President Trump is a man with a curious collection of friends and a long, growing list of enemies. As election day draws near, any of us not yet clear on the worth of our President would do well to review who Trump considers his friends and who is urging his defeat. As Aesop said, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” A modernized version of this wisdom might add, “and by the enemies that reject him.”
Trump’s past and current friendships include a menagerie of recent arrestees, convicted criminals, porn stars, and crackpots. Among the President’s past or present associates are Steve “Build the Wall” Bannon, Paul “Ostrich Jacket” Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael “Russiaman” Flynn, and the turncoat rat, Michael Cohen, author of the upcoming best-seller, Disloyal.
Among the President’s current friends, QAnon is of the greatest concern. President Trump has described this group as “people who love our country.“ The FBI has described it as a terrorist organization. QAnon believes that liberal elites, composed of Satanist pedophile cannibals threaten to take over America. Donald Trump, they believe, is leading an effort to eradicate them.
Other friends of Trump include the white nationalists behind the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. Trump said the group includes some “very fine people.” Trump has followed up on his praise of these racists by making the preservation of confederate monuments a major theme of his re-election bid.
Remember former KKK leader David Duke? He makes this list, as does the fascinating Ghislaine Maxwell as well as her friend and benefactor, the late Jeffrey Epstein. Also memorable, but more difficult to pronounce (even than “Ghislaine”) is Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who tried to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after Obama resigned to assume the Presidency. Trump pardoned him.
Other friends include Vladimir Putin, Recep Erdogan, and Philippine dictator, Rodrigo Duterte, nicknamed “the Punisher.” In 2019, Trump described Erdogan as a “hell of a leader.” His actions in Syria have been described as “a gift to Russia, Iran and ISIS.” What is it that this trio has in common that made them attractive to Trump?
And how bad are these despots? Putin was accused just last week of poisoning a political rival. One quote from Duterte stands out, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Trump has claimed to have “a great relationship” with Duterte.
Let’s not forget Kim Un Jong of North Korea and, of course, the disgraced lawyer, Roy Cohn, who gained national prominence assisting Senator Joseph McCarthy identify Communists in the 1950s. Despite Cohn’s efforts, the Democrats have now nominated one for President, at least according to Trump.
Is it fair to judge Trump through a list of his friends? Perhaps not, but, if you complement this list with a list of enemies, including Republicans who have condemned him or left the GOP all together, it is hard to deny that you are dealing with a troubled man.
Do the names Bush, Romney, Bolton, McCain (Cindy), and Powell ring a bell? All have said they are not voting for Trump. And 27 former Republican Members of Congress have publicly announced they are voting for Biden. It is unfair to describe some on the list as former friends of Trump, but their actions send a clear message. They view Trump as an existential threat to the GOP.
Perhaps even more damning, more than 70 former national security officials from various Republican administrations endorsed Vice President Biden on the basis that Trump is “dangerously unfit to serve another term. A procession of prominent Republicans headed by former Republican governor John Kasich of Ohio also spoke at this year’s Democratic convention.
Identifying reasons to oppose Trump’s re-election is easy. Thinking of reasons to support him is a heavy lift. Trump can’t win on his response to the pandemic and his message that Democrats and their anarchist buddies are burning down America’s cities. His thinly veiled appeal to white nationalists will work among some voters, but their votes will be more than offset by others who consider Trump’s continued residence in the White House as an invitation to disaster.
Don’t forget to register to vote and to vote early.
J.E. Dean of Oxford is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant. For more than 30 years, he advised clients on federal education and social service policy.