So our beloved country has reached the point of insanity emanating from the very top—a sitting American president making allegations in the most public way, providing not a shred of evidence to support the charge that his predecessor, Barack Obama, personally ordered the illegal tapping of his phone lines.
This, from the same Donald Trump who falsely accused his predecessor without providing a scintilla of proof that he was born in Kenya.
This, from the same delusional president who, the day after his inauguration, marched out his spokesman Sean Spicer to make the embarrassing and blatantly false claim that the live crowd hearing Trump’s speech on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was the biggest in history.
This, from the same president who sent out his “senior counselor” Kellyanne Conway to advance the notion of “alternative facts” being tantamount to verifiable truth.
This, from the same president who marched out another “senior advisor” Stephen Miller, who falsely accused the state of New Hampshire, without offering a smidgeon of corroboration, that Democrats and Republicans had been complicit in widespread voter fraud.
This, from a president who repeatedly, incessantly, without shame, accountability and consequence, continues to advance paranoid conspiracy theories that possess no substance. This, from our president.
Trump is the figurehead of the Republican Party. At what point do GOP leaders, particularly those retired politicians who claim to admirably put country before party, stand up and call him out?
Not one serving member of the Wyoming, Montana and Idaho congressional delegation has demonstrated the moral character to disavow the president’s conduct, and the lack of courage extends, too, to retired politicians who, with nothing to lose, remain silent.
If they are too cowardly to defend the integrity of our republic, then at least can they defend the dignity of the highest office in the land, condemning the actions of the person who, without precedence, is now debasing it?
Enough time has now elapsed with the new presidency, enough of Trump’s whoppers have been dispensed, that we know they’re not aberrations but part of a disturbing and dangerous pathology—an immature, deeply insecure, megalomaniac with a penchant for temper tantrums who has his finger on the nuclear trigger. No, I am not referencing North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
Why is the GOP establishment in our western states and the political apparatus in Washington so conspicuously silent?
Ordinarily, some responsibility would fall to the opposition party, the Democrats, to muster resistance but the left has made itself practically inane. None other than the retired late night talk show host David Letterman told David Marchese and the online publication Vulture in a story published last weekend, “We don’t need more confirmation that there’s something wrong with Donald Trump. Let’s instead find ways to rebuild what is rational. And the Democrats, goddamn it, get a little backbone, get a little spine.”
That leaves only one entity. Few would question the patriotic devotion of award-winning historian David McCullough to our country. McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for authoritative biographies on Harry Truman and John Adams, is universally respected by intelligent America-loving people on both sides of the political aisle.
Last summer McCullough, a registered independent voter, issued a warning and broke from his normal position of neutrality in publicly endorsing candidates in presidential elections. Besides also winning the National Book Award for two other works, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award from Obama.
Joining a group of prominent historians, McCullough presciently voiced his concerns about Trump. He quoted former President Dwight D. Eisenhower who once said there were four key qualities by which citizens should measure a leader: character, ability, responsibility and experience.
“Donald Trump fails to qualify on all four counts and it should be noted Eisenhower put character first. In the words of the ancient Greeks, ‘Character is destiny,’” McCullough said. “So much that Donald Trump spouts is so vulgar and so far from the truth and mean-spirited is that on that question of character especially, he does not measure up. He is unwise, he is unprepared, he is plainly unqualified and he often seems unhinged.”
A short while later, McCullough elaborated during an interview with The New York Times. “When you think of how far we have come, and at what cost, and with what faith, to just turn it all over to this monstrous clown with a monstrous ego, with no experience, never served his country in any way—it’s just crazy,” he said. “We can’t stand by and let it happen. The Republican Party shouldn’t stand by and let it happen.”
Statesmen and stateswomen we all know are letting it happen and they ought to be ashamed.
Todd Wilkinson is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about the West for more than 30 years and his column the New West has been widely read in the Greater Yellowstone region for nearly as long. He writes his column every week, and it’s published on explorebigsky.com on EBS off weeks. You can also read his latest book, “Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek,” a story about famous Greater Yellowstone grizzly 399 featuring photographs by Thomas Mangelsen.