Now that some weeks have passed, and some emotions have cooled, from the tumult surrounding the wild ending of the Donald Trump presidency, I’ll offer an assessment of the short but eventful four-year period. This comes from someone who, as a registered Republican voter with ardent libertarian leanings (but not a member of the Republican Party!), was strongly outspoken against their nomination of him for the office. As such, I voted Libertarian at the top of the ticket in 2016 and 2020, being duly repulsed by both Trump’s egregious incompetence and immorality, and by the horridly corrupt, truly toxic policies and radical-left extremism of the Democrat Party.
For background, I saw the possible Trump nomination coming 10 months before the election and staunchly opposed it then. Here are some things I said about him before the 2016 election, on this BLOG:
Trump is not a true conservative, in any way, shape or form, but instead an opportunistic, bellicose, vague, frighteningly ignorant celebrity pretending to be a meaningful presidential candidate. He is better-suited for a pro-wrestling charade or “reality show” than any sort of serious public office.
On every issue he “discusses”, at least one of the other candidates has a more thoughtful, detailed, specific idea. His foreign-policy naivete, on a different end of the spectrum, is nearly as egregiously lacking as Obama’s.
On the fiscal front, Trump is precisely the embodiment of the wealthy oligarchy the Tea Party ideal is supposed to mistrust…all while posing as some sort of “outsider” in your best interests. How can he help to pull our country out of crippling debt when he acts as bankrupted his own businesses?
On the moral front, Trump’s behavior has been nothing short of deplorable. His bullying, threatening attitude is well-known and even legendary. Trump’s exaggerations and brazen dishonesty alone should disqualify him (as Hillary’s lies upon lies upon lies should disqualify her too, in fairness). … The guy has opened and operated giant gambling casinos (and tried to open others before lying about it), has had suspicious dealings with mobsters, has had three trophy-wife marriages and at least one adulterous affair, and has contributed money to known adulterers, and other sexual deviants, and subsidized to the tune of millions those who advocate the murder of unborn babies (many Democrats).
With regard to conservative principles, surely heavy monetary support for Democrats for years isn’t part of the ideal. He only draws upon the Bible and Christianity when convenient. He panders to shortsighted, flavor-of-the-moment, celebrity-obsessed foamers with ten-second attention spans.
Whatever Trump is promising, his dishonest track record means he cannot be trusted to deliver. Fellow conservatives, wake up! Get away from the Kool-Aid. Stop this Trump nonsense before you damage the cause for decades.
I don’t hate to say, “I told you so,” and I do say it with brutal honesty and straight at you. But it wasn’t all bad, contrary to the shrill whines of the hyperpartisan left, nor the “greatest ever”, contrary to the worst MAGA foamers.
The Trump presidency was so eventful on so many fronts that it would be a Herculean task just to comment on it all. More happened (especially domestically), in the least time, on the most fronts than any other four years of an administration. It’s just too much. Instead I’ll touch on some highlights and lowlights. I’m fully aware that many events are not covered here.
Four months in, I had this to say in another, otherwise unflattering essay (among several I did on the topic of Trump before and since the election):
“The only substantial things he has done right were to choose Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and James Mattis for Defense Secretary.”
His most positive and enduring governmental legacy likely will be those three quite solid and highly qualified, if unspectacular, Supreme Court picks — Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Barrett. I am most grateful, for they tilt the high court in favor of a generally conservative (though not as much as I’d like), somewhat Constitutionally beholden slant that will be needed as a bulwark against the coming invasion of radical-left-related cases of First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations sure to flood into the court from challenged to new left-wing edicts, much like illegal aliens in the Dems’ open-borders vote pander.
I say “somewhat” because I see no evidence that these three are as originalist as Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito, or the late, great Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch probably comes the closest to being dependable in that regard. In a Supreme Court where these appointments have flipped John Roberts into a squishy, spineless centrist, however, the conservative shift is a massive, massive plus, and much-appreciated bit of good for this republic, for Constitutional freedoms, and ultimately, for the lives of unborn babies herein. I’ll include here the confirmation of over 200 federal judges as well, who will rise through the court ranks with solid impact for generations to come.
The Abraham Accord was a truly monumental foreign-policy victory for the U.S. and the world — an unparalleled and unprecedented deal of cooperation and friendship between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Morocco, Oman and Sudan since have normalized ties with Israel. This in total may be the greatest U.S. foreign-policy accomplishment of any kind since Reagan stared down the Soviet menace and drove them to ultimate breakup, and arguably may be our most unlikely and astounding foreign-policy feat since the Marshall Plan. If carried out, can serve as a model for Mideast peace and economic and technological cooperation for all time. I cannot understate the potential here. Now will the parties involved fulfill it?
