Dystopia, the press conference

Published 10:01 am Friday, January 13, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump held his first post-election press conference this week, and it was all bluster and bombast. And why not? With the fifth-smallest electoral majority in presidential history, the winner of 46 percent of the national vote, the second place finisher of the public vote, and one of the lowest popularity ratings of an incoming president in decades at 37 percent, why not begin with belligerence?

Originally, the ostensive purpose of the press conference was to explain to the public the measures the new president has taken to distance himself from his business, and to protect his presidency from conflicts of interest going forward. On that basis, the president-elect not only failed, but he offered the public a sharp stick in the eye and a promise of conflict of interest more extensive than anyone could imagine.

Trump said he was above the law as president and did not need do anything to avoid conflict of interest. True enough, presidents may not be prosecuted for conflict of interest. But because he is a sensitive guy, he was establishing a distance from profit as president. Except, not really.

Email newsletter signup

In truth, once the smoke and mirrors dissipate, nothing in the Trump empire changes. Although 60 percent of Americans want his tax filings released, Trump has absolutely no intention to do so, saying no one but the press cares. And the Trump family business will now be operated by Trump’s two sons, who Donald promises not to talk to about the business.

And that is the Trump solution…they won’t talk about the family business. Family dinners should be fun, held in silent homage to the new rules promised by the Trumps.

Politicians staying at Trump hotels, or playing golf at Trump courses, or spending lavishly to be recognized for their support of all things Trump, are just guests having a good time. Encouraging diplomats to stay at the new Trump hotel in DC…just recommending a great hotel to friendly folks. What could possibly go wrong?

Then there was that small new matter to be discussed at the Trump press conference; the unsubstantiated memo circulating Washington for the past month suggesting that the Russians had been in contact with the Trump campaign during the time the Russians were attacking Hillary Clinton with hacked e-mails, raising the possibility of collusion. And the ugly additional and also unsubstantiated claim that the Russians may have compromised Trump with evidence of improprieties.

Trump denied each of these charges aggressively but still offered no explanation of how, in a nearly two-year campaign, he had never leveled a single criticism of President Putin or Russia. That seems problematic given the Russians have occupied Crimea, invaded Ukraine, shot down a passenger plane, and killed thousands of innocents in Syria. He who will lead the free world has avoided even the smallest critique of President Vladimir Putin or Russia throughout the long presidential campaign.

Trump then promised he will build the wall along the Mexican border, but that the U.S. will have to pay for it until he can convince Mexico to re-pay the U.S. The Mexican president promptly promised to never pay for the wall.

The president-elect also promised to gut and replace Obamacare in short order, seemingly negating the complexity of putting 20 million Obamacare insured Americans at risk, valuing speed over thoughtfulness in healthcare.

It was an inspiring performance, if you value belligerence over competence and knowledge.

And this is just the beginning.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.