Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Who Passed and Who Failed the Trump Test This Week

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Who Passed and Who Failed the Trump Test This Week

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Who passed and who failed the Trump test this week

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Aug. 17:

This is the week that clarified, suddenly and sharply, what Donald Trump's presidency is all about.

Before Tuesday afternoon it was possible to debate whether grown-ups in his administration might be able to rescue Trump from himself. After the live-on-TV moral failure of his ranting reaction to the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., this is no longer a reasonable hope.

Trump, in the end, is Trump: ignorant, mendacious, self-absorbed, unwilling to stand up for basic decency, devoid of the most basic qualities needed to fill the office of president of the United States.

Nothing will change that. By giving aid and comfort to outright neo-Nazis he has failed the most fundamental duty of leadership. The only question for Americans is how they will respond. Will they call him out? Or will they stick with him on this flight into darkness?

It's instructive to see who passed this basic test this week, and who fell short.

First and most encouragingly, mayors, governors and ordinary citizens across the U.S. rallied against the most conspicuous symbols of white supremacy in their midst - statues and memorials to Confederate heroes.

The white racists who converged on Charlottesville came to protest plans to remove a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a public park. Now, thanks to public revulsion at the violence and murder they brought with them, statues are coming down in many cities - Baltimore, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Lexington, Ky., among them.

This is the reaction of decent people who want to heal historic wounds, not tear them open as Trump did so cruelly and casually. Most Confederate monuments were erected decades after the Civil War as a calculated way of celebrating white domination. If this week spells the beginning of the end for them across the U.S., at least something positive will have come of it.

Second, America's business elite abandoned the president whose biggest boast was that he's one of them, a business mogul who can get things done. The CEOs of Merck, Tesla, Disney, Intel, Campbell Soup and others criticized Trump and quit a presidential advisory council of corporate leaders.

Before the revolt could grow, Trump petulantly shut down two advisory councils. In a final statement, they rebuked the president with words that ought to be entirely uncontroversial: "Intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values."

This would be embarrassing for any president. For a Republican whose key selling point was his claim that he's uniquely placed to enlist big business in a crusade to "Make America Great Again," it's particularly humiliating.

Corporate executives have customers and shareholders; aside from their own moral compass, they know which way the wind is blowing. …

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