Watching the daily attacks and counterattacks in Washington, the optimist in me searches for the bright side. Surely there will be resolutions soon on Ukraine and impeachment, as well as on the misconduct of the FBI and CIA during the 2016 election.
All that will happen any day now, my sunny side assures me. One fine morning we’ll wake up to learn President Trump and his tormentors are calling a cease-fire because they realize the dizzying tit-for-tat escalation is too hot for America’s good.
Then we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get back to politics as normal, with Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives engaged in a tug of war that is serious but not destructive. The impact on the 2020 election will be immediate as the candidates pivot to the traditionally decisive issues of taxes and spending, war and peace.
Alas, the pessimist in me knows better. When it comes to human nature, never assume the best.
That part of me embraces the definition of a cynic as a “premature realist.” It senses something fundamental is changing before our eyes, that the bonds that allowed political and cultural combatants to fight hard but with respect for boundaries have snapped.
We are now floating free of rules and restraint. Anything goes and there is no end in sight.
The blame game is part of any standoff and this one is no exception. Half the country blames Trump for our national discord, and they are partially right, though not for the reasons they believe.
To point the finger at him for the bitter polarization is either ignorance or historic revisionism. America was deeply divided under the three previous presidents, so Trump cannot be solely responsible. Like most presidents, he is a reaction to what came before.
That’s not to suggest he plays no role. Of course he does. His fundamental nature is to disrupt and he has, in good ways and bad.
He can be compulsive and childish and seems not to have mastered the art of the team. The constant churn of top personnel is troubling.
Yet singling out Trump for the turmoil engulfing the country is possible only if you disregard the No. 1 contributor: the refusal of Democrats and most of the media to accept the results of the 2016 election.
That refusal has become, among many on the left, borderline psychotic. Nothing else compares to the damage it is doing to our nation’s fabric and global image.
Trump’s irritating foibles and unorthodox ways pale in comparison. The continuing challenge to his legitimacy is a cancer on the republic.
It is one thing for a president to suffer brickbats for failures and mistakes. That’s fair game.
But no president in modern times has also faced endless assaults on his right to even set foot in the Oval Office and exercise the powers of the presidency. Yet here we are, nearing the third anniversary of his election by a decisive margin, and still the resistance to his right to govern rages on.
The precedent is terrifying. If this is the start of losers always declaring election results invalid, America is doomed.
To grasp the significance, consider an alternative outcome to the Robert Mueller probe. Imagine the special counsel found compelling evidence that Trump conspired with Russia to meddle in the 2016 election.
Assuming the evidence was airtight, Republicans would have joined Dems in telling Trump it was time to resign, or be impeached and removed from office.
That outcome would have been supported by the vast majority of the public because we are fundamentally a nation of patriots who cherish our freedoms. Self-government is the essence of those freedoms. The people get to pick their president.
If that right had been clearly compromised by a candidate working with a hostile foreign power, there would have been little discussion and zero sympathy. It would have been lights out for the Trump presidency.
But Trump is still president because Mueller couldn’t find the bare minimum evidence needed to make a case. He had two years, an unlimited budget and a team brimming with prosecutors eager to nail the president.
Mueller was never fired, testified that no one tried to limit his probe or cut his resources — and still he couldn’t deliver the goods.
In America, that means the case is closed. That should have been the end of it.
The dirty tricks in 2016, the flames of treason fanned by Hillary Clinton and top members of the Obama administration, the wild media scoops and whispered accusations — all of it had been considered and found to have no merit. The Russia, Russia, Russia charge was false and it was time to move on.
Instead, the left immediately began searching for another silver bullet. One way or another, they would bring down Donald Trump.
Thus was born Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. In an instant replay, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff again declared the president guilty of impeachable offenses before they held a single hearing.
Their only evidence was the flawed, secondhand claim of an anonymous source with partisan ties. They don’t care. They are on a mission to destroy.
Clinton, incapable of shame and impervious to anything but self-interest, emerged again to declare Trump “an illegitimate president.”
The media, too, jumped on the Ukraine bandwagon, giddy with certainty that this time, they’ll get the president they hate.
To hear the fulminations, impeachment won’t be enough. Only a public hanging will satisfy their bloodlust.
There is no way to know how or when this madness ends. Only one thing is certain: it won’t end well.
Time to step up, mayor!
Following a brutal attack on a Queens child by a homeless man, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a 30-day study of relevant city programs. Ho hum.
Here’s a better idea: The mayor should roll up his sleeves and lead the study himself. Delegating this vital job only reinforces the idea that it is business as usual.
In that case, the study will make headlines for a day, the mayor will promise to throw more than the $2 billion the city is already spending on the problem — and nothing else will change.
Following the brutal deaths of four homeless men in Chinatown, allegedly at the hands of another homeless man, it is obvious the programs are failing.
This is a crisis, and taking charge is what a real mayor would do. It’s time for de Blasio to at least play the part.
Even JFK takes a toll
Reader Michael Marolda says the Port Authority’s sky-high tolls aren’t the only rip-off. He writes: “I returned home last night and had to laugh at the condition of JFK versus airports in Athens, Naples and Paris. And in those countries, luggage carts are free. At JFK, it costs $6 to push your luggage out of the airport. Welcome home!”