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 TillersonBiden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him 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 MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Biden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties 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.”


“I’m very confident that [former] Senator Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSenate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security New federal cybersecurity lead says 'rumor control' site will remain up through January Biden soars as leader of the free world 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 Trump's election lawsuits became his worst nightmare Enforcing the Presidential Records Act is essential for preserving our democracy's transparency, history Putin says doctors and teachers will get first COVID-19 vaccines in new immunization campaign MORE “had something” on Trump and that he had “no other explanation” for Trump’s behavior.

National Security Adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDefense policy bill would create new cyber czar position Pressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday 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.”


And Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism 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."