Terry H. Schwadron
Sept. 25, 2017
It was quite the week for public affairs — and for bonehead politics in Washington.
Let’s take stock:
We have a President who used a diplomatic gathering to threaten North Korea with annihilation over testing of nuclear weapons and missiles, followed up with economic sanctions against banks — and an exchange of personal insults: Madman v. Dotard. Are we better off or worse off at the end of the week? Bonehead move.
The same President threatened to walk away from a standing deal with Iran because he wants a broader exclusion against non-nuclear militarization by Iran, without regard to what Iran or allies might want. Again, with no plan, no allied coalition, no indication that Iran wants to negotiate, another self-inflicted bonehead move.
He again embraced the Turkish leader for his role in fighting ISIS, while that Turkish leader, Recep Ergodan, watched as his own security people once again beat up protesters in a New York hotel. Bonehead.
And then, for a pièce de resistance, taking on the NFL and professional basketball in pursuit of a twisted sense of patriotism (and a weird stance for more concussions?), apparently in an attempt to wow his followers. Backlash ensued, naturally. Bonehead x 3.
Meanwhile, we have a bonehead Congress seemingly bent on passing a horrible bill with no debate that will fulfill only the surface-like quality of repealing Obamacare basically by walking away from health care, leaving it to under-financed states, and insisting that it will protect people with pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy, that it actually doesn’t offer, since states will be allowed to drop whatever coverage and pricing rules they choose. We have a Republican-majority Congress that can’t get along necessarily with a Republican President, who is turning to Democrats to further insult Republican leaders. If a particular congress member or senator actually cares about helping people, like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Republican leadership is acting to “buy” that person’s vote in order to preserve a bad campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare; but for the heroic stance of Sen. John McCain of Arizona came out against the bill. Despite indications of No votes from Susan Collins, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, formally, it remains at the brink until the actual vote.
We have bonehead states that are conducting their own purges on government and government spending, all in the name of reducing taxes, only to find that when two hurricanes hit, they need a fully stocked and prepared federal government who will provide at least 75% of all money they need to rebuild in the same storm path.
And we have voters who are stamping their feet if the majority of the country does not go along with their thinking — whether it is swamp-draining Alabamans who want a twice-ousted state supreme court justice (for failing to obey the law) who thinks America is a Christian nation, or Democrats in San Francisco who are appalled that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi actually sat with the President to persuade him to agree to Democratic goals of preserving a path to legal Dreamer immigration,
We have a planet that clearly doesn’t like getting warmer, and is telling us this in no uncertain terms, only to have formal government officials reject science, climate change, and replace scientists in policy advisory roles with campaign functionaries. Meanwhile, we all watch with trepidation as the next tropical storm forms off the Azores and starts its slow churn westward. We salute Mexicans who dig out those stuck in rubble, even while attacking the economic agreements and treaties that are starting to bring some economic well-being to Mexico, so that they, among other things, can consider better building codes.
This is the week in which Robert S. Mueller III and his special counsel office in the Justice Department show us grit in warning Paul Manafort, who headed the Trump campaign until he didn’t, that he faces indictment on unnamed counts that will cover coordination and contact with Russian and other foreign figures, including offers to share information about the election campaign. Mueller, meanwhile, has targeted paperwork and interviews within the White House for review, indicating that he indeed is pursuing questions of obstruction of justice by the President. And we learned that former White House press secretary Scott Spicer, of all people, took copious notes of all the meetings for which Mueller has shown interest.
It was a week in which First Lady Melania spoke about bullying to the United Nations, which had just witnessed Donald Trump being, well, a bully.
We see total confusion ahead for tax cuts, and we’ve lost sight of any infrastructure plan from the White House. We are using the banner of health care to further debase abortion services already outlawed for government spending by defunding Planned Parenthood, arguing about whether transgender people can be in our military, and reducing by millions of acres a double handful of national monuments and parks.
We saw the President get up before a group of African leaders and get the name of a country wrong without knowing it; that’s okay, after he met with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the sole black Republican in the Senate, about more clearly denouncing neo-Nazis and white supremacists, the White House got the senator’s name wrong. We heard that Mr. Trump would like a national military parade, and, oh yeah, he once again thinks it is an easy matter for folks in the Middle East to agree on a permanent peace that he will broker.
Finally, this was the week that he wanted to speak with Jewish rabbis and leaders in a telephone conference call before the start of the New Year, even though they did not want to participate because he could not denounce neo-Nazis. He went ahead anyway, apparently without thought about a holiday meant to renew the soul with introspection and thoughts about peace. That’s about the same time he started calling Kim Jong-Un the “Rocket Man.”
Maybe the idea of a “swamp” in Washington is just lack of clear thinking.
Glad I could take the weekend off.