Alden Graves: Governing by whim


Donald Trump took time off from all his problems to encourage people to vote for Sean Spicer on "Dancing With the Stars." As his first press secretary, Mr. Spicer laid the groundwork for the tsunami of lies that would flood the nation by asserting that the crowds at the inauguration surpassed anything Washington had ever seen. Just ignore those troublesome patches of empty ground on the Mall that were so conspicuously filled with Obama supporters four years earlier.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if some part of the president wished that he were the one all dressed up in a flashy red suit with matching shoes. Preening in front of millions of people who, for some strange reason, watch the collection of attention seekers and has-beens (Rick Perry and Trump wife number two, Marla Maples, are also alumni) whirling away what's left of their careers. And I don't know of too many people who are more adept at making fancy moves than Mr. Trump even if none of them has anything to do with dancing.

The rest of us might feel just a tinge of embarrassment watching a man who was once the press secretary for the president of the United States making a fool of himself on national television. My only halfway pleasant memory of Sean Spicer is that he wasn't as obnoxious as Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You may remember, however, that qualified people weren't exactly booking flights to Washington to serve in the administration of a man who was himself a product of what someone once unkindly called the "boob tube."

Trump's tendency to disregard friendships and alliances was, however, on tragic display with his decision to pull troops out of northeastern Syria thereby leaving the Kurds, one of America's strongest allies in the fight against ISIS terrorism, vulnerable to attack by Turkish forces. A few days after the decision, which Mr. Trump evidently made in spite of every warning against it by people who actually understand the tenuous situation, Turkey launched air strikes and began artillery fire against the region. Vladimir Putin must have been rubbing his hands in glee.

All that work Putin's agents put into helping install Trump has really paid off!

I have never thought that Republicans were, by and large, terribly focused on down-the-road consequences (we will deal with this climate business, for instance, when it's too late to do anything about it).

But Trump has come under a lot of fire from both political parties for a decision that bears an uncomfortable similarity to a whim more closely aligned to Trump Airlines, Trump University, or Trump Casinos than any kind of far-sighted foreign policy objective. That is the real tragedy of Donald Trump. His terrible, off-the-cuff decisions don't just impact the bank accounts of people who were dumb enough to get involved with him, they affect hundreds of thousands of peoples' lives. They cost thousands of people their lives.

Donald Trump hasn't got a clue as to how to conduct a responsible foreign policy. He said during his campaign that he would run the government they way he runs his businesses and, for once, he told the truth.

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These headline-grabbing decisions are not made with any concern for the impact they may have on people or any respect for the sacrifice of those who have devoted and even given their lives in the attempt to maintain a semblance of peace in the pressure cooker that is the Middle East today, much of it the result of a calamitous decision by another clueless Republican president.

They are meant to distract from any issues that threaten Mr. Trump's dominion over a nation he is leading to perdition. Like impeachment.

With all that we know about Trump and how he has conducted his shoddy affairs — both private and business — it is laughable to even feign surprise — much less deny — that he wouldn't resort to using his position of power to advance his own interests.

Consider for a moment exactly what he did. Ukraine was hoping to receive in U.S. aid to combat the threat of Russian aggression. Fighting the incursion of a totalitarian state into a democracy should be something that every American supports. It should be something those nice people who get all dressed up in their red hats and clap manically for Trump when he is ranting about freedom should support. It shouldn't be contingent upon doing something to satisfy the ambition of a wanna-be tyrant.

And if the specter of impeachment wasn't enough, the president just endured something that was far worse in Trumpworld — he lost some big bucks. In a disregard for the law that was blatant even by Trump's standards, the G-7 meeting in 2020 with representatives of the world's most advanced economies was initially scheduled to be held at Trump's failing Doral resort in Miami.

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who seems to have assumed to role previously held by Sarah Sanders as purveyor of the lies, managed to keep a straight face when he told reporters that there wasn't another place in the entire country so ideal for the meeting. Republicans, who evidently do have their corruption boundaries after all, pressured Mr. Trump to abandon the plan. The taxpayer money from it would, of course, have found its way directly into Mr. Trump's pocket, although the president stressed the fact that he wouldn't make a nickel off the deal. And he would release his taxes, too, if they weren't being audited.

And Colorado is a state along the southern border. I guess Spicer's embarrassing pirouettes are put into perspective when you consider what the president of the United States doesn't know.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Journal.


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