Wishful Thinking


Bill Tune


Wishful thinking can be a good thing. An optimistic approach to life can often lead to positive results. However, it is no way to run a country. In lieu of morals, competence, or legal maneuvers, Donald Trump relies time and again on wishful thinking. He chooses to do whatever he deems beneficial to himself (or his family) expecting no accountability or consequences. Wishful thinking.

I concede that Trump has succeeded on some levels. His tax cuts delivered on a campaign promise (and Republican dream), but it disproportionately favored the already wealthy.  It also increased the National Debt significantly, in spite of assurances to the contrary. Republicans used to criticize such increases but that has been replaced with wishful thinking. Now, the current pandemic has only exacerbated this problem.

The conservative dream of less government has been at least partially achieved by appointing incompetent and corrupt department heads who have systematically dismantled their agencies. More on this later.

Another campaign promise he kept was the donation of his Presidential salary to charity. Good for him. However, when one looks at the numbers, that salary is small change compared to the profits his businesses enjoy when he travels. The same man who criticized a former President for playing too much golf routinely golfs at his properties while the American taxpayer foots the bill for him and his entire entourage.

Many evangelicals, who used to take pride in high moral values, are firmly on board the Trump train due to his commitment to appoint conservative judges. Opponents of gay rights and right to choose policies pretend that Trump is a paragon of virtue despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We know that he has cheated on all three wives, lies constantly, and has engaged in many shady business practices, including failure to pay his bills. His numerous bankruptcies protected his financial assets while leaving his many business partners in the lurch. He shows no knowledge of the Bible (two Corinthians??) and has no history of church involvement as an adult. He’s even on record as saying that he doesn’t pray for forgiveness because he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. (From interview on July 15, 2015 at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa.) But one photo op of preachers praying for him while he dutifully closes his eyes and we have a Christian hero. Really? Wishful thinking.

Trump has made little progress on his “beautiful wall” and we all know that Mexico is not/never was paying for it. Not only are “we” paying for it, but Trump has redirected military funds designated for needed construction projects on military bases and schools to help finance it. Instead of a monument to strong border security it is more a reminder of the inhumane treatment this administration inflicted on immigrants seeking better lives. Apparently, Trump’s expectation was that cruel and unusual treatment of people running for their lives would stop them from trying to enter the US. Bully thinking. Bogus thinking. Wishful thinking.

Politics has always been notorious for the “positive spin” which frequently results in exaggeration and misrepresentation, but Donald J. Trump is completely untethered from the truth. It is no exaggeration to point out that he has told thousands of well-documented lies and misrepresentations. It is no exaggeration to point out that he has told thousands of well-documented lies and misrepresentations. (Some things bear repeating.) He is a strong believer in the adage “a lie told often enough becomes the truth.” This is the ultimate wishful thinking. Sadly, he probably believes many of those lies, and it is even sadder that so many Americans are believing them, too. Perhaps truth is not the only thing from which DJT is untethered. To support him means choosing to ignore this and other painful facts.

“Fake news” has become a mantra in the Trump administration. In a Leslie Stahl interview in May of 2018 Trump admitted that he uses “fake news” to keep his supporters from believing inconvenient facts as they are reported. He also loves to use the term “hoax” even in light of compelling evidence. Trump has become a master of hiding in plain sight. He has blatantly flaunted the law without losing support. Law and Order President? I don’t think so. Powerful wishful thinking, nice while it lasts.

Facts have never been a friend to this President. That is made obvious by the many and varied ways he suppresses them. Besides the “fake news” and “hoax” rants, he and his now-subservient Justice Department (under patsy Bill Barr) have fired several officials who dared to investigate the illegal activities of him and his cronies, and whistleblowers who refused to keep his secrets (in spite of credible evidence) have met a similar fate. The State of New York has determined that Trump University was a complete scam, and the Trump Foundation was found guilty of misusing funds and ordered to donate $2 million to charities, then dissolve.

Anyone who claims to be a “stable genius” is neither stable nor a genius. His erratic behavior led to the administration of a basic test of cognitive skills. He passed and then tried to turn those simple results into a great academic achievement. I seriously doubt any doctor who administers such a test is going to “be amazed” at someone who passes it unless the doctor was fully expecting another result.

Trump is an exceedingly insecure man. His braggadocio can be directly traced to attacks on the size of his hands (and other body parts), his academic performance, his questionable business practices/successes, and his alleged wealth. However, one has to (sort of) admire how he has been able to use playground level name calling to his advantage in the political arena.

