The Good, the Bad, and the Upshot of Trump

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You can’t always get what you want.  That’s life. We pick and choose our politicians based on the issues that matter the most to us, even if the entirety of their platform does not satisfy our wish list.   For now, we have an unsavory president.  But let’s be honest: we’d have had one anyway, even if Hillary Clinton had won.  These two people are near polar opposite in their approach, but both have serious issues with likeability.  The difference is that Donald Trump ran on the image of the brash agitator. Last I checked, he won while doing so.

President Trump’s words and actions, past and present, demand criticism.  And he’s taking plenty of it. Most, however, is being hurled by battalions of equally unlikeable sorts.  I’d really love to join in the pile-on against the bad guy, but I don’t see a white hat in the bunch. It’s all rather disheartening.

To start, I don’t fault everyone who voted him in.  Anyone who supported Trump purely on the basis of his broad talking points can hardly be blamed.  His specific words may have offended most of us, but clearly not each and every one of us. Especially those who had felt ignored until Trump ran.  After all, we all have one special interest or another.

I might be less welcoming of those who revered the man himself, denying his obvious deficiencies.  But that too is politics. Like it or not, Donald Trump struck a chord.

America has spoken.  And if the Clinton apologists with whom I used to break bread can put aside their contempt, we can begin taking stock – as a nation.  For once we step away from the food fight, we may find there are tangible measures we can take to improve things. Hillary Clinton (and everyone else in the running) was not ideal presidential material.  An old cliché, truer than ever; a hefty number of people voted for the lesser of evils – regardless of their vote.

Also, we may actually be able to identify some GOOD traits in an otherwise bad man. Thin skinned, bombastic and ethically challenged, Donald Trump is a character.  But we know he was beaten to the punch by a good handful of previous presidents. His adolescent behavior? It is tough to defend, but his base either doesn’t see it or doesn’t care. The man has assets though.

President Trump’s energy is remarkable. He’s old enough to be my father (barely), yet he puts in the hours.  The days on the links and the nights in front of the tv may seem like goofing off time, but he is still in “Go Mode” even at these moments.  I have seen him going into meetings, boarding planes and making speeches well into the night. This is often at hours where I am good for little more than sitting on the sofa.

He is also unfiltered.  This allows him to confront subjects from which other politicians shy away.  Both of these traits have gotten him his share of flack, yet they were foundational factors in his landing the job in the first place.   Granted, this stuff works best in the field of entertainment – less so in the field of world politics. So we had a law professor as chief executive.  And now we have a bit of a carny. Maybe there is some DMZ between the two that will make our next president more effective.

 

Frankly, Donald Trump made a few good points along the trail.  Many of these points were less-than-eloquent and less-than-reasoned, but he spoke to millions of disenfranchised voters as few had done before.

Some of his pre-election platform (and my thoughts on them):

While illegal immigration (via land, particularly at our Southern border) doesn’t seem to be quite the crisis he makes it out to be, it is a concern. Legal immigration (including work visa policies) and no-fly lists may be worth revisiting, too.

While the trade imbalance doesn’t include the same countries, nor the same dollar figures as it did thirty years ago, it is an ongoing failure of ours and hasn’t been adequately addressed in ages.

The ultra-rich having undue influence via PACs and super-PACs was (and is) causing disparity throughout the land and is in desperate need of reform.

Universal healthcare? That is a most complicated matter. It will likely forever be a point of conflict. We can