Once upon a time, it was fun being a kid. We spent our summers playing ball, swimming, riding our bikes, and hanging out with our friends. With the coming of fall and returning to the classroom, our brains still turned occasionally to thoughts of what mischief we could stir up over the next weekend. We could afford these leisurely lifestyles because, after all, the adults were in charge. They gave us food, made sure we had clothes and a place to sleep, and did all the important things that are expected from grown-ups. We could afford to be carefree because the responsible people were taking care of things. But that was then. The adults are no longer in control.
This is now
From the moment President Trump took the oath of office, he has tossed aside any semblance of the maturity and even-temperedness that one would hope to see in a world leader. Instead, he has continued along the same path that he chose to follow during the 2016 campaign: distract, distort, and disrespect. Trump has never bothered to have a meaningful discussion on policy. No, the president would rather hover over a microphone, telling stale jokes and attacking anyone in sight like the bully on an elementary school playground.
“Don’t worry,” they keep saying, “he’ll pivot.” The president will show his mature side and our allies and adversaries will take him seriously. Only he hasn’t pivoted, and I think it’s obvious that he never will. Mr. Trump isn’t going to change his ways because his fans get a kick out of the name-calling and the inappropriate comments that he makes anytime he finds a camera and microphone pointed in his direction.
We don’t need a president who is energized only when he’s on stage in front of cheering crowds. We need stable leadership from someone who can handle anything from a weather disaster here at home to a military action overseas. We need a president who can make wise choices when faced with any crisis, not someone who’d rather hide at a golf course than take control in the Situation Room at the White House.
No, there is no incentive for President Trump to start acting like an adult, not while his fans are rewarding him with all the laughter and applause.
A Different Breed
The pundits kept telling us that Trump was a different kind of candidate, and that lack of conformity would continue into the Oval Office. It’s refreshing, they tell us, to have a president who’s not afraid to speak his mind. The problem with that, my friends, is that in the high-stakes game that is international diplomacy, you can’t demean and insult players on the world’s stage and not expect them to retaliate.
Yes, I have no doubts that North Korea’s Kim Yong-un is a madman who is a threat that needs to be dealt with in no uncertain terms. But when someone like that is threatening you with nuclear weapons, taunting him with a silly nickname is not a logical strategy if your goal is to keep the world safe.
On the home front, we also need a person in charge of his own administration. Someone who won’t stand by while Cabinet members waste taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars on private jets, or who want to use government aircraft for a honeymoon trip.
But all this is to be expected when the nation’s chief executive lacks any semblance of maturity. Ironically, we Americans and the people of North Korea are in the same boat. Both are under the thumb of a petulant man-child.
Help, I Need Somebody
I’m sure that President Trump is unnerved by the ongoing investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. While it’s not yet clear if a connection between Trump’s team and the Russian government will be uncovered, it is likely that many higher-ups from the campaign and the administration – including the president himself – will be shown to have actively participated in attempts to obstruct the investigation.
While impeachment is not possible with a Republican Congress, the stain of such wrongdoing will be one that Trump will never erase. His most devoted fans may forgive everything right now, but when his decisions affect their own health and well-being – when their taxes skyrocket and their government-subsidized utility rebates disappear – maybe then the scales will fall from their eyes.
It seems that President Trump’s only guiding force is whatever he sees on cable news and whatever he decides to tweet that moment. Considering that most of his attention these days is taken up with which pro athlete he doesn’t like at the moment and rolling out new insulting nicknames for anyone who dares to challenge him, our hopes for adult leadership will have to rest on the future.
(Originally published in the Morrisons Cove Herald October 05, 2017.)