Yesterday, Donald Trump came under unprecedented and withering fire from three major political figures, including two former Presidents. The third was Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and an article on his comments on Trump can be found here.
The Jeff Flake interview with Politico was the opening salvo against Trump. Two of his harshest criticisms leveled at Trump were “….resentment is not a governing philosophy” and “….populism is not a governing philosophy.
Another article written by one of the authors for Eat Pray Vote extensively covered the remarks made by former President George W. Bush during a speech at the Spirit of Liberty event in New York City. While never mentioning Donald Trump by name, Bush left no uncertainty that his remarks were levelled not only at Trump, but also many of his followers. Some of the highlights from his speech include the following:
“The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue and the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.”
In a comment that seemed directed at not just Trump but the Republicans in Washington as well, Bush said
“When we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with protecting it.”
It is not unheard of, at least since the days of Jimmy Carter, for a former president to criticize the actions of one of his successors, particularly if that person is from the opposing party, but it is unheard of for a former president to make any remarks on the actions of a sitting president within his own party.
Then former President Obama weighed in while in Virginia campaign for the Democrat candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam. Again, like Bush, he did not mention Trump by name, but in report on his speech covered by NPR News his remarks were definitely directed at the current president.
He warned the audience of 7,500 in a packed convention center that “our democracy is at stake.” He also argued that
“Instead of looking for ways to work together and get things done in a practical way, we’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make other folks angry, to demonize folks who have different ideas to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”
Former President Obama elaborated on this theme further when he pointed out, rightly
“If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start.”
Since size seems to matter so much to the White House, it should be noted that a recent trip by VP Pence in support of Republican candidate Ed Gillespie was barely able to attract 400 people at an event held in the deeply red southwest corner of the state.
Trump remained unusually silent throughout the day. He didn’t send out one single tweet about any of these remarks. He did find time, however, to tweet about the NFL, the long debunked story of Clinton selling 20% of our uranium to Russia, and accuse the F.B.I. of committing potential treason regarding the Steele Dossier. In other words, a normal Thursday at the White House.
You can expect Trump to eventually attack Jeff Flake, the highly vulnerable junior Senator from Arizona. But like most bullies, he probably won’t stand up to men who are at least his equals politically. Or if he does, he will probably do it through one of his surrogates such as KellyAnne Conway or Sean Hannity.
But when your administration is attacked on the same day by two of the five former living presidents, it might be time to start thinking about retirement. Soon.