Saturday, November 25, 2017

No More Lines?

I concluded this post back in March with the thought that big stuff like public sentiment over Russian meddling in the presidential election, and the health care fiasco might not bring down the Trump administration, but that possibly little stuff like cutting funding to popular charitable programs that help the most vulnerable among us like Meals on Wheels would. After all I reasoned, Trump, by cutting such programs, was resembling the mean spirited character of Old Man Potter from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", and nobody likes him.

Well it turned out like all my predictions of the downfall of Trump, I was wrong. In the eight months since I wrote that piece, Trump and his administration have gone places never thought imaginable by previous administrations, and have crossed lines of common sense and decency no one would have dared crossed, at least not in the last 100 years, if ever. And they seem none the worse off because of it, at least among their supporters.

I say if ever because I don't know of any U.S. president in history who has so blatantly exhibited friendly relationships with brutal leaders of hostile foreign nations as Trump has with Vladimir Putin. He has also expressed admiration for other authoritarian rulers such as Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan of Turkey, Viktor Orban of Hungary and others, while keeping himself at arm's length from the leaders of democratic republics, Angela Merkel of Germany being a prime example. In doing so, Trump is sending a clear message that he values the leadership of brutal oligarchs over democracy, and oppression over human rights.

On the home front, Trump has picked fights with anyone and everyone who crosses him or his agenda. Even Gold Star families of fallen servicemen and women, and veterans themselves, including former POWS, have been the targets of Trump's vicious tweets, especially if they happen to belong to minority groups.  By contrast, one group who has gotten off easy in the Trump-tweetosphere, is white supremacists. This is an about-face from every president in memory who, no matter the guiding ideology,  bent over backwards to respect veterans and their families regardless of race, creed or color, and unequivocally disavowed hate groups.

And now this. Not so long ago, eleven months to be exact, the mere mention of a public figure taking liberties of a sexual nature with an underage person, meant a one way ticket to Palookaville, at least in the court of public opinion. Not anymore. Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, the same guy who was booted out of that job twice for his blatant disregard of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, was accused by several women of abusing them while they were minors. Moore was in his thirties at the time, His behavior back in the seventies and eighties was such common knowledge that scores of people from his home town, Gadsden, AL recently went public with testimonies of Moore's proclivity for seducing young teenage girls. So bad were those charges that Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell, made a public plea to Moore to withdraw from the race to fill the void of the Senate seat of Jeff Sessions, as his possible election in the heavily Republican state, would be a terrible embarrassment to their party. For a party whose leadership has shown little or no scruples, moral compunction or shame in the past twenty years, that's really saying something.

Even Trump originally intimated that Moore would be doing his party a favor by stepping aside. But after it became clear that Moore had no intention of doing so, Trump weighed his options and decided that counting a child moleter among his supporters in Congress, was better than letting a Democrat, who most certainly would vote against his much cherished tax bill, fill the void left by the current attorney general. Besides, Moore denied all charges against him; had Trump condemned the man solely on the basis of the multiple allegations of women, what would that say about the plethora of women who have come forward to accuse Trump himself of similar behavior?

So last Wednesday, between pardoning a turkey and heading off to Florida for yet another weekend of playing golf, Trump declared his unequivocal support for Roy Moore.

In doing so, Trump is joining ranks of Republicans all over the great state of Alabama who say they would rather be represented by a child moleter than a Democrat.

Despite Trump's about face on the Moore issue, many Republicans holding steadfast in their opposition. Tim Scott, the junior senator from South Carolina recently had this to say:
In my opinion — and in the opinion of many Republicans and conservatives in the Senate — it is time for us to turn the page,... it’s not about electing Republicans versus Democrats. This is about the character of our country. I want to be on the side of right when history writes the story.
The senior senator from that state, Lindsey Graham took a less eloquent, and more pragmatic approach saying Moore's remaining on the ticket is a lose-lose situation for Republicans:
If he wins, we get the baggage of him winning, and it becomes a story every day about whether or not you believe the women or Roy Moore, should he stay in the Senate, should he be expelled?... If you lose, you give the Senate seat to a Democrat at a time where we need all the votes we can get.
Apparently there is trouble brewing in the paradise otherwise known as the Republican Party between rational politicians interested in governing, and those who support Trump come hell or high water.

Lest you think that there are no lines of decency that Trump supporters will not cross, you would be wrong. This post was originally inspired by Trump's reversal of an Obama era law banning the importation of ivory into the United States. The goal of the ban was to limit the market for the luxury item and in doing so, hopefully reduce the hunting of the ever dwindling number of the Asian and African elephants. Well as they say, if Obama had found a cure for cancer, Trump would have tried to find a way to repeal it. It seems likely that the reversal of the ivory ban was simply another attempt to dismantle the legacy of his predecessor.

Now I knew something wasn't right in the state of Denmark when my friend Dave came out and said he was appalled that Trump would do anything that would harm elephants. Dave you see is the most vocal Trump supporter I personally know. While all my other Trump supporting friends are keeping a very low profile these days, Dave without hesitation, proudly and publicly carries the mantle for "our president". When Trump told the faithful to boycott the NFL, Dave was there. When Trump refused to call Nazis, Klansmen and the folks who marched with them, nogoodnicks, Dave defended him. And when Trump said that all the women and townsfolk who accused Roy Moore of wrongdoing were lying, Dave went along just as he's gone along with practically everything this president has done or said in the past eleven months. One good thing about having Dave as a friend is that he regurgitates whatever comes out of the mouths of the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh so faithfully, I never have to watch or listen to those mouthpieces of the administration, both of whom give me a bad case of indigestion.

In a nutshell, Dave is the paradigm of the typical Trump supporter, right down to the demographics. So when he lambasted "our president" for his role in opening up the doors to the mass murder of elephants, I had to take notice. Apparently, so too did Donald Trump. After Dave's stunning Facebook announcement, quicker than you could bat an eye, Trump rescinded his executive order on the ivory trade, so as not to put off his supporters, like Dave.

So the answer to the question I posed up at the top of this post is yes, there is a line that Trump supporters will not cross. The problems and suffering of their fellow human beings might be quite irrelevant to them, but not those of animals, at least not elephants. Maybe if all of us Trump detractors started wearing huge floppy ears and trunks, sported enormous tusks, and pooped everywhere at will (as elephants cannot be housebroken), this country could start back on the road to unification.

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