Can Donald Trump Finally Privot to Being Presidential?

“I’m just now slowly emerging from what feels like a horrible hangover, “wrote a friend  a couple of days following the Donald Trump presidential victory a week ago.  I have felt a little nauseous myself, though alcohol over indulgence quite likely contributed to that.  Now my condition is best described as one of cognitive dissonance.  I’m having trouble stringing together the words “President” and “Donald Trump.”  They don’t fit.

The problem is he will be President soon, so I’ll have to get used to it.

I do not assume the worst of Trump as many other never-Trumpers seem to.  While he has obvious prejudices, I have thought emphasizing them missed the mark.  The key aspects of his personality are his drive for self-aggrandizement which includes a need to always be perceived as a winner.  Both of those needs has produced a man with a genius to manipulate others.   And he did it brilliantly in working his way from being an initial laughing stock, except to his immediate followers, to becoming, sigh, President Trump.

Trump’s manipulative ways disgust me, and I think his narcissism produces a total unconcern for those harmed by his ways of winning.  But I do not think of him as someone evil, like Hitler.   I think of him as shallow and, except for treasuring loyalty, largely amoral, which certainly can do much harm, but I fear those qualities less than I would a fervent ideologue.   Again he will often sound like one, but the way he keeps reshaping his positions suggests otherwise.

He’s a guy who wants to make deals that make him look smart.  He employs hyperbole as a way of firing up his base and to give himself a lot of room to negotiate later.   How many things has he said, such as his policy towards illegal immigrants, that he has “walked back” over time?

The puzzle here is while winning the presidency is a clear cut matter, winning as the president is far from it.   To begin with there are no exact standards of measurement, an arbitrariness that leaves room for historians to reevaluate greatness over time.  I would think that ambiguity would bother Trump.   But I also think he will come up with some kind of definition for himself.

It would seem a good part of that definition would likely depend on getting laws passed through Congress.  Because he is not rooted in an ideology and cares little about the future of the Republican Party (unless it continues to bow down to him), he might be in a unique position to break through the gridlock and get some useful legislation passed.

I’m not counting on it, but I have some hope.

On the night of Trump’s election win Chris Mathews of MSNBC, no great fan of Trump, captured my sense of wanting to wait for awhile to see what plays out rather than vilifying our new president right off the bat.   He put it this way:

“I am just determined to find an optimistic notion here which is there must be some talent here to be president because he is going to be our president.  Is he going to recoil everything he said because it was all just a game?

Is it ‘that got me what I wanted to get but I don’t need that anymore.  What I need now is calm confidence building measures that I can actually build this economy back up again.’

Do the brains that got this guy elected president tonight apply to being a good president.  I leave it as an open question.”

Though recent talk of Trump’s White House team, including his children, and prospective cabinet members do not ease my mind, hey, President Obama shook Trump’s hand and wished him success because America’s success depended on his own.

In honor of our president, I can wait for awhile to rush to judgement on the next in line.

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Hillary’s Character is Questionable, but Trump is Worse. Much Worse.

(NOTE:  This is a particularly long post.  You might want to grab a drink before reading it, or put it off to when you have a few extra minutes.)

I’m not all that religious but at this point I have to wonder whether God is going to punish us with a Trump presidency.  While I have thought the election would be tighter than the polls had been showing, I felt that Hillary would win.  In a battle of two questionable characters – or as Michael Gerson puts it “one candidate stale and tainted, the other “vapid and vile” – I, like Gerson, see Trump as worse.   Much worse.

Since he announced his bid for the presidency, Trump has always had the advantage of offering something new and different to a people who are tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol and who give no weight to how complex things are these days, i. e. there are no easy answers to any major problem because the interconnectivity of the world has grown so great.

Even I who can’t stand this childish, vindictive man am attracted to his being something  interesting and really different.  Even if awful, a Trump presidency would be really different.  And no doubt interesting, unless it reaches the point of scaring us to death.

We must understand that our political values have been infiltrated and made subservient to those of entertainment.  That is the undercurrent that has propelled Donald the reality TV star into his present position.  Potentially the first TV reality president.  In the world of entertainment sensational is very good and boring is very bad.   And Donald J. Trump regularly makes news saying something sensational (often outrageous), while he is seldom boring except when momentarily following a script devised by others to make him seem less dangerous.