What does he have to hide? Apparently, a lot. He has refused to disclose his taxes for five years now. Nothing suspicious there (not!). He has taken legal action to block his schools from revealing his academic records. Wonder why?? Does anyone know how many nondisclosure agreements he’s had people sign, including members of his own family? How long does he think he can keep all this under wraps? There’s some more powerful wishful thinking.

During his 2016 campaign Trump claimed to know “the best people”. Where are they? Never in my lifetime (and I’m closing in on seven decades) have I witnessed such incompetence and corruption in the US cabinet. Trump’s only criteria for appointments is blind loyalty and the willingness to keep his secrets. As mentioned before, the result has been a reduction in the size and effectiveness of government to the benefit of fossil fuels and other wealthy donors. Some of the original appointees have been removed due to corruption while others have fallen out of Trump’s favor due to their inability to maintain sanity while supporting Trump’s every whim. The latter condition here also applies to many of the White House staff. In spite of the chaos of constant turnover, Trump assures us that everything in the White House is fine. Wishful thinking.

We now have a President with many close associates who have been indicted and imprisoned. He has to determine which one is most likely to rat on him, to know whom to pardon. It’s amazing how little he can claim to know about a former associate once they’ve been indicted. Trump may have “drained the swamp” but he replaced it with a sewer. Of course, he would disagree. More wishful thinking.

I’ve spent enough time on Trump’s (relatively) minor flaws. I believe his biggest flaw is his inability to protect our democracy. In spite of his grandiose claims of patriotism and gross kissing of the flag, the inconvenient truth is that Trump has repeatedly chosen personal benefit over national security. This is compounded by his lack of understanding of foreign affairs and his even more disturbing lack of interest in learning about it. The man chooses not to read as has been frequently pointed out by people who work closely with him. His “America First” initiative has led him to offend our allies while siding with forces that seek to harm us. By pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement (another campaign promise), sabotaging the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, and causing friction among NATO nations, our allies are wary of any future US commitment. And then there is (and I’ve written over 1400 words without saying it) Russia.

Yes, Virginia, Russia is a thing. In spite of Barr and Trump’s claims that the Mueller report exonerated Trump, the facts indicate otherwise. Several people in the 2016 campaign lied about having contact and sharing information with the Russian government, leading to several indictments. Fortunately for Trump, they were merely participating in a decades-long effort by the Russians to influence our elections. Since Trump’s campaign did not initiate the collusion, it fell short of the impeachable act of conspiracy. Trump was clearly guilty of obstruction of justice with his attempts to protect the perpetrators (and himself) by removing key investigators, but again it was not enough to move the impeachment train.

One of our nation’s most embarrassing moments came in July of 2018 in Helsinki when, after being told that over a dozen US intelligence agencies reported conclusive evidence of Russians interfering in the 2016 election, Trump ignored them because, “Putin said he didn’t do it.” Trump has been reluctant to sanction Russia, and his Republican allies in Congress have blocked attempts to secure future elections. To trust Russian denials over US intelligence is deeply disturbing for our democracy. The Russia phenomenon doesn’t stop there. Trump has repeatedly lobbied to get Russia readmitted to the G7, ignoring the hostile takeover of Crimea in 2014. Trump has invited Russian government officials into the oval office. Our only documentation of this event came from Russian photographers since no Americans were allowed in. When Trump meets with or takes a phone call from Putin no Americans are allowed to know what is said. It was recently reported that Russia offered bounties to opposing forces in Afghanistan to kill American troops. Trump didn’t even think this worthy of investigation.

Trump gave Kim Jong-un of North Korea the global recognition he craved in exchange for a meaningless nuclear disarmament agreement which Kim clearly had no intention of keeping. It did temporarily stop the North Korean threats against the US, but the next time Kim wants something, there is nothing to stop the threats from returning. Trump took no action when his friends in Saudi Arabia murdered a US journalist. Sadly, Trump seems to envy the power dictators have over their opponents. (Putin’s primary political opponent was just poisoned - again.)

Trump is a bully. He has a long history of using the threat or action of lawsuits to intimidate others. As President he has threatened to withhold aid from states if Governors “don’t treat us right”. Of course, this modus operandi finally got him in trouble when he tried to use it on Ukraine to obtain political dirt on Joe Biden in a well-documented phone call. It was wrong, plain and simple, and led to his impeachment by the House, but even though some Republican Senators admitted in private that it was wrong, they decided it wasn’t an impeachable offense. Trump once again escaped the consequences of his actions, but the whistleblower was not so fortunate. Trump still refers to it as a “perfect phone call” even though many of his supporters acknowledge otherwise. Trump wants/expects to be believed without question. Wishful thinking.

