Making America Divided Again

trump
Rise above the pettiness, don’t be the pettiness

W.J. Astore

Trump’s latest press conference is worrisome for so many reasons.  He seems to live in his own reality (e.g. his administration is “a fine-tuned machine“).  He’s still obsessed with Hillary Clinton and the margin of his victory.  He seems only recently to have learned how serious the prospects of a nuclear holocaust could and would be.  He continues to defend General Michael Flynn, saying that even though Flynn undermined the Obama administration and lied to Vice President Mike Pence, his rapprochement to Russia was laudable (with Trump suggesting that, even though he hadn’t approved Flynn’s actions, he might have).  He even tasked a Black reporter to set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus for him!

What to make of The Donald?  Trump seems to thrive on creating animosity, then exploiting it.  Special targets for him include the U.S. intelligence community and the media, both of which he sees as implacable enemies.  But is animosity and chaos any way to run a country or to represent a people?

I can see how calling out your perceived enemies might work in business, especially a personal one, though Trump’s bankruptcies suggest otherwise.  But Trump is no longer a free-wheeling real estate tycoon.  He’s president now, a symbol (like it or not) of America. Generating animosity and discord as a public servant is divisive, fractious, selfish, and unwise.

A united America is much stronger than a disunited America, but since Trump thrives on division, his personal style is weakening our country. You might say he’s the opposite of Abraham Lincoln, who appealed to the better angels of our nature in a noble but ultimately failed attempt to unite a disunited country. Whatever else Trump is about, it’s not better angels.

Instead of making America great again, Trump is making it divided and uncivil again.

Mister President: Please stop blaming the media, or Hillary, or the intelligence community, or judges, or anyone else for that matter.  Get on with the job of being a public servant.  America needs inspired leadership, not self-serving rhetoric.  We need a uniter, not a divider.

Rise above the pettiness, Mister President.  For the nation’s sake, don’t be the pettiness.

10 thoughts on “Making America Divided Again

  1. “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in.” — George Orwell, 1984

    I didn’t watch President Trump’s latest press conference, but I understand that he held forth, extemporaneously, for a period of almost an hour-and-a-half. Just out of curiosity, and to discover what he actually might have said — for this brief article, unfortunately, doesn’t supply any actual quotes — I did a little looking around on the Internet for other reviews of our new President’s performance, just to see if I could locate a few facts and a little necessary context. I found this:

    Donald Trump’s press conference analyzed, by Alexander Mercouris, the Duran (February 17, 2017)

    First, Mr Mercouris makes a brief introductory comment:

    “President Trump’s comments about Russia were in some ways the most remarkable amongst those he made during his whole press conference, with the President directly accusing his opponents of weakening his position in negotiations with the Russians by giving the Russians grounds to doubt that he is in a strong enough position to make a deal with them.”

    Then, Mr Mercouris quotes President Trump:

    If we could get along with Russia, that’s a positive thing. We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who’s going to be meeting with them shortly and I told him. I said “I know politically it’s probably not good for me.” The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the water.

    Everyone in this country’s going to say “oh, it’s so great.” That’s not great. That’s not great. I would love to be able to get along with Russia. Now, you’ve had a lot of presidents that haven’t taken that tack. Look where we are now. Look where we are now. So, if I can – now, I love to negotiate things, I do it really well, and all that stuff. But – but it’s possible I won’t be able to get along with Putin.

    Maybe it is. But I want to just tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said “you know.” He’s sitting behind his desk and he’s saying “you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely. It’s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story.” OK?

    And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia – and by the way, China and Japan and everyone. If we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing……

    All of those things that you mentioned are very recent, because probably Putin assumes that he’s not going to be able to make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular for me to make a deal. So Hillary Clinton tries a re-set. It failed. They all tried. But I’m different than those people.

