Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trump and the USA in Transition


The Trump administration seems to have gotten off to a reasonably good start. It looks like all of Trump’s nominees for major Cabinet posts will be approved by the Senate despite nit-picking by the Democrats. It looks like Trump has put together a first class team of qualified, experienced people. Even long-time critics of Trump like the editors of the Wall Street Journal have had to admit that Trump has been surprisingly level headed in choosing his team.

The Democrats who oppose Senator Jeff Sessions, the nominee for Attorney General, have had to resort to calling this experienced jurist a “racist,” even though his record shows him to be just the opposite. If you want to talk about racism, does anyone believe that Geoffrey Holder or Loretta Lynch would have been nominated for Attorney General by Barack Obama if they had not been black.

Democrats also oppose Rex Tillerson’s nomination for Secretary of State because of his alleged ties with Russia while he served as CEO of energy giant Exxon. Can anyone seriously believe that the wealthy Tillerson, who could have stayed at Exxon forever, has anything to gain by being in bed with Vladimir Putin? Also, who ever objected to Barack Obama’s nomination of the relatively inexperienced Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State back in 2008?

So far the criticism of Trump has had nothing to do with what he has actually done since Election day. Opponents just don’t like the man and have to focus on his personality and his tweets and ignore the seriousness with which he has seemingly thrown himself into the difficult job of President. So what objections have been raised?

During the election campaign Trump’s frequent complaint that the coming election was “rigged led a debate moderator to ask him if he would support the outcome of the election.  Trump declined to answer the question and said that he would keep us in suspense. No matter what one thinks of his answer, no one can deny the shock and dismay that immediately erupted on the part of his opponents, both politicians and pundits. How could he say such a thing? How could he even decline to say whether he would accept the results of a Presidential election?

Now that he has won the election, the refusal of his opponents to accept the result represents not only the height of hypocrisy, but also a dangerous incitement to violence. In this country we have always enjoyed the tradition of a loyal opposition. We are allowed to dislike and oppose the measures and policies of our elected leaders. We are even allowed to dislike them personally. But when we call them illegitimate or claim that they won their election by nefarious or illegal means, we invite fanatical loonies on both extremes of the political spectrum to take the law into their hands.

Claims that Trump is illegitimate are really based on personal antipathy to him as well as to the cause he has come to represent. It is nonsense to say that he is illegitimate because he did not win the popular vote. Both he and Hillary Clinton played by the rules, and both of them fought to win a majority in the Electoral College. No one complained about the Electoral College when it seemed like Clinton was sure to win.

It is equally nonsensical to claim the Russian hackers who exposed nasty emails in the mailbox of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta influenced the outcome of the election. The revelation of an old videotape showing Trump engaging in “locker room” talk, had far greater impact. Nevertheless, in the campaign frenzy leading up to the election, I never met a single person whose mind was not made up. I never saw such passion on either side. 
It is especially dangerous when high-ranking politicians like Rep. John Lewis of Georgia call the President-elect illegitimate. It may just be hyperbole on his part but words have consequences. Didn’t President Obama and his staff claim that the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi was caused by an inflammatory video on the Internet?

Political commentators are also treading on dangerous ground when they attack the newly elected President on purely personal grounds. They don’t like the new President period. We know that. But now it is time for them to criticize or assess his actual performance.

We have become accustomed to the ravings of the left-wing media but even a conservative commentator like Bret Stephens of the Wall St. Journal has become rabid in his dislike of Trump. In his last two weekly columns he has gone over the top in portraying Trump as some kind of evil monster, and totally ignored the fact that this so-called inexperienced buffoon has assembled a really first-rate team of Cabinet advisers. He picked them but they, from Senator Jeff Sessions to Exxon CEO Tillerson, have chosen to work with him.


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