Bully pulpit: The abusive presidential relationship

WHITINGHAM — The new president, after a long campaign of wild rhetoric and belligerent outbursts, has started directing executive action against vulnerable groups that a normal person would treat with respect and kindness and generosity, such as women and children fleeing for their lives from war zones. This policy has put citizens on full alert for the next outrage - or for some imagined terror attack, which Donald Trump recklessly claims his sweeping edicts will forestall.

Abusers must keep their victims off balance. When they try to find some plausible context for increasingly painful and frightening behavior, the “rules” change, followed by humiliation and retribution.

For victims, imagination runs wild, creating a desperate guessing game as we learn how badly we underestimated an abuser's harmful intent.

But bullies are not invincible. Donald Trump's legal and legislative fights will not blow over when some bigger story comes along.

Unlike former investors, he can't sue these people with their own money. Congressional elections are coming, and the courts have some appreciation for facts.

Lately, his trajectory is aptly described as a collision course with calamity, for himself or for all of us, depending on when it comes. But come it must.

And if the president doesn't see this, surely his corporate backers do. Trump never got where he is on his own. He is propped up by those who find his flamboyantly destructive behavior convenient.

This leads to some inescapable conclusions.

1. Trump's ultimate failure and removal from office won't bother his backers at all; they might even facilitate it.

2. By the time he goes too far even for the Republicans, his party's agenda will have become the law of the land. In other words, this is the old bait-and-switch game.

Yes, we, the people, need to stand up to this bully, to deprive him of his drug of choice: our rapt attention. That we must give to the people in his shadow, without whom Trump would be just another guy in a suit.

They are serious. It is past time they were exposed to some sunlight and maybe let their stockholders get to know them a little better.

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