It is not unreasonable, I suggest, to expect, indeed to demand, certain minimum norms of behavior from the political leader of the country. This is true even with respect to someone elected on a “drain the swamp” and “end political correctness” platform. The rhetoric of campaigns is often excessive and fierce but once campaigns end, politicians generally show remarkable, indeed Herculean, capacities to forgive and forget. Witness the parade of Trump’s defeated candidates at Trump Tower after the election to make peace, beg forgiveness and ask for a job in the new administration. Mere mortals can only guess what is said in those conversations but at the end everyone is all smiles as if the personal and professional vilification that characterized the campaigns had never occurred.
The general expectation has also been that the electorate will “get over” the electoral combat, accept the outcome with good grace and “move on.” The theme is that the president is now the president of all the people and of the whole country and so everyone should respect and accept that.
This time, however, these expectations have not been fulfilled. The elected president has generally behaved throughout the transition and since the inauguration as if he were still campaigning. Worse yet, he has continued to lie about matters of both minor and very major import, continued to lash out at every critic, attacked the independent press (“enemies of the people”), demeaned the judiciary (“the so-called judge”) and behaved like someone who has no understanding of the job of president. His single respectable performance, conceded by most critics, was his speech to Congress. The warm glow lasted a whole day.
Trump stunned the country, indeed the whole civilized world, when a few weeks ago, at 6:35 in the morning, he tweeted that he had “just found out” that former President Obama had “wire tapped” Trump Tower during the campaign. He produced no evidence of his claim that his predecessor had committed a serious felony, choosing instead to say that it was up to Congress to investigate the claim. The Republican Congress, to its everlasting shame, snapped to attention and, happily I suggest, diverted attention from the ongoing investigation of Trump’s connection to Russia to look into the allegations. Now the leading members of the relevant committees, Republican and Democrat alike, have stated that no evidence has turned up to support Trump’s claims.
Instead of admitting that the allegations were a sham to draw media and public attention away from the Russia investigation, Trump continued to insist that the allegations were true. His Press Secretary Sean “Whatever You Say, Sir” Spicer, took as his charge the all-out defense of his chief, asserting, first, that “wire tapping” didn’t mean “wire tapping” but referred to broader forms of surveillance and then, when that position was widely mocked because of the continuing lack of evidence, claiming there were reliable media reports that Obama used the British secret service to carry out his illegal clandestine operation at Trump Tower. The rightfully offended British government rejected that claim immediately and forcefully.
What then did the White House do? When asked about the incident specifically in a joint press conference with Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, Trump first suggested that Obama had spied on both Merkel and him and then said this:
“And just to finish your question, we said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”
Listen to this for yourself at http://mm4a.org/2mEskIo.
That Trump statement is a bald-faced lie. Here are Trump’s tweets:
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Once again the President of the United States has lied to the people about his conduct, trying to pass responsibility to someone else. His staff, apparently willing to go to any lengths to defend him (remind you of Nixon’s staff?), insulted a major ally, then “walked back” (translation: admitted the President lied) the allegation of British involvement in the non-existent wire tapping scheme.
Not only has this collection of lies, deflections and insults drawn the attention of the media like a piece of rotting meat attracts maggots, but it has wasted time of the congressional staff, congressional committee members the FBI and the Department of Justice, chasing after a ghost, a knowingly false invention by the President of the United States. You are likely aware that this is not the first time. We have lost count.
I say, enough is enough. Donald Trump is not competent to be President of the United States. He is detached from reality and believes that dishonesty is acceptable to get what he wants. His behavior is endangering the United States. Other world leaders are watching every move he makes. How will they ever trust anything he says or believe any promises he makes? The famous parable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf applies here. Trump has squandered whatever small reserve of respectability and trustworthiness he had and should be made to face the consequences before the country faces them in a dangerous situation.
This is not about policy differences. All politicians will exaggerate and sometimes misstate facts and outright lie to escape responsibility for things they have said or done. It usually doesn’t work, at least not indefinitely. This is about competency to carry out the responsibilities of the office of President. Trump is a man of no integrity who cannot be trusted. The evidence of this is overwhelming. He has jeopardized the United States and undermined the office of the presidency.
The Vice President and the Cabinet should therefore exercise their responsibility under section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the founding document that the Republican Party is so fond of citing in support of its agenda, by initiating removal proceedings against Trump on grounds that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” It is past time.