By Ralph Nader
Snarling Donald Trump, after being selected as President by the Electoral College, brought one undeniable quality to the office – a lifetime of bullying people below him. During his career as a failed gambling czar and corporate welfare king, deceitful Donald bullied his employees, (many of whom are undocumented), consumers, and creditors (profitably jumping ship before he bankrupted his shareholders).
He honed his bullying skills through his television program – The Apprentice – where he dramatically kicked participants off the show each week using his catchphrase, “You’re fired!”
Donald has fired many of the officials he appointed. He was, however, too cowardly and discourteous to fire his appointees directly or privately. He would fire them by tweets or have someone on his staff perform the deed, while he would publicly degrade and humiliate the same people he had often flattered.
Past Presidents have privately expressed unhappiness with a subordinate official and let officials resign “to spend more time with the family” or use some other face-saving explanation.
Not vengeful, ego-maniac Donald. He needs to blame everyone but himself for all his blunders, stupidity, and misjudgments. All the time!
Most recently, he fired his Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, holding her responsible for the increase in southern border crossings. But it was loudmouth Trump himself who induced the latest surge of immigration. Desperate immigrant families fled countries (often U.S. backed dictatorships) upon hearing Trump’s threat to completely close the border and stop permitting entry for asylum-seekers escaping violence, chaos and persecution.
After naming Jeff Sessions, his first 2016 campaign supporter in the Senate, Attorney General Trump went berserk when Sessions did the right thing and recused himself in March 2017 from supervising the Mueller probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Time and time again, Trump would publicly unleash invectives about Sessions—whom he initially showered with praise. Right after the 2018 elections, Trump sent his Chief of Staff, former General John F. Kelly, to order Session’ resignation. Trump couldn’t muster the minimal courage to do it himself. But then what can you expect of a gung-ho war promoter who evaded the draft after he graduated from a military academy.
Soon it was Kelly’s turn. Trump harangued Kelly privately and publicly for months – Kelly told associates that he had never been treated so crudely. Trump pushed Kelly out. Before that he pushed out his once praised Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, whom he later called “dumb as a rock.”
Soon Trump started letting it be known that he was displeased with former General Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, the Secretary of Defense. It seems that Mattis, who is loved by his soldiers, was trying to restrain the true “mad dog outlaws” – John Bolton, Trump’s national security advisor, and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s second Secretary of State. Both of these militant warmongers didn’t like Mattis’ restraint, as is often the case with men who have never seen bloody combat. Flatterers of Trump, these two lawless lawyers (Bolton of Yale Law School and Pompeo of Harvard Law School) may yet embroil the U.S. in an unlawful, undeclared war. Their first preference is Iran.
After Mattis departed, Trump kept verbally going after him. He tried to camouflage Mattis’ resignation, under pressure, as a “retirement.” When that didn’t work he exclaimed “What’s he done for me?” It wasn’t enough that Mattis reluctantly went along with Trump’s grandstanding order by sending soldiers to the Mexican border where, under federal law, they could do no fighting, only housekeeping tasks.
Trump had David Shulkin, the head of the Veteran’s Affairs, fired because he tried to persuade Trump not to move veteran’s health care into the hands of avaricious corporate vendors.
Trump has fired many other high ranking officials as well. James Comey, the former head of the FBI, and just last week the head of the Secret Service Randolph Alles, are examples. And after officials leave, he keeps blasting them. Psychologically unstable, he even continues his assault on deceased Senator John McCain. Donald’s replacements, such as the immensely cruel corporatist, Mick Mulvaney, acting White House Chief of Staff, almost invariably, have to meet the test of unctuous flatterers.
What is remarkable is that after most of these people are “unceremoniously expelled” and their reputations damaged, they slink away without fighting back. (The fired VA chief did make the rounds of TV interviews for a week making his case).
The fired officials are not without their circles of significant influence. They have serious fears about Trump’s impulsiveness, his indifference to pressing realities, his weaknesses for flatterers and Donald Trump’s dangerous agenda for our country. James Comey has been writing op-eds critical of Trump, but not urging any mobilization of his establishment colleagues against Trump’s re-election.
It has been argued that the people Trump has thrown out cannot get real traction to resist, Trump because he flatters the armed forces and cunningly lavishes them with larger budgets than they even request. He takes on the Federal Reserve – the bastion of the big banks – but he gives banks special tax escapes and pushes for dangerously weaker regulation of Wall Street.
None of this should diminish the declared patriotic aversion of former Trump administration officials to what Trump is doing to the country on many fronts. What they can do is start a third party Republican-style challenge to Trump and give more than a few million, reasonable, and troubled Republicans a place to go in 2020.