We may never know for sure if Trump may have colluded with Vladimir Putin or obstructed justice. But we know a lot. Robert Reich tells a compelling story, The Real Scandal of Donald Trump. Here is my summary (some direct quotes and some paraphrased):
“An American president is not just the chief executive of the United States, and the office he (eventually she) holds is not just a bully pulpit to advance policy ideas. He is also a moral leader, and the office is a moral pulpit invested with meaning about the common good.”
As George Washington’s biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman, explained, the first president believed he had been entrusted with something of immense intrinsic worth, and that his duty was to uphold it for its own sake and over the long term. He led by moral example.
Few of our subsequent presidents have come close to the example Washington set, but none to date has been as far from that standard as Trump.
A president’s most fundamental responsibility is to protect our system of government. Trump has weakened that system
- His income tax comment (when accused of failing to pay his income taxes, Trump responded “that makes me smart.” ) conveyed a message to millions of Americans: that paying taxes in full is not an obligation of citizenship.
- His comments about buying politicians conveyed a message that it’s perfectly OK for business leaders to pay off politicians, regardless of the effect on our democracy.
- He undermined the common good by reducing the public trust in the office of the president (refusing to reveal his tax returns or to put his businesses into a blind trust and by his overt willingness to make money off his presidency by having foreign diplomats stay at his Washington hotel, and promoting his various golf clubs)
- He attacked the impartiality of America’s legal system and insulted a member of the judiciary when he said a particular federal judge shouldn’t be hearing a case against him because the judge’s parents were Mexican,
- He threatened the freedom and integrity of the press when he threatened to “loosen” federal libel laws so he could sue news organizations that were critical of him and, later, to revoke the licenses of networks critical of him,
- He undermining equal rights and condoned white supremacists when He equated neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia
- By pardoning Joe Arpaio, he signaled that it is OK for the police to to engage in civil rights violations and In the act he also subverted the rule of law by impairing the judiciary’s power to force public officials to abide by court decisions.
- He disrespected kneeling NFL players and indirectly, everyone’s freedom of speech.
The essence of The Real Donald Trump is that he has sacrificed the processes and institutions of American democracy