Throughout the history of U.S. presidential elections, never has a [sitting] president attacked a nominee to succeed him for being incompetent to take on the position, as Barack Obama did when he spoke about Donald Trump. He said that the Republican candidate was not prepared and not qualified to become the American president, due to his ignorance of basic issues around the world — in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
At the same time, however, never in the history of U.S. presidential elections have the leaders of either party raised their voices to criticize the nominee chosen in their party’s convention, as the Republican leaders are doing — trying to wash their hands of [the choice of] Trump. In fact, some of them announced candidly that they would vote for rival candidate Hillary Clinton. Among those objecting to the nomination of Trump is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Sen. John McCain (the Republican presidential candidate in 2008), Sen. Mitt Romney (the Republican presidential candidate in 2012), and Sen. Jeb Bush and his mother, Barbara.
Trump’s personality is controversial and worrisome to many Americans today, just as it is to many of America’s allies around the world. The man has no political experience and he curses left and right, whether toward those among the Republican Party leadership who have a different opinion, or toward his Democratic opponents. He didn’t hesitate to announce three months before the elections that if he doesn’t win, it’ll be because the election was rigged.
In an unusual foray into the campaign, Obama called on the Republican Party to raise their voices against Trump after his repeated blunders. Obama told Republicans, “If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him? There has to be a point at which you say, enough … This is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.” Trump is not just ignorant; he’s rude. He doesn’t hesitate to curse and insult his opponents, or anyone else who criticizes him. He said that [Hillary] Clinton was like “the devil,” and admonished Bernie Sanders for dropping out of the race.
He insulted the family of a Muslim-American [military] officer killed in the Iraq War because the officer’s father called on him to read the U.S. Constitution, which forbids discrimination against Americans based on their religion, and forbids Trump’s attempt to deport Muslim-Americans as “terrorists” and to keep other Muslims from entering the U.S. This escalated to the point of Trump insulting the memory of the officer, writing off his sacrifice and saying in an interview with ABC News, “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices … I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs … built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success.” When asked incredulously, “Those are sacrifices?” he answered, “Oh sure, I think they’re sacrifices.”
But among those concerned about Trump’s positions, the thing that worries them the most is the sympathy he seems to have toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, especially regarding the invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. Trump doesn’t see it as an “invasion”; in fact, in a television interview, he denied any Russian interference in Ukraine. Trump also stated that he was prepared to renege on America’s resolution to defend any member nation of NATO. This has raised fears among Baltic nations (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) in the event they would be subjected to a Russian incursion, since Trump would likely stand with Putin against the natural allies of the U.S.
We have expressed more than once our concerns with the presidency of Barack Obama and with his decreasing the crucial American role in international crises in the face of Russia, and especially with the Syrian crisis. But handing over the keys to the White House to a friend of Putin would [open the] risk of serious consequences to global security. As Obama has said, it is up to the Republican Party leadership to intervene decisively in order to save America from this miserable fate … or an overdue awakening of the American voter.
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