“With their reactions to the Roy Moore candidacy and the Stormy Daniels scandal, the Trump evangelicals have scaled the heights of hypocrisy to the summit. Family-values conservatives who dismiss credible accusations of sexual abuse [Moore] and wink at hush money for a porn star [Daniels] have ceased to represent family values in any meaningful sense. They have made a national joke of moral standards that were once, presumably, deeply held. At least when a Democrat violated them. …
“But this barely scratches the surface of the moral compromises being made. The problem with Trumpism is not only the transparent excuses it offers (and requires others to accept) for shoddy and offensive behavior. … [T]he deeper issue is the distinctly non-Christian substance of President Trump’s values. His unapologetic materialism. His tribalism and hatred for ‘the other.’ His strength-worship and contempt for ‘losers,’ which smack more of Nietzsche than of Christ.”
(Gerson, Michael; “Trump Evangelicals Have Sold Their Souls”; The Washington Post; 3/12/2018.)
Trump Also Violates a Commandment or Two
Donald Trump lies. As pundits and communications experts like to characterize this reality, it is baked in to our understanding of the president. He has tweet-immunized himself successfully against any potential criticism about those lies from virtually all sitting GOP legislators and most of the U.S. electorate (Republican and other low-information voters). Like a 10-year-old devil-child, Donald has found strength in numbers, i.e., strength in the number of lies he tells. This allows him, with a straight face and no apparent consequences, to extricate himself from any uncomfortable rhetorical situation by lying on the spot, with zero consideration for follow-up accountability.
By the way, there is no longer any need for journalistically restrained euphemisms. A lie is a lie, and the world — even MAGA heads — don’t require softened synonyms any more. In fact, the MAGA heads wear Trump’s lying as a badge of honor: Finally, we have our guy, who lies for us, who stands up to the pointy-headed do-gooders handicapped by truth and civility. So what if he’s lying to us, too? Who else could lie to his wife — then caring for his infant son — while cavorting with porn actresses and Playboy models? Then his trophy wife finds out, and she stays with him. Only a business genius could make that happen. Trump is everything I want to be. Keep lying to me, baby.
The next thing to consider is how many of the liar’s own lies does that liar believe. Or, Which of his lies does he believe? This could be the stuff of a hit game show — and the life or death of the Founding Fathers’ Grand Experiment.
Group of Seven (G7) 2019 Economic Summit — One Week of Trump Incoherency
The big story of the week has been President Trump’s shenanigans before, during, and after the annual G7 summit of the world’s leading economic powers. The group currently comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The 2019 summit took place August 24-26, Saturday through Monday.
Enemies of the U.S.
On the Friday before the summit, with economics at the top of Trump’s mind, he tweet-killed two incoherent birds with one stone:
“….My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powel [sic] or Chairman Xi?”
(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter post; 8/23/2019.)
Donald was referring to Chairman Jerome Powell of the Federal Reserve. This entity is independent of the White House. Trump has been tweet-hominem attacking Powell for many weeks for not cutting interest rates. Rates generally only are cut by the Fed when the economy needs a boost. If they are cut when things are good (as Trump wants — to improve his reelection chances), there is no room left to lower interest rates when the economy tanks.
But Trump is a recalcitrant child, who wants his way and wants it now, even though this type of presidential pressure on the Federal Reserve is unprecedented. To his credit, Chairman Powell has remained independent and refused to cut rates simply on Donald’s self-dealing orders. Powell also has the backing of the vast majority of U.S. economics experts.
But Trump wants his way. So Jerome Powell is an “enemy” of the U.S.
As of that statesmanlike tweet, China’s Chairman Xi was also an “enemy.” Put that one aside for the moment.
All U.S. Companies out of China
Friday, Trump “hereby [tweet-]ordered” all American companies to discontinue operations in China immediately.
Apple responded, “We would have to up the cost of iPhones by tens of thousands of dollars and cut our profit margin and market share by half. But no problem. We’ll be out tomorrow.” (— writer’s embellishment)
What did Apple really do? Like all other U.S. companies doing business in China, they ignored the president, knowing 1) he’s ignorant (of the law), and 2) the Trumpian winds would change direction very soon.
China, I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me
Over the summit weekend, Trump tried to back up his threat with inapplicable law, then stated his intentions not to invoke that law. On Friday, Chairman Xi was a U.S. “enemy.” By Monday, Trump had declared Xi a “great leader” and “a brilliant man” with whom he soon would be striking a great trade deal. In a news conference, Donald said China had called him twice Sunday night wanting to “make a deal.” China, however, denied the calls and the deals, and Donald could not back them up. Even Treasury Secretary Mnuchin would not lie for Trump: he would only use the word “communications” (not “calls”), which he had to emphasize twice.
Japan, How About You?
Trump bragged about the consummation of a great trade deal with Japan, only to have that country issue a statement saying merely that preliminary talks have occurred.
Trump boasted of “tremendous [G7] unity,” though it was widely known the American delegation blocked consensus on many issues.
Climate Change Meeting, No Meeting
Trump skipped a Monday morning climate change meeting with the other six heads of state. When confronted, Team Trump gave two explanations: 1) He would be attending that meeting later in the day (there was no later meeting); and 2) He met with the German and Indian leaders at a concurrent meeting, though those leaders were seen clearly at the climate change meeting.
Vladimir Putin Bromance
Trump revived his obsequious efforts to reinstate Russia to the group (formerly the G8). Donald fabricated some mumbo-jumbo about President Obama having been outsmarted and embarrassed by Russian President Putin, which ostensibly was why Obama got Russia kicked out in 2014. The facts are that Russia was expelled for invading and occupying part of sovereign Ukraine, and this decision had wide acceptance among G8 members. Since Putin is still hanging onto the stolen land, Germany, Britain, and other G7 members laughed Trump out of the room for promoting Russia’s reentry into the group.
Kim Jong Un Bromance
Here’s one. Trump is engaged in an ongoing quest to butter up North Korea’s Kim Jong Un into accepting a deal — any deal — that Trump can finagle into a foreign policy win for the sake of reelection. At a Monday news conference, Donald boasted how even his wife, Melania, has seen the good in Kim: “The first lady had gotten to know Kim Jong Un, and I think she’d agree with me — he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.” One problem: The White House had to admit Melania has never met Kim Jong Un.
Don the Con
One of the biggest takeaways from the G7 summit, however, was Trump, the conning salesman. During another Monday news conference, Donald launched a full-blown infomercial to pitch his Trump National Doral Miami resort for the location of 2020’s G7 summit. It went on for many minutes, and it was embarrassing. The only thing missing was the PowerPoint presentation and the timeshare hard sell after dinner when you and your spouse try to escape saying, “Thanks, but we’ve really got to get home to relieve the babysitter.”
But wait, Donald says. “Doral happens to be … only five minutes from the airport, the airport’s right next door. … We have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows, they each hold from 50 to 70 rooms. They have magnificent views. And what we have also is Miami. … The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida, and the best. Each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow, and the bungalows like I say have a lot of units in them. … It’s got ample parking.”
Finally, Trump, the closer, leans in for his last, best timeshare pitch: “I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money … It’s not about me, it’s about getting the right location [for you, Mr. and Mrs. G7].”
By the way, President Trump hosting the 2020 G7 summit at his Miami golf resort would be against the law, against the Constitution. But don’t bother hounding him (or Republican legislators) with such trifles. He’s been getting away with it. Why should he stop self-dealing now?
On August 23, The New York Times featured an article, based upon several unnamed White House sources, that stated even the president’s aides have been alarmed by Trump’s erratic behavior and judgment. And that was before the G7 summit.
Some say Trump is getting worse, more outlandish, more shocking. Donald, the con man, the pitchman, probably knows the country is growing weary of his shtick.
“‘[E]xhausting’ would be the word at the top of my list after Trump’s whirling-dervish performance. Yes, I’m shocked, confused, sometimes indignant about his erratic policy statements. But there’s a deeper feeling that others may share: I’m tired of Trump’s antics. They take up too much emotional space. Every day, there’s a new narcissistic boast, a new lie to correct, a new violation of what people used to call presidential ‘decorum.’
