I like a complex policy discussion as much as the next person. Charts, graphs, and numbers are great tools to make an argument about why one approach is superior to another, or why a particular law is not working out as advertised. This week, however, my post is not going utilize any such tools. I’m going to take a more visceral rather than analytical approach. That seems fitting, because if there’s one thing we can say about the presidency of Mr. 46 Percent of the Popular Vote, it’s that he definitely takes a more visceral rather than analytical approach.
We could take any week of Trump’s time in the White House and find multiple examples of him making an ass of himself. This week, however, offered one of his bigliest sets of ass-making actions and statements. Out of the many examples, let’s focus on a few. Regarding the first, I’ll start with a question: Did you ever imagine a president of the United States would publish a statement calling another American citizen a “Horseface”? Did you ever imagine explaining to your kids that he did?
“Federal Judge throws out Stormy Danials lawsuit versus Trump. Trump is entitled to full legal fees.” @FoxNews Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas. She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
Let’s note a couple of things, beyond the obvious point that this represents a national embarrassment, although certainly not the worst one this man has inflicted on the presidency. One, his placement of the comma in the final sentence actually identifies him, Donald Trump (“me”, in the tweet), as “a total con.” Don the Con. That’s exactly right.
Although that grammatical slip-up represented some accidental truth-telling, this little bit of public relations was far from off-the-cuff. Apparently he “trial-ballooned” and “workshopped” this comment “among White House aides, close friends, and acquaintances,” according to the Daily Beast. All that preparation still didn’t stop him from spelling Stormy Daniels’ name wrong. Oh, and what does it say about a person when he insults the looks of a woman he pursued for sex? Just sayin.’
You wanted a reality-show president? You got one. And, as we know, “Horseface” is far from the first time Trump has reduced a woman to her looks or her body parts. Will this disgusting language affect Trump and his Republican allies at the ballot box? The New York Times speculated that it “could also prove problematic for Republicans facing female opponents.” Here’s one scholar’s take:
“This rhetoric is the kind of thing that has turned off college-educated Republican women who voted for Trump in 2016, but have fallen away,” said Debbie Walsh, the director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Calling the president’s comment “adolescent,” Ms. Walsh said that “you cannot continue to be a party in power if the voters that you are appealing to are white men over the age of 60.”
Trump has already been demonstrated to have lied numerous times about the whole Stormy Daniels affair, not to mention the payoff to the adult film star in the wake of that affair. Speaking of lies, he is lying at an ever-increasing rate, which is pretty amazing given the high (low?) level at which he started.
Moving beyond animal husbandry, the Man Who Lost the Popular Vote also addressed the weighty topic of climate change, and offered a general take on science that made George W. Bush look like Neil deGrasse Tyson. From his interview with the Associated Press:
AP: But scientists say this [climate change] is nearing a point where this can’t be reversed.
Trump: No, no. Some say that and some say differently. I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.
So he’s related to a professor. But, he never talked to his professor uncle about climate change. Why bring it up at all? Sorry, I forgot who we’re dealing with here. During the interview, Trump added: “I am a person that believes very, very strongly in the environment.” This second bit of word salad makes Sarah Palin sound like a person of substance. But back to the longer quotation. As for the “both sides” thing, here’s what an actual climate scientist had to say:
“Trump might as well be saying that there are scientists on ‘both sides of the gravity debate,’” Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said in an email. “Dangerous climate change impacts are already apparent. Of course there are uncertainties. There always are. There are uncertainties in the science of gravity (we have never measured a graviton, the fundamental unit of gravity). That doesn’t make it safe to jump off a cliff.”
On the matter of Trump’s approach to science and instinct, here’s a professor of Astrophysics at NC State:
There is no "natural instinct for science." This is not a thing. There is curiosity, there is exploration, and there is the desire to learn & grow & test one's naive notions against cold hard data. Believing in a "natural instinct for science" is anathema to everything science is
— Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) October 17, 2018
Trump is anathema to the desire to learn from data, that’s for damn sure.
