Our Nation’s Political Health

Fair and balanced. I’m using that phrase today to make it clear that I am doing my best to be impartial in my analysis. An honest critique should always be acceptable to those who value honesty.

Let’s start with the Democrats.

They have been in an almost-insane froth ever since the election, convinced that Hillary should have been the easy winner and that only some kind of massive corruption could be responsible for the loss.

They have focused, along with their media allies, on Russian influence on the election despite the complete lack of evidence that even one vote was tampered with and that no amount of influence from Russia made any difference.

They are a party bereft of anything beneficial to offer America, choosing instead to promote abortion, same-sex marriage, and other moral aberrations (not to mention their pervasive “progressive” socialism).

Some of their more fanatical adherents believe there is only one solution:

If successful, of course, that would give us President Pence. Maybe they haven’t thought through their strategy carefully, as that would put a more principled conservative in charge.

The Russia thing should have gone away by now if not for the foolishness of Trump and his family. Trump Jr. jumped on the opportunity to meet with a Russian who said he had dirt on Hillary and could help tilt the election toward his dad.

Anyone with any political sense at all would have avoided all such contacts; in fact, anyone with any moral sense at all would have reported the invitation to the proper authorities. Russia is not our friend.

It is an established fact that the meeting took place. The rationale for why it is no big deal is that it didn’t really offer anything of value to use against Hillary. So intent means nothing?

More than one political cartoonist picked up on that cookie jar theme:

Again, to be fair and balanced, the media had an entirely different level of interest in this fiasco than in previous ones:

But that still doesn’t erase the fact that Trump Jr. did a very stupid thing, thereby opening up the inquiry further. The whole Russia probe is partly responsible (only partly, though) for the inertia we see on the policy front:

The other reasons for inertia lie with Republican timidity in Congress (a topic to be covered in an upcoming post) and with Trump’s own unwillingness to concentrate on what is more important than his own ego. He may be willing to sacrifice everyone just to make sure he comes out ahead:

Why do I say that?

Just look at how he treats people in his own administration. He hired Anthony Scaramucci as his new communications director against the advice of his top-level officials (but apparently with the approval of his family) without informing Sean Spicer, the man who has been burdened with carrying the communications load for a president who keeps changing his rhetoric and undermining Spicer’s efforts.

Spicer resigned, and one can understand why. Scaramucci’s task will not be easy; he may be favored right now, but one false step can change that.

Scaramucci, by the way, is on record as pro-abortion, pro-same-sex marriage, and pro-gun control—a funny way to help promote the conservative agenda.

Trump has now begun lashing out against Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions did the right thing with his recusal, but Trump is angered by the decision. I predict Sessions will be forced out shortly, despite the fact that he was the first senator to endorse Trump and has been loyal through all of Trump’s antics.

Shouldn’t loyalty go both ways?

One of the rumors circulating is that Trump may replace Sessions with Ted Cruz. My advice? Senator Cruz, don’t ruin your future by agreeing to join this circus.

Reports now indicate (and I’m not relying on “fake news” sources for this) that Trump’s entire cabinet is in turmoil over the way he is treating Sessions, as they wonder who will be the next to be thrown under the proverbial bus. Secretary of State Tillerson, by all accounts, is ready to throw in the towel, frustrated by how Trump family members’ views have priority over his with respect to foreign relations.

Both Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon are now apparently on the hit list, despite the fact that they are not exactly on the same page. All that matters is complete loyalty to the president regardless of what he does.

In short, this appears to be an administration in administrative chaos, caused by the super-thin-skin of the man in charge.

Thus far, one key individual has escaped Trump’s attempt at public humiliation:

How long that will last is anyone’s guess.

Both Democrats and Republicans seem to be dysfunctional. This does not bode well for our political health.

Those Closest to Trump

Last week, I gave an overview of some of Trump’s picks for his cabinet, both the solid ones and ones I consider questionable. I omitted a few (hard to cover them all), but I should mention in passing the choice of Rick Perry for energy secretary (very good) and Elaine Chao for the Department of Transportation.

There are mixed reviews on Chao: she served as secretary of labor previously, where some said she did very well, but there is criticism that choosing the wife of Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not exactly a prime example for the drain-the-swamp battle cry.

Many Trump supporters have high hopes for what he will accomplish, for sure:

That would be nice, but I’ll wait to see what kind of results we get.

Some of the jobs closest to Trump don’t require Senate confirmation. They tell you the most about who Trump trusts.

First on that list would be Stephen Bannon, formerly of the Breitbart website. All kinds of opinions have been offered about Bannon. My view of him is somewhere in between those who view him as the devil incarnate and those who see him as the policy savior.

With the lofty title of chief strategist, Bannon will apparently be responsible for guiding Trump in his decisions on what policies to push for and how to get the job done. Bannon is hard-driving, which can be good for such a position, but he also can alienate people very quickly.

My first acquaintance with Bannon was positive. He was one the writers/producers of a video that I use in my course on Ronald Reagan and modern American conservatism.

That video, In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, details Reagan’s decades-long fight against communism and the strategy he used to take down the Soviet Union. It is a powerful video, one that offers a clear corrective to the liberal interpretation of events that led to the Soviet downfall.

The quality of the video is outstanding, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet seen it.

Bannon’s latest position at Breitbart, though, gives me pause. I don’t accept the cry of “racist” that some would level at him. I am concerned, though, that he allowed that site to be a provocative place where the so-called “alt-right” felt comfortable. I want nothing to do with them, as they are far too close to neo-nazism for me.

Bannon is no racist or Nazi, but when you play footsie with those who are, you tarnish yourself. Just so you know, I used to be a contributor to Breitbart’s Big Government site, so I have no axe to grind here. During the election, though, I stopped reading anything from Breitbart, as I saw it devolve into a Trump propaganda mouthpiece, willing to smear other candidates in its devotion to Trump.

