You have to hand it to President Donald Trump.
He makes the choice clear.
He wants there to be no illusion that people can get the things they might want from him – tax cuts, judicial appointments – without also taking the parts that make the stomachs of reasonable people turn – tampering with the courts, executive branch overreach, personal corruption on scales previously unknown in the White House and vindictive abuses of power and authority.
Trump is Trump, and there is no getting around that.
There were a few Republicans, to be sure, who tried to delude themselves into thinking that the man could be tamed into a kind of a la carte president. They could pick the items they like – packing the Supreme Court, shifting tax burdens away from the wealthiest and onto the middle class – and trust the responsibilities of the presidency and subtle signals of disapproval would tame Trump.
Perhaps the most notable of these has been U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Collins famously said after the president emerged, by twisting the Constitution and Senate rules into unrecognizable shapes, from his impeachment ordeal that Trump has learned his lesson.
She since has worked hard to distance herself from that statement – likely because it makes her sound like the most gullible con man’s mark who ever lived or the world’s most muddleheaded moron.
Right after she said it, Trump went on a spree of institutional immolation without parallel in American history.
He claimed the heads of two witnesses who testified against him before the U.S. House of Representatives, Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a decorated veteran. He fired both, publicly, for the sin of telling the truth about what he’d done.
He also, mob-style, fired Vindman’s twin brother, also a veteran. He had nothing to do with the impeachment. His offense was that he shared a bloodline with someone who had shown Donald Trump insufficient subservience.
The president’s message here was pure thug: Cross me and I’ll not only hurt you, but I’ll go after your family if I can.
Not satisfied with just besmirching the reputations and damaging the careers of two men who have worn the nation’s uniform with honor, Trump then turned his attention to the judicial branch.
His longtime ally/errand boy Roger Stone has been convicted of, among other things, lying to investigators and witness tampering. Federal prosecutors wanted to recommend that Stone serve seven to nine years in prison.
The president wanted to take care of his buddy, though, and went on a Twitter storm. He also leaned on the Justice Department to reduce the recommendation.
All four prosecutors involved resigned in protest.
The president’s conduct was so egregious that even his lackey, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, whined publicly that Trump’s tweets were making it difficult for Barr. It would be easier for the attorney general to do the necessary work of covering up the president’s misdeeds, Barr suggested, if Trump didn’t shine a spotlight on them.
As if Trump cares.
If there is one thing about the man that has been consistent throughout his life, it is this. It’s not enough for him to win. For him to be satisfied, everyone else must know that they’ve lost.
He’s a bad loser.
But he’s an even worse winner.
That will not change because he will not change.
This means the choice is clear.
People can be loyal to Donald Trump. They can have, as U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, says, the president’s back.
Or they can be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law.
But they can’t do both.
President Trump has made that clear.
FOOTNOTES: John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
This article was posted by the City-County Observer without bias, opinion or editing.