Trump A Champ? More Like A Chump.

Trump’s obsession with winning at all costs, no matter how low he needed to stoop nor how loathsome he would appear to anyone with a shred of decency, was evident throughout the campaign, but even after being elected president, he has been incapable of declaring victory and moving on. From the first day of his term, he felt compelled to crow about the election results every chance he could, even if the topic had absolutely no bearing on the discussion at hand. He was the champ, and he didn’t want anyone to forget it.

 There were, however, two major problems. First, while he garnered the votes required from the electoral college, he still lost the popular vote to Clinton by roughly three million ballots. Second, his inauguration was not nearly as well-attended nor as well-received as Obama’s. Trump, with his fragile ego and need for adulation, could not bear the thought of either. He commenced upon a mission to invalidate the popular vote loss as having been caused by voter fraud, and to erase the inauguration photos by insisting that they had been doctored. He even sent out his loyal minions, Spicer and Conway, to parrot the “alternative facts.”

Fast forward one month. The nation has been buffeted by a maelstrom of half-truths and blatant lies from the White House. The most threatening of these revolve around an issue that has plagued the Trump transition team and subsequent administration from the beginning: Russian influence in the election and possible collusion by Trump personnel in that activity. James Comey, now former Director of the FBI, was leading the effort. Again, Trump’s frail ego could not bear the thought of anyone daring to question the legitimacy of his election. How did he react? The way all petty tyrants, mob bosses and basic thugs do. He called Comey into his office on February 14th for some alone time, and made veiled references about how job security may be predicated on the investigation being shelved. He asked Comey to kiss the ring, to swear his absolute loyalty and allegiance. Comey politely demurred.

As the investigation continued, and the FBI’s focus on fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn intensified, Comey ramped up his active involvement and requested more resources. Trump’s reaction was to fire him unceremoniously by having his lackey/bodyguard hand-deliver a letter of termination to Comey’s D.C. office at FBI headquarters while Comey was in Los Angeles recruiting new FBI agents. He followed that by going on the interview circuit and casting aspersions on Comey’s competency and character.

Trump brags about how he is the consummate businessman, but the way he fired Comey was a chump move. A half-decent boss would have enough respect for his employees that he would call the employee to his office, explain to him in person why he was being terminated, then wish him well in his future endeavors. Trump likes to think of himself as Big Man on Campus, but, in reality, he is a craven little boy who is afraid of dissent and confrontation. He must be surrounded by yes men who will soothe his frail ego by reassuring him that he’s good enough, he’s smart enough and, doggone it, people like him.

Unfortunately, he impugned the wrong guy. Comey, for all his shortcomings, is not only a Boy Scout, he’s an anal-retentive one, prone to keeping copious contemporaneous notes about meetings where he thinks inappropriate discussions are taking place. As a consequence, instead of the investigation being shelved, it has grown threefold. If you go after the king, you best not miss. Trump missed Comey by a mile.

No, I Won’t Back Down

Well, I won’t back down,

No, I won’t back down-

You can stand me up at the gates of hell,

But I won’t back down.”

                    –Tom Petty

FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee today, and both men stated, unequivocally, that there was no evidence to support Trump’s tweeted accusation that former President Obama ordered a wiretap on him at Trump Tower during the election. The hearing actually had a more serious purpose; it was an inquiry into the investigation of whether Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and if anyone in Trump’s campaign had aided and/or abetted Russia in the endeavor. As expected, the Democrats on the committee focused their questions on the extent of the intervention and possible collusion, while the Republicans drilled into who could have leaked information regarding the investigation to the press. In other words, the Democrats were concerned about the damage and possible future dangers to our country, while the Republicans were more concerned about the damage and possible future dangers to their party and the Trump administration.

This is not a reflection of any great love of the GOP for Trump. The opposite is also true: Trump has thumbed his nose at the GOP repeatedly and often. This is a crude marriage of convenience. Both the party and the administration view each other with a goodly measure of disdain, yet reluctantly stay together, believing the marriage necessary to achieve their own interests. The GOP needs Trump to be their puppet, malleable and willing to sign anything they put in front of him. Trump needs the GOP to boost his frail ego, to validate him as a serious leader and someone to be respected and admired. Ironically, they share a fervent hope: that they can realize their respective goals before the other tarnishes their brand. In the meantime, the administration and the Republican-led Congress will test the ability of this nation to survive a cruel and vindictive agenda that they have labeled a great return of freedom for America.

Given the events of the last few weeks, culminating with the testimonies provided by Comey and Rogers today, the marriage is starting to crumble. Trump has always had a casual relationship with the truth. While we can generously allow that perhaps he is simply embarrassingly ill-informed, when confronted with facts, he cannot admit being wrong. The truth is, Trump has knowingly made false assertions, usually to divert attention from a current problem of his own making. When called on the veracity of his statements, he claims his proclamations are true unless proven otherwise. This is a bizarre and illogical position to stake. For example, I could claim that there are invisible leprechauns in the White House, put in place by Obama, to spy on and leak information on Trump and his staff to the press, and unless you can prove that these leprechauns do not exist, well, they do. Even worse is his belief that the FBI and Justice Department are at his beck and call to prove his ridiculous assertions, which is a waste of our tax dollars and federal resources.

Trump was given ample opportunity to take back his tweet for weeks. He was given many chances to recant. Instead, he preened and blustered, assuming that he could create some narrative to justify his accusation. His bluff was called, and he had nothing, not even a pair of twos. He was exposed before the House Intelligence Committee and, thanks to cable television, all of America as an ignorant liar. Most telling was the fact that not one Republican stood up to defend Trump. But was this public humiliation enough to force him to acknowledge his mistake and apologize to Obama and the nation? Sadly, no. Instead, he issued more tweets/lies about how the hearing cleared his administration of collusion with the Russians. It didn’t. Rather, Comey had to respond real-time that his testimony was being mischaracterized by Trump.

Trump will never back down. He could be in hell with his feet on fire, and the likelihood is that he would continue to bellow out falsehoods, then complain about how the fake news keeps refuting him. He thinks standing by his lies makes him a winner. It really just makes him a whiner.