All six of these things happened.
That’s why so many Americans can’t treat him as a normal President. That’s why the response to him has been so widespread and deep. There is a sense that he’s impulsive, insecure and dangerous.
Let’s go one by one:
1) Is the US as bad as Putin’s Russia? Certainly some on the far left think so. And the US has killed innocents in pursuit of its aims. But at least so far domestic political opponets haven’t been jailed, poisoned and denied a voice. Perhaps Trump is tolerant of Putin because he deep down would like to just stifle opposition and control things himself? Republicans have been adamant that Trump’s moral relativism on this issue is wrong – they may be waking up to how dangerous this President can be.
2) A threat to “defund” California is bizarre. As the graphic notes, California pays more in federal taxes than it gets back (the biggest receivers of federal money are the so-called red states, ironically). Trump claims California is “out of control.” Well – outside his control, as it considers making itself a ‘sanctuary state.’ But defunding California would be utterly unconstitutional and insane – the fact Trump makes that kind of threat shows he doesn’t understand the Constitution. In fact, Trump could learn from how Governor Jerry Brown took a state that was in financial crisis and turned things around.
3) This is nefarious and dark. Judges rule based on the law, and this conservative jurist, appointed by President Bush, ruled the executive order on immigration was likely unconstitutional, and thus put it on hold until it could be examined. This means that the normal reality of the past decade continues – only well vetted immigrants can enter. Yet Trump wants people to blame this individual judge if any kind of terrorism happens. That’s an incitement to violence against the judicial branch. To me, that statement is so dangerous and disgusting that it rises to an impeachable offense.
4) Something like elevating someone to the National Security Council is a big deal. If a President is going to do it, he should know he’s doing it. If he does not, that suggests that he is lazy, letting others do the work, and simply being bombastic when his emotions get the better of him. As Trump might put it: Not good.
5) The last economic collapse was caused by Wall Street. It was a free market crisis, as unregulated mortgage backed bonds (as well as CDO’s and other ominous financial instruments) created an environment where loans were given to anyone, without regard to their ability to pay, and people fed into a massive speculative bubble. If government regulations like those CFTC head Brooksley Born advocated in the 90s had been in place, this might not have happened. The response since then has been meager; the banks still have the capacity to manipulate the system, and those who created the crisis have not been punished. Trump’s actions take away even those meager protections and set up another bubble and financial collapse — but only after hundreds of billions of dollars are made on Wall Street by the financial class.
6) Perhaps most disturbing is that the truth is irrelevant to Trump. Anything negative about him is fake news. He’ll claim his inauguration crowd was the largest in history, even though it’s laughable. His world of “alternate facts” suggest it’s all marketing, a big con.
The secret of the con is to keep up confidence (con man comes from confidence man). That means never admitting one is wrong. Simply lie, but do so persuasively, after creating conditions where the marks (victims) want to believe. Trump has made a living doing this, the truth is irrelevant to him. Now as President he’s taken this to a new level, but finds that the press investigates every claim and calls him on the carpet for falsehoods. When he demands his spokespeople repeat the lies, they are mocked very effectively by satire, such as Melissa McCarthy’s devastating portrayal of Trump press secretary Sean Spicer. Threatening the press has only made the press more intent on outing any administration misdeeds.
For those who say, “give him a chance,” or “pray for the President to do his best,” I reject that as abdicating our duty as individuals to be on watch for threats to the Republic. Maybe President Trump will learn that this isn’t a reality show, and recognize that his current path is leading him to spectacular failure. Maybe he will learn to make better choices. But that won’t happen unless the opposition call him on his lies, explore and lay bare the consequences of his policies, and not be intimidated.