Stand up to ‘swampiest’ president

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category icon Columns, Opinion

By Tom H. Hastings, Guest Columnist

As a boy who grew up on skates in Minnesota with my Dad as hockey coach, I vividly recall that he frequently echoed the old adage, “The best defense is a good offense.” Someone evidently told that to Donald Trump too, and we see it play out constantly.

Our swampy guy in the White House is more surreal by the day. Along the lines of Benito Mussolini, he is claiming to clean up corruption — his primary campaign promise — even as he practices it on a daily basis.

He is under investigation, of course, for a campaign that colluded with Russian and probably Middle Eastern operatives to manipulate the American electorate via false flag social media posts. The Fake News strategy. His campaigners, from Paul Manafort (erstwhile campaign chair, now slated to go on trial for several corruption charges) to his son, Donald Jr., are serial liars about dealings with Russian operatives.

Who are actual American heroes? That is debatable, but some folks might say John McCain, former POW, tortured, and currently dying from brain cancer. Trump disses him every chance he gets. Others might say Green Beret Sgt. La David Johnson, already dead, killed in an ambush in Niger last October, and Trump tells his widow, “He knew what he signed up for.” For some of us, civil rights hero John Lewis — arguably the most squeaky clean politician in U.S. history — is an icon, but naturally Trump, who never worked for anyone’s civil rights, who never went to jail to protect the rights of the oppressed, who never served in uniform to rightly or wrongly protect the US, tweeted that Lewis was “Sad.”

Welcome to third grade. When someone offers criticism, do not respond with facts about that criticism, respond with lies and smears and attacks on unrelated matters. We are ruled by a pre-adolescent, spoiled rich boy — and his base can’t let it go, can’t face his glaring lies and crimes.

Crimes? Yup. He has all the immunity afforded to a president (even if his election was a pack of fraudulent practices), or he might well be in prison right now.

  • He pays hush money to a porn actress to keep her quiet right before the 2016 election. Illegal.
  • He lies to the FBI. Against the law.
  • He is very likely a multiple predatory sex offender.
  • He has a long history of lawbreaking in his landlord career.
  • The Big Irony: all the crimes he accused Hillary Clinton of committing, he committed.

And now he is basically demanding to flip reality and start a Department of Justice investigation into whether or not the FBI infiltrated and embedded in his campaign. Many call that flatly illegal, that is, to seek to learn the identity of any intelligence agent tasked with investigating Trump/Russian collusion or conspiracy. Senator Mark Warner and others call it criminal, and note that Trump Jr. likely broke laws in his meetings with Middle Eastern and Russian social media manipulators (the Fake News brigade, working for Trump and against Clinton). It is certainly unprecedented and beneath normal conduct.

He gets away with it all, even profits, even gains in power over others. The bad guy wins and enough good people choose to stay silent or elect to not make waves to enable his abuse of America.

Will we stand up to the swampiest one ever? His venal style, his sophomoric reactions and his criminal conduct are so reminiscent of Nixon, the president who ordered break-ins, who is on tape calling Mexicans “wetbacks,” and who left office as the impeachment sword was about to fall. We live in a democracy and so we get what we deserve, but I hope we earn back a far better leader very soon. If Trump is planning to obviate the Mueller investigation, we may all need to prove that our best defense is a good offense, even if that means nonviolently shutting down the government until we get some relief.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings, Ed.D., is an assistant professor and co-coordinator of conflict resolution programs at Portland State University’s Conflict Resolution Department; the founding director of PeaceVoice, a program of the Oregon Peace Institute; and author of the book, A New Era of Nonviolence. For more information about Dr. Hastings, visit or