Monday, February 29, 2016
“For some of us, principle and country still matter.”
These words are from Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman (Chair of the Finance Committee for Chris Christie for President), when she denounced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s “astonishing display of political opportunism” in endorsing Donald Trump, a “dishonest demagogue” who “would take America on a dangerous journey.”
The Trump steamroller moves on to Super Tuesday tomorrow. The increasingly desperate campaign to deny Donald Trump the Republican nomination for President has belatedly targeted his scandalous habit of taking unfair advantage of people in his questionable business dealings.
The list of transgressions runs long. Trump tried to use eminent domain and employed construction crews who smashed her windows and set fire to the roof, all in an attempt to bully an elderly woman who refused to surrender her house. Trump wanted to pave the land over for a limousine parking lot alongside his casino. Trump charged students tens of thousands of dollars in “tuition” to a Trump University, while promising students they would have the best professors “handpicked by me” and would learn his secrets to getting rich with real estate. Instead, they got little more than a photo opportunity with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump.
Moreover, Trump has built much of his financial empire taking advantage of human fallibility, reaping hundreds of millions from lower- and middle-income people who have lost money and sometimes their livelihoods gambling at his network of casinos. Trump commented on his casinos in one of his books: “I’ve never gambled in my life. To me, a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It’s a very good business being the house.” As he later said on his television show: “How much have I made off the casinos? Off the record, a lot.”
And, of course, there is the Trump sleaze. Consider the women exploited at Trump casino strip clubs.
But there are still bigger reasons to fear the prospect of a Trump Presidency:
- Praising and Quoting Dictators: When asked about Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin jailing of his opponents and reporters, Trump says: “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.” Quoting World War II Fascist Dictator Mussolini, Trump tweeted just yesterday “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” When asked about it, Trump insists: “It’s a very good quote. I didn’t know who said it, but what difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else — it’s a very good quote.”
- Creating an Enemies List: Of the Washington Post and New York Times for publishing unfavorable news about him, Trump says only a few days ago: “And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems, they’re gonna have such problems!” Saying of the owner of the Chicago Cubs: “I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”
- Promising War Crimes and Torture: During his campaign Trump says: “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families.” And to interrogate persons suspected of terrorist acts, Trump says he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
- Advocating a Philosophy of Vengeance: Trump writes in one of his books: “For many years I’ve said that if someone screws you, screw them back. When somebody hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can.”
- Repealing Free Speech Protections for the Press: Trump says: “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”
- Denying Religious Freedom to Minority Religions: While he claims to support religious liberty, Trump does not include everyone. Most notable was his “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” He flirted with requiring Muslim Americans to register with the government.
- Hesitating to Disavow White Supremacists: When asked about the endorsement of him by David Duke, former leader of the KKK just yesterday, Trump responded: “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.”
In one of the late Justice Scalia’s most famous passages from his decades on the Supreme Court, he drew upon Christ’s warning in Matthew 7:15 about false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” In this dissenting opinion, Justice Scalia observed that threats to the constitutional separation of powers frequently appear before the Court “clad, so to speak, in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, the potential “to effect important change in the equilibrium of power is not immediately evident, and must be discerned by a careful and perceptive analysis.”
Justice Scalia closed with these haunting words: “But this wolf comes as a wolf.”
[Note: I’d prepared this post over the weekend, before Rick Garnett’s response to inquiries from a longtime MoJ reader. For an earlier MoJ post on Trump, see here. Also, in the initial post, I confused the “Whitmans”; Meg Whitman is the one quoted above, while former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whiteman has also said she is “ashamed” of Governor Christie’s endorsement of Trump.]