We are a nation disoriented

By Gilbert Schramm

As someone recently said
of the Trump spectacle that is
now unfolding, “What an authoritarian
wants is a disoriented
population — a population
that no longer can tell
truth from falsehood.” Mission
Think about the big picture.
Since the Bush administration,
James Comey has been on
the frontlines of the U.S. “war
on terror.” Across the board,
the GOP’s ill-advised attempts
to defend Trump have undermined
and smeared the integrity
of this man, a man that they
previously accepted as a linchpin
of U.S. security. They have
turned against him in order to
support Trump, a serial liar who
even GOP leaders have called a
con man, a phony, and a fraud.
Whatever the Russians may
have expected from their disruption
plans, they must simply
be salivating now. There
is a key legal phrase in Latin,
cui bono (for whose benefi t).
James Clapper, a fi erce defender
of Comey, recently said
that whether Trump was aware
of it or not, he was playing directly
into Russia’s hands. He
basically called Trump a danger
to the nation. He couldn’t
be more right. Russia benefi
ts from every move Trump
Comey testifi ed that his distrust
of Trump was motivated
by the “nature of the person.”
Comey (a man with 40 years
on the frontlines of crime) was
basically saying that he knew
Trump was a liar. Yes, anyone
who watched the campaign
closely already knew that; still, it
is something else again to have
the FBI director confi rm it.
Trump has seriously disrupted
U.S. political norms
in countless ways. Not one of
these disruptions truly serves
the interests of working Americans.
Trump has attacked the
electoral system, the judicial
system, science, the EPA, the
intelligence services, health
care, human rights, climate
change, the CBO, the media,
minorities, and women. He
has weakened every one of our
key international alliances. He
has not even nominated people
for 450 crucial government
jobs. Key security positions
like FBI director and TSA director
remain unfi lled. He has
made a mockery of the presidency
itself, bringing its credibility
into question on his very
fi rst day. All this benefi ts only
Trump himself and Russia.
Trump’s problems fall into
four categories: mental, ethical,
political and legal. Under
mental we might discuss ignorance,
incompetence, extreme
narcissism, a total lack
of moral sensibility, and an inability
to tell fact from fi ction.
Ethical concerns involve his attitude
toward women, minorities
and the causal use of hate
and division to attain his own
ends. His political problems
revolve around his inability
to appoint or run a functional
government. His potential legal
problems range from possible
obstruction of justice to
numerous confl icts of interest.
Every day, his campaign, his
party and administration are
more deeply entangled in the
mess he has created.
As a result, neutral countries
are amazed, allies bewildered,
and the American people disoriented.
We watch Trump’s
antics like a hypnotized bird
watches a bobbing and weaving
cobra: Trump’s cultish supporters
seem unable to draw
the simple conclusion that,
whatever the exact reason, this
man is not fi t to govern. Ask
yourself again, who benefi ts?
The style of the ongoing
Russian attack is unique.
There is likewise no precedent
for Trump’s behavior and the
damage he has done. Amazingly,
some of his defenders say
that even if he colluded with
Russia, it might not technically
be a crime. More reasonable
people (with the interests
of the nation rather than their
party at heart) point out that if
it is not a crime, it should be.
Since our very democracy is
at stake, maybe we should look
past these feeble technical arguments
and create a new law
to deal with this new kind of
threat. If we can’t do that, then
the hopes of the founders were
sadly misplaced.
Before we can rise to the
occasion, we need to admit
the situation. Trump’s bizarre
behavior has made us weaker
and less secure than at any
time in recent history.
When I hear people today
say that Trump critics should
“take a chill pill,” I know they
don’t take the welfare of our
people, the constitution and
the country very seriously.
There is no excuse for that
kind of complacency. Only our
adversaries benefit.


“Viewpoint”, Newport News Times, June 23, 2017, Page A8