The fish, as they say, rots from the head first. And Donald J. Trump is the head of the executive branch. It’s not that the U.S. government isn’t beset by innumerable problems and systemic dysfunction. But in the here and now, Donald Trump is the problem. The president is the dysfunction.
And so, in the midst of the fevered speculation about the meaning and implications of what is happening in the capital of one of the greatest and most powerful nations in the history of the world, let’s not lose focus. Yes, it has been an amazing week of news: the firing of FBI director James Comey; the revelation of Trump’s one-on-one meeting with him two months before; the reports of sensitive intelligence being shared by the president in his meeting with the Russian foreign minister; the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel; the questions about what everyone from the president on down knew about Michael Flynn’s work for Turkey and when they knew it; and the constant speculation about a major shakeup of the White House staff. But at the center of all this news is one cause, one newsmaker: Donald Trump.
And so while there are many questions facing the nation that deserve investigation, and many problems besetting us that need to be dealt with as best we can, the question underlying all the other questions is the question of Donald Trump.
It is increasingly difficult for those who have eyes to see to escape the conclusion—one to which we have been inclined since the beginning—that it would have been better if Trump had not become our president and that it would be better now if his service in the office were as brief as possible. But impeachment is a lengthy process and requires a factual record to justify conviction that may or may not present itself. Resignation from the presidency is unusual. And section four of the 25th Amendment, which establishes procedures for declaring the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” has never been invoked.
So we have to deal with two facts: that Donald Trump is who he is and that he is our president. Coming to grips with this reality will require an awful lot more leadership than we have seen so far from Republicans on the Hill, an awful lot more responsibility in opposition than we have seen from Democrats, an awful lot more clarity and courage than we have seen from the most prominent conservatives, an awful lot more care and fidelity to facts than we have seen from the media, and an awful lot more thoughtfulness and consideration of their duty to the public and the country than we have seen from those serving in the Trump administration.
The prerequisite to behavior worthy of the citizens and officials of a self-governing people is being sincere and candid about the situation we face. That situation will be perilous as long as Donald Trump remains in office. Until he departs—whether that’s in four years or four months—America expects all of us, in our varied positions with our differing responsibilities and to the best of our judgment and abilities, to do our duty.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard