What a petty, venal, corrupt and foul thing it is. More media-generated homunculus than man, every day, Donald Trump behaves more and more like the cornered animal desperately trying to save itself by viciously biting in every direction, pulling out every nasty trick that has worked for him before. But now he gnashes his teeth on a global stage so vast that the pettiness of his vindictiveness is unconcealed, cast in a spotlight that diminishes every American.
With last week’s firing of Rex Tillerson and the dismissal of Andrew McCabe as deputy director of the FBI just hours before he was eligible for his pension after 21 years of service, the president once again demonstrated that as the Mueller investigation seems to get closer to a truth he does not want revealed, there is no bottom to the well of deception, posturing, vengefulness—and fear— that motivates his actions. Trump’s is the real witch-hunt.
Yes, it’s important that we soon see the inspector general’s report that was used to justify McCabe’s ouster, but to follow that character assassination Friday night with a Trump tweet celebrating the sacking as “a great day for Democracy” is a cruelly ironic subversion of our founding principles of liberty and justice.
Ironic, too, that this McCabe madness and that first of a new fusillade of dumb and desperate weekend tweets deliberately aimed at undermining Mueller’s probe should come down on the very day we marked the contributions of two politicians who dedicated their lives not to avarice and self-aggrandizement but to public service.
March 16 was the 50th anniversary of the day Robert F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was a controversial decision; as the Vietnam conflict raged on, Gene McCarthy had emerged as the leading antiwar Democrat challenging Lyndon Johnson’s re-election and Kennedy was accused of opportunism, of using McCarthy’s bid to test the waters for his own race.
Those old enough to recall 1968 remember it as a year like no other. The campaign for the White House was a cauldron of roiling drama and crisis. Kennedy was not running solely on his charisma and the family name; nor was he a one-issue candidate. He spoke out in opposition to the Vietnam War but consistently and passionately against poverty and social injustice as well. Here’s a little of what Kennedy said in a speech just two days after he declared he was running:
“… The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
“It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
“And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”
Try to imagine Donald Trump or his pals saying any of that and you’ll realize just how far our republic has fallen. Right after you recover from a fit of bitter laughter.
Friday also was the day we lost Rep. Louise Slaughter, the western New York congresswoman who was the oldest sitting member of the House. She served for nearly 32 years.
Here’s how Harrison Smith in The Washington Post described her: “The daughter of a blacksmith in a Kentucky coal mine, Rep. Slaughter traced her lineage to Daniel Boone and attacked her political opponents with a marksman’s accuracy and, not infrequently, a disarming grin.”
She was a microbiologist who moved to New York State with her husband in the 1950s. A local fight over a stand of beech-maple trees drew her to elected office, serving in county and state legislatures and then Congress. Slaughter was the first woman to chair the powerful House Rules Committee. She co-sponsored the 1994 Violence against Women Act, defended the right to choose, fought to get the Senate to hear Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court, co-chaired the Congressional Arts Caucus and wrote the STOCK Act to bar members of Congress from insider trading.
I was proud to be her friend. Louise Slaughter and I sat next to each other at a dinner in Rochester, NY, eight years ago and bonded over politics and a shared love for the song lyrics of Johnny Mercer. We would talk on the phone from time to time and the day she died I found a recent voicemail in which she cheerfully chatted about being up to her neck in work and pushing back against the unending Republican attempts to kill Obamacare, a bill she had helped advance through the House.
Both Louise Slaughter and Bobby Kennedy represented New York State on Capitol Hill but their concern was for the whole nation. They shared a commitment to compassion, fairness and equal rights that transcended payoffs, privilege and bullying egos. They recognized that country and citizenship should come first and that elections are supposed to be about being chosen to speak for the best interests of the people.
There’s speculation that the latest Trump rant was set off by special counsel Mueller’s subpoena of Trump corporate records and an initial list of questions he has submitted for the president to answer. They doubtless are just the beginning of queries intended to determine whether our chief executive has obstructed justice or colluded with Russia in election tampering, whether he chose profit and self-interest over patriotism and loyalty.
Compare Trump to Kennedy and Slaughter and it makes you want to weep. And then pray.
Trump Caught On Tape: Trump Lies About Wealth
Donald Trump lied (above) about his wealth to get on the Forbes 400, the business magazine’s ranking of the world’s richest people, posing as publicist ‘John Barron’ to do so.
Writes Jonathan Greenberg in the Washington Post:
…it took decades to unwind the elaborate farce Trump had built to project an image as one of the richest people in America. Nearly every assertion supporting that claim was untrue. Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all. In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers — as a spate of government reports and books showed only much later.
When Trump was campaigning for president, it was revealed that he masqueraded as his own spokesman earlier in his career to brag about his accomplishments, his wealth, and his alleged desirability to famous women.
In May 2016, The Washington Post published an audio recording of a 1991 call from a man claiming to be on Trump’s PR team, who responded to a request from People magazine reporter Sue Carswell for a comment on Trump’s divorce from wife Ivana and his increasingly complicated relationship with model Marla Maples.
As “John Miller”, Trump touted his reputation as a playboy, explaining that famous actresses and even the likes of Madonna call him wanting to date him.
Trump using the pseudonyms John Miller and John Barron was a fact well-known among New York journalists at the time. Trump would eventually admit that the call to People was a “joke gone awry.” And prior to that call, in 1990, Trump said of the name ‘John Miller,’ “I believe on occasion I used that name.”
Trump denied that fact:
In a phone call to NBC’s “Today” program, Trump denied that he was John Miller. “No, I don’t think it — I don’t know anything about it. You’re telling me about it for the first time and it doesn’t sound like my voice at all,” he said. “I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice and then you can imagine that, and this sounds like one of the scams, one of the many scams — doesn’t sound like me.” Later, he was more definitive: “It was not me on the phone. And it doesn’t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone. And when was this? Twenty-five years ago?”
Trump continues to lie to this day, though there appears to be little to no consequence.
Pruitt Asks Trump to Make Him Attorney General
While its very possible that Scott Pruitt will not survive being the EPA Director for another week, he has being lobbying Trump for another job as Attorney General.
Yes, the man who is now under Investigation by the EPA Inspector General for using millions of tax payers money for his own person first class travel, believes he should be rewarded with a new job as the top cop.
Current AG Sessions has recused himself from investigations into Russia’s ties to the campaign of President Donald Trump, effectively prohibiting Sessions from firing Mueller. Pruitt, who has not recused himself, would seemingly not face the same constraints.
Switching out Sessions for Pruitt could have its pitfalls. Pruitt would face a tough confirmation hearing in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and Democrats would interrogate him about Russia, his EPA tenure and other thorny topics.
Trump Now Hiring From Disney Channel
Telling staff he wants more “hot young women” in his office, Trump is hiring a 22-year old Disney Channel star is making the leap from entertainment to the White House.
Caroline Sunshine, 22, has joined the Trump White House as a press assistant, ABC News has learned.
While she may be known for her acting, Sunshine has interned for the White House, the Office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the College Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party, White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told ABC News. She was also involved in the American Enterprise Institute and her school’s Model United Nations team.
Before transitioning to politics, Sunshine spent three seasons playing Tinka Hessenheffer on the Disney Channel sitcom “Shake It Up.” Her other television credits include “A.N.T. Farm” and “Fish Hooks” on Disney Channel and appearances in “The Outfield,” “Marmaduke” and other films.