Biden needs to clean up Trump's mess - opinion

The 46th president isn’t getting an inaugural parade of his own because his elephantine predecessor left such a giant muddle.

FORMER PRESIDENT Donald Trump boards ‘Marine One’ as he departs Washington to visit the US-Mexico border wall in Texas on January 12. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)
FORMER PRESIDENT Donald Trump boards ‘Marine One’ as he departs Washington to visit the US-Mexico border wall in Texas on January 12.
President Joe Biden must feel like the guy at the circus who follows the giant elephant with a bucket and shovel to clean up all the messes he left behind.
The 46th president isn’t getting an inaugural parade of his own because his elephantine predecessor left such a giant muddle. The 45th president not only got impeached twice, he sparked an insurrection that assaulted and trashed the US Capitol, required calling up armed forces to protect the city against a recurrence, and to his greatest dismay, got him banned from Twitter.
Trump leaves behind the debris of his chaos, corruption, racism, lies, xenophobia, misogyny, narcissism, autocracy, conspiracy theories, and worst of all, hundreds of thousands dead Americans, many of whom died largely because of his neglect of an out-of-control pandemic.
Trump liked to say he wanted to bring home all our soldiers stationed abroad. He came close, in one respect, because fearing more riots by his loyal Visigoths, there are now more US troops in Washington, DC, than in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan combined.
Barbarians who smashed the gates at the Capitol and threaten to return must be apprehended, their militias disbanded and their leaders prosecuted.
No president has come to the job with more government experience and spent more time running for it than Joe Biden, nor has any had such a mess to clean up from his disgraced and failed predecessor.
Trump has spent the final weeks of his administration ignoring the job he wanted to keep while protesting the election he lost, creating his own deep state inside the new administration and laying land mines for his predecessor.
What follows are some of the messes left behind for Biden to clean up.
Biden’s top priority is 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days. But the cupboards are bare. Operations Warp Speed turned out to be Operation Schlep Speed. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar quit after he was caught lying about releasing reserves of vaccine supplies he didn’t have. What’s more, the Trump administration had sent $850,000 of crisis relief funds to anti-vaccine groups spreading misleading information about the pandemic.
Cleaning crews moved quickly to disinfect the White House that had been a repeated superspreader venue for COVID-19 under Trump.
The climate mess will take years to clean. Clean air and water standards were rolled back to please contributors of both campaign funds and pollutants. On his first day, Biden will rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, which Trump abandoned mostly out of spite against his predecessor. Scientists will not be fired because the truth didn’t fit administration ideology. No more sharpie-drawn weather maps.
Another pile will be Republican lawmakers seeking favors from a president whose election they refused to acknowledge. They’ll whisper that they never liked Trump in the first place and had worked behind the scenes to thwart his worst instincts. Near the front of that line will be Lindsey Graham, who Barack Obama wrote in his memoir “double-crosses everyone to save his own skin.” His latest: blaming Nancy Pelosi for the Trump mob’s assault on the Capitol because it was her job to protect the building. Straight to voicemail.
A LOT OF Trump’s most detrimental detritus must be found and swept out early because it was left expressly to do damage to the new president’s agenda. These are political lackeys who were given career jobs that won’t expire when a new administration comes in, fifth columnists whose mission is sabotage. They are the real Deep State. Trump was burrowing them into agencies like the CIA and the National Security Agency, which considered them spies for right-wing ideologues and unqualified for the jobs. There is more such rubbish that needs discarding.
Some of the best clean sweepers – professional inspectors general – were quickly swept away under the departing administration because they suffered from a mortal flaw in Trumpworld: They were honest, ethical and apolitical. Biden will have to sweep them back into office and give them better protection. Most notorious was the State Department, where anyone sniffing around Secretary Mike Pompeo’s ethical lapses was quickly kicked to the curb.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will begin sweeping away the racism and bigotry excreted by Trump and his followers. They can begin by lifting the Muslim travel ban, although some right-wing Jews might accuse him of being pro-terrorist and anti-Israel. But the most poignant job will be reuniting hundreds of immigrant children callously torn from their families at the US southern border. This could once again be a nation of immigrants – for people such as Vice President Harris’s parents – and offer newcomers a path to citizenship.
That means we must stop wasting billions of tax dollars on Trump’s border wall, Air Force One trips for golf weekends with family and cronies, and rent on an apartment for Secret Service agents because Ivanka Trump didn’t want them using any of the six bathrooms in the house the security agents were protecting.
Our electoral system also needs serious repair. The Electoral College is a three-centuries-old anachronism designed to protect white Christian male power. In this multi-ethnic, electronic age, all Americans should be able to vote. The winner of the popular vote should be the president, unlike Trump and four other presidents who didn’t win that vote but won the Electoral College. Trump obsessed on the myth of voter fraud but really wanted voter suppression; Biden, who just won more votes than any candidate in history, needs to order sweeping reforms to make voting easier, safer and faster for all.
Cleaning up the mess left by Trump and Pompeo will begin by treating allies like friends, not adversaries. We need a president who won’t be laughed at by world leaders when he stands before the United Nations and lies about his achievements. Another pile of filth to be cleaned out is Trump’s role in covering up the Adnan Khashoggi murder, which US intelligence services believe was ordered by first-son-in-law Jared Kushner’s pal, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Biden wants to restore relations with the Palestinians, which were largely trashed by Trump – with help from inept and corrupt Palestinian leadership – to please his Evangelical Christian base, right-wing Jewish supporters and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If there is any hope remaining for a genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace, that is an essential first step.
President Biden and his team will be spending months if not years cleaning up the chaos, corruption and assorted debris left by the departing rogue elephant. So will the party that the pusillanimous pachyderm symbolizes. It is a party deeply divided and wrestling between being the cult of a megalomaniac destined to rot on history’s garbage heap, or the heirs to Abraham Lincoln and those who dream of a shining city on a hill.