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Margot PattersonMarch 14, 2017
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)President Donald Trump listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

There are a lot of angry, frustrated liberals breathing steam and fire these days. I understand their pain, but I feel like I am hearing too much about it. Every day I am inundated with emails telling me of the terrible things our new president has done. I can agree, and yet my overriding feeling is that Dan Rather or Robert Reich or Paul Krugman or any of the other individuals whose angry articles clutter my inbox might want to dial it back. Four long years lie ahead. How are they going to make it through given their dangerously high level of outrage? If outrage were blood sugar, they would be in a diabetic coma.

The denunciations only feed the national obsession with President Donald J. Trump, a man whose opponents cannot stop talking about him. It is as if Mr. Trump’s own over-the-top style and rhetoric are virally replicating throughout our culture. Comparing the president to Vladimir Putin, Hitler or the anti-Christ distracts from what is taking shape on the ground.

Comparing the president to Vladimir Putin, Hitler or the anti-Christ distracts from what is taking shape on the ground.

We should be talking more about Republican efforts to deregulate Wall Street, gut anti-pollution measures, cut taxes on the wealthy, up military spending and amend health care in ways that will cause many people to lose health insurance—and less about president’s latest tweet or his personality flaws.

Yes, much of Mr. Trump’s behavior is dismaying, especially his fluid, protean relationship to facts, which he dismisses or accepts according to the needs of the moment. But some of the complaints about him run on a parallel track to those made about President Obama when he was in office. A Republican neighbor with a large poster of George W. Bush in her kitchen used to refer to Mr. Obama’s apocryphal birth in Kenya and complain to me that he was not fit to be president. Not fit, she would say repeatedly. Many of those decrying President Trump are reiterating that same mantra.

At the point where someone becomes president, it is irrelevant whether he—still always a he—is fit for the job. He has it. Lots of people have jobs for which they are unqualified and unfit. It is disturbing that the presidency is one of them, but nobody claimed that the people’s choice was perfect, just that democracy is a better system than any other we have devised. In pressing their claim that Mr. Trump is uniquely unqualified to be president, liberals come off as sore losers and worse. If a wide streak of paranoia seemed to run through the conservative rants of previous years—“Obama is going to take our guns away”—more than a hint of hysteria characterizes many of the current liberal tirades about the president. Either the death of democracy is at hand or the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming. Sometimes the two arguments converge to suggest that the election has been stolen. From there, it is not a far jump to say its results could be disregarded.

Politics is becoming a new form of tribalism, and hyperpartisanship is tainting almost everyone. For example, political advantage defines both parties’ responses to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. With the exception of their party’s super-hawks, Republicans are soft-pedaling stories of Russian meddling in the election; meanwhile Democrats have become Cold Warriors, criticizing Mr. Trump from the right for being overly soft on Russia.

The most pressing threat to the integrity of our democracy comes not from outside but from big money here at home.

Ironically, the only reason Russia can be excoriated so roundly is that it has almost no influence on our politics. There is no Russia lobby here, no significant group of Russian nationals or Russo-Americans lobbying for aid or special breaks for Russia. A cynic might wonder why, if Democrats are truly concerned about foreign influence on our elections, they gladly accept political contributions from lobbyists that represent foreign clients.

The most pressing threat to the integrity of our democracy comes not from outside but from big money here at home. One of the few topics on which both Democratic and Republican voters agree is the corrupting influence of money on American politics. But curbing the power of wealthy interests and individuals is not a priority for either party’s establishment, despite a political novice winning the G.O.P. nomination and then the White House over establishment opposition.

Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory has been a wake-up call for many voters, stirring them to protests. But outrage and anger are not action, nor even a plan for action. Will these newly energized voters get actively involved in politics? Their first priority will be to hand some legislative and electoral defeats to the Republicans. But in the long term, channeling their energy into efforts to reform their party might do as much as anything to revitalize the fortunes of the Democrats and the country both.

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Richard Booth
4 years 10 months ago

While I do not think it irrelevant to continue discussing whether the president is "fit" for his office, I can appreciate your point. I continue to think that millions of people are still struggling to find some kind of mental category into which to place the president and his behaviors, given that his election has led to a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Moving away from the president himself and, thereby, giving him less time and press, is an idea worth considering, but that should not mean removing a careful eye on who he is and what he is doing in order to attempt predictions relative to what he might get us into.

alan macdonald
4 years 10 months ago

An electorate always gets the representation it deserves.

JR Cosgrove
4 years 10 months ago

I am not a personal fan of Trump as a person but have changed my opinion on his ability to lead the country in a better direction based on what he has done since the election. I believe a lot of people have made that transition.

