The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: #8 “Trump Only Cares About Himself, Not The Country”

When I combined the seven previous “Big Lies of the Resistance” posts I though I had collected them all. What a mistake. Not only had I complied an incomplete list, I had managed to miss the most egregious, unfair and, for the impeachment effort, the most useful Big Lie of all. I’m sorry. It’s time to remedy my error.

I’ve been feeling the need to add Chapter 8 to the Big Lie record since the midst of the Democrats’  ostentatiously unfounded impeachment claims over the President’s dealings with the Ukraine. Their entire argument was built on an assumption: President Trump sought further information regarding the suspicious activities of Joe and Hunter Biden while the elder Biden was Vice-President and the younger was somehow pulling down big bucks from a Ukrainian corporation only to “find dirt” on his likely opponent in the Presidential election. This description was repeated over and over again by the news media, like a mantra or a hypnotic suggestion. Hearing it so often and repeated with such certitude, one might almost forget that the President of the United States has a legitimate purpose in finding out whether a high elected official in the previous administration was influence peddling, sacrificing the interests of the nation for a wayward son.

The President’s attackers and those who have been searching for a way to remove him without having to prevail at the ballot box have framed the controversy as if there was no reason on earth to suspect Joe Biden of wrongdoing–after all, he’s a patriot—so Trump’s waving a Congressional aid package as a carrot that could turn into a stick was an attempt to “interfere with the election.”

The funny part is that there was never any evidence that this was Trump’s motive. It was assumed that this was Trump’s motive because “everyone” knows he’s a bad guy.

We heard this during the Russian conspiracy investigation constantly: Trump “colluded” with the Russians because of course he did—he’s that kind of guy. The Trump haters who slowly devolved into the Trump Deranged came to regard the President’s character as one and the same as guilt of the dastardly acts they attributed to him. This is called, I remind you, bias. Bigotry. Prejudice…the intellectually indefensible assumption that someone is guilty of unethical acts because of who and what they are, rather than what we know they did.

I had a fascinating discussion about the Ukraine allegations and impeachment with a close friend  from college who was fulminating about how investigating the Bidens   was obviously misusing the Presidential foreign relations power to rig the election.She couldn’t believe, she said, that Republicans in the Senate wouldn’t vote to convict him. I asked a question that was not original with me: What if, instead of Joe Biden, the immediate VP who was suspected of corrupt schemes in the Ukraine were a Republican VP, not planning or likely to run for President. Would the President using foreign aid to persuade the Ukraine to investigate that former official be misconduct then? The best she could come up with, even after a couple of beats of thought, was “it depends,” and she couldn’t tell me what it would depend on.

Ultimately, she defaulted to “Honestly, do you really think the Trump wasn’t just trying to find ‘dirt’ on Joe Biden to help him win re-election?” There it was again: the presumption, without proof, that the President’s conduct which would be otherwise presumed to have been undertaken in the best interests of the nation with any other POTUS , must have been based on corrupt and selfish motives. “Without proof,” did I say? Why there’s proof: he’s Donald Trump! That’s proof enough.

Big Lie #8 has been deliberately fertilized by two other Big Lies: Big Lie #3: “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster,” and Big Lie #4: “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist.”

From the beginning, the undermining of this Presidency has been built on the logical fallacy of the ad hominem attack. It isn’t that Trump is untrustworthy because of what he does,; no, what he does must be bad because “everyone knows” he’s untrustworthy. Thus, after being bombarded daily, even hourly, by stories, trivial, silly, contrived, irrelevant, old, new and substantial, about how much this President is just a villain, and that’s all there is to it, the ignorant and the gullible are ready to accept that the U.S. is a sitting duck for disaster as long as he remains in the White House. And making Americans think that has been the plan.

