In his own words (and world)

In his own words (and world) Featured

Second of 3 parts

IT was auspicious when Trump assumed office in January 2017. The economy was in good shape, tracking 2.3 percent GDP growth for his first year. Unemployment was at a 50-year low adding 14.8 million jobs over 74 months — the longest growth since 2010 and 160 million Americans were working. He decided he was going to be different from past presidents — particularly the Democrat Obama. And bring back America to Americans, one that resonated, attracting some mainstream GOP to his MAGA. His agenda was clearly the conservative path Republicans were enamored with; travel bans on refugees were issued although unconstitutional, causing the firing of AG Sally Yates who refused to defend the bans; his missile strike on Syria, telegraphing to the world, he had balls, followed up with dropping the non-nuclear "mother of all bombs" (MOAB) on IS targets in Afghanistan. These all occurred within four months in office. The Donald was riding high! And this euphoria extended beyond 2018 toward the end of 2019.

Trump's conservative victories

The Conservative GOPs hailed the Donald's policy initiatives as their major triumphs on the domestic and international arena. The corporate tax cuts he promised as a candidate warmed the cockles of the heart of the rich, and restrictions on immigration, especially those coming from Mexico ("...I will build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it!"). He castrated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), eliminating major environmental protocols; the coal ash rule regulating disposal of toxic coal waste, lifted oil/natural gas bans, among others. The Obama environmental agenda prioritizing reduction of carbon emissions though the use of renewable energy conserving the environment for future generations were rescinded. "Climate change is a hoax ... global warming was created by and for the Chinese..." And he promptly withdrew from the Paris climate accords. And the environment be damned!

Covid-19

Then the pandemic struck. The world was distressed, and its most prosperous economy presided over by Trump was severely tested. The Donald began to reveal his darker side, labeling the coronavirus as the "Chinese virus, because it comes from China" ("I Alone Can Fix It" by Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Penguin Press, 2021). This was feeding into a xenophobia that would have been best left dormant but now awakened unnerving both sides: on one hand, Chinese people's general misperception that America hates everything about them and communism; and on the other, the fringe MAGA-BOD's narrative that indeed this was a Chinese conspiracy.

Covid-9 wreaked havoc on America, but the president may have been in a denial exacerbating the pandemic's already lethal swath across the land. Monday morning quarterbacking pinpointed at Trump's slow appreciation of the threat early on with his "response ... shaped by political calculation, not science. In the battle between politics and science, politics carried the day." (Leonnig and Rucker)

Lies for facts

This was evidenced by that iconic press conference in April 2020 when Trump, who never had the patience for important technical briefings by aides or worse let his ignorance bully its way through, latched on to incomplete findings on the effects of light and humidity on how the virus spreads. The virus' behavior was much more complicated than simply reacting to sunlight and that bleach would kill the virus in five minutes. Trump was wont to hide the extensive gaps in his knowledge by making up his own facts. Taking this out of context, he took control of the press conference embarrassing his experts to no end and proceeded with a bizarre rambling monologue.

"So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous ... ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it ...supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way ... It sounds interesting. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside..." (Leonnig and Rucker)

On national TV, that soliloquy came to symbolize Trump's chaotic handling of the pandemic, the inability to comprehend the magnitude of his responsibility and a puerile grasp of the majesty of the presidency. Covid-19 eventually killed a million Americans. Toward the end of his term, the economy was in a rapid decline, unemployment surged, and his presidency deepened America's political divide.

Racial undertones and violence

Racial violence, long latent, started to awaken dangerously with the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville earlier in his presidency, with the marchers composed of the alt-right, neo-fascist, neo-Nazi's, antisemites, anti-Islamic and far-right militias, etc. opposed by a smaller group of counter protesters. Trump established his racial proclivities early on signaling where his sympathy lay, although condemning this "... display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides ... [with] very fine people on both sides," implying moral equivalence between the white supremacist and the counter-protesters.

Race and gender issues began to dominate the political conversation in a deeply divided America gaining new attention amid the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. The former burst into universal awareness highlighting discrimination, racial inequality, and the plight of the black people. Vivid images assaulted American consciousness gaining traction through social media with racially motivated violence and police brutality cases involving the killings of Black Americans. These grab national and international headlines culminating in the murder of George Floyd by white Minneapolis officers captured on TV/video. By the last year of Trump's watch, 67 percent of adult Americans had expressed support for the movement declining significantly in later months. But by this time, Trumps rating was on free fall.

Beginning of the downfall

Trump's replacement of the "steady state" advisers — that loose collection of officials like Tillerson and Mathis who were the "adults in the room" trying desperately to maintain the type of order and restraint necessary to run the country smoothly — created a vacuum, leaving him with a coterie of sycophants feeding on each other's egos; intimidated by his personality, but sharing common delusions where facts are alien to the truth. Trump's ratings that never crossed 50 percent approval in his four years hovered on the lower third, leaving him with the support of his MAGA-BOD. His impeachment although acquitted in February 2020, his penultimate year as president may have augured his eclipse.

Writing on the wall

In the middle of the presidential campaign, the president, according to the authors of "I Alone Can Fix It," may have become delusional, his paranoia undermining his political fortunes. This dysfunctional president, preempting a democratic process, tweeted that this coming 2020 November presidential election would be the "most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history. And Joe Biden was "the worst candidate in history." If Biden beat Trump, it could only mean one thing: the election had been rigged. And on election day, his alter-ego, "Rudy Giuliani, who had been drinking heavily all evening, told him to ignore the official tallies and simply declare himself the winner." (Leonnig and Rucker)

Trump declared victory before all the votes had been counted. His efforts to retain the presidency led to a final showdown on Jan. 6, 2021.

 

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