The Editors: Trump’s recklessness is a danger to the body politic

 (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald J. Trump appeared before thousands of his supporters at a 2020 re-election rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22, where he defended his actions as president, excoriated his critics and derided the institutions of the republic. While the country has seen much of this before, the event in Phoenix shows that the president prefers to continue to campaign and stir up mobs instead of attempting to govern and serve the country. Yet campaigning is a poor substitute for governance, and stoking rage is no substitute for developing policy and building coalitions. The president’s inflammatory and occasionally incoherent address, moreover, was a grab-bag of half-truths and reckless accusations, red meat tossed to the ravenous crowd who filled the convention center. During 90 minutes:

  • Mr. Trump misrepresented his actions in the immediate aftermath of the tragic events in Charlottesville, omitting that he had expressed a moral equivalence between the neo-Nazi demonstrators and their counterparts.
  • Mr. Trump accused the national media of deliberate dishonesty in reporting his statements regarding Charlottesville, which were covered in their totality across media platforms.
  • Mr. Trump undermined the rule of law by boasting that he will pardon the convicted criminal Joe Arpaio, not as an act of merciful justice, but to celebrate Mr. Arpaio’s flouting of court orders and immigration laws during his tenure as sheriff in Phoenix.
  • Mr. Trump repeatedly used racial and ethnic coding to accuse the media and the establishment of trying to rob “us” of our “history and our heritage.”
  • Mr. Trump claimed against ample objective evidence to the contrary that he has so far managed the most successful presidency in history.

These statements by President Trump are beneath the dignity of his office and are an affront to the intelligence of the American people. His characterization of the national news media is especially galling: “You would think they’d want to make our country great again, and I honestly believe they don’t. I honestly believe it,” he said. While the press is not above critique, Mr. Trump’s statement is an indiscriminate assault on the patriotism and integrity of the press from the man who swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend its freedom.

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Polybius, the ancient Greek historian, could have been a pool journalist reporting on Mr. Trump’s performance in Phoenix: “The common people feel themselves oppressed by the grasping of some, and their vanity is flattered by others. Fired with evil passions, they are no longer willing to submit to control, but demand that everything be subject to their authority. The invariable result is that government assumes the noble names of free and popular, but becomes in fact the most execrable thing, mob rule.”

The one who leads a mob—no matter how large—is a demagogue. President Trump’s reckless disregard for the truth, the rule of law and the institutions of the republic are a clear and present danger to the body politic. We the people must use all peaceful, lawful means at our disposal to check his power and limit the damage.

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Marilyn Martin
1 month 3 weeks ago

Thank you for this spot-on editorial. I have never been ashamed to be an American till now. Nor have I ever been afraid to be a U.S. citizen and resident. I am thankful to belong to a Church that sees things as they are--and speaks out for the values Jesus taught. (I know that some Catholics have been won over by Trump, but thank goodness not a majority--and not America.) I converted from an evangelical church 19 years ago, partly because a majority in my church already seemed to be espousing the values of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Rush Limbaugh rather than those of Jesus and the saints. On November 8 of last year, when 81 percent of evangelicals voted to make a reckless, immoral man our head of state, it occurred to me that they've finally put their politics ahead of their faith. I'm thankful to you for standing firm.

Sandi Sinor
1 month 3 weeks ago

Marilyn, you wrote "I know that some Catholics have been won over by Trump, but thank goodness not a majority-". Unfortunately, this is not true. Catholics weren't as bad as the evangelicals (81% voted for Trump), but 52% of all Catholics, and 60% of white Catholics voted for Trump. As some would say, (well, tweet), SAD.

