locally owned since 1854

President Trump’s obsession with loyalty is horrible for the country: Paul Heise

Posted 8/9/17

Thank the Almighty that there are still a few good men and women who are loyal to the Constitution.

Loyalty is serious. It is a commitment to a person, a cause or an idea even when it contradicts …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

President Trump’s obsession with loyalty is horrible for the country: Paul Heise

Posted

Thank the Almighty that there are still a few good men and women who are loyal to the Constitution.

Loyalty is serious. It is a commitment to a person, a cause or an idea even when it contradicts our self-interest.

The military and civilian first responders recognize that loyalty to a squad or team can even include “that last full measure of devotion.” The military in particular stands ready to go in harm’s way to protect the nation. Aside from those few, loyalty is in short supply in our world.

The word loyalty itself is strange. It does not appear in the oath of allegiance that new citizens take or in the oaths that people must swear to when they are elected or appointed to office.

Sen. Joe McCarthy made the idea of the “loyalty oath” notorious, so we shy away from it. We really didn’t hear the word again until Donald Trump came along. Trump “needs and expects” loyalty, he told former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey. Comey promised honesty.

Real gangsters and gangsta rappers, even at the HUAC hearings in October 1947, preferred the word allegiance.

The CEO of a family firm, like a medieval monarch, can demand absolute loyalty to the firm/family. That is the case with The Trump Organization. That has not been the case in government.

President Donald Trump thinks he is still running a family firm. He has assured us that he is not. He demands the highest level of loyalty from all of his subordinates. Employees are expected to be loyal — that is, ready to suffer for the firm/family. Ivanka and Jared Kushner don’t seem to understand that the Hatch Act restricts the personal and political activity of government employees, especially if they are members of the family. Thus, Comey could not promise loyalty to president Trump, only honesty. His loyalty, in regard to governmental activities, was committed to the U.S. Constitution.

Trump is not a Republican — or anything else I can think of. There is nothing like a set of core values that the people around him could be loyal to and be willing to sacrifice for. Their loyalty is owed to Trump himself, the man who gave them and controls their job. But the military is steeped in all accoutrements of loyalty. It is serious for them and Trump might not realize that he is staffing his most important positions with the military.

It is rumored that Gens. James Mattis and John Kelly, sometime in January, agreed that they would be certain that they never leave the president alone in the country. One of them would always be stateside. While that hints at insurrection it also references the kind of loyalty that motivated the Founding Fathers.

Our bought-and-paid for Congress certainly has no loyalty to anything other than their own pay and perks.

The election of Trump himself was a political insurrection. The people see the objects of their loyalty being trampled on. Their loyalty is spurring them to action, not to anything about our president.

Then there was the comedic moment, where Scaramouch, the classic clown of commedia dell’arte, gets put upon for his boasting and cowardice. Enter Anthony Scaramucci, recently White House communications director, who seems scripted for the part. He thought for a moment that he was part of the family. He wasn’t. Playing the part assigned him, he loses a fortune, a wife, the birth of his son, his job and his pride.

Kelly was appointed White House Chief of Staff to try to bring some order and coherence to the West Wing. Having spent 45 years in the military, he knows how to keep control. So the first thing he did was call Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and tell him his job was safe despite the personal and professional attacks on him by the president.

Sessions, when he recused himself from the Russian investigation, endangered his own position in order to be loyal to the Constitution and the law of the land. While I oppose practically everything Jeff Sessions is doing, I have to recognize his right to do it. In this case he is doing the right thing.

Donald Trump is who he is and he is not going to change. I see no reason to believe that he will shift his loyalties to the Constitution and rule of law. Rather, I see him engrossed in the pettiest personal problems, concentrated on winning not on content and obsessed with the Russian investigation. I fear that one too many tweets and one too many fired lawyers will undercut whatever John Kelly might accomplish.

Paul A. Heise, of Mount Gretna, is a professor emeritus of economics at Lebanon Valley College and a former economist for the federal government.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment