Today, as we wade deep into the primary season, most of my friends seem to be basing their choice on which candidate – Biden or Trump – will do more to solve the nation’s problems. But there’s one issue in this contest that should override all policy debates: is Donald Trump rationally, emotionally, morally fit to be our president?
Let’s start with facts based on past performance and present promises.
The Donald inherited more than $400 million from his father’s low-income housing empire in new York, then nearly squandered it on egocentric failures such as two Atlantic City casinos, an airline, a winery, and a “Trump University” that morphed into the Trump Wealth Institute before collapsing in 2010 amid a wave of fraud charges and class action suits on behalf of “students” trying to reclaim lost tuition money.
He was rescued primarily by development loans from Deutsche Bank, the only bank that would lend to him - one shunned by peers for running global money laundering network. Another major source of development capital were Russians, who found Trump’s building projects a handy way to convert ill-gotten cash to bricks-and-mortar assets.
While promising to release his tax returns (which never happened) Trump put his own family members on the White House payroll and ran his business from the family living quarters above the Oval Office. Diplomats and lobbyists lined up to book rooms and events at the Trump International Hotel just down the street.
His comportment among women is deplorable. Do we really want a president who has trysts with porn stars and who brags that he’s so famous that he can walk in a Miss America dressing room and grab contestants by the crotch?
His own (former) top people have publicly warned us of his ignorance and insensitivity. Among them: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Bill Barr, defense secretaries James Mattis and Mark Esper, Joint Chief of Staff chair Mark Miley, White House chiefs of staff Mark Mulvaney and John Kelly, national security advisor John Bolton, UN ambassador Nikki Haley, and White House lawyer Ty Cobb. If these people were incompetent, as Trump says, then he was a poor judge of personnel when first appointing them.
He refused to concede the 2020 election (after losing by 7 million votes) and even implored Georgia’s secretary of state to “find me” enough votes to swing that state. After 60 courts rejected his lawsuits alleging various voting conspiracies, he launched a plot to create fake “electors” in states that he narrowly lost. When that blew up, he fanned the flames of an insurrection to disrupt the counting of electoral ballots on Jan. 6. Then he became the first defeated president to boycott his successor’s inauguration.
Now let’s take inventory of campaign words that indicate future actions should Trump regain the White House:
The “Biden crime family” will be put behind bars.
The “hostages” now serving time for their part in the Jan. 6 insurrection will be pardoned.
Top Civil Service employees will be required to take an oath of loyalty to Trump or lose their jobs.
The attorney general will become personally beholden to the president.
He will “solve the drug problem quickly” by ordering the military to invade Mexico.
Purges will be conducted of “the “Deep State”, the Justice Department, and the Internal Revenue Service. And he will “drain The Swamp” (which may or may not be the same as the Deep State because he never defies them).
Aside from promised actions is the steady stream of school-yard taunts to anyone who crosses his path. Special counsel Jack Smith is “deranged” and rival GOP contender Nikki Haley is “Birdbrain.” His other political rivals are “vermin” and his “Christmas Message” on Truth Social consigns his opponents to “rot in hell.”
He calls his country a “haven for bloodthirsty criminals” and says it is “controlled by fascists and lunatics.”
But Trump himself is a man of mystical and magical magnetism. Just ask his campaign spinners. In a recent video promoted by Trump on his Truth Social, a Moses-like voice lauds Trump as a heavenly anointed “good shepherd” who will lead the “flock” (that’s us) to political salvation.
(Please notice that all of the above items are in addition to the 91 court indictments already filed against him. A “witch-hunt”? We’ll see.)
To all these I add my own emotional reactions to what I’ve observed after nine years of Trumpet blasts. He has no sense of humor unless when deriding someone else. He admittedly reads no books and few staff reports, instead relying “on my own instincts” to confront a problem. He sees himself as the center of everything. Calls his his aides “my satellites.”
Just using the dictionary’s B-words, I would describe Donald Trump as a brash, bitter, bellyaching, backbiting, bigoted, bloviating, buffoonish, bullying boor.
Trump has damaged the American image abroad like no one else who ever served as leader of the now-tarnished “free world”. Nearly every person I’ve met in my travels abroad eventually mentions how astounded they are that the American voters would elect such a person president. Instead of America “being made great again”, we as a nation have never been lower in global esteem.
Over my 30 years as a journalist in D.C. I’ve met or closely observed ten presidents. This one’s overall performance was so far below the others that it would be inaccurate even to rank Trump No. 10. If elected, I believe he will do even more harm to this country than he already has as president and election campaigner.
Vote for anyone else, then we can start debating policy.