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President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him

President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him
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During the last four years, an unprecedented number of people who have served in the most important positions in the Trump administration have declared, in effect, that he is unfit to be president. The assessments of individuals handpicked by Trump, with first-hand knowledge of his conduct in office, ought to carry a lot of weight with voters.

When he appointed Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonLawmakers to roll out legislation reorganizing State cyber office New State Department cyber bureau stirs opposition Blinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' MORE as Secretary of State, President Trump celebrated the former CEO of Exxon Mobil as “the embodiment of the American Dream,” whose “tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice.” In October 2017, while still Secretary of State, Tillerson reportedly called the president “a moron.” And in 2020 Tillerson claimed Trump “is pretty undisciplined, doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into details of things, but rather just kind of says [what’s on his mind].”

Retired Marine four-star General James MattisJames Norman MattisRejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs The GOP senators likely to vote for Trump's conviction MORE, Trump predicted, would be a “great” Secretary of Defense: “He is the closest thing to General George Patton that we have.” In 2020, Mattis asserted that Trump was “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

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“I’m very confident that [former] Senator Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHow President Biden can hit a home run Former Trump intel chief Coats introduces Biden nominee Haines at hearing Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security MORE is the right choice to serve as Director of National Intelligence,” Trump declared. He will “provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm.” In 2020, Bob Woodward revealed that Coats could not shake his “deep suspicion” that Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHow to think about Russia Do Biden's 'tough new sanctions' give Putin Nord Stream 2? Russia vows retaliation for new US sanctions: 'We do not intend to put up with this' MORE “had something” on Trump and that he had “no other explanation” for Trump’s behavior.

National Security Adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE, President Trump told reporters, “has strong views on things, but that’s okay. I like John. I get very good advice from John.” In 2020 Bolton revealed that “the biggest fear I have is that his policymaking is so incoherent, so unfocused, so unstructured, so wrapped around his own personal fortunes, that mistakes are being made that will have grave consequences for the national security of the United States.” Bolton predicted that Trump will “not leave graciously if he loses” the election. The president is “trying to sow confusion and chaos, which is his natural best operating environment.”

In a series of tweets announcing the appointment of John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE as White House Chief of Staff, the president praised the former Marine Corps general and head of the Department of Homeland Security as “a great American,” “a great leader,” respected by everyone, and a “true star of my administration.” In 2020, Gen. Kelly told friends: “The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it’s more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.”

Recently, Trump loyalists in the U.S. Senate have expressed concerns about his leadership as well. In a not terribly subtle rebuke of Trump’s Coronavirus policy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explained that he had not been inside the White House since August because he “didn’t feel they were approaching the protection from this illness in the way I thought was appropriate…”

Locked in a tighter than expected re-election campaign, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) cited disagreements he has with Trump over annual budget deficits, the national debt, tariffs, trade agreements, and border security. The president, he added, “let his guard down” during the pandemic and “got out over his skis” on reopening the economy. Their relationship, Cornyn speculated, “may be like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse and that doesn’t usually work out very well.”

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And Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseSenators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-Neb.) unloaded on the president in a phone call with constituents. “First he ignored COVID,” Sasse maintained. “And then he went into full economic shutdown mode… So I don’t think the way he’s led us through COVID has been reasonable or responsible or right.” Sasse went on to complain about “the way he kisses dictators’ butts…  The United States now regularly sells out our allies… The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor… He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors… His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists.” For these reasons, Sasse concluded, Republican politicians should ask themselves, “What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV obsessed narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?”

Seems like a good question, No?

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of "Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century."