Report Showcases Trump’s Attitude of Entitlement
By Jessica Wells, Columnist
Rules and norms can seem tedious or unnecessary at times, but they also help societies run smoothly.
We all know someone who thinks the rules do not apply to him or her. It could be a family member or a friend, a college roommate, or a neighbor. These people do things that make us shake our heads, possibly feel uncomfortable.
Researchers from Cornell University and the Harvard Medical School, who undertook a series of studies of this type of individual, refer to them as “entitled.” Their report found that entitled people are motivated by a “powerful sense of indignation” and are less likely to follow instructions than average people. They tend to believe that rules of any kind are unfair and subsequently ignore them.
Entitled people, according to the report, “are more likely to believe they are owed valuable resources or benefits regardless of their effort or performance.”
After the redacted version of the Mueller Report was released almost two weeks ago, I realized that we are all familiar with another person like this. His name is Donald J. Trump, and he is the president of the United States.
The Mueller Report offers evidence, often in painstaking, uncomfortable detail, of a president who wants what he wants when he wants it — norms, rules and laws be damned. The report’s evidence shows that the president leaned on his subordinates to lie and cheat on his behalf. We can be thankful that many of these men and women disregarded the president’s orders, even resigning, in the case of White House counsel Don McGahn, rather than carry them out.
An example of the president’s disdain for rules is the firing of FBI Director James Comey. President Trump initially claimed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey be terminated.
The truth was that Trump wanted him gone to try to quash the FBI’s investigation of the Russian government’s interference in our elections. In the president’s mind, the investigation cast doubt on his election victory and was therefore unjust and illegitimate. He didn’t care at the time (and still doesn’t seem to) that a foreign government executed a systematic, malicious misinformation campaign to manipulate American voters. It all worked out for him, right? So what’s the big fuss?
Another example from the Mueller Report of President Trump’s sense of entitlement is his actions in Russia during the election campaign. While running for the Republican nomination, he claimed repeatedly not to have any business interests in Russia. In fact, during this time the Trump organization was pursuing a lucrative business contract for a Trump Tower in Moscow. This conflict of interest did not concern him, but it should concern us.
More than anyone else, the rules should and must apply to the president of the United States. The laws that govern this highest office prevent our democracy from sliding into dictatorship. As if to remind us of this idea, at its conclusion the Mueller Report states, in clear language, “no person is above the law.”
So what do you do with an entitled president?
The study’s authors recommend three options to deal with entitled individuals: pander to them, put them in a position that plays to their strengths, or refuse to deal with them. Pandering or playing to the strengths of arguably the most powerful individual in the world seem insufficient. The president isn’t an annoying colleague or a pesky, long-distance relative.
His refusal to demonstrate restraint or play by the rules has serious consequences for our country. So that leaves option three, refuse to deal with him. In other words, he needs to go. I’m not advocating one method over another; impeachment or voting him out of office in 2020 would both fulfill this goal. However, we need to take a serious look at the behavior the report illustrates and ask ourselves, is this person worthy of our country?
Ironically, the Mueller Report and its two-year saga have also shone a spotlight on an individual who exemplifies the opposite of entitlement. I am referring to Robert Mueller, the special counselor himself.
During the long investigation he did not speak to the press, apart from a single, written statement, or seek attention in any way. His behavior — calm, staid and diligent — can be viewed as a bulwark against the president’s perpetual indignation.
The report that bears his name reminds us that America’s institutions are stronger than any individual, entitled or otherwise.
Jessica Wells is a Southern Pines resident and vice president of the Moore County Democratic Party.
The Investigations Will Press on But Find Little of Value
By John Rowerdink, Columnist
After two years of exhaustive investigation costing more than $30 million, the long-awaited Mueller report was recently released. It hasn’t changed any minds.
Folks who thought President Trump conspired with the Russian government in the 2016 election still think so and those who thought he was innocent still think that. The report answers many questions but raises others. To clarify things, I’m writing this column as a series of questions and answers.:
Q: Did the Russians interfere with our 2016 election? A: Yes. We knew that before the investigation and Mueller confirmed it.
Q: When did the Russian interference take place and who was our president at the time?
A: In 2016, during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Q: What did President Obama do about it?
A: Not much. Weak.
Q: What was the stated objective of the Mueller investigation?
A: “To investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” It included investigation of any related crimes — perjury, obstruction of justice, etc.
Q: Did President Trump, his staff and his campaign officials cooperate with the investigation?
A: Yes. They provided everything they were asked for. They didn’t like it but they did it.
Q: Did the investigation find that President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians? A: Section I of the report, which deals with this question, is 199 pages long, but the answer is short and clear: “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the Russians.” That’s after two years, $30 million, 500 witnesses, 2800 subpoenas, etc. Whether you like it or not, that’s the answer.
Q: If the Trump campaign didn’t collude with the Russians, did any other Americans do so?
A: Hillary Clinton’s campaign clearly colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election. It’s beyond dispute that her campaign, working through its paid consultant, Fusion GPS, arranged and paid for the “Trump dossier,” a fake compendium of salacious material about Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign and Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele, a former British spy, to gather information from his Russian contacts in the Kremlin. He then prepared a report (the Trump dossier) and gave it to the Clinton campaign, various media outlets and the FBI. This is clear collusion with the Russians. Incredibly, the FBI, which had every reason to question the veracity of the dossier, used it to justify spying on the Trump campaign. Such action by a government agency against a political campaign with which they disagree is a mortal threat to our democracy. This is the kind of thing that happens in Russia, Cuba and Venezuela, but not America. Attorney General Barr says he’s going to look into this. Good.
Q: So Mueller didn’t find any evidence of Trump/Russian collusion. Did he find any evidence of other crimes, such as obstruction of justice?
A: The report says they didn’t have reason to indict anyone for this but they also do not exonerate them. Baloney. It’s not their job to exonerate anyone. In America, until you’re proven guilty, you’re innocent. You don’t need Mueller or anyone else to exonerate you. Furthermore, the Justice Department concluded Trump didn’t do it. Period.
Q: Have any other investigations looked into these same matters?
A: Separate ad nauseam investigations by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees came to the same conclusion. No collusion, no obstruction.
Q: Now that the Mueller report has been issued, have the findings been accepted by the president’s enemies?
A: For two years, Democrats told us to wait for the Mueller report. They had supreme confidence in Bob Mueller. Now that they don’t like his answer, he’s a turkey. Same with Attorney General Barr. If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger.
Q: Will the Democrats try to impeach President Trump?
A: I certainly hope so. First, the Constitution’s requirement for “treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors” simply does not exist. Second, they’d need the vote of all Democrats and 20 Republicans in the Senate to convict him. Good luck with that. Most importantly, if Democrats want to spend the next two years trying to impeach the president after having spent the last two years chasing the collusion narrative, while the nation’s important business is not getting done, I think the voters will render their opinion of that in the 2020 election. So my advice to Democrats is “knock yourselves out.”
Final Q: Is there any other country in the world where an elected leader is subjected to this type of investigation and required to accept the ultimate result?
A: I don’t think so. God bless America.
John Rowerdink, a Pinehurst resident, is the former chairman of the Moore County Republican Party and president of the Moore County Republican Men’s Club.