Happy to be Hitched?

Some thoughts on the debatable wisdom of being hitched to a once rising stellar body ….

Up until recently I had been attracted to the notion of hitching one’s wagon to a star. Now it occurs to me that this may well become problematic if it should ever transpire that the hitched star turns out to be falling.

The initial prospects of hitching up to President’s elect Trump’s star must have seemed attractive enough to a great number when the promises were first made.

Remember in that campaign we were told (and not least by the candidate), America could now have the candidate it deserved.  Perhaps we need to think about that!

Let’s do a quick review. Mr Trump’s personal doctor was on record as assuring the electorate the candidate had extraordinary health and fitness. The candidate himself told us that unlike a previous candidate (Obama), this new man Donald Trump would not waste an excessive time on the golf course. This new star was going to do away with all that fudging of truth. No more fake news. Mr Trump was going to unite the nation. The down trodden working class whites would have their issues granted some well over-due attention. The swamp would be drained. The evangelical right would get their policies into law.

Because Mr Trump let it be known that he was born again as a true Christian, Jerusalem would at last be safe.

The neglected armed services would be more powerfully armed and universally respected ( albeit without the poofter transgender losers).   The candidate Trump had repeatedly reminded the public he had been an incredibly rich and successful business man. We would see this for ourselves when he released his tax returns, which he would do as soon as soon as due diligence had been carried out (!) As a money wizard he would of course know how negotiate fair trade deals, and remove unfair taxes. True he didn’t quite explain exactly how all those services assisted by the Federal Government like health, education , transport and environmental protection etc would be delivered on a radically depleted tax take, but Mr Trump implied that once the stupid stuff like Obama-care had disappeared, all would become obvious. And the promises kept coming.

He was going to bring about peace in the Middle East, sort out China with long over-due tariffs, make the schools safer and the gun crime in the cities would go away. ISIS would surrender and Iran would be finished as a threat. No more shady backroom deals or vested interests would be on show in Washington. The White House would be sorted because the very best for the key positions would be personally chosen. Potentially dangerous immigrants from dodgy nations would be turned away at the border, with the worst rapists and murderers would be kept out by the magnificent proposed wall to be paid for by Mexico …and there would be a forced exodus of people who did not have the rights to stay. Did I remember to say Hillary was going to be locked up?

But here is the important bit. The combined effect of these wonders would be that once again America would be great again…great not just in the eyes of the American people… Nay, great in the eyes of the world.

……Except, thus far, that is not quite how it seems to be turning out.
If the international polls are to be believed, the bewildered observers from many of those foreign places were ignorant enough to be disenchanted by the presidential change of direction and saw both the President in particular and the United States of America in general come across as less trustworthy. According to the polls the international community average support for the previous Obama administration of approximately 48% now dropped to the low 30s by March 2018. At home things weren’t much better. The US population far from becoming united under the President consistently dropped their average support from an initial average of approaching 50% to the low 40s. The protests started to come thick and fast.

Well then what about the specifics of what we were told before the election. OK the doctor’s letter about the fitness and health of Candidate Trump was admitted by the said doctor to be authored by ….. er…..Candidate Trump. Golfing Trump was frequently found taking a Mulligan in the rough when he had promised to be at work. The second amendment about freedom to bear arms turned out to be a Quid Pro Quo for the election contribution to the GOP from the National Rifle Association.  While he appeared to briefly listen to the Gun Crime concerns of students and teachers, as a star he was more comfortable being a shooting star (albeit one prevented from personal heroics by heel spurs).  When Trump from a US with much higher gun crime figures than other first world nations started to tell countries like England and France to arm their citizens they were understandably outraged.   And there was a curious oversight.  The second amendment was the amendment that got Mr Trump’s attention.  On the other hand the first amendment which among other things guaranteed the right to free opinion turned out to be with the unspoken proviso that the free opinion had to coincide with the Trump version of the truth.

Because Mr Trump let it be known that he was born again as a true Christian, Israel would at last be safe.   His previous stance on abortion was now changed and like any true Christian not to mention like the key voting block of White evangelicals he was now against it.

Fake news??? Well ,the Canadian Prime Minister must have been under the impression that at least some of the fake stuff might now be coming from the top. A few short months after Mr Trump had publically routed the Canadian Prime minister with trade figures that showed clearly how Canada was being advantaged and how the US was being short changed yet now a few months later President Trump was actually boasting of making those figures up.

One of several examples of Trump’s truthiness as recently as this last week was the revelation from one of Mr Trump’s lawyers that a payment of $130,000 made to silence a porn star Stormy Daniels about an affair she had had with Mr Trump turned out to have been made with the full knowledge of Mr Trump. Since Mr Trump had earlier flatly denied knowing about the payment, this revelation suggested that at the very least he had been economic with the truth.

Claimed fact after fact from a regular stream of Presidential Twitter rants was now being regularly fact checked (see Politico) and an extraordinary high percentage found to be misleading or even deliberately false.

But there was also a curious shift in the extent the wider audience was prepared to tolerate lapses of honesty. My personal musing on the topic leads me to wonder if because his critics have already encountered and publicized so many Trump untruths, one remarkable consequence is that each fresh dramatic revelation seems to have much less shock factor than might have been the case had there been fewer instances . James Comey, fired by Trump as Director of the FBI, provided numerous examples in his memoir, then summarized Trump’s relationship with the truth as lamenting “the lying about all things, large and small, to satisfy some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth”.

Perhaps too,  it was not unexpected that so many of the media watchdogs were now committed to examining the record. We should hardly be surprised that, having been roundly abused by the President for their own alleged published untruths, some of the same accused Journalists had set to with a will and painstakingly uncovered example after example of Trump’s lies and distortions.

Perhaps the saddest new development in the shadows of the arc of Trump’s shooting star has been the way in which whole communities have become bitterly divided.   Many of the US tourists I have encountered in my own home city of Auckland New Zealand tell me they are deeply ashamed about what is happening back in the United States.  They also say that talking politics in their home communities is now best avoided!  Hopefully they were not a representative sample.   Yet regardless of whether or not Mr Trump deserves the criticisms, the perception of his success is, at best, debateable.

But here is the rub.   The well intentioned Trump voters are now caught in a bind.   Those red  hats were a visible sign of those absolutely committed to Trump policies. Now those policies have been round long enough to be tested and some are now looking suspiciously like policies which are starting to fail.  Unfortunately the Trump supporters and the pro-Trump politicians are inescapably associated in the public mind with those same policies.  Those who were proud in announcing support of those policies are now self-identified.  In terms of the GOP, the President has already made it clear that he has no room for those who question his policies yet the hard truth is that a host of polls says in total the naysayers are now a majority.  Will those who stand alongside such a president be remembered by that same majority as representing policies that the majority reject.     If it turns out that the policies such as the debt creation by tax rebate become failed policies, will politicians and advisers who colluded with the President be saddled with the prospective label of having poor judgement?

To all but the most conservative Christians, the born again Christian Trump was now beginning to look suspiciously as if he had been reborn as his previous self.   The New Testament provided check lists of what a Christian rebirth should have implied…  “Slow to anger?” …. er… ask the ex-White House staff.    “Keeps no score of wrongs?”  Nothing there about tweeting the score …um….”Forgive 70 time 7″  Well surely with Mr Trump, a single word of dissent is enough.   Don’t store up treasures on Earth?   …. Take away those treasures and what is left for a man who faked telephone calls to get himself on the Forbes Rich list top 500?   Love for ones neighbour ?– well perhaps not if the neighbour came from Mexico or one of the bad Muslim countries with a beef against Saudi Arabia (and where by coincidence there were Trump investments and a mega truck load of US weapons).  Peace would be restored in the Middle East between the Palestinians and Israel although it is hard to escape the impression that, at least to to Mr Trump, the US neutrality as peacemaker edges towards favouring the Israeli take over of all of Jerusalem and a total disregard for the views of the Palestinians.

At least some increasingly discomforted Republican lawmakers appear to have watched from the side-lines and showed signs of unease at the growing list of problems. For the first 12 months Wall Street had continued existing practices and the rich clearly prospered – but then President Trump started to introduce his trade policies and signalled his tariffs and the market started to falter.  Trump-care hasn’t seemed to have the same appeal and coverage as Obama-care. The White House staffing issues have provided a further visible sign of Mr Trumps lack of wise judgement. No doubt the first of the advisers to go might have suggested Mr Trump was going to turn out to be a strong man of action but the trickle of those leaving has looked more and more like a flood and has included the dismissal of a large number of White House staff many of who reportedly shared the common sin of correcting or questioning some aspect of Trump’s increasingly erratic policy changes. In the wider scene, whole departments of Government were vilified, partially defunded or allocated apparently poorly qualified leaders.

One by one the standard safeguards surrounding the conventions of the Presidency have been set aside. Remember the refusal to furnish tax returns (which presumably might have revealed the true state of Mr Trump’s true wealth and inconvenient vested interest relationships), his insistence that he and his immediate family should ignore their conflicts of interest and apparently be encouraged into open disregard for not using political status to assist family enrichment.

For those previously finding confidence in the US Presidential traditions, these actions left many dumfounded. Handing key political roles to unqualified family members was hardly draining the swamp. Mr Trump’s disregard for the rights of “first world” peoples, his dismantling of environmental safeguards and his rubbishing of the Paris agreement on Climate change left many in despair – while his partial defunding and down playing the UN role in peace-making and assistance in disaster relief must have worried many observers.

This is not to imply that Mr Trump has already lost his key support. While the overall statistics of the national polls strongly suggest that the overall electorate is not committed to the President, I suspect the dilemma for any Republican representatives who might prefer to dissociate themselves from the Trump Presidency, is that most local electorates in the so called Red States remain strongly pro-Trump. In those states, to abandon Trump would be political suicide for the GOP representatives.  In any event the President himself has been extremely critical of any Republican representative who has dared question any of his announced policies.

Some observers may well consider the President has shown himself to be divisive and even deeply flawed but what is less clear is why the commentators are finding faults which are not perceived by the voters at the local level. Perhaps it may be simply a reflection of where their information is coming from. It may be unfortunate but it is hard not to have noticed some news outlets are famously biased, whether they be for or against the President, and not everyone chooses to seek to become well informed by for example watching the BBC and CBS as well as Fox. This leaves us with some uncertainty. We can only speculate whether a reaction of discomfit at being tied to a doomed and falling star has influenced the unexpectedly large number of Republican incumbents (43 at time of writing) who have signaled they are taking retirement prior to the incoming mid terms.

But now it is over to the reader. If I have missed key facts please share them to provide balance.


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