As the Trump administration fumbles its way to what I anticipate will be an inglorious ending it is difficult not to compare it with two failed Republican presidencies of my lifetime. As I write this Trump is in the air on his way back from the G20 meetings in Hamburg, Germany. His actions to date remind me very much of those of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Let’s explore.
During the 1968 campaign Nixon told us of his secret plan to end the Vietnam War. Of course, that secret plan never existed. During the 2016 campaign Trump told us of his secret plan to defeat ISIS. My advice is not to hold your breath waiting for it to materialize. That doesn’t mean that they, along with Reagan, didn’t have secrets on their way to the White House.
Nixon’s people met with the North Vietnamese and told them to hold off on a peace deal because after he was elected he would give them a better deal than the outgoing Johnson administration was offering or a Humphrey administration would. That deal never materialized and in the end the North simply won the war and took everything. How that was either patriotic, legal or better for America I will never know. Nixon ended up resigning the presidency under the threat of impeachment.
Reagan’s people made a deal with the Iranians not to release the 52 Americans they held captive until Reagan was inaugurated. Who of a certain age can forget the split screen of Reagan’s first inaugural speech and the hostages being released? If you believe that was just coincidence I’ll reply with the words of Malcolm Nance, “Coincidence takes a lot of planning.” Later in his administration Reagan ended up selling arms to Iran as part of the Iran-Contra scandal. If America ever had a Teflon President it was Reagan who somehow miraculously avoided blame for the scandal and ended up serving two full terms from which the American working class has never recovered.
The dots are not yet fully connected but the evidence is mounting that the Trump team colluded with the Russians in an effort to win the 2016 election. Congress and the press have so far prevented Trump from doing much in the way of payback; until last week that is.
Russia is a shell of the powerhouse that the Soviet Union was. Many theorize that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to reconstruct the U.S.S.R. I’m not certain of that but I feel there is no doubt that Putin wants to be perceived as a major world leader and Russia a major world power. During the pre-meeting photo-op Trump told Putin, “It’s an honor to be with you.” Talk about an American president humbling himself in the presence of the leader of a country that is far from America’s equal or practices its ideals! Or was it payback for previous favors given to Trump by Putin? The meeting lasted over two hours when it was scheduled for 30 minutes. That sure made Putin and Russia look more important than they really are.
After the meeting RT (a Russian government owned news outlet) was the first to release any news from the meeting. American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the press, in a no cameras allowed session, that Trump began the meeting by addressing Russian interference in our 2016 election. Putin denied any Russian involvement. Tillerson stated that Trump looped back to the topic several times. The Russian account of the meeting was that Putin denied any involvement and Trump accepted Putin’s denial. We may never know exactly what happened but the Russian account sounds like it is closer to the truth than Tillerson’s.
The big “prize” Trump walked out of the meeting with was a cease fire in a section of Syria where there is almost no fighting and American forces are not present. That is like me promising not to say bad things about Mitch McConnell when I’m in Cambodia. I’ve never been to Cambodia and it is not in any of my travel plans or bucket list for that matter. But there you go Mitch; you can claim you won a concession from me.
Trump is so far out of Putin’s league and unfit for the office of the presidency that it is comical! Lyndon Johnson would have entered that meeting (if he even granted it), told Putin that he will destroy him if he pulls a prank like that again and walked out leaving Putin to explain to the world why a 30 minute meeting lasted less than ten minutes. For all his faults Johnson was tough and spent decades preparing himself for the big desk in the Oval Office.
Trump better hope he is Teflon otherwise he will end up looking more like Nixon than Reagan.
Trump’s election was a surprise to almost everyone and I increasing believe that includes Trump himself. The role of POTUS suits his ego well even if he has almost no clue of what it entails.
Friday was the day of the much anticipated Trump – Putin meeting. I know nothing of Putin’s musical skills or lack thereof, but he played Trump like a fiddle.
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