Trump era ethics

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Re­mem­ber when then-can­di­date Donald Trump, glee­ful that no mat­ter what he did those at the base of his sup­port wouldn’t care, aimed his fin­ger at a cam­era and reck­oned that he could “shoot some­one on Fifth Av­enue” and noth­ing would hap­pen? He meant it, and as it turned out, af­ter scan­dalous tapes, be­ing caught in lie af­ter lie and mak­ing a mock­ery of the at­tempts at se­ri­ous pres­i­den­tial de­bates, he was right.

This devil-may-care at­ti­tude has con­tin­ued right into the Oval Of­fice, where the pres­i­dent is sim­ply ig­nor­ing ethics guide­lines and go­ing about his busi­ness the way he al­ways has—with reck­less dis­re­gard for cus­toms and rules and the per­cep­tions of the mem­bers of the Amer­i­can pub­lic who are pay­ing at­ten­tion.

Con­sider that af­ter some in his cam­paign tried to make an is­sue of Pres­i­dent Obama’s va­ca­tions and what they cost, Trump has gone to fam­ily prop­er­ties on 54 days since be­com­ing pres­i­dent, in­clud­ing 40 vis­its to a golf course he owns. These trips have cost mil­lions and mil­lions of dol­lars, but as of much con­cern to the man now de­part­ing the Of­fice of Gov­ern­ment Ethics is the fact that Trump, when he trav­els and his own venues are in­volved, is ac­tu­ally prof­it­ing from his pres­i­den­tial travel while the Amer­i­can peo­ple pick up the tab.

The ethics chief, Wal­ter Shaub, be­lieves U.S. ethics poli­cies are be­ing ig­nored. Shaub said it’s hard for Amer­ica to take the high road on ethics with the rest of the world “when we’re not even keep­ing our own side of the street clean. It af­fects our cred­i­bil­ity.”

The White House dis­misses Shaub as self-in­ter­ested, though it of­fers no proof of that. Trump clearly be­lieves he can get away with any­thing and sim­ply doesn’t care about even putting up a front of obey­ing ethics rules. The com­pounded prob­lem with that is that the pres­i­dent has to set an ex­am­ple for all oth­ers in gov­ern­ment. If he doesn’t, what’s to pre­vent a lower-level bu­reau­crat from ig­nor­ing the rules on the grounds that the per­son in the White House doesn’t care about them?

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