Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's up to Trump himself to repair the damage he has caused. It's not our job to "normalize" him.

Oh, the wringing of hands among politicians and news media about whether we are "normalizing" Donald Trump.   That is the wrong question, but I'm afraid it's the one that people are focused on.

It should be this:  Will Trump, can he, repair the damage he has caused?   It should be up to him to at least try to reassure all those he has denigrated and threatened.   No one can do that for him.   If he truly wants to be the president for all Americans, as he said in his victory speech, then only he can make that happen.

With the appointments he has made thus far, he hasn't shown that this is his aim.  It's well known that Donald Trump values and rewards loyalty.   So we can say that Sen. Jeff Sessions, Stephen Bannon, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, and Reince Priebus all helped Trump get elected;  in part, their appointments may be out of loyalty.

But, except for Priebus, they all bring heavy baggage, in addition to ultraconservative ideology.  Sessions has a racist past that led to the Senate rejecting his nomination for a federal judgeship back in the 1980s.   Bannon is the champion purveyor of the Alt-Right, White Supremacy movement through Breitbart News.   Flynn was forced out of his position as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency because of his extreme views on Islam, his advocacy of bringing back waterboarding and killing families of accused terrorists -- both considered international war crimes.   He also has close ties with the Russian state television, giving a paid speech there at their anniversary gala, sitting next to Vladimir Putin.

Sessions is the only one of the four that will require Senate confirmation.  The others are considered part of the president's personal advisory or administration teams.  Sessions may have a hard time but will probably be confirmed.   

Trump has made one other appointment, someone who was not part of his campaign:   Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KA) is nominated to head the CIA.    He also will need Senate confirmation.  From my perspective, his ideology is horrific:   claiming that torture does work and should be reinstated, wanting  to continue the NSA's sweeping domestic surveillance programs.  Aside from ideology, specifically as it affects the intelligence community, he does seem qualified for the job.  He graduated first in his class at West Point and later founded a successful aerospace company.   He was elected to the House with the Tea Party group in 2010, where he has been a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence.   

Here's what I'm getting to, talking about the appointments Trump has already made.  So far, he has mostly appointed people who were part of his campaign -- or, in Priebus' case as RNC Chair, helped get him elected once he won the nomination.   The one who was not, Pompeo, is someone who, by resume, seems qualified for the job.   And, as far as we know yet, does not have any baggage other than -- from my perspective -- unacceptable ideology regarding our intelligence policies.  But then so does Trump.

The next big appointment will likely be Secretary of State.  That should tell us a lot.   If he appoints John Bolton -- who wants to scuttle the Iran nuclear agreement and go to war with them -- then Trump is solidifying his position that I find totally unacceptable.    But if he appoints someone, like Mitt Romney or Gov. Nicki Haley -- both of whom he is reportedly considering -- then that's a more hopeful picture.

It's not what he needs to do to undo the damage, but it would be better than it might be.


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