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Trump’s “Character”

February 8, 2020

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes in an editorial today that “From the birth of the Republic — indeed, from the birth of Athenian democracy — it has been an article of faith that self-governance cannot survive without leaders of character.” I hesitate to give full-throated endorsement to the rebuke of President Donald Trump in this editorial because my reservations about President Trump are not rooted in an assessment of his character.

I was concerned that Donald Trump lacked the knowledge of foreign policy, national security and Constitutional law expected of serious candidates for high federal office. I later discerned that this ignorance was due to a physical incapacity. Donald Trump is dyslexic and reads with difficulty. As so many critics of the President have pointed out, the President’s ignorance is colossal and as his first Secretary of State observed, the President is a moron. That assessment, stated in anger, goes too far.

Like a moron, however, President Trump lacks understanding of the Constitutional limits placed upon the chief executive and claims that his Impeachment was a scam.  Well, the President’s Impeachment was malicious, but it is within the power of the House to impeach for just about anything, and President Trump gave House Democrats an infraction on which to Impeach him.

A greater problem than whether he intentionally delayed delivery of appropriated funds to the government of Ukraine is the President’s seeming collusion with the Russian Federation’s Vladimir Putin. President Trump has parroted the Putin line so often that I came to the conclusion that the Russians had damaging video or audio recordings that could be used to blackmail the President.

Even more of a problem is the President’s belief that his first term in office was filled with so much harassment that he deserves another two years in office, greater than the four years of his Constitutionally limited term. And the President protests his Impeachment to such a degree that he creates the impression that he will not leave office, if he is defeated in 2020.

If President Trump were to attempt a coup, there would be bloody reprisals and, possibly, civil war. That is where “character” is an important consideraation. Here is an assessment of the character of one French politician:

“…he was a man with many mistresses, a history of shadydealings, and cronies who X characterized as ‘intriguers, adventurers, and lackeys.’ The president and the cabinet he formed, X knew, would never be in harmony. ‘His sympathies were bound always to be elsewhere, for our points of view were not only different but naturally contrary. We wanted to make the republic live; he wished to inherit from it. We offered him no more than ministers when he needed accomplices.”

This description could have been written by a contemporary writer about President Donald Trump, but it was not. Mr. “X” in the above citation is Alexis de Tocqueville who was describing Louis-Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew. Elected to serve as President of France for one term, when in 1851 he was denied another term, Louis-Napoleon conducted a coup d’état.

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