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Opinion #NeverTrumpers had Trump pegged all along

(Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)
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President Trump’s apologists can’t say they weren’t warned. Virtually every character flaw and policy debacle was in plain view during the campaign. Republicans then, as Republicans do now, convinced themselves and their fellow Americans that Trump was a business genius (in fact he serially failed and hid his finances to prevent any objective assessment of his success). These Republicans told us he’d find and use top-notch experts (not!), had great negotiating skills (aside from bluff and bluster, he has no finesse in presidential-level consensus-building on either the domestic or foreign policy side).

Trump really did mean all the horrible things he said about immigrants and really does not have a clue how international trade works. His self-absorption and insecurity do pose a danger to the United States when he engages with foreign leaders who know they can play him through flattery.

Yes he does have a problem with women — a dozen or more claimed improper sexual conduct and one consensual sexual partner was hushed up with a $130,000 payment. His denials about having nothing to do with Russia have proven misleading at best, if not outright false. (CNBC has compiled a helpful video examining Trump’s web of Russia connections.)

He was never prepared to give up ownership of his businesses, and therefore perpetuates blatant conflicts of interest, including receipts of foreign emoluments, quite possibly in violation of the Constitution.

President Trump's 'Spygate' is a dishonest and effective marketing ploy, says columnist Eugene Robinson. (Video: The Washington Post)

His attacks on the press during the campaign did in fact reflect his contempt for the First Amendment. Fortunately a federal court In New York  this week slapped down his attempt to block followers on Twitter as impermissible content discrimination. It should have surprised no one that his Environmental Protection Agency barred reporters from a national meeting on water contamination, including one by force. A president who dubs the press the enemy, wants to “pull the license” of a critical news network and hides from solo press conferences and legitimate news interviewers plainly is not prepared to defend constitutional rights of free speech and press.

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His attempt during the campaign to smear a federal court judge of Hispanic descent was not a one-off proposition. He routinely attacks the legitimacy of the courts.

His authoritarian mindset is revealed over and over again. We see his anti-democratic inclinations in attacks on a single employer, Amazon, as retribution against The Post, which is owned by Amazon’s founder, Jeffrey P. Bezos; and in his declaration that maybe football players who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights during the national anthem should leave the country. His contempt for the rule of law is evident in his baseless smears against law enforcement, in his meddling in specific enforcement actions and investigations (most prominently an investigation of him), in his pardoning of Joe Arpaio convicted of criminal contempt of court and in his toleration of corruption in multiple Cabinet departments. He admires strongmen (e.g. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and shows indifference toward human rights.

His daily assault on the truth and sowing of racial animosity — which, again, were on full view in the campaign — have intensified.

You get the picture. Under stress and on the receiving end of constant criticism, he’s become more Trumpian by the day — more impulsive, cruel, erratic and racist. He arguably has less competent help, less credibility and less awareness of the implications of his decisions than he did a year ago. His presidency is getting worse — just as many predicted. An unfit person hobbled by serious character flaws will melt down in the most stressful job in the world.

The spectacle of a president suffering a string of foreign policy embarrassments (on China, North Korea, Iran) and creating more preposterous attacks on law enforcement is not surprising, but it is deeply worrisome. Moreover, if past is prologue, he’ll get worse with time.