Leonard Zwelling

There is nothing more gratifying to a blogger than getting emails and texts from readers commenting upon a previously posted blog. Most of the notes I get call me to task. I guess no one writes to you if they agree with you. That makes sense. It’s mostly those with contrary views who bother to let me know the error of my thinking. Fair enough. That’s how I learn.

Here are two of the topics I have heard from you about.

How I treat Trump. OK, I get it. Some of you out there keep reminding me that Mr. Trump is the legitimate President of the United States whether I like it or not. Just so you know, I agree. I also agree that impeachment is not something to be taken lightly and that much of the undesirable behavior exhibited by Mr. Trump does not constitute an impeachable offense despite being offensive. BUT—the latest error may rise to that level.

I really believe there is a simple explanation for most of what Mr. Trump does. He believes that no one can be trusted. He believes that the next conspiracy against him is right around the corner. He believes that life is just a series of deals. He also believes that he is suffering all this criticism for the people of the United States and his supporters agree. I get it. I just think it’s all wrong.

The government of the United States should not be run like a real estate office in downtown Queens. Everything is not a deal. Sometimes the U. S. has alliances that are based on mutual trust and shared ideals. It’s not always about what he can do for me or me for him. Trump thinks differently. Thus, the behavior and thus, the origins of the call with the leader of the Ukraine that might have slipped into extortion. Even if Trump didn’t mean to extort the Ukrainian president or any other foreign leader, he must understand that he is the most powerful person on earth and thus when he asks for things, he may get them. When he asks for investigations of his political opponents in the context of a bilateral call with a world leader, this can be viewed as coercion whether he means it to or not. His intent is not the issue. What he did and said is.

I have no idea how this turns out, but I do know that if Trump had said, “you know, I probably shouldn’t have said that to him,” this all would have gone away. It wasn’t a “perfect call.”

There’s a lot of talk now that Trump is worse than Nixon. Well, he behaves worse and he has accomplished less, but only a thorough vetting of how he has done his job should force him out of office. Impeachment may be one process for doing that. The election is the other, preferable one. However, impeachment is a Constitutionally mandated means of checking the power of the President. It is not simply undoing a legitimate election.

Either way, I hope we get to the bottom of what really happened and I hope it is done in public. If it is not, then this will fester and only get worse.

I think the real tragedy here is that no one has yet emerged on the Democratic side who can really provide a viable alternative to the sitting president. If someone would emerge, we will have an honest race in 2020. If what we have heard to date is it, no wonder they want to impeach him. They are afraid they can’t beat him.

Is that fair enough for you out there?

The second issue of continuing controversy that has emanated from the blog is the manner in which Chinese members of academic medical faculties are being treated in the U. S. Clearly, the NIH is out after those Chinese they think are sending confidential information, particularly that in grants, to China. There is concern about the stealing of intellectual property and there may be real instances of that that suggest that China has created an organized means of stealing American science. Or not. Perhaps there is also racial profiling fueled by the Trump Administration’s fixation on a trade war with China and some innocent people have been swept up in this.

Again, I’m not sure.

My guess is that there are nefarious activities going on among some members of the academic community with affiliations in China. There are also people being unfairly accused of wrongdoing. What would help is some transparency on the part of both the government and the leaders of academic institutions about what people being fired have actually done wrong. Right now it all seems so arbitrary.

These are the two issues on which I have received the most feedback. I really appreciate all of it because it makes me think and reexamine my positions. That’s a good thing.

How this all ends is beyond my predictions. I do know there is an election in 2020 and both of these issues are on the ballot because Mr. Trump is on the ballot. And I believe that is likely to be the case even if he is impeached because he is unlikely to be convicted. The real question is whether we will have a choice or will we be voting against someone rather than for someone.

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep thinking.

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