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Monday, July 3, 2017

Donald Trump Is Not Acting Presidential–What On Earth Does That Mean?

The Presidential election of 2016 is long past, and the Inauguration of Donald Trump a windy memory.  The charges leveled against him by the liberal Left – sexist, misogynist, racist ignoramus – never stuck; and despite protests, marches, and petitions, calling for his head, he was elected, is in the White House, and will be there for at least four years.

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Hillary Clinton was roundly defeated.  The American electorate chose a vaudevillian; a man of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the streets of New York to express their frustrations, resentment, and anger at the Eastern Establishment, Washington, K and Wall Streets, and the powers that be.

Adlai Stevenson’s ‘Little Man’ once again is having his say, but this time successfully.  Millions of the disaffected, politically and economically marginalized, and just plain forgotten, spoke with one voice and elected Donald Trump to office; and are determined to see him succeed.

Only the Left missed the point and still don’t get it.  Trump supporters knew precisely whom they were electing – a braggadocio, a carny barker, an outrageous, oversized, magnificent blowhard.  They loved his political incorrectness and willingness to take on all comers – Pocahontas, Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, and Low Energy Jeb.

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Each time Trump went off-program and Borscht Belt at opponents’ expense, his supporters shouted for more.  They had been zipped, closeted, and shut up for decades by righteous progressives; so it is no wonder that they have delighted in the excesses of their candidate.

Now in office, Donald Trump has not reformed nor will he.  For almost two years he has been as outrageous and unpredictable as he ever was on the stump – even more so; and only the entrenched old guard are surprised.  More importantly they are flummoxed.  They have no idea what to do with an unreconstructed, unapologetic showman. 

His arm candy wife, yachts, golf resorts, and uber-mansions are too much, too bourgeois, too superficial, and simply too obvious for the Presidency.  They lament Hyannisport and Camelot, Kennebunkport, Texas and California ranches, Martha’s Vineyard, Pablo Casals, and Robert Frost.

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In short, to progressives Donald Trump is not ‘presidential’; but in leveling this latest charge, they betray their social and political myopia.   Trump is not presidential because he does not act presidential – a textbook example of begging the question. 

Of course we know what they mean.  They want Mr. Trump to act like Lincoln, FDR, Woodrow Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson all rolled into one – modest, well-spoken, respectful, careful, and dutiful.  They want erudition, oratory, and stature.

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Democrats may have applauded LBJ for his principled stance on civil rights and poverty, but he never shook his country bumpkin image.  To those who loved Kennedy, his successor was not only a happenstance stand-in but a rube – a pushy, manipulative, cracker-talking Texan dirt farmer.  In their eyes he was marginally presidential but presidential nonetheless.  He at least met the minimum requirements of the office.

Ronald Reagan was a B-movie actor, television huckster, and hail-fellow-well-met politicians; but he never embarrassed himself, never went overboard.  If he was not as eloquent as Kennedy or FDR, he embodied the American presidency – stalwart, principled, and socially conservative.

No one or nothing prepared the liberal and conservative establishments for Donald Trump.  Not only is he considered retrograde and beyond the pale of political opportunity; he is a cultural outlier, a social maverick who redefined the term, and a true take-no-prisoners individualist.

Of course he still calls Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’; and of course he still ridicules liberal media presenters.  Only the deadly serious, righteous Left finds no humor in the Twitter exchange between Trump and MSNBC anchors Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.  All three know they are playing for ratings and enjoying it to no end.  If these two media-savvy personalities don’t know what’s what, no one does.

The howls that ‘Trump is not being presidential’ grow only louder the more his critics are befuddled by the man and dig in their heels to defend what they insist must be the ‘propriety, dignity, and honor’ of the office.

It remains to be seen whether or not Donald Trump will be a good president – i.e. one who manages international affairs to American advantage, who oversees the cultural reform of a country badly disordered by race, gender, and ethnicity; who rolls back intrusive government regulation; and who deals decisively with national security and immigration.  His oversized, irremediable personality may get in his way; and success may only be assured through the collective performance of his Cabinet and loyalists in Congress.

This is beside the point.  All Americans hope – or should hope – that Donald Trump does not come tumbling down; and that public policy can be developed and implemented despite the personality of the President.  The issue is ‘acting presidential’.

Trump’s detractors must understand that there is no such thing and must come to grips with the fact that someone from the big tent and not the cloakroom is in power.  It is time to get over his tweets, his zingers, and his jokes and pay attention to issues of governance, policy, and programs.  The hysteria is getting very old.

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