Our national politics has fully descended into the gutter at a very perilous time. The Republicans have ostensibly nominated a narcissistic buffoon. The Democratic Party establishment continues its attempts to force the only popular candidate with genuine ideas out of the race by anointing the candidate of empire. Essentially, the rich and powerful are fighting among themselves, while the rest of us languish on the political sidelines.
The planet heats up to levels near the point of threatening human survival. Meanwhile, the nation responsible for the greatest total quantity of greenhouse gases – the USA – descends into political chaos. We live in extremely dangerous times.
Conservative writer, John McCormack, opposes the unreasonableness of it all in the following piece from The Weekly Standard. McCormack objects to the Republicans backing a man with no apparent ability to lead the nation and who has potentially very dangerous personality defects. He is concerned that his party’s tolerance and even support for ignorant demagoguery, not rational policy choices, is a fool’s errand. He reviles the blatant hypocrisy of Trump’s defeated opponents who now support him despite mere weeks ago arguing his total unacceptability.
At the end of his otherwise reasonable rant, McCormack assails Hillary Clinton with typical right-wing claims. HRC has her flaws if not exactly those conjured by rightist Hillary bashers. Nevertheless, John McCormack otherwise recognizes the underlying importance of electing a president on the basis of policy preferences, not pejorative and platitudinous pontifications of a narcissistic demagogue of the lowest order.
Except for those last few partisan sentences, McCormack demonstrates the validity of Ralph Nader’s call for a left-right coalition of reasonable people who seek real solutions to urgent real problems the nation faces. A lot of ideological obstacles are in the road ahead, but could Republicans and Democrats muster the civic will to engage each other in real political discussions? Or will this extremely critical time continue to be mired in irrelevance and demagoguery until it is too late to deal with the real problems our national politics are so far unable to face?
Cartoon Credit: Petar Pismestrovic of Kleine Zeitung, Austria. ~It is a bit flattering, I suppose… Caption added.
Unfit to Serve
MAY 16, 2016 | By JOHN MCCORMACK ~ The Weekly Standard
Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is manifestly unfit to be president.
His unfitness has little to do with ideology. Trump doesn’t have anything consistent or coherent enough to be called an ideology. Trump has no business being commander in chief, but not because of any particular policy position—Trump’s foreign policy agenda, like his domestic agenda, blows with the wind. He was for the Iraq war before he was against it. He backed U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011 before he opposed it. He said the United States shouldn’t fight ISIS before he promised to “bomb the sh—” out of them and deploy ground troops to the Middle East.
No, it isn’t because of ideology that Trump has no business being commander in chief. It is because he is an unstable conspiracy theorist with an authoritarian streak.
Let’s start with the authoritarianism. Trump has long been an admirer of and apologist for autocrats, including Vladimir Putin. Asked in December to condemn the Russian government’s assassination of reporters, Trump suggested the United States is no better. “Our country does plenty of killing,” Trump said on MSNBC. “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has,” Trump said on ABC.
Back in 1990, Trump expressed admiration for the strength of China’s Communist dictators. “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it, then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength,” Trump said in a Playboy interview. “That shows you the power of strength.” Trump insisted in a debate this year that he wasn’t endorsing the massacre of peaceful protesters but merely describing how the Chinese “kept down the riot.” That Trump would describe the Tiananmen protest as a “riot” says it all.
Perhaps even more troubling than Trump’s authoritarian streak is his taste for conspiracy theories. His first major foray into politics during the Obama era was in promoting the claim that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was fake—that the president, born outside of the country, had been constitutionally ineligible to run for the office.
Trump has been willing to traffic in conspiracy theories of more dangerous consequence: In his effort to dispatch Jeb Bush, Trump made use of the leftist accusation that President George W. Bush lied the United States into the Iraq war: “They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none.”
Is there any nutty conspiracy Trump won’t embrace? The day that he effectively wrapped up the GOP nomination, Trump floated the lunatic claim that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination.
Add to this Trump’s manifest inability to control his more vulgar impulses. He mocks the disabled. He insults women. He trashes POWs (“I like people who weren’t captured”). Have we all forgotten Trump threatening to dish dirt on Heidi Cruz and disparaging her looks? Or the bragging about the size of his manhood? Even some of Trump’s top boosters have seemed to admit he is unhinged. Newt Gingrich said that Trump “sent a signal of instability” to voters. “Our candidate is mental. Do you realize our candidate is mental?” Ann Coulter remarked. “It’s like constantly having to bail out your 16-year-old son from prison.”
Yet, as Trump has marched toward the nomination, many Republicans have decided to ignore the candidate’s serial nuttiness. After Trump read a platitudinous foreign policy address last week, Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Trump’s speech was “full of substance” and that he was “very pleased” with it.
And then there’s Marco Rubio, who suggests that Trump’s “performance has improved significantly” over the last few weeks. “I’ve always said I’m going to support the Republican nominee, and that’s especially true now that it’s apparent that Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic candidate,” Rubio said.
Back in February, Rubio was saying of Trump that we should not hand “the nuclear codes of the United States to an erratic individual.” He likened the idea of Trump to the “lunatic in North Korea with nuclear weapons.” Asked by Greta Van Susteren if he really believed Donald Trump “is a con artist who should not get access to nuclear codes,” Rubio said “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
Rubio called Trump “dangerous,” and he was right. If Rubio genuinely feared handing Trump control of nuclear weapons in March, there is no reason he should support him in May.
Perhaps Trump will prove over the next 6 months that the last 10 months of kookiness has all been shtick, a big act put on to win the nomination. Maybe he’ll publicly recant his conspiracy theories. Maybe he’ll demonstrate that he would be serious and sober enough to serve as commander in chief. Maybe pigs will fly.
But what about Hillary Clinton, who would be a disaster as president? She is a habitual liar who believes in a constitutional right to kill healthy and viable unborn infants. That alone ought to be enough to disqualify her.
Conservatives who believe that Clinton and Trump are both genuinely unfit to be president can work to get a principled third-party candidate on the November ballot. Donald Trump is toxic enough among independents that he would most likely lose the election even if conservatives did support him. But by rejecting the Clinton-Trump choice conservatives would at least send a message to the Republican party and the country about the limits of what they will tolerate in a presidential candidate.
They would also get to keep their dignity. That’s no small thing.