Monday, December 11, 2017
 
Donald Trump and the Vanishing American Halo

WASHINGTON, D.C. May 19 (DPI) – The Trump Circus – frightening to many, amusing to some, frivolous to others – remains in full swing, with a cascade of leaks this week suggesting a still-chaotic, perhaps even dysfunctional White House.  So as Trump heads to the Middle East for his first overseas trip as president today, some are welcoming the intermission.

These four months constitute a first act, and the reviews are coming in – and they are not so much about immigration policy or health care reform. They are about something much more profound:  The erosion of the nation’s prestige and leadership in the world.

Some have called it “American Exceptionalism” – a special country with the moral strength and leadership to make a positive difference for all humanity. An American Halo.

Yes, American prestige is something of an abstraction, and it’s something people can debate the merits and the existence of.  And, yes, previous presidents have had their flaws and limitations.

But the man who ran on the notion of making the country “great again” may in fact be making things much worse for the nation – certainly, so far, he has tarnished the presidency, and America’s place in the world, because of his erratic, vainglorious behavior, and his authoritarian instincts.  Authoritarianism is the one thing the US has stood out against, and now, thanks in no small part to the new president, its best and most important democratic institutions are under siege.

Middle-of-the-road commentators like David Brooks, David Gergen, historian Michael Beschloss, and Harvard Law School’s Lawrence Tribe have all raised the matter of the long-term impact of a Trump presidency – and all are calling for impeachment.

“He’s showed signs of not having a great deal of respect for the system by which this investigation has been operating.” Beschloss told the AP this week.  Tribe wrote in the Washington Post that we shouldn’t wait on proceeding with impeachment: “To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader.”

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