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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

 

L.A. Times: Trump a "wrecking ball"

by Tom Sullivan

There are lots of stories to follow in the past few days: the Democratic filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, Susan Rice and "unmasking," Blackwater founder Erik Prince meeting with a Vladimir Putin ally, and of course the outcome of the NCAA basketball championship.

One story lost among the others is The Los Angeles Times' unprecedented blistering of a sitting president on its editorial pages. That is a story in itself. But searching the web for mention of it turns up few mainstream news rivals even acknowledging the Times' 4-part series attacking the "liar in chief" for undermining truth itself:

If Americans are unsure which Trump they have — the Machiavellian negotiator who lies to manipulate simpler minds, or one of those simpler minds himself — does it really matter? In either case he puts the nation in danger by undermining the role of truth in public discourse and policymaking, as well as the notion of truth being verifiable and mutually intelligible.

In the months ahead, Trump will bring his embrace of alternative facts on the nation’s behalf into talks with China, North Korea or any number of powers with interests counter to ours and that constitute an existential threat. At home, Trump now becomes the embodiment of the populist notion (with roots planted at least as deeply in the Left as the Right) that verifiable truth is merely a concept invented by fusty intellectuals, and that popular leaders can provide some equally valid substitute. We’ve seen people like that before, and we have a name for them: demagogues.
Huffington Post mentions the broadside against this "train wreck" of a presidency:
Even after considering Trump’s dismal policy choices ― from ramping up deportations to peddling a health care plan that would leave millions uninsured to planning the erection of a wall along the Mexico border ― the board said it was the president who poses the greatest threat to America.
Part III is "Trump’s Authoritarian Vision." Trump's assault on American institutions, the Times explains, is "a culmination of trends that have been years in the making." From conservative talk radio to congressional gridlock to the aggressive use of presidential signing statements, the country's normally healthy democratic processes have turned inward, attacking it like an autoimmune disease. The editorial continues:
Trump betrays no sense for the president’s place among the myriad of institutions in the continuum of governance. He seems willing to violate long-established political norms without a second thought, and he cavalierly rejects the civility and deference that allow the system to run smoothly. He sees himself as not merely a force for change, but as a wrecking ball.

Will Congress act as a check on Trump’s worst impulses as he moves forward? One test is the House and Senate intelligence committees’ investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election; lawmakers need to muster the courage to follow the trail wherever it leads. Can the courts stand up to Trump? Already, several federal judges have issued rulings against the president’s travel ban. And although Trump has railed against the decisions, he has obeyed them.

None of these institutions are eager to cede authority to the White House and they won’t do so without a fight. It would be unrealistic to suggest that America’s most basic democratic institutions are in imminent jeopardy.
The Times wrote on inauguration day it was not time yet for "wholesale panic." But a couple of months into this administration, neither is it time to keep silent. A free press is one of those democratic institutions Trump intends to wreck if he cannot dominate it. It's good to see there is some fight left in it.