Keeping our promises

Keeping our promises September 28, 2016

First Things editor Alexi Sargeant says that “Trump’s policies, such as they are, usually come down to America breaking its promises.”  Read the argument after the jump and say what you think of it.

From Alexi Sargeant, Trump’s Revolt Against Vows| First Things:

Trump’s policies, such as they are, usually come down to America breaking its promises. In the debate, he doubled-down on his previous pledge to back out of defending our NATO allies (who came to our defense after 9/11). Later in the debate he casually said we can’t defend Japan, another nation with whom we have a mutual defense treaty. This promised perfidy is of a piece with his rhetoric about tearing up deals and starting trade wars. He then brushed off the idea that stop-and-frisk policing was unconstitutional—not by taking the chance to give us any sense of how he understands the Constitution, but with flat denials. It seems that, like America’s treaties, the Constitution is just another document waiting to be renegotiated. . . .

Hillary tried to emphasize Donald Trump’s lies, exaggerations, and absurd boasts. But playing fast-and-loose with the truth is hardly something that makes Trump unique on the political scene. What were most disturbing in his first debate performance were the times he chose to acknowledge his past dishonors brazenly, to frame them as matters of pride. This was how he reacted when confronted about his refusal to release his tax returns (“that makes me smart”), his bilking of contractors (“I was unsatisfied with his work”), and his tax-dodging (“it would have been squandered”).

Donald Trump seems to think that backing out of agreements is laudable, as long it helps him get ahead. But any churl can break a vow. What takes character, in politics, business, or marriage, is to make a vow and keep it, come what may. Trump left open for Clinton a line that should by rights be a conservative rallying cry, “It is essential that America’s word be good.” Alack the day the GOP lost the right to say that!

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