As Donald Trump has left the White House for a final time, let’s take a moment to look at the abysmal failures of the worst administration in American history. The lies, the division, the ineffectiveness and the complete lack of leadership in a time when we needed it most are what people will remember about Trump.
After a crime is committed, investigators launch an autopsy to discover what were the causes and what crimes actually needed to be prosecuted.
Lies and False Promises
At the heart of everything Trump did these past four years, and before, are the sheer multitude of his lies and distortions. From the false claim about crowd size at his inauguration to his whopper about voter fraud and a stolen election, Trump lied as easily as the rest of us breathe. A most recent count had Trump telling 50 lies or making misleading statements a day.
His campaign promises to build a border wall (that Mexico would pay for), to repeal and replace Obamacare and Drain the Swamp all were not achieved, yet his base stood by him. They made excuses and believed the lies up until his last week in office when Trump, on his final days visited the incomplete wall. The swamp he pledged to drain was filled with corruption, incompetence and nepotism. And the oft mentioned repeal and replace simply never happened.
The one signature piece of legislation that was passed during this administration was “tax reform”. Again, this was a lie. Trump sold it as a middle class tax plan, but in reality it heavily benefitted the wealthy by giving corporations huge tax breaks and added to the federal deficit.
The most egregious falsehood Trump perpetuated was about the coronavirus. Trump’s repeated denials of the seriousness of the virus, and his botched response to the outbreak will forever stand in history as the most fatal lie as thousands needlessly died due to Trump’s politicalization of the pandemic. Trump’s mocking of masks and the ignoring of social distancing guidelines led to the unnecessary spread of the virus and the deaths of untold numbers of Americans he swore to defend. His Rose Garden announcement of his Supreme Court nominee became a super-spreader event where Trump himself contracted the virus.
Foreign Policy Failures
Trump made America a pariah on the world stage. By alienating our allies and embracing our foes, he dislodged our nation as the beacon of democracy. Instead, he sought to force himself onto the world stage and make others bend to his will with the same bullying tactics that got him into the Oval Office.
At first, the world was amused. They did not know what to make of his buffoonery and bluster. They laughed at his distorted view of America’s international role.
Then, the world became annoyed. World leaders refused to bend to his will the way so many others have. Instead, they did something that few have dared to do to Trump; they pushed back. In a famous viral photo Trump is seen looking like a petulant child as world leaders confront him at the G-7 summit as they put him in his place. Typically, Trump childishly left the summit prior to its conclusion, like a brat taking his bat and ball and heading home.
Finally, world leaders ignored Trump. They ignored his demands to re-admit Russia into the G-7, making it the G-8 again. Russia was expelled from this group because of its annexation of Crimea. They moved on with the Paris Climate Accord to combat climate change. They continued to encourage Iran to abide by the terms of the Iran Nuclear Deal.
What may be considered foreign policy “successes” came at a price. His Middle East Peace proposals, where countries agreed to recognize Israel, came with arms deals that threatened to throw a match on an already volatile region. It also abandoned the two state solution that many saw as key to a lasting peace in Israel.
Trump’s laughably transparent attempts to garner a Noble Peace Prize by opening talks with North Korea quickly fell through. He gave their leader, Kim Jong-un, his highly sought recognition on the world stage without North Korea giving up anything. Instead, Trump fell for the same false promises North Korea had made for decades.
The world will be hesitant to allow America back into the fold due to the possibility that another Trump-like leader will once again take power.
Fake News, Impeachments and Insurrection
Anything or anyone that dared to disagree with Trump’s distorted views was labeled “Fake News”. With a parade of “Press Secretaries” and via Twitter, Trump sought to control the narrative, making it the least transparent administration in modern history. By demonizing legitimate news organizations and steering his followers to outlets favorable to himself, Trump was able to maintain a megaphone of misinformation that his followers were all to eager to believe.
It was this misinformation, along with numerous conspiracy theories, that led to the violent insurrection on January 6th. Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election, his claims of a rigged system, voter fraud and a stolen election were perpetrated by right wing media. Trump encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol and demand the results be overturned.
This resulted in Trump’s historic second impeachment. And while the House was able to pass this with bipartisan support, it will be an uphill climb in the Senate where a 2/3 majority is required, meaning 17 Republicans will have to cross the aisle. Surprisingly, a glimmer of hope comes from GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who cited Trump as the reason for the deadly riot and gave Republican senators permission to vote their conscience rather than adhere to a party line.
There are many times during Trump’s time in office where it’s hard to explain his reasoning. There is his staring at the sun during an eclipse, serving college students fast food, suggesting injecting a cleaning solvent to get rid of COVID, and so many other examples of his mental instability.
Despite calling himself “a stable genius” and “like really smart”, he failed to recognize a simple test for dementia and bragged about being able to repeat the phrase “person, woman, man, camera, TV” which he gleefully repeated for a reporter like a child who brought a frog home.
And the reasoning doesn’t just apply to Trump. It appears to be contagious. White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway cited “alternative facts” when attempting to explain the discrepancies in the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. This bookends with his deputy press secretary’s false claim that Trump is unable to comment on the riots due to having his Twitter account suspended. He failed to acknowledge that all Trump had to do was tell the networks he wanted to address the nation, or even just step into the White House Briefing Room and speak directly to reporters.
And so we come to the end of the autopsy. The body is laid bare and stripped of its organs. The body politic that is Donald Trump has been dissected for history. History will see a heart that lacks compassion, a stomach filled with lies, bowels that spew conspiracy theories and a brain that is so twisted, it lacks the ability to reason.
History will not be kind.