The gospel is not getting through very well to either the evangelicals or the Catholics it seems. Fortunately, America continues to stand up and point out the truth about Trump in spite of being regularly trolled and slammed by a group of "Catholics" who post here. America is not afraid to note Trump's habit of lying about almost everything (including in Phoenix last night - omitting the key phrases he used that caused the protests of his comments on Charlottesville - lying by omission), and that his proposed policies and his dog-whistle racist rhetoric, among other things), represent totally unchristian values. Un-American too. Jesus taught about caring for the poor and welcoming the stranger. This teaching of Jesus is reflected in the words on the Statue of Liberty. Trump seems totally clueless when it comes to both REAL christian values, and REAL American values.
He claims to be a defender of the laws, throwing out people who came here without permission - breaking the laws - yet he lionizes a sheriff who not only ignored the law to the point that he was found guilty of contempt of court, he, unlike the Mexicans who slip over the border, had sworn to uphold the law. He disregarded the laws he wanted to ignore, he disregarded specific court orders, he has been found in contempt, and he deserves the sentence the Judge has given him.

I repeat - SAD!

Marilyn Martin
1 month 3 weeks ago

Sandi, I was basing the percentage of Catholics who voted for Trump on an article from America that reported: "Catholic voters narrowly went for Democrat Hillary Clinton, 48 percent to 45 percent." The earlier figures indicated the numbers you mentioned, but later figures showed that Clinton prevailed among Catholics. See https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/04/06/new-data-su…. I hope you find this information as heartening as I did. (Still bad, still sad, but not AS bad.)

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 3 weeks ago

Sandi
I get it..... you despise the man and pity those who voted for him.
But please at least get your facts straight.....
Joe Arpaio has not been sentenced at this point (scheduled for October);
He was cited for "criminal contempt of Court" a misdemeanor...not a felony... and having been accused of a "crime" one would expect he would get a jury trial but that was denied him(that is one basis for his appeal).
Arpaio was an announced "target" by Eric Holder who vowed to get him!
If he is sentenced to more than a week in jail (itself unlikely) his sentence will almost assuredly be reversed as excessive.

Finally you ought to compare the actions of Arpaio leading to his conviction to the actions of law enforcement officers in Sanctuary Cities. In Arpaio's case he was cited for targeting "likely illegals" ( profiling) for challenge in order to deport them in accordance with law ; In the Sanctuary Cities Law Officers are deliberately breaking applicable Federal Laws barring any person from aiding and abetting, by action or deception , a violation of the Federal Immigration laws.
Given the Obama Administrations Immigration Policy and executive decisions to "catch and release" ( not deport) you can easily understand why Arpaio was targeted and the Sanctuary Cities were lauded. In short you have bandied about the accusations of illegality and broken laws in a situation where it was the announced policy of the Obama Administration to ignore and contradict existing law.

marie cogswell
1 month 3 weeks ago

THANK - you !!!

Marilyn Martin
1 month 3 weeks ago

Arpaio's deputies would pull people over merely for being Hispanic, trying to ferret out undocumented people, and would hold them in terrible conditions illegally till they could prove they were legal. THAT's illegal--and immoral. Can you really imagine that Jesus (whose family were once refugees themselves) would send people back to countries they fled from to find work so they could support their families or protect them from violence? I live in Tucson and perhaps hear more than you do about the things that cause people to come here illegally. (If they waited to come legally, the kids they want to protect NOW would be grown--or dead--by the time they were finally admitted.) By the way, Arpaio hasn't been sentenced, but he has been found guilty!

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 3 weeks ago

Marilyn
I understand that there are many good motives for coming to the US , but if the form of such arrival breaks laws then it remains illegal. The local sheriff cannot use a law breakers good motive, hardship, etc as an excuse for ignoring the law. While empathy is appropriate, it is not a substitute for enforcing the law at the arrest and detain level. Prosecutors have discretion but law officers do not!
No, I cannot imagine Jesus sending people back to terrible conditions etc.....but a law officer is not walking around with a WWJD badge! That may sound harsh, but any officer who believes that he must do what his conscience directs and not what the law requires ought to resign imediately. He is a fine man but a lousy police officer.

marie cogswell
1 month 3 weeks ago

Thank you again. I am a university Spanish instructor and probably should be some kind of social scientist. I have had extensive envolvemet with Hispanic migrants. This should be a simple issue but is multifaceted. Conditions in CentralAmerica are really brutal, on a good day. I understand that Christians should be compassionate. HOWever, at some point, we must insist upon maintaining the institutions and traditions that have made us a great and highly desirable country if we are to continue in our role as beacon to the world. Just today, in a waiting room, I had a conversation with a father and son from El Salvador. They cited a 35 per diem murder rate and tremendous bribery that must be paid to MS13 just to continue to exist. These circumstances have been on a downward spiral for years and must be somehow corrected if we are to have any success with this issue. The band aid and gum batting approach have simply gotten us where we are.

