Professor ZZZ asks: “Trump is not Stalin but in the history of national (federal) political figures in this country, I’m wondering … where [would] you put Trump? … Having a POTUS so publicly awful along those lines lowers the horrible bar so dramatically that we will pay for years to come. Not being Stalin but being Roy Cohn is a hell of a legacy.”
[. . .]
Trump is ahead of Woodrow Wilson: World War I, and! his resegregation of the federal civil service. I grant you that being ahead of Wilson is not saying much…but then, the nation survived Wilson, and no one today thinks of Wilson as having lowered the bar vis-a-vis future presidents. Professor ZZZ seems to be worried about this. He wrote: “Having a POTUS so publicly awful along those lines lowers the horrible bar so dramatically that we will pay for years to come.” Really?—Will we pay for it in years to come, or is this just a shabby slippery slope-type argument?
I cannot say I see much sense in Professor ZZZ’s references to Roy Cohn. Roy Cohn’s permanent claim to fame is his association with McCarthy and aggressive anticommunism. Trump, by contrast, has been criticized for being too close to Putin. It is not exactly the same; actually, the two are not alike at all.
If words and pretty speeches are the measure of a president, then Trump comes up short. The question is whether that is the correct standard for measuring presidents in a dangerous world.
Seth’s last line is a good summary of the general flaw with many anti-Trump arguments. However, Seth doesn’t go far enough with specific examples:
-Trump didn’t withdraw US forces precipitately from an overseas conflict, leaving the worst of our enemies to fill the resulting power vacuum as Obama did in Iraq.
-Trump didn’t reverse longstanding US policy, deprecating alliances with pro-American countries, in a foolish and futile effort to buy the love of the Iranian mullahs as Obama did.
-Trump didn’t let himself get played by the North Korean dictatorship as Clinton, both Bushes and Obama did.
-Trump didn’t use the IRS to harass his political opponents – as Nixon threatened to do, as the Clintons did to right-wing activist organizations, and as Obama did to organizations and individuals who were active in the Tea Party movement.
-Trump didn’t use the FBI and CIA to spy on his Democratic rivals’ election campaigns as Obama seems to have done to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
I can think of numerous other examples of unwise or malicious actions taken by previous presidents that Trump hasn’t done. Feel free to add additional examples in the comments.