The buck no longer stops with anyone

“The buck stops here” was the sign that, famously inscribed on the desk of the 33rd President of the United States, enshrined the principle that Harry S Truman was not a man to pass the buck. Truman knew his history and his place in it, knew that history had a funny habit of conferring cowardice and infamy on any president who tried to escape blame, or “pass the buck,” as it were.

“The buck stops anywhere but here” might be a suitable sign for Donald Trump. When in an informal meeting New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger asked Trump to stop using the toxic phrase “enemy of the people” to describe the mainstream media, Trump agreed. Sulzberger’s concern was the use of the phrase might reasonably lead to physical assaults on members of the press as it had in Annapolis in late June.

Trump’s blame avoidance was vintage Trump when he then tweeted: “Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!”

In other words, “enemy of the people” is a direct result of the mainstream media’s careless reporting and not Trump’s fault. It just, well, “morphed” out of nowhere. No mention of the four or five times Trump (and no one else) used the phrase to characterize the media, no mention of the men and women murdered in Annapolis late June, no promise to stop using the phrase. It just “morphed.” Out of nowhere.

We now live in an era when it’s difficult to find adjectives to describe the behavior of the “president” of the United States without resorting to common vulgarities like “chickenshit.” But until someone can give us one more apt, “chickenshit” is going to have to do. Meanwhile, in Independence, Missouri, Harry S Truman is spinning in his grave.

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