Bob Neal

After 1,457 days of Donald Trump as president, and with (blessedly) no more than 11 to go, his term is ending in chaos, for which he is fully responsible. The Republic has stood, despite attempts Wednesday and through those 1,457 days to undermine it.

Two disclosures. I switched enrollment from Republican in July 2016 when the party nominated Trump. It was easy to see the worst would come of it. And it did on Wednesday, to the horror of all decent Americans. Also, most of this column was written before the insurrection on Wednesday, as I sought positive wisps from the stench of the Trump term.

Reporters have been toting up the minuses of the Trump regime for 1,456 days. But few will write of what went right, so here goes.

Virtually all analysts have concluded that Communist China is the greatest threat to democracy and peace. Trump seemed to agree and often tough-talked about, but not to, Xi Jinping, China’s leader. He set tariffs that hurt American producers against whom China retaliated and U.S. buyers, who wound up paying more for Chinese products.

The tariffs failed. Census Bureau figures show that in Trump’s second year, we spent $539 billion on Chinese goods and sold goods worth $120 billion to China. The second year of the second Obama administration, we bought $468 billion and sold $124 billion.

Tough talk didn’t change the imbalance. While talking tough on trade, Trump kept quiet on China stuffing a million Uighurs (Muslims) into concentration camps, and kept quiet on China building artificial islands in the South China Sea to widen its influence. This week, he kept quiet when China rounded up 53 democracy advocates in Hong Kong.

Trump made political hay out of “saving” jobs in a Carrier plant in Indiana. Carrier kept 800 of the jobs in Indiana but moved 632 offshore. Trump told a cheering Carrier crowd, “Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences.”

But things change when Trump goes off camera. Carrier also cut 1,300 other jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that factory jobs rose from 2013 into 2018, flattened for a year or so and then begin falling again, even before COVID-19. The Washington Post reports that we have fewer factory jobs than when Trump was inaugurated.

Trump got it right, too, when four Arab countries (The United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain) granted diplomatic recognition to Israel. Those were the biggest steps forward in the Mideast since the 1990s, Dan Ephron wrote in Foreign Affairs.

Perhaps no success better illustrates the topsy-turvy world of Trump than the race to develop vaccines for COVID. He put the drug companies on the fast track, and Big Pharma produced. Of course, they made millions of bucks, but they produced.

Then, as with Carrier in Indiana, Trump lost interest, and distribution of the vaccines has been botched and rebotched. Ships tend to go off course when no one is at the helm.

Ever tender to his own ego, Trump got it exactly right as to how deeply he had been personally repudiated in the 2020 election. In state after state, Trump raised his vote total from 2016, yet his words and actions were so egregious that he increased the vote totals even more for his opponent in nearly every state. He ran behind many other Republicans. He ran way behind Sen. Susan Collins in Maine.

He managed to turn five states against him that he had won in 2016. In Georgia he got 372,733 more votes than in 2016, but he so turned off hundreds of thousands of other people that Joe Biden got 596,544 more votes than Hillary Clinton got in 2016.

Trump’s childlike ego simply can’t stand such repudiation.

Democratic victories in U.S. Senate races Tuesday in Georgia further humiliated Trump. His attack on the integrity of Georgia’s election may have discouraged Republican voters. NPR reported yard signs with such messages as, “Don’t vote in rigged runoff.” Trump has split the Republican Party into factions of old-line conservative vs. authoritarian culture-warrior. Mitch McConnell, as minority leader, may not be able to put that Humpty Dumpty back together again. Moscow Mitch, after all, is an obstructionist, not a builder.

No one put it better than The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin: “To Trump, the party of Lincoln was a rental vehicle, one that he took for a joyride and is getting ready to turn back in, with trash jammed under the seats and stains covering the upholstery. Also, the tank is empty, and there’s a crack in the windshield.”

Unable to put anyone or anything above himself, Trump tried to destroy our democracy — the insurrection Wednesday at the Capitol showed those words are not too strong — to save some face.

Donald Trump is undoubtedly the most damaged person ever to be president. Not to mention the most damaging. To our health. To our state of mind. To our very democracy.

Bob Neal recalls his mother telling him that even a broken clock is right twice a day. She also taught him to pay more attention to reality than to bluster. He can be reached at [email protected]

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