Collateral Damage

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Photo credit: NPR

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“American farmers are collateral damage in Trump’s trade war.” This was the March 23 headline in Mother Jones magazine, in stark contrast to the president’s words just three days earlier. “Our Nation was founded by farmers,” he tweeted. “Our independence was won by farmers. And our continent was tamed by farmers. Our farmers always lead the way — we are PROUD of them, and we are DELIVERING for them!”

But according to Mother Jones, Missouri’s farm bureau members are sick with worry. “China’s threat to limit its purchases of US soybeans and pork sent a chill through the grain belt. In its announcement on Friday [in response to President Trump’s threat of a trade war], China threatened a 25 percent tariff on US pork, imperiling a $1.16 billion market.”

Consequential headlines like these tend to get lost under the heavy pile of chaos this president buries us under on a daily basis.

Consider the last couple of weeks.

He fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Not in person; not on the phone; but on Twitter. No matter your opinion of Tillerson, he was an honorable man who served his country and was deserving of respect. What kind of president humiliates his own senior staff in this manner?

He congratulated Russia’s Vladimir Putin on winning what John McCain called a “sham” election, even after his own staff wrote DO NOT CONGRATULATE in all caps on his briefing materials.

He stated his intent to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, then fired his National Security Advisor. Lest you think this is no big deal, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, retired Admiral James Stavridis, had this terrifying response: “You look for the national security apparatus as guardrails around the presidency because of the immense power that’s invested in the executive branch. I feel like those guardrails are drifting. God help us if we lose Jim Mattis.”

A key member of the president’s legal team resigned. (Note: Obama did not need, nor have, a legal team.)

He fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe just 26 hours before he was to receive his pension after 20 years of service protecting this country. How did McCabe learn he’d been fired? A friend saw it on TV and called him at home, after 10 pm, on a Friday night.

Do you have a pension? Imagine losing your pension, your livelihood, your family’s security, this way.

And who can look past the veritable car wreck of credible allegations that the president had not one, but two, affairs in the months after his wife Melania gave birth. One long-term, with a Playboy model who says he offered to put her up in a New York City Apartment. One with a porn star. All as his wife nursed their infant boy.

This is, in a word, damaging.

Sure, President Trump put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and passed huge tax cuts for the wealthy. But he has also implemented ill-advised tariffs—causing Gary Cohn, his top economic advisor, to resign—that could severely damage American businesses and farmers. In the words of Blake Hurst, a corn and soybean farmer and president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, “Folks are getting pretty nervous.”

If you don’t want to listen to me, how about Peter Wehner, an Evangelical Christian who served in 3 Republican presidential administrations (Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush). In a recent interview with David Axelrod he said, “We think the Gorsuch nomination was a good thing, but on his treatment of women, his pathological lies, his denigration of the poor, and his attacks are something that are really troubling and problematic. And the hush money, the $130,000 for a porn star while your third wife was at home with your child” is just complete hypocrisy.

Mr. Wehner also wrote in The New York Times, “I hoped the Trump era would be seen as an aberration and made less ugly by those who might have influence over the president. That hasn’t happened. Rather than Republicans and people of faith checking his most unappealing sides, the president is dragging down virtually everyone within his orbit.”

Would we have tolerated this constant chaos, this instabilty, from a Hillary Clinton, or any other, president?

No. We would not.

Turns out most Americans will be the Trump presidency’s collateral damage. In the words of Adm. Stavridis, “God help us.”

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