“Trump … craves the chance to command the public spotlight. He has two main foils in his daily extravaganza: the news media (‘Fake News!’) and liberal Democrats (especially ones of color), whom he baits every chance he gets. It’s a stand-up comedy of insults, more than a presidency.
“But every performer knows the cruel truth: The public eventually gets bored with even the most novel act. It takes ever-greater energy to produce the same shock value. A veteran such as Trump surely understands the Hollywood reality that today’s star becomes tomorrow’s has-been. … That’s not a political judgment; it’s just showbiz.”
(Ignatius, David; “People Have Trump Fatigue. How Will It Affect 2020?”; The Washington Post; 8/27/2019.)
Three Legs of the Trump Stool
See above for enough incompetence to make you want to turn your red MAGA hat into a tan suit.
But let’s have one more from this week, just because.
“I have second thoughts about everything.”
(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Q&A with reporters; G7 summit, Biarritz, France; 8/25/2019.) (responding when asked if he had “any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?”)
“[His] answer has been greatly misinterpreted. The president responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”
(Grisham, Stephanie, White House press secretary; statement released after president’s Q&A with reporters; 8/25/2019.)
“[The president] spoke to us. He didn’t exactly hear the question.”
(Kudlow, Larry, White House National Economic Council director; CNN’s State of the Union; 8/25/2019.) (the president was asked the “second thoughts” question three times)
“He has no second thoughts, no second thoughts. … There were a lot of people yelling. I think it was somewhat … hard to hear.”
(Mnuchin, Steven, Treasury secretary; Q&A with reporters; Biarritz, France; 8/25/2019.) (responding that the president was NOT considering additional tariffs)
“I think we’re not cleaning up anything.”
(Ibid.; Mnuchin; 8/25/2019.) (responding to a reporter’s speculation that Grisham, Kudlow, and Mnuchin were there to “clean up” the president’s “second thoughts” comments)
Now, any normal president might have said “I have second thoughts about everything” in response to a routine question from a reporter. But this series of “clean up” statements indicates just how fearful his own aides are of Donald’s incompetence. An unscripted comment from Trump could tank the markets or start a war.
Don’t forget the other two legs of my Big 3 Trump stool: corruption and amorality.
“I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter post; 5/30/2019.)
Oops. He said the quiet part loud.
A simple internet search on “Trump corruption” would keep you scrolling for days, even if focusing only on legitimately researched sources. There will be treatises written on the subject after he’s gone.
But here’s just one example from this week: President Trump has assured his aides of pardons for any illegalities they might commit in their zeal to get his border wall built, because some progress, any progress, is needed for his 2020 reelection effort. To be clear, a president encouraging or authorizing subordinates to break the law is a crime and an impeachable offense.
For the amorality leg, try this recent development on for size:
“The Trump administration has eliminated a protection that lets immigrants remain in the country and avoid deportation while they or their relatives receive life-saving medical treatments [only available in the U.S.] or endure other hardships, immigration officials said in letters issued to families this month. …
“Mariela Sanchez, a native of Honduras who recently applied for the special exemption, said a denial would amount to a death sentence for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. … [S]he lost a daughter to the same disease years ago after doctors in her home country failed to diagnose it. The disease, which is hereditary, affects the lungs and digestive system and has no cure. ‘He would be dead,’ if the family had remained in Honduras, she said of her son. ‘I have panic attacks over this every day.’
“In Boston alone, the decision could affect about 20 families with children fighting cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, and other serious conditions, said Anthony Marino, head of immigration legal services. … ‘Can anyone imagine the government ordering you to disconnect your child from life-saving care — to pull them from a hospital bed — knowing that it will cost them their lives?’ Marino said.”
(Marcelo, Philip; “Administration Ends Protection for Migrant Medical Care”; AP; 8/26/2019.)
Even Satin is saying, “Whoa, you orange devil. Pace yourself.”
MAGA Christians can never again argue that character matters in a president. The rest of us still can and will argue that. But “Make America Great Again” Christians have lost that right forever. ■