Was Trump Really President?

Trump smiling with American Flag

What’s clear from the January 6 Committee hearings is that Trump didn’t conduct the business of the Presidency between election day and Joe Biden’s inauguration.  For close to three months all the man did was obsess over remaining president, seemingly spending every waking hour plotting (including the “clown car” of loser lawyers) and harassing officials (including Georgia’s Secretary of State).  It remains to be seen if he’ll be indicted for attempting a coup or interfering with the Georgia election results, but his dereliction of duty involved more than just failing to call off the mob attacking the Capitol and very possibly killing his political opponents; his increasingly demented obsession with staying in office prevented him from fulfilling the duties of his office every day since the election.

But there’s reason to think the weeks following his defeat weren’t all that different from the preceding four years.  It’s questionable whether Trump EVER fulfilled his duties as president.  Once he nabbed the gig of a lifetime, the increasingly desperate great-American grifter never showed much interest in policy or governing.  Beside gratifying his gargantuan showman’s ego and perhaps delaying prosecution by the state of New York, Trump used the office to enrich both his and his family’s coffers. His son-in-law, Jerod Kushner, for example, pocketed untold millions while serving as one of the president’s “special advisors” and used his position to get $2 billion from the Saudi government’s sovereign wealth fund to start a private equity firm.  This is behavior we might expect from an autocrat like Vladimir Putin, who uses his power to enrich himself and his oligarchs, but surely an American president should uphold higher standards.

Despite all his populist rhetoric targeted to his MAGA “base,” the record shows Trump was essentially a figurehead for the Republican Party’s super-wealthy donors. Mitch McConnell and the Republican Congress used Trump’s (inexplicable!) popularity among that base to pass the 2017 tax bill, the largest tax cut in our country’s history, which was designed to benefit big business and the rich, the majority of the American people and the federal deficit be damned.

Given Trump’s Criminal Acts, It’s Easy to Forget He Was a Terrible President.

The only policy Trump seems to have cared about was the border wall he promised Mexico would pay for.  After the Mexican president all but laughed in his face, Trump diverted money from other government programs, including Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, to build part of a border wall that remains incomplete and ineffective.  His so-called foreign policy consisted of doing everything he could to weaken NATO, seemingly to please his good buddy, Putin; attempting to withhold weapons from Ukraine in order to damage his likely opponent (Joe Biden); pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal without providing an alternative; and a distasteful love affair (“we fell in love”) with Kim Jong-un, the murderous North Korean dictator who happily continued developing his country’s nuclear arsenal.

Above all, when his leadership was tested by the COVID pandemic, his administration completely botched the government’s response and turned a national health crisis into a political football. To his credit he ultimately spearheaded the development of highly effective vaccines, but his resistance to taking any action that might damage the “Trump economy,” what he touted as the “greatest economy in the history of the world” (provided you were in the top 1%, of course) ended up costing thousands of lives.

Trump likes to claim the only reason he ran for President was because he loves America, but the events of January 6 proved he couldn’t care less about America, its democracy, or its people.  Trump was nothing but a front man for a Republican Party whose version of government is no government, just a “free-market” with a tax code favoring big business and the wealthy. To their way of thinking the power of government to make people’s lives better is merely an annoyance, a burden they tolerate when the democratic process finally leaves them no choice.

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