A while ago I thought it would be fun to keep track of the apologies Donald Trump owes the country. I wrote one on his assertion that Judge Curiel could not rule on his Trump University case since the judge is of Mexican heritage and could not possibly be unbiased. It was fun. But I could not keep up. What with the Khan family, fire marshals, beating up protesters, lying about his changed positions on Syria and Libya, on the number of immigrants in the country illegally, the unemployment rate, crime rates, Obama as founder of ISIS and at least 70 other stories tallied by PolitiFact, I was beaten.
Then I realized those are just chump change!
The biggest and most abject apology owed to America is for accelerating the decline of our most important institutions. He and his fellow Republicans have for years been doing their best to create darkness where there should be light. They have turned the perception of science from an instrument of discovery and verification to an instrument for promotion or vilification of political positions. They have changed reverence for education into distrust of expertise. Support for common infrastructure has become classified as “tax and spend” programs to wreck the budget. For these, the Donald gets credit for advancing the ball but not for all the recent progress. The Republicans, after all, have worked on knocking down government for years.
Mr. Trump’s singular contribution is his unique ability to stare into the mouth of a bear and deny that he sees teeth or even that there may be a bear. For example, we have his continuing claim that what he said in 2004 about favoring the invasion of Iraq, on film, did not happen. Also, his claim that president Obama is not a native-born American is now being denied on his behalf by his campaign but he would not admit it in person until 9/16/2016. And speaking of bears, he still denies Russia has troops in the Ukraine.
Most of all, though, we have his skill in debasing political debate. I know, I thought that art had already been perfected by Congress, but I was wrong on that too. Trump has skills in innuendo, ad hominem attacks, misdirection and blatant lying that make the most ambitious sixth grade bully weep from jealousy. With his recent claim that Secretary Clinton has run a “hate filled” campaign, he has taken the school yard taunt “I know you are but what am I?” to impressive new levels. Similarly with his continuing attacks on the Clinton campaign regarding Benghazi, the email server, her health and the Clinton Foundation, he has created exactly the sort of distraction that his son now says is the real reason he won’t release his tax returns – that it would create a distraction and keep Mr. Trump from delivering his message. I wonder what the distraction would be?