Our last subject involves Trump’s complete debasement of America’s moral values, as seen in his sacrificing of said values on the altar of cold currency. His incredible ass-kissing of Saudi Arabia’s government this week, in the face of mounting evidence that it is highly likely to have carried out the murder—in its own consulate, located in Turkey—of a U.S. resident, Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was disgusting and shameful.
Our own Jen Hayden explored the matter in detail, and included some quite revealing video evidence. Incredibly, this president defended the Saudi government—which proclaimed its innocence—by comparing them to the beer-swilling calendar maker whom multiple women accused of sexual assault yet managed to barely eke his way onto our Supreme Court. Trump opined: “Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent.” Our Dear Leader added the following on how to deal with this matter:
Don’t forget: Saudi Arabia is our partner. They made the largest order in the history of our country for—outside, outside of our country—for, for weapons. … So now people say, “Well, we want to have you end that order.” Well, aren’t we just hurting our own country? … So we want to be smart. I don’t want to give up that $110 billion dollar order, or whatever it is. It’s the largest order ever given by an outside country. And I don’t want to give that up.
No mention of democratic values, or “whatever it is.” Evangelical Christian leader and hardcore Republican Pat Robertson agreed: “For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis—look, these people are key allies … we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of … it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.” I don’t claim to know exactly what Jesus would do or say, but I can tell you this with absolute certainty: it’s not that.
“The Trump administration and Saudi royal family are searching for mutually agreeable explanation for death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi that will avoid implicating MBS”
think about this: it says the US President is collaborating on cover-up of a murder https://t.co/EO0cLker9P
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 18, 2018
But that’s not all. Trump’s allies in the media have been out trashing the victim of this heinous murder, mounting a “whispering campaign” about Khashoggi that consists of lies about his supposed terrorist sympathies. Moreover, Trump Jr. himself retweeted a similar lie about Khashoggi. According to the Washington Post, the White House is well aware of the campaign and has no problem with it. Anti-Trump conservative William Kristol summarized it thusly: “Trump wants to take a soft line, so Trump supporters are finding excuses for him to take it. One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered.”
Trump has harshly criticized real friends, democratic allies who share our values like Canada and Germany. But Saudi Arabia is “our partner”—in the cover-up of a murder, although that’s not how he meant it. We have, under Trump, abandoned our moral authority and become a country whose foreign policy simply follows the money instead of the ideals on which that policy is supposed to rest. And no, it doesn’t matter what the White House has said in the past day or two about the Saudi government’s responsibility, now that more and more evidence is emerging. Once you’ve sold your soul for Saudi gold, there’s no taking it back.
One final note on Trump and his utter antipathy toward freedom of the press either abroad or at home. On Thursday in Montana he actually praised a congressman who committed assault against a journalist. The lowlife-in-chief said: “Any guy who can do a body slam … he’s my guy,” and then pantomimed the action. Then he got lower: “I shouldn’t say this. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
Uh, yeah, there is. More than just an embarrassment, that statement—right down to the faux-conspiratorial tone of him saying things he “shouldn’t”—represents pure fascism. The president of the United States just endorsed politicians committing violence against journalists. Let that sink in for a minute. Apparently, one of his supporters at the Montana rally really dug that idea, as he peered over at CNN’s Jim Acosta, one of Trump’s favorite rhetorical punching bags, and drew his thumb across his throat in a slitting motion. This scumbag holds the office held by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Barack Obama. How does that make you feel? It’s highly likely none of the things you are feeling is anything resembling pride.
Donald Trump is our Nero. His ascendance to the presidency reveals the bankruptcy of our politics, as no properly functioning system could have allowed such an amoral, base, and anti-democratic charlatan to occupy the highest office in our land. His congressional allies will never, ever provide any kind of effective check on his authority. If we, the voters, don’t take power out of their hands, they will continue to take money from average Americans and turn it over to millionaires, while their leader tramples on our democracy’s most sacred beliefs. When it comes to next month’s election, it’s as simple as that.
Donald Trump is on the ballot. On Election Day, you must cast your vote to stop him.