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Opinion: Donald Trump is uniquely unfit to be president

Good morning. I'm Paul Thornton, The Times' letters editor, and it is Saturday, March 5. For readers in Southern California, here's a friendly reminder to shut off your sprinklers this weekend. Now, let's turn our attention to another force of nature.


The Times' editorial board hasn't exactly been unsparing in its praise for Donald Trump. After Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucus on Feb. 1, an editorial thanked the Texas senator for doing the country a favor by defeating Trump. In December, after Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslim immigration to the United States, an editorial called his record of inflammatory statements a "giant soup of bigotry and intolerance."

But for readers who still wonder, "Hey, what does The Times' editorial board really think about Donald Trump?," here's an answer: "Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States."

More from the editorial:

He has shamefully little knowledge of the issues facing the country and the world, and a temperament utterly unsuited to the job. He is a racist and a bully, a demagogue. He has proposed killing the families of terrorists, a violation of international law so blatant that a former CIA director predicted that U.S. troops would refuse to carry out such an order.

He mocked a disabled person at a campaign rally. He has vowed to reinstate waterboarding and forms of torture that are "much worse." He intends to seize and deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally. He would bar all Muslims from entering the country until further notice. He would "open up our libel laws" so that news organizations are punished for writing critical "hit" pieces. He wants to build a wall along the entire Mexican border, on the fantastical premise that he could force the Mexican government to pay for it. He has threatened to start trade wars with two of the country's biggest trading partners, Mexico and China, by slapping on the kind of protectionist tariffs that U.S. leaders have been trying for decades to eliminate worldwide.

Often enough he says nothing at all, promising to replace Obamacare, for instance, with "something great" or assuring listeners vaguely that a winner such as himself — someone who never tires of telling the world he's rich, successful and famous — will make it all work out one way or another.

It isn't easy to tell how much of Trump's performance is merely shtick and how much is real. In the aftermath of his victories Tuesday, Trump struck a less adversarial tone and talked about how he was "becoming diplomatic." Yet at the same time, he said this of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), one of several GOP leaders who suggested Trump hadn't disavowed an endorsement by former KKK leader David Duke forcefully enough: "Paul Ryan, I don't know him well, but I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him. And if I don't, he's going to have to pay a big price, OK?" That's about as diplomatic a message as a dead fish wrapped in newspaper.

We hope we won't have to learn who the real Donald J. Trump might be.

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"I assume we will get enormous support and a lot of blowback as well," editorial page editor Nick Goldberg said about the piece, which a Washington Post reporter called "scathing." Said Goldberg: "There is a dramatic, important, high stakes presidential race going on, and a candidate we view as unqualified for the job is winning primary after primary. It seemed like time to weigh in with a clear statement of our position rather than hemming or hawing or biding our time." Washington Post

Here are two (not three) cheers for Mitt Romney's attempted takedown of Trump. Michael McGough applauds Romney's indictment against the Republican front-runner but withholds unequivocal praise: "There was a weird false equivalence in the implication that both Trump and [Hillary] Clinton are equally unfit for the presidency. And surely Trump’s evasion when asked to repudiate a former Ku Klux Klan leader is more objectionable in itself than because it might provide Clinton with an advantage." L.A. Times

Mr. 47% tries to save the Republicans from Trump. That's rich. It's gotten so bad for Republicans that the guy who in 2012 called half the country losers for being too poor to pay federal income taxes now emerges to halt Trump's nomination march. L.A. Times

Readers rejoice at the apparent implosion of the Republican Party. For the last week or so, The Times' letter writers have been saying that the GOP deserves Trump. Last Saturday, a string of three letters to the editor opened with this: "The GOP has done this to itself ... by encouraging the hateful rhetoric and anti-government vitriol of Fox News and others." Responding to Jonah Goldberg's #NeverTrump column on Tuesday, one letter writer cheered, "There is nothing sad about the GOP's impending self-immolation." In today's letters to the editor, a reader from Denmark begs Republicans to rethink their support for Trump, saying his election would have catastrophic consequences for the world.

It's official: San Salvador is the murder capital of the world. Beheadings and other grisly murders, most often of young adult men in cities, have become distressingly common in El Salvador. Last year, there were 6,656 killings in the country; compare that to Canada's 516 slayings in 2014. The only reliable, large-scale way to curtail this humanitarian crisis is for the war on drugs to end. L.A. Times

If you're a Los Angeles resident, you're not paying enough for water and power. And if the proposed rate hikes make it through the City Council, Department of Water and Power customers' bills will still be too low. This isn't to say that the council should reject the increase, writes The Times' editorial board, but that the utility's needs are vast and therefore demand high-enough rates to cover overdue upgrades. Over the long term, DWP needs reform. L.A. Times

I like to read feedback. If you have some, email paul.thornton@latimes.com.

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