The Capital Times, May 2
Trump sounds more like a thug than a president
The United States has certainly had its share of decisive presidents. Think Franklin Roosevelt. And Dwight Eisenhower.
The United States has had blunt and unapologetic presidents. Think Teddy Roosevelt. And Harry Truman.
But the United States has never had a president who sounded so much like a thug as Donald Trump.
Last week Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and many others discussed concerns that had been raised regarding President Trump’s nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs. Jackson, who lacks experience leading an agency as large as Veterans Affairs, was accused by colleagues of creating a hostile work environment, drinking on the job, and overprescribing medications. He subsequently withdrew from consideration rather than face an embarrassing committee hearing.
Trump was furious - not with Jackson for buckling under pressure, not with the two dozen current and former colleagues who raised the concerns regarding Jackson, and not with White House staffers who failed to provide adequate vetting and preparation for an ill-prepared nominee.
No, Trump was furious at Tester for upholding the system of checks and balances that only works if members of the Senate are prepared to ask tough questions about presidential nominees.
A presidential Twitter storm attacked Tester as “very dishonest and sick!” and said “Tester should lose (his re-election) race in Montana.” After the Secret Service said it could not confirm a CNN report regarding Jackson’s reckless behavior, Trump declared: “Tester should resign.”...The president veered so far out of control that he began spewing threats. “I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he’d never be elected again,” Trump told a Michigan crowd on Saturday.That’s not presidential language. That’s the crude language you’d expect to hear from a deliberately intimidating and ill-informed villain.Montanans respect Tester as one of the Senate’s straightest shooters - a family farmer who got into politics to speak up for those who often get forgotten by politicians. Tester has always championed the cause of veterans, and that’s what he was doing when he discussed the issues that had been raised with the Jackson nomination.Tester commented on allegations that had been forwarded to the committee and on news reports on what a former White House Medical Unit staffer told CNN was “definitely inappropriate” behavior on Jackson’s part. Yet Tester refused to pressure Jackson to withdraw, telling reporters that “there’s a possibility he could be confirmable.” What Tester pressed for was a hearing where “we need to get to the facts.”When asked about how Tester approached the nomination, a spokesperson for Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., replied: “Senator Isakson has a great relationship with Senator Tester. He doesn’t have a problem with how things were handled.”Tester served as a senator is