During the primaries and the run-up to November 8, what America kept hearing was, “Let Trump Be Trump.” The implication was that sooner or later, and probably sooner, Trump would implode.
That didn’t happen as we know.
Now, in the few weeks after the election, what America is hearing is, “Give Him a Chance.” The implication now being that what people had hoped might happen during the primaries would finally happen now that he was the president-elect: he’d grow up.
This hasn’t happened yet, either. (“But give him a chance!”)
We read that Mr. Trump is softening his stance on any number of issues. This may not please his cohorts of followers. And it may also not be true.
If we read the excerpts from his meeting with the editorial board of The New York Times, what we find is that while there is a little softening around the edges, Trump still expects to be king.
The public and the press made a lot of mistakes during the primaries. They are making them now.
We cannot second guess Trump’s cabinet appointments…actually, we can. He’s making a great effort to include women (but second-raters). “No one respects women more than I do.” His choice as ambassador to the United Nations, Governor Nikki Haley, has absolutely no diplomatic experience. Worse, his choice for Secretary of Education is a woman (Becky DeVos) who wants Americans to approve weakening our great public school system, the foundation in the 19th and 20th centuries of America’s progress and greatness, so that the taxes we pay underwrite charter schools. And the money that should go to rebuilding and maintaining a public school system from which everyone benefits will go to a few fortunate families, further separating the blessed from the damned.
He’s after variety, allowing Ben Carson, to stay in the mix even after Carson himself said that he wasn’t up to managing any government department. (We believe him.)
Since the Donald reported that he knew more about ISIS than any general on staff, he’s appointed Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, a man reported to be well-known as intemperate, rash, impatient. A little boy who does not play well with other children, as even President Obama found before firing him two years ago.
Senator Jeff Sessions, as we’ve learned, is one of the few nominees for a federal court position to be rejected by the Senate due to alienating remarks that elevated tensions between blacks and whites. Fitting then that he should return as Attorney General at this particular time when race matters more than it ever has in the growth and architecture of our nation.
Putting Stephen Bannon aside as a bad dream, relegating Reince Priebus to a soothing influence, and what do we have left to date? Donald J. Trump, a man who is unlikely to want to be overshadowed in any respect by any nominee for any office. “I alone can fix things.”
Now, with admiration, we understand how clever and sly our new leader can be. He bamboozled millions of unhappy men and women and let them project their needs and unhappiness (both real, and reasonable) on himself. He made phenomenal promises to his base, and most often only hinted at a course of action. He had no understanding of the realities he would face as president, but he certainly understood what the public wanted. And he was transparent about imagining his own place in our small universe: KING.
And the press – for reasons of its own – allowed this masquerade to take place.
Mr. Trump is beginning to have a very clear view of what he can and cannot do, what he needs to do and what he can ignore. We’ll never see his tax returns in all probability. He is adamant that rules of conflict of interest do not apply to the President. He is likely to insist that his family members join his administration in one guise or another, none of them with any governmental experience, either.
And – this is the killer – we have not yet begun to identify the forces that can contain him.
Clearly with three branches of the government in his pocket, no Republican is going to raise a standard to do battle against Trump. And no Democrat has the benefit of a unified party behind him or her in order to keep the president-elect from embarrassment, international confusion, budgetary insensibility.
Trump clings desperately to the slogans that brought millions to his side, despite the fact that those millions know and understand that as president-elect his power is limited…something the president-elect seems not to understand.
Trump offers nothing more concrete than he did on the campaign trail. By “giving him a chance,” we are licensing him to behave as he has, as he in all likelihood will continue.
Facts have never mattered to this man, the truth. Nor it seems have they mattered particularly to the press who perhaps unwittingly allowed him to fool the country once before.
But ”fooling us twice” would only demonstrate that we are not the nation we thought we were, worth fighting for and saving.
Mr. Trump has already had a seventeen month honeymoon.
We no longer have to give him a chance.