Letter to the Editor:

Looking back at the Republican primary season, readers may remember Jeb Bush’s characterization of Donald Trump as the “chaos candidate.” His was an accurate assessment then; and, based on the unfolding events over the past few weeks, it is even more so today as we witness the dawning of the chaos presidency. 

Of course, anyone paying attention over the past year and a half should not be surprised. In a letter from March 2016, I noted that candidate Trump was “a man devoid of any political philosophy beyond opportunism and self-adulation” and whose “guiding principle of campaigning — and I assume of governing — is intimidation and belittlement.” 

Nearly a year later and mere weeks into this administration, the singularly undemocratic, vitriolic and self-absorbed nature of Trumpian governance is becoming all too apparent. To call this “governance” at all is a far too generous use of the word. What we are experiencing is best understood as a personality cult.

Here is a man seemingly incapable of ignoring even the most trivial of perceived slights, a quality clearly evident in the silly yet revealing controversy over his inaugural crowd size relative to Obama’s in 2009. 

In similar fashion, this is a man so insecure with his own electoral victory that he cannot fathom the reality that his opponent received nearly three million more popular votes than he. In his alternative reality, this could not have happened. No, in that reality, the popular victory was stolen from him by massive (non-existent) voter fraud. Trump inhabits a zero-sum world of winners and losers in which he is the ultimate winner: losing — losing anything — cannot be allowed.

And, there is the media. The president’s antagonism toward the media had been consistent through the campaign and is now the ongoing enemy-of-convenience in his presidency. Although never clearly defined, “the media” has become this administration’s perfect foil. Any adverse reporting by the so-called mainstream media is routinely dismissed as dishonest. Those who question are singled out as enemies and purveyors of “fake news.”  Truth is whatever this president chooses to believe at any given moment.

From this administration, on a daily basis, we are offered lies cloaked in the euphemism of “alternative facts.” From press secretary Sean Spicer to adviser Steve Bannon on up to Trump himself, this administration has declared war on the media.

And here we need to be clear about what is happening. Not only is this an intentional assault on the institution of a free press and the First Amendment, it is nothing less than the subversion and redefining of reality itself. 

“Orwellian” is an often over-used term. As it applies to Donald Trump, it is completely appropriate.

Jeff Laadt

Eagle River