Donald Trump: Backpedaler-in-Chief

Though Donald Trump frequently and regularly backpedals, denies, and waffles on what he says, some weeks stand out in that regard. This past week was one of those; Trump backpedaled on at least five major issues.

Trump began the week by calling the prime minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, “nasty,” after Frederiksen pronounced Trump’s proposal to purchase Greenland “absurd.” (It should be noted that Trump reserves the term for outspoken women, not men.) By the end of the week, however, Trump was praising Frederiksen as a “wonderful woman” after she personally phoned him.

Trump also backpedaled on the topic of more extensive background checks for potential gun owners. Early in the week, Trump said he advocated legislation calling for “strong background checks” for gun users. A bill to that effect had been drafted and had bipartisan support.

“We vow to act with urgent resolve,” said Trump on Monday. 

By the end of the week, Trump (after meeting with Wayne LaPierre, Chief Executive and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association), said that, as far as gun control was concerned, he had decided that “we already have meaningful background checks,” adding that bipartisan gun control legislation was a “slippery slope” that could mean the downfall of the second amendment. 

On Wednesday, Trump proclaimed, “I am the Chosen One!” Looking to the sky and talking with reporters about his trade talks with China. Two days later, he said he had been joking.

“It was sarcasm!” He said with a sneer. 

Regarding the escalating trade war with China and the plummeting stock market, Trump tweeted on Friday, “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China including bringing …your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” When challenged, Trump cited the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act as justification. 

By Sunday, however, Trump told reporters, “I have no plan right now. Actually, we’re getting along very well with China right now. We’re talking.”

On Tuesday, Trump said he would advocate a cut in payroll tax to help fend off a recession. “Payroll tax is something that we think about, and a lot of people would like to see that, and that very much affects the workers of our country,” said Trump.

On Wednesday, however, Trump said he was no longer considering a payroll tax cut, declaring that the economy is great, and is not in danger of a recession. “I’m not looking at a tax cut now. We don’t need it. We have a strong economy,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.

Ever notice how Americans are supposed to have the innate ability to discern when Trump is “just kidding” from when he’s serious; and to recognize when he says something from which we’re expected to extract the opposite meaning? And that Trump supporters will get fully behind what Trump says until he says he didn’t say it? At which time his supporters develop an almost uncanny ability to tell the difference between an absurd Trumpism that was intended, and another equally absurd one that shouldn’t be taken literally?

How is Trump’s continual backpedaling congruent with his supporters’ slogan, “Says what he means and means what he says”?

Trump all over the place on gun background checks | CNN

President Trump: “I am the chosen one.” 
| C-SPAN [2019-08-21]

Jimmy Carter Questions Trump’s Legitimacy as President

Former President Jimmy Carter called into question Donald Trump’s legitimacy as president during a panel discussion hosted by the Carter Center on Friday.  

Carter’s comments followed shortly after Trump, in Japan for the G20 Summit, wagged his finger at Vladimir Putin on camera, appearing to ridicule the idea of the threat of Russian interference in the US presidential election.

“I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” said Carter. “He lost the election, and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

Carter was then asked whether this meant that he believed Donald Trump was an illegitimate president. He responded, ““Based on what I just said, which I can’t retract.”

We’ve become used to Trump’s denigrating anyone who disagrees with him or who exposes a fault or a lie of his. Trump frequently calls into question the legitimacy of even those public figures who are known for their uprightness (Robert Mueller and James Comey come immediately to mind). His intent frequently appears to be to cast doubt on the integrity or stability of the person.

But it’s unusual, if not unheard of, for a former U.S. president to so directly and sharply criticize a current president.

Inae Oh of Mother Jones noted, “The extraordinary comments marked some of the harshest language a former US president has ever directed at a sitting president.”

Though there is evidence that Russian interference did take place, we should remember that no proof was found that the Russians directly manipulated votes to ensure Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. On the other hand, many Trump supporters, and Trump himself, continue to argue that Russia had no influence on the election, and that is hardly plausible.

What is important to remember is that we don’t know for certain if Russian interference actually did cause the election outcome. Though Jimmy Carter’s comments may resonate, we can only consider what’s been proven when we go about citing  evidence of illegitimacy.

We may never know for sure the magnitude of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Even if we put the issue of Russian interference aside, though, we should still consider that Trump won the 2016 election based on the number of electoral votes, not the number of popular votes. Though that legally made him president, perhaps we should start questioning the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency by questioning the integrity of how that institution works today.

Bongino talks Trump’s invitation to Kim Jong Un, Jimmy Carter ‘legitimacy’ comment | Fox News [2019-06-29]

Former Pres. Jimmy Carter calls President Trump an “Illegitimate President” (C-SPAN) | [2019-06-28]