Trump puts us in reverse gear, makes America less great

By James W. Dolan. Special to the Reporter

It’s all about winning. President Trump sees the world divided between winners and losers. He’s the winner-in-chief and opponents are losers incapable of recognizing his unique skills or displaying the deference to which he is entitled. He views himself more as a king than as a public servant. He sees former President Obama as an adversary. Having failed to disqualify his predecessor by challenging his citizenship, he has chosen to undo his accomplishments.

One of the original “birthers,” Trump was unable to defeat Obama by using the false charge that he was a Muslim from Africa. He now misses no opportunity to denigrate the 44th president. From climate change, civil rights, trade policy, health care, consumer protection to nuclear arms proliferation and use of public lands, Trump is systematically undoing the Obama legacy. It’s as if he’s trying to retroactively nullify the election of our first black president. Trump is the anti-Obama, resenting everything a man so unlike himself has achieved. How much of this is policy differences and how much is personal?

The two are so different. One is dignified, prudent, engaged, intelligent, articulate, humble, and disciplined. The other is impulsive, immature, erratic, egocentric, ill-informed, and insecure. Is it any wonder that Trump is jealous of a reputation so far beyond his understanding or capacity?

Knowing he will never achieve that level of respect motivates his destructive impulses.

Uncomfortable in the formulation of policy, Trump instead relies on his instinctive reaction to people.

Whether or not he likes or trusts them usually depends not on their ability but on the deference they display. Craving adulation and lacking the capacity for self-deprecation, he resents criticism and attempts to mask his obvious weaknesses by demeaning others. He’s always the victim; nothing is ever his fault.

To what degree does Obama being black affect Trump’s judgment? Racism is obviously a factor motivating a portion of his base. Trump’s narcissism is a compulsion he cannot control, manifesting itself as a superiority complex. It’s natural for him to conclude that others are inferior, lacking his intelligence and intuitive skills. Does that explain why he is so intent upon dismantling virtually everything Obama did? Is he motivated by a belief that a black man could not have been a successful president? Does he think that by attacking Obama he elevates himself?

It must be disheartening for the former president to watch the undoing of so much of what he accomplished, particularly by someone who appears to have no idea what he is doing. That history is likely to view Trump as a failed president offers small consolation. Silently, Obama watches as his policies are undermined, wisely choosing not to debate his successor. To engage with Trump is to sink to his level. Incapable of coherent dialogue, he revels in the bullying, name-calling, pettiness, and lies that for him have been so preposterously successful.

Whether or not one agreed with his policies, Obama was presidential. He possessed the character, dignity, integrity, compassion, and decency one should expect in that office. He looked, spoke, and acted like a president and he earned the respect of world leaders. Trump cannot abide comparisons that make him look bad. His so far futile attempt to replace and repeal Obamacare with almost anything, regardless of how destructive, is an example of his compulsive need to “win” at any cost.

Since branding is his business, the very name “Obamacare” must irritate him. Not one to acknowledge or build on the record of a predecessor, the only way to defeat him is to invalidate it.

By carpet bombing the Obama legacy, Trump somehow believes he will be triumphant. Most believed Obama’s election was a sign that the country was moving forward. To erase that achievement places us in reverse and makes America less great.

James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law.His column appears regularly in the Reporter. Read his past columns online at