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The year full of news about Donald Trump


Years ago, a friend returning from a few weeks' vacation reported that he hadn't read or watched the news for the entire time. It was such a relief, he said, that he might never go back to the news again.

If the news weren't my job, I'd have reached that point with national political news several months ago. It has just become too much.

The attack on the environment, on reproductive rights, on the Justice Department, on voting rights, on regulations protecting Americans' health, safety, and economic stability; the saber rattling; the isolationism; the appeal to racism; the embrace of a foreign government that tried to influence the presidential election; the personal enrichment; the disregard of fact and truth….

It is way too much.

In the current New York Review of Books, Michael Tomasky notes that there seems to be a general agreement among political pundits that this first year of Donald Trump has been "worse than we could have imagined."

"But honestly," says Tomasky, "who couldn't have imagined any of this?"

Honestly, I couldn't have. Trump's behavior itself hasn't surprised me. It's completely consistent with what we saw during the election campaign – and with what we knew about him as a developer and reality TV star. Disgusting, troubling, reckless, yes. Surprising, no.

The surprise has been the reaction from the Republicans in Congress. It simply never occurred to me that nearly all of them would stand by, smiling, as Trump wreaked havoc week after week.

Some of their complicity – the interest in coal, the slashing of regulations – stems from donor interest, no doubt. But what about fundamental principles? What about the value of truth?

And what about the president's bullying? In Trump's approach to foreign policy, that is taking the form of reckless combativeness toward other countries, and I don't mean only his taunts and threats aimed at North Korea. Monday's New York Times included this headline: "To Counter Russia, US Signals Nuclear Arms Are Back in a Big Way."

In Tuesday's Times, Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Colin Powell's chief of staff during the lead-up to the Iraq war, warned that the Trump administration seems to be following the Bush administration's playbook to try to sell the public on supporting. a war – in this case, against Iran.

And am I reading too much into the news item last week by PBS's Yamiche Alcindor, the White House correspondent for the NewsHour?

Shortly before his State of the Union address, Alcindor wrote, Trump told a group of television news anchors that "he wants to unite the country amid 'tremendous divisiveness' and hopes he can do so without a traumatic event affecting Americans" (my emphasis).

We have to assume the Republicans are seeing all this. Are none of them disturbed? Can none of them put aside their own political interests to speak out? None of them?

We can survive disagreements over abortion, health care, education, tax policy, Supreme Court nominees, trade policies, foreign policy. But I think there are real questions about whether we can survive the intense partisanship – in the country and in government – and the outright selling of democracy that we're witnessing right now.

In his New York Review article, critiquing Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" and David Frum's "Trumpology," Tomasky offers this quote from Frum:

"The thing to fear from the Trump presidency is not the bold overthrow of the Constitution, but the stealthy paralysis of governance; not the open defiance of law, but an accumulating subversion of norms; not the deployment of state power to intimidate dissidents but the incitement of private violence to radicalize supporters."

That's what we've been witnessing in this first year of Donald Trump, and not only from Trump himself. The complicity of the Republicans in Congress is shocking, and aside from the occasional protest from the very ill John McCain, we're seeing no signs that it will end.