The word “punished” may seem unusual when applied to the president of the United States. But then it is easy to recall the many Trump staffers and relatives who describe him as having the “petulance of a child” in his words, moods and actions.
Tuft professor David Drezner actually entitled his new book on Trump “The Toddler-in-Chief.” How does Trump’s often-infantile, nasty, hostile manner, with his almost complete lack of empathetic consideration for others, affect the 45th president’s chances of being punished?
Let me count just a few of the ways.
At a recent meeting North Shore historians said the professional practice of delaying leadership evaluations until there are perspectives over time need not be used for Trump because his abuses have been so numerous and so dangerous that he is already a “loser’ – beyond his crushing 8 million vote defeat by Joe Biden.
This discussion affirmed the judgment of a recent essay by Steve Inskeep, “Trump’s One-Term Legacy,” showing that Trump would join the list of one-term presidents who have been judged as failures – and, indeed, often as dangers to American society.
Trump is certainly well on his way to being punished by history. The book by David Rothkopf, “Traitor: A History of Betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump,” is among many recent publications that punish Trump with condemnations. The gravity of Trump’s offenses is also described in another recent book, “What Were We Thinking: A Brief History of the Trump Era.” [Literary critic Carlos Lozado read more than 150 books about Trump, and he built an indictment that will further public opinion punishments of Trump in the U.S. and globally] Perhaps, even Fox News will lose interest in defending his erratic, insane conduct.
It will not be long before historians are confirming the judgment of former Long Islander, and major presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley, citing Trump as “the worst president in all of American history” (a view confirmed by John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign leader, Steven Schmidt, one of the founders of the Lincoln Project). Schmidt placed Trump at the bottom of the historical rating as he announced that having left the Republican Party to become an Independent because of Trump, this past week he joined the Democratic Party.
Schmidt said, “I became a one-issue voter: I believe in democracy!” He no longer trusts the Republicans still beholden to Trump to serve the public good or even to provide national security. [Former Republican Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described Trump as a “f—ing moron.”] The Republicans and Conservatives who joined with Schmidt at the appropriately named Lincoln Project have already punished Trump by renouncing him as a profound danger to democracy and by publicly giving their support to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
The Lincoln Project Republicans and Conservatives are properly credited for bolstering Biden’s victory and his huge popular vote margin. Loser Trump has already been punished by unprecedented and sustained criticisms from members of a president’s own party. That has never happened before in American history.
Well and good that Trump will be punished severely by history, many aver, but we would like to see more punishment now. Recently, a group of North Shore folks concurred with the views of a person in their group who said: “I’d like to see Trump in hell, but I will settle to see him in prison.”
Have you noticed that with all of his Cabinet nominees, Biden as of Dec. 28 had not yet named an attorney general. He is feeling pressure from angry Democrats, and citizens repulsed by Trump, to appoint a person who will prosecute Trump.
You have surely noticed that Trump has begun using extreme presidential pardoning power to redeem many of the most reprobated characters in recent history. Will he have the audacity to grant pre-emptive pardons to his family, to the buffoon Rudy Giulianiand others? If he tries to go in those directions will Chief Justice John Roberts have the Supreme Court intervene?
Whatever Trump tries to do as he exits the White House (perhaps to flee the country on the excuse of going to one of his international golf courses), a chief executive’s pardons do not extend to state convictions.
It has long been felt that the easiest prosecution of Trump, and the one most likely to be successful. can be conducted by the Southern District of New York’s federal attorneys – some wishing that a tough lawyer like Preet Bharara was still heading that unit. The New York state attorney general has also been collecting evidence (some given by Trump family insiders) for crimes of fraud that will make Donald Trump and his children a focus of criminal investigation and prosecution.
Perhaps a deal will be struck for Trump to leave the country if he and his children are not prosecuted. This could be an alternative path to Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon in order to spare the nation continued focus on the failures of a president, and what the depth of those deficiencies might indicate about the people who voted for him or endured him.
Historians use an analytical approach called “content analysis” to gauge leaders by the frequency of words they use. One of Trump’s most often used terms was “disgrace.” He called many people and actions a disgrace. One of the ultimate punishments of Trump will be to define him as a disgrace.