April 2017

This Wednesday is a day of great consequence in Donald Trump’s mind. It is the day – he announced Friday – on which he would unveil his magnificent, biggest ever, tax plan. Sadly, his staff and the grunts at Treasury, who would have to actually write the program, were caught off guard by Trump’s impetuous grandiosity.

Earlier in the day Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, wouldn’t even guess as to when we could expect a tax plan – saying “Tax reform is way too complicated”. But his boss never understands how difficult things are (see health care & Korea) until actual action has to be taken.

The White House, charged once again with massaging the boss’s message (accent on mess), downplayed the value of the upcoming grand reveal – saying that the announcement would merely outline the “broad principles and priorities” of his policy.  In other words, while we should expect hot air and hand motions, we will not be burdened with details.

Wednesday is also the day that the White House promised a vote on a new repeal and replace of Obamacare. They are convinced (no doubt by the pressure of the 100-day deadline) that the GOP’s warring congressional factions have discovered a glorious compromise. And the Republican resolve to strip millions of Americans of health care will now be realized.

However, congressional Republicans are not enthusiastic with Trump’s exuberant vacuity. Paul Ryan believes that – before the House gets bogged down in the internecine warfare a rehashed health measure would undoubtedly engender – the GOP should ensure the government won’t shut down. Trump is indifferent to that calamity.

It is hardly surprising. A man who has enjoyed four bankruptcies is obviously not bound by the same standards as people cut from a moral cloth. He has waved failure and fraud away as ‘business as usual’. He has no sense of right or wrong – just what he can get away with. And after the government last shut down – even though America’s credit rating was downgraded – the world didn’t end. So why worry?

The con artist succeeds because humans have an essential sense of decency and fair play. Without it, we would be no better than jackals – or members of the nationalist fringe.

Charles Barkley, the basketball philosopher, once complained that sports stars shouldn’t be role models. He’s probably right – if hopelessly unrealistic. But our leaders must accept the responsibility. Presidents may have had feet of clay – but the office survived. The one time it was severely diminished a bipartisan Congress forced Nixon’s resignation.

But now we have a man who has no concern for anyone or anything but himself – enabled by a Republican Congress which has abdicated its constitutional responsibilities. We can console ourselves that Trump will eventually be gone – one way or another. But we cannot be confident that his damage to America’s reputation – both in its own citizens’ estimation, as well as abroad – will be undone.

 

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