Friday February 7, 2020
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 7, 2020
Is Donald Trump America’s new normal?
The political fates are fickle. This was supposed to be Donald Trump’s worst week as America’s president, but it’s turned into his best.
This was supposed to be the week his impeachment trial exposed him as unfit to hold the highest office in the land, the week his abysmal record in the Oval office came back to haunt him and the week his Democratic opponents proved they’re ready to take him on in November’s presidential election.
None of it happened. The Democrats, who invested so much political capital into impeaching Trump, need to come up with Plan B. Their Plan A was a flop and the Democrats are stumbling just when they should be hitting their stride.
If you think Trump’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster for the planet — and we know the vast majority of Canadians do — you should be worried by all this. Very worried.
Instead of signalling the death of his erratic presidency, Trump’s impeachment trial breathed new life into it. There was clear proof he pressured a foreign country — Ukraine — to discredit one of his potential political rivals — Joe Biden. We know he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July. We know Trump was withholding $391 million (U.S.) in military aid to Ukraine, too.
Despite the damning evidence against him, it was always going to be an uphill struggle to convince two-thirds of the Senate, which is dominated by Trump’s own Republicans, to convict him. Trump’s acquittal was predicted. But because the Republicans blocked the testimony of key witnesses, the trial was a sham that discredited a once noble house of Congress.
As for the great American public, it largely tuned out from the televised tedium. No wonder Trump gloated. The latest Gallup poll gives him a 49 per cent approval rating from Americans, his highest score since being elected. And on Tuesday, the day before his Senate acquittal, Trump had the opportunity to sing his own praises in his annual State of the Union address, claiming undeserved responsibility for what he calls the “Great American comeback.”
Clearly the prevailing winds are at Trump’s back. What’s more troubling is they’re blowing in the faces of the Democrats. They were thoroughly embarrassed by the technical glitches that delayed the results from their Iowa caucuses Monday.
Far more seriously, the party is badly split, uncertain whether its path to victory runs through the moderate centre or the progressive left of the U.S. political spectrum. Nor would we recommend betting your house on an election win for any of the Democrats’ current crop of candidates, including the self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders or the leaden, former vice-president Biden.
As we look at an America and cherished American institutions that increasingly seem unrecognizable, we wonder if three years of Trump have succeeded in deadening the nation’s senses to the divisions and disruptions he has sewn at home and around the world. If you live with a clown long enough, maybe you’re comfortable in a circus.
Of course, we’re commenting partly on the events of one week. The election remains nine months away and Trump’s presidency could still end in a train-wreck. But Trump became president in 2016 with less than half of the popular vote and could do so again.
It will be up to American voters to rid their country and the world of this president. It will be up to the Democrats to choose a candidate who can convince the country to do this. Today, sadly, neither of these things is at all certain. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)