EDITORIAL: Yes, Trump’s a fighter … but just for himself

York Dispatch editorial board
President Donald Trump walks to a Make America Great again rally at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Opa Locka, Florida on Nov. 2, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The holiday season has done little to mitigate the worst instincts of President Donald Trump, who spent the week before Christmas doling out goodies to undeserving cronies while ignoring the needs of millions of out-of-work, hungry or otherwise struggling Americans.

In the latest abuse of his office, the president last week issued more than 40 pardons or commutations, a number of them to close allies, all of them unwarranted.

GOP dirty-trickster Roger Stone, onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s son-in-law’s father, and early supporters former Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Christopher Collins of New York were among those who found pardons under the tree last week.

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As none suffered miscarriages of justice or were otherwise denied constitutional protections, it’s hard to see their ill-deserved clemency as anything other than a personal favor from a friendly chief executive. (Or, in the cases of those who have been caught up in investigations involving Trump but kept their mouths shut — or lied when opening them — a personal thank you.)

Just as shocking were the pardons of four guards from the private security firm Blackwater who were convicted in the massacre of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007. Again, there was a personal tie: Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince is the brother of Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The abuse of pardon power has been so blatant that even some Republicans, including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, have criticized the president for going too far. (They ain’t seen nothing yet: Wait’ll he pardons his children and, very likely, himself.)

Pardoning chums, complaining baselessly about election fraud on Twitter and working on his five-iron pretty much summed up the president’s post-election accomplishments until Sunday evening, when he finally signed a long-delayed coronavirus relief package.

The $2.3 trillion bill, which also funds the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, was approved only after Trump called the measure “a disgrace,” threatened a veto and demanded an increase from $600 to $2,000 per recipient. This after ignoring the negotiations.

Because he waited so long to sign the bill, the 12 million or so Americans in two key pandemic unemployment programs will likely see their payments disrupted and/or shortened by a week. So, Happy Holidays from the flounderer in chief.

The list of those receiving coal from the president also included those “suckers” and “losers” in the military. Trump vetoed a massive Defense spending bill this month because it didn’t repeal a liability law that protects internet companies.

The $740 billion package, which passed both houses by veto-proof margins, includes, among other provisions, pay raises for American soldiers. So, Happy Holidays again!

There’s a clear theme here, and it might be a good time for President Trump’s considerable legions of supporters, both in Pennsylvania and nationwide, to reflect on it.

When presidential defenders say they wave the Trump flag because he’s such a fighter, they ought to take a good look at who he’s fighting for. Because unless they’re politically plugged in or sitting atop a huge pile of cash, it ain’t them.

The president hasn’t fought for public safety, public health, the unemployed, the uninsured, the ill-housed, the ill-fed, the ill-clothed, or the marginalized. He hasn’t fought to defend the Constitution or to uphold democracy. He hasn’t fought for free and fair elections or in support of basic human rights.

He has fought for himself; himself, his friends and family, and allies who have done or can do him a service. The list ends there.

A terrible year and a terrible presidential administration are both, thankfully, winding to a close, and the former hasn’t been made any easier by the latter.

President Trump may be a fighter but don’t expect him to lift a glove to make life better for anyone other than himself.