Los Angeles Politics

Trump unhinged should not be ignored. He’s a clear and present danger

Today we discuss crime, punishment and stain removal.

You seem to write an awful lot about Donald Trump


You don’t like our former president?

I think he’s a human stain that soils everything he touches.

Moreover, I could happily get by without ever typing the T-word again so long as I live.

But liking or disliking Trump has nothing whatever to do with the imperative of highlighting the clear and present danger the unhinged ex-president continues to pose to our country and our system of democracy.

Very noble of you.

I’m just trying to make a living.

Couldn’t you ignore him?

Ah, the ostrich strategy.

Trump thrives on attention the way plants need water and all of us need oxygen. He famously said bad publicity is sometimes better than none at all. So it’s tempting to deny Trump his drug of choice and the means he uses to perpetuate his never-ending cash grab.

His rallies are easily ignorable, having long assumed the diminished feel of a faded band grinding out stale oldies on the county fair circuit. Even Fox News (motto: Ratings Over Country) no longer carries them live.

But turning away doesn’t mean Trump would go away.

Besides which, at the moment he’s the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He continues to hold sway over a vast swath of the GOP and many of its leaders, including the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, who follows the master of Mar-a-Lago like a Pomeranian on a leash.

That’s why it’s important to keep spotlighting Trump’s continued recklessness and mendacity.

And you’d have to agree that, by any estimation, the first-ever indictment of a former president is noteworthy.

How strong is the case against Trump?

I’m not a legal expert. And most among the commentariat aren’t either, save those who are legal experts.

And those qualified to parse the 34-count New York City indictment disagree on whether Manhattan’s district attorney should have brought the case, especially given other potentially more solid ones involving Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and incite the Jan. 6 riot.

But whatever a judge and, maybe eventually, a jury decide in the New York case, it’s worth noting the allegations are about more than extramarital sex or shoddy record-keeping.

How so?

At bottom, Trump’s actions were an attempt to defraud voters so he could win the 2016 election.

How’s that?

Consider the circumstances surrounding the hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, star of the naked screen. Events unfolded during the final weeks of the closely fought presidential contest. Trump’s campaign was in a tailspin after release of a tape in which he boasts about sexually mauling women.

Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were distancing themselves, or abandoning the GOP nominee altogether. There was a real question whether Trump would remain on the ticket. His vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, reportedly offered himself up to the Republican National Committee as a replacement.

The revelation of an alleged fling with Daniels might have been the end of Trump’s candidacy. So he schemed to keep it hidden at least until after the election because, he allegedly told his attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, “at that point it would not matter if the story became public.”

In fact, prosecutors say, Trump — who is notorious for stiffing creditors — urged Cohen to delay the hush money payment as long as possible, so he could wriggle out of the deal and keep his checkbook padlocked once the political, um, storm had passed.

Even in deceit Trump was a cheat.

Sounds like you really have it in for Republicans.

Not at all. It’s more like tough love.


Political competition is good.

The country needs a strong, vital Republican Party, as opposed to a cult in thrall to a corrupt and destructive personality like Trump.

We need a party where policy and principles are central, not stoking anger and playing off resentments for the sake of raking in contributions and “owning the libs.”

That’s not governing. It’s trolling.

So you think California is some kind of political nirvana?

Not at all. You don’t have to look hard to see the excesses of one-party Democratic rule.

Gov. Gavin Newsom goes ego-tripping on the presidential campaign trail, rather than tending to the job voters elected him to do.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon recently stripped a Democrat from Bakersfield, the heart of California’s oil patch, of a key committee assignment after she had the temerity to oppose Newsom’s crackdown on the industry’s price-gouging. The bill passed 52 to 19. Whatever the merits of the legislation, Rendon’s move was a sign of arrogance, not strength.

What about Tennessee?

You refer to the recent expulsion of two Black Democrats from the Republican-run House for the high crime of breaching decorum during a protest on the chamber floor in favor of stiffer gun laws. That’s an even more frightening and extreme example. It just shows what happens when one party lacks the power to hold the other in check.

So you’re trying to save the Republican Party from itself?

From Trump, at least, and the further spread of his political toxicity. That’s why it’s important not to ignore him and his obnoxious, anti-democratic antics, tempting though it may be.

There’s a saying, used to promote transparency and the need for government to conduct its business in the open so all can see: Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Maybe it can help remove stains, too.

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Joseph Hernandez

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