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Calibrating outrage in the age of Trump

Ruth Marcus on

Americans, maybe even Cabinet secretaries, have scoffed at their presidents before, but the depth and combination of Trump's inattention, ignorance and bluster know no equal. Similarly with Republican Sen. Bob Corker's chilling comment: When, before, have we imagined the Cabinet as a thin blue line against presidential chaos?

Finally, perhaps most alarming of all, Trump's persistent indifference to a foreign adversary's efforts to undermine our democracy. He has directed more anger at the mayor of Puerto Rico than at Vladimir Putin. This is a terrible thing to have to say, but the president is not a patriot, if an essential part of patriotism means being willing to stand up for your country when it is under attack.

And the authoritarian, anti-constitutional suggestion that the Senate intelligence panel should have some role in probing "Fake News Networks" at home betrays, yet again, Trump's contempt for, if not fear of, a free press. Clamping down on information and dissent is the first instinct of every would-be dictator.

Our Constitution and our governing institutions are, I trust, too resilient to let Trump translate that urge into reality. Still, the desire alone is scary enough.

Properly calibrating degrees of outrage is a delicate task in the age of Trump. There is so much to lament and to call out. Energies understandably flag with the fourth unhinged tweet of the day. Episodes that would ordinarily consume news cycles for days pass with scarcely a there-he-goes-again shrug.

This is no time for shrugging.

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Ruth Marcus' email address is ruthmarcus@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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