The First Grifter Presidency Must End
by Mark P. Painter
As Charles P. Pearce said in Esquirelast Wednesday, [2/8/17] “I swear, it's like we elected the Clampetts, if the Clampetts were grifters.”
A president of the United States, on the official POTUS Twitter feed, assails a department store for dropping his daughter’s merchandise. On the same day, the Pentagon is looking to rent space in the Trump Tower. Trump’s son travels to Uruguay to make a Trump business deal. And, of course, foreign diplomats will stay at the Trump Hotel. The cash comes marching in.
The phony legalisms Trump has said he used to “separate” himself from his businesses—though he still owns them and his sons are running them—will be cited to make this all acceptable. Horsefeathers. No ethical expert could say with a straight face that this is not classical conflict of interest.
In any time except our post-factual era, no office holder, much less the president, could get away with any one of the dozens of dazzlingly illegal things Trump has already done. Theywould forfeit office immediately.
The leader of the band of Mad Hatters occupying the White House has already insulted allied world leaders, issued illegal and badly written orders, impugned a “so-called” judge appointed by his own party, and appointed the least-qualified cabinet ever. The first secretary of state was Thomas Jefferson. Trump appointed a big-oil executive with close ties to Russia. The first treasury secretary was Alexander Hamilton. Trump appointed a former Goldman Sachs exec who got rich foreclosing on homeowners.
And all that’s just at the time I write this. Who knows what happens next. Each new day is a new nightmare. We are still trying to digest one breathtaking assault on America when another is signed, issued, or Tweeted. All this amid constant lies. Constant. Lies.
After the election, many hoped that Trump would “grow up” into the job; that he couldn’t possibly be as bad as some thought. Well, it’s gone the other way. The bully has become a more entitled bully. Anyone disagreeing is attacked. Policy is announced in illiterate Tweets.
Basic American values—free speech, the rule of law, separation of powers, even common decency—are unknown in this White House. We now have a president who has no concept of separation of powers, or why we have three branches of government. If he knew anything about the Constitution, he would know the framers envisioned just the situation we have now—a would be dictator. They provided checks and balances—such as an independent judiciary to protect us from presidential tyranny.
Enabling a bully is always a mistake. As soon as the Tweet on Nordstrom’s came out, I said that the Republicans would defend the indefensible, and their talking point would be “a father supporting his daughter.” It wasn’t an hour later I saw a high-ranking congressman saying exactly that on CNN. Rep Jason Chaffetz (R. Utah) said it “didn’t bother him.” But even Chaffetz had to choke when Kellyanne Conway urged people to buy Ivanka Trump’s shoes.
All the above bothers me, and should appall all Americans. We must admit we have elected a president who has immediately proved himself to be a grifter, a pathological liar, a mean-spirited bully, and dangerous to American values. This not-ready-for-prime-time show is too dangerous to continue. America is at stake.
I am a life-long Republican. I voted for every Republican presidential candidate from 1968 to 2004. But I have watched what once was a sane, center-right party go off the rails, first to the extreme right, then to wherever Trump is, which is in another universe.
It’s tough, but we must end this dangerous presidency. President Trump must be impeached and removed with all haste. But only Congress can initiate the process.
Our congressman, Steve Chabot, has been busy defending Trump from the media, which is simply reporting Trump’s machinations. It’s time, Steve, to man-up and start drafting the articles of impeachment. As I remember, you did it for Clinton for far less than Trump has already done. If you need help with the drafting, I am available.
Mark P. Painter, a life-long Cincinnatian, served as a judge for 30 years, and an adjunct professor of law for 20.