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We Can't Succumb to Trump Fatigue. The Threat Is Too Real, and Too Near

January 23, 2020

By Joe Rothstein

Page 3 of my copy of today’s New York Times included an article about a 3-year-old British boy who does math, can explain scientific concepts such as why rain falls, and scored 142 on a test where 145 is considered “genius.”

Page 11 described an outpouring of financial support to save five starving lions in an underfunded Sudan zoo. Pages A22 and A23 told the story of how a Tibetan entrepreneur has rebuilt a rusting paper mill in Old Town, Maine, restoring opportunity to a town of 7,500.

The obituaries featured the career of Terry Jones, one of the founders of the Monty Python comedy troupe. In its early form, the troupe appeared on British TV as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” which, as the Times describes it, “consisted of absurdist sketches that spoke to the rampant illogic of life and society.”

Jones played characters like an organist who wore no clothes, and the “Amazing Mystico,” who could build buildings by hypnosis. The Python troupe eventually migrated into “Spamalot,” a show so popular it ran on Broadway for four years.

Why am I mentioning all of this? Because I have Trump fatigue. Although Trump would reject the notion, he is not the center of the universe. There’s life that does not involve Trump, or relate to Trump. I found comfort this morning in racing past the Trump headlines.


I have to admit that a few Trump stories did catch my eye. Like the one about how, at Davos, Trump presented daughter Ivanka as a principal, second in importance only to himself. Trump considers the presidency a family business, and what better opportunity to make deals with foreign governments and corporate goliaths? “Under Ivanka’s leadership, our Pledge to America’s Workers has become a full-blown national movement,” Trump told the money-buckets crowd.” Who knew how important Ivana was to U.S. workers? Somehow, I’ve missed the movement.

On page 20 I found an article about the suit the District of Columbia has brought against the Trump inaugural committee for violating a law that prohibits self-dealing by non-profit organizations. The story relates how the Trump committee paid jaw-dropping amounts to Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel. Example: $175,000 to use a ballroom another non-profit had just rented for $5,000. And $300,000 for a private reception to honor Trump’s children. This should come as no surprise, not after Trump’s Foundation lost a New York suit in which the president admitted misusing charitable funds to help his 2016 presidential campaign, to pay off business debts and to commission portraits of himself.

I once lived in Alaska and have retained a lifelong affection and attachment to the state. So, I couldn’t possibly ignore this headline on today’s New York Times op-ed page, “What if Trump Gave Alaska to Putin?” Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff refers to a passage in a 2018 book by Trump’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz. “Assume Putin decides to ‘retake’ Alaska the way he ‘retook’ Crimea,” Dershowitz wrote. “Assume further that a president allows him to do it, because he believed that Russia has a legitimate claim to ‘its’ original territory.” Even that would not merit impeachment and removal by Dershowitz’s standards."

That’s essentially the argument that Trump and his legal team are making during the impeachment trial to justify his behavior. And it’s quite explicit. A sitting president cannot be questioned about actions he takes regarding foreign affairs. A president cannot be charged with a crime, or even investigated. A president has no duty to share official documents with Congress, or answer subpoenas, or allow anyone to cooperate with Congress or its committees.

In a separate court action in New York recently, lawyers for President Trump argued that he really could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not be held accountable. All that’s missing here is the claim that Donald J. Trump is the president for life, a concept that Trump has publicly floated more than once.

I tried to look away this morning while reading the newspaper. But ultimately, I could not. None of us can. None of us has the luxury of ignoring this invasion into our nation of laws by a totally alien culture by a clown who thinks he’s king.

As weary as I am of him, Trump fatigue is not an option. Not for me. Not any of us.

(Joe Rothstein’s new political thriller, “The Salvation Project,” is now available through all on-line book sellers and most independent book stores. Rothstein may be contacted at

Joe Rothstein is editor of U.S. Politics Today. His career in politics spans 35 years, as a strategist and media producer in more than 200 campaigns for political office and for many political causes. He was a pioneer in professional political consulting and one of the founding members of the American Association of Political Consultants. During his career Mr. Rothstein has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anchorage Daily News and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. He has a master's degree in journalism from UCLA.