With Fresh Eyes: The First Year of Trump

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by Rich Nelson

The Trump Administration, day after day, continues to be exhausting. The lack of character and moral standing demonstrated by the players in the White House is a constant embarrassment. Trump’s daily tweets, many of which are nothing but schoolyard bully taunts, are so below the dignity and respect we should expect from any President of the United States. The name-calling tantrums emanating from this 71-year-old are beyond belief or justification.

There will be time, in future columns, to address related concerns, in particular the regressive policies this administration pursues.  There is also a need, I believe, to counter the persistent, unjustified and often undocumented accusations made in the “Liberty Review” column of this newspaper against President Obama during his eight-year tenure.

For now, let the words of Republican Mitt Romney speak for many of us (from a speech on March 3, 2016): “Here’s what I know.  Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.  His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.  He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers.”  And, from Trump himself (from remarks of June 23, 2015):

“I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so

much work to be done.  I would not be a president who took vacations.  You don’t have time to take time off.”

Lies, blustery exaggerations and broken promises have become the norm of this president’s first year, and one quickly loses sight of each new outrage as another controversy takes its place, often in the same day. 
From the meaningless questioning of the size of the inauguration day crowd to the ever-revolving door of White House staff caught in scandal and controversy to his recent one-sided defense of staffer Rob Porter in the midst of serious domestic abuse accusations, this President promotes a line only of self¬-advancement and self-preservation, often both at the same time.  Here is a president who resorts, repeatedly, to juvenile tirades and name-calling whenever challenged or criticized.  “Lyin’ Ted Cruz,” “Little Marco Rubio,” “Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren,” and “Crooked Hillary Clinton” are but a sampling of his crude bullying tactics.  Addressing the bullying issue, and relating it to Trump, columnist Elizabeth Preza writes, “Bullying is a power grab, and those fighting for peak status hurl the most insults.”  And, now, we are witness to Trump’s tepid response to the Florida  school shooting without mention of this country’s gun epidemic.

In contrast, the eight years of President Obama’s presidency offer us a glimpse into what grace, respect, empathy and decency truly encompass.  I highly recommend the book Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, Obama’s chief official White House photographer.  Souza has compiled a comprehensive collection of candid and spirited images he took from beginning to end of the Obama years, resulting in an exquisite anthology capturing the humanity and authenticity of our 44th President.  Whether it’s a behind the scenes shot of him embracing his two daughters on their return home from school or the iconic photo of his engagement with the National Security team during the raid on the compound of Osama Bin Laden, we re-discover this man of deep virtue, intellect, and reason. We are reminded of his innate ability to connect and empathize with others, as seen, for example, in his many unannounced visits to Walter Reed Hospital.  Images of President Obama sitting on the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955 (the bus is on display at the Henry Ford Museum) or visiting Nelson Mandela’s prison cell in South Africa recall his commitment to social justice and recognition of the importance in understanding our past.  Barack Obama epitomizes the qualities we look for in our highest public official and which we hunger for in our president as the moral center of our country.  The current resident of the Oval Office fails this test.


Contact Rich at: richmskgn@gmail.com