Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Obama’s Style Versus Trump’s Substance

The President addressing CPAC (WSJ)
Once again I feel compelled to speak positively about a man that is perhaps the most disgusting human being to ever set foot in the Oval Office. His rhetoric and personal behavior continues to be so repugnant that my embarrassment about him as our leader increases with every passing moment. So disgusting was it even from the start - that it caused me to vote for his liberal Democratic opponent during the election. Even though I did not particularly like her politics.

No matter how strongly I have condemned him, it doesn’t seem to be strong enough. Just when you think you’ve heard or seen enough, he comes up with something else to criticize. I have given up any hope I once had that he would somehow rise to the level of dignity that his office demands. 

Trump is who he is. Unless he is impeached and removed from office, he will likely continue to embarrass us. The list of things he has said and done is so long it would take up way to much space in this post. If you want to see a partial list, you can see in in a Wall Street Journal oped by Joseph Epstein.

Former President Barack Obama
The damage he has done to our image is incalculable. And yet I have to pretty much agree with the headline of that article: The Only Good Thing About Trump is (almost) all his policies. (I added the word ‘almost’ because I do disagree with some of them. Like his decision to impose tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum.)

The latest policy with which I agree is his apparent decision to snub the Polish President and Prime Minster on their upcoming visit to the United States.  All I can say to that is, thank you, Mr. President for recognizing the inherent antisemitism of the New Polish Law that forbids saying the phrase ‘Polish Death Camps’.

Boycotting  a visiting head of state of a country with which we have security relationship is - to the best of my knowledge - unprecedented. The Trump administration could have easily cited national security concerns as a reason to meet with him. Instead, he stood up for the Jewish People. Again. I say again because this is not the first thing he has done that serves Jewish interests. Even though I believe that in every instance it serves American interests too. 

Not only did he recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital; not only is he moving the American embassy there; he is doing it quickly. By Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) it will be up and running. He has even said that he will attend the ceremony on that day if possible.

I must admit that at first I had mixed feelings about this move – fearing it would result in more bloodshed on the part of Palestinians. But that has not really happened. Nor has Israel’s relationship with her Arab neighbors been affected – despite all the early negative reactions to it by them. I don’t think Israel has ever had better relations with the Arab world than it does right now. (Thank You Iran.) All I can feel now is pride in my country. Pride that a sitting President has now done what he promised to do as a candidate. Something no other sitting President did even as they promised to do so as candidates.

And then there is the UN. I cannot say enough about the turn of events there. All due to yet another great thing the President did. He appointed the most pro Israel representative to that body in its entire history. Is there anyone that would disagree with what Nikki Haley has done for Israel  in that ‘august’ international body? 

There has been a 180 turn against a policy of the last administration who abstained from a vote enabling the UN to pass a one sided resolution condemning Israel. Something I believe the US had never done before. Haley has been a magnificent voice and friend of Israel at the UN as its US representative. Honesty and integrity has replaced the appeasement policies of the past. 

No matter how much you hate the President, you cannot deny how positive this move has been! 

Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman
Trump has also sided with protecting our constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom when it comes into conflict with new found definitions of civil rights. That has benefited not only Judaism. It has benefited Christianity, and Islam too.

Let us not forget about the commutation of Sholom Rubashkin’s overly harsh 27 year prison sentence - to time served.

It isn’t only the Jewish or religious people that have benefited from Trump’s policies. The economy has benefited too. How ironic is that in light of expert predictions to the contrary. Like those of Nobel Prize winning economist  Paul Krugman who said that the fallout of a Donald Trump presidency woul be so severe and widespread that it will plunge the world into recession. From the Politico
Calling Trump the "mother of all adverse effects," the Nobel Prize-winning economist predicted that the GOP nominee's administration could quickly undo the progress that the markets around the world have made in the eight years since the financial crisis. 
 I admit to thinking pretty much the same thing. Thankfully we were both very wrong.

Not only did that not happen - the opposite happened. We are in the midst of unprecedented Bull Market. And in the midst of a prosperity we haven’t seen in a very long time. More people are working than ever. Minorities included. Income is up (due mostly to Trump’s personal and corporate tax policies.) Industries are returning to American soil. They are paying higher wages. Lower taxes means more take home pay for most Americans.  There may even be some sensible gun control legislation coming out if this administration.

Kim Jong-un meeting with S' Korean officials (NYT)
And then there is the latest development with North Korea. Trump’s tough talk about their continuing Nuclear and missile program followed by a strong show of American might in North Korea’s neighborhood seems to have resulted in what just about every foreign policy expert said would never happen. There seems to some sort of reconciliation with South Korea. More surprisingly, North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, said he is willing to discuss giving up nuclear weapons if he can negotiate with the US. Which is exactly what Trump demanded in order to have such talks. Will wonders  never cease?!

If your views  are anything like mine - you have to be happy about all this despite Trump’s grossly disturbing rhetoric and behavior. Even if there are some of Trumps polices that we may disagree with.

That said, I agree with Epstein: 
The obverse of Donald Trump’s presidency for me was that of Barack Obama... I approved of almost everything Mr. Obama said, and I disapproved of almost everything he did. He made a wretched nuclear deal with Iran, initiated a hopelessly cumbersome health-care law, deserted Israel at the United Nations, and did more to exacerbate than to alleviate race relations. Yet no hint of corruption, no sexual scandal of any sort, clings to Mr. Obama, a man who seems a loving husband and a good father.
I can easily imagine myself at lunch with Barack Obama, talking baseball, basketball, the University of Chicago, the intricacies of Chicago-style machine politics, whereas I cannot think of a single topic I might take up at a similar meal with Donald Trump. 
Image is important. Personal behavior is important. Positive Presidential rhetoric is important. Personal ethics are important. Personal dignity is important. Obama gave us all of that. With Trump we have lost much of it. But we have gained so much with his policies that I am begining to wonder what would have been the case if the candidate I voted for would have won.

We surely would have had a better image along the lines of Obama. Probably by orders of magnitude. But she would have likely continued her predecessor’s polices. Would Israel be better off? Would the American people be prospering? Would joblessness be down? Would the Stock Market have skyrocketed the way it has? Would Kim Jong-un be groveling to meet with the US? I think the answers to those questions is - probably not. God bless the United States of America.

Updated (2:35 PM)