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President Trump's First Year Gerry O'Shea


President Trump's First Year          Gerry O'Shea

In Michael Wolff's  recent acclaimed book "Fire and Fury" the author asserts that a sense of chaos  and confusion pervades the Trump White House. He writes that mayhem and  disorganization prevail in the Oval Office where the leader of the western world makes the big and important decisions.

Wolff compares the President's rants and rambling tweets to the sophomoric utterances of a needy teenager. Important decisions are made based on the advice of the last person who has his ear, and he may well change his mind peremptorily on any issue.

President Trump also has a major problem with credibility. The Washington Post identified over two thousand times that the president told untruths since assuming office. So, statements or promises from the White House are viewed skeptically, even by members of his own party. Shakespeare's words in "Macbeth" convey this sense of confusion and disarray: "Nothing is but what is not."

Mr. Trump's response to his negative news coverage  points a finger of blame at all the major media outlets - except Fox News - accusing them of "fake news," a cynical expression, which has come into vogue in the Trump era, meaning any media report that portrays him in a poor light.

 The president used the epithet "enemy of the people" to characterize the free press in America. Surely some of his advisers must have cautioned him that these toxic words are the jargon used by populist dictators and tyrants, of the right and left, all over the world, during the last hundred years.

The Mueller investigation into ties between Putin's Russia and the Republican campaign during the presidential election is now delving into  the financial arrangements between the Trump organization and various Russian banks. Money laundering is being frequently mentioned. Many believe that Mr. Mueller's final report will lead to impeachment proceedings. Mr. Trump's  frequent and adamant denials about any collusion with Russia invite comparison with  Queen Gertrude in "Hamlet:" "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."

In abandoning the Paris Accord, an international agreement designed to protect the environment, the Trump Administration revealed its dismissal of global warming as a serious threat to humanity. They have also approved drilling on federal lands  by oil, gas, coal and uranium interests, and most of the waters  in the continental shelf - right along the coast - are now open for exploration. The damage being done to the environment by these radical policies is mostly not reversible.

The dramatic change in this vital area from the Obama years could cost Republicans dearly in the November congressional elections and beyond. The current extreme anti-science Trump policies are being widely rejected by parents and grandparents who, with good reason, worry about  passing on a healthy environment for their children and grandchildren. Trump's disgraceful abandonment of the Paris Accord was surely one of his biggest errors last year.

The President's America First agenda has alienated all the major NATO countries. It is significant that he cancelled a trip to London recently because of planned serious anti-Trump protests there.

 His hostile anti-Muslim rhetoric and immigration rules immensely complicates our relationship with the millions of American citizens who profess that faith. Since 9/11 there have been about 200,000 homicides in the United States; less than 100 of these killings were committed by Muslims.

Trump  uses denigrating name-calling in his dealings with the volatile North Korean dictator. His puerile boast that his nuclear button is more powerful than Kim's button infantilizes a deadly serious situation and leaves people wondering what catastrophe is looming in the Korean Peninsula. No wonder his frustrated Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called his boss a moron.

Most psychologists agree that the line between normal and abnormal behavior can be settled by determining a person's contact with reality. What reality is the President living with as he lies his way from day to day?

The adage that "it is the economy stupid!" doesn't seem to apply to Mr. Trump. Employment is very strong;  wages are edging up; and the stock market is flying. The traditional political wisdom would suggest that the man in the White House would have the wind at his back and high approval ratings, but  all the polls say that Trump gets by far the lowest satisfactory performance assessment of any modern president.

President Trump faces a very challenging  year ahead, especially in two areas. The Mueller investigation will continue looking hard at the White House for proof of  obstruction of justice and money laundering. And Kim Jong-un has no intention of abandoning his nuclear program. There is no military solution to this crisis, but the President's belligerent language suggests that he thinks he can prevail in a shooting war against Pyongyang.

 Unfortunately, there is little in his record from 2017 to suggest that he has either the maturity or the gravitas to deal with Robert Mueller or Kim Jong-un in 2018.

 

 

Gerry O'Shea blogs at  wemustbetalking.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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