The Washington Post deputy editorial page director Ruth Marcus remembers four years ago like it was yesterday; on the brink of the United States' voting in its first female president, something else happened.
"On Election Day four years ago, I wrote a column I assumed would never run. It was, as you have easily guessed, about the election of Donald Trump, and it was the back-up plan," Marcus wrote Sunday. "The column is painful to reread. I never imagined how terrible the next four years would be. My tone was alarmed, but, it turns out, not alarmed enough. The column underestimated not only how appallingly Trump would behave and how poorly he would perform, but also how consistently spineless the leaders of his party, in particular the elected leaders, would respond in the face of his cruel excesses and deadly incompetence."
Marcus added, "The candidate who complained about the 'rigged' election became the president who refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. The candidate who led 'lock her up' chants about his 2016 opponent became the president who asserted that his 2020 opponent, his opponent’s son, his predecessor and his previous opponent should all be thrown in jail, and who criticized his own attorney general for failing to be aggressive enough in going after these political enemies."
Marcus wrote that "there was a fleeting hope" that Trump, after he was elected, "might have toned down the ugly rhetoric and taken office with at least a modicum of the seriousness it deserves. After all, he told us he understood how to be presidential, that he would be so presidential we would beg him to be less boring. The glimmer of graciousness that Trump managed to display on election night yielded quickly to a dark inaugural full of talk of carnage and then to delusional claims about crowd sizes."
She now calls Trump "grossly negligent" and "actively malign."
"Trump didn’t ramp down; he revved up, drunk on the power of being called 'sir' and ordering around 'my generals.' He abused his pardon authority to reward his cronies and protect himself," Marcus wrote. "He turned his Justice Department into an instrument of personal revenge and self-protection. He politicized the machinery of intelligence to his own benefit. He lined his emptying pockets with taxpayer funds. He dismissed the co-equal congressional branch as a mere nuisance, disdaining legitimate oversight, and treated the professionals in the executive branch with similar derision and hostility."
Marcus' op-ed can be read in full here.