Editorial: Making America irrelevant

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Donald Trump continues to become increasing irrelevant at home and abroad.

More and more citizens, including many of his supporters, have learned to discount what he says completely or take his statements with a grain of salt.

Truth matters little to him. His stock in trade is deflection, distraction and distortion. All were in play in his Thursday announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from participation in the Paris climate change accords agreed upon by nearly 200 nations.

But citizens, corporations, organizations, and state and local governments should ignore the president’s lead and not just continue their efforts to combat the global warming that threatens the planet but redouble them.

In New Hampshire, the onus is now on the governor and the Legislature. Both are controlled by Trump’s party, Republicans who in past eras were conservation leaders and, dare we say it, environmentalists. It was, after all, Republican Teddy Roosevelt who created the Forest Service, signed the Antiquities Act that resulted in scores of national monuments and established several national parks. It was Republican Richard Nixon who created the EPA and signed the Clean Water Act.

Trump is a Republican of convenience, not conviction, yet so far most in his party have supported him or acquiesced despite his antics, unfitness for office and ethical transgressions. Until they repudiate him they own him. By withdrawing from the climate accord, Trump withdrew America from its leadership role in the world. It is a void that, as foreign policy experts quickly pointed out, China will be only too happy to fill.

Trump’s Rose Garden announcement was prefaced by an introduction from Vice President Mike Pence that was so fawning and sycophantic that it was more appropriate for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un or the Wizard of Oz than an American president. When he took the stage, the man who claimed to have “all the best words” used them to peddle half truths and distorted justifications for withdrawing from a voluntary treaty that has no teeth but significant moral power. Moral power is not Trump’s strong suit.

“It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs,” Trump said. Within minutes, not hours or days, Trump’s words were shown for what they were: a deceitful attempt to portray the world’s most powerful nation and, historically, its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases as a victim of a terribly unfair deal that was robbing taxpayers and killing American jobs.

The nation’s 70-year-old president apparently wants to make America great again by returning to the era of Mayberry RFD and the Howdy Doody Show, a time when coal was king and industry was powered by high-paid union workers instead of robots and computers. It’s not going to happen.

Renewable sources of energy like solar and wind power are the new employers and engines of economic growth. The United States has largely ceded advances in wind power to Germany and other European nations and solar panel manufacturing to China.

Withdrawing from the Paris accord will cause America to fall further behind and not save jobs but cost them. Withdrawal will be an action cursed by coming generations.

Near the end of his speech, Trump said of other countries: “At what point do they start laughing at us.” If they weren’t laughing before Trump spoke, they are now.