I am going from memory, but as I recall there is a point in the movie "Journey for Margaret," concerning the London blitz, where Robert Young sees a situation with a mother and child that breaks his heart. He gets to himself and says to God, essentially "Alright, God, I'm angry." He is over his complacency about the situation, and he is ready to fight.
Looking at the situation about the children being separated from their families in the immigration debate, I feel the same way. I am angry.
For more than a year, we seem to go from one Trump mess into another. The Russian contacts has led to an investigation that is necessary but thorough, made worse by the president bullying people in the Justice Department, least of all his own attorney general. We also continue to have his alleged extramarital love life as a subject for debate.
His attention span is that of a puppy, which has been exhausting for his staff, leading to a revolving door of staff and an increasingly difficult time trying to find replacements. Relations with Congress have been rocky, as he has made comments to leave some in his own party high and dry. At the same time, many in the party are afraid to take him on. (During a meeting with GOP congressmen this week, Trump called U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, who has been critical of the president and lost re-election, a nasty guy, according to Politico. The president was then booed.)
The tax cuts passed, but that $60 a month more will be obliterated due to rising gas prices and rising prices resulting from trade wars not just with China, but also Europe and Canada — trade wars instigated by the president himself, and which likely could hurt the thriving car industry in Alabama.
We have turmoil at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because Trump has protected the administrator, Scott Pruitt, who is cutting regulations — all the while treating staff as personal assistants and trying to get jobs for his family, not to mention getting perks and sometimes benefitting from work relationships that has already come under increasing internal government investigation. (There are reports Pruitt has hung around the White House trying to intervene in non-EPA matters to advise the president. You know the guy at your office that butters up the boss? This is him.)
Then there is the summit with North Korea, which has been praised in some quarters, but which has yielded little details but tons of praise from Trump, as well as a pledge to end war games with South Korea — which was a surprise for the U.S. military, who were not kept advised. I cannot help but feel that Trump just wants to get out of foreign entanglements and costs, and is rather too quick to want to declare peace with an enemy who has fooled us before.
It is Neville Chamberlain on steroids. The British prime minister met Hitler and said, "Here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine." Trump would likely have said, "It is a lovely piece of paper. It is a beautiful paper." It didn't end well for Chamberlain and I don't think it is going to end well for us.
Then there is the dangerous game Trump is playing with the mainstream press, calling it by names and saying "fake news" with a manner that wants to indicate none of us can be trusted, endangering the media at large. At the same time, the president increasingly has been caught in a web of lies that is exposed more and more as the weeks and months go by. As of May 1, the Washington Post has reported 3,000 false or misleading claims — and the number continues to grow. (Sometimes he makes dozens of them in a single speech.)
And then finally came his immigration policy, which separated children from parents. It has become clear from evidence that many young children were not only separated but left isolated, crying for their parents. Centers were set up for babies to be separated from parents.
Laura Bush's tough column on the subject said Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Kraft said people working there had been instructed not to pick up or touch children to comfort them. I would think that is the least one can do for an upset young child separated from mommy or daddy.
It is not unclear to people why this has been controversial. We are not talking, for the most part, about hardened criminals. We're talking about people wanting a better life who, frankly, are trying to shortchange the process, which is not good, but it is not murder and rape. In the latter cases, yes, you would separate children from parents. Breaking the speed limit, no. Yes, you may have deportation, but why split parents from the young children, who are needing to be with their parents?
Trump claimed that it was the Democrats fault, saying that it was up to the Democrats. Critics were quick to pounce, saying that he started the policy and he could end it himself, without Congress. In short, he was going to use it to get his wall.
The situation became worse by crazy — and, ironically, childish — arguments by Trumpers who said the crying children were actors. One talking head on Fox even said "Waa, waa," mininking the Charlie Brown teacher to deride the argument of separating the children and enraging another talking head who was thankfully in another studio.
I think this has enraged people like nothing else has in Trump's term of office. I've seen anchors cry and one woman approached me about it in Jasper, saying she couldn't sleep for it. One couple protesting told a TV reporter they haven't protested since the Vietnam war demonstrations, but they couldn't hold back.
All of this ultimately ended with Trump discovering, wow, he can sign an order and reverse the policy. It has been a needless, harmful policy that was thankfully short-term but has left bad feelings as the congressional elections are in full swing. Fundraising for Republicans has gone well, but the GOP is very worried about how missteps by the administration could cost them the House. It is a reasonable concern.
For my part, I have waited a long time to say something. Leading to it, I really wanted to write this column more eloquently, with more fact and detail. I am afraid I am having to put this together quickly, and you have heard much of the detail anyway. Many have already made up their minds, and many will love me or hate me. But this is my space to say what I want to; anyone who disagrees has freedom to write a letter to the editor in reply. (It is a shame many people seem too scared or disinterested to do so, as we would prefer to have many voices.)
But like the Robert Young character, I am angry and I am moved, not just over the children, but about the other incompetence, the bluster, the bullying, the carelessness and the unethical behavior Trump and his team have displayed. He pledged to drain the swamp, but created new swamps unimagined and unforeseen. He pledged to improve the economy and has declared economic war on half the nation, which will only hurt our economy in the end. Trump has lied, bullied and badgered, demoralizing and scaring away our federal work force, and showing he is completely immature to handle the working relationships and duties of the president, to the point he prefers visual aides instead of reports and tears up documents that have to be archived. He has done his best to demonize the media, not to mention restrict the flow of news and sources, as well as punish reporters he does not like.
I really don't care what anyone says about me on this, because there comes a time when one has to take a stand for what is right. Donald Trump is simply a selfish bully who has behaved in a way that has endangered and demoralized this nation. Separating those children on the border and using it for political means demonstrates a heartless, selfish streak seen in almost all of his actions. Sanford, told of this week's comment about him, told the Washington Post Trump's "personal style (is) so caustic and counterproductive ... The tragedy of the Trump presidency is that he thinks it's about him. The president has taken those earnest beliefs by so many people across the country and has unfortunately fallen prey to thinking it is about him."
There is much to say that Democrats had it coming in 2016; many of them have not proven any better at demonstrating leadership, and Hillary and Bill Clinton have so much baggage that we could still be having investigations. But what Trump has done has not been to fill the vacuum of leadership, as many demanded, but to take advantage of democracy to political advantage to profit business interest, business friends, family and generally try to destroy all around him to achieve personal grandiose dreams.
This business with the children has enraged Democrats and Republicans alike. I have been irritated, concerned, depressed — but now I am angry. After a year of Trump, I have had enough.
This will fall on deaf ears, but I will say it and I will mean it: Donald Trump should resign as president of the United States.
Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.