Jerusalem has been the nexus of Judean (Jewish) cultural and spiritual identity since David made it the capital of his kingdom in 1003 BC. As the native people of the area, the Jews deserve to have their rightful capital formally recognized. It’s a sad testament to our leadership’s craven cowardice (both parties) that this didn’t come about until 6 February 2017. Recall that during the 1992 presidential-election cycle, Bill Clinton said that his administration would “support Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel” — didn’t happen. G.W. Bush criticized Clinton for that in 2000 — and did nothing about it after becoming President. Obama in 2008, as a candidate, referred to Jerusalem as the “capital of Israel” — and failed to follow through. That’s 24 years of broken promises and lost opportunity, for no good reason whatsoever.
The U.S. Embassy was ordered moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv also, and reopened in May 2018. Though the majority of American Jewish organizations supported the recognition and embassy move, the gaggle of spineless and meddlesome globalists on the U.S. Security Council disapproved by a ratio of 14/15, which further validates the administration’s decision in my book. Here’s a glass raised to Trump for following through on that promise, at least.
The factually Wuhan-originated coronavirus pandemic was an awful thing worldwide, and remains so, having killed millions. That this happened on his watch was a monumental stroke of misfortune in a presidency already bogged down by other troubles (many of his own making). The Chinese Communist Party ultimately bears full moral responsibility for this disaster and its worldwide carnage. Here, Trump’s handling of it was a mixed bag, but here’s the good: Operation Warp Speed, that enabled science to give us tens of millions of lifesaving and innovative mRNA vaccines in record-setting time, with FDA emergency-use authorization. This part of the pandemic response will have a long-lasting, positive legacy in medical science and more importantly, lives saved. See below for the flip side.
Trump signed a bill into law to lower personal income taxes until 2025, cut the corporate tax rate to 21%, increase child tax credits, and raise the “death tax” estate exemption to $11.2 million. I’d personally prefer to see personal income taxes disappear altogether, replaced by a simple flat tax, but in the net, anything that lowers the tax burden on the People is a good thing. Debt reduction should start by limiting government, not gouging the People.
Well, I mentioned Mattis being a great pick. Trump ran the guy off, insultingly. He did so with several other well-qualified picks that he made. It’s a testament to Trump’s wholly unsuitable personality and demeanor for the office that he would make these selections, tout how wonderful they are, then trash them upon slightest hint they weren’t going to be his sycophants. What man of dignity, what diplomatic leader of the free world, behaves that way? The cabinet was a veritable revolving door throughout his presidency, too many to mention, and that’s ridiculous.
I value honesty and integrity above all else as a personal attribute. I’ll hang out with a brutally honest asshole any day before I would want to be around a lying nice guy. Trump has been the worst of both: dishonest, and an asshole. I cannot even begin to count the hundreds upon hundreds of untruthful things he spoke and tweeted throughout his presidency. His continual rain of lies and factually wrong statements were so numerous as to make us numb to them, and were decidedly unbecoming a leader at any level. All of us should have seen it coming too. It was readily apparent to me. In fact, those times he did tell the truth, that was quite remarkable. If this petulant bonehead just mustered the self-control for one thing — stay off Twitter — he might have won re-election by a decent margin. But no. He had to make it all about “me, myself and I”.
The Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, outside Operation Warp Speed, was slow, horridly messaged, and a truly bungled endeavor. His lack of both humility and scientific understanding cost him hugely here, and the mixed messaging (e.g., “Don’t wear masks”, “wear masks”, “wear two masks”) from officials like Fauci were decidedly unhelpful. So was his own personal example, with his public and private expressions differing, until and even during when he contracted the disease himself, much to some of the Left’s glee. Notably, he could have, and failed to, shut down all air traffic from China the very moment intelligence informed him of a new, nasty virus spreading there. That would have slowed the spread and bought more time for understanding and better treatment.
Every expert at crisis-management communications will testify that mixed messaging, ambiguity, and lack of direct, honest leadership, will lead to chaos and confusion. No surprise: it did. We needed a strong, dignified, serious President who would guide us through the crisis with science-based, consistent, crystal-clear messaging, and that simply did not happen.
Trump utterly bailed on his campaign promise to eliminate the national debt in eight years. Instead, when he left office, it had exploded to $27.75 trillion, the highest ever, with the highest ratio to GDP since shortly after World War II. He showed himself to be just another big-spending Republican, signing massive spending bills before the pandemic. What an onerous failure!
The 22 December 2018 government shutdown, after Trump threw a toddler-sandbox hissyfit over the Mexican border wall, resulted in 380,000 government employees furloughed and 420,000 more (including storm forecasters) working without pay. The Congressional Budget Office estimated a permanent loss of $3 billion to the U.S. economy from that needless and childish tantrum. I supported strict border restrictions — and still do — but that was not the way to gain them.
Trump played kissyface with an unstable, megalomaniacal North Korean dictator, with three meetings and no tangible result favorable to the U.S.
He lost both the popular and electoral votes in the 2020 election, but continued to claim victory, falsely. Despite armies of lawyers and PR people involved, he also never was able to substantiate claims of vote fraud at massive enough levels to change the election (though we all know from many documented instances across multiple elections, that the Left’s claims that voter fraud doesn’t happen are themselves grotesque lies). In doing so, he caused an eruption of sociopolitical chaos that was so outrageous as to defy ready description, and led to what’s next.
Not long after, I had a lot more to say about the capitol rioting during congressional election certification, and won’t belabor that here. Suffice to say, that ugly episode in American history marked the low point of the entire Trump Administration, right at the end, and now that a couple months have passed, I’m confident that it’s not just recency bias to say so.
Although he did not literally incite the riot, and did (belatedly) tell the hooligans to “go home with love & in peace,” he said and did far too little to both prevent and stop the lawlessness. Trump — portrayed as a “law and order” kind of guy, simply failed at it here, badly. The supposed tough guy got soft and complacent. He should have rained the full, all-out force of Capitol Police and all other available law enforcement down on the thugs who busted into the building; instead the cops weirdly stood down, and let rioters waltz right into the Capitol before the violence began. It was a bizarre and semi-anarchical event, farthest from stern law and order. Regardless of whatever else happened, this awkward (at best) and grossly negligent (at worst) handling of the Capitol invasion forever will serve as an indelible stain on the Trump legacy.
Now, through the lends of passing weeks, and though I would have pronounced it a slight net negative anyway, that final event at the Capitol, and his abject weakness in dealing with it, ratchets his four years from “poor” to “bad”, straight into the “solid negative” category. I rank Trump’s a tie for worst Presidency of my lifetime, right alongside Carter’s and a notch worse than Obama’s and Nixon’s. [Ronald Reagan’s was, by far, the best.] Donald Trump’s presidency did yield some good things, which the delusional secular cult of “Woke” radicalism would either oppose or never admit, but it was a net setback for our nation, contrary to what the delusional MAGA-herd lemmings would say. This presidency, as I feared, set the noble cause of conservatism back decades, wrecked the Republican Party, and carved deep wounds in our national cohesion (the latter a shared blame with the extreme-left Woke Cult).
It took the scandals and excesses of Obama to beget Trump, and indeed, Obama shares a nontrivial share of responsibility for awful policies and arrogant, insulting statements (by him…”Clinging to guns or religion” and “You didn’t build that!” and Hillary…”basket of deplorables”!) that elicited the Trump-populist backlash. No wonder the mood was ripe for taking advantage by a loudmouthed, neonationalist, populist blowhard. Yes, Obama shares some blame for Trump, and that’s a bitter pill the Left needs to swallow. [Here’s more I wrote between the 2016 election and Presidential changeover on how that all went down.]
In the very same vein, the backlash to Trump begets what’s shaping up to be a Biden administration that is hapless and senile at the top, and dangerously, subversively radical (but in am underhandedly corportatist, neoliberal, passive-aggressive way) beneath. These wild, reactionary electoral backlashes are bad for our nation, not just in terms of governance, but divisiveness and discord. To a similar extent as four years before, the prior administration will shoulder some blame for bringing about the reactionary lunacy of the next.
In one of the BLOG posts linked above, I wrote: “Worse, Trump is going to hand our government over to the radical-leftist, tax-loving, debt-growing, social-engineering, Constitution-hating, moral-anarchist freakazoids, on a shiny silver platter, for decades to come…”. I hope that’s wrong, though I’ve been right about most else regarding this era. We have four years of the left’s parasitic feeding frenzy against the People to experience anyway, at a minimum. Thanks a freaking lot, Trump, you sorry loser.
Will we ever again elect a united and not a divider, a morally and ethically upstanding, intelligent force of dignity, with steady, strong and trustworthy leadership, to that office? Or will these continue to be the contests between cults of personality to which elections have devolved since 2008?