Some first month, eh?
I feel sorry for the White House reporters, described as standing in a batting cage where fastballs come so fast and furious, one can’t swing at them all.
So, with the luxury of distance and time, let’s take a broader look.
Just before President Trump took office, I wrote that his reign wouldn’t be as bad as many feared or as good as many hoped.
Let’s see how that’s playing out.
For one thing, fixation on Trump’s failure to do on “Day One” all the things he said he’d do is mostly worthless. “Day One” stuff is rhetoric. Nobody with any sense of government (for that matter, nobody with any sense) expects sweeping change on Day One of anyone’s administration.
Besides — and this can’t be repeated often enough — Trump's support doesn’t rely on fact, truth, or promises promptly kept. It’s based on visceral belief: He can change government to make America great again.
The Russia thing? His tax returns? Too complicated. Don’t get it. Don’t care. He’ll protect our borders, bring back jobs, and boost the economy. Just look at the market: record levels, roaring since his election.
And, OK, the travel ban’s a bust. And, yeah, a hot-to-trot bid to repeal Obamacare is cooled. And Gallup tracking shows his disapproval rating jumped eight points, from 45 percent to 53 percent, since he took office.
You thought it’d be worse, huh?
He’s still pushing the wall and says design is underway. He ordered a civilian federal employee hiring freeze and put a five-year lobbying ban on executive branch appointees.
And, come on, tapping respected jurist Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court had to calm qualms of those who feared he’d pick Judge Wapner or David Duke.
So, maybe not as bad as thought?
And as for the but-Trump’s-crazy crowd, we have courts and Congress to prevent rash action such as, let’s say, going to war with California should it complete the process of becoming its own country.
(Like it’s not already.)
Still, it’s unsettling to hear a sitting president repeatedly obsess about his own election, especially when embellished with fake facts: millions of illegal voters cost him the popular vote, or he won more Electoral College votes than anyone since Reagan.
They didn’t. He didn’t. In fact, winners in five of seven presidential elections since Reagan got more electoral votes than Trump. More troubling, when called on his bogus claim, he said, “I was given that information.”
Yeah, see, we’re all given information. Serious people verify it.
This gets me to the media as America’s enemy, something I find confusing.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Did he mean all media offer fake news and here are a few examples? Or did he mean only the outlets listed are fake news media? Some clarity would help.
As would some perspective — such as suggested by American historian Alexis Coe in last Sunday’s (failing?) New York Times Magazine.
Writing about presidential biographies, Coe notes that when Chester A. Arthur became president (1881), it was thought his administration would be defined by “unprecedented greed and corruption, full of woefully underqualified appointees lacking any experience in government.”
Turns out, she writes, Arthur championed civil-service reform over patronage and left office liked and respected.
She suggests reading presidential biographies not because they say all will be OK but because they show nothing ever really was OK. She also suggests that if feeling “anxious or incensed” (I’m thinking like this week’s Not My President’s Day protesters), turn off the TV, shut the laptop, silence the cell, and “hang out with the likes of Chester A. Arthur.”
I’d only add: Please check back. This guy bears close watching.