+What a frenzy the Trump years have been. (Yes, I know it's been less than a year, but it seems like years with all he's already packed into his months in office.) It runs the entire range, from strange to deranged. The distractions blur. On any given week, we bounce from indictments in the special counsel's Russia election-theft investigation that hit pretty close to home -- "home" being the White House -- to a terror attack in New York City, to POTUS fleeing the country to inflict whatever damage or embarrassment he can in Asia.
No one in his right mind believes that Donald Trump or his henchmen and henchwomen engineered the deadly New York ISIS outrage as a way to deflect attention from the pile of self-inflicted wounds, but the Trumpsters do enough of that on their own.
Even retired Gen. John Kelly, who was brought in to rescue the over-their-heads administration from drowning in embarrassment, has demonstrated that his outlook also is noxiously embarrassing. He's Donald Trump with the military bearing that Trump definitely does not have.
He certainly demonstrated that he has Trump's racist understanding of history. How else can we describe his take on the Civil War, that it was caused by the "lack of an ability to compromise"? Compromise what, Gen. Kelly? Slavery? That stain on America that still lingers in the form of widespread bigotry today? Kelly's take on Robert E. Lee is similarly foul -- that Lee was honorably fighting for his state because the states' rights cause was the real reason the South wanted to secede from the Union. His view reflects not only his boss's but also that of generations of bigots who have twisted the Confederacy into a "just cause" as opposed to the treason it was. The states' right that was being defended was the right to enslave human beings of color. The "compromise" that Kelly seems to idealize would have been an agreement to just enslave some of those human beings. That displays the thinking of a racist. If the special counsel were investigating that evil, the chief of staff would be a target.
As bizarre as that is, the current "compromise" being sought is the tax plan that Donald Trump and the Republicans are trying to jam down our throats. No matter how they gussy it up, it will allow the rich to share less of their wealth with society. They insist on calling it "reform," but if that's how they view it, they should be sent to reform school. It's really a half-baked way to allow their wealthy patrons to share less of their pie.
As for the terror attack in New York, Trump reacted in his usual ways: finger-pointing, taking shots at immigration and the legal system, and suggesting that the alleged perpetrator should be sent to the Guantanamo Bay military prison, remedies he gleefully acknowledged would not be "politically correct." How about constitutionally correct, Mr. President?
Among the targets of his finger-pointing is an immigration policy that had been sponsored decades ago by now-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who pointed right back. They're both from NYC, so one can only imagine which digit they were using. As for Schumer, he can always be counted on to utter the pithy sound bite, particularly when he's pithed off, and he didn't disappoint. Taking aim at the president's Twitter habits during his inevitable on-camera event, Schumer (or his writers) came up with this gem: The president should "stop tweeting and start leading."
Maybe what the president should do is remember that his authoritarian powers are limited, that he's only POTUS, not AUTOCRATUS, even though he and the people he's installed obviously savor the politics of destruction. They've created a nation that many fear is headed to another civil war.
(c) 2017 Bob Franken
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