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Why Trump has not turned a corner

The US president has a history of exaggerating accomplishments while his administration remains obsessed with vilifying immigrants and creating hysteria about America’s southern border

Gulf News

US President Donald Trump’s apologists were convinced that the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the strikes on Syria and the mega-bomb dropped in Afghanistan signalled Trump had “grown.” ‘He’s learning on the job! He’s coming back into the mainstream!’ As we’ve seen each and every time he showed signs of maturing, excitement over momentary improvement was vastly overblown.

Consider this past week:

* Trump was uninformed or lied about the whereabouts of the USS Vinson, falsely suggesting the ‘armada’ was heading for North Korea.

* While foreign observers and human rights groups deplored the irregularities in the Turkish election, Trump was on the phone to “congratulate” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a dictator in the making.

* As if his affection for authoritarians were not plain for all to see, he cast his lot in the French elections with the anti-Muslim instigator Marine Le Pen, who gladly accepted millions from a Russian bank to finance her campaign. (She has also, in true National Front style, denied France’s culpability in the roundup and shipment to death camps of French Jews in the 1940s. Holocaust minimisation, if not outright denial, seems to be something fascistic populists share.) He insisted that she is the “strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” So much for American moral leadership.

* His hapless Attorney-General Jeff Sessions insulted the federal judge (“sitting on an island in the Pacific”) who enjoined Trump’s unconstitutional travel ban. Sessions was also forced to backtrack after his department stupidly called New York City “soft on crime.” This is all part of the administration’s false and racist claim that America is in the midst of a crime wave caused by undocumented immigrants.

* Trump first insisted, and then seemed to back off the assertion, that Republicans would have a new health-care bill to roll out this upcoming week.

* He apparently exaggerated his readiness to present a tax reform bill. (“The White House will release the ‘broad principles and priorities’ of their plans to overhaul federal taxes, a White House official said, downplaying expectations that the Trump administration would reveal key details underpinning the plan,” The Washington Post reported.)

* And sensing he was about to get a failing grade on his first 100 days, Trump called the calendar tracking “ridiculous,” the telltale sign of a president who has accomplished less than any president, with the exceptions of William Henry Harrison and James Garfield (who both died soon after taking office).

* He’s tried without success to bully Congress into paying for his wall, something not a single border-state lawmaker favours. (“Most lawmakers representing the region — both Democrats and Republicans — said they are opposed and many said they have unanswered questions. A few were non-committal, but not a single member of the House or Senate representing the region expressed support for the funding request. That includes nine members of the House and eight senators across four states: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California,” The Wall Street Journal reported.)

No, Trump has not improved nor has his administration become competent or coherent. He wildly exaggerates accomplishments, overpromises and delivers virtually nothing. He embraces anti-democratic and racist autocrats. And his administration remains obsessed with vilifying immigrants and creating hysteria about our southern border. Meanwhile, his major legislative initiatives have not passed even one chamber of Congress.

Michael Crowley writes in Politico that Trump’s embrace of Erdogan and Le Pen “reignited alarms in Europe and the US about Trump’s commitment to the continent’s key institutions-including the European Union and the Nato alliance-after several weeks of reassuring signals from Trump and his top officials.” Crowley quotes Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution as saying, “He can’t help himself. It shows that he’s never going to normalise. He’s been told to behave, he’s gotten briefings and met [European] leaders. But now something’s happened and he can’t restrain himself.”

Unfortunately, Trump can only keep up the pretence of normality for so long. Each time his fans boast of a change, his facade of sobriety melts. He’ll continue to be a problem so long as he is in office.

— Washington Post.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

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