9. He used anti-Semitic tropes to attack his enemies. Trump was absolutely right to call out Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their anti-Semitism — including the charge that Israel’s supporters in Congress are disloyal to the United States. But then Trump declared that “any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat” show “great disloyalty” — using the very same anti-Semitic trope that got Omar and Tlaib in trouble in the first place.
8. He said the Soviet Union was right to invade Afghanistan and congratulated China on the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover. The U.S.S.R. did not invade Afghanistan “because terrorists were going into Russia” and they were not “right to be there,” as Trump claimed. They went in to prevent the replacement of a Soviet puppet regime with a regime friendly to the United States. As for China, 65 million of the roughly 100 million people killed by Communist regimes during the 20th century were killed by China. It is the most murderous regime in human history.
7. He lost a needless government shutdown fight. In 2018, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $1.6 billion for 65 miles of border fencing by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Instead of taking the deal, Trump shut down the government and demanded $5.7 billion. He ended up with less — $1.38 billion — than he would have if he had just gone along with the bipartisan deal.
6. He used his emergency authority to circumvent Congress on the border wall. After losing the shutdown fight, Trump used the National Emergencies Act to appropriate funds for a policy priority after Congress specifically refused to do so legislatively. Not only was this an abuse of power; it also was completely unnecessary. He could have reprogrammed money from other Treasury and Defense Department accounts without invoking his emergency powers. Instead, he chose a direct assault on Congress’s constitutional powers, and Republicans shamefully went along.
5. He continued to spread the canard that the United States is fighting “endless wars.” Our force levels in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are a shadow of their former selves, and U.S. forces are arming and training allies who are doing the fighting for us. That is the right strategy. Yet Trump continues to channel his inner Barack Obama and seek complete U.S. withdrawal.
4. He continued to attack dead people. Just as Trump blasted former senator John McCain long after his death, this month he launched a broadside against the late representative John Dingell that suggested he was “looking up” from hell — an attack that shocked his widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who was preparing for her first Christmas without him. Want to know why, despite a humming economy, Trump’s popularity remains mired in the low 40s? It’s stuff like this.
3. He asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden. His phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky was not “perfect” as Trump claimed. After special counsel Robert S. Mueller III found that Trump did not conspire with Russia in 2016, Trump decided to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by giving Democrats the pretext they had been looking for to impeach him.
2. He invited the Taliban to Camp David. The terrorist group’s leaders would have sat at the very table where U.S. officials planned the overthrow of their regime, to accept the terms of America’s surrender on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks they facilitated. The disaster was only averted because the Taliban chose to rub defeat in Trump’s face by killing an American soldier. The invitation was possibly the most shameful moment of the Trump presidency.
1. He gave Turkey a green light to invade Syria and attack our Kurdish allies. The Kurds suffered 11,000 casualties in the fight against the Islamic State since 2014 and gave us the critical intelligence that led us to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s doorstep. After watching Trump abandon the Kurds to be slaughtered, why would anyone step forward to help the United States in the fight against Islamist radicalism?
In past years, many entries on my “worst” list were mistakes of style, not substance. But this year, the number and seriousness of the president’s substantive mistakes grew. On balance, the good still outweighs the bad in the Trump presidency. But the bad is getting worse.
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