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Bill Straub: In the world of Donald Trump, reality is no longer relevant as truth takes a near daily beating


WASHINGTON – You know things are rapidly running out of control in this great country of ours when you can’t find a legitimate and honest way to avoid calling the 45th president of the United States a pig.

But there’s simply no getting around it, and everyone with a rational bone in his or her body has by this time, less than six months after he took the oath, come to realize that Donald J. Trump has made a joke, and not a funny one, of an office once held by the likes of giants like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

He has, in historically short order, embarrassed not only himself and the high station he maintains, but the people who elected him. There is the ugly American, and then there is Donald J. Trump. And the question becomes just how long can a public inundated by a daily flow of Trump vituperation stay above water.

It’s been said that some of the statements that come dribbling out of Trump’s mouth, along with his tweets, are beneath the dignity of the presidency. Actually they are, for the most part, beneath the dignity of a pimp. But they keep coming in rapid succession despite constant calls to leash the dogs, all because the nation is being led by a man who simply can’t control his urges – a perilous prospect given the power he possesses.

Trump delivers witless insults like candy on Halloween. He is crude in his assessment of voices in opposition. He has diminished that once commanding office.

Frankly, there’s something wrong, dangerously wrong, with the man. He has no shame. Sadly, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it at this juncture.

The past few days fully displayed the poor light the nation has attracted under the Trump presidency. There were the mind-boggling tweets about the hosts of the Morning Joe chat-em-up television program on MSNBC – Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. The president took offense at something that was said, no one seems to know quite what, and fired off a tweet referring to them as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika’’ and “Psycho Joe,’’ before going on some weird tangent about a Brzezinski face-lift that left her “bleeding badly.’’

So the nation has gone from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, to FDR’s declaration that “all we have to fear is fear itself’’ to Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner,’’ to a president of the United States harping on the plastic surgery of a television host.

What a small man.

You’ll notice Trump’s initial reaction is to comment on the intelligence and the looks of the woman targeted for his venom – a motif that has dominated his campaign and his presidency. If this doesn’t cast him as a pig, what will?

Then there is the president’s continued and silly attacks on the press, calling journalists “the enemy of the people,’’ blithely unaware he was making indirect reference to the Ibsen play where the term was used ironically – the enemy of the people turned out to be their savior. Of course that would assume that Trump is familiar with Ibsen even though to this day there’s little evidence he can navigate his way through a Donald Duck comic book.

Trump’s latest adventure in this realm was the resurrection of an old video at a pro wrestling match – yes, the current office holder participated at such an event – that showed him leveling Vince McMahon, the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, only McMahon’s face was hidden by the logo of CNN, the cable news network that has come in for particularly Trumpian derision.

This, one would suppose, was intended to convey the message that the president is successfully beating up on the press. In truth it was just stupid.

Listen, let me be perfectly blunt – if there is any subject I care less about than the president’s feelings about the press, it doesn’t come immediately to mind. Let him spit and bellow and make a fool out of himself, in other words, those things that come naturally. So what? He’s not supposed to like a press that’s there to hold him accountable. I don’t want him sending roses, that would be a terrible sign and the public would have the right to look askance.

For many years I worked for the E.W. Scripps Co., a one-time media conglomerate that has since reduced itself, but that’s another issue altogether. Its motto was, and I guess still is, “Give light and the people will find their own way.’’ I believe in that and it’s why Trump is running scared (hat tip Roy Orbison).

The problem is the crude and unprofessional manner that Trump utilizes to register his disdain with the ultimate goal of prohibiting the American people from reading reports that hold him up to public scrutiny. He fails to understand that now that he’s president he’s the leader of all Americans – not just those who pulled the lever in his favor.

Trump’s lackeys in the White House press office try to portray this offensive behavior as an asset, insisting that the American people knew they were electing a man who “fights fire with fire.’’ It is more accurate to portray what the president is doing as bullying, using his power to publicly denigrate those who remain dubious of his abilities. One web publication, Axios, reported that the president has tweeted the word “dumb’’ or “dummy’’ 222 times.

It’s unfathomable that this … president carries anyone’s support and, indeed, polls do show a slow erosion – Gallup puts his job approval at 37 percent. But there are always those willing to defend the indefensible. And there’s no telling what damage he will do to the public psyche during the remainder of his time in office

And all of this fails to get into the lies he publicly delivers on a regular basis. The New York Times maintains a running list of his falsehoods, reporting that Trump uttered an untruth, in public, every day for the first 40 days of his presidency. That streak didn’t end until March 1.

“There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths,’’ the Times reported. “Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president — of either party — has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.’’

It’s unfathomable that this pig of a president carries anyone’s support and, indeed, polls do show a slow erosion – Gallup puts his job approval at 37 percent. But there are always those willing to defend the indefensible. And there’s no telling what damage he will do to the public psyche during the remainder of his time in office.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-SomewhereorotherLewisCounty, has come in for his share of criticism in this spot over the years. And he dutifully supported Trump last November after backing Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, in the GOP presidential primary.

But his assessment is spot on, telling the Washington Examiner that those who cast votes for him and Paul in their 2016 re-election campaigns and then for Trump “weren’t voting for libertarian ideas — they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race.’’

That they were.

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Washington correspondent Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.


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