Everything President Trump does seems to lead back to one transaction or another. And it seems to be always about money, the only measuring stick he knows; if I have more money than you, if I’m rich and you’re not, I’m a better human being than you, I’m more worthy than you, I deserve to be heard and you don’t. The law doesn’t apply to me.
There are other measuring sticks in life, however. Am I kind? Do I respect others? Do I abide by the law? Do I tell the truth? Do I like dogs?
For most of us, these are givens. We want to maintain and build our relationships, to be good people, to listen to our better angels. For Trump, these qualities are for suckers, for people who don’t know the “way of the world,” as in, I’ll stick it to you before you stick it to me.
I don’t recall reading that anywhere in the Bible’s New Testament.
But when you’re as transactional as Trump is, when all you ever think about is money and its association with how you and presumably everyone else functions, when you’re prepared to sell anything at the highest price possible any time the opportunity presents itself, when your only measuring stick is wealth and privilege, you’re probably prepared to sell out whatever and whomever: the Constitution, free and fair elections, the Kurds, the rule of law, even your own wife.
It’s all for sale. Pay me, or I’ll pay you as little as possible if what you have to offer satisfies my appetites. For the ego-maniacal Trump, it’s all about what you can do for me and what I can do for you, as long as I get the upper hand and you owe me more.
Like many MDJ readers, I learned years ago that character counts. What you say and do is life’s real measuring stick. Maybe I learned that in the Boy Scouts, which filled a need I had at a critical time in my development. I had troop leaders, men of modest means who stepped in where my own father was absent. They taught me some important character building ideals when it meant the most.
Trump never learned those values. He was taught by his father, Fred, that the almighty dollar was to be worshiped; the more you had, the better person you are.
This week, the president called the Emoluments Clause “phony” after the outrage over Trump awarding his Doral resort in Miami next year’s G7 Summit. He claims he would have comped the entire event, but that’s ludicrous on its face. Federal tax dollars would have been spent prepping the property ahead of the summit, making upgrades and otherwise doing renovations Trump’s failing resort can’t do itself.
To further his case, we’re supposed to feel guilty over the president’s claim he’s lost billions serving in office. Cry me a river.
The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution says, “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
That’s not phony. It’s there to prevent exactly the kind of obscene profiteering the president and his family have engaged in ever since Trump took office. For example, foreign leaders and dignitaries who want to be in good steads with the White House know they’d better check themselves and their entourages into Trump’s posh Washington hotel or another of the president’s luxurious properties.
You want that U.S. taxpayer-funded defense aid Congress approved for Ukraine, President Zelensky? Then you’d better concoct “evidence” of Joe Biden’s wrongdoing first so I can smear the former vice president if he becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.
See? Everything is a transaction.
By now it should be clear this president regards the rule of law, the Constitution and basic ethical behavior as inconveniences to be ignored. It’s a pattern Trump has followed throughout his unprincipled adult life as a businessman and as a politician. And it’s why now, finally, he finds himself under investigation by the House of Representatives for abusing his presidential power.
It might have been OK to play fast and loose in the world of real estate or to buy his way out of legal trouble, but the president of the United States is held to much higher standards.
Impeachment is inevitable given the evidence already uncovered by the House. Whether the GOP-controlled Senate convicts Trump is another question. As Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said this week, many Republicans admit privately they’re fed up with his insanity but they’re also terrified Trump will use his campaign funds to primary them.
About 20 Republican senators are needed to remove Trump from office. When the time comes, we’ll discover if their loyalties lie with him or with the U.S. Constitution.