The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
As President of the United States of America Donald J. Trump’s lies began before the end of his inauguration day with an absurd claim that was quite easily disproven with photographic evidence about the crowd size at his inaugural event. He lies with such frequency in speeches and tweets that his pants are perennially “on fire”. Whether it is about promises of saving jobs in the manufacturing, auto, or coal mining industry, or inventing stories of “wiretapping” and having “tapes” of an oval office conversation, Trump repeatedly makes statements that are patently false. These false statements are often used to distract the media and thereby the pubic from damning truths in the ongoing Russia scandal investigation.
Donald Trump and his administration’s assaults on the free press, their refusal to accept the definitive science surrounding climate change, and their obstruction of the Russia scandal investigation reveal a person and a system that is hostile to the truth and prefers to live in an alternate reality.
In a matter of months Donald Trump has destroyed the credibility of not only himself as president but also of the White House. Anything that comes out of this administration is not to be trusted on its face value but must be double and triple checked.
It is terrible enough that Trump’s lies are wreaking havoc across the country, though his diehard supporters continually give him as pass even when convinced he lied. The consequences of the erosion of truth and trust in Trump and his administration on the global stage is not only an embarrassment for the United States, but has a consequential impact on our national security interests.
At the G20 Summit Donald Trump stood out like a sore thumb in more ways than one. His holdout on a climate policy statement because it is too pro-environment was an epic embarrassment for the United States on this global stage. More his refusal to accept this scientific reality hampers the cooperative work among nations, of which the United States could be a leader, needed to address this planetary crisis.
Donald Trump’s refusal to accept climate science shows the frightening reality that his Alex Jones and Fox News conspiracy fueled views that are divorced from reality now have through him voice in the making of international policy.
Trump also stood out among the other heads of state with his decision not to hold a press conference. While this may have saved the press from once again being called “fake news” for reporting critical truths about him, it only underscored the lack of transparency that has become a hallmark of this administration through repeated efforts to silence the press and all critical questions and commentary.
The lack of transparency combined with the erosion of truth and trust in President Trump and his administration is resulting dire consequences following the lengthy meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. This momentous meeting was never going to be what it needed to be because Trump is not the courageous leader this country needs to stand up to Putin after evidence reveals that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election.
However, far more concerning than Trump’s inability to decisively stand up to Putin, is the fact we can’t know for sure what transpired between these two leaders during their talk. Besides two interpreters the only other people in the room were secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. No other note takers or advisors were allowed in the meeting. This is especially concerning for several reasons including: 1) the accounts of the meeting as stated by Tillerson and Lavrov are not consistent and neither one is all that credible, 2) the two heads of state were not only discussing the hacking of the United States 2016 election but matters involving the war in Syria, which is one of the most complicated crisis in the world today, and 3) Trump is gravely inexperienced in matters of foreign policy and if he would listen would benefit from the advice and counsel of others such as his national security advisor who most agree should have been in the room during this meeting, especially since Russia is our adversary and not our ally.
Trump’s arrogance, inexperience, and detachment from reality and reason is not only having disastrous effects on domestic policy and manifesting his utter inability to function in the office to which he was elected, his erosion of truth and trust has reached the international stage in ways that are not only endlessly embarrassing, but are forestalling efforts to combat climate change and endangering our national security.
Donald Trump told at least one other lie on his inauguration day. He swore an oath to uphold the constitution, which he has been in violation of ever since saying those promissory words. It is long past time to hold Trump accountable for his lies and his lack of transparency and restore the integrity of truth and trust befitting the office of the presidency and the White House. Our democracy and standing on the world stage are at stake.