Trump: The worst president ever?

Trump: The worst president ever?

“We will be back in some form. Have a good life.” With that “melancholy farewell,” delivered to a modest group of supporters, President Donald J. Trump this week turned and boarded Air Force One for the final time, said Philip Rucker in The Washington Post. A president once “omnipresent in American life” spent the last week of his single term “effectively in hiding,” reportedly “brooding over imagined injustices” and insistently repeating the Big Lie that November’s presidential election was “stolen” from him. With his Twitter feed permanently suspended, Trump’s petulance found an outlet in a series of petty snubs to the incoming president: Trump not only skipped Joe Biden’s inauguration, he refused to even use his name in a scripted farewell address. Fittingly, he issued a final raft of 143 presidential pardons to fraudsters, corrupt politicians, and cronies such as Steve Bannon, the architect of Trump’s unlikely rise to power. Trump’s graceless departure was like that of a “failed coup leader in a banana republic who has negotiated his exile but leaves at the point of a bayonet,” said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com. Facing a second impeachment trial, this one for inciting an insurrection, the 45th president flew out over a national capital bristling with barricades and 25,000 National Guard troops protecting his successor.

Clearly, Trump was “the worst president in the 232-year history of the United States,” said historian Tim Naftali in TheAtlantic .com. He was worse than Richard Nixon, worse even than Warren Harding, James Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson. Before he was elected, Trump welcomed and amplified a Russian disinformation plot against his opponent. In office, he shamelessly abused his power to enrich himself and to ensure his re-election; his hamfisted extortion of Ukraine’s president led to his first impeachment.

Through denialism and sheer incompetence, he so horribly mismanaged the pandemic response that the U.S. has by far the most cases and deaths in the world. And when he lost in November, Trump “mounted the first effort by a defeated incumbent” to overturn a fair election, inciting an assault on Congress that nearly got his vice president and many legislators killed. Trump appealed to America’s “ugliest impulses,” said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. He leaves the country filled with “misery and despair,” and with “our divisions seeming more intractable than ever.”

Before his “disastrous end,” Trump did have “a remarkable set of accomplishments,” said Byron York in WashingtonExaminer.com. His judicial appointments put a conservative stamp on federal courts that will last for decades. He curbed illegal immigration. With tax cuts and de-regulation, he boosted the U.S. economy. Trump’s “lasting legacy,” though, will be the political mobilization of America’s tens of millions of “forgotten men and women,” said David Bahnsen in NationalReview.com. The conservative movement needs to find leaders who can fight for the working class’s interests with Trump’s “energy, force, and boldness, yet without the self-defeating traits of ego and childishness.”

If the GOP is to have a future, said Rick Wilson in TheDailyBeast .com, it first needs a reckoning for those who “empowered, enabled, and normalized” that grotesque man for four wretched years. At the end, many Republicans joined Trump in dragging the nation “to the edge of a conspiracy-driven insurrection” that would have ended our democracy. Unless Republicans tell the truth about who Trump was and what he did, my old party will either be taken over by QAnon lunatics or “go the way of the Whigs.”

 

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