Robert Rehbock
1 month 3 weeks ago

It is a dictatorship where the president tells the police that they can disobey the judiciary. Of course many of you would prefer the strong man dictator. It is much closer to religion where the rules are what the guy in white proclaims.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 3 weeks ago

Robert
Is it a dictatorship when the President tells the police not to enforce the existing laws?

Robert Rehbock
1 month 3 weeks ago

It is a dictatorship where the president tells the police that they can disobey the judiciary. Of course many of you would prefer the strong man dictator. It is much closer to religion where the rules are what the guy in white proclaims.

J Cosgrove
1 month 3 weeks ago

A kind of harsh statement from a magazine that published a false account of Trump's remarks about Charlottesville.

Richard Booth
1 month 3 weeks ago

I'm not sure where you think the editors erred.

marie cogswell
1 month 3 weeks ago

The position taken by the editors of America magazine with regard to president Trump are beneath the dignity of the Jesuit tradition. I am sorry and have never been ashamed of that tradition until now.

James Haraldson
1 month 3 weeks ago

Please stop bearing false witness editors. It is a bald faced falsehood to claim the mainstream media has provided an accurate accounting of Trump's reaction to the events in Charlottesville, or any event in his presidency in the past seven months for that matter. Most sources didn't even mention his unambiguous condemnation of racism and Nazism. Naturally, their trashy unprofessionalism, much like many left-wing "social justice" Catholic sources, never bother to point out the fascistic and mass murdering pro-death ideologies of what passes itself off as "anti-fascistic" movements in these Orwellian times.
Hell will truly freeze over before America magazine notices, let alone objects to all the violence, "anti-fascists" have exercised towards those engaged in peaceful pro-life activities including routine attacks on elderly volunteers delivering food, clothing, and baby care goods to abortion turnarounds.

marie cogswell
1 month 3 weeks ago

Nicely said - 'still a man sees what he wants to and disregards the rest'.

Douglas Fang
1 month 3 weeks ago

Thank you the Editors of America for having the courage and honesty to continue pointing out the fundamental issues of Trump presidency. His recklessness knows no boundary. After the disastrous reaction to the Charlottesville incident, he seems to learn nothing. In the last 2 days alone, he already made these reckless moves/statements:

1. “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall” – close down government to build a wall that is mostly symbolic!!! a wall that is very unchristian according to our Pope. This is a pure joke! (For a lot of Catholics that unconditionally support Trump, it seems that he has a higher status than the Pope anyway – such a pity!)

2. His signal to pardon Arpaio reveals his total contempt for the Constitution. According to a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard University, his disrespect is an impeachable offense. – Google “Arpaio Pardon Would Show Contempt for Constitution”

No wonder that there is an increasing chat these days about his mental stability – Google “Amid mounting bipartisan concerns, debating Trump's mental health becomes cottage industry”

Full disclosure: As a matter of fact, I really want Trump to succeed as I have a lot of stake in seeing a strong America economy. I was hoping that he would seriously spend his political capital on good topics such as tax reform, financial reform, regulation reform, healthcare reform, etc. Instead, he just lumped from one scandal to the next with non-stop nonsense Tweets…

Richard Booth
1 month 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately, a person who habitually bloviates and promises all manner of impossible things without knowing anything, is a fraud. The handwriting was on the wall long before those three states' electoral votes put the man into the Oval Office.

Henry George
1 month 3 weeks ago

Douglas,

Unless someone can show a pro-quid-pro between Trump and Sheriff Arpaio and if Trump waits until the sentence is
passed, it is very hard to say Trump has committed an impeachable act. The Constitution and the Supreme Court's reading of the power of a President to pardon seem to be on Trump's side.

Douglas Fang
1 month 3 weeks ago

Henry,

I assume that you have not read the article written by Noah Feldman. This is the first sentence, "If President Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, as he broadly hinted at during a rally Tuesday in Arizona, it would not be an ordinary exercise of the power -- it would be an impeachable offense." I don't know anything about your credentials in term of constitutional law. In the other hand, Noah Feldman is a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. He also authored 7 books. In the article, he articulated a compelling case to support his claim. Without any relevant information, I have to follow the opinion of the expert, not of some random and unknown commenter.

Henry George
1 month 3 weeks ago

Douglas Fang,

I am retired now, but Constitutional Law was my forte.

Please read the Constitution and you may read about cases where a Presidential Pardon was challenged.
Professor Feldman, whose article I did read but did not find compelling, makes his case, but unless there is
a pro-quid-pro, Trump is protected by the Constitution. You might want to read up on the Marc Rich/Susan McDougal
pardons - which seem makes it seem - as clear-as-day - to be pro-quid-pro, as both of them, or their confederates did
something to help Clinton(s) in a substantial manner before their pardon.

Now you may argue that Trump is interfering in the justice system by letting the Sheriff know that he will be pardoned,
if indeed he is pardoned by Trump, I thought Trump would make a show of it and pardon the Sheriff at the rally,
but there does not seem to be any rule against pardoning people before their sentence is applied to them.

As for an impeachable offence...though the Constitutions says "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" what does that
exactly mean ? As far as I can tell it means whatever Congress chooses it to mean. Whether the Chief Justice can
intervene and say the impeachment articles do not qualify as such, is a very interesting question. You might want
to look up the impeachment of Federal Justices and see how the lawyers argued over whether there was sufficient cause
for them to be impeached.

So welcome to American Politics and Law where nothing is clean cut.

You can follow whom you choose.

In the end it is up to Congress and the Chief Justice - we just sit on the sidelines and watch the "Farce" known as
Congress & Trump play out and hope the Supreme Court is not dragged into this farrago.

When you write Douglas try not to look down you nose at those you are responding to, you don't know the commentators
backgrounds and so you end up embarrassing yourself. Appeals to authority, when the said: Authority is not the one who
decides, so Noah Feldman can say whatever he so wishes, but he is not in Congress and he is not the Chief Justice,
do little good - after all this is Politics and just about anything can happen.

If Trump resigned or the 25th Amendment was invoked - today it would not bother me or surprise me,
just politics as usual in America, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
[ I do wonder what happens if Trump contests being removed via the 25th Amendment -
It can get very complicated as Trump could, once Pence becomes President, formally state that he has regained
his faculties and if he becomes President, until Congress can act, remove the Cabinet members who wanted him
out, and the Congress has to decide within a certain time period and if enough Congressmen stall or Congress cannot
get a 2/3rd's vote to remove Trump - Trump remains as President. All very 'terra incognito'. ]

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 3 weeks ago

Douglas
This is a follow up based on the fact that Trump pardoned Arpaio yesterday.
You will now get a chance to test Mr. Feldman's conclusion:

Step number one....Maxine Waters will present a bill to impeach.......likely , but first she will have to overcome Democratic Party Leadership objections (already asserted once to date) based on their concern that it will solidify Trump supporters in toss up States for 2018.

Step number two: Her bill has to be set for a vote, a matter completely in the Control of the Speaker of the House......she is going to be left waiting

Step Number Three: When,as, and if scheduled for a vote , her Bill must muster a majority vote of the Republican controlled House.....not likely.

Mr Feldman has safely effectively opined on a matter which is not likely to ever be tested. The perfect result for a law professor...he can be assertive, provocative, and seemingly espouse a brilliant opinion......one which will never be tested.

Henry George's comments are spot on....The "High Crimes and Misdemeanor " impeachment test is undefined and so is a matter of political judgement and interpretation.....there is no court involved. Mr Feldman conveniently just neglected to note in his article that he was exercising his own political bias and not a particular sound legal argument. He is fully entitled to do that but he is not entitled to pretend that there is some body of supportive legal opinions for his conclusion.

