Trump transforms office into hyper-bully pulpit
Let’s consider abuse of power. Long after NFL players began taking a knee during the pregame national anthem to protest racial inequality, Donald Trump decided he could use the movement to cement his political base and change the conversation from his lack of a prompt response to devastation in Puerto Rico.
Trump then argued such protests were an unpatriotic affront to the flag, the military and the country. Never mind the constitutional guarantee of free speech. He called for a boycott of the NFL. He told team owners to discipline genuflecting players.
Trump’s effrontery outraged team owners. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, took a knee with his players at their next game.
Then Trump ordered Mike Pence, his vice president and a former governor of Indiana, to leave a Colts-49ers game in Indianapolis if anyone took a knee. Several players did. Pence, total toadie, immediately left the game, costing taxpayers $250,000 by flying from California to Indiana and back to California.
Trump threatened to use federal tax laws to penalize the NFL’s central office if players continue protesting racial inequality. The White House backed down from that bald misuse of power. Trump was “just making a point.”
But Jones now says Cowboys who “disrespect the flag” won’t play. “If you do not honor and stand for the flag in the way that a lot of our fans feel that you should … then you won’t play,” Jones said. The owners are considering a “rule” to ban silent protests during the anthem.
Then this week, NBC reported that at a July Pentagon meeting Trump blithely suggested increasing the nation’s nuclear arsenal tenfold. “I want more,” three officials said he demanded. Trump didn’t understand that this would violate international treaties, would be impossibly costly ($30 trillion or more) and is totally unnecessary, according to the military.
Humiliated, Trump suggested it might be appropriate to take away NBC’s broadcast license (it doesn’t need a license; individual stations have licenses).
After the July meeting, NBC reported, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron,” which Tillerson has not denied. Trump reacted by saying he’s smarter than Tillerson and said Senate committees should investigate NBC and other news networks.
Trump has told more than 1,000 documented lies since taking office. But he keeps calling fact-based reports he doesn’t like “fake news.” His supporters love it.
Then, when movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was outed by news magazines for many allegations of sexual assault and harassment, Trump said he is not surprised. We’re not surprised Trump knows about abuse.
Weinstein’s and Trump’s illegal behavior is flagrant, illegal abuse of power. Voters in 2016 did not care and elected Trump anyway. Weinstein has been ousted from his own company.
Currently, Trump has been taunting North Korea’s unstable dictator as “Rocket Man,” withdrawing from international climate and trade agreements, and scorning the Iran nuclear deal that five other nations agree is stopping Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons.
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who is not running for re-election, said Trump is getting dangerously close to starting World War III. Trump’s reaction was to denounce and belittle the man he once considered to be his vice president or secretary of state. Corker is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Speaking of North Korea, Trump said, “My attitude is the one that matters.”
Two-thirds of Americans are disheartened by Trump. His response is to distract and pump up his die-hard supporters by appeals to their worst instincts, including, again and again, racism.
Trump’s refusal to learn what he doesn’t know is alarming. So is the idea that Corker, privy to the nation’s secrets, worries Trump could start a war, the ultimate distraction and abuse of power.