Photo for BERES, section front or on the turn

President Donald Trump shakes hands with outgoing President Barack Obama during the 58th inauguration ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2017.

President Trump’s frequent departures from the truth are well documented. The left and its supportive media outlets are right to loudly protest when he is caught telling a bald-faced whopper.

Blatant lies are demeaning to the presidency and harmful to the nation’s credibility. But while they’re condemning him for lying, it sure would be nice if pundits and politicians held themselves to the same standards.

Since he took office, columns, editorials, and political shows have been awash in dire warnings and predictions: Donald Trump is going to destroy the United States. He aims to tear down our system of government and replace it with authoritarian rule. His boorish behavior and America-first attitude have alienated just about every nation in the world.

If there is one constant message from the left, it’s that Trump is a danger to democracy. His one-year anniversary saw dozens of articles and columns on the threat:

“If Republicans hold on to both houses of Congress in this year’s midterm elections, the American system of government could very well collapse into Donald Trump’s distinctive — and disturbing — vision of a personalized, authoritarian state,” warned Matthew Yglesias in Vox.

Brian Klaas, writing in The Washington Post, worried that because “Trump’s America is willfully abdicating global leadership and turning inward as ‘America First’ rapidly morphs into ‘America Alone,’ he is destroying democracy globally.” According to Klaas, the world’s dictators couldn’t be happier with Trump.

In short, Trump seems to be the worst American since Benedict Arnold. He is responsible for the worldwide decline of democracy and the rise of populism. He is accused of everything from tearing down government institutions to destroying the free press.

And, yet, consider: Even as he supposedly takes these freedom-killing actions, Trump is being loudly, harshly criticized and booed by millions. To date, no one has been beheaded.

The president is constantly referred to as a moron, a buffoon, and a thousand other derogatory terms by media pundits, politicians, and Hollywood darlings. No one has been imprisoned or lost a job — or even been killed in a bizarre accident or suicide.

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Trump is undermined and ridiculed by federal employees at all levels of government. But there have been no kangaroo courts or mock trials to put away these critics. He has yet to create a private army of jack-booted goons to purge Washington of his enemies.

Overall, he has done little to damage democracy — unlike the previous administration, which one could argue displayed Bolshevistic tendencies unseen in the White House for many decades.

It was President Obama who befriended dictators and bowed down to misogynistic kings. His fondness for brutal strongmen was disturbing — and all the more so because it was usually ignored by most of the national news media.

It was his administration that willingly stepped back from the United States’ role as a world leader and showed little interest in promoting human rights or democracy on the international stage. It was his administration that ignored the pleas of the people yearning for freedom in nation after nation during the Arab Spring.

In stark contrast to the full-throated roar of disapproval for every action the Trump administration takes, most inside-the-Beltway news outlets enjoyed a too-cozy relationship with the Obama White House. From CNN to ABC, to MSNBC and CBS, Obama’s staff was able to control the message so well that one administration official bragged that the media served as little more than a well-orchestrated echo chamber for the president.

The Obama administration’s disregard for government institutions was startling. It frequently sidestepped the Constitution and Congress — and displayed a disturbing tendency to make up its own rules and regulations through executive orders.

It turned a blind eye to the Internal Revenue Service’s antagonistic and illegal treatment of conservative groups.

As for claims that Trump is a threat to free speech: It was the Obama administration that threw filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula into prison after Susan Rice falsely claimed one of his silly movies was responsible for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi.

When it comes to silencing dissent, it was the Obama administration that wore the jackboots. Its heavy-handed actions should have raised red flags among the media more than once.

It was Obama’s Justice Department that subpoenaed New York Times reporter James Risen — and named Fox News reporter James Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator in a leak over a North Korean missile test. In 2013, without justification, the Obama Justice Department seized the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters and offices.

In 2014, CNN’s Jake Tapper noted that “the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act ... more than all previous administrations combined.”

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Trump survived his first year, but the rhetoric about his fitness to serve continues. A recent doctor’s physical assured the nation that the president is hale, hearty, and of sound mind.

Looking for another angle to oust Trump, former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter now worries the president may attempt a coup of his own. In December, Painter appeared on MSNBC fretting that, because Trump is commander-in-chief, “there is a risk of him using that power to destroy our democracy.” Painter worries that the president will take advantage of all those retired generals on his staff to set himself up as a dictator.

Nonsense.

Trump may prove to be a terrible president, but in three years he can be voted out of office. The Republic can survive a bad leader. On the other hand, a deeply entrenched faction of government working to undermine the commander-in-chief is a far scarier scenario.

And, as for those generals — I would much rather place the fate of the nation on those who have spent their lives defending and supporting the Constitution of the United States than those who are plotting to bring down a sitting president.

mberes@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6305

Twitter: @RobinBeres

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