Repub­li­can opin­ion: Don­ald Trump is the Em­peror with no clothes

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Ihad the honor of serv­ing as Ron­ald Rea­gan’s White House po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor from 1987 to 1989, so I can claim some in­sight on US pol­i­tics. My cen­tral conclusion on the 2016 race: It might not be en­tirely clear that Hil­lary Clin­ton de­serves to win the pres­i­dency, but it is thun­der­ingly clear that Don­ald Trump de­serves to lose. From this premise, I will do some­thing that I have not done in 40 years of vot­ing: I will vote for the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent. The de­press­ing truth of the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee is that Don­ald Trump talks a great game but he is the em­peror who wears no clothes. Trump falls short in terms of the char­ac­ter and be­hav­ior needed to per­form as pres­i­dent. This de­fect is crip­pling and en­sures he would fail in of­fice.

Trump is a bigot, a bully, and de­void of grace or mag­na­nim­ity. His thin-skinned bel­liger­ence to­ward ev­ery chal­lenge, re­buke, or crit­i­cism would prom­ise the na­tion a se­ries of a high-volt­age quar­rels.

His ca­sual dis­hon­esty, his pol­icy lazi­ness, and his lack of self-aware­ness would mean four years of a ca­reen­ing pin-ball jour­ney that would ric­o­chet from mis­steps to cri­sis to mis­un­der­stand­ings to clar­i­fi­ca­tions to re­trac­tions. This de­ci­sion is not an easy one. I proudly served in ev­ery Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion over the past 40 years: Am­bas­sador and Un­der­sec­re­tary for Ge­orge W. Bush, Com­merce De­part­ment of­fi­cial for Ge­orge H. W. Bush, and sev­eral White House and State De­part­ment as­sign­ments for Ron­ald Rea­gan beyond the po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor role. I have seen pres­i­dents work with dif­fi­cult peo­ple and dif­fi­cult is­sues. It re­quires a blend of strate­gic vi­sion and tac­ti­cal flex­i­bil­ity, com­bined with op­ti­mism and good hu­mor. A pres­i­dent needs the thick skin to ig­nore crit­i­cism and the man­age­ment dis­ci­pline to stay fixed on goals. Trump, on the other hand, man­ages to pick fights that are un­re­lated to his goals. The most pro­nounced ex­am­ple in this re­gard was his taste­less crit­i­cism of the fam­ily of de­ceased Army Cap­tain Hu­mayun Khan. We owe that young man our grat­i­tude for the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. And we owe his par­ents our re­spect for the dig­nity with which they re­proached Mr Trump for his grotes­queries.

Less poignant is a part of the Trump story that ought to have par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance with Repub­li­cans: his four busi­ness bank­rupt­cies, more than a triv­ial mat­ter for a party that prides it­self on thrift, sound money, and pru­den­tial man­age­ment.

The bank­rupt­cies re­flect a man who ei­ther lacks rea­son­able busi­ness judg­ment or rea­son­able busi­ness ethics. By them­selves, four bank­rupt­cies are pretty bad. But four bank­rupt­cies and a pri­vate jet is de­plorable. How can every­one lose money in the col­lapse of a pro­ject yet Trump flies away again and again? In the early days of my startup, there was a mo­ment when I could have shut the firm, de­clared bank­ruptcy, and walked away from my obli­ga­tions, but I have em­ploy­ees, in­vestors, clients, and cus­tomers -- all of whom rely on my com­mit­ment. I have a moral obli­ga­tion to stand by peo­ple who are stand­ing by me. No won­der so many Amer­i­cans are skep­ti­cal of mar­ket eco­nom­ics if the sys­tem can be so eas­ily ma­nip­u­lated by Trump. To para­phrase Oscar Wilde, one bank­ruptcy may be re­garded as a mis­for­tune, but four be­gins to look like care­less­ness. We can sup­pose that Trump has ev­ery le­gal right to de­clare bank­rupt­cies and to walk away with mil­lions. And vot­ers have ev­ery le­gal right to vote against him for those ac­tions. There are many is­sues on which Hil­lary Clin­ton and I are not in agree­ment. How­ever on the core for­eign pol­icy is­sues our coun­try faces -- al­liance re­la­tion­ships, se­cu­rity com­mit­ments, and in­ter­na­tional en­gage­ment -she comes closer to Repub­li­can views than does Trump. And Don­ald Trump makes me cringe. I am vot­ing for Hil­lary. And I vote in Ohio.

Note: The au­thor is the brother of Carl Lavin, vice pres­i­dent of News and Opin­ion at CNN Dig­i­tal.

A for­mer gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial in Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tions since the pres­i­dency of Ron­ald Rea­gan, Frank Lavin is the CEO of Ex­port Now, a com­pany that helps US brands sell on­line in China. The opin­ions ex­pressed in this com­men­tary are his.

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