August 15, 2017 will be regarded as a dark defining moment in US Presidential history. It is the day the 45th President of this country lost any chance of ever providing any moral leadership for the nation. We elect Presidents – and Donald J. Trump was most assuredly elected by a majority of the Electoral College – to be like us, bigger than us, and to project a vision that brings out the better angels of our nature. Some along the way have done just that and we do not have to even list them. They are the great ones. Then there are those who either stepped away from opportunities or simply gave up on a job that was too large for them in the first place. We remember their names as well. They are the Millard Fillmores, Franklin Pierces, James Buchanans, Andrew Johnsons, and Warren Hardings. Others were damaged in character but had significant skills to lead and express a vision for greatness. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton certainly come to mind.
But, to date, no President has ever chosen to side with evil, enable hatred and extremism, reject forces that represent this nation’s greatest principles and the rights of whole races and ethnicities — until just now. In blaming “both sides” equally for the tragic events in Charlottesville – not just once but twice – Mr. Trump in effect has chosen sides. In doing so, he has repudiated the progress of history, the leaders and citizens of the past and present who have fought and died for a “perfect union” and “liberty and justice for all”, and squarely placed himself in a category unto himself – a supporter of white nationalists, a member of the so-called “alt-right”. We have never had an extremist in the White House before and I don’t believe there is anything from here on that he can do to assert moral authority or a common vision that continues to make this country great.
Make no mistake, the stunning and sad news conference yesterday at Trump Tower was more than about just its horrific content. What he said was terrible enough. But it was also about his demeanor, his utter lack of dignity, his gunslinger mentality and behavior. Here is a man who seems to always have his finger ready to pull the trigger. He is the guy on the playground (or today’s equivalent – the “Topix” pages and the other crazy blogs) who is always too quick to say “you talkin’ about me?” He is ready to fight with everyone, and he does. He starts fights when they are not even provoked. His tweets occur often in the middle of the night. The rest of us know that we can never reveal our ugliest thoughts when we cannot sleep – so we don’t say them or write them down. Mr. Trump thrives on those darkest thoughts.
Could he really have believed that anyone wanted to talk about infrastructure yesterday? The press can be annoying and they act in a feeding frenzy sort of way from time to time. But after nearly seven months in office, a wise and prudent leader knows how to finesse that by building alliances. Not so with Mr. Trump. He is ready to fight all people, all the time. So he has now enraged, Americans of color, entire ethnic and religious groups, the leadership of his own party, all stripes of conservatives, the mainstream press, as well as the tens of millions of those who already hate him. And watch the White House staff drift away as they realize that the mention on their resumes “White House, January –August 2017” is not going to help their search for new employment.
That is to say this: the Trump agenda is dead. Who wants to enable him? Who wants to work with him?
August 15, 2017. The day the lights went out at the White House. Very, very sad.