Time to remove the blinders and look in the mirror
What’ll it take? I’m beginning to wonder. Perhaps you’re also puzzled.
We’re a little more than seven months into Donald Trump’s presidency and the hole just keeps getting deeper. The president refuses to put down the shovel. If anything, the swamp is getting murkier. But polling shows he still enjoys the support of not only his “base” but the overwhelming majority of Republicans.
God only knows what this week will bring.
Last week started with a self-righteous campaign-style rally and ended with a couple of Cabinet members and one key advisor distancing themselves from their leader. In between, we were left in the dark about just what would happen with Bears Ears and a handful of other national monuments when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke omitted details while announcing pending changes. At week’s end came still another expected but outrageous act, the pardoning of “Sheriff Joe.”
Spare me the rationalization that Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio was persecuted for “just doing his job.” He was convicted of contempt of court, of being a “law and order” guy willing to thumb his nose at the rule of law and a judge’s order. His pardon came after unseemly politically charged posturing by Trump, who let Arpaio off the hook before he was even sentenced.
Legal niceties are also being ignored regarding Bears Ears, where unconfirmed reports indicate nearly 90 percent of designated acreage is at risk, and a handful of other national monuments such as nearby Grand Staircase/Escalante. Legal precedent holds that only Congress can alter those boundaries but politically expedient pandering to a small group of opponents could leave us embroiled in ongoing controversy. Court challenges to any administrative reversal would cost taxpayers millions.
There’s virtually no chance of reversal in a Congress that refuses to pass bill after bill undermining preservation of heritage landscapes, including those championed by the Utah congressman who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, Rob Bishop. That’s the same Rob Bishop who, along with the rest of his state’s delegation, couldn’t shepherd their own Bears Ears legislation through Congress.
Sunday on Fox News, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson obviously distanced himself from his president’s remarks following Charlottesville, saying Trump “speaks for himself” on American values. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told troops in Jordan last week to “hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.” National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn nearly quit over Trump’s Charlottesville equivocations.
There was the juvenile silliness of Trump’s names-omitted bullying of Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake at his Phoenix rally. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and congressional leaders Trump needs, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, are also subject to his wrath, even though Ryan could easily win “Dancing with the Stars” with his spinning and pirouettes. Other battles with Sens. Tom Corker, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski mean the GOP Senate majority is easily neutralized and his legislative agenda is toast. Like a petulant child, Trump is reduced to threatening to shut down the government, an action Republicans would own, if he doesn’t get his wall.
The GOP has 247 U.S. representatives, 54 senators, five of nine Supreme Court justices, 68 of 99 state legislative chambers and 33 governorships. Its hands are all over the wheel but the party that complained the most about the direction of the country can’t seem to steer the ship. After overtly rejecting bipartisanship during the Obama years, it’s now reduced to blaming Democrats for doing the same thing.
Internationally, things are just as bad.
Twitter taunting of a third-rate dictator of a backwater country prompts fears of a nuclear disaster. Trump’s Afghanistan reversal has drawn both conservative and liberal criticism. Absenting us from the Paris climate accord puts us at odds with most of the rest of the world and the overwhelming majority of scientists. Is it any wonder that fights with longtime allies have brought ridicule and distrust from other world leaders and diminished our standing?
When is enough enough? When will GOP stop defending the indefensible…quit rationalizing “but Hilary…” or “Benghazi” or Obama as excuses or justification and instead look in the mirror, acknowledge who’s to blame and do something about it?
“If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly.” - Ronald Reagan