BY PRABASI NEPALI
Donald J. Trump demonstrated his unfitness for the high office of the President of the United States (POTUS) right from the very start, beginning with the primaries of the Republican Party. After one year in office, this has become even more in evidence. But at the same time, he has also demonstrated that he is an acute and present danger, not only for his own countrymen, but also for the world at large, because of the outsize role of the US in international affairs. The utter absence of any saving grace, makes the matter even worse.
Last week, Trump again demonstrated his very weak leadership as a nation was grieving after the latest school shooting that cut more young lives tragically short. Such mass shootings or murders have become the ‘new normal’ and inevitable. As before, just as quickly some lawmakers, as well as President Trump, cynically tried to shift the conversation – this time to mental illness. Last year also after the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, many piously called for better mental-health care, largely trying to divert attention from the biggest issue of guns. According to CNN’s FareedZakaria, writing in “The Washington Post”: “It’s also breathtakingly cynical because the politicians who use this rhetoric are typically the ones who also aim to cut funding for mental health treatment.”
All those that are concerned about gun deaths in America should recognize the startling clear fact that this problem is unique to America. The gun-related death rate in the US is 10 times that of other developed industrial countries. Thus countries such as Japan and South Korea have close to zero gun-related deaths in a year. The United States in contrast has around 30,000 ! Instead of hitting the nail on the head, Trump tried to explain the latest mass shooting by describing the culprit: “He was a sick man, a demented man”. However, this was clear deception, a distortion of the facts and a stark evasion of the necessary response expected by millions of Americans. Thus, to take another comparison: The rate of mental illness in the United States is nowhere close to 40 times the rate in the UK, but the rate of gun deaths is 40 times higher. The mental illness line of argument should, therefore, be shelved.
As with many other aspects of public discourse, Trump according to “The New York Times” (NYT) columnist Roger Cohen, is using the immense powers of the American presidency to
“drag Americans down with him into the vortex” and that the most significant, and ominous achievement in his first year in office has been “the corruption of the Republic”, so much so that “he has soiled the discourse that a kind of numbness has set in.” Cohen continues with his relentless and devastating critique of a man who poses the greatest danger to America [and with his ‘Fire & Fury’ to the world in general], and who is “so unerring in his detection of human weakness, so attuned to the thrill of cruelty, so aware of the manipulative powers of entertainment, so unrelenting in his disregard for truth, so contemptuous of ethics and culture . . .”
The lack of integrity, an absence of a moral compass and narcissism in Trump was also manifested according to Nicholas Kristof, another NYT columnist, in the ongoing scandal of the pre-election US Dollar 130,000 payoff to a pornographic actress to keep quiet about an extra-marital affair with Trump. It was bad enough that Trump cheated on Melania right after she had their baby Baron, but the payoff and reported cover-up just before the crucial presidential election in November 2016 reflects heavily on Trump’s [lack of] character. Unfortunately, ‘Trump’s taint’ is spreading [like cancer] to the White House, his administration, his lawmakers and the Republican Party to such an extent that “the Trump administration is now metastasizing” [!] Trump continues to demonstrate a complete lack of compassion in his immigration policy. While he has offered a deal for “Dreamers”, he has also insisted on building a border wall to Mexico, ending a visa lottery programme and imposing curbs on visas for the families of legal immigrants. Last week, the US Senate rejected a series of bills to protect the “Dreamer” immigrants, leaving in limbo the future of 1.8 million young adults brought to the United States illegally as children. The Senate failed to muster the crucial 60 votes (out of 100) needed to move forward on four separate proposals, including one backed by Trump and a separate bipartisan bill that had been the most likely to win approval in the deeply divisive Senate.
Trump helped defeat the bipartisan bill, which went down narrowly in a 54-45 vote, by labeling it just hours earlier as “a total catastrophe”. He instead backed a Republican plan that would have offered “Dreamers” a path to citizenship but also commit funding to build ‘Trump’s Wall’ and impose much tougher restrictions on legal immigration. In a massive and humiliating blow to Trump, 14 senators from his own party opposed that bill, which failed by an emphatic 60-39 vote. Democrats complained bitterly that Trump’s uncompromising approach was sinking efforts to find an agreement in Congress. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer commented that “If [Trump] would stop torpedoing bipartisan efforts, a good bill would pass”. In this area, Trump has distinguished himself [again] as the great ‘Spoiler’ and ‘Divider’ of the nation – probably the most noxious legacy in American history.
In the latest domestic/international development, Trump is slowly but certainly being snared in a web of deceit and dishonor of his own making. And the evidence is mounting that there was definite collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. US intelligence agencies have submitted proof that various Russian agents/organizations were involved in trying to influence the US presidential elections in favour of Trump and to undermine the American political process. If this is actually the case, then the 2016 US presidential elections were deeply flawed, Trump was elected on false pretences and the US Supreme Court should ipso facto declare his election null and void, and consequently elevate Hillary Clinton to the high office. After all, she also won the majority of the popular votes by nearly three million! Of course, in real life this is an extremely outside chance.
The fact is that, however, the US special prosecutor investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, last Friday indicted 13 Russians for allegedly running a secret campaign to tilt the vote. The stunning operation was launched in a bid to sow social division in the US and influence American politics “including the presidential election of 2016”. It is alleged that the campaign was under the direction of a close confidante of Russian President Vladimir Putin and involved hundreds of experts working in shifts and with a budget of millions of dollars. This is a slap in the face of Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed claims of Russian interference as “fake news” and a “hoax” designed to take away from his election victory.
The impressive detailing of Russian influence operations has already created something historic: “a direct and public charge that America’s main foreign adversary meddled extensively, expensively and expansively in the core of the American democratic process, attempting to influence voters, spread disparaging information about the Democratic nominee, and ‘help’ presidential candidate Donald Trump take office.” [Garrett Graff in “Wired”/ quoted by FareedZakaria in his “Global Briefing”, CNN]
The Real & Present Danger of Donald J. Trump: Playboy & President
BY PRABASI NEPALI