The 100-day milestone for a new president has always struck me as silly. Yet I find today I’ve reached my own milestone. I set out disheartened but determined to be fair, to judge on the merits. On this the 104th day of Donald Trump’s presidency, I find I’m sick to my stomach. This after being variously encouraged, ambivalent and appalled.
I’ve been encouraged by Trump’s threat to break up the still too-big-to-fail big banks. I’m all for it. So is the market, which values pieces more than the whole. I’ve been encouraged by the prospect he might get the Chinese to walk North Korea back from the brink. In my wildest dreams, despite his ignorance of history and disinterest in cross-cultural nuance, Trump facilitates a Middle East peace. He says he’ll try. I hope he succeeds.
I’ve been ambivalent about his pledge to ease the burden of command-and-control regulation. After all, it depends. I’m certain the government can do less harm, and more good, with better regulation — less here, more there; mainly different, i.e., smarter. (Like a carbon tax on greenhouse emissions.) I’ve been ambivalent about his pledge to revisit trade agreements. I’m a free trader who recognizes the pain globalism has inflicted on the poor and working class, and who supports refinements in trade deals to advance health, safety, fairness and security. I’ve been ambivalent about his calls for shoring up infrastructure; the devils, predictably, are in the details. Hope he’s bold.
I’ve been appalled by his betrayal of promises. Especially concerning the “terrific” health care plan he promised, the one that covers everyone, and is better and cheaper. I’ve been appalled by his failure to release his tax returns. Appalled by his, and his family’s, ongoing efforts to leverage their public positions for private gain. There’s simply no getting around the sordidness of it all. Recently a highly-ranked foreign statesman, asked why he chose to stay at the Trumps’ D. C. hotel, and not somewhere else, was quoted as saying, “Wouldn’t it be rude to come to Washington and not stay at their hotel?”
I’ve been appalled by what Thomas Friedman calls Trump’s “Make America Cough Again” plan to boost coal production. I’ve been appalled by Trump’s seeking to roll back environmental and public health regulations, along with important consumer rights like what little is left of our right to privacy.
I’ve been appalled, at times unnerved, by Trump’s amateurish approach to foreign policy, impulsive use of our military, hyper-nationalism and saber-rattling. I’ve been appalled by his misogyny and thinly veiled racism. By his unseemly displays of impetuousness and pettiness. And his bold-faced lies.
The White House today seems an insular place in serious, maybe dangerous, disarray, with the extended First Family virtually outnumbering those with expertise or at least relevant experience. The nepotism, ineptitude and internal conflicts make for the optics of a Third World operation. It’s painful. To paraphrase Paul Simon, I can see Lady Liberty sailing away…
You might say this is all old news. But for some reason, for me, this morning is different. Maybe as I’ve come unglued after going over Trump’s comments about Andrew Jackson — first on the campaign trail and subsequently while in office, including in recent interviews and when he made a special visit to salute Jackson’s grave. I feel like… come on, enough already.
Andrew Jackson was a genocidal maniac, waging war against and happily murdering native Americans. On top of which he not only owned more than 300 slaves — he’d advertise a bonus, on top of the bounty to those returning his runaways, for those who took the trouble to lash the ungrateful freedom-seekers, sparing Jackson the trouble. Said bonus to be calculated based on the count of visible scars … yeah, old Hickory… one of Tennessee’s finest! And our president admires him…that’s wrong.
I think it’s right, that it’s true, or I want to believe it’s true, that one person can only do so much. Only so much good. Only so much harm. I prefer to think that it’s mostly up to all of us, not one of us. Apropos that thought, I hope dear readers you’ll take the time to check out a truly outstanding piece that appears in today’s New York Times, by Jane Coaston. She offers many excellent and timely points while alluding to the fact that Andrew Jackson is hardly admirable: https://nyti.ms/2qul8km
As depicted in the photo below, a statue of Andrew Jackson stands in Lafayette Park, across from the White House. Sadly it’s never seemed more fitting, more profoundly disturbing.
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Stop, Go, Murder