I have to cleanse the blog of Trump related markers, like having “The Presidential Impeachment And Removal Plans, 2016-2020” link under the home page banner, and the “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President” categories to tag articles. I’m not nostalgic or anything, I just hate blog housekeeping. But It’s also time to close that chapter with an ethics assessment of the Trump Presidency.
Three metaphors I applied to the nation’s Trump adventure nicely encapsulate what went on, I think. Beginning in late 2015, I derided the idea that electing (or nominating) Donald Trump to be President was the equivalent of the passengers in an airplane navigating a storm voting to let a dog (in some versions, a chimp) try flying the craft. The metaphor was apt, and it’s still apt, even though the dog/chimp equivalent did not crash the plane and kill everyone in it. That was moral luck, as pure as it can be. It was madness for this country to permit a man with Trump’s well-documented character flaws and proven proclivities both and executive and a human being control the destiny of the nation in 2016. Concluding otherwise is indefensible. A valued commentator here has apparently abandoned commenting here because he objected to my tendency to designate what he considered opinions as facts. I’m sure that he considers this one of those, but he’s wrong and I’m right. It’s a fact that Donald Trump had proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was unfit to be President before the 2015 debates, and he did nothing during the campaign to undercut that conclusion. It’s a fact that a dog shouldn’t fly a plane, and similarly, it’s a fact that Donald Trump should not have been allowed to come within miles of the White House, except as a visitor. Hillary was right: for the most part, those who were advocating Trump’s Presidency were deplorable: ignorant, reckless, irrational, walking and voting examples of the perhaps fatal flaws in democracy. She was just the worst possible individual to make that observation, since giving Clinton and her party the power she sought, while different from allowing a dog to fly the plane, was still wrong. It was just more like allowing a kamikaze pilot to fly the plane.
I should inject here that the dog/chimp metaphor did not apply in 2020, for the simple reason that, lucky or not, Trump flew the plane, took off and landed many times, reached some desirable destinations, and was, if not a good pilot after four years, or a risk-free pilot, was at least an experienced one.
Moreover, President Trump deserves credit for surviving a disgusting experience that I used an off-shoot of that first metaphor to describe: the passengers elect an unqualified pilot to fly the plane, and he agrees to take the controls, bravely or foolishly, whereupon as he struggles to do the job, the passengers who voted against him crowd into the cockpit, jostle him, scream at him, and harass him the entire trip. That is exactly what what I have called The Axis of Unethical Conduct—“the resistance,” Democrats and the mainstream media—did from the second he took office. Trump gained a measure of respect from me by enduring this. Most men, and many Presidents, would not have been able to do it, and it was unforgivable that President Trump was treated that way. I mean that literally: I will never forgive nor trust the individuals and institutions responsible. Never. They did immeasurable but perhaps permanent damage to our nation, our culture, our society and our prospects for the future in what was, as Stephen Kruiser wrote today referring to CNN, a “tantrum that went on for four years.”
Nonetheless and against all odds, perhaps in part because the United States has a damn good autopilot after all these years, President Trump achieved some things, got the passengers to some good places (whether they realized it or not, and though the ride was awful), and, as old pilots like to say, his landing was good enough because the equipment was still usable.
That doesn’t make Trump’s an ethical Presidency, because the ends do not justify the means. Nor does the fact that his conduct was better than the asshole passengers trying to make him go into a nose dive so they could grab the controls make his conduct more ethical.
In Part 2, we’ll look at the second metaphor: the final scene in “Animal House.”