I’m definitely wait-and-see with Bannon.

Another controversial appointment is former general Mike Flynn to serve as Trump’s national security advisor. I’ve watched Flynn being interviewed on news programs, and again, I’m a little torn.

Flynn’s positive is that he understands the Islamist threat. His negatives are that he is potentially too emotional, too open to conspiracy theories (like his boss), and perhaps far too friendly to Russia, which I continue to see as a threat to our national security, not an ally.

As with all of Trump’s questionable choices, I simply hope and pray for the best.

Finally, there is the very first decision on personnel that Trump made: installing Reince Priebus as his chief of staff. That decision was probably wise, as Trump needs someone who can work well with the Republican party overall.

Priebus, as chair of the Republican National Committee over the past years, has shown himself to be someone who can navigate the perils of politics. I’ve not always been a big fan of his, especially when he seemed to jump on Trump’s train much too soon and shut down any opposition to Trump at the national convention.

Yet if Trump is to succeed working with the party he so recently joined, he needs someone like Priebus to act as a guide.

I believe I’ve covered most of the key players in the upcoming Trump presidency. I hope the good ones can have a positive influence on him and his policies; I hope the questionable ones are either denied confirmation or will not detract too much from what this administration needs to be to reverse the political course of the nation.

Let me add this, though: reversing the political course is not enough; it’s the spiritual/moral foundation that is in need of the greatest repair, and that will never come through politics. Christian influence on the culture remains the top priority.

Unity?

Unity. That’s what it’s all about, right? All of us who are sickened at the thought of a Hillary presidency have to board the Trump train for the sake of unity. And if people like me, who oppose Trump for president, don’t hop on board, we are the problem and will be blamed for a Trump loss in November.

As I’ve said countless times, and will repeat again, any Trump loss in November will be due to Donald Trump himself and those who mindlessly followed him into his own personal fever swamp.

Evidence? It abounds.

Let’s look at what has occurred since the Republican convention.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganFirst, Trump refuses to let go of any comment by anyone that is the least bit critical of him, and continues to fire back regardless of the consequences. In politics, you take the heat and go on. Trump will not do so; instead, he creates bigger issues because he is so thin-skinned.

He continues to criticize Ted Cruz and won’t back off on the stupid accusation that Cruz’s father is somehow implicated in the JFK assassination.

He takes umbrage at a Muslim father speaking at the Democrat convention criticizing him. Keep in mind this was the Democrat convention. Of course they will line up speakers to criticize him.

In this case, though, the parents lost their son in Iraq. Now, whatever the truth is about the father—even if he should happen to be someone who ultimately favors Sharia law, or whatever—Trump’s reaction was again supremely stupid. You simply don’t rant against parents who lost their son in service to the country. From what I’ve read, the son lost his life when he ordered his fellow soldiers to stay back while he investigated; he died doing so, putting his fellows first.

That kind of decision needs to be respected, no matter who the parents are. Trump turning it into a “cause” only cheapens Trump. He somehow can’t see that.

A whole slew of stupidity manifested itself yesterday. Trump tells a woman to remove her crying baby from his rally after first trying to say he loves babies. I’ve watched the video without any editing. He came across as a fool and someone who really, despite what he claims, doesn’t like babies.

A veteran gave Trump his Purple Heart. Trump jokes that he always wanted one but didn’t expect to receive it this way. Just a joke, right? Watch the video, please. He again comes across as “this is all about me, not thee.” He doesn’t honor the man who gave it to him; he turns the focus on himself—as always—because in Trump World, all that matters is Donald Trump.

Then, because Paul Ryan and John McCain criticize him for his comments over the Muslim parents’ dead son, he now says he doesn’t endorse them for reelection.

Some of my readers may respond with joy over that because of dislike of both Ryan and McCain. But regardless of what you think of those men, isn’t Trump supposed to be unifying the party now? What does he do instead? He creates greater division. This is so bad that even Reince Priebus is upset. It takes a lot to get him upset with Trump.

Mike Pence has had to do more damage control than any VP candidate in history. I would feel sorry for him except for the fact that he signed up for this voluntarily. Did he understand what he was getting himself into?

Fireman Pence

How bad is it getting? I watched Fox News’s The Five last night, a show that reflexively defends Trump no matter what. Except for last night. Only Eric Bolling was willing to find an excuse for Trump’s antics. The others, especially Dana Perino, were critical. Perino practically said Trump was stupid and she seemed to be fed up with trying to defend him. She says she can offer no more advice on what he should do because he obviously won’t listen to anyone. Her disgust with Trump was all over her face.

Reports coming from inside the Trump campaign paint a picture of an organization almost in chaos, with people beside themselves trying to rein him in unsuccessfully.

I am more and more convinced that Trump’s supersized ego—one that has been allowed to grow throughout his life without any serious barriers—has made him a very disturbed man, both mentally and emotionally.

Beyond that, I’m not even sure he has the brain power to think clearly and rationally. He is stuck in his middle school vocabulary, with constant repetition of words and phrases (great, terrific, terrible, nasty, loser, etc., etc.) and has the emotional stability that goes along with boys at that level of maturation.

Trump's Brain

Am I aghast at the thought of a Hillary Clinton reign of error and terror? Absolutely. The trouble is that I’m equally aghast at the thought of a Trump ascendancy.

I’m in the minority in conservative circles right now. I’m apparently in the minority in evangelical circles also. That’s okay. I’ve been in this position before. My goal remains the same: speak the truth as God gives me the light to see the truth; emerge from this fiasco with my integrity intact.

Pray for our nation.