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Shredding Trump, Romney and Gore

Andrew Rosenthal, in an op-ed piece "Donald Trump’s Big Idea: Don’t Blame Me" on The New York Times, doesn't spare Trump, Romney and Al Gore from totally justified trenchant criticism......

"Whatever kind of president Donald J. Trump turns out to be, he will surely be no Harry S. Truman. Instead of the sign that Truman kept on his desk declaring that “The Buck Stops Here,” Trump should get one that says, “Don’t Blame Me” — embellished perhaps with the phony coat of arms he plastered on his Scottish golf course.

A month after he won the presidential election, Trump is happy to take credit for things he likes — like the recent rebound in the stock market or the jobs that may be saved at that infamous Carrier plant thanks to millions of dollars the taxpayers of Indiana are going to pay.

But he’s also showing the world that he has no intention of taking responsibility for the hard stuff. Don’t blame Trump, he said on Wednesday, for the deep divisions in American society.

“I’m not president yet, so I didn’t do anything to divide,” Trump said in a phone call to the “Today” show. (He called in to gloat about being named TIME Magazine’s person of the year, a distinction also given to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Yuri Andropov, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin — twice.)

In other words, it’s not Donald Trump’s fault that racists, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes found common cause with his campaign, or that the darkest forces of the American right felt emboldened to give him the Nazi salute at a recent Washington gathering.

On Dec. 1, Trump smiled happily as his followers chanted, “Lock her up!” He did not attempt to quiet them, perhaps by saying that he had told The New York Times one day earlier that he did not want to prosecute Hillary Clinton. After all, Trump is not responsible for what his followers say.

The obstinate refusal to take personal responsibility permeates the Trump organization.

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the new national security adviser, is not being held to account for spreading vile lies about Clinton on social media, even after those lies were connected to an armed invasion of a pizza place in Washington, D.C. Trump settled for firing Flynn’s son from his transition team for his conspiracy-minded tweets.

Stephen Bannon, the newly appointed chief strategist, is not be held responsible, we are told, for all the racist and sexist garbage he published on Breitbart News. And Senator Jeff Sessions, whom Trump chose as attorney general, should not be accountable for his racist comments.

At an event sponsored by Harvard’s Institute of Politics on Dec. 1, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s third campaign manager, sputtered at the very idea that she might be blamed for the racism and xenophobia that Trump deliberately stoked to build his candidacy.

“Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?” Conway said to Jennifer Palmieri, a top Clinton aide. “You’re going to look me in the face and tell me that?”

It is a fact that the Trump campaign gave a platform to white supremacists. The only question is whether the Trump presidency will do the same.

Many Americans who voted for Trump may not consider themselves racist, but they cast a ballot for a candidate who espoused racism and xenophobia and told lie after lie without remorse. They have to take responsibility for their decision, and so do the people who choose to work for Trump.

It has been sickening to see Mitt Romney, who achieved some respect when he denounced Trump during the campaign, bending his knee in hope of being named secretary of state. And what on earth was Al Gore thinking when he went to Trump Tower to talk about global warming? He looked like a fool.

To be fair, Trump does not evade all responsibility. He’s willing to shoulder the heavy burden of flaunting his riches. “Others try to hide their wealth,” he told TIME, but he does not because “aspiration’s a very important word.”

“I think people aspire to do things,” he said. “And they aspire to watch people. I don’t think they want to see the president carrying his luggage out of Air Force One. And that’s pretty much the way it is.”


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