Why won't good Republicans stand up to Trump? (Ted Kaufman)
Start with Edmund Burke’s famous saying: “The only good thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The evil is equated with the president of the United States, and the “good men” doing “nothing” is equated with Republican senators turning “a blind eye to even the most outrageous and dangerous actions of President Trump.” And the writer speaks of his interactions with GOP senators during his time in the Senate, adding that “I consider most of them principled good men and women.” Sadly, it seems that “nearly all of them have abdicated their responsibilities under the Constitution.”
How so? One of the great ideas of our founders was the separation of powers, and our system works best when the three branches provides checks and balances on each other. Yet “it is hard to find a single meaningful example of when this Congress has provided a check on this president.”
TRADE: Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership after 48 Republican senators had voted for it in 2015. There never was a Senate vote on the TPP, as stated, although we do agree that Trump’s decision to abruptly withdraw support was ill-advised and that his condemnation of trade deficits has been overstated. The other deficit – balance of payments,3/26/18.
DEFICITS & DEBT: Trump backed a tax cut that is now seen as adding as much as $2T to the deficit over 10 years. How does that square with the traditional Republican claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility? If economic growth speeds up due to tax cuts plus regulatory rollbacks, much of this effect will be offset. A better point would be the failure to start pruning wasteful spending, of which there is a lot, and by the way this failure has clearly been bipartisan. Don’t overthink the fiscal problem, it’s not that complicated, 5/21/18.
RUSSIA: There has been “an absolute U-turn” by Republicans on “our relationship with Russia,” as demonstrated by their failure to “counter President Trump’s bizarre love affair with President Putin.” Most everyone agrees that “Russia meddled in our 2016 elections” yet “there have been no real efforts in the Congress to address the interference and prevent it from happening in the future.” Also strange is the absence of any “concrete action in response to the president’s recent trip to Europe, where he denigrated our historic allies and warmly praised Russia.” Arguably, these are fair points, but the situation is far more complicated than this column makes it sound.
Despite a longstanding congressional investigation, pursuant to the very separation of powers that Sen. Kaufman lauds, we still don’t really know what happened in 2016. Notably, why did the Obama administration choose to use the Russian meddling as an excuse to launch an investigation of the Trump campaign before the election while taking little if any action against the Russians?
The president’s comments at the joint press conference in Helsinki did seem a bit odd, but we don’t know what was said in the one-on-one meeting of the two leaders and it’s unclear that public accusations about election meddling would have served the interests of the US. In any case, there was plenty of second guessing of how the situation was handled and it came from both sides of the aisle.
OTHER ISSUES: There has been a notable failure of the president’s critics to give him credit for any of the things that have been going right on his watch, of which there are quite a few. Moreover, some of his detractors and opponents have resorted to tactics that represent “resistance” versus principled opposition. In our view, this pattern is far more worrisome than President Trump’s activities have been. A disturbing political climate, 7/2/18.