Popular syndicated columnist David Brooks regularly writes for the New York Times, but his work appears in publications throughout the country.
Although Brooks describes himself as a moderate, he probably has more conservative than progressive fans. Even so, his lucid writing and pragmatism have earned him the respect of an eclectic group along the political spectrum. In fact, he has been described as “the liberals’ favorite conservative.”
Even though he is probably too much of a professional to be an “I told you so” kind of guy, today he must be feeling some vindication. He was an early “Never Trumper,” and in March of 2016, penned an op-ed in the Times titled, “No, Not Trump, Not Ever.”
Although he was wrong in his prediction of the outcome of that year’s election, imploring Republicans to refrain from “selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose,” there are those who would argue he was spot-on with other points he made in this piece.
“Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president,” Brooks wrote. “He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.”
He described Trump as “a childish man running for a job that requires maturity.”
Depending on a person’s leanings, one might or might not think the past four years have borne this out. But one must only reflect on the past two months to at least consider Brooks had some valid points.
To Trump’s credit, he managed to have some decent advisers around him during his only term in office. We probably have no idea, and don’t want to know, the extent to which some of those folks held things together in the White House as they kept their boss from going off half-cocked more often than he did.
But Trump’s behavior during this post-election period, in which he has not governed but, rather, focused completely on the fantasy of the election being stolen from him, has rendered those reasoned consultants helpless to save him from himself.
Some thought it was over when all the lawsuits were thrown out. Maybe now he will admit it’s the end of the road, they thought.
Others thought it was done after he called the Georgia secretary of state and tried to persuade him to “find” votes and change the results in that state after the votes had been counted three times. Surely after the recording of that call, in which Trump threatened a state official and his counsel, was made public, he would give it up.
And some thought the majority of those in the GOP would disagree with what Trump has continued to espouse -- that it was a “rigged” election. But as Congress gathered last week to validate the Electoral College votes, numerous Republicans were prepared to voice their objections to the results and prolong the inevitable (the declaration of Joe Biden as the winner).
Vice President Mike Pence, who has hardly started a sentence over the past four years without first heaping praise on Trump, was the first to break, explaining how he had no authority under the Constitution to try to overturn the Electoral College votes. He was swiftly derided by Trump as not having the courage to do his job.
Thirteen Republic senators, however, including the two from Tennessee, were ready to continue their objections.
But you know the rest of the story. Just as things were getting underway, Trump supporters, who had received marching orders from their leader moments earlier, stormed the Capitol. The vice president and members of Congress were either whisked into secure locations or took cover behind gallery seats.
And with that single act, the Trump presidency came crashing down. He had finally crossed a line beyond which reasoned people will not go.
He published a video on Twitter that afternoon, admonishing the crazies to go home, but assuring them of his love and support for them.
In an important symbolic move, Congress reconvened that night and, even with some objections still being made (although many backed down), the Electoral College results were confirmed.
The following evening, no doubt at the urging of whatever aides still work for him, another Trump video was released, in which he condemned the violence and finally admitted a new administration would soon be inaugurated. He stopped short of calling Joe Biden by name or congratulating him, and certainly said nothing resembling an apology for his part in what had transpired the previous day.
He spoke of a “smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” but those words seemed to ring hollow.
There continues to be much chatter about an impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment. With Trump having about nine days left in office, however, it seems improbable either will happen. Surely it would take every bit of that time to navigate through the procedural and political hoops.
But one way or the other, this gig is just about up.
To paraphrase a syndicated columnist: No, Not Trump, Not Ever Again.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].