Trump's "Heroic" Ethics Watchdog Tweets Are A Sham

by Charlie Beckerman

Tuesday morning, as many of us were dragging ourselves out of our holiday stupor and back into the workplace, we were treated to what seemed like a trailer of the government to come under soon-to-be-President Donald Trump. However, it was one of those trailers where they basically show you the whole movie. Here’s the transcript:

In a world where Republicans have nothing holding them back, a swampy group of elites attacks, hoping to cripple the Office of Congressional Ethics. Only one man has the courage to fight back: President-Elect Donald Trump, wielding his Twitter account like a sword, strikes at the heart of the evil elites, sending them to defeat.

Yes, congressional Republicans began the first week of the new year by trying to remove their own oversight ― a move which played so badly that within hours they had reversed their position. With impressive speed, the “lamestream” media seized on the story, calling out the hypocrisy of the move and calling on Congressmen of both parties to vote against it.

However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the credit for the reversal is not being handed to the outraged citizens who contacted their congressional representatives to complain. It’s all going straight to Trump.

Look at how forcefully he took down his own party! So bravery! Such wowe! Wait a second… I suppose if we’re going to look at what Trump actually said in his tweets, he didn’t criticize the Republican anti-ethics effort — he just thought they went about it with the wrong timing. (The concern the PEOTUS wishes they had tackled first? Tax reform.) So Trump is the great hero, championing greater oversight for upholding strong ethical standards in government? Not exactly — or at least, certainly not based on these two tweets.

Yes, the GOP backed off the plan to gut the ethics watchdog group, but only after facing swift and overwhelming pressure, not only from the media, but technically from the leader of their own party (even if he was okay with the gist of the move). The whole episode leaves me queasy. It all seems to saccharine or orchestrated.

This does all seem like a particularly convenient win for the president-to-be. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, though, it’s that the media needs to be nimble and forceful in its coverage of the 115th Congress — and that citizens need to be ready to call their legislators the second they step out of line.