A pres­i­dent adrift

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group Or­chard Park

WASH­ING­TON – The truth can no longer be ig­nored: Don­ald Trump is dan­ger­ously un­fit to be pres­i­dent and could lead the na­tion to un­think­able dis­as­ter. So what are we go­ing to do about it?

The White House “has be­come an adult day care cen­ter,” where the pres­i­dent’s se­nior aides spend “ev­ery sin­gle day … try­ing to con­tain him.” That ter­ri­fy­ing bit of in­for­ma­tion was dis­closed Sun­day by Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Corker, RTenn., whose de­ci­sion not to run for re-elec­tion has freed him to point out that the em­peror is in­deed naked.

“Look, ex­cept for a few peo­ple, the vast ma­jor­ity of our cau­cus un­der­stands what we’re deal­ing with here,” Corker told the New York Times. Trump treats the pres­i­dency as if it were “a re­al­ity show” and is so er­ratic that he could put us “on the path to World War III.”

The shock­ing thing is that Corker is merely say­ing out loud what many oth­ers say in pri­vate. Trump is not qual­i­fied, by tem­per­a­ment or char­ac­ter, to ex­er­cise the awe­some pow­ers of the pres­i­dency. A man who acts like a bratty, vin­dic­tive child has been given the power to launch nu­clear weapons.

Corker counts on “those peo­ple who are closely work­ing with him, what I would call the good guys” – Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis and chief of staff John Kelly – to keep the apoc­a­lypse at bay. But no one can pre­vent all po­ten­tial dam­age. Trump petu­lantly sab­o­tages the health care sys­tem be­cause it bears his pre­de­ces­sor’s name. He cyn­i­cally am­pli­fies white racial griev­ance for po­lit­i­cal gain. He un­nerves our long­time al­lies and reck­lessly goads our ad­ver­saries. He lies so shame­lessly that he de­files the honor of the of­fice held by Wash­ing­ton and Lin­coln.

This cri­sis isn’t about con­ser­va­tive gov­er­nance ver­sus pro­gres­sive gov­er­nance. It’s about sound­ness of mind and judg­ment.

Our most likely course of ac­tion is con­tain­ment. The gen­er­als who play nanny at the “adult day care cen­ter” are al­ready act­ing as the first line of de­fense. Corker and his col­leagues in Con­gress must be­gin act­ing as the sec­ond.

Con­gress has great pow­ers of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and over­sight. The House has pri­macy in ex­er­cis­ing the power of the purse; the Sen­ate has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to ad­vise and grant – or with­hold – con­sent. Back in Jan­uary, Ryan and Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell might have dreamed that Trump, what­ever his fail­ings, would at least al­low them to im­ple­ment an ortho­dox GOP agenda. By now they must re­al­ize how wrong they were.

Repub­li­cans need to stop talk­ing and be­gin act­ing to con­strain an out-of-con­trol pres­i­dent. They prob­a­bly won’t, how­ever – which makes it im­per­a­tive that Democrats win one or both cham­bers of Con­gress in 2018.

Mas­sive “peo­ple power” dis­plays of re­sis­tance are stir­ring. But if you re­ally want to make a dif­fer­ence, go out and work to turn the House and Sen­ate into bodies that will fe­ro­ciously pro­tect our democ­racy – from a pres­i­dent who griev­ously threat­ens it.

Eu­gene Robin­son Viet­nam doc­u­men­tary shed light on aw­ful war

Ken Burns’ doc­u­men­tary on the Viet­nam War was truly a breath­tak­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. As a com­bat vet in Viet­nam, this se­ries shed light on what sol­diers went through – a war that never should have es­ca­lated into the de­ba­cle it was. That so many sol­diers were killed and wounded is a tragedy beyond life it­self. This se­ries opened eyes about what sol­diers had to sac­ri­fice. Many came back vil­lains for their ef­forts in a war that was hell. I ap­plaud Burns for this won­der­ful se­ries and a job well done.

John Jendry­sek

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