LETTER TO THE EDITOR: President Trump disgraces his office

Two years ago, in August 2016, I wrote in this newspaper that Donald J. Trump, in my opinion, was a both a “pathological liar,” and a “despicable human being.” Since he was elected president (by the stupidity of the Electoral College system) and has now held that office for 18 months, I can now say that I do not regret writing those words: indeed, I may have understated my case.

Seventy-five years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest president of the 20th century, stated that the office of the presidency was primarily “a place of moral leadership.” Donald J. Trump has now, sadly, turned the office held by FDR, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln into a place of immoral leadership, and the damage he is doing to our country and our system of government is incalculable — and frightening.

We have now descended from our first president, a man of unimpeachable integrity, about whom the “he cannot tell a lie” story did not seem ridiculously implausible, to a president who, quite literally, cannot tell the truth. President Trump lies all the time, about virtually any and all issues or topics, so much so that you cannot really believe anything that he says.

What he says one day — about guns or immigration, to give just two examples — will often be totally contradicted a day or two later. This is one reason that he has been so inept at working with Congress: they truly cannot trust him to follow through on his pledges or promises, and have learned that he can change his position overnight.

Fact-checkers are unable to keep up with his lies and deceptions, and the American public has never seen anything like it. Tt is beyond anything in our previous experience, including Richard Nixon. The president even seems to take a perverse pleasure in repeating demonstrably false statements over and over, apparently believing that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it — and sadly, he may be right.

His most recent, and perhaps most appalling, lie or delusion is that the rest of the world is “laughing at us” because of what he sees as our weak immigration policies. Nothing could be more wrong or false. From virtually the beginning of our country, and certainly for the past 150 years, the one thing that the rest of the world has admired most about our country is that we have held out the hand of welcome to strangers from different lands.

For many people around the world, the first image that comes to their minds when they hear the words “United States of America” is the Statue of Liberty, which is a world icon as much as a national one. Now, thanks to Donald Trump, the rest of the world is more likely to see that statue as a monument to American hypocrisy, and our stature in the world is never going to be the same.

The sad fact is that, unlike Mr. Trump’s paranoid delusions, the rest of the world is not laughing at us; they are more likely crying or screaming in anger.

Instead of looking to the United States for inspiration as the country that invented human rights and, even as we failed, was constantly aspiring to live up to our ideals, they now see a country led by a president who has spoken in favor of torture; police brutality; and declared that some Nazis, at least, were “very fine people”; spoken casually of other human beings as “snakes”, “animals,” or “vermin”; declared the press to be the “greatest enemy of the American people” and has never spoken of the importance of a free press to any notion of liberty”; referred to NFL players peacefully protesting injustice as SOBs; referred to certain countries composed of black or brown citizens as “s…hole countries”; expressed virulent hostility to the Moslem religion; insulted and demeaned leaders of our best friends and allies, such as Justin Trudeau of Canada, while heaping praise and admiration on Kim Jong Un, Rodrigo Duterte of the Phillippines and, most notably Vladimir Putin of Russia, who is apparently his idol.

Now, thanks to him, the United States is now a country that engages in state-sponsored kidnapping and unconscionable mental cruelty to even babies. That is the United States of Trump.

Since he has been president, he has one major accomplishment: the signing of a tax cut bill that, no matter how you slice it, gave him, his family, and other members of the 1 percent of our wealthiest citizens huge tax benefits, even though he told the American people in his campaign that his tax plans would not benefit him at all. Another lie.

His greatest regret as president apparently is that he was unable to pass a bill to strip millions of Americans of their health care coverage; but he hasn’t given up on that.

We must face up to the nightmare that we now have a president who is clearly a racist and religious bigot, but even more than that: a person who possesses no compassion or no empathy toward any other human being. Giving such a man real power is dangerous, and we are now reaping the whirlwind.

One of the great founders of our country, Alexander Hamilton, put it best in 1792:

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion … When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits — despotic in his ordinary demeanor — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the general government and bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day — it may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

Daniel Pritchett

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