From a false premise, garbage follows. It is amazing how many “The sky is falling!” op-eds have been written  and published that ignore reality and retreat to the Big Lie driven myth. Here’s “Bernie Sanders is a risk we can’t run at this moment of national peril,” by Trump Deranged, former conservative blogger turned Never-Trumper Max Boot. Wait: what’s the “national peril?” The economy is doing very well. Illegal immigration has been reduced. Crime rates are down. Trump’s trade deals have been an improvement. NATO members are paying a fairer share of the organization’s expenses. Iran is being opposed, rather than appeased. Due process has been brought back to college campuses.

Yes, there are major areas of neglect that will become existential threats, like the infrastructure, uncontrollable health care costs and the national debt, but those are shared failures at this point.  Max thinks the “national peril” is that the President is warping the rule of law to his own whims, rather than discharging the duties of his office as he believes is in the best interest of the nation. For example, like others using Big Lie #8 as their compass, firing (that is, reassigning) Vindeman, a proven leaker whom he quite reasonably doesn’t trust is an act of personal vengeance. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere,  any leader or manager who doesn’t jettison subordinates he doesn’t trust—and it doesn’t matter why!—is an irresponsible, incompetent fool.

There is no reason to believe that Donald Trump is any less dedicated to his country than any of the men who came before him, and so far, all 43 of them have that one thing in common: as Americans, they have taken on the job of President as public servants and as patriots.

I’ve studied these men; I study them still. There are great perquisites of being President of the United States, of course, and there is that guaranteed place in American history too. No American wants to be remembered as an unsuccessful President, much less a bad President, or one who didn’t do the best he could for his country. Narcissists like Trump especially want to be seen as good Presidents. Super-villains do not become President. Our system and culture doesn’t permit it.

Becoming President is a sacrifice for Donald Trump, as it has been for every President. The proposition that he is using his office to enhance his business is ludicrous. He doesn’t need the money, and the political controversy that  being President naturally generates is bad branding and ultimately bad business.

Never mind that, however; what matters is that every bit of evidence and historical precedent indicates that this President, like all the others, wants to do the best he can for his country in the limited time he has to do it. Claiming otherwise is a particularly vicious and unfair piece of defamation, designed to make it more difficult for him to achieve that goal, as he defines it.

27 thoughts on “The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: #8 “Trump Only Cares About Himself, Not The Country”

  1. “Vindeman, a proven leaker whom he quite reasonably doesn’t trust is an act of personal vengeance. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, any leader or manager who doesn’t jettison subordinates he doesn’t trust—and it doesn’t matter why!—is an irresponsible, incompetent fool.”

    You cannot attribute a given behavior without proof if the opposite is equally true or equally false.

    Why does no one suggest that Vindman’s leaks are acts of personal vengeance against Trump. Vindman is mad that Trump is doing what Vindman thinks is against existing foreign policy therefore Vindman must do something to counter Trump. That is called vengeance. There is far more anecdotal evidence to support the notion that people like Vindman harbor a great deal of deep seated hostility to the president and predisposed to acts to harm him.

    I suggest that the fact that none of the mainstream pundits ever make that suggestion is proof positive that they too harbor animus toward Trump.

  2. There is ample evidence Barack Obama was many things, a patriot isn’t one of them. He and his people set the stage for this outright attack on our Constitution and anyone who opposes their Alinskyite communist tactics. The rights of many are under siege in school, on campus, at work and on the streets.

    No sale on Obama’s patriotism. His mentor was Frank Marshall Davis. He hates this country. Always has. Always will. His actions in and out of office prove it.

          • Jack,
            I appreciate your perspective that all were simply patriots. Bloomberg is not entering the race on principle he is doing it in an attempt to compete with Trump for the highest prize in America. Personal gain does not necessarily mean financial gain. Professional politicians would not blow with the wind if they stood on principle.

              • So far, yes. Bloomberg was merely an example. Why have we seen political dynasties emerge like the Kennedys, Clintons, and Bushes. Why? For what purpose did Jeb Bush run? It is inconceivable that they all chose this path based in altruism and patriotism. We all know that being a president confers great public and private benefits after leaving office.