Given the wide spread hunger for change the big question is how many voters out there have been waiting for a sufficient excuse to go with the “vapid and vile” danger man Trump over the “stale and tainted”  and boring Hillary (the degree of the taint is debatable, but she is no Bernie Sanders).  Now that FBI director Comey has decided to reopen an investigation on Hillary, those hidden Trumpsters might have the excuse they’ve been longing for.

With the election only a week away the Comey probe, no matter how unsubstantial  it may prove to be later, may turn out the straw that breaks Hillary’s back.  I can imagine some in those private voting booths thinking:  What the hell.  Let’s take a chance on the business man who is a proven winner.  Let’s shake things up in Washington.

The thought of having a hand in big changes gets the blood going, doesn’t it?  In such a situation one’s vote really feels like it counts.  Voting for the possibility of incremental improvement can’t hold a candle to that when it comes to enthusiasm.

Someone summed up Trump’s followers as wanting to punch Washington in the face.  And no one represents Washington more than Hillary, the ultimate insider.  I share the sentiment at times but for President Trump it would be his golden rule.

He would get involved in a number of fights with just about everyone, but besides making many of his followers feel good about his taking down those big wigs a peg or two, what’s that going to solve?   Who’s that going to help?   Who will be willing to work with him?  He will be an elected president, not an elected dictator or monarch, unless things really go awry.

Sure Washington is a classic example of SNAFU (a military acronym for  “situation normal all …..”    you know the rest.)  But the idea that Donald Trump will be able to fix anything is sheer fantasy.  It is clear from studying his past that his primary drive has been to get attention, or aiming higher “adoration” as the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has put it.   Trump has been amazingly successful at that, but tell me the last president who has been adored by a majority of Americans for more than a few days here and there, if ever.  At various times they were all vilified by the press and much of the public.

Does anyone believe Trump will handle vilification well?

Along with Trump’s genius for getting attention goes a blister-thin skin which prompts him to strike back at anyone who criticizes him.  He views every caustic comment as life threatening.  Since he has a complete disregard for the truth, he doesn’t mind lying in his defense and then telling bigger lies to defend his previous ones or to distract us from the original issues.

After a number of women came forth (11 at my last count) to say Trump did to them what Trump bragged he did to women on those Access Hollywood tapes, he first said he didn’t know any of them, and when it was proven he had known at least two, he called them all liars.  To take attention away from their accusations he dismissed them as agents of a media conspiracy against him, which grew to international proportions including bankers and anyone else profiting from the present rigged system that Trump promises to do away with.

I am the Donald hear me roar.  Drowning out all efforts to hold him accountable for anything.

We don’t have enough press to disprove all the B. S.  that he and his surrogates, which I like to think of as minions, churn out and perpetuate daily.   A special shout out to you Kellyanne Conway, Trump handler in chief, to the extent you can, and the whirling dervish of political spin.

Trump as president would spend much of his time counter attacking all those who would criticize or challenge him while contriving all sorts of falsehoods about them.   Worst of all to me are those falsehoods pumped up to full blown conspiracies.  Since he has absolutely no regard for the truth, he would not hesitate to make up conspiracies or develop baseless attacks as he did with such success to his primary opponents, e. g. “lying” Ted the Canadian with a father who might have been involved in the Jack Kennedy assassination.

Trump saw that last implication in The National Enquirer, obviously a source as trusted as the slab with the 10 commandments.

In short, while all politicians pollute our national discourse (such as it is) with the way they spin events to make themselves look good and their opponents bad, Trump is the biggest polluter of all, the coal industry of political pollution.

Years from now many  of our descendants will still believe President Obama was born in Kenya because Trump created his political career spewing that lie often for about five years.  The Republicans welcomed any attack on Obama, and the press never forced the issue, allowing much of the public to believe it and teaching Trump how easy it can be to create a false reality and convince others of its validity.

How many other grand lies would the presidency give Trump the opportunity to foment and infest us like a virus?   Until the notion of truth itself loses the little meaning it has left in politics.

 


P. S. – I can imagine a Trump supporter pointing out that several weeks ago Trump indeed did state that Obama was born in the United States, a one sentence statement tucked into a Trump rally late that he conned the press into covering like a major announcement.

To continue the coal analogy, five years of spewing coal dust all about and then in one sentence he tells the truth and acts as if all the damage done had been rectified, as if he were a pope announcing an encyclical.   That was the truth then.  This is the truth now.

Or to try another analogy, there is Trump on the front page accusing  Obama of lying about his birthplace for five years and then one day, on page 55, he inserts one sentence of truth as if the two balance out.   As if one sentence of truth equates to five years of lying.