The toxic environment in Washington has permeated the entire country. A plethora of reasons are responsible for the declining overall sentiment in America. Our problems have been exacerbated by many factors that are rooted in politics, culture and finance. But the primary cause of our current dilemma is ineffective leadership during the last quarter century.
The previous four presidents have been woefully unsuccessful in many ways. Bill Clinton had the advantage of serving during a time of economic prosperity. His advocates often attribute these good times to Clinton’s leadership skills. This is a fallacy. The nation was on a recovery trajectory that had nothing to do with Clinton’s agenda. Clinton is certainly a charismatic individual with great political skills, but he rode a wave of economic success that was a product of his predecessors and good fortune.
What is more apropos to this conversation is the political turmoil that Clinton and his wife created during his time in office. The integrity of his presidency was questioned because of Clintons’ dubious character that ultimately resulted in his impeachment. This episode was the beginning of an era of personal attacks between hacks in both parties that continues to this day.
George W. Bush had to deal with the 9/11 attacks, which he did very well according to most accounts. The most significant threat to our homeland ever brought the nation together. Fighting terrorism that emanated from the Middle East was the most important issue of the time.
All this led to controversial wars with Iraq and Afghanistan that are still dogging us to this day. Critics say the Iraq conflict was not righteous and based upon questionable intelligence. The gains that Bush enjoyed initially in his presidency were offset by extended and mismanaged efforts to rebuild what the American military destroyed. Too many lives were lost in the process.
America then opted for Barack Obama. Of note is the inexperience of the new president. Frankly he was totally unqualified to rise to the most powerful position in the world. Right out of the box he put tremendous political and financial pressure on the country by ramrodding Obamacare through Congress with not one vote from the opposition.
This expensive and bold initiative was a noble attempt to give every American affordable health care and to reduce health care costs across the nation. The execution of the entitlement was an unmitigated disaster and the objectives of the plan never panned out. The $2 trillion plus price tag on Obamacare together with the costs affiliated with two wars in the Middle East severely impacted our country’s financial security. A great recession ensued.
Obama employed liberal populist dogma to solidify his base. The result was a great divide between the classes. He derided American exceptionalism and denigrated the most successful among us. This group, he said, does not pay its “fair share” and is stealing money from the lower and middle classes.
Internationally America lost all credibility under the inept leadership of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Her claim to fame was an enormous accumulation of miles travelled.
Obama ruled with mandates because his lack of political skills and desire to destroy his opponents made it impossible to enact any meaningful legislation. So bad were his political instincts that he lost both houses shortly after being elected in 2008. The bad feelings he inspired across the aisle made it impossible to have a successful tenure and set the stage for Hillary Clinton’s crushing defeat in 2016.
A lot of people are very supportive of Donald Trump’s agenda. Unfortunately his personality has made it impossible for him to achieve any meaningful success after one year in office. He outfoxed Hillary and the Democrats, and the latter two felt cheated in the election. It was a dirty campaign that Trump won because Clinton made bonehead decisions at every turn.
Trump is impossible to like. Yet his firebrand right wing populism carried the day. But how was he to predict that traitors in his party would sabotage his efforts to keep his campaign promises? He knew Democrats would fight with him tooth and nail.
The current state of play revolves around tax reform, Trump’s last chance for redemption. To be successful he needs to navigate through growing anti-Trump sentiment in Congress and a liberal media that has legitimized the concept of “fake news.”
The nagging insistence that Trump colluded with Russia in the elections just won’t end in spite of no tangible evidence it actually took place. In fact the Clinton campaign seems to have been more involved with Russians than Trump minions.
The extent of bad feelings in Washington was best exhibited by questioning of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by Democrats yesterday. They demanded that Sessions admit he committed perjury, which he denied numerous times during the hearing. Democrat lawmakers were embarrassingly nasty and unprofessional. Even a former congressperson is not immune to the disgraceful and insulting way that people are questioned in these hearings. Frankly most of the questions were repeated over and over again as if asking them ten times would result in a different answer. I hope the constituents of these interrogators were watching yesterday. They were given many reasons not to vote for these incompetent buffoons.
The bottom line is that Trump will have to fight for every victory. The venom and lack of comity is sinful and will make Washington totally ineffective for the foreseeable future. Personal attacks are now more important than governance. The swamp has never been more dangerous and unproductive.