In a Washington Post column titled Our #FakeHero president is an insult to our Founder, Robinson begins by reminding us of the very human failings of the signatories to the document we commemorate today, from Jefferson’ s slave-holding through Hancock’s smuggling to Ben Franklin’s lechery.
He then writes
Yet they laid out a set of principles, later codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that transcended their flaws. At this bizarre moment in our history, it is useful to remember that the ideas and institutions of the American experiment are much more powerful and enduring than the idiosyncrasies of our leaders.
Robinson considers the moment bizarre enough to quote the famous phrase offered by Thomas Paine about these being the times that try mien’s souls, which he follows with these words:
We have a president who neither understands nor respects the basic norms of American democracy. Make no mistake: Donald Trump is a true aberration. There is no figure like him in U.S. history, for which we should be thankful.
Robinson reminds us that Trump is our first President with no prior government nor military service, and follows with a list of his failings, including his ignorance, lack of curiosity and focus, and desperate insecurity, the last of these leading to a comparison of Trump to a Founder that will sting:
he desperately craves the kind of sycophantic adulation that George Washington, a genuine hero, pointedly rejected.
The next paragraph of this pointed column is key:
Trump is a #FakeHero. He strings along his supporters with promises he has no idea how to keep. Like many a would-be strongman before him, he defines himself politically by the fights he picks; he erects straw men — faceless “elites,” cable television hosts, Muslims, Mexicans, nonexistent individuals or groups waging an imaginary “war on Christmas” — because authoritarians always need enemies. Yet his ego is a delicate hothouse flower, threatened by the slightest puff of criticism.
So let’s recap — not only is Trump a “#FakeHero” but he has an ego that “is a delicate hothouse flower.” That fragility of ego is what led to the absurd cabinet meeting where all present had to praise Trump (except Mattis, who praised the miitary service personnel).
Robinson reminds us that the writers of the Constitution deliberately limited the powers of the President, and even included the last gasp measure of removal from office by impeachment, then write
The Trump presidency compels all of us to be mindful of our constitutional duties.
That applies to all of us, including those we have elected to represent us in the bicameral national legislature. To them Robinson offers these words:
Congress must assert its powers of oversight. One reason the signers of the Declaration gathered in Philadelphia to pledge “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” to the cause of independence was that they saw the mingling of royal power and British commercial interests as corrupt. We now have a president whose far-flung business empire — which he has refused to divest, and which his family still operates — presents myriad potential conflicts of interest. Trump has deepened the swamp, not drained it; and Congress has a duty to sort through the muck.
There is more to the column, including a hopeful last paragraph, which I will leave for you to read when you read the entire piece.
This is a very good column.
It is worth your time to read.