                The noble candidate runs because he or she thinks they have better answers. So why is Biden running, let alone Deval Patrick? Having the opportunity to be in control is a powerful motivator. When parents say to Johnny or Sally “you too can grow up to be president one day” they mean that if you put forth the effort you can rise all the way to the top. That means that the kid will be economically successful and independent. It does not mean they the kid can grow up to sacrifice themselves for the good of the country.

                The entire anti-Trump movement is about ensuring the levers of power are shifted to his opposition. When elected people vote against policies they were for before the opposition took power but because they are not in power they choose to vote against them that to me is for personal political gain.

                I suppose my thesis is that one can have a noble patriotic motive and a self serving motive simultaneously. The question is which motive carries more weight. I just don’t believe some were all that noble. I certainly hope you are right and I am wrong but, when I see members of Congress inherit their seat from their husbands and/or fathers, when I see legislation that exempts members of Congress from the rules everyone else must play by, and when I see people become multi-millionaires after leaving office or while serving one gets a bit jaded about personal motivation. I see people use politics as a means of personal advancement and I do not think I am alone. Believing that the process winnows out all the people seeking the highest office in the land who run for mainly personal gain is wishful thinking. I won’t go so far as saying any hated the country but an awful lot loved themselves more. Call me cynical.

                • Of course. People want to be President to be President, but nobody wants to be President to screw the country and go down in infamy. If you are raised here, and are the kind of person who the system selects out (I wrote my thesis about that!), then you want to do good things for the nation, whoever much you may get out of the opportunity.

                  You have a one in 9 chance of being shot, after all.

                • “For what purpose did Jeb Bush run?’

                  1. The Bushes are, like the Rockefellers, genetic public servants.
                  2. He wanted to help clean up the Bush legacy after George.
                  3. He was a pretty good governor, and thought he could do a good job.
                  4. He never expected to be savaged and mocked.

                  • RE; the Bushes. That’s a reasonable response.

                    Doing good things for the nation is terribly subjective. I will agree that we have not experienced a president that sought to bring the country down, yet. We also have not executed anyone for treason that I am aware of.

                    I will stipulate that every person running for president wants the country to reflect his or her ideals. The question is, are those ideals reflective of the fundamental culture which allowed the country to be what it is; assuming that the culture is one to be preserved. Secondarily, are these ideals worth the massive sacrifices and resource confiscation that will be imposed on some who are powerless to prevent it from happening because the mob gets what the mob wants? What if they are not?

                    I suppose the question is how much liberty and independence are we prepared to give up in exchange for a government allowance. When do the candidate’s demands that some must sacrifice so that others do not have to become offensive to our culture; assuming it is one to be preserved. Consequently, if our culture needs a fundamental transformation, that will require a fundamentally new Constitution because the one we have now restricts a major transformation. So, if a president seeks to replace or alter significantly the very document he or she takes an oath to protect, what do we call that?

      • Change it to what exactly? Umm how about something completely un-American. Thus no patriot. I’m happy to throw FDR under that bus too, though the circumstances he faced were dire and he was desperate. FDRs policies lengthened and even deepened the depression and his attempts to fiddle with the Supreme Court were tickets for him to be under the bus as well.

        • You’re making the same leap Trumps critics make: if they disgaree with his policies, then he’s un-American. The issue in #8 has nothing to do with what a particaular POTUS’s politics are, except that they all wanted to benefit yhe nation and its citizens as they thought was in the best interests of both.

          • There is a massive difference between changing policies and “fundamentally transforming” the US. We’re not going to agree on this.

            • The latter is just an extreme policy. He thinks the US needs to “evolve” (I’d say “devolve”) into a European style nanny state in a global overlord government. Wrong, stupid, but I will assume good intentions

              • I can’t comment on whether or not Obama was “Unamerican.” I think I can comment on whether or not he loves America with an analogy – I will rely on you to point out how this analogy is not pertinent to this situation, since I am quite fond of this analogy and may be biased towards it.

                Here goes: If you were talking to a young man about his fiance and he said “I lover her very much and I can’t wait to marry her so I can fundamentally transform her.”

                Would you then doubt the sincerity of his love? I sure would.

                • Semi-serious response: if you reverse the genders, that’s a pretty typical statement and made full of love.

                  Presidents who set out to fundamentally transform America: Jackson, Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, FDR, LBJ. They may not have stated it in those words, but there’s no question that it was their intent.

                  • Good response. I think the main reason that I remember so clearly when Obama made the transformation statement is that I immediately assumed that he was speaking of using his unique position as a black president to accelerate the already improving race relations in this country. Instead, he drove us backwards in those relations. What a terrible lost opportunity.

  3. Perhaps moreso than the original post, Adimagejim’s comments about former President Obama got me thinking about how I think about presidents and how they rank. The more I think about it, I put Presidents into eight distinct categories. As you will see, my personal opinions don’t always mesh with popular opinion. I will also note that while I find the presidents fascinating, I won’t even pretend to study them to to the extent that our host has.

    The categories are as follows:

    1. The Greats with no caveats. These are the presidents who could objectively say “I was a great president because…..”, have a really reasonable explanation of why they were great, and not have to explain away any major part of their respective presidencies. In this category, I place George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, James K. Polk, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. [You’ll note these categories won’t create perfect rankings, per se, as I believe there is at least one president (Roosevelt) in paragraph 2 objectively better than Jefferson, Monroe, Polk, Truman, and Reagan].

    Note One: This ethics blog is often very critical of Jefferson-reasonably so as a man- but I’m ONLY analyzing the presidencies of these men. I think his presidency was clearly successful-even if he wasn’t an ethical individual. In fact, Jefferson may be the major exception that probes Jack’s rule that, generally speaking, the country is better served by an ethical man holding the presidency.

    Note Two: James K. Polk doesn’t quite seem to fit on this list. I think his reputation is a function of consequentialism, however. He expanded U.S. territory, which set the stage for the civil war. Historians blame him for this- I don’t think that’s fair. I read somewhere that a historian once stated he resolved matter for HIS time. I think it’s unfair to expect a president to do more. What he resolved for his time- he resolved well. He was, therefore, a great, but not legendary, president.

    2. The Greats with Significant caveats: These are the presidents who could objectively say, “I was a great president because…”, have a really reasonable explanation about why they were great, but would have a major controversy or issue to to explain away in terms of their legacy. Caveats are always, in my mind, considered based on their respective times. My more liberal friends might put Washington in this category, because he owned slaves. I do not. This list includes Andrew Jackson (Trail of Tears), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Japanese American Internment), Dwight D. Eisenhower, (McCarthyism), Lyndon B. Johnson, (The Vietnam War), and Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky).

    Note One: Johnson’s caveat is horrendously unfair to him- he inherited that issue from Kennedy, most people supported the war in the beginning, and once you’re in a fight-it’s hard to get out. All I can say is that there ain’t nothing fair about being president-so this list ain’t always fair either.

    Note Two: My very conservative friends say FDR actually lengthened the depression in a way that was terrible for the country. I’ve never seen compelling evidence of this, although I don’t pretend to be a economy expert-is there such a thing? I will say that even if that’s true, the suffering had become so great, one could reasonably argue FDR had to act. In a pure list of most successful presidents, FDR is easily top 5-probably top 3.

    3. The Presidents whose significant caveats are so bad, their other successes seem dwarfed by the caveats themselves. These presidents could say, “I was a great president because….”, but no one would listen due to the major mistakes/evils that they did in their time in office. In other words, the mistake or evil action the president took, makes it so they take a major tumble down my list, even if some of their other actions were extremely good for this country. This list, as of today, is two presidents in my opinion: Richard Nixon for Watergate, and John Adams for the Alien and Sedition Act.

    Note One: My late grandfather probably believed Clinton belonged in this list- and every year I age- I get closer and closer to thinking he’s right. I’m not there yet, though. Give me ten years, and I probably will be.

    4. Presidents who were “meh” for various reasons. They have some successes, but they just weren’t great either. Generally, these are the presidents whose names won’t come when you try to list the presidents from scratch. This list includes John Quincy Adams (Good infrastructure work- but just didn’t get politics enough to be a great president), Chester A. Arthur, (very serviceable term- but no major achievements to point to- and, like many, failed to help with discrimination in the south), Grover Cleveland-(2 Serviceable terms-but there’s a reason this is the president I always forget-did modernize the military- but also didn’t help protect the 15th amendment in the south), Benjamin Harrison (the Sherman Anti-trust Act was good, the Dawes Act was bad), William McKinley (strong foreign affairs work especially with Spain, poor work on the domestic side-with respect to African American interests-he might have risen to a higher level if he had not been assassinated-he might have been more help in the South in his second term-as he would have been less politically restrained), William Howard Taft, (a better lawyer than a president, I think, who, like many lawyers, acted too cautiously at times, also wouldn’t hire African Americans to do federal jobs if it would cause racial friction-again, TOO cautious), and Gerald Ford, (I think pardoning Nixon was necessary and good, he doesn’t have much successes to his name beyond this-also had a terrible economy during his presidency).

    Note One: Gerald Ford was the hardest President to place. He was never elected, for one. Should that benefit him or hurt him in this exercise? The best things he did seems to have been pardoning Nixon and choosing not to bail out New York City when it went bankrupt. Those aren’t that impressive, but I also don’t know of any majorly negative things he did. I feel in my gut like I ranked Ford incorrectly.

    5. Objectively bad Presidents who have reasonable excuses for their failures. These are the presidents who cannot reasonably argue that they had a successful presidency. These are the presidents who you read about their presidency, and you think, “well, they tried, but their personalities at the time weren’t strong enough to fulfill their duties to the country.” This category and the next will have the most names- which goes to Jack’s point that the vast majority of Presidents really do mean well for the country. The list includes James Madison (wrongly believed the War of 1812 would greatly benefit the US), John Tyler, (not elected- first vice president to ascend, when it wasn’t clear that’s what should happen after a President’s death), Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, (All three men who didn’t have the strength and leadership needed to lead America prior to the civil war. Often considered among the worst presidents. I’ve never been sure their reputations were fair. I’m not sure any individual president could have protected the union AND ended slavery. Each recognized this and decided that preserving the union was more important. Perhaps all three would have been excellent presidents at another time- we will never know.), Andrew Johnson (was VP only for political reasons- and was, therefore, placed in a horrible position by Lincoln’s assassination-also just didn’t know how to play the game of politics at the level that was necessary at that time), Rutherford B. Hayes (tried but failed to address racial disparity in the South-also failed to reform civil service appointments despite his efforts to do so during his term. Of all the presidents-this was the saddest ranking-the man really tried to do the right thing. Frankly, probably a better man than the country deserved at that point in our history), and Herbert Hoover (didn’t respond quickly enough to the stock market crash-but I think that was because he understandably didn’t want to overreact-a mistake that any reasonable president could make-but by that point, he was completely dead in the water).

    Note One: Again, there’s nothing fair about being president or about this list. My sincere apologies to President Hayes. If we were ranking men-instead or presidents- he would be near the very top. [And Jefferson would be near the bottom.]

    6. Objectively bad Presidents who had no reasonable excuses for their failures. These are the presidents who were bad, and you can’t really point to any significant issue that ought to have been too big for their respective personalities during their time. This list includes Ulysses S. Grant (serious scandals throughout his presidency with limited success otherwise-I always thought that odd for a military man), Woodrow Wilson, (This guy was a major racist, who objectively failed to get the U.S. to buy into his best idea-the League of Nations. He gets credit for ultimately being right about that issue, but I’m not sure what good that ultimately did the country. It’s not enough to be right. It’s not enough to be smart. You also have to be able to sell the idea. He was too much an intellectual-not enough a salesperson. [Ironically, I think this issue is what would make me a TERRIBLE president-not that anybody asked]. I’ve always been told he was a top-tier president. I just don’t see it. Sometimes, his reputation actually makes me feel like the whole rest of the world is gaslighting me.), Warren G. Harding, (serious scandals and not a lot of successes to make up for them), Calvin Coolidge, (Didn’t seem to get the management part of being president-kept Harding’s cabinet despite the scandals attached-was, at least not a racist, but his successes are very few), John F. Kennedy, (Kennedy’s decisions set the stage for some of the worst conflicts over the next 70 years, somehow managed to make the evil Fidel Castro look like a national hero, laid the groundwork for conflicts in Vietnam and Iraq, and also he okayed illegally wire tapping Dr. Martin Luther King. He seems to me objectively a terrible president- his death, I think, did more to aid his legacy than anything else), Jimmy Carter, (when militant muslims take over my President’s embassy and take American citizens hostage-my president damn well better be saying “let them go, or I solemnly promise we’re going to kill you all.” If it’s not, that president loses all of my confidence. Jimmy Carter was too weak to be president- and never should have been.), George H.W. Bush (failed to fully resolve the Iraq crisis when he should have, very little other successes to his name-other than possibly the Americans with Disabilities Act- which I think was necessary, but bungled-was made way over broad in some areas), George W. Bush, (if you’re going to invade a country, have a friggin’ plan. If you don’t have a plan, stay home. Also wrong about same-sex marriage, failed to respond to Hurricane Katrina in a timely fashion, but possibly did some good with the Patriot Act), and Barack Obama (failed to meaningful address race relations despite his unique ability to do so, actively made them worse at every turn, resolved the only issue that wasn’t an actual issue in healthcare, which made things objectively worse for the real issues [poor people don’t care if you send them outrageous medical bills-they throw them away- and nobody sues poor people-the issue was the middle class-which got majorly screwed], made us actively look weak on the world stage, made a concession deal with Iran-[had he never read about Nevill Chamberlain?], but may have helped the economy recover with the stimulus package in 2009.)

    7. Presidents who never got a chance to truly be President: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Tyler, James Garfield.

    Note One: I find it really annoying and unethical when ranking lists actually rank these three, and invariably rank them near last. That’s not fair. If you don’t get at least two years as President, you should obviously get an Incomplete.

    A few extra notes on Obama and Trump:

    Obama angers me more than the other bad presidents. I think it’s in part because he’s so smug about it. He says things like “I think I was a good president.” Okay, Mr. Former President, but why!? What was so good about your presidency?” I see very little actual successes that made the country objectively better. I see him as one of the biggest disappointments ever. Only time will tell if that’s because it’s fresh- or because it really is that he’s such a terrible disappointment. I will note it may be a little unfair of me to say that he had so much power to help with race relations BECAUSE he was the first black president. But on the other hand, didn’t he sell that as one of the reasons to vote for him?

    Trump, right now, belongs in Category #2. He’s done, as far as I can tell, great work for this country. His caveat is a strange one. He would have to explain why he’s such an asshole, at times. That issue, to me, will always keep him out of the top tier presidents. I’m fine with that. I don’t want a guy who acts like Trump taking up the same space as Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt. It feels like be belongs better in the company of Clinton and Jackson, doesn’t it?

      • I was going to give Trump his own category because explaining being an asshole doesn’t seem to be quite the same as having to explain the Trail of Tears, for instance.

        But then, I didn’t, and put him in category #2. That’s why I said eight categories. But gave seven. Mea culpa.

        • I’ll make some more comments when I re-post, but I think the missing category should be a new #1. Lincoln and Washington are head and shoulders over the rest, the indispensable men, the icons, the best of the best.It’s unfair to make Harry Truman bear comparison with either.

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