Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2019

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EDITORIAL:

Despite tough talk, Trump has shown America only cowardice

In some cases, it requires at least a second or two of fact-finding to determine whether President Donald Trump is lying. But his claims of having nothing to hide on various matters are lies on their face.

His own actions prove it.

Would someone who told reporters on March 29 of this year that “I have absolutely nothing to hide” on the Mueller investigation be defying subpoenas seeking underlying evidence?

Would someone who told Fox News in April 2015 that “I have no problem giving my tax returns” be fighting tooth and nail in court to avoid divulging them?

Would someone who told Fox News on Jan. 13 that “I’m not keeping anything under wraps” about his five closed-door meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin have actively insisted that notes be destroyed and still not have released a single record of those discussions?

No. Times three.

If Trump really had nothing to hide, he’d have a ridiculously easy way of showing it. Give up the tax returns, turn over the info about the Putin confabs and comply with the subpoenas. Nothing to it.

But that’s not Trump’s way. And that’s because this president is a coward to the core. He’s shown it time and time again.

Confidently and forthrightly release his tax returns or welcome the subpoenas? Nothing doing; Trump instead crawls under his sheets and takes to Twitter to whine about being a victim of all sorts of boogeymen.

Give Putin both barrels over Russia’s meddling in American elections? Forget it; Trump instead acts like a twerpy freshman desperate for the senior football captain’s approval, offering accolades to the Russian strongman and contradicting U.S. intelligence.

Confront Putin and other authoritarians over human rights abuses and anti-U.S. activities? No way; Trump instead lets North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un play him like a fiddle, drools like a happy dog in Putin’s presence and praises monsters like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán as being “highly respected” and having done a “tremendous job.”

Pressure the Saudis over the murder of Jamal Kashoggi or, for that matter, anything else? Absolutely not; Trump instead grovels at the Saudis’ feet by issuing a statement saying he stands with them.

Face tough questions head on? Hardly; Trump instead ends daily White House press briefings, revokes media credentials and speaks to reporters briefly if at all. And no, his propagandists at Fox News don’t count.

The examples go on and on.

This wimp can’t even fire his aides face to face. He does it by tweet or proxy. And in 28 months as president, he’s made only one visit to a combat zone, which came after reports that he told aides he was “afraid of those situations.”

Oh, he talks tough sometimes. He’ll really let some people have it — not the Putins or Erdogans of the world, of course, but rather starving migrant families, women, minority judges, football players exercising their freedom of expression and others he clearly considers inferior. And almost invariably, Trump does his bullying from the safe zone of Twitter, not face to face.

It’s all bluster from a man desperately trying to convince Americans, and most likely convince himself, of his self-image as a street fighter who hits back twice as hard when he’s attacked.

But that’s laughable.

Trump has shown ad nauseam that he’s the polar opposite of a stand-up guy. When the going gets tough he hides, he obfuscates, he throws temper tantrums, he whines and he wallows in self-pity.

He’s a baby. A (purportedly) 6-foot-3, 72-year-old baby.

Real courage is facing criticism head-on, welcoming accountability, standing up to bullies, protecting the disadvantaged and, as president, doing it all with a high level of decorum and respect for the office.

As for Trump’s behavior, two graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy hit the nail on the head last year when they wrote a guest column for The Baltimore Sun questioning his suitability to deliver the academy’s 2018 commencement speech. Describing examples of extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice by former academy graduates during combat, they wrote:

“Contrast this to the personal and professional honor of the sitting president of the United States, who time and again makes small choices guided by self-interest, ego, impulse and immediate self-gratification,” they wrote. “He could never do what we ask our U.S. Naval Academy graduates to do. He is a physical coward, a liar and no leader at all.”

The column was especially powerful considering that Trump’s infamous bone spurs gave him an excuse to avoid military service during the Vietnam War.

Actually, perhaps he could revisit that coward’s way out again today. Maybe bone spurs would get him out of the House investigation?