This president, we are told in Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” is not much of a reader, has a short attention span to take in information and trusts the intelligence of none of his advisors. The Donald Trump leadership style, Wolfe reports, needs no other leaders, for, with his intuition, he makes all decisions and blames others should events spiral out of control. All of this reflects a management style based upon, “fight or flight,” also called hyperarousal, a physiological response to his surroundings.
In Trump’s case, he always elects to fight, never apologizes, and rather than reason, opts to attack any critic from any basis, be the critic a Pope, a president, or a pit bull. After one year of the Trump presidency, we now know there is never an apology forthcoming for any tweet of crude offense or statement that attacks institutions or groups or individuals personally.
Unfortunately for the nation, this style of management, degrades the national dialogue, divides us into tribes and, perhaps, most importantly, undermines our institutions of democracy.
Consider Trump’s endless attacks on the U.S. courts. Trump has called our courts, “disgraceful,” “so political,” “ridiculous” and our judges, “(a) so called judge,” “… is a total disgrace (Judge Curiel).”
In each example, the criticism was based upon the courts or the judges criticizing something Trump said or supported. Criticizing this president always brings personal attack, that we all know from observation. But, in criticizing our courts and judges, Trump undermines a crucial part of democracy and threatens the separation of powers.
Newly appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, when asked about Trump’s judicial comments said Trump’s comments were, “demoralizing”. Jeffery Rosen, President of the National Constitution Center wrote, “Judicial independence is a fragile and crucial achievement of American constitutionalism,” a point lost entirely on Donald Trump.
Now the Trump “fight” response has reached to attack the FBI and the Department of Justice because Trump is under investigation for collusion with the Russians to win the presidency, and obstruction of justice for impeding the investigation. The Trump response is not to defend himself, but to attack. Trump has said the FBI is in, “tatters,” that Hillary Clinton, “lied many times to the FBI” and that the FBI handling of investigating Clinton was, “the most incredible thing anyone has ever seen,” referring to his perception of incompetence by the FBI.
And recently, Republicans in the House and the Senate have joined in defending Trump of what he has not yet been charged, apparently to undermine the investigators with the assumption that crimes will soon be charged against the President.
The basis of their objections is that when U.S. and European Intelligence agencies noted multiple and frequent contacts of Russians agents with the Trump campaign and, on that basis, issued a FISA warrant, the government was siding against the Trump campaign. With that assertion, the Trump Republicans conclude the FBI was trying to tilt the election to Hillary Clinton. The proof of that charge is that two FBI agents were Democrats, therefore making them apparently unqualified to also serve the FBI as law enforcement officers. And the final damning proof in this case of make believe facts is that Clinton was exonerated by the FBI, when one of the two Democrats wrote the language that Clinton’s e-mail actions were not intentional and therefore did not rise to prosecution.
The short version of the above is this: Trump is apparently convinced that he will be charged by the investigation now underway and has moved into his “fight” mode to undermine his potential accusers.
Unfortunately, the president is undermining our trust in our institutions, including our courts, the Department of Justice and the FBI, for the sole reason of protecting himself.
It is behavior unfitting an honorable person, much less a sitting American president.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.