IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1 Dec 2016
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932
Dignity wasn’t present
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – When you see that picture of an obsequious Mitt Romney eating crow with Donald Trump, what’s your takeaway? Who is using whom? Is Romney doing his patriotic duty by making himself available for a Cabinet position? Is Trump toying with his onetime critic, or is the president-elect seriously considering Romney for a top job?
Whatever you conclude, what is certain: Dignity wasn’t present.
Remember how John McCain sucked it up and campaigned with George W. Bush in 2000 after Bush’s minions had savaged McCain in the South Carolina primary, spreading baseless rumors that McCain had a love child, and that he had been a coward in captivity when held as a POW during the Vietnam War.
Words don’t matter, actions matter, and that’s the measure by which Trump should be judged. It’s not hard to imagine him telling Romney that the campaign is performance art, that he was playing P.T. Barnum, giving the voters a good show, and now he was ready to get real and cast someone who looks the part to perhaps become the nation’s chief diplomat.
Then the two of them could share a laugh on how gullible American voters can be when they size up their leaders.
Trump ran as a populist, but his early appointments don’t reflect his campaign rhetoric. Former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank called it, “the biggest bait and switch since Trump University.” Trump’s nominees are mostly billionaires and millionaires, and while that doesn’t keep them from embracing populist economics, nothing in any of their resumes suggests that’s the ideology they’re most comfortable with.
In Trump’s world, words don’t matter. He will say anything to give the audience what it wants to hear. His election night speech was perfect when he promised to be the president for all the people. Days later, he made Steve Bannon his senior counselor in the White House, an appointment that signaled disunity and conflict, the opposite of the One America Trump had invoked.
Meeting with New York Times editors, reporters and columnists, Trump said there were parts of Obamacare he’d like to keep. During the campaign, he promised universal health care that would be better and cheaper than Obamacare. Then he named Georgia Congressman Tom Price to head HHS. An orthopedic surgeon by training, Price has been an outspoken foe of Obamacare, putting in bill after bill to repeal President Obama’s signature legislation.
Which is the real Donald Trump? Will he oppose Price’s demolition derby? Democrats will use whatever tools they have to resist the full dismantling of Obamacare, but if the Senate confirms Price for HHS, he will have the power to singlehandedly undermine Obamacare through regulations he can impose without seeking approval from Congress.
Lastly, Trump’s propensity to tweet whatever’s on his mind shows how little he knows about the government he’s about to lead, but how uncanny his political instincts are. He’s like a shark honing in on its prey.
When he tweeted that anybody who burned an American flag should have their citizenship taken away, or should spend a year in jail, he was parroting what a lot of Americans who voted for him were thinking about the protests in the days after the election. Perhaps like many voters, he didn’t seem to know that flag burning is protected speech, confirmed as constitutional in a 5-4 decision in 1989 that included conservative Justice Scalia in the majority.
Further, no president has the power to take away anyone’s citizenship. If Trump read the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, he would understand. Once a citizen, you’re always a citizen. Trump has a lot to learn, but so do we the people as we adjust to the many things he says, true and untrue, and do our job by calling him out when he’s playing us.
A discussion of Douglas Cohn’s new books, “World War 4,” endorsed by seven flag officers, and “The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency”, may be found at:
https://www.c-span.org/video/?414121-1/presidents-first-year-world-war-4 or by typing “C-SPAN” and “Cohn”
© 2016 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND