BALTIMORE – Two days before these U.S. Senate impeachment proceedings opened, newspapers across America carried reviews of a brand new book about President Donald Trump, called “A Very Stable Genius.”
The title is meant ironically.
One day before the impeachment trial opened, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker Analysis declared President Trump had now made “more than 16,200 false or misleading claims.”
The figure is considered subject to growth.
On the day the impeachment trial opened in Washington, Trump was far away in Davos, Switzerland, where he informed startled delegates to the World Economic Forum that climate change was “a hoax” and that “we must reject the perennial prophets of doom” who are predicting the end of the world as we know it.
Perhaps Trump was wondering, like a lot of us, which will come first: the end of the world as we know it, or the end of the speechifying at his impeachment trial.
But this much is clear: as breath-taking as the stories are in “A Very Stable Genius,” and as infuriating as the 16,200 lies are, and as suicidal as Trump’s climate denials – none of these outrages is included in the ongoing impeachment proceedings.
They’re just routine Trumpian outrages, not fit for prime time discussion.
And yet, and yet…
In “A Very Stable Genius,” a title based on the assessment Trump gives himself – with, miraculously enough, a straight face – we have Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig offering such material as this:
*In 2017, Trump implored then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help cut the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “It’s just so unfair,” Trump complained to Tillerson, “that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas.”
*While visiting Pearl Harbor, Trump’s former chief of staff, John Kelly, noticed that Trump seemed to have no idea what had actually happened there on Dec. 7, 1941. Here’s a hint, Prez: Does the term World War II ring a bell?
*Trump’s closest advisors were so alarmed by the “gaping holes in the president’s knowledge of history and the alliances forged in the wake of World War II” that they sat him down at the Pentagon, where military leaders and Trump’s national security team tried to give him some catch-up lessons.
The meeting ended after Trump hollered at these public servants who have devoted their lives to defending the country, “You’re all losers, you don’t know how to win anymore. You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”
Imagine such a display of bravery from the hero of The Battle of The Bone Spurs.
But Trump’s remarks to the generals wouldn’t reach the impeachment debate – nor would his 16,000-plus lies or misleading claims.
For this president, lying’s as natural as eating, sleeping, or separating immigrant children from their parents.
His propensity for lying has increased each year in office. In 2017, he made 1,999 false or misleading claims. A year later, 5,689. Last year, 8,155.
But even his lying didn’t reach the impeachment debate.
Nor did his latest denials of climate change, uttered in Davos, Switzerland. There, representatives from 140 of the world’s biggest companies expressed worries that seem to touch everyone but Trump. He’s rolled back dozens of environmental and climate policies to which the U.S. had committed before he stepped in.
What’s appalling to many of us watching the ongoing impeachment proceedings is the narrowness of the current charges, which focus merely on the Ukrainian attempted bribe.
The 16,000 Trump lies go unmentioned. The berating of generals, the sneering at national security institutions – these are never mentioned. Nor is Charlottesville racism, nor is the weeping of children torn from their parents and placed in cages. Nor is the hush money paid to two women to help fix the 2016 election, nor the charity rip-offs, nor the sexual groping, nor the sneering, juvenile language to degrade such American heroes as John McCain and John Lewis and Elijah Cummings.
These are all considered routine behavior from this president – routinely shameful, but so numerous that there’s simply no time to mention them, even in a moment as historic as ours.
Michael Olesker, columnist for the News American, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Examiner has spent a quarter of a century writing about the city he loves.He is the author of several books, including Michael Olesker’s Baltimore: If You Live Here, You’re Home, Journeys to the Heart of Baltimore, and The Colts’ Baltimore: A City and Its Love Affair in the 1950s, all published by Johns Hopkins Press.