President Obama’s leadership style was characterized — wildly inaccurately by the opposition — as “leading from behind.” We could say President Trump is leading “with his” behind. This week, three enlightening articles were published about the current chief executive. All three sets of cited sources purport to know the real Donald. Do the profiles shed light on the man and his makeup? Well, two out of three ain’t bad. “The Apprentice” producers give us Trump history. Mitt Romney gives us his opinion of the president’s character. And Jerry Falwell Jr. shows us what Jerry Falwell Jr. is made of: amoral mush.
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— RECENT HEADLINES –
“‘Apprentice’ Producers Detail Trump Makeover From Flailing Businessman to Mogul: ‘We all knew he was a fake.’ ‘It was like making the court jester the king.’” (12/28/2018)
“House Dems. Won’t Seat NC 9th District Apparent GOP Winner Until Election Is Certified” (12/29/2018)
“Trump Threatens Entire South. Border Shutdown if Dems. Won’t Give Him Wall Money” (12/29/2018)
“Ret. 4-Star Gen. Stanley McChrystal Says Trump ‘immoral … doesn’t tell the truth’” (12/30/2018)
“Trump Tweet-Blames Dems. for 2 Recent Migrant Child Deaths in Border Patrol Custody” (12/30/2018)
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Announces Presidential Candidate Exploratory Committee” (12/31/2018)
“December 2018 Was Worst Performing Month for Stock Market Since Great Depression” (1/1/2019)
“Romney Writes WaPo Opinion Piece: ‘The President Shapes the Public Character of the Nation. Trump’s Character Falls Short.’” (1/1/2019)
“Last Day for Top Trump Admin. Members Ryan Zinke, James Mattis, Nikki Haley, John Kelly” (1/1/2019)
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“House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi to NBC News: ‘Nothing for the wall’” (1/2/2019)
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“Stock Market Suffers Wild Swings on 1st Day of 2019 Trading, Closes Near Even” (1/2/2019)
“Russia Arrests Apparent American Civilian on Spying Charges as Likely Bargaining Chip” (1/2/2019)
“Cringeworthy Cab. Mtg.: AG Whitaker Fawns Over Pres.; Trump Says Syria Just ‘sand and death,’ Trashes 3 Generals, Says He ‘Essentially’ Fired Mattis; WaPo Called It ‘95-min. stream-of-consciousness defense of presidency, worldview … w/ falsehoods, revisionist Hx., self-aggrandizement’” (1/2/2019)
“GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Day 13” (1/3/2019)
“House Reps. Sworn in, Most Diverse Group Ever, Many Ethnic, Gender-Related Firsts” (1/3/2019)
“Nancy Pelosi Sworn in as New House Speaker at Noon” (1/3/2019)
This week, three enlightening articles were published about President Trump. All three sets of authors purport to know the real Donald. Do the profiles shed light on the man and his makeup? Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The Apprentice producers give us Trump history. Mitt Romney gives us his opinion of the president’s character. And Jerry Falwell Jr. shows us what Jerry Falwell Jr. is made of: amoral mush.
Wednesday capped the end-of-year holiday period. Outrageous Trumpian developments slowed temporarily. Additionally, a significant portion of the government has shut down. Of course, that is in itself an outrageous Trumpian development — he reneged on a previous agreement and is demanding money for his Southern border wall that two-thirds of Americans don’t want.
The Washington Post’s lead headline yesterday was “In [Trump] Shutdown, National Parks Turn Into Wild West: Many People, Few Overseers.” Apparently, the parks are still open, the normal numbers of visitors are still showing up, “but trash cans are overflowing and restrooms are locked.” Tourists have been reduced to relieving themselves like bears, defecating in the woods.
The Washington Post’s lead headline today is “Trump Turns Cabinet Meeting Into a Whirl of Insults, Boasts, and Falsehoods.” Writer Anne Gearan said of Wednesday’s public Cabinet meeting, “It quickly became a 95-minute stream-of-consciousness defense of [Trump’s] presidency and worldview, filled with falsehoods, revisionist history, and self-aggrandizement.”
