BIDLACK | Keep Trump healthy — the alternative could be worse

Author: Hal Bidlack - August 14, 2018 - Updated: August 14, 2018

Hal Bidlack
Hal Bidlack

Back in the early 1970s, my older brother wore a button that simply said, “Keep Nixon Healthy.” He said people often commented on it, usually thinking he was supportive of Mr. Nixon, and wanted him to be well. But for my brother, as a liberal, the button had a very different, if somewhat droll and ironic meaning. Readers of a certain age will recall that Mr. Nixon’s vice president was a rather undistinguished (and later indicted) gentleman with the unlikely name of Spiro Agnew. Mr. Agnew was the former governor of Maryland and was not considered…how shall I put this… the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree? Not the sharpest knife in the drawer? Kind of dumb?

Mr. Agnew would later become only the 2ndUS VP to resign from office, in disgrace as his past habit of not being entirely honest on his tax forms caught up with him. But before all that, he was thought of by many as an intellectual lightweight, for whom the presidency would be too much of a challenge. Those of us that were not Nixon supporters, therefore, might still feel the nation and, say world peace, would be better protected by Mr. Nixon, a man of great intellect, if not great character. Hence the button, Keep Nixon Healthy.

My how times change.

I’m tempted to wear a “Keep Trump Healthy” pin these days. Mr. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he is dishonest, arrogant, foolish, and despite calling himself a “very stable genius” (can you imagine the Right’s response had Mr. Obama made the same statement?) Mr. Trump has not demonstrated that genius intellect too often, or, frankly, ever. Mr. Trump, who famously said he knew more about ISIS than the generals did, recently seemed to think that the F-35 fighter aircraft could not literally be seen, that the mighty nation of Montenegro might invade Russia, And just this last week, we saw Mr. Trump claiming credit for being super tough on Russia by invoking sanctions due to the poisonings by Russia in England. He didn’t mention, when leaping into the spotlight, that he had no choice either way regarding those sanctions, as they were required by law, under the provisions of a 1991 Act.

So dear readers, we are living with a president who thinks he is brilliant, and yet as a moderate I say, keep Trump healthy.

There is a very simple reason: Mike Pence.

Mike Pence is far, far more dangerous than Mr. Trump. I know that’s a bold statement, considering what the Trump EPA, State Department, Commerce Department, and others have done to our nation and to our international relations. But Mr. Pence would be worse for a very simple reason – he’s not, well, stupid.

One of Mr. Trump’s saving graces, from my point of view, is that he really doesn’t know what he is doing. His one major “achievement” – a tax cut he wrongly calls the biggest in American history, is now seen by most for what it really is: a huge gift to the richest, a few peanuts for the rest of us, and a one trillion-dollar blow to the deficit. That’s why the deficit hawks on the GOP side voted against it – oh, wait, they didn’t, but that must await another column.

Mr. Pence, however, is not stupid and he also, as a former Member of Congress, knows how things work and (more dangerously) how to get real legislation passed and signed into law. A Pence presidency would put in place a man from the Radical Right, who has in the past espoused positions including significant restrictions on the rights of LGBTQ citizens, that women in the military doesn’t really work, and in 2000, he wrote an op/ed in which he said that smoking doesn’t kill. During the 2016 campaign, when asked about that op/ed, he grudgingly stated that smoking isn’t good for you. He described himself as “Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” and suggested that society would crumble if same-sex marriage became the law of the land. We’ve had some bad hail storms lately, but I’ve not noticed too many of my conservative friends deciding that they must now divorce, given the destructive force of gay marriage.

And so, dear readers, thus my hope is that Mr. Trump remains the face and soul of the Republican Party. I hope he continues to tweet, to speak, and to demonstrate the breadth of his abilities. For the good of our future, our hopes, and our nation, for goodness sake, keep Trump healthy. See you in 2020.

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack

Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.