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Editorial – We’re Just Getting Warmed Up

Repealing the Affordable Care Act. Building a wall. Holding federal funds to New York City hostage. A temporary ban on refugees. All this happened in one week of President Donald Trump’s America. And though his executive orders were theatrical at best (except the ban), they’re just getting warmed up. And so is the media.

Since the Inauguration, there’s been a wake-up call among career politicians who believed none of this could happen. The reversal of fortune is tough to stomach for Democrats, who are now banding together to stymie the fallout of the Republican president’s policies, which appear to be seriously reactionary and definitely ad-libbed. In a White House where nearly every major player (exception Reince Preibus) is a political novice, you can expect the consequences to be dire.

Therefore, it’s incumbent that local federal Representatives Adriano Espaillat, Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel and Jose Serrano step it up to keep Mr. Trump from fulfilling policies that spell irreparable harm to America’s image as a beacon of freedom and tolerance. Appealing to Mr. Trump will be quixotic, if not impossible. They can use the power of their committees as a way to slow down Mr. Trump’s legislative agenda be it financing the wall or defunding the Affordable Care Act.

So will Congressman Jose Serrano, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, be able to convince Republicans to hold off on funding a new version of healthcare? Can Congressman Joe Crowley, the fourth highest ranking Democrat in the House and member of the Ways and Means Committee, do the same on his end? Can both members do much to persuade their Republican colleagues not to reduce federal funding to New York City? Newly sworn in Congressman Adriano Espaillat recently told the Norwood News he has spoken to members of the other side of the aisle. But will he parlay his achievement as the first Dominican-born legislator elected to the House of Representatives as an example of an America built by immigrants?

Will Congressman Eliot Engel, ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, work with committee chair, Republican Representative Ed Royce (Royce called Engel a “good friend” in a press release the committee sent out in the beginning of the legislative session) in holding public hearings on Russia’s meddling of the US presidential election? Can he stymie an all-out war by the US against the Middle East?

The possibility is gravely there, particularly after Mr. Trump stressed it will eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism” in his Inaugural address. The temporary ban on Muslims who come from seven countries in the Middle East only underscores that position. It emphasizes a kind of latent Islamophobia that’s now dangerously permissible by Mr. Trump, galvanizing ardent supporters who think it’s now okay.

It’s clear Democrats cannot reverse course alone. It’s high time they all single out moderate House and Senate Republicans waffling at Mr. Trump’s policies as they think about the 2019 midterms, where results usually indicate whether the ruling party is doing well.

For Republicans, the adage “You’re judged by the company you keep,” applies. By Election Day 2021, America could no longer be a symbol of virtue, but a laughingstock promulgated by a populist president who will peddle conspiracy theories to his final hour as President. Presidents come and go. Is Mr. Trump a stain Republicans can live with long after he’s left?

And though the President is getting warmed up in his role as leader of the free world, so is the media, a thorn in Mr. Trump’s side. The attacks on the press will continue. They’ll be viewed as peddlers of fake news, dishonest, out of touch by the Trump White House. Mr. Trump thinks this is his way of getting the press on his side. Not a smart strategy. The press will continue to shut him down. Headline after headline, probe after probe, story after story.

Does the press get it wrong? Yes. Presumption and irresponsible prognosticating was in full display throughout the election, where certain news outlets showed a fondness for Hillary Clinton, perpetuating the claim that news media has morphed into a source of validation for the impassioned. In most cases, the media doesn’t get it wrong. Its overall intent is to spell out what is happening in the world without prejudice. Objective journalism can be disputed. Can we ever achieve it? It’s unlikely. But a cardinal rule among journalists is they strive for it. And that’s what matters.

Mr. Trump’s closest advisors have labeled the media the “opposition party” for questioning him. While questioning the boss is rare in the private sector, it doesn’t hold water for the leader of the free world. The questions will keep coming. And the media will not let up.

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