Jeanette Strong: I’ll be there for you, or not
“I’ll be there for you (Like I’ve been there before). I’ll be there for you (‘Cause you’re there for me too).” Theme song from “Friends” TV show
We’ve all had friends we could depend on. Their word was their bond; once they made a promise, they would fulfill it. We’ve also had friends who would always put themselves first. We learned not to depend on them.
For President Donald Trump, the concept of “My word is my bond” is baffling. A prime example is the current government shutdown. On Dec. 19, Trump promised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, that he would sign the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until Feb. 8. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
Then, when it was sent to the House of Representatives, spineless Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he wouldn’t put it to a vote without assurance that Trump would actually sign it, since everyone knows Trump can’t be trusted. In the meantime, Trump heard from conservative mouthpieces who said Trump would be caving if he signed the CR. Trump is such a coward, he surrendered to them, breaking his promise to sign the bill. That surrender led to the shutdown.
Just to remind everyone, Republicans had control of the White House, Congress, and the money for two years; no wall money was appropriated. Last January, Democrats offered Trump $25 billion for the wall; he refused. He needs this issue to keep his base enraged.
The suffering of those affected by the shutdown, including 800,000 federal workers with no paychecks and everyone who depends on government agencies to function, had no effect on Trump. At a press conference Jan. 4, Trump was asked if he had considered some kind of safety net for the federal workers who need their paychecks to pay rent, car payments, grocery bills, etc. Trump’s reply was, “The safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe.” (Washington Post, 1/4/19). Trump’s callousness is infinite.
Farmers were another group seriously affected. When Trump’s tariffs hurt farmers, he instituted a $12 billion welfare bail-out, but farmers who need help must wait to apply until the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reopens; it’s been closed since Dec. 28. Farmers have also lost the information the USDA gives them on planting projections. “They’re being asked to make planting decisions in an informational vacuum.” (Mother Jones, 1/10/19) Trump’s promise to support farmers? Worthless.
Trump operated this way in his business life, too. He would contract with someone for goods or services, and then refuse to pay or pay just a fraction of what he owed. In 1993, he contracted with a caterer for his wedding to Marla Maples. After the wedding, when the caterer submitted her bills, he refused to pay. When she said she needed his payment to pay for the food, flowers, workers, etc., he told her to sue him, saying, “I don’t lose in court.” With no payment, she almost lost her business. Trump cheated hundreds of people this way.
Trump is also trashing our relationships with America’s allies. The United States has had treaties and allies since before we were a country. Without our French allies, we very likely would have lost the Revolutionary War. Allies are necessary to a nation’s security and well-being.
Trump is now threatening our allies, turning America’s military might into a giant protection racket. He’s pulled out of several treaties, reducing our treaties and agreements to worthless pieces of paper. When a serious crisis happens, why should other countries put themselves at risk to support us when we’ve shown we can’t be trusted?
Nicholas Rasmussen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center under Obama and Trump, said this about Trump’s unwillingness to support our allies: “Obviously our diplomats are only as credible as the willingness of their country to live up to their commitments, and that has been undermined significantly…” (Washington Post, 12/22/18)
Another official said, “Our commitment is only as good as the president’s next tweet.” (Washington Post, 12/23/18) When Trump can change his mind in a microsecond, nothing he says can be trusted.
The bottom line is that Trump’s word is worthless. This is why the current border wall argument is pointless. Even if a deal is reached and everybody agrees, Trump could change his mind, sending the whole deal down the drain. Until we have a president whose word we can trust, governing this wonderful country will be extremely difficult.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.