Some of us have lived through this before: the firing of Justice Department professionals, resignations of key White House staffers, criticism of judicial decisions, tampering with investigating committees, leaks that reveal chaos at the highest levels of government, and a president more concerned with the fact that information has been provided to the media than the problems it reveals.
What is different is the source of consternation. Richard Nixon was obsessed with hiding the web of dirty tricks his administration sponsored to ensure their reelection.Donald Trump appears to be bent on hiding a web of illicit connections between his staff and Russian officials.
Although the subject matter is different, the questions will be the same: How much did the president know and when did he know it? Were these actions taken by irresponsible staffers or were they directed by the president himself?
It is surreal that a Republican president is in over his head about expressions of friendship and undercover dealings with the Russians. The Republican Party is not the party of detente but the party of strong defense and unyielding democracy. How and why would its standard bearer admire Vladimir Putin and compare his killing of political adversaries with U.S. military action in Iraq?
President Trump's first weeks in office have shined a light on his distorted thinking and dangerous rhetoric. He has awarded a seat on the National Security Council to the macho voice of a movement that minimizes the benefits of international cooperation and trade, fears Islam, casts a blind eye to the benefits of immigration, admires the leadership qualities of Vladimir Putin, and visualizes war with Islam and China. These beliefs are behind Trump's unwarranted budget increase of $54 billion in military spending to fight imagined wars. At the same time, the byproduct of his careless campaign rhetoric has provided right wing extremists with the fuel to threaten minorities, especially Muslims and Jews.
While defense spending is to skyrocket under Trump's proposed budget, an equal reduction is to be made in domestic expenditures, negating campaign promises to assist the working class. Federal aid is to be cut to public schools, preserving the environment, the arts, public broadcasting, and job training. Had the administration's health care legislation been enacted, it would have significantly reduced coverage and benefits while providing a sizable tax cut to the very rich. Furthermore, the Trump administration is preparing to dismantle protections enacted to prohibit another banking calamity. How any of this would assist those workers who put the president in office is a mystery.
Throughout the campaign, Trump contended that national and international issues were simple, that the problem has been with lightweight government officials. And yet, under his short reign, there have been provocative threats made to Iran and North Korea, bollixed relations with Mexico and Australia, insults carelessly fired at our British and German allies, amateur hour rollouts of unnecessary immigration bans, indications that the U.S. could live with a one-state Israeli-Palestinian solution, reversing years of thoughtful U.S. policy, and now, a clumsy and unsuccessful attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Rather than assuming how easy it is to form and initiate constructive government policies, perhaps the President should have learned more about the issues and appointed advisors with proven track records.
If all this wasn't bad enough, the most upsetting feature of this administration is its tumble into Watergate mode. We now know that pre-election coordination between the Trump camp and Putin's agents is being investigated by the FBI.
The president's sophomoric effort at diversion by charging President Obama with unfounded wiretap allegations has only stained Trump's credibility further as the FBI and NSA Directors have assured Members of Congress that this never happened. While no proof of cooperation between the Trump campaign staff and Russian contacts has yet to be offered, the President's attempts to distance himself from key campaign advisors and manipulate the House Intelligence Committee are familiar Watergate tactics.
With Congressional and FBI investigations moving forward, undoubtedly, the President will continue to question the veracity of the news media and federal intelligence agencies. He will not, however, be able to postpone the inevitable, a factual accounting of what happened.