Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Two GOP Choices: Compare Asa Hutchinson & Donald Trump



Good-nurtured political skill with common sense.
It comes in the person of Asa Hutchinson from the State of Arkansas. He recently announced he is running as a conservative republican candidate. Just today I have watched four news videos interviews of him. They asked all the questions we want to hear answered. I was very impressed by his easy-going and straight-forward answers. He is 72 years old. He is mentally sharp, genuine, and cordial. He has been married to his wife for 50 years. 
Here is Hutchinson’s background: Following his undergraduate degree, he earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He practiced as an attorney for many years in Ft. Smith Arkansas, and he later was appointed the youngest ever US attorney by President Reagan. Subsequently he served as the Drug Enforcement Administration administrator and later as the undersecretary for border and transportation security.
He served two terms in the House of Representatives. He recently completed two terms as Governor of Arkansas (only two terms are allowed). 
In the two weeks I’ve known about Mr. Hutchinson, I’ve been impressed by what I see. Google Asa Hutchinson and look at the several interesting video interviews of him interacting with news men and news women. 
Political analysts say it is most likely Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination for president. His ratings—even after all his highly publicized problems—are much higher than those of Biden and DeSantis. This is startling and worrisome. I've hear no pundits say that DeSantis would beat out Trump for the Republican nomination. 
Very recently, the headlines announced that E. Jean Carroll won her civil lawsuit against Trump for sexual abuse and defamation; she won $5 million in damages. Is this a game changer? I would hope so. Remember, however, that he endured two impeachments without getting convicted; he lost to Biden but disputed his loss by alleging election fraud, inspiring millions of citizen election deniers—all while receiving almost full-fledged and publicly voiced support from most of his fellow republican congressmen and women. Startling and worrisome indeed!

He has been at center stage in America for well over ten years. People love him or hate him. But I don’t want to focus on what people EMOTIONALLY do or don’t like about him. 
Voters need to figure out, not what they feel, but learn which candidate will be capable of the complex task of the Presidency of the United States. And don’t just take someone else’s opinion. Learn for yourself who is most capable of handling the difficult job of being our President. that's what this blog episode is all about.
There are many, many citizens who remain very loyal to him and would vote for Trump again. But increasing numbers of republican Congressmen say Trump should not run for president. They feel he will knock out better candidates and that Trump himself will lose the election.
It is clear, over the past year, that Trump has damaged the Republican Party; one piece of evidence was the unexpected loses in the midterm elections.

So, in view of Trump’s problems as a candidate, the important question is whether Trump’s is too seriously impaired to function as the Chief Executive of the United States!

When I watched all of the 2015 republican primaries and debates, I observed that in countless ways he’s consistently unusual; and in many ways a very worrisome candidate.Three publicly visible behaviors will illustrate:  

First, unlike the other politicians on stage, he often interrupted others and brought negative attention to himself; and he did not yield to the moderators’ requests to comply with ground rules. He never apologized for his glaring rudeness. He had opinions, some extreme, but was unconcerned about providing facts. On the other hand, he often brusquely dismissed or mocked the facts of others. 

Second, he said he was going to build a wall the entire length of the southern border with Mexico and that Mexico would pay for it. He never backed down from this totally absurd statement throughout his presidency.

Third, during the election primaries, he was several times asked whether he would accept the results of the presidential election. He would never answer “yes.” Instead he pivoted into talking about election fraud. He was teasing about a serious topic, just like when he teased that maybe he would or might not release a copy of his past tax records. The release of his tax records was only resolved by involvement of the Supreme Court, and then his records got released.

Years later some other republican candidates, modeling on Trump, would forecast election fraud to set up a false narrative if they lost!
What’s is most important is that Trump often does not play by the rules, it’s his way or the highway, he does not apologize, and he never gives up trying to get what he wants. And all this could be seen in the election primaries. And it continued throughout his presidency.

Only if voters fully know the good and bad about all the candidates can their vote help democracy survive. Anyone listening to news over the last six years should worry a lot about electing an honest and capable politician for president.

Bob Woodward's book, FEAR Trump In The White House is a must read for judging Trump's suitability for the Presidency.

Woodward is one of the most fair-minded and well-respected investigators of the good, bad and ugly of politics. He has written books on all of the last ten U.S. Presidents: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden. I have read several of them and have a high opinion of his work. All of his books have been bestsellers.

Woodward gives us an insider’s view of the problems Trump displayed while he was president 2016-2020.

In Woodward’s 2018 book, FEAR Trump In The White House [formatted as on book’s title page] he investigated the day to day functioning in the White House. To produce this book, Woodward operated under rules called “deep background,” which meant he could use in his book anything he saw and heard but would not say who provided the information. Trump did not agree to be interviewed for the book.

Woodward acquired “hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses” to reveal how things really worked—or didn’t—inside the Trump administration. This would include interactions with most of his cabinet secretaries, such as Secretary of State or Defense, and other important advisers.

In this blog, when I have placed quotations around what someone in Woodward’s book has said or communicated, it means, according to Woodward’s deep background method that: “[T]he information comes from the person, a colleague with direct knowledge or from meeting notes, personal diaries, files and government or personal documents” (Woodward, 2018, Note to Readers).

I have arranged these findings under several headings and most specific findings will have a page number references.

About Trump’s Knowledge of Political Process and World Affairs:
Trump came to the White House surprisingly naïve about the inner workings of government. Most activities have a well-established process involving a sequence of steps and interactions with other people over days, weeks and months. 
But Trump tended towards impatience and had very strong opinions of what he wanted done. The process of normal government seriously annoyed him. When he was informed of the necessary steps, he would often react by interrupting professional staff, telling them he didn’t want to hear about process and how things are supposed to be accomplished in the presidency. He often bluntly dismissed what the professionals were saying as “bullshit.”
For example, Trump was obsessed with a belief that China was hurting American industry; his opinion but was not based on correct economic facts. But he anyway wanted to impose tariffs and undo various trade agreements. His economics adviser, along with other cabinet secretaries, attempted to get Trump to understand the full and actual issues and cooperate with his team’s well informed plans; they provided Trump with materials to read, but Trump would not read them. For example, he kept saying that the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the worst ever and began dismissing all the facts. Trump said it was “bullshit” and wrong. 
The economist adviser said it was all good data and not something to be simply ignored and dismissed (Woodward, 2018, 276-277). 
Trump believed that America’s agreements with South Korea were just a rip-off; on his own initiative he had a letter created withdrawing from our partnership with South Korea; Trump had no knowledge of the massive advantages and strategic value of insuring peace in that area of the world. He never let this issue go. Later on, Senator Lindsey Graham (a friend and supporter) advised Trump not to do anything to disrupt American-South Korean and Japanese treaties and understandings. He told Trump, “I don’t think you should ever start this process [ending South Korean cooperation] unless you’re ready to go to war” (Woodward, 2018, 302). Graham was not exaggerating because he knew how much the economics of South Korea and American forces there stabilized the region.
Quoting from Woodward’s book FEAR: “The president clung to an outdated view of America—locomotives, factories with huge smokestacks, workers busy on assembly lines” (Woodward, 2018, 134-137). But Trump persisted in clinging to his outdated opinions.

About Trump’s Thinking Style and Reactions:
Trump regularly read newspapers and watched Fox News; he often would watch six or more hours of TV per day. He usually arrived at the White House around eleven am (page 299). But he avoided reading and even seriously considering much of what the cabinet secretaries gave him to read to help him appreciate the underlying, vital issues (Woodward, 2018, 299). 
Trump showed little evidence of having ever carefully thought through the important socioeconomic issues. He seemed to think improvisation was his strong point. He tended to be impulsive. “He did not want to be derailed by forethought. As if a plan would take away his power, his sixth sense” (Woodward, 2018, 231).
Unfortunately, Trump’s improvisation, impulsivity, and unfiltered public speech created ongoing and serious problems. There were times when his apologies exacerbated things dramatically. On pages 238-252 of Woodward’s book is the story of Trump’s counterproductive comments about the Charlottesville, Virginia riot. Trump’s staff gave him a speech to read but he spontaneously added in a few of his own comments which brought him an explosion of condemnation from congressmen, industry, the financial sector, and resignations from various boards of trustees. 
Trump was obsessed with the idea that our so-called allies, using our economic and defense agreements and treaties, were ripping off America. These included NATO, NAFTA, WTO and others. The cabinet secretaries discovered that Trump did not comprehend the benefits of these agreements—and did not want to make an effort understand them. His attitude and determination was to renegotiate or end them—even unilaterally. Woodward’s book gives a fascinating and detailed picture of how Gary Cohn (National Economic Council Chairman), Staff Secretary Rob Porter and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis worked together to prevent “[S]ome of Trump’s most dangerous impulses” (pictures item 13).

About Trump’s Ability To Work Effectively With His Staff:
Among Trump’s cabinet secretaries were three generals and his Secretary of State was Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil. Additionally, to advise Trump on military matters was General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, was one of the best, and Steve Bannon’s opinion was that “Trump would never get a better guy confirmed by the Senate” (Woodward, 2018, 299). So Trump had top notch people working for him.
But he was often verbally abusive to them, quick to belittle them, quick to attack them if they disagreed with him. For example, after AG Sessions very appropriately recused himself as Trump’s defender in the Justice Department’s investigation of Trump, Trump referred to Sessions as: “idiot,” “traitor,” and “mentally retarded” (Woodward, 2018, 216). 
Reince Priebus was Trump’s first Chief Of Staff. Priebus was an attorney who was highly capable and knowledgeable of political process, elections, and government. He tried to steer Trump toward effective presidential behavior but resigned after serving for less than a year. Priebus observed that the Trump White House “[D]id not have a team of rivals but a team of predators.” Priebus was loyal to Trump and, had Trump taken his advice, Trump would have had fewer staff problems; however, Priebus couldn’t stand any more chaos and stress and left in less than a year (Woodward, 2018, pictures item 8). 
Trump’s use of Twitter created a wide range of problems: hurtful, public displays of personal staff issues, grossly inappropriate methods of communicating with colleagues and heads state. 
According to Woodward’s inside information, Gary Cohn along with Rob Porter and Jim Mattis collaborated to “[C]urb some of Trump’s most dangerous impulses.” Cohn reportedly said, “It’s not what we did for the country. It’s what we saved him from doing” (Woodward;, 2018, pictures item 13). 

Further Examples, Analysis and Summary:
1. Knowledge of government processes: 
Trump was ignorant of even the basics of our government process and didn’t want to learn more. His knowledge of economics and the big picture of interacting nations was out of date by many decades. When his staff attempted to bring him up to date, he was uninterested. He often interrupted his experts to label their views as “bullshit.” 
Trump clawed his way into office and exploited it for his own benefits but he was he was unable to govern even himself, and he was well known to be good at shooting himself in the foot. 
2. Thinking and processing skills:
Trump was impulsive. He was impatient and resistant to attempts to explain the complexities of international affairs. He had difficulty sustaining focus on the immediate, relevant concerns while at the same time setting aside other matters so he could successfully collaborate with his advisers. 
Moreover, it was hard for him to keep his emotions under control to be able to mentally step back from topics to view them calmly and objectively. For example, he clung to his outdated ideas about tariffs and would not focus on the hard core data from his principle economic adviser Gary Cohn. Trump persisted in wanting to try tariffs experimentally. Finally, Cohn said to Trump, “Mr. President, that’s not what you do with the U.S. Economy” (Woodward, 2018, 274). 
In the book FEAR Trump in the White House, Trump is portrayed, in the words of many of his most important advisers, as vain and immature. Steve Bannon who had once been a big supporter of Trump, eventually became very critical of him and resigned. Bannon came to think of Trump as, “[V]ery much like a 14-year-old boy who felt he was being picked on unfairly. You couldn’t talk to him in adult logic. Teenage logic was necessary” (Woodward, 2018, 299). This, of course, often led to his proposing naïve and preposterous solutions. 
3. Capacity to Work with others:
Many staff were surprised at Trump’s enjoyment of the chaos in his administration.
Trump wanted 100% loyalty from others. This is illustrated by conversations he had with a senator who was actually very helpful and devoted to Trump. Trump told the senator “I want you to be 100% for Trump” (Woodward, 2018, 317). That senator refused Trump’s demand.
In a similar manner, Trump boldly asked FBI director James Comey to give his assurance he would be “loyal” to him. The FBI is part of the Department of Justice, which diligently stays independent from outside influences. It is fairly clear that Trump wanted assurances of Comey’s loyalty because he wanted Comey to exert inappropriate influence. Trump in the first week of his presidency said to Comey, “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” Comey explained to Trump that he was loyal to the Constitution, not to any one person. Subsequently, Trump said to Comey, “I hope you can see your way to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He’s a good guy. I hope you can let this go” (Comey, 2018, page 254-267). General Michael Flynn was in trouble for lying to the FBI about talking with the Russian ambassador. Trump’s opinion of the matter was that Flynn had done nothing wrong. Trump at end of his term pardoned Flynn.
Soon, Trump realized he could not manipulate Comey. Trump punished Comey by firing him in the cruelest possible manner to embarrass him; but that was not enough for Trump; Trump made false allegations about Comey. As noted above, Trump crudely insulted his own Attorney General, Jess Sessions for recusing himself from a Justice Department investigation of Trump. It is noteworthy that Sessions consulted with and was following the recommendations of the Justice Department ethics officials. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/top-gop-lawmaker-calls-on-sessions-to-recuse-himself-from-russia-investigation/2017/03/02/148c07ac-ff46-11e6-8ebe-6e0dbe4f2bca_story.html
Based on multiple sources, it seems evident Trump wanted the loyalty in his subordinates to be strong enough so they would violate their moral standards to comply with Trump’s unethical influence strategies. Trump has always been a very strong- nurtured man, intent on getting what he wants. He has shown by his lying, manipulation and punishment of others the types of character faults which can be expected to lead to failing relationships, chaos and confusion.

Trump has twice been impeached but was let off the hook by the Senate’s republican majority. However, his misdeeds are catching up to him and his legal problems have been escalating at both the State and Federal level. 
Trump’s 30,573 lies while president, documented by the Washington Post, are a shout out display of a serious morality probable; and they certainly contributed to the chaos, pain, and suffering he delivered to all who attempted to work with him. See the documentation and find out more at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracity_of_statements_by_Donald_Trump

Since Trump’s election to the presidency, his character faults have steadily escalated to produce ever more outlandish and dangerous spectacles. It is not a political skill to co-opt a big majority of republican congressmen to publicly endorse nonexistent election fraud in the 2020 election, seeking to overturn a fraud-free election—as determined by recounts and by State and Federal Court decisions. To this day, Trump has neither admitted nor apologized for HIS election fraud about AMERICA’S LEGITIMATE ELECTION.
Even out of office Trump has been working to disrupt our democracy by propaganda that he won over Biden in 2020. And now he wants to run for a second term as president. 
District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled in 2021 that Trump was not a “King.” From Newsweek:
"[Trump] does not acknowledge the deference owed to the incumbent President's judgment," Chutkan wrote. "His position that he may override the express will of the executive branch appears to be premised on the notion that his executive power 'exists in perpetuity.' But Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President." https://www.newsweek.com/benefit-republic-not-any-individual-judge-says-trump-cant-claim-executive-privilege-1647764

NOTE: References for this blog episode can be found on the powertomyvotesl.com  reference page.
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