The Democrats and Republicans have recently completed their nomination conventions. I have read fact check reports on both. Clearly there is no perfect political party. There were some statements made during the Dems convention that were exaggerated or needed more context. However, there was nowhere near the abundance of pants-on-fire lies found in speeches from the other party. What used to be a proud Republican party has disintegrated into a Trumpish facsimile. This new Trumplican party, which didn’t even bother to produce a new platform, embraces his disregard for truth in lieu of unfounded fear mongering in order to manipulate the political landscape to its advantage. I could give many examples, but this information is easily found on Google for anyone who wants to read it.

Even Trump’s beloved FOX News has started to question some of his actions so, naturally, Trump has attacked them as no longer reliable. True blue (red?) Trumpers now have to resort to even more extreme conservative news sources.

The conservatives have had their fun. After eight tortuous years of living under a progressive administration led by a man of color, they got their Anti-Obama in the White House. They continue to attack the Affordable Care Act even though in ten years they have failed to produce an alternate plan. In 2016 Trump promised to end the ACA and replace it with a cheaper, better plan that would cover everyone. Of course, this was light years beyond his ability, so he tried to force his people to do it but to no avail. Trump can bully but he cannot lead.

I’m not going to discuss the thousands of bizarre, disturbing tweets, and while I’m sure no one reading this is racist, can you deny that white supremacist organizations across the country openly support Trump? Does that give no one pause? He also enjoys the support of the latest conspiracy theory group: QAnon. They proport that a powerful deep state, made up primarily of Democrats and celebrities, threaten the American way of life by conducting a world-wide pedophilia sex trafficking ring. Remember Edgar Welch, the deeply religious man who shot up a Washington, D.C. pizzeria on December 4, 2016 in order to free children from Hillary Clinton’s sex ring which she was running in the basement? There was no sex ring. There was not even a basement! Edgar got his info from QAnon. He later admitted that the intel on this event “wasn’t 100%”. However, in spite of false claim after false claim (and there have been many) the QAnon numbers continue to grow. It is deeply concerning that these people so desperately want to believe these preposterous lies. That is wishful thinking taken to a scary level.

One of the most amazing falsehoods perpetrated at the recent GOP convention was Trump’s alleged “excellent” response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The claim that Trump acted quickly and took unprecedented action by blocking travel from China has no basis in fact. Many countries were restricting travel from China, and the US ban had many exceptions. We now know that the Trump administration ignored the advice of the previous administration concerning plans for handling a pandemic including disassembling the existing pandemic team. For at least two months Trump tried to wish away the virus outbreak, predicting that it would “mysteriously disappear” in the near future, or would go away with the return of warm weather. By the time it became painfully apparent that the virus was here to stay and spreading at an alarming rate, the Trump administration was slow to enable the needed testing or provide the vital protective equipment needed by the people on the front lines. In spite of Trump’s claim in March that, “Anyone who wants a test can have a test.”, it was months before they became widely available and continues to be a problem in some areas. Trump still likes to blame too much testing on the US’s excessively high positive virus test results. While fewer tests might make him look better by lowering the number of positive results, it would have no positive effect on the death toll. In fact, without adequate testing to track the progress of the virus the death toll would be even worse. There are ways to interpret the COVID-19 statistics to indicate that the US is not the worst place on the planet where the virus is concerned, but nothing puts America at the top, in spite of Trump’s wishful thinking. The fact is that the US accounts for 4% of the world’s population yet we account for 25% of COVID-19 deaths. It did not have to get this bad. When Trump was asked about the US failure to provide adequate virus testing on May 13, 2020, he said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” Even more wishful thinking.

Trump’s biggest fear is that we will have a fair and honest election, one that he has little chance of winning. He enables the Russian interference, attacks mail-in voting with unsubstantiated claims of fraud, and then, of course, there is the lying and name calling. He has never had the support of a majority of Americans, but the Trumplican party has done a masterful job of supporting him while increasing their own wealth and power. Hopefully, most people will be able to see through the bizarre scare tactics, mis-directions, and exaggerated claims and vote for the change this country needs. I guess that’s my wishful thinking.


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