You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

breaking news

US to expand pool of people targeted for deportation

Not surprisingly, Trump proved Obama’s point


Sen. Ben Cardin used one of the oldest saws in politics to lay out an imperative for the coming Trump era. “It cannot be business as usual,” Cardin said.

He was talking primarily about Russia, but his statement stands on its own. Under the 45th president, it cannot be business as usual for the media, for Congress or for any citizen who values our liberties. We are in for a very dangerous national ride.

Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who is one of the least partisan voices in Congress, spoke at the opening of Senate hearings on Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson — a man with close ties to Vladimir Putin — for secretary of state. The hearing began against the backdrop of shocking allegations that Russian intelligence services have compromising material on Trump’s personal life and finances.

Let it be said that the word “allegations” is key. A lot of what has been released has not been verified. It could turn out to be a mixture of truth and enough that’s not true to allow Trump to push it all aside, as he did at his news conference on Wednesday. “It’s all fake news,” he said. “It’s phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”

But given Trump’s relentless public praise for Putin and the derision he has directed at those who mistrust Russia and its intentions, the accusations need to be dealt with seriously and investigated meticulously. If we have learned nothing else, we know the new standard for presidential statements must be: “Mistrust and verify.”

And so much else in Trump’s often nasty encounter with reporters was, quite simply, petrifying. He slid toward admitting the hacking of the Democratic National Committee was Russia’s work — “I think it was Russia.” But he

laid more blame on the Democrats for doing “a very poor job” of defending themselves against hacking than he did on Russia, and praised the hackers for the fruits of their theft: “Look at what was learned from that hacking.”

And he continued to hug Putin close. “If Putin likes Donald Trump,” he said, “I consider that an asset, not a liability.”

So although it was not his intention, Trump brought home the importance of the central forward-looking theme of President Obama’s moving farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday night. At heart, Obama’s speech was a warning and a plea: an alert about the dangers our democracy confronts, and a call for Americans to be active and vigilant in protecting our liberties.

“Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift,” Obama declared. “But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

“Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms, whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us,” he continued. “America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”

That last line was ominous, and so were Obama’s other warnings — that “Democracy can buckle when it gives in to fear.”

And Obama presented the country with this marching order: “We must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”

Obama never mentioned Trump by name. Alas for us all, he didn’t have to.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Jack Hunter: Be aware of unelected officials who steer government
Jack Hunter: Be aware of unelected officials who steer government

Long before Donald Trump became president and his top national security adviser Michael Flynn was accused of treason, there was concern about a “deep state” in the U.S. “The phrase ‘deep state’ is popping up ever more in public discussions,” wrote libertarian Jeffrey Tucker in 2014: “What does it mean? It refers...
Herman: Wrestling with gender identity
Herman: Wrestling with gender identity

As we navigate the brave and befuddling new world of gender identity, Mack Beggs was inevitable. And so was Madeline Rocha. Both are accomplished high school athletes to be celebrated for the time and sweat it takes to become such, especially in their grueling sport of choice. Beggs, 17, of Euless Trinity High School, heads to Cypress this week to...
Commentary: Picking fights with Mexico will be at our own peril
Commentary: Picking fights with Mexico will be at our own peril

The relationship between the United States and Mexico is at a historic low. Months of threats and Mexico-bashing by President Donald Trump have left our neighbors to the south with a mixture of anger, resentment and anxiety. The rhetoric has created a breach that threatens to become a profound chasm. We need to remember that while Mexico needs the...
Letters to the Editor: Feb. 21, 2017
Letters to the Editor: Feb. 21, 2017

Re: Jan. 27 article, “Why Trump’s border wall won’t be easy to build in Texas.” Dear Gov. Abbott, I am concerned about the future of some of our iconic landmarks in West Texas. Namely I’m worried about Big Bend National Park, Balmorhea State Park and the McDonald Observatory. These places must remain preserved, pristine...
Mona Charen: Patriotism, not nationalism
Mona Charen: Patriotism, not nationalism

National Review has sparked an important debate about nationalism. As someone who has been accused throughout her life of excessive love of country (can’t count the number of times I’ve been reproached for arguing that despite slavery, Jim Crow and the internment of Japanese-Americans, our country is eminently lovable), I feel a bit awkward...
More Stories