Here is an article (http://victorhanson.com/wordpress/9934-2/#more-9934) from whom I consider one of the best writers in the country, Victor Davis Hanson. I suggest anyone who opposes Trump read it to understand how others are coming to different conclusions than those who oppose Trump. In this article Dr Hanson first publicizes a letter critical of a past article he wrote and then Victor answers the criticism.

When Obama was elected, I asked anyone on this site if they could tell me a significant thing that Obama did besides get elected and write two autobiographies. Silence from the authors and readers of this site. Trump did not have that problem even if you disapproved of just what he did. So what do we mean by "fit"?

Gerald Gioglio
4 years 10 months ago

Nicely written, but you are kidding, of course. I'd suggest comparing some quotes from what might be called, "the greatest hits of 20th Century totalitarians" to many statements made by Mr. T and the collection of racists and Xenophobes that surround him. Ok, maybe he's just a con man, sexual predator, and liar--and not a true fascist in the traditional sense-- and hey, a whole bunch of Americans seem fine with that. But, wait for it....can you spell, S-T-E-V-E B-A-N-N-O-N? A 'nice little Catholic boy' who clearly did not listen to the Sisters....but clearly abides by some of the 'fun' doctrines from (too often also Catholic) 20th Century totalitarians. Geez....

Anne Chapman
4 years 10 months ago

I am not a "liberal", yet I believe that Mr. Trump is indeed "unfit" to be President. He has the job, but that alone does not assure fitness for office. Perhaps you do not think it relevant that he is unfit, since he is in office, but many believe it is very relevant - and that it is now up to the American people to do what they can to try to limit the potential harm this presidency could unleash. This will have to be done somewhat indirectly, via our legislators. They are more immediately vulnerable to voter displeasure than he is, and may listen, due to an instinct for political self-preservation, if not out of principle.

Until this election I always voted for the Republican candidate for President -11 presidential elections. Not once did I believe that either the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate was unfit for office. I differed on policy choices, or vision, but never feared for our country in either practical or existential terms if my not-preferred candidate won.

This election was different. The electoral college validated the technical victory of a man who is unfit for office. Refusing to use that descriptor does not change the reality.

One does not have to use extreme rhetoric to acknowledge this. His first two months in office have already shown the depth and breadth of his unfitness for the office of President of the United States. It is better to simply acknowledge that our country's near future is in the hands of a man whose unfitness places not only our own country at risk, but the entire world at risk, since the US is the most powerful nation on earth. If one refuses to look at this reality, the danger grows. Right now it seems there are several groups of advisors who are competing for power, with the Bannon wing still appearing to have the greastest influence. While you may not be comfortable with some of the rhetoric directed towards Trump, few would deny the appropriateness of this rhetoric in reference to Bannon. It's all on the record. This represents the biggest danger. There have been a handful of decent Cabinet appointments - few but important, especially with the replacement of Flynn with a far better person. However, it appears that right now the Bannon wing is having the final say against the solid men in charge of Defence, Homeland, and even State. They continue to fight Bannon's crew in the naming of senior staff, and as a result, the filling of important jobs lags well behind the pace of previous administrations, who respected their Cabinet choices enough to permit them pretty free latitude in their own staffing decisions.

The question many ask is whether or not Trump will ever learn to listen to the wiser counselors, or will he continue to be manipulated by Bannon and his allies? And will he, the epitome of big money himself - your stated concern - ever not be manipulated by his big money cronies? There is no sign that he will ever cross big money. They are his "friends" and they "love" him. As well they should.

Since his lack of understanding of complex policy, of the importance of diplomacy, of the legislative process, of checks and balances and many other aspects of being President of the US is painfully apparent almost every day (not surprising from someone who brags about not reading and whose main source of policy information is conservative cable and Breitbart) leaves him very vulnerable to manipulation based on his emotions (which he calls his gut instincts), it is important to continue to call out his unfitness for this office. Complacency is dangerous.

E.Patrick Mosman
4 years 10 months ago

"Mr. Trump’s unexpected victory has been a wake-up call for many voters, stirring them to protests"
Actually Mr Trump's campaign was a wake-up call for many voters who wanted a change in the Obama led Federal government's centralized bureaucratic control and the politicization of most government agencies DOJ/FBI/IRS/EPA et al and the weakening of the US military. Mr Trump won the electoral college and without several ultra-blue coastal States the popular vote as well. America has survived the "lead from behind" and political machinations of the Obama years as well as the "malaise" years of the Carter years. There were severe critics of both Presidents using civil discourse that never arose to the physical violence, riots, shutting down and even attacking speakers that is happening today.
In support of Mr Cosgrove's question of Obama' qualifications the following was posted in several publication in 2008 and never received a response:
"Had the media spent as much time investigating Barack H Obama's
background as a mini-me Al Sharpton community organizer, his
relationships with Reverend Wright, Rezko, his communist grandparents,
"Frank" the communist role model, and Ayers,the unrepentant terrorist,
as they do on GOP candidates, they would have been found him to be
only a glib, smooth talking operator on a par with Ponzi scheme
promoters, boiler room stock salesman and the run-of-the mill grifters
who pry on the both the greedy and the innocent.
Mr. Obama's past was and still is written in invisible ink, no high
school records, no college records, no SAT scores, no university
records, no GPAs from any school, no written dissertations, the
proverbial "pig in a poke". Mr. Obama's written record are two 'memoirs'
one rather poorly written and the second more scholarly that some
question the authorship. Rolling over for a political person is par for
the course for the political media. America bought the 'pig in a poke'
and found not a rock but a marxist/socialist wanna-be diktator."

