Eugene Robinson Live (Oct. 17)

Eugene Robinson
Oct 17, 2017

Chat with Post columnist Eugene Robinson about his latest columns and political news today at 1 p.m.

Read Eugene's latest: An abusive creep's defense

Hi, everybody, and welcome. Well, at this point the Trump administration has devolved into random destruction. He's trying to sabotage health care, tear up the Iran agreement (and our most important alliances), cleave the Republican Party into warring clans... Trump's nihilism is matched only by his incompetence, however, so we can hope the damage will not be irreparable. It is long past time for self-interested Republicans to realize that this man threatens not only the republic but also the political prospects of GOP elected officials. Maybe that will concentrate their minds. Anyway, let's get started.

What do you think are the chances that when all is said and done Robert Mueller will save us from DJT? Thanks

I have no way of knowing and no basis for making an educated guess, but what the hell? I'd say no better than 50-50. Mueller could find a smoking gun and still there would be no requirement for Congress to impeach him. But if enough legal pressure were applied, perhaps to his family, he might decide to pardon everyone and then resign. As I said, I have no reason to actually believe this will happen. Just fantasizing.

Donald Trump has shown not only a complete lack of aptitude for the job, but extremely low approval. I have seen many intelligent arguments as to why it is unlikely for impeachment or article 25 to remove him from office. At the same time, Trump has surrounded himself with former generals. In many other countries, at some point the military has lost patience with a bumbling, corrupt government and taken over. I'd hate to see this happen, but isn't it looking like this is them ost likely scenario?

I hope not. I covered South America when major countries such as Argentina and Brazil had just returned to democracy from years of military rule. Believe me, we do not want to live in a country where the military sees itself an an independent actor sitting in judgment of "bumbling" civilian leadership. Our elected officials can avoid such a scenario by doing their duty.

Have you any idea how this happened? Do you think Trump really wanted someone at DEA who would neuter the agency? Thank God for WashPost/60 Minutes reporting which was just awesome!!!

I don't think even Trump intended to appoint as drug czar someone who made it harder for DEA to combat the opioid epidemic. It was sheer incompetence by a White House that is miles below par in terms of competence and expertise.

Why haven't you written a column about this issue concerning the whole issue? By the way, if fans are so virulently opposed to kneeling, why can't they be just as virulent in opposition to police killings, racism, discrimination? Then we could all just "play ball..."

Maybe I'll write something on this subject soon.

Hi there.. Wish you and the WashPost news side would actually report on what is/is not happening in the US Virgin Islands. It looks as if the people there are really hurtiing too....but Puerto Rico has become the symbol of dysfunction re relief. Please don't forget USVI...If nothing else, at least do a report on status...the non-voting delegate continues to plead for help..but no one seems to listen/care...

We at the Post have done stories on the Virgin Islands. But we must do more. The devastation was near-complete and it will take much time and money to rebuild.

Thank you for writing what most women think - why do some men feel the need to proclaim the women in their lives (wives, mothers, sisters, daughters) in order to justify their concern or outrage about anything related to women? Can they not just empathize with other human beings?

I just thought it was weird that so many men commenting on the Harvey Weinstein story felt it necessary to say they were doing so "as the father of daughters." So if you had sons you wouldn't feel the same outrage? There just seemed to be something vaguely patronizing about that.

Trump on Congress: "We're not getting the job done. And I'm not going to blame myself. I'll be honest. They are not getting the job done." Is there *any* instance of Trump taking responsibility for *anything* at all? Not asking about taking credit for stuff, he's quick to claim credit whether or not it's merited. Taking responsibility - has he done that even one time?

Not that I can recall. Which is weird. I'm trying to think of another human being I know of who has never said "I'm sorry, I was wrong." I can't come up with one.

Many people are upset by NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and claim, despite statements by players to the contrary, that this act is offensive to the U.S. Military, the country and the flag. I have heard that Falls Church is considering renaming the JEB Stuart school that is named after a confederate general. Proposals to remove statues of, and change names of structures named after, confederate generals also offend many people. In my view, it is difficult to argue that confederate generals did not act against the the U.S. Military, the United States and its flag. I cannot determine whether there is any cross-over between these two groups of offended people, but, to the extent that there is, there is quite a bit of selective concern about which behavior offends the flag. Thoughts?

I believe you make a good point. In my view, if you don't object to Confederate monuments or display of the Confederate battle flag, then you're being disrespectful to the national anthem and the stars-and-stripes. You shouldn't object to others you perceive as doing the same thing.

I have no political persuasion but I am VERY concerned about our country and its president. I do believe that he is not fit to be president and everything that I have seen has confirmed this...However, the need to do something is now- URGENT

Then get yourself a political persuasion and get to work. Congress can do much to restrain an out-of-control president. If this Congress will not do its constitutional duty, work to elect a Congress that will.

I am 76, on a fixed income.. Struggling to stay up. Why in the world doesn't the Republican Congress stand up to DT. He and the likes of Steve Bannon are doing damage to our once great nations. I watch you on M.J. and the other programs you are on. I appreciate your intelligence and wisdom. For the first time in my life I am afraid of what that fool will do next. There seems to be no way to stop him. I wish he didn't have the 'red button' in his pocket. I have written and called are the reps from NC and let them have it. So much for that. The senators and congressmen from NC are a disgrace. As for the NC General Assembly, the Republicans are so far back in the woods they are handling Snakes. And on that joyful note I will leave you. Again I do appreciate your insight, judgement and intelligence. Sincerely Linda S. Efird

Thank you for your kind words. And believe me, calls to your elected representatives do have an impact. So keep the faith, and keep it up.

The media states Vegas shooting was largest mass murder in US history, I read about mass murders of blacks in Tulsa which wiped out entire town. What constitutes reporting Vegas as largest?

You're referring to the Tulsa race riot of 1921 (official death toll 39, actual death toll estimated at 300), in which whites rampaged against African Americans. You might have also mentioned the similar Atlanta race riot of 1906. Careful journalists have called Las Vegas the worst mass shooting in "modern" American history, which is fair and true. 

Thanks for your excellent, extremely important column today. One correction: as a senior Psychologist, I strongly encourage you to read The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, by Bandy Lee, MD, MDiv.; she is a professor in Law and Psychiatry at Yale. The book emerged from a recent conference of MH experts at Yale in which they diagnosed POTUS. In it 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts discuss and assess DT's mental health. They point out that along with the "Goldwater rule" which inhibits mental health professionals from diagnosing public figures, there is another there is also a "Duty to warn" that all mental health professionals must abide by. (eg, Tarasoff and related cases.) Their point is that the "Duty to warn" supersedes professional neutrality; I firmly agree. They provide 25 insightful chapters addressing his unfitness for duty. I was encouraged to pose a question. My question: do you disagree with them? Thanks again.

About Trump, I wholly agree. I don't know how many columns I've written about his unfitness to be president, or even dogcatcher. About whether the duty to warn overrides the Goldwater rule, I leave that to psychiatrists and psychologists to decide. 

I'm confused. Didn't Trump campaign for isolationism and against military adventurism? Now his words and actions suggest he's ready to start a war with North Korea, maybe Iran too. 46% of the same people who voted for him now favor a preemptive strike on North Korea. Do you understand this? I genuinely don't get how they, Trump or his supporters, got from point A to point B.

Neither do I. This is perhaps the most radical departure from what Trump promised during his campaign. 

Dear Gene: Our nephew is a fighter pilot on a carrier that's based off the coast of Japan. Aside from my daily worries about living in the bats***t era of Trump's ordinary chaos & craziness, I'm now petrified that our nephew and his crew will be targets of the next North Korean missile strike. Do you think Mattis, Kelly, and Tillerson will have the strength, patience and patriotic duty to prevent Trump from launching a nuclear strike, just because he's so desperate for a "win" in his so-far pathetic presidential performance file?

Who doesn't worry about Trump and North Korea? I hope it's possible to persuade him that an unnecessary war that costs millions of lives will not go down in history as a "win" -- that in fact he will be remembered as a mass murderer.

Can't the Republicans see what a fool Trump is making them look? I would rather lose my job then have to work for someone like him. Don't they know by now that he is sabotaging them and their agenda. They are not representing their constituents. Every day it gets harder and harder to listen to it depressing

Bob Corker decided he'd had enough. I think others may come to the same conclusion. If not, then I hope those constituents send a message in 2018.

Hi Gene, My (admittedly limited) understanding on this topic is that the island is somewhat divided politically on this question, with no clear majority in favor of either statehood, independence, or continuation of the status quo. At the risk of getting into the prediction game, could you see Maria & its aftermath pushing PR residents closer to supporting statehood?

Opinion about statehood seems to be divided, and I, like you, don't know enough about the situation to have a view about what impact the hurricane will have. Maybe someone else on the chat has a more informed analysis?

I notice the NASDAQ is down some today. Overall though Wall Street seems to be soaring in spite of worries of nuclear war, uncertainty about NAFTA, the future of the healthcare market, China's growing influence in trade, etc. The list of uncertain or unstable situations created by Trump is probably nearly endless. So why doesn't Wall Street reflect what's really going on in the world?

I'm not sure, but it's an interesting question. They always say that Wall Street hates uncertainty. Yet in a time of tremendous uncertainty, both domestically and internationally, Wall Street is happy to the point of being giddy. One theory is that the Street expects more deregulation, which Trump can deliver, and a big tax cut, which may or may not happen. It seems to me that if tax reform goes the way of health care reform, there's the possibility that Wall Street will sober up. In a hurry.

Gene, don't know if you saw this letter from the editor last Friday. It, by far, is the best retort to those objecting to kneeling during the national anthem. It was written by Donald Sears from Winchester VA: "With all the controversy about “taking a knee” in her presence, I asked Old Glory herself what she thought about the National Football League protests. With a look of resolve, she said, “Never doubt my strength. I’m no snowflake. I was conceived, born and bathed in protest. It’s in my DNA. From the first shot at Lexington to that wonderful speech by Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve gloried in protest. It rejuvenates me. It invigorates me. It validates me. Hallelujah for protest, large or small. March, sit, stand or kneel. I and America are the better for it. I am honored that all who have either suffered, sacrificed or prospered under me still see me as their pathway to ‘liberty and justice for all.’ ”

Beautifully said.

Is it possible that Trump's incompetence and destructiveness coupled with GOP infighting will result in Congress getting nothing of consequence done between now and the 2018 election?

I would change "possible" to "likely."

Here's my theory on why both Bob Corker and John McCain are so outspoken right now: neither man has anything left to lose, so there's nothing to hold either one of them back. Regrettably, most Congressional Republicans have a lot to lose (i.e., their position, their votes), so I'm thinking that's why they're keeping quiet and not standing up to Trump.

True, but they also have constitutional responsibilities, and most of them have consciences. They should listen to the latter and fulfill the former.


When men go the "fathers of daughters" or "our wives and daughters" route, they're putting themselves at the center of the issue, and framing women as extensions of themselves. It's patronizing and distracting. Plus, of course, procreation is not some magic door leading to human decency. Try just being a decent human.

That's something we should all try.


And that's it for today, folks. My time is up. Thanks for participating, and I'll see you again next week!

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Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson is an Associate Editor and twice-weekly columnist for The Washington Post. His column appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. In a 25-year career at The Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section. In 2005, he started writing a column for the Op-Ed page. He is the author of "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" (1999) and "Last Dance in Havana" (2004). Robinson is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and has received numerous journalism awards.
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