    Whatever else President Trump may have said at his press conference, I do not find these particular comments of his either untrue or “divisive.” I approve of any policy which seeks to normalize relations between the United States and other important countries like Russia and China. From long experience and general principles, I vehemently oppose the ticket-punching, self-serving careerists at the Pentagram and CIA and wish to see at least half of them — starting from the top — summarily fired and placed on the unemployment rolls. Does President Trump and his Russia policy have vicious, implacable enemies at the Pentagram, CIA, and their favored stenographers, like Fred Hiatt and David Ignatius at the Washington Post? You can bet your life on it. As a simple matter of self-preservation, if not political effectiveness, it pays to know one’s enemies and harbor no illusions about the lengths — or depths — to which they will go to protect and enlarge their own institutional and personal interests. As the old saying goes: “Just beause I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that real people aren’t following me.” President Trump has some real — and really nasty — people following him and leaking highly selective, “secret” stuff like Niagra Falls after a Spring flood. Considering the vicious, unprecedented persecution of low level whistlblowers like Bradley/Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden by President Obama: unremarked and uncriticized for the past eight years by the so-called “establishment media,” I would welcome a real bureaucratic bloodletting at the highest levels of our “intelligence” and “defense” communities. May their war-mongering heads start rolling without further delay.

    As I have said elsewhere and will repeat: I wish that President Trump had never selected retired General Flynn — or any other retired generals — for his cabinet in the first place. Had ex-General Flynn lost his job because of his medieval Crusader hard-on against Islam and Iran, I would have understood and approved of his dismissal. But as far as I can tell, his removal occurred primarily because of (1) his pursuit of President Trump’s often reiterated policy of extablishing good relations with Russia and (2) his abrasive personality and bureacuratic grasping after power left some other power-grasping bureaucrats — like Vice President Pence — alarmed and determined to eliminate this new rival using any and every means available.

    Donald Trump, for all his many faults and foibles, did not create the many divisions which plague (or enliven) political debate in the United States. On the contrary, the many divisions created Donald Trump. See Federalist No 10, by the slave-owning Father of the Constitution, James Madison, for the definitive treatment of factions and our government’s design for spreading them out over an extensive area (the several states) so as to make the formation of a democratic majority impossible. Somewhere between “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” (from 1984) and The Federalist Papers lies the diagnosis of Donald Trump’s America. Whether he represents the disease or part of its cure remains unresolved at this time. So I wouldn’t join in the Two Minutes Hate just yet.

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    1. Mike: I hope Trump & Co. can achieve better relations with Russia. It’s all the other stuff he says and does that is contributing to chaos, confusion, and divisiveness.

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  2. I’m more disturbed by the spooks in the deep state revealing classified information in those phon calls as a not too subtle ploy to turn the Michael Flynn imbroglio into a faux reincarnation of a Watergate-like affair. Which it fall far short.

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    1. Leaking for political gain cannot be far from leaking for financial or ideological gain. During times of war the two latter warranted the gallows.

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      1. That’s a bit too draconian for me – hanging someone. And your premise underlying your argument for hanging is quite flawed. The last time this country ever declared war was after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I served in Vietnam, and many hawks back in the war thought Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden should have been tried for treason. But LBJ only sought the infamous Gulf of Tonkin resolution. How can a fellow citizen be tried when the Senate skirted its Constitutional responsibilities and. Senators caved into LBJ and they should have pushed back, confronted him and demanded a formal declaration of war. But that would have taken some cajones.

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      2. What strikes me is that Trump knew Flynn had lied, but Pence didn’t. And Trump didn’t tell Pence; Pence only learned of it from the “leak.” Why was Pence kept in the dark? Pence’s credibility was damaged; moreover, he seems to be a fringe player in the Trump Administration.

        What else is Trump and Crew not telling him? Contrast with Obama/Biden, who worked well together.

        If I were Pence, I’d be seriously pissed.

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      3. I think that Pence was kept in the dark for two reasons. First, he’s the Vice President and just in line for succession if Trump dies in office or gets impeachedand thrown out. But FDR kept Vice President Harry Truman in the dark about the Manhattan Project, the grand daddy of all black ops, and Truman was informed only after he had been sworn in. Second reason, Pence was kept out to give him plausible deniability. His hands are clean. He remains a honest broker to the Republican caucus in his role as an sane emissary and compensates for President Donald Trump’s erratic, bombastic behavior and his war of words with the MSM. I doubt Pence is pissed off. He seems to be a realist about his office in the pecking order in the Oval Office. Stephen Brannon holds pride of place. Yes, the Obama/Biden bromance seems genuine. But so did the Bush/Cheney alliance. Yet after sixteen years of ill-conceived and poorly prosecuted wars, I see little difference what both previous administrations have accomplished when it come to the global war on terror which unfortunately now rivals the Vietnam War as a major foreign policy debacle. And one last observation, I’m no fan of Micheal Flynn but the FBI broke protocol on classified information in revealing to the MSM its surveillance of his phone calls to that Russian ambassador. And nothing that has been revealed – at least yet – that warrants the neo-McCarthyite witch hunt the deep state has waged against either Flynn or the hysteria on both the right and the left that Donald Trump was President Vladimir Putin’s handpicked Manchurian candidate in the last presidential election. This whole sordid affair seems like an Orwellian dark comedy that director Stanley Kubrick might have made if he was still alive. But I lost all faith with my government when I did a tour of duty in Vietnam. As Howard always reminded In his lectures all governments lie. That’s axiomatic, at least, to me from my perspective. I remain a skeptic by nature and nurture. My favorite apostle was Saint Thomas, the doubter of Jesus’ resurrection. I’ve just been conned too much.

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      4. Hogdog.

        Constitutionally, we have not had a war since WWII. “Too draconian,” tell that to those hung or shot for various offenses.

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  3. First off, about that Vice President job from two who knew:

    “Not worth a bucket of warm piss.” John Nance Garner (Vice President to FDR before Harry Truman)

    “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” John Adams (Vice President to George Washington)

    Dick Cheney may have made the Vice Presidency into a basis for running the United States from an undisclosed bunker somewhere, but then he had the ineffable dyslexic dingbat, Deputy Dubya Bush, for a front man, not to mention Judith Miller and the entire Washington media establishment to print unquestioned his every lie about Iraqi WMD, Saddam’s reputed ties to Al Qaeda (while letting the actual Saudi Arabian attackers and entire Bin Laden family off the hook), and all that “deficit” nonsense whose irrelevance Cheney claimed that President Ronald Reagan had taught him. For his part, Mike Pence may consider himself a Dick Cheney, but the usual disdain of Presidents for their next-in-line possible replacements seems to have reasserted itself with President Donald Trump. Sharing the spotlight or real power just doesn’t seem his cup of tea, so to speak. Look for Vice President Pence to start visiting funerals for foreign leaders real soon now, even if no foreign leaders have died recently.

    Second, and more importantly, the Democratic Party continues to dodge accountability (and a needed restructuring) for running the worst candidate for President that they could possibly have chosen: namely, You-Know-Her (because everybody does). As the Podesta e-mails reveal, You-Know-Her’s stunningly inept campaign actually helped to create “Pied Piper” Donald Trump on the theory that running against a raw political rookie and Vladimir Putin (forget the faceless Mike Pence) would prove child’s play. Then candidate Trump took out his little flute, began to play a savagely simple little tune (“American Jobs Good, Trade Deals Bad”), and led the little American children into the voting booth where they marked their ballots for him and Vladimir Putin (about whom they knew absolutely nothing). Only You-Know-Her and the Democatic Party could create their own Pied Piper puppet and then lose to it. Damn! Over a billion dollars spent for that? Only a master of the Vulcan mind-meld like Vladimir Putin could have pulled off a stunt like that! Really. Everyone writing or speaking about this ultimately “unfair” outcome says the same thing. Just tune in to CNN or MSNBC or PBS.

    Speaking of “well-oiled machines” and “own realities” …

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