Now that most otherwise-reasonable Republicans have surrendered to Donald Trump’s takeover of their party, we began to see last week what sort of president he would be, and it was terrifying.
Set aside for a minute his personal boorishness and demonstrated ignorance about the real world of governance and diplomacy; he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and shows no interest in finding out.
Instead, focus on what he said and did and remember that ascending to the office of president will not fundamentally change a person who cannot recognize his own human frailties, admit to any error in judgment or apologize for any assault on other people’s feelings or reputations.
▪ EgyptAir Flight 804. Trump apparently was hardly out of bed Thursday when he heard of the disaster and instantly judged it terrorism in a 5:27 a.m. Twitter post. “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris....” His reckless rush to public judgment outdid even CNN in impetuousness. Of course he had at least a 50-50 chance of being right, which obviously mattered more to him than being responsible. Among others, former defense secretary and CIA director Robert Gates was critical of Trump’s leap, saying, “It’s always better to wait until you actually know what the facts are before you open up,” a concept clearly beyond Trump’s grasp. A quick Twitter trigger in the hands of a president?
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▪ A chat with Kim Jong Un. Trump told Reuters that he would sit down to negotiate directly with the North Korean dictator. As the self-proclaimed world’s greatest negotiator and dealmaker, Trump would be willing to set aside three decades of U.S. diplomatic strategy and legitimize and maximize that thuggish regime’s status as a nuclear power when the entire West’s aim has been to minimize it. Candidate Barack Obama naively said much the same thing eight years ago but, once in the White House, came to understand why face-to-face with Kim was not a useful or hopeful path.
▪ New justices. Trump named 11 people – eight white men and three white women – he said he would consider for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Some notable Republicans had resisted Trump, concerned that he might not fill several looming vacancies with judges of sufficiently conservative bias. Releasing the list while still only a candidate apparently quelled most of those fears, but it made a mockery of the traditional selection process because of its timing and because none of the potential nominees has been vetted by anyone, including Trump, who is loudly proud of making important hires by eyeball and instinct rather than by process.
▪ The “special relationship” between U.S. and Britain. Trump’s week began when the man who can let no critic go unpunished and no criticism go unchallenged declared of British Prime Minister David Cameron: “It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship.” Cameron had called Trump’s suggestion of a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “divisive, stupid and wrong.” Trump also had words for Sadiq Khan, the new and Muslim mayor of London, who called Trump’s proposal “ignorant.” Trump said, “Tell him I will remember those statements,” then, channeling his 13-year-old side, challenged Khan to an IQ contest. Khan’s cool response: “Ignorance is not the same thing as lack of intelligence.”
Trump as the leader of the free world? Really?
Davis Merritt, a Wichita journalist and author, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.