We have now reached the final quarter of the calendar year, and one of the modish political commentaries of the season is a lament, usually delivered with utmost solemnity by a talking head on cable TV, that President Trump has failed to deliver on his legislative agenda — the idea being that is a seriously unfortunate mischance for the nation.
Really? We can barely restrain ourselves from having a celebration and leading a march down Mid-America Mall. Trump's "agenda," to dignify the whimsically erratic and ever-changing stream-of-consciousness that seems to guide him, is, so far as we can tell, a toxic and dangerous stew of things that augur no good for the nation. If only the protestation of the pundits, that the president can't get anything done, were true! The fact is — and this definitely cools our joy — that Trump has been able to make some momentous changes by abundant use of the kind of independent presidential directive that he used to condemn when President Obama employed the strategy.
Obama issued his directives — on behalf of DACA (the Dream Act for Childhood Arrivals), for example — in order to advance overdue action when Republican-imposed gridlock had stymied it. Trump uses the device to achieve ends that have never even been taken through an established congressional process. To name just a few: Trump has struck down DACA, eliminated vital environmental safeguards, endangered an important international agreement restricting nuclear activity in Iran, and, most recently, withheld prime-the-pump funding from insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act.
And Trump is at war not only with congressional Democrats but with responsible members of his own Republican Party. Just ask the two GOP Senators from Tennessee — Bob Corker, whom circumstances have induced to itemize out loud the ways in which this president menaces the country, and Lamar Alexander, who has seen his bipartisan efforts to maintain the premium supports for the ACA undermined by Trump.
So we do not grieve over the president's inability to achieve legislative results in tandem with Congress. The rude truth is that, like all tyrant types, he does enough harm on his own.
Bernal Smith As members of the Memphis community — and the journalistic calling — we mourn the unexpected and untimely passing this weekend of Bernal Smith, the innovative and public-spirited publisher of The Tri-State Defender.
- Bernal Smith
During the four years of his stewardship, Rhodes graduate Smith advanced the long tradition of the Defender as an outlet for the aspirations of Memphis' African-American population, made it a beacon as well for the entire local community, and all the while he was making the paper a fully independent local publication for the first time.
Beyond all that, Smith was a capital fellow, a genuinely companionable and compassionate friend, a consistent pleasure to be around for all who encountered him. His trajectory was toward ever more productive relationships and achievements. That he died in his prime is to be regretted and mourned. That he lived among us and left an important legacy behind is a memory for which we remain thankful.