February 19, 2017 [LINK / comment]

Trump's first month: worse than expected

I'm one of those who is just too stunned to make a serious attempt at understanding what's going on with this new administration. I would like to think that my fears about President Trump's harsh and aggressive style of leadership were misplaced, but thus far he is governing the same way he campaigned. It validates my frequent warnings in the past about the dangers of the Republican Party flirting with populist politics, but it's probably too late to turn back the clock now.

First week: Seven days of mayhem *

President Trump's inaugural address four Fridays ago left little doubt that he was dead serious about fulfilling his myriad campaign promises. Aside from minor directives, he took the weekend off and then got to business on Monday. By the end of that week, the Democrats were in an uproar.

When Acting Attorney General was fired for having defied the President's executive order, the parallel with the October 1973 "Saturday night massacre" was obvious. But was the parallel a close one?

Trump wasted no time in fulfilling one of his campaign promises, of building a bigger wall with Mexico. To me, that is tragic and will probably have terrible consequences for our relations with that country and with the rest of Latin America for years to come.

U.S. - Mexican border fence in Douglas pan

Panoramic view of the U.S. - Mexican border fence in Douglas, Arizona. Click on the image to see it full size.

Weeks 2 - 4: more mayhem

Things only got worse after that, as Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after it was learned that he was discussing the economic sanctions imposed by then-President Obama in late December. I disagreed with that policy move, but Flynn's actions were inexcusable and downright subversive.

Trump's continued nice words about Vladimir Putin and disparagement of our European allies in NATO are further cause for alarm. He sent Vice President Mike Pence to the security summit in Munich, where he tried to reassure everyone of America's commitment to collective security. I would blame them for feeling uneasy, however.

And finally, Trump's most recent tirade against the press, calling them an "enemy" of the American people, is deeply disturbing. Sen. John McCain was right to call Trump out on that, noting that such words are often the first step in the establishment of a dictatorship.

What a crazy world we live in. I'll be spending the next couple weeks in Latin America, and it will be interesting to get those folks' perspective on what has been happening here in the U.S.A.

* Yes, that is a not-too-subtle reference to a movie from the early 1960s...