Henry George
1 month 2 weeks ago

Hi Stuart,
I was bit surprised by Trump's action coming to quickly.

Well Maxine will do what Maxine will do and who knows what will happen.

There was another article on why Trump should be impeached in the NYTImes about a week ago and that
Law Professor from Northwestern seemed to indicate that Trump Pardoning before sentencing somehow
denied "Due Process" for the people who the Sheriff had "illegally" arrested.

Thanks for the up-vote.

Henry George
1 month 3 weeks ago

Trump, as a citizen can say whatever he wants.
If he wants to blame both sides - carrying out political rallies -
for starting a riot that is his free choice.
You do not have to approve.
But you should not denounce him for his actualising his power of
Free Speech.

By the Constitution, Trump evidently has the power to Pardon whomever
he so wishes, save those impeached, though he, himself, could be
impeached for a pro-quid-pro agreement, which by the way Bill Clinton seems to have carried out in his last days for a man whose family
made large contributions to Hillary Clinton's campaign fund - Marc Rich.
Clinton also pardoned Susan McDougal of the good old Whitewater Scandal.

One can wonder if the wrath of America's Editors is directed more
at Sherriff Arpaio's action for if the Sheriff had been refusing to obey a
Federal Order that he notify Immigration whenever Un-Documented Immigrants were arrested - and somehow were pardoned by a
different President you would be lauding that President.

Trump is Barnum and Bailey, a Salesman of the most "Confidence Man"
kind, what you need to worry about - dear editors of America -
is why he was elected in the first place and whether Trump is
the canary in the Coal Mine of America.

Randal Agostini
1 month 3 weeks ago

This surely reflects the opinion of the editors, who should refer the the parable of hypocrisy, or the beam in the eye. There is no moral equivalency between Neo Nazis and Antifa, but the position of the President has been explicit regarding this matter on countless previous occasions. Everyone with an open mind knew that President Trump, on Saturday, was referring to the behavior of both sides - perfectly natural for someone who did not have all the facts. I remain in the "Fake News" camp until I see that "The Media" responds to this different administration with an open mind. Those of us who voted for this administration have a right to seek change, which is usually a messy business. There is no necessity or advantage for the press to create more muck, which if untrue is usually regarded by all as - muck.

Don Honda
1 month 3 weeks ago

"... racial and ethnic coding ..." Really?

Don Honda
1 month 3 weeks ago

Please google the following on Christian Post:
Evangelicals For Biblical Immigration and Cultural Flourishing

"There are biblical and prudential reasons for opposing "comprehensive immigration reform," but your otherwise thoughtful article did not acknowledge them.

I concur with the statistical conclusion of Kellstedt and Hoover, that evangelicals, "white" and otherwise, largely oppose the kind of "comprehensive immigration reform" that President Obama is attempting to enforce despite the disapproval of Congress and most Americans."

Nancy Walton-House
1 month 3 weeks ago

Thank you for your principled position that applies Catholic teaching to lived experience.

Michael Barberi
1 month 3 weeks ago

I respectfully hope that the editors would take a pause and reflect on the many arguments made in these postings, especially on the so-called facts that many here believe the editors have misrepresented. Below are the four criticisms listed by the editors.

1. The editors believe that Trump made "a moral equivalence between Neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville and those that were protesting against them". Really? Just how do the editors turn Trump's statement "that both sides can be accused of fomenting violence" into a moral equivalence? How can the editors say this, as fact, while deliberately minimizing Trump's many condemnations of White Supremacists, the KKK and Neo-Nazism? I don't believe the editor's comment here is faIr and balanced.

2. "The media covered all Trump's statements in their entirety." This is like Obama saying that the great majority of our Law Enforcement Officers do a great job, in one short breath, then proceed to jump to erroneous and highly biased remarks that implied, in no uncertain terms, that police officers were to blame for all the black men who were killed by police officers (e.g,, Ferguson, et al). While there were some policemen who killed innocent black men, in many of these cases the facts exonerated the police. In other words, there is bias in some policemen, but Obama turned this into a nightmare. One can easily argue that it was the media and Obama that fueled the belief in the black community that all of this violence was somewhat justified or completely understandable because blacks have suffered decades of injustice by police. Have the editors conveniently forgot the hypocrisy that most of us witnessed? I don't want to point to one bad behavior to justify another, but to imply that the media fairly covered Trump is "ridiculous and disingenuous".

