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Opinion: A year of Donald Trump in charge

Recently, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch stood on the White House lawn, opining that Donald Trump’s presidency could be “the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.”

I beg to differ.

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan) and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all of these nefarious qualities.

America’s great good fortune was to begin with the opposite: a superb moral leader. By June of 1775, when Congress appointed George Washington to command the nation’s army, he had already “become a moral rallying post,” as biographer Douglas Southall Freeman described him, “the embodiment of the purpose, the patience and the determination necessary for the triumph of the revolutionary cause.”

Washington won the war and then led the fledgling nation “by directness, by deference, and by manifest dedication to duty.”

Some 240 years later, in the presidential campaign of 2016, candidate Trump was accused of failing to pay his income taxes. His response was “that makes me smart” — thereby signaling to millions of Americans that paying taxes in full is not an obligation of citizenship.

Trump also boasted about giving money to politicians so they would do whatever he wanted. “When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.” In other words, it’s perfectly OK for business leaders to pay off politicians, regardless of the effect on our democracy.

Trump sent another message by refusing to release his tax returns during the campaign or even after he took office, or to put his businesses into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest, and by his overt willingness to make money off his presidency by having foreign diplomats stay at his Washington hotel, and by promoting his various golf clubs.

These were not just ethical lapses. They directly undermined the common good by reducing the public’s trust in the office of the president. As the New York Times editorial board put it in June 2017, “for Mr. Trump and his circle, what matters is not what’s right but what you can get away with. In his White House, if you’re avoiding the appearance of impropriety, you’re not pushing the boundaries hard enough.”

A president’s most fundamental legal and moral responsibility is to uphold and protect our system of government. Trump has degraded that system.

When as a presidential nominee Trump said that a particular federal judge shouldn’t be hearing a case against him because the judge’s parents were Mexican, Trump did more than insult a member of the judiciary. He attacked the impartiality of America’s legal system.

When Trump threatened to “loosen” federal libel laws so he could sue news organizations that were critical of him, and later threatened to revoke the licenses of networks critical of him, he wasn’t just bullying the media. He was threatening the freedom and integrity of the press.

When, as president, he equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., by blaming “both sides” for the violence, he wasn’t being neutral. He was condoning white supremacists, thereby undermining the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights.

When he pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., for a criminal contempt conviction, he wasn’t just signaling that it’s OK for the police to engage in violations of civil rights. He was also subverting the rule of law by impairing the judiciary’s power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.

When he criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, he wasn’t just asking that they demonstrate their patriotism. He was disrespecting their — and, indirectly, everyone’s — freedom of speech.

When he berated the intelligence agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he wasn’t just questioning their competence. He was suggesting they were engaged in a giant conspiracy to remove him from office — potentially inviting his most ardent supporters to engage in a new civil war.

America has had its share of good and bad presidents, but Donald Trump falls far below anything this nation has ever before experienced. In less than a year, he has degraded the core institutions and values of our democracy.

We have never before had a president whose character was so contrary to the ideals of the republic. That Sen. Orrin Hatch and other Republicans don’t seem to recognize this is itself frightening.

— Robert Reich, a former U.S. secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a columnist with Tribune Content Agency LLC.

Comments

Gary Stussie

“Outrage porn": rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media find it much easier (and more profitable) to find something mildly offensive, broadcast it to a wide audience, generate outrage, and then broadcast that outrage back across the population in a way that outrages yet another part of the population. This triggers a kind of echo of bulls**t pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems. It's no wonder we're more politically polarized than ever before.”
― Mark Manson,

LJW does not seem to understand that some of their readers object to being bombarded with liberal propaganda every single day. You have two major opinion pieces every day and a political cartoon ... and a decidedly left leaning USAToday insert..

Here is a novel idea. How about one conservative and one liberal opinion piece each day?

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Greg Cooper

How about, Gary, you take the rational course and just don't read the comments? That way, you can cling bitterly to your unfounded opinions and not have to worry constantly that a real fact might intrude into your world view, just as the minority of voters who elected Chump do day in and day out. And, don't worry that your ideology will be ignored, because there are apparently millions of you out there in demagogue land who do the same thing by listening only to those things that fit their preconceived notions of how awful things are for them. I know it makes no difference to you, Gary, but I feel sorry for you and your cronies. I really do.

5 months, 2 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

"A year of Donald Trump in charge", and he has already done more for the economy than the other guy Obama did in eight.

Reich is a classic example of people under influence of the Liberal gene .

They are always bitterly angry at others that do not behave, speak and follow their ideology as they do.

Run along to your safe-space Robby. You are emotionally overheating.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve Jacob

If I can admit Trump has done good things for the economy, why can't people admit Obama left him an economy in pretty good shape. How much the has the unemployment rate drop from 2011 until election day? The Dow Jones was at around 6500 in March 2009, it was about triple on election day 2016. Oh that's right he has a "D" next to his name.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

The economy was in pretty good shape when Obama left.

Obama is not a business man.

Trump is.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Greg Cooper

So what? Obama's watch was when the economy began its recovery from the previous administration's. Guess one could make a lot of points from that, but the truth is that the economic recovery and strengthening were not in whole any president's doing but the result of a pretty damned healthy nation and some timely action by the Fed and the treasury department in heading off complete disaster. Business men or not, Obama and his economic advisors did a whale of a job in fixing what could have been even worse than it was.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Larry Sturm

The stock market has been going wild when it crashes are you going to blame Obama for that to.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve Jacob

The end of the boom in 2000 was when "stupid money" came in. Bitcoin is "stupid money".

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Brock Masters

It is this type of statement that undermines the author’s credibility “When, as president, he equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., by blaming “both sides” for the violence, he wasn’t being neutral. He was condoning white supremacists, thereby undermining the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights.”

Trump rightfully attributed the violence to both sides and rightfully pointed out that there were good people on both sides as not all the protesters were nazis and KKK supporters.

Trump has many faults so it amazes me when people lie to trash him. Even with his faults he is doing great things and he isn’t HILLARY.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve King

Conservative viewpoints: Letting Coal Companies dump their Wastes into our Rivers and Streams Makes America Great Again (MAGA). Tax Cuts for the Rich MAGA. Gutting the EPA. MAGA. SS is an Entitlement, MAGA. Putting Goldman Sachs in the Treasury. MAGA.

"I only hire the best people". 4 Arrests, 2 Plead guilty. (Tom Price) MAGA!

"I won't have time to Golf." Holds record for most Golf Outings. MAGA!

Holds record for lowest approval level. Ever. MAGA!

MAGA...Morons Are Governing America.

Sad.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bob Smith

Under the regime of the dog-eating tyrant, the EPA caused the Gold River disaster in 2015, Nobody went to jail. Nobody got fired. A pack of drunken lemurs could have done better.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Gary Stussie

Donald Trump:
1) He got conservative judge Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.
2) The stock market is at an all-time high.
3) Consumer confidence is at an all-time high.
4) He created more than a million jobs by undoing Obama’s regulations.
5) Mortgage applications for new homes is at a 7 year high.
6) Unemployment rate is at a 16 year low.
) Signed the promoting women in entrepreneurship act.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve King

Yeah, I saw Obama with a shovel there. One deal. How about the Deep Water Horizon accident due to a bad close off valve? Trump just ended the requirement close off valves no longer need third party inspections. Another accident waiting to happen? Sad.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

Then there is your standard bearer to global environmental safety you voted for.

*ABC News has touched on one of the most controversial aspects of Al Gore and his family background – his personal and family ties to Occidental Petroleum. To put it bluntly, Occidental made the Gore family rich, and the vice president continues to benefit financially from his ties to the company*.

*Occidental was headed by the late Armand Hammer, a Soviet agent and money launderer for the Communist Party. But ABC News didn?t mention that. Instead, it focused on Occidental?s current oil operations in Colombia, and the failure of Gore to speak out in favor of an Indian tribe down there which feels threatened by that development. The ABC News story, reported by Terry Moran, aired the same day that an ad appeared in the Los Angeles Times referring to Gore as the “Petroleum Politician*.”

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Gary Stussie

Steve - As we reflect on President Trump’s first year, let this be a reminder that the Democrats who claim to care about us are actually working against us. They push fraudulent narratives to hide President Trump’s real action for the American people. They’ve pledged a reckless resistance, whereas President Trump pledges results. Despite their obstruction, the president continues to lead – so here’s to one year down, and many more to go.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve King

Democratic Obstruction? What are you smoking? Did you forget Mitch McConnell on day one said he was going to make him a one-term president? And 8 years of GOP obstruction? Can you say Supreme Court nominee obstruction?

Trump's first year record:
1. Most days spent on vacation.
2. Most days playing golf.
3. Least amount of bills signed.
4. Lowest approval rating.
5. Most provable lies. (Airline safety?)
6. Most cabinet firings/resignations.
7. Most CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS.

Whoa what a record. Now get ready to have your SS (entitlement) cut. You should (will be...Muller) shown the truth.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Bob Summers

Mitch is a congenital Liberal Steve.

You're beating a dead horse with the Republican Democrat colloquial manage .

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Gary Stussie

"Democrats would have voted for a tax bill ..." ya, right!

3 Jan 18 - Add Southwest Airlines to the list. Giving 55,000 employees $1,000 bonuses and donating $5M to charity.

Obstructionism is not going to work for the DEMs! Maybe another historic butt kicking in the mid-terms will have them revisit the concept of compromise!

MAGA!

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Steve King

Latest President Trump Tweet. "My Button Is Bigger Than Your Button..."

Total insanity.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Gary Stussie

President Obama told President Trump that his biggest challenge would be North Korea ... it only took Obama 8 years to understand that a foreign policy strategy based upon apology, holding hands and singing Kumbaya was not working.

The President is speaking from strength ... the only thing NK understands. If NK remains unchecked, nuclear weapons will be its greatest cash crop in the future.

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Dennis Domer

Good Morning, Bobby,

I see that you were up again early this morning and at it. I am always cheered by your existence.

In preparation for the Bastille Day debate, I am developing what I call The Little Bobby Summers Dictionary of Insults and Praises which I want to publish before the debate. To that end, I think it is only fair to let you contribute to the definitions of words and phrases that you use.

I don't have any words yet that begin with A but I'm sure over the next few months some will come up.

Can you help me with these words by giving me their definitions?

liberal logic
dog-eating tyrant
congenital liberal
drunken lemurs
liberal gene

Just to move the dictionary along, from time to time please send me words and phrases in your vocabulary that I should include. We need to make the dictionary as broad and deep as possible so that our audience will know what you are talking about. That's the least we can do.

Otherwise, it's a fine day to get out and take a walk in the woods. It would do you a lot of good. I am about to do the same.

Kisses,
Denny

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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