In his most successful comic strip, “Li’l Abner“, cartoonist Al Capp had a minor character named General Bashington T. Bullmoose, the head of a giant conglomerate named Bullmoose Industries. The General was well-known for saying … and demanding that his staff reverently repeat … “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for everybody!”
In the musical derived from the strip, the General’s catchphrase was changed to the more melodious “What’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA!” The line was a parody of a misquote attributed to Charles Erwin Wilson, the former CEO of General Motors and Secretary of Defense under President Eisenhower … “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” (What Secretary Wilson actually said was “For years I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist.”)
It seems likely that after January 20, 2017, we’ll be faced with a similar question in the real world. “Is what’s good for President Trump good for America?” Even if he wanted to do so, could the President-elect really put his business in a “blind trust”? I doubt it. Is it a “conflict of interest”? Maybe it is, but it’s a two-edged sword. For every world leader who tries to use President-elect Trump’s business interests against the United States, there may be another who favors the interests of the United States in order to gain Trump organization investments in his or her country. Those shiny buildings can bring a lot of business to a small country. Of course, there’s another side to this coin. Some commentators have suggested that those shiny buildings bearing the name of the President of the United States could become the targets of terrorist attacks. I guess, “You pays your money and you takes your choice.”
Cable news, desperate to fill 24 hours of air time with 8 hours of news have even complained about the President-elect being listed as an Executive Producer of “Celebrity Apprentice“. Who cares? The man likes to see his name in lights. Let him enjoy the meaningless title.
I’m more concerned that the President-elect’s behavior could get him impeached, convicted, and removed from office. President-elect Trump appears to be a narcissist, a bully, and a braggart who is extremely sensitive to criticism and easily swayed by praise. He is either a compulsive liar, or a master manipulator, … or both. He looks like the worst-case example for a Chief Executive … but, Donald J. Trump is an experienced executive. Those immediately behind him in the presidential line of succession are a much more serious threat. They are ideologues.
Vice President Mike Pence is an evangelical, born-again Christian who, as Governor of Indiana has tried to use the law to impose his beliefs on the people of his state. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The problem with Theocracies is not the religion that serves as the basis of government; it is Theocracy itself. Religion that is imposed upon people by their government ultimately leads to a condition that is neither religion nor government.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan is one of the more conservative members of the House of Representatives. While nurturing a reputation for fiscal responsibility, he supported the war in Afghanistan and the questionable war in Iraq without concern about how we’d pay for them. In addition to opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Speaker Ryan has proposed a number of attacks on long-held Federal social contracts with the American people. He has proposed a voucher program for Medicaid and favored privatizing Medicare and Social Security. His budget proposals have included extending tax cuts to the rich, increasing the military budget, and cutting social programs.
As President pro tempore of the Senate, Orrin Hatch is fourth in line for the Presidency. Senator Hatch shares the common Republican distaste for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and discomfort with the LGBT community. In other areas, his ideas are both more liberal and more practical than those of many of his Republican colleagues. He has been a proponent of the DREAM Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Equal Opportunity to Govern Amendment. He is a vocal supporter of stem cell research.
President Trump may turn out to be the least of three evils. He will protect us from Vice President Pence who seems prone to confusing church and state. In turn, Vice President Pence will protect us from Speaker Ryan who is intent on eviscerating vital social contracts between the government and the governed. On the other hand, if the Senate is willing to successively impeach three men and the House quickly convicts them, President Hatch might prove to be a wise and capable head of our Federal Administrative Branch.
BUT … let the members of Congress beware. Be sure to stop the impeach-and-convict process after Paul Ryan. The Secretary of State is fifth in the presidential line of succession. President-elect Trump has selected former Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson, for that position in his administration. He’s probably even more like General Bullmoose than is President-elect Trump.