President Obama’s leadership style was characterized — wildly inaccurately by the opposition — as “leading from behind.” We could say President Trump is leading with his behind
The Apprentice Producers
In the slow news period between Christmas and New Year’s Day, The New Yorker titillated Trump resisters by putting another large blotch on Donald’s illusive, self-contrived image of genius businessman. After two years of a phony presidency, reality show producers of The Apprentice finally feel emboldened to expose that con:
“The Apprentice portrayed Trump not as a skeezy hustler who huddles with local mobsters but as a plutocrat with impeccable business instincts and unparalleled wealth — a titan who always seemed to be climbing out of helicopters or into limousines. ‘Most of us knew he was a fake,’ [Apprentice editor Jonathon] Braun told me. ‘He had just gone through I don’t know how many bankruptcies. But we made him out to be the most important person in the world. It was like making the court jester the king.’ … When the production staff tried to furnish the [rented Trump Tower] space, they found that local venders, stiffed by Trump in the past, refused to do business with them. … Bill Pruitt, another producer, recalled, ‘We walked through [Trump’s] offices and saw chipped furniture. We saw a crumbling empire at every turn. Our job was to make it seem otherwise.”
(Keefe, Patrick Radden; “How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success”; The New Yorker; 12/28/2018.)
Senator-elect Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a sometime Trump friend (while accepting Donald’s 2012 presidential endorsement), sometime foe (while Trump neared clinching his 2016 GOP presidential nomination), also wrote an article this week:
“Trump’s character falls short … The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president’s thoughtless claim that America has long been a ‘sucker’ in world affairs all defined his presidency down.
“It is well-known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not. When he won the election, I hoped he would rise to the occasion. His early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, [Gen.] H. R. McMaster, [Gen. John] Kelly, and [Gen. James] Mattis were encouraging. But, on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.”
(Romney, Mitt, R-Utah, U.S. senator-elect, 2012 presidential candidate, former Mass. governor; “Mitt Romney: The President Shapes the Public Character of the Nation. Trump’s Character Falls Short.”; The Washington Post; 1/1/2019.)
This opinion article by Mitt, kicking off his U.S. senatorship, gives the country some hope that President Trump will finally get meaningful pushback from Republicans in Congress. Romney seems to be taking the handoff from outgoing Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). We can hope Mitt does more than Flake and Corker, who were criticized for not putting their money where their mouths were. They spoke out against the president at times but failed to take real action where possible in opposition to Trump.
But Sen.-elect Romney is saddled with his embrace of Donald Trump’s endorsement for president in 2012, which I wrote about at the time:
“Let’s get this straight. Romney’s Achilles’ heel is his image of being a multimillionaire who has gamed the system and pays too little in taxes. So he accepts an endorsement — on the Las Vegas strip — from a multi-billionaire who has gamed the system and pays too little in taxes. Romney’s other Achilles’ heel is the perception that he lacks substance. So he accepts an endorsement from one of the world’s most famously substance-challenged celebrities. Even Paris Hilton says Trump is shallow (— thanks to Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog).”
(Ersin, Tom; Barack vs. the Anti-PC: Laying the Groundwork for a 2016 Donald Trump Presidential Run; Big Table Publishing Company; 2017.)
Mitt Romney has his own problems with vertebrae, veracity, and virtue. During his 2012 run for the presidency against Barrack Obama’s imminent second term, Mitt was well-known for being on multiple sides of many issues. Listen to these comments from highly respected Republican politicians and pundits:
“Being a well-lubricated weather vane, being on different sides of the critically important issues of the day as Mitt Romney has found himself over and over … is not what the American people are looking for.”
(Huntsman, Jon, R-Utah, 2012 presidential primary candidate, former [Obama] China ambassador, former governor; hospital expansion dedication; Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah; 10/28/2011.)
“Romney … is a recidivist reviser of his principles.”
(Will, George, conservative writer and commentator; “Mitt Romney, the Pretzel Candidate”; The Washington Post; 10/28/2011.)
“You’re only allowed a certain amount of flips before people begin to doubt your character. And I think Romney exhausted his quota some time back.”
(Hume, Brit, conservative writer and Fox News commentator; Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace; 10/30/2011.)
“[Governor Romney] has consistently flip-flopped on every issue. … He has consistently taken at least two sides of every issue, sometimes more than two.”
(McCain, John, R-Ariz., U.S. senator, 2008 presidential candidate; campaign event; shipyard, Jacksonville, Fla., 1/28/2008.)
Now, Romney did come back with a vengeance in 2016, when Donald was about to clinch the GOP presidential nomination:
“‘Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,’ Romney said. ‘His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat,’ he said, taking a shot at Trump’s trademark truck driver-style baseball hats. …
“‘Let me put it very plainly,’ he said in a much-touted and stinging public speech at the University of Utah. ‘If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished. There is plenty of evidence that Mr. Trump is a con man, a fake,’ he said. ‘Mr. Trump has changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign.’ Romney, speaking for the GOP establishment, tore apart Trump’s character.”
(Duran, Nicole; “Romney Unloads on Trump: Con Man, Fake, Phony, Fraud”; Washington Examiner; 3/3/2016.)
All very good. Except Mitt should have left out the part about “changed his positions not just over the years, but over the course of the campaign.” This was a little too close to home.
Speaking of hypocrisy, the last significant public mention of Mitt until yesterday was how he sidled up to Donald during the transition. Much to Mitt’s chagrin now, video images went worldwide of the two invertebrates having a soft-lighted romantic dinner at which Romney kissed Trump’s ring, auditioning for secretary of state. A Nov. 30, 2016, Vanity Fair headline blared, “Mitt Romney Eats Crow at Three-Star Dinner with Donald Trump.”
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Fellow Trump-Romney hypocrite Jerry Falwell Jr. also made news this week. Falwell, preeminent Caucasian Christian evangelist, Liberty University president, and son of the late Jerry Sr., did an interview with The Washington Post‘s Joe Heim, published New Year’s Day. In it, he explained why white evangelicals will stick with President Trump’s sinking ship no matter what he does — including, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible.”
Falwell’s comments are a precise representation of (81 percent of) white evangelicals’ pretzel-logical and colossally selfish defense of Trump’s galactically un-Christian policies and beliefs.
Falwell: Wrong on Midterm Message
[INTERVIEWER]: “What message did voters in the 2018 midterms send?”
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “This midterm, the president did better than the average president does in his first midterms. So I think the message is that the American people are happy with the direction the country is headed and happy with the economy, happy with our newfound respect in the world. It’s a better result than you normally see in the first midterms.”
Jerry Falwell Jr. has taught himself to lie blatantly in the face of truth as callously as Donald Trump does. Republicans did pick up a net of two seats in the Senate. A gain of at least two seats was virtually assured in 2018 due to the following: 1) the nature of all Senate contests (only one-third of seats are up for grabs in any given election); and 2) the unusually low ratio of GOP-to-Democratic seats needing defense. Republicans expected to pick up more than two seats.
In the House, Democrats netted 40 seats, with one (North Carolina’s 9th district) still undecided. This is the largest Democratic House seat gain since 1974, the election after Richard Nixon (R-Calif.) was forced to resign the presidency. (Note that in the modern presidential era, Nixon’s level of corruption is second only to Trump’s. The only reason Trump remains in office is that the special counsel’s report is not complete.) The generic Democratic vote margin was 8.6 percent, the largest midterm margin for either party, ever, and the largest margin for a minority party in any election, ever.
Moreover, this victory came despite massive GOP-favoring state gerrymandering after the 2000 census.
So Falwell’s claim — the message of the midterms is that the country’s electorate is happy with Donald and the direction he’s taking us — is either lunacy or lying. I’m giving Jerry Jr. the benefit of the doubt and going with lying. And “happy with our newfound respect in the world”? Jerry, we are the laughingstock of the world. You know it but you don’t care. Just listen to the BBC occasionally. Seriously, Did you see the Helsinki press conference? Have you seen the open Cabinet meetings? Jesus!
Falwell: Wrong on Business Acumen
[INTERVIEWER]: “You and other white evangelical leaders have strongly supported President Trump. What about him exemplifies Christianity and earns him your support?”
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “What earns him my support is his business acumen. Our country was so deep in debt and so mismanaged by career politicians that we needed someone who was not a career politician, but someone who’d been successful in business to run the country like a business. That’s the reason I supported him.”
Apparently, Jerry has not read The New Yorker article: “[Donald Trump was a] skeezy hustler who huddles with local mobsters.”
But wait, there’s more:
[INTERVIEWER]: “The deficit and debt have increased during his first two years.”
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “Yeah, Congress, the spending bill that they forced on him in order to get the military spending up to where it needed to be — he said that would be the last time he signed one of those. But he had no choice because Obama had decimated the military, and it had to be rebuilt.”
Falwell says he supported Trump because “our country was so deep in debt and so mismanaged.” Then the interviewer reminds him that the deficit and debt have increased under Trump. A lot. But Jerry blames it all on “the spending bill that they forced on him in order to get the military spending … because Obama had decimated the military.”
Obama never “decimated” military spending. That’s a lie. Not an exaggeration. Not an overstatement. A lie.
And who forced that spending bill on Trump? The Republican-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House of Representatives. They forced it just like they “forced” the infamous $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich. That was the real blower-upper of the debt and deficit. Now that’s decimation.
Falwell: Wrong on Leader Characteristics
[INTERVIEWER]: “Is it hypocritical for evangelical leaders to support a leader who has advocated violence and who has committed adultery and lies often? I understand that a person can be forgiven their sins, but should that person be leading the country?”
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “When Jesus said we’re all sinners, he really meant all of us, everybody. I don’t think you can choose a president based on their personal behavior because even if you choose the one that you think is the most decent — let’s say you decide Mitt Romney. Nobody could be a more decent human being, better family man. But there might be things that he’s done that we just don’t know about. So you don’t choose a president based on how good they are; you choose a president based on what their policies are. That’s why I don’t think it’s hypocritical.”
Keep me straight here, Jerry: We don’t pick a leader with known good qualities because of what we don’t know about him or her. But we pick a leader with myriad known bad qualities because his selfish policies line up with ours, i.e., “religious freedom” (the right to discriminate against non-Christians) and nationalism (protecting the hegemony of the Caucasian race).
Jerry Falwell Jr., as one of the dominant leaders of the white evangelical community, you are hereby prohibited from ever saying again that character matters in a leader, as evangelicals have said so often — with a haughty look and a proud heart, while wickedly plowing.
Falwell: Wrong on Treatment of the Poor
[INTERVIEWER]: “You’ve been criticized by some other evangelical leaders about your support for the president. They say you need to demand higher moral and ethical standards. You disagree with them on that?”
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “It may be immoral for them not to support him, because he’s got African American employment to record highs, Hispanic employment to record highs. They need to look at what the president did for the poor. A lot of the people who criticized me, because they had a hard time stomaching supporting someone who owned casinos and strip clubs or whatever, a lot them have come around and said, ‘Yeah, you were right.’ Some of the most prominent evangelicals in the country have said, ‘Jerry, we thought you were crazy, but now we understand.’”
OK, Jerry — like who? Which Caucasian evangelical leaders thought you were crazy? I recall very few standing up to the immorality, corruption, and racism of The Donald early on — or now.
Your economic defense of Donald is notable for what you omit. First, Trump came in riding the long-term economic upturn bequeathed to us by President Obama — after Obama saved us from a second Great Depression. All Donald had to do was not mess it up. Second, you make no mention of the many things Trump has done to hurt the poor:
1) attempting to take away health care coverage (that Obama provided), namely Medicaid expansion;
2) making health care more expensive and difficult to get by smothering the ACA insurance exchanges;
3) making it harder to get food stamps;
4) strangling the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, which protects the poor (and middle class) against predatory lending and debt collection practices;
5) making it more difficult for the poor (and middle class) to navigate crushing student loan debt;
6) engaging in a vanity government shutdown, which is producing a tremendous financial burden on the 800,000 government employees — many of whom live paycheck to paycheck — forced to work or stay home without pay, as well as hurting the many private businesses and contract employees that depend upon government activity;
7) gutting the EPA, weakening and cutting clean air and water regulations, which disproportionately hurt the poor;
8) selfishly “denying” climate change, eliminating attempts to control it, because Donald won’t be around to suffer the effects;
9) ballooning the national debt, giving a $1.5 trillion tax break to the wealthy and corporations, again, because Donald won’t be around to suffer the effects.
Shall I go on?
Falwell: Wrong on Biblical Principles
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “There’s [(sic)] two kingdoms. There’s the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom, the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country. Think about it. Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need around the world than any other country in history? It’s because of free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism, and wealth. A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.”
“Why have Americans been able to do more to help people in need?” Because most presidents before Trump — even hardcore supply-siders — believed in the basic Christian values of the Golden Rule and helping your neighbor. And these values were strengthened through, in Falwell’s answer to his own question, “free enterprise, freedom, ingenuity, entrepreneurism, and wealth.” Unfortunately, in Trump’s America, these strengths are distorted and abused, with the blessing of the country’s Falwells.
“Think about it,” Jerry.
Finally, in his continuing misunderstanding and disparagement of the poor:
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me.”
He was bombarded with responses — including from many Caucasian Christians — who noted that they had read conflicting information in some book somewhere:
“And [Jesus] called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”
(Church of England; “Mark 12:43-44”; Holy Bible, King James Version; 1611.)
And Jerry, in case you have trouble understanding the old English:
“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live on.’”
(Christian Resources Development Corporation; “Mark 12:43-44”; Holy Bible, Common English Bible Version; 2011.)
Jerry, final words?
[INTERVIEWER]: “Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger [the] support from you or other evangelical leaders?”
[JERRY FALWELL JR.]: “No.”
No less shallow, hypocritical, stupid one-word response has ever been spoken — even by a white evangelical icon. ■
Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget