?

There have been episodes in American history where the Chief Executive was not fully able to properly function. But in this age of nuclear weapons and instant decision-making can we afford to simply relegate our concerns to hope?

There can be no doubt that this is a highly sensitive area. But the reality is that it is now part of personal discussions and, frequently, hinted at by the media. Our best interests dictate that it be surfaced and treated in a mature and intelligent fashion absent any partisan concern. This will require statesmanship. Two Republican leaders come to my mind: Senator John McCain and former Governor Mitt Romney.

At the same time, current investigations must continue. However, the focus should be more sharply aimed at Russia hacking and the extensive financial dealings of Trump and his business and political associates as it relates to foreign powers. These areas of inquiry go directly to issues affecting our national security and whether that security is being jeopardized or compromised.

The Trump administration has made it abundantly clear that any effort to open the doors to Russian-Trump financial dealings will be met with adamant opposition. This makes it all the more important for Republican leaders to step forward and provide our nation with the same courageous and intelligent statesmanship as we received during Watergate from GOP Senate Majority Leader, Howard Baker.  He famously directed the Watergate Commission to determine: “What did the president know and when did he know it.” 

We must again rise to the occasion.

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