Some April Fool’s Jokes Aren’t Funny, like a President Trump
By Mark Poloncarz
April 1, 2016

Not many of the so-called political prognosticators gave Donald Trump much of chance to win the Republican Party’s nomination for president when he announced his candidacy last year. While his name recognition may have been better than any other candidate, he also was “The Donald,” a caricature of the rich and famous but not necessarily what we expect from our presidents. There was no way he was going to be a darling of the Republican “establishment” and history has shown that eventually the party rallies around a candidate who was acceptable to the establishment.

However, as we have all learned, Trump has turned out to be not only a formidable (and nasty) campaigner, but almost impervious to the type of self-inflicted wounds that doom most normal candidacies. Additionally, he took advantage of the boiling over anger among blue collar Republicans who finally realized their party did not truly represent them. After years of fomenting anger among its conservative masses, the Republican Party fell victim to the monster it created when its grass-roots members rejected the establishment and kept voting for Trump and all that he stands for as a candidate.

While Trump was able deflect any criticism, his ability to turn a negative into a positive finally ended this past week, and it was Trump himself who shattered his Teflon exterior. On matters of both domestic and foreign policy, Trump literally put one foot in his mouth and kicked himself in the rear with the other. In less than a week, Trump the front-runner finally became Trump the fool, the phony candidate who proved he really did not know what he was taking about and what every other republican candidate tried to show he actually was during the primary season.

On foreign policy, Trump’s bluster finally caught up with him when he showed his ignorance on issues such as nuclear proliferation, or even the use of nuclear weapons. When asked if he would use nuclear weapons in Europe, Trump said on Fox News, “Europe’s a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table.”

Not since the Cold War has the threat of the use of nuclear weapons in a civilized society been made, and even then the threat was different because mutual assured destruction of the United States and the Soviet Union would result, basically ensuring nuclear weapons would never be used. Today, I am not sure what threat would result in Trump possibly using nuclear weapons in Europe – perhaps an invasion by Putin’s Russia – but even then by ‘keeping his cards on the table’ he is rejecting decades long U.S. policy that we would only use nuclear weapons to defend our nation from annihilation. His statements rattled our allies in Europe and did nothing to assure anyone that competent, rational decisions will be made by a President Trump.

Another example of the potential of Trump to make foreign policy decisions that hurt our national self-interest was his statement that the U.S. should stop defending Japan and South Korea and let those nations develop nuclear weapons. For decades republican and democratic presidents have all held to the policy of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It has not always been successful, as nations like India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all acquired nuclear weapons, but never has a president suggested a nation should acquire them.

Once the nuclear genie is let out of the bottle for a specific nation it has proven almost impossible to put the genie back. The addition of a new nuclear nation on the Korean Peninsula would increase the threat level and further destabilize a region where an egomaniacal dictator in Kim Jong Un is looking for any excuse to justify North Korea’s own nuclear weapons program, and perhaps use it.

Furthermore, since the end of World War II, Japan has relied on the U.S. for its strategic protection from real threats it has faced from the Soviet Union, China, and now North Korea because as the only nation to have experienced the horror of the use of nuclear weapons, Japan’s constitution prohibits the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Calling for a militarized Japan shows Trump’s ignorance not only about Japan’s constitution but it devalues Japan’s relationship with our country.

Trump’s comments were so striking Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded by saying, “whoever will become the next president of the United States, the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy.” In effect, Prime Minister Abe was calling out Trump for his lack of knowledge of the importance of the U.S. – Japan security relationship to the Japanese people. Foreign leaders never comment on another nation’s leadership candidates, but words matter and when the prospective presidential nominee for a major U.S. party says something as outrageous as what Trump said we should not be surprised when the world reacts poorly.

Trump’s propensity this week to say shocking statements was not limited to matters of foreign affairs. In stating women should be “punished” for having an abortion, Trump did the almost unthinkable in having both pro-choice advocates on the left and anti-abortion advocates on the right agreeing his punishment comment was wrong. He almost immediately back-pedaled, perhaps the only time during this campaign Trump has admitted he was wrong, but the damage was done.

While his shoot-from-the-hip style may sound great at a campaign rally, it is the last thing you want from a president. Claiming you are going to have the best foreign policy, the greatest trade agreements, and world leaders are going to roll over for you without explaining how you will accomplish it will eventually catch up to you. When you are running for the job of president of the United States cheap one liners will not suffice, substance matters.

Donald Trump, once again, revealed himself to be ill-suited for the office of the presidency. This time he did it by denigrating women and showing how a Trump presidency could destabilize East Asia, thereby weakening our own national security in the process. Trump’s candidacy has seemed like an endless comedy reality show. However this is no laughing matter and Trump just proved in this show the fool is not funny but can be dangerous.

Copyright Mark C. Poloncarz, 2016