> I do agree with the editors that many of Trump's remarks are brash, un-Presidential, harsh and not diplomatic. In many ways he could be more effective if he would take a different approach. Let's face it, Trump does not build bridges in a way we understand. He is a hard nose real estate negotiator that believes in the pressure of mild threats that he never intends to carry out. Yet the media has a field day with such remarks. While many people don't like Trump, it does not give any of us the license to fixate on taking everything he says and exaggerate, distort and destroy him. To say that his remarks are beneath the dignity of the office of the Presidency does nothing to move the conversation forward toward a fair, honest and persuasive argument. Don't get me wrong, Trump can and should be criticized. However, the editor's remarks here will not convince any of Trump's supporters, or those Republicans and Independents that dislike his comments, that their criticisms in this article are the complete and unbiased truth. Keep in mind that a majority of the states voted for him and his style. What everyone saw during the primaries, during the election and after the election is the same Trump. He is not going to change and all the over-the-top media bashing will not change the minds of his supporters.

3. "Racial and ethnic coding". I have no idea what the editors meant by this remark.

4. While Trump likes to beat his chest and declare that he is responsible for all the good things since his election, this is an exaggeration. Do the editors really believe that Obama never did this? Everything Obama did was, in his mind, right and just.

I will predict that unless Trump passes tax reform (most important), immigration reform (second), infrastructure investment and job creation (third), his presidency will be lost. If this happens, the real question is: who will we vote for in 2020? Right now all I see is Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton again. Perhaps we will get lucky and an Independent, a Republican, or a true centrist Democrat will emerge that we can believe in and feel good about.

marie cogswell
1 month 3 weeks ago

Thank you for the clear-headed, sincere commentary. Frankly, I am praying.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 month 2 weeks ago

Michael
"racial and ethnic coding" is a well understood Jesuit editorial tactic : If you can't identify a specific word, phrase, sentence etc that is offensive then you accuse the person of encoding his unattackable words. . It takes an uncanny , and rare ability to divine what you want to see. It's like those Jesuits who have such keen hearing that they can hear so called "dog whistles" that not even the dogs can hear. ......

J Cosgrove
1 month 3 weeks ago

Mr. Trump misrepresented his actions in the immediate aftermath of the tragic events in Charlottesville, omitting that he had expressed a moral equivalence between the neo-Nazi demonstrators and their counterparts.

Maybe the bigger threat to our country is the violence by the side the editors endorse. On one side is a rag tag bunch of mal-contents with an odious philosophy but would have trouble filling one side of the stands at the local junior high gym in Charlottesville for their national rally.

On the other side is an equally odious group whose philosophy has killed over a hundred million people in the 20th century and oppressed hundreds of millions more. And appear to number in the thousands as they appear all over the country. But because they are supported by the editors, they cannot be condemned by them.

So forget the moral equivalence nonsense. it would be a good debate as to whom represents the greater threat. They are both morally repulsive. How difficult is that to see? Trump sees it. Most of the country sees it. Why cannot the editors and the press see it?

Because

The whole Charlottesville controversy has nothing to do with racism

A little honesty would be nice.

marie cogswell
1 month 3 weeks ago

OH boy, I think you almost nailed it.

Carlos Orozco
1 month 3 weeks ago

Far (far, far) more dangerous than President Trump is the Washington/New York "body politic", based on perpetual war, regime change destabilization, identity politics and predatory banking.

Rudolph Koser
1 month 2 weeks ago

AMEN. The fact that this man is a danger to the Republic could have been foreseen. As the president of CBS said, "He may be bad for the country but good for CBS". This reality show barker knows how to appeal to the crowd but as his history indicates he is a grifter and a man with little values except his obsession with himself. "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." Maya Angelou

Raymond Marey
1 month 1 week ago

When you don't think you could possibly be wrong, you are self-righteous. Not a good thing.

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