Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 1:30 am | Fair 53º

 
 
 
 

Jamie Stiehm: There Is No Steel Backbone in Donald Trump’s White House

It took steel to break a man’s heart in the White House.

Finally, in an administration wracked with crisis, turmoil and turnover, one man took a lonely stand on principle.

Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser to President Donald Trump, is resigning in protest over Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. That passes for an act of conscience for free trade believers in this crowd.

Tip your hat to Wall Street’s man, who delivered corporations a major tax break. Cohn’s work is done. What a sorry excuse for a Democrat. In fact, his departure is causing heartburn among Republican leaders.

Cohn’s exit is notable for only one thing. It begs the question of why it took so long for a top White House official to admit they can’t brook this anymore and walk with hands washed and head high.

As the air cleared after the deadly Charlottesville, Va., race riot last summer, Trump proclaimed there were “very fine people” on both sides. It was the most egregious moment of his presidency. Yet not a single soul resigned — it was like the dog that didn’t bark in the Sherlock Holmes mystery. Tough John Kelly, then the new White House chief of staff, listened to the tirade without batting an eye.

Recently, Trump used a vulgar phrase to describe certain countries in an immigration meeting with lawmakers. When that went public, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., raged at new Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, calling her “complicit” at a hearing. She did not apologize for the boss’ ugly remark. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson let it pass.

And since then, Trump has proven to be a nightmare for “Dreamers,” immigrants who came to America as children.

Think back to the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when President Richard Nixon’s attorney general, Elliot Richardson, and the deputy attorney general, William Ruckelshaus, each refused Nixon’s desire to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. They resigned instead, showing moral courage. I was a child, and that was a lesson in standing up to a president of one’s own party.

In the tawdry Trump era, the hero count is zero.

James Comey, the self-righteous FBI director, was fired by Trump last spring. He poses as a martyr and truth-teller, but don’t fall for that line. Comey made grave mistakes that hurt the 2016 election on the Russian and Hillary Clinton fronts. He was far from an exemplary director. But he wasn’t too proud to serve Trump. I’d have more respect for him if he had resigned.

Sordid Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, was forced out in the wake of Charlottesville, as an outspoken “white nationalist” confederate. On Trump’s first day in office, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told me to beware the second coming of the Confederacy.

White House communications director Hope Hicks, Trump’s favorite staffer, is leaving, but not in protest. Hicks, 29, was scalded in the public eye by her romance with Rob Porter, 40, recently the staff secretary. He left in disgrace after his alleged abuse of two ex-wives surfaced — not one, but two. Still, Trump and Kelly looked on Porter favorably, sorry to see him go.

In a White House plagued by a 43 percent turnover rate, shady characters and a special counsel’s Russian investigation — not to mention Stormy Daniels — it’s truly remarkable that so many men (and a few women) furthered the cruel Trump presidency without expressing moral qualms.

The seeds were sown with the Muslim ban on travel, overthrown by courts. Nobody said boo.

White House counsel Don McGahn is my favorite coward from early on. Sally Yates, acting attorney general, urgently told him that new national security adviser Michael Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia. He was a clear and present danger. McGahn did not heed her warning.

Flynn has since pleaded guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation. McGahn may show some backbone yet.

Hapless Sean Spicer, the first White House press secretary, lied to reporters on the first day about the inauguration turnout. He was a bystander in Trump’s war on the news media.

You’ve got to give Trump this: he knows how to pick ’em.

Jamie Stiehm writes about politics, culture and history as a weekly Creators Syndicate columnist and regular contributor to U.S. News & World Report. Follow her on Twitter: @jamiestiehm. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >