The party founded by Lincoln now opposes everything Lincoln stood for.
The President of the United States takes an oath to protect the Constitution. That includes the First Amendment.
Whoever holds that office is supposed to represent American values, uphold human rights on the world stage, and be a beacon of basic human decency.
We’ve had flawed presidents throughout American history, but none have so utterly defaced the office of the presidency in the way Donald J. Trump has. Meanwhile, the party that Abraham Lincoln founded has become the epitome of the hateful ideals that Lincoln sought to cleanse from American discourse.
Of course, Trump is merely a result and symptom of the depraved disease that has plagued the GOP since the Southern Strategy. But Trump’s simple worldview, shamelessness, and lack of morals made him someone uniquely equipped to rip the GOP’s mask off in a way no other candidate could have.
Why is this intro to Unpresidented more forceful than usual? Because I’ve been writing this column for 91 weeks, analyzing over 600 days of this presidency, and at times it feels like I’m either documenting the fall of Rome or the wake-up call that will lead to a more awakened America. It oscillates between the two depending on the week. But one thing has remained consistent: there is truly no low to which Donald Trump is incapable of stooping and no length to which the GOP is unwilling to go to further this administration’s descent into indecent governance.
It was also the week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blamed the deficit his GOP tax cut for the rich caused on Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, signaling their funding needed to be cut.
It was yet another week that reminded millions of Americans that the current majority party does not represent their best interests. When a leader’s main message to you is “MS-13 is coming to take your children while the politically correct Democratic mob is going to beat you up,” you need to be very suspicious of their motives. This is the same GOP propaganda machine that told you Obama was going to take your guns. You still have your guns, right? Charlatans resort to fear when they want to distract you from their agenda.
If you’re a voter heading into the midterm elections and are undecided or you happen to be a Trump supporter reading this, do you want to vote for the party that just delivered tax cuts to the rich and are once again preparing to repeal Obamacare and cut entitlements you put your tax dollars into?
The midterms are 2 weeks away. Read up on the candidates running in your district and state. Don’t vote based on fear and conspiracy theories. Vote based on truth and substantive policy positions.
Let’s dive into yet another week for the history books.
Day 634: Monday, October 15
You can’t talk about the relationship between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia without talking about Jared Kushner. Kushner has been instrumental in building the rapport between the new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) and the U.S. government. Kushner spearheaded the push for Trump’s first visit to be with Saudi Arabia to sure up their alliance and send a message about how much they valued their partnership. But the partnership isn’t entirely new between the Saudi royal family and the Trump’s and Kushner’s, as they’ve had significant business ties over the years.
Why am I bringing this up? Because as we know, the Trump administration’s domestic and foreign policy positions have largely been influenced by the Trump family’s business interests — and that is no different when it comes to Saudi Arabia. You have to keep this in mind when looking at Trump’s handling of the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
This story would change throughout the week, but on Monday, as The New York Times reported the Saudi government was preparing to claim that Khashoggi was killed in an interrogation gone wrong. This came as President Trump appeared to echo that sentiment by claiming his conversation with King Salman led him to think it was possible “rogue killers” were responsible for Khashoggi’s death. This, as we know, is false. Although MBS has put himself forwar as a reformer, it’s been made clear from US intel leaks and other reporting that he was behind this murder. Khashoggi, who has ties to the royal family, was targeted for his recent critcism of MBS’ oppressive tactis.
In other news…
Day 635: Tuesday, October 16
The Lede: On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the stakes of the upcoming midterm elections very clear to voters around the US. In an interview with Bloomberg News, McConnell deployed a familiar tactic from the GOP playbook: he blamed the deficit that the Republican tax cut caused on entitlement programs (Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid), signaling they could be the Republican Party’s next target.
These remarks came after the Treasury Department reported that the deficit has expanded to $779 billion in President Trump’s first full fiscal year as POTUS.
The Context: In December of 2017, the Republican Party passed and signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut into law. The tax cuts have been projected to add about $2 trillion to the national debt over a decade by the Congressional Budget Office. Like the Bush and Reagan tax cuts before them, the tax cuts led to a surge in stock buybacks while employee wages have remained largely stagnant. The tax cut has largely benefited the top 1% of Americans and will surely perpetuate income inequality.
During the debate over the tax bill in Congress, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said: “Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt.” In spite of the fact this tax cut was clearly set to balloon the deficit, McConnell sold this law as a revenue driver. In one of the many instances where he made this claim, McConnell told CBS News: “We are totally confident this is a revenue neutral bill, and probably a revenue producer.”
Those statements turned out to be false.
The Analysis: Mitch McConnell helped reduce tax revenues and subsequently increased government spending, but is now claiming that entitlements are to blame for the deficit. After successfully solidifying a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation and passing a tax law that benefits the wealthy, McConnell has signaled that the GOP may go for entitlement programs next. The stakes have never been clearer. If the Republican Party overperforms in the midterm elections, the biggest losers won’t be the Democrats, but vulnerable Americans.
We have a docu-series being released this dive into more of these topics in nuanced detail.
In other news…
- Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke debated for the Texas US Senate seat.
Day 636: Wednesday, October 17
We The People
Since Wednesday was a slower news day, I want to take some time to talk about a project of ours if you don’t mind. Rantt released the first in our five-part series on income inequality called “We The People.” We partnered with The AWP to make the point that economic opportunity isn’t just determined by class, but by gender and race.
In other news…
Day 637: Thursday, October 18
As journalists, and every day Americans, we can’t treat Trump’s behavior as if it’s simply campaign rhetoric that will never be acted upon. When Donald Trump endorses violence against reporters, he is doing this as the President of the United States, not as just a normal man. Trump has a loyal base with of millions of Americans who take his word as law. It’s important to put this in context. Rantt Contributor Nancy Levine did it well in her piece:
Trump defended Saudi Arabia in their apparent murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, saying “rogue killers” might be to blame. Trump’s Republican enablers have reportedly launched a “whisper campaign,” smearing Khashoggi in defense of Trump.
In June, five people were shot and killed at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. The New York Times reported, “‘This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,’ said William Krampf, acting chief of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. ‘This person was prepared to shoot people. His intent was to cause harm.’” Though the attack was motivated by personal vendetta, the shooter may arguably have been emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric.
In August, the FBI arrested a man who made threats of violence against the Boston Globe. ABC News reported, “In threatening calls to the Globe newsroom, Chain — according to the federal complaint — allegedly referred to the newspaper’s employees as the ‘enemy of the people.’”
In other news…
Day 638–640: Friday-Weekend, October 19–21
Smear Campaign And A Fake Fist Fight
Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a whispering campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist’s alleged murder by operatives of Saudi Arabia — and support Trump’s continued aversion to a forceful response to the oil-rich desert kingdom.
In recent days, a cadre of conservative House Republicans allied with Trump has been privately exchanging articles from right-wing outlets that fuel suspicion of Khashoggi, highlighting his association with the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and raising conspiratorial questions about his work decades ago as an embedded reporter covering Osama bin Laden, according to four GOP officials involved in the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Those aspersions — which many lawmakers have been wary of stating publicly because of the political risks of doing so — have begun to flare into public view as conservative media outlets have amplified the claims, which are aimed in part at protecting Trump as he works to preserve the U.S.-Saudi relationship and avoid confronting the Saudis on human rights.
On Friday, Saudi officials came forward with this excuse for the murder which the President later called “credible” before flip-flopping and casting doubt on it. They are claiming it was a “fist fight gone wrong.” This, as we’ve heard from multiple reports, is a lie.
In other news…