Wale Olutade advances reasons for describing Donald Trump as the most disastrous American president ever
The United States’ Congress finally did what was long anticipated, by a vote of 230 – 197 and 229 – 198 (strictly along party lines), it impeached the 45th US President Donald J. Trump, on the two articles of impeachment levelled by the US Judiciary committee, becoming only the third to be so accorded the dubious distinction. The others in the hall of infamy being the 17th and 42nd Presidents, Andrew Johnson and William J. Clinton. The 37th US President, Richard M. Nixon, resigned before he was impeached by Congress once it became certain his impeachment and eventual conviction or removal from office by the Senate was a forgone conclusion. That was then, and this is now.
The two articles of impeachment are; abuse of power and obstruction of congress. What were Trump’s alleged impeachable offenses? That he propositioned a foreign nation, Ukraine (and previously China, Russia, etc) to meddle in US elections. That he attempted to ‘shake down’ Ukraine, a nation engaged in a bloody conflict with its Russian neighbors, by conditioning congressionally approved military aid of $400m to the Ukraine president’s announcement of a false investigation into former V.P. Joe Biden, Trumps leading presidential challenger in the 2020 US elections.
Now, I am not a fan of Donald Trump. Scratch that please. In fact, to be quite candid, I think I dislike the man comprehensively. And believe me when I say I am being extremely diplomatic with my words. So why is this impeachment important? After all, as it is almost certain that he will be acquitted at the Senate trials, meaning he will remain in office to continue in his barbaric ways and perhaps, win re-election next November.
There are many reasons, but I’ll give just four in this piece. I know the story of his disastrous presidency is a tale of many moving parts, so this piece is one in several to come in the months and years ahead. To be fair, no US president is perfect, as none of us human beings can be. Barack Obama was woeful in his foreign policy and George W. Bush concocted lies to invade Iraq, wasting a generation in that needless war. But Donald Trump is in a class and category way beyond the pale.
First: A Threat to the World Order Post WW11
The new world order post world war 11 initiated by the victorious allied powers (US, Britain, France & USSR) was to the intent that never again will any nation(s) rise up and become a threat to the peace, stability and security of the rest of the world. This was necessitated by the expansionist activities of Nazi Germany which perpetrated unspeakable atrocities during the just ended war (1939 -1945) claiming almost 30 million lives at its end. Off course, while Hitler’s Germany was terrorizing Europe, Imperial Japanese Military, having effectively devastated its neighbors, mainly China, proceeded to bomb Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii in an unprovoked and what eventually became a historic turning point in the war but critically, forever shaped and changed world geo-politics.
This bombing of Pearl Harbor was the strategic incident that drew America into the 2nd world war raging in Europe and the atrocities of Imperial Japan against its neighbors. The rest as they say is history. Suffice to say, having defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, “axis powers”, (together with Italy), the allied powers created global organizations; The United Nations, NATO, IMF, World Bank, IBRD, etc.; to enforce and maintain peace, foster cultural and trade cooperation, share intelligence all in a bid to avoid a repeat of the colossal human carnage and humongous destruction to global order of WW2.
From the end of the war in 1945, you knew where America stood on any issue that involves democracy, rule of law, human rights abuses and communist or totalitarian regimes and the repressions and abuses attendant thereto. All of these are no more. While China is transactional in its foreign policies, America is more ideological. America is a nation founded on certain immortal values. America’s democracy is enshrined in the belief that the rule of law is sacrosanct. That human dignity and life are inviolable. That all men are created equal and possess certain inalienable rights and these are protected by their supreme law; the US Constitution. That all men are welcome to America, and are free and safe to aspire to their highest dreams and aspirations. That none shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or politics. Above all, that no one, is above the law!
But what has Donald Trump done since he became President? America has become more isolated form the same global institutions it helped found to promote democracy and safeguard peace and security in the world. He is shredding these bodies and making them effete to the great delight and applause of Russia, China, Turkey and other putative totalitarian regimes! The single biggest enabler of human rights abuses and global insecurity is Donald Trump.
His deleterious transactional approach to US foreign policy is best captured by the sale of $100 billion worth of weapons to the Saudi Arabian regime, regardless of its stone-age barbarism to its citizens; beheadings, amputations, etc; exemplified poignantly in the atrocious butchering of Saudi Journalist Kamal Kashoggi! Worse of all, Trump, for personal spite and ingrained inferiority complex, has tried to undo everything his predecessor did; pulled America out of the Iran Nuclear deal (2015), the Paris Climate Accord (2016), and a host of others.
As it is today, and in a great irony of history, many dictators and tyrants, can safely look to the US President, and feel comfortable to trample on democratic institutions, muzzle the press, kill, maim, arrest and harass journalists, while they lounge on their nice sofas, picking their teeth and saying; “it’s happening in America, what’s the big deal?”
Second: His Dangerous Demagoguery, Misogyny, Bigotry and Racism.
Here is a 73 year-old who has the temperament of grade schooler. Crude, coarse and caustic, he has debased and debauched the US presidency in ways millions undiscerning and especially his rabid political base and gullible Twitter fans can’t fathom! He is a thoroughgoing racist (apologies Chinua Achebe). He has tagged Africans as, well; idiots and our countries, “shitholes!” Mexicans, and other Latino communities are in his warped opinion crooks, criminals and rapists, even an American-Mexican judge isn’t spared.
He lies at faster than the speed of light. I think he must make Satan, who Jesus tagged “the father of lies” green with envy. In fact, one of his countless lies was voted “lie of the year” by CNN. Senator Bernie Sanders calls him a “pathological liar!” He pays off prostitutes to silence them. He mocks physically challenged Americans. He mocks women by their menstrual circle. He attacks and abuses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (his eternal political nemesis); “her teeth is falling off,” “she’s having a nervous breakdown…”
He addresses Senators and Congressmen, with pejoratives even school bullies will find grotesque. US House’s Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiif is “Shifty”. Senator Ted Cruz is “Lying Ted”. Senator Marco Rubio is “Little Marco.” His favorite target, Hilary Clinton is “Crooked Hilary.” As I type this, Congress woman Debbie Dingell (D) Michigan, whose husband was the longest serving US Congress man and who died of cancer, is being attacked, mocked and ridiculed by Donald Trump at a Michigan rally even as the impeachment process is ongoing!
Now, for gullible Africans and especially Nigerians who believe Donald Trump is a ‘Christian’ and is ‘fighting the cause of Christianity’ I say, which of the attributes of Donald Trump will Christ approve of? Beside the searing stupidity and rank ignorance exhibited by a people who believe any silly lie and ridiculous heresy, is it a Christian attribute to separate children from their mothers at US borders and lock them up in cages like animals and some have died? Christ’s teaching is encapsulated in this central theme; “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So, America, hitherto a nation of immigrants, including Trump’s grandparents, but now under him, immigrants are criminals to be hounded and deported!
Third: A Threat to Democratic Ethos
Now, please remember, we are here talking about a US president. Not in the stone age but right now. A sitting US President of the world’s greatest democracy but a friend and collaborator with prominent dictators and tyrants; Vladimir Putin, Kim Jung Un, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte, Jair Bolsonaro, Victor Urban, and so forth. He believes and trusts Putin’s words than the combined submissions of the entire US intelligence apparatus’ findings that Russia was behind the interference in 2016 US elections instead of consistently promoting the false narrative that it was Ukraine as propagated by Putin.
America, the world’s chief promoter and defender of democratic ethos and values is now led by a man who labels the US Congress; “an enemy of the people” and “they hate our country!” Donald Trump came up with and made infamous the words; “fake news” a pejorative description for mainstream media organizations CNN, NYT, WSJ, WP, etc, who criticize his policies and actions. If Trump had his way, he would rather America were a monarchy with him as absolute potentate but US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson put it profoundly yet succinctly that;
“Simply stated, the primary take away from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings. This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control. Rather, in this land of liberty, it is indisputable that current and former employees of the White House work for the people of the United States, and that they take their oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States.”
Fourth: A Threat to Leadership Principles
I shudder at the kind of leadership this man exemplifies. As one who teaches leadership principles to business persons and government employees, I fear what odious lessons his many acts of misgovernance, misconduct and reckless abuse of power is impacting on aspiring leaders, students and children the world over. He is one of the most divisive political leaders ever in modern history. He is utterly immoral. He is vain, narcissistic and intemperate. He lacks compassion and empathy, a basic quality of great leaders. He is cruel and callous.
He is as crude and vulgar as I have seen with gangsters, motor park touts and street urchins. He uses obscene words and gestures effortlessly mostly in the presence of foreign dignitaries. For Donald Trump it is all about “the deal”. So, F**k values or principles! The idea that his economic policies have created a great boom to the US economy, (without ascribing credit to the great work Barack Obama did), and so must be given a pass on all his governance and leadership atrocities, is akin to a Robin Hood principle.
Now, whether he is removed from office by the US Senate isn’t my problem. I am satisfied that America has demonstrated to the rest of the world that democracy can work when state’s institutions are independent and virile. Also, that in a democracy, the rule of law is supreme and no one, not even the President, is above the law. I am satisfied. And as US Congress man Ted Lieu (D) California said during the impeachment voting, “Whether Donald Trump is removed in one month, one year or five years, this impeachment will follow him forever.” And it will serve as deterrence to others after him.
*Oluwade can be reached at @WaleOluwade