No one but the incumbent has brought such ignorance, disgrace, and fascist trends to the presidency. In only nine months Donald Trump has bashed his predecessor, lied about the size of his inaugural crowd, fantasized that fraud cost him the popular vote, incited against the media, defamed the parents of a Muslim-American soldier killed fighting terrorists, derided American hero John McCain who endured torture in Vietnamese captivity, degraded Puerto Ricans crying for help after Hurricane Maria left the islanders scavenging for shelter, electricity, food and water, and cussed as “sons-of-bitches” NFL players taking the knee while others stood for the anthem.
What gall from a president who failed to put his hand over his heart during the anthem, until nudged by his wife.
Yet, during a decade of giving an annual speech at Fort McHenry on the anniversary of Francis Scott Key writing a poem that became the words for the national anthem, I was astonished to discover how very few in the audiences knew the story of its birth.
All of Trump’s outbursts only scratch the surface of his crackdown on fellow Americans. He has hit below the belt and kicked the downtrodden with such disregard for decency that the only redress open to those who despair of the immediate future is for Robert Mueller’s report. It might find Trump and and his campaign officials guilty of colluding with Russia to manipulate the presidential election in his favor. If proven, he will surely be forced out of office.
Barring that, there is still hope that a vast majority of voters, sickened by this horror story, will reclaim the Senate and the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections next year.
Special Counsel Mueller, a former Director of the FBI, is held in high esteem for his dignified, impartial reasoning. These very qualities will serve him well as he investigates allegations that Trump’s campaign team may have worked hand in glove with our arch enemies in Russia to sway the election his way.
Even that outcome may be blocked or sabotaged by Trump. It is in his style to denigrate Mueller and try to fire him. If that scenario transpires we will be locked in an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
Whatever may be, every day brings more contempt and rage over Trump’s gross mishandling of his office. He acts more like a raving despot than as a respected public servant of all Americans.
There can be no doubt that many in the Republican leadership and Congressional rank and file are gloomy or downright disturbed by his harangues and tweets vilifying so many sections of the populace.
Divide and rule is Trump’s modus vivendi, but throwing red meat to hold his base together is a double-edged sword. It garners applause from his die-hard supporters as much as it further alienates his targets. The net result is a hardening of attitudes and a widening of the gulf between them.
The 19th century division was so stark between a president’s ardent followers and his most radical opponents that it took over 600,000 lives before Generals Grant and Lee met at Appottomax to end the Civil War.
We will never reach that state, no matter how often extremists threaten to take up arms. But we would be derelict if we did not support all legal measures to halt the drift before rabid tweets cower a significant number.
Anthony S. Pitch is a former journalist in America, England, Israel, and Africa, and the author of non-fiction history books, with 17 appearances on national television.