Derrick Weiller
4 years 10 months ago

Thanks for your comment, E.Patrick Mosman.
I love a great sense of humor.

E.Patrick Mosman
4 years 10 months ago

Mr Weiller,
"Humor is the good natured side of a truth".- quoted in Mark Twain and I, Opie Read

Derrick Weiller
4 years 10 months ago


John Cahill
4 years 10 months ago

my only comment is that our form of government is "not quite" a democracy. The electoral college gives much more weight to sparsely populated states in the West compared to where most people live. In some ways, the tail wags the dog.

E.Patrick Mosman
4 years 10 months ago

" The electoral college gives much more weight to sparsely populated states in the West compared to where most people live. In some ways, the tail wags the dog."
The authors of the US Constitution, the Founding Fathers(Not PC) were brilliant men and placed in it three "road blocks" to insure that every State had an equal say in the the governing of the USA. One,every State has 2 Senators, two the Electoral college and three the role of the States in amending the Constitution. The purpose was to insure that highly populated colonies,New York and Virginia at that time, did not dominate the lesser populated other colonies. The same hold true today except it is ultra-liberal New York and California that would dominate the other 48 States.
The number of electoral votes for each state is equal to the sum of its number of Senators and its number of Representatives. Suggest you check out the actual number of electors by State for example
California with 55 and Wyoming with 3.

MJ Painter
4 years 10 months ago

2 things: The Electoral College was also meant to prevent someone "unfit" from being president, regardless of the popular vote. Arguably, it failed in that task this time around. Secondly, California, with it's 55 electors, has 1 for every 713,600 residents. Wyoming with its 3 electors, has 1 for every 195,400 residents. Wyoming's electoral votes are weighted 3.65 times more than California's. If that's not heavily weighted toward Wyoming (a "sparsely populated state in the West," I don't know what is.

Frank Huber
4 years 10 months ago

Ms Patterson makes valid points to cease the Trump-bashing but I am concerned our society generally overlooks why he is "unfit." We have heard for decades about our lack of concern for mental illness, which may be based generally in a lack of knowledge and/or understanding of what constitutes a "mental illness." Possibly even a broad denial in our society about mental illness because it likely strikes too close to home. A couple of clicks will take you to the Mayo Clinic website, where you can easily look up "Narcissistic Personality Disorder," and if you are willing, you can read the list of symptoms by which it is identified. And, you can also begin to understand how narcissism affects others under its influence. Mr. Trump is our duly elected POTUS. But does his election bear the stamp of approval from a narcissistic society incapable of reflecting on it's own structure and principles. This is truly "sad".

Stephen Stack
4 years 10 months ago

The problem with Donald Trump is that he is not at all like our past presidents, with whom one side or other merely disagrees and tries to slander with extreme rhetoric. He is a seriously dangerous man about whom we should be angry and passionate. The fact that the language has been used to describe past presidents and candidates unfairly, when it truly did not apply, and to the kinds of ends described in this article, is what makes this situation so difficult and frustrating. Mr. Trump is demonstrably a man of little moral integrity, whose lies and actions betray him indeed to be a despotic demagogue. And it is dangerous to "normalize" him as merely being a disagreeable public official. Should we truly NOT be outraged, morally and otherwise? Or perhaps the point is that we should somehow be more "polite" in our outrage?

Patricia Hemsworth
4 years 10 months ago

I don't know if you need to be a liberal to be appalled by Donald Trump or to consider him unfit for office. But yes, he did win the election and yes, we do need to deal with him and the policy decisions facing the country. We need to be highly focused, educated on the issues by exposing ourselves to a variety of sources of information and to have a strong sense of what we believe the correct path ahead. I understand your uneasiness with what appears to be an obsession with Trump as an individual personality. That said, in no way, shape or form will I be quiet or roll over when "much of Mr. Trump’s behavior is dismaying, especially his fluid, protean relationship to facts, which he dismisses or accepts according to the needs of the moment". It is called lying and it is appropriate to be outraged for example, by a fact-free accusation of a felony against President Obama or allegations of widespread voter fraud accounting for his loss of the popular vote. I will continue to be outraged by this, but not let it stop me from purposeful,
issue-driven, political involvement. And please don't dismiss this "outrage" as belonging solely to "liberals". There are many Republicans / Conservatives who are appalled by his behavior as well.

Lisa Weber
4 years 10 months ago

This is the first president we have had who is clearly mentally ill. His closest advisor is someone who wants to "deconstruct the administrative state" i.e. destroy the government. The Republicans control both the House and the Senate. I have been astonished at the lack of truth or courage among the Republicans. I am truly frightened for this country because the lunatics are in charge right now.

Some good may come of all of this because people may realize that they have to be involved in politics to make the political system work. But it is a long time till 2018 and it is hard to estimate the damage that might be done by a president who does not have a grip on reality. If he does have a grip on reality, he is a pathological liar. Psychotic or pathological liar is not a good choice for presidential attributes.

Gabriel Marcella
4 years 10 months ago

The readership of this blog includes people who are conservative and independent, and not necessarily liberal. Yet, the headline assumes that only liberals are upset with Trump. That's clearly not the case. Many Republicans, especially moderate ones, did not vote for him and are concerned about what Michael Gerson in today's Washington Post calls the "shrinking presidency." Sample paragraph: "It is in this context that the diplomatic bloopers reel of the past few days has been played — the casual association of British intelligence with alleged surveillance at Trump Tower; the presidential tweets undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his Asia trip; and the rude and childish treatment given the German chancellor. When President Trump and Angela Merkel sat together in the Oval Office, we were seeing the leader of the free world — and that guy pouting in public." Whatever your political affiliation we should all agree that the dignity of the office of the president is essential for our democracy and national security.

Bruce Snowden
4 years 10 months ago

I'm not a liberal. Rather I like to high five myself claiming to be a middle of the road thinker and voter, a position allowing comprehensive left and right viewing, as both sides are worth listen too and at times following. In reality, however, nearer personal political truth, I am a gut conservative, with a tilt to the left.

Strangely, perhaps, even as a conservative don't like to be boxed in, and just love some wriggle room! All of this to get to my point. Did I make a mistake in voting for President Trump? His extreme positions on everything are troubling, making me wonder about judgmental ability. I'm hoping he softens into attitudes of practical humanity and will find JFK's Presidential words useful. Shortly after winning the presidency, Mr. Kennedy was questioned about some of his brash pre-election statements by news people who have elephant-like memories. His answer, "The Presidency is a sobering experience!" Will President Trump ever admit this? Is he able to do so?

Patricia Hemsworth
4 years 10 months ago

Today's Wall Street Journal Editorial. It would be a real reach to call them liberal.


JR Cosgrove
4 years 10 months ago

The problem is that Trump is correct. Comey admitted that there has been an investigation since last July of the Trump campaign and Russia and thus validated Trump, not repudiate him. That was the Obama government and Justice Department that was scrutinizing and surveying Trump. Were there wire taps involved or other methods of surveillance? Are we dealing with semantics here?

There was a definite wire tap that revealed what Flynn said and this is a crime committed by members of the Obama administration. So Trump is correct that he or his people were wire tapped and subject to intensive surveillance.

And there are "Never Trumpers" on the Wall street Journal Staff.

We will have to wait and see how all these investigations play out. But right now, Trump has been validated not repudiated as the Wall Street Journal said.

And by the way, nearly everyone agrees that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the hacking was aimed at Hillary Clinton because the Russians thought she was a sure thing and wanted to discredit her administration as illegitimate. But the Democrats turned this upside down and have tried to claim the Trump administration is illegitimate. Not a peep out of the authors here at America on this attempt to destabilize the government by the Democrats. Instead some authors support continued destabilization.

Lisa Weber
4 years 10 months ago

There was monitoring of the Russians. The only conversations that could be picked up were with people talking to the Russians. If Trump is one of the people whose conversation was included in that monitoring, it means he was talking to the Russians. What was discussed is the truly critical issue and we do not have information on that yet. If Trump is eventually found guilty of treason, I would not be surprised.

Gabriel Marcella
4 years 10 months ago

Because we live in a highly polarized environment it might be best for America and other thoughtful outlets to drop designations of liberal and conservative. Such nomenclature adds to the tribalism that divides Americans. It forces people to choose sides from one or the other, thereby impeding dialogue and understanding. The comments on this blog indicate that valid political commentary can originate from many sources, irrespective of political ideology and party affiliation. It would be healthier for democratic civility if we stop nurturing tribalism. Public intellectuals should build bridges of understanding, rather than exclusion.

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