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LA Times' excellent editorials on Trump: the complete package

Begging your indulgence over a small BlackInk housekeeping matter: Last week, I noted what appeared to be an excellent series of Los Angeles Times editorials titled “The Problem with Trump” exploring several reasons that that newspaper’s editorialists thought there were some problems with the current incumbent. I say it “appeared to be” an excellent series, because at the time, only the first two had appeared, and I excerpted from those two and promised that when the whole four-part series was complete I would offer a link to it all.

One small error on my part: It wasn’t a four-part series, it was six. But it’s all published now. So, to fulfill my promise, here’s a link to the whole thing, and here’s the title and first bit of each of the installments with a link in case you want to just read a particular installment:

1. “Our Dishonest President.”

It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a ‘catastrophe.’

Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck.

2. “Why Trump Lies.”

Donald Trump did not invent the lie and is not even its master.

3. “Trump’s Authoritarian Vision:”

Standing before the cheering throngs at the Republican National Convention last summer, Donald Trump bemoaned how special interests had rigged the country’s politics and its economy, leaving Americans victimized by unfair trade deals, incompetent bureaucrats and spineless leaders. He swooped into politics, he declared, to subvert the powerful and rescue those who cannot defend themselves. "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it."

4. “Trump’s War on Journalism:”

In Donald Trump’s America, the mere act of reporting news unflattering to the president is held up as evidence of bias. Journalists are slandered as ‘enemies of the people.’

Facts that contradict Trump’s version of reality are dismissed as "fake news." Reporters and their news organizations are "pathetic," "very dishonest," "failing," and even, in one memorable turn of phrase, "a pile of garbage."

5. “Conspiracy Theorist in Chief

It was bad enough back in 2011 when Donald Trump began peddling the crackpot conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not a native-born American. But at least Trump was just a private citizen then.

By the time he tweeted last month that Obama had sunk so low as to "tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process," Trump was a sitting president accusing a predecessor of what would have been an impeachable offense.

Trump went public with this absurd accusation without consulting the law enforcement and intelligence officials who would have disabused him of a conspiracy theory he apparently imbibed from right-wing media. After the FBI director debunked it, Trump held fast, claiming he hadn’t meant that he had been literally wiretapped.

6. "California fights back"

I won’t trouble you with an excerpt from that one, which, as is obvious from the title, a genuflection to what journalism calls the “local angle.”

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Comments (3)

Sad

I’m editing and paraphrasing, but Constance Sullivan made an important and relevant point, in a comment on Eric’s earlier piece on the “politics of resentment," that (This is my translation of Ms. Sullivan) “…the notion that these resentment-filled people, with no facts on their side, might not only vote for Trump or a Trump surrogate, but might vote for such a person again, even if Trump accomplishes nothing while in office, is enough to fill one with despair for democratic government, which requires an informed and thoughtful electorate, willing to accept the facts of the world as it is.”

The editorials from the LA Times are well-written, and address several of the most troubling aspects of the folly perpetrated by resentful voters upon the society. As an aside, I’ll once again wish that editorial writers, in Los Angeles or Minneapolis, had the same courage their letter-to-the-editor policies require of ordinary citizens: that is, they sign their work with their real name(s). Critical of Trump as they are, however, the editorials do not give in to despair, nor should Minnesotans who find a Trump presidency appalling on multiple levels.

Trump is dishonest in ways that no previous President has been. That is not just my opinion. Even just 3 months into what I fervently hope will be a single, survivable term of office, he has already demonstrated a willful disregard for truth-telling that most parents would punish in a 6-year-old, much less someone who purports to be an adult. I’m inclined to agree with the Times’ editorial writers that Trump has “given every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is liar in chief.” Ethically and intellectually, Trump is a child, and his penchant for flattery to feed his narcissism, or the conspiracy theory that fits his biases, simply reflects that childlike state.

As is often the case (not always, but often) with those born into wealth and privilege, Trump doesn’t respond well to criticism, nor is he inclined to share either power or responsibility. He seems to have become accustomed to being able to duplicate the command structure on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise on “Star Trek:” that is, to figuratively snap his fingers and order “Make it so.” When things go well, he wants all the credit himself. When things go badly, it’s never his fault. This, too, is characteristic of a childlike personality.

The whole point of journalism is to make available to the public information that an individual or institution would prefer not be made public. There has always been, and likely will always be, an unavoidable tension between the media and the presidency. It's been true for as many presidents as I can remember, and I wore an "I like Ike" button in 1952. So be it. For an unrepentant narcissist like Trump to castigate news outlets for “fake news” that is demonstrably true and factual is to, once again, fall back on the childlike. No 4-year-old likes it when Dad tells Mom of their daughter’s misbehavior, or Mom tells Dad of their son’s refusal to cooperate.

In short, the electoral college (with the active assistance of Republican strategy) has done the public a disservice by putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office. The grownups around the country will have to keep an eye on him and do what they can to prevent him, in a fit of pique over some imagined slight, doing more harm to the country than he otherwise might. We'll have an opportunity to correct this mistake as early as 2018, and we should take advantage of it in preparation for the next presidential election in 2020.

Resentful voters

I actually feel bad about it, but I can't help my anger toward the resentment-filled voters that you describe - some of them my friends - who could not be bothered to take their responsibility to be informed citizens seriously. If ever there could be a clearly incompetent and unqualified candidate, Trump was that choice. Of course they voted against their own self interest in satisfying their pique, but they will take the rest of us down with them and for that they and the GOP will remain unforgiven. Sad indeed.

Trump is liar who tries to

Trump is liar who tries to make virtues of unpredictability, unreliability and impulsivity.

Hardly the sort of person you would want running a business (notice the long trail of lawsuits that have followed his career). Certainly not the type of person that is qualified to carry the responsibility for the survival of the planet, either.

Recent flip-flops--NAFTA, NATO, China, Syria, Russia, Clinton, Obama, healthcare, legislative priorities, business blind-trust, golf....