With the passage by the House and Senate of bills cutting corporate taxes, Donald Trump’s supporters finally have a substantive achievement to cheer besides the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Never mind that this legislation will add at least $1 trillion to the national debt — something that Republicans professed to care about when it was the Democrats who were guilty of deficit spending. Never mind, too, that the tax code will be altered in ways no one can predict because no one had the time to fully digest these vast, hastily drafted bills before voting on them. And never mind, finally, that the need for this budget-buster is at best uncertain, given that, as Trump brags on a daily basis, the stock market is already hitting record highs and the economy is growing at a strong clip. More fiscal stimulus now risks overheating the economy.
Republicans long ago ceased to regard tax cuts as a normal policy position to be analyzed on the merits; they have become an article of faith like the virgin birth and Hillary Clinton’s awfulness. Assuming that the differences between the House and Senate versions are successfully reconciled, therefore, Republicans will be able to claim that the Trump presidency is a roaring success. Or will they?
Let’s look at what else has happened as the tax bill was passing the Senate, on Friday and early in the morning on Saturday. Just two days before, on Wednesday, Trump out of the blue retweeted three hateful, anti-Muslim videos — one of them an outright hoax — that had been posted by a far-right leader in Britain who has been convicted of religiously aggravated harassment for abusing a Muslim woman in a hijab. Virtually the entire political leadership of the United Kingdom, starting with Prime Minister Theresa May, denounced Trump for giving a boost to this racist extremist. It is likely that the president now will be unable to visit America’s closest ally because of the damage he has done to the “special relationship” in order to appease his racist base.
As amendments were getting scrawled onto the Senate bill, Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. This follows a similar guilty plea from former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who also lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, and the indictment of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates on charges of laundering the millions they received from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. The odds are growing that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will be able to show that the president and his aides were guilty of colluding with a hostile foreign power to subvert American democracy, and then of obstructing justice to hide their acts.
The gravity of the situation is evident in his Twitter meltdown on Sunday against the FBI, claiming “its reputation is in Tatters—worst in History!” Trump is showing that he has scant regard for his constitutional responsibility to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” He is willing to damage the nation’s premier law-enforcement agency — just as he is willing to damage the nation’s premier alliance — in order to save his own miserable skin.
Even worse was to come on Monday morning when Trump took to Twitter to endorse Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate who has no credible defense to accusations that he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct, extending to sexual assault, with underage girls. Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual assault, seems to think that supporting an alleged molester is a small price to pay for “massive Tax Cuts.” He even has the temerity to praise Moore — who was dismissed twice from his judicial post for ignoring the constitutional separation of church and state — for being “tough on crime.”
Given Trump’s continuing support for admitted criminal Mike Flynn, his pardon of racist Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his unwillingness to unequivocally denounce white supremacist terrorism, his “tough on crime” posture only seems to apply to Latino or African American defendants. Just last week, Trump again assailed an immigrant whom he has made the poster-boy for nativism, even after Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder by a San Francisco jury.
To Trump defenders, none of this matters. They see what they regard as the good — the judicial appointments, the tax cut — and they close their eyes to everything else. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. This is not like a salad bar where you can enjoy the healthy kale, tomatoes and cucumbers while skipping the calorie-laden candied nuts, the sneezed-on broccoli and the salmonella-laced eggs. This is not an a la carte presidency. It’s a fixed menu: all or nothing. If you want the tax cuts and the judges, you’ve also signed up for the racism, the misogyny, the amorality, the lawlessness, the deranged tweets, possibly even something close to treason. Trump supporters own it all.
Bon appetit! And don’t complain if you wake up some day with a very bad case of indigestion.