Monday, February 27, 2017

Choosing the Right Title for Trump, Truth Be Told

The children’s ditty that only “sticks and stones can break your bones but words or names can never harm you” has been upended or, in Trumpian terms, disrupted, by the petulant responses The Donald has to any negative commentary on his physique or reign of terror.

Which leads me to the statement, I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t call him president. Or 45, as some scribes have used when pointing out his rank in presidential succession. Nor is he entitled to be called commander-in-chief. He has failed to earn the respect that traditionally accrues to the occupant of the White House.

Rather, aside from using his name, Donald Trump, or just plain Trump, or Trumpster, or the aforementioned The Donald, to the best of my abilities I am no longer going to confer on him the legitimacy of calling him president. Instead, I will refer to him by any number of sobriquets that through words and deeds he has earned the right to be called, including:


Truth Squad: It is not enough for the media to point out, after the fact, the fabricator-in-chief’s misrepresentations. Corrections must be done in real time as Peter Alexander of NBC News did during the 77 minute press tirade a little more than a week ago when the dissembler-in-chief falsely stated his Electoral College victory was the biggest since Ronald Reagan.

So the question is, will Democrats arraigned before the huckster-in-chief during a joint session of Congress Tuesday night sit idly as he misleads the American public or will they shout out “Not true” when the Trumpster tramples on the truth?

You may recall Republican Congressman Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” when President Barack Obama addressed Congress on his then-proposed health care plan. Wilson later apologized for the breach of decorum and was widely criticized by members of both parties.

Democrats especially said they never treated George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan with such disrespect. But these are extraordinary times. We have a president who not only flirts with untruths but does so repeatedly even after the truth has been pointed out. We have a president who demeans other elected officials, war heroes, allies, immigrants, other nations and their citizens,  indeed anyone who does not see the world through his gold-tinted glasses. He has diminished the office of the presidency and the reputation of the United States. Perhaps a taste of how the British prime minister must stand before the House of Commons each week for 30 minutes and respond to the vocal challenges of the opposition party would bring some humility and context to the cyberbully-in-chief. 

Absent that quaint parliamentary custom the American alternative of an after-presidential-address-address is insufficient to convey and correct the damage to the truth a big con man like Trump can foist on a naive and uninformed public.

Will they do it? Will Democratic senators and representatives rise to the status of the vocal opposition even at the risk of being censured by their respective houses of Congress?

Probably not. Pity. They would have forgotten how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell muzzled Senator Elizabeth Warren a few weeks ago as she read a letter by civil rights icon Coretta Scott King. They would have forgotten how McConnell would not allow the Senate to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. They would have forgotten how House Republicans over and over again investigated Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi tragedy and her email server, yet have shown no inclination to probe Putin-puppet-in chief’s ties to Russia, his conflicts of interest and Russian interference with our elections. They have forgotten how the Tea Party disrupted their town hall meetings six and seven years ago but now that the GOP is in the majority Republicans are avoiding standing before their constituents at town hall meetings.

The time for staid, polite adherence to the norm is long past. Politics is a blood sport; it is time for Democrats to inflict some pain, even if it means interrupting a speech to set the record straight. The truth demands it.

Republicans at the Barricades? Given the minority status of Democrats in Congress, at least for the next two years, conventional wisdom is that any hope to limit the excesses of the Trump administration rests on the precarious shoulders and patriotism of Republican members of the House and Senate.

Early indications are we are witnessing a hunchbacked GOP that is more than willing to ditch its patriotic duty in exchange for electoral dominance.

There are exceptions, at least in verbal stances, though the real test in voting one’s conscience has been lacking. Only Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska broke ranks and rejected Betsy DeVos as secretary of education despite her obvious lack of qualifications for the position. 

 DeVos, in turn, argued against Attorney General Jeff Sessions who wanted to rescind the Obama rule allowing transgender students to use the school bathroom of their choice. But when confronted with the reneger-in-chief’s backing of Sessions despite his campaign pledge to support the LGBTQ community, DeVos knuckled under rather than take the admirable path and resign. So much for standing up for principle.

Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina have been caustic in their evaluation of Trump actions. But they have yet to cast decisive votes against him. 

The bottom line is the public should not count on Republicans to counter any Trump initiative no matter how shameful it is, how obvious a conflict of interest it may be or how any nominee might lack the experience or credentials to effectively manage the people’s interests. 

Can We Talk? Some people criticize Trump for his inarticulate, incomprehensible English, as if that should automatically disqualify him from office. 

Yes, all my educated friends, listening to Trump is an assault on our ears and brains. But let’s not forget we live in a bubble of intelligence. I’ve met many real estate developers during my publishing career. Some of the most successful could barely string a proper sentence together. 

And let’s also not forget that George W. Bush was equally challenged compared to Bill Clinton’s verbal facility, yet he sat in the Oval Office for eight years. So buckle up. The ride will be bumpy.