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At 11:53PM (PT)
Just when you think it can't get any stranger, it does.
Today, Donald Trump, President of the United States, accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his campaign offices in Trump Tower in New York City during the 2016 election.
That is one hell of an accusation for a sitting president to level at a former president.
Unfortunately, the accusation was not accompanied by facts, by additional information, or even a shred of evidence.
I said I was going to wait until the first 100 days were behind us to comment on this president and his administration.
But I've decided I don't want to wait.
One thing I will say about Trump is that he has no problem stirring up drama on the world's largest stage. Sometimes, what he throws out to the world actually has some weight behind it. Because of that, I'm going to wait for the evidence, for the facts and see if what he says has some legitimacy behind it.
But while waiting, my mind goes back to the basics of how Trump operates.
Character. Integrity. Behavior. Words.
They all matter -- at least to me. They don't seem to matter to Donald Trump.
I hoped he would grow in and into the role. Every now and then, you think he shows that he is growing. Then he regresses. Badly.
A president's words matter. It's one thing to say what he says in privacy, to trusted aides, to his family, or to his diary. It's not acceptable to launch those kind of accusations into the public sphere. At least accusations like that shouldn't be expressed without even a scintilla of evidence to back them up.
But once again -- like a sixth grader "nah-nah-nah'ing" a classmate -- Trump has done just that.
I've tried to stay quiet about Trump, mostly because I decided over a year ago that my thinking and behavior were light years from what he represents. But I didn't want the behavior I saw in the 2016 campaign unnecessarily color what I thought of Trump as president.
Since the election, I've even adopted my own phrase when evaluating him and his administration: "Focus on the what, not the who." I want to be as objective and fair in my evaluation as possible.
Unfortunately -- so far, at least -- I've found that motto is just not working for me.
So I'm going to use this blog to open up and speak my mind. I did it with President Obama, and I'm going to do it now.
Because of my professional role, this may be a threat to my livelihood. I have seen people threatened with, or actually lose, their job because of their political or philosophical views. Because of the intensity of views on all sides of the political spectrum, these are dangerous times to exercise one's First Amendment rights. And when I say "dangerous," I'm not just talking professionally dangerous or threatening. Here we are in 2017, and there are people who value life so little they will harm or murder someone just because of what they say or because of the views they express.
But I'm going to speak out.
This tweet -- this accusation -- one that has no visible evidence to support it -- by a sitting president leveled against a former president is dangerous and destructive in so many ways. It further weakens public confidence in our system of government and our politics. It legitimizes coarse comments and groundless, indefensible accusations in an office where thoughtfulness, some sense of decorum, and actual facts should guide us. It cheapens the office of the presidency and its occupant. And it does nothing at all to shrink the gaping political and philosophical chasm that divides us.
Those who know me even superficially know I was never an Obama supporter. From a policy perspective, I probably opposed 85% of what he supported and advocated. But as the years went by, I came to the conclusion that while I disagreed with him vehemently, President Obama was a good man and probably someone with whom I would enjoy having a drink and a good conversation. And while I felt he was arrogant (especially in the first term), he generally carried himself in the office with class and dignity.
As a thinking person, I believe I can see the good in a person and still disagree with them.
I do not feel that way about Donald Trump. Simply by behavior alone, and by years of demonstrated actions and words, he represents everything in a person I find repulsive. As the 2016 campaign drug on, I found that I simply could not support his candidacy. I did not vote for him. But I was willing to set those concerns aside and give him a chance to show he had a sense of how to be a president and to see what he could do in the office. I told myself (and others) I would not comment on him publicly for the first 100 days.
But after this latest reprehensible outburst -- which is not even the worst of his outbursts -- I have decided I won't stay silent anymore.
I'm not a tin-foil-hat conspiracist. I don't normally see evil things behind every blade of grass. But I have to say the questions being raised about the other story -- this seemingly bizarre "relationship" or ties between Trump and the Russians -- gives me pause. As Senator Ron Wyden recently said, "What in the world is going on here?"
Because those questions are at minimum worth some serious response, I have to wonder if these tweet blasts at 2:00 in the morning are nothing more than efforts to misdirect the Congress and the American people from what could be much more serious things. I guess we will see.
In the meantime, my faith and my values tell me no one is beyond redemption. I continue to hope President Trump will find "the better angels of his nature" and rise -- both as a person and as a president.
And I hope we get some real answers to all of these matters soon.