Tide of truth keeps ris­ing

Sunday Star - - OPINION - COKIE & STEVEN ROBERTS The New York Times. Times: Post. The Times The Wash­ing­ton Steve and Cokie Roberts may be con­tacted by email at steve­[email protected] © 2018 STEVEN AND COKIE ROBERTS DISTRIBUTED BY AN­DREWS MCMEEL SYN­DI­CA­TION FOR UFS

“I don’t be­lieve it.”

With those four words, Pres­i­dent Trump dis­missed a 1,656-page re­port writ­ten by about

300 sci­en­tists from 13 gov­ern­ment agen­cies doc­u­ment­ing the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact of climate change.

“Ob­ser­va­tions col­lected around the world pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant, clear and com­pelling ev­i­dence that global av­er­age tem­per­a­ture is much higher, and is ris­ing more rapidly, than any­thing mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion has ex­pe­ri­enced, with wide­spread and growing im­pacts,” the re­port con­cluded.

Yet the pres­i­dent of­fered no ev­i­dence to sup­port his position, apart from the ridicu­lous as­ser­tion that an un­usu­ally cold Thanks­giv­ing un­der­mined the re­port, which was man­dated by Con­gress and took four years to com­plete. Trump’s en­tire view of climate change is based on fiat, not fact; on the­ol­ogy, not sci­ence.

“This is a new fron­tier of dis­avowance of sci­ence, of dis­dain for facts,” Wil­liam K. Reilly, who headed the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency un­der Pres­i­dent Bush

41, told

The pres­i­dent’s “dis­dain for facts” in the climate change de­bate is hardly a new or iso­lated ex­am­ple. Trump’s per­sis­tent de­nial of re­al­ity, and his as­sault on crit­ics who call him to ac­count, form the essence of his ap­proach to pub­lic pol­icy.

It’s one thing for him to spout out­landish claims at cam­paign ral­lies to stir up his troops. It’s a far more dan­ger­ous de­vel­op­ment when his delu­sions be­come the ba­sis for gov­ern­men­tal de­ci­sions.

David Ax­el­rod, a se­nior ad­viser Barack Obama, de­scribed Trump’s to the pres­i­dency in the “There are no gov­ern­ing rules — one doesn’t have to be gov­erned by rules or facts. What­ever it takes to get what you want or to get to where you want, no mat­ter what you have to jus­tify or what you have to ig­nore, is OK.”

Take taxes. Trump’s Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin main­tained that the pres­i­dent’s mas­sive tax cut would “pay for it­self with growth,” even though most econ­o­mists said that would never hap­pen. The doubters, of course, were cor­rect, and the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice re­cently es­ti­mated those tax cuts will add more than $1 tril­lion to the na­tional debt.

Or take trade. The pres­i­dent de­fied main­stream eco­nomic think­ing and tweeted last March that “trade wars are good and easy to win.” But Trump’s es­ca­lat­ing bat­tle with China is dam­ag­ing many Amer­i­can busi­nesses, in­clud­ing TV-maker Ele­ment Elec­tron­ics, which to ap­proach closed its plant in South Carolina and laid off 126 work­ers.

“The lay­off and clo­sure is a re­sult of the new tar­iffs that were re­cently and un­ex­pect­edly im­posed on many goods im­ported from China,” the com­pany ex­plained.

Or take for­eign af­fairs. The CIA con­cluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man “or­dered the as­sas­si­na­tion of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi in Is­tan­bul last month,” re­ported

And yet the pres­i­dent air­ily dis­missed the find­ing of his own in­tel­li­gence agency, say­ing, “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”

This re­jec­tion of re­al­ity was too much even for Trump loy­al­ists like Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Repub­li­can, who told NBC, “I dis­agree with the pres­i­dent’s as­sess­ment. ... The in­tel­li­gence I’ve seen sug­gests that this was or­dered by the crown prince.”

Trump dis­dains not just facts, but factfind­ers. He reg­u­larly at­tacks fed­eral judges who rule against him. Af­ter he de­rided one critic of his asy­lum poli­cies as an “Obama judge,” he drew a sharp re­buke from Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, who said, “That in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary is some­thing we should all be thank­ful for.”

But Trump ap­par­ently has no con­cep­tion of an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary — or an in­de­pen­dent Jus­tice Depart­ment, for that mat­ter. re­ports that the pres­i­dent wanted his at­tor­ney gen­eral to pros­e­cute two of his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies, for­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey and Hil­lar y Clin­ton. He was de­terred only when his White House coun­sel, Don McGahn, warned such an ac­tion could trig­ger im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings.

Trump is a mod­ern ver­sion of King Canute, the leg­endary English monarch who placed his throne on the seashore and or­dered the tide “not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord,” ac­cord­ing to a 12th-cen­tury ac­count by Henr y of Hunt­ing­don. “But the sea car­ried on ris­ing as usual with­out any rev­er­ence for his per­son, and soaked his feet and legs.”

When Canute saw that his de­nial of ev­i­dence and sci­ence was fu­tile, he learned hu­mil­ity, and con­cluded that “all the in­hab­i­tants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and triv­ial.”

Trump is get­ting drenched daily by his dis­dain for facts, but un­like Canute, he shows no signs of hu­mil­ity. And the tide of truth keeps ris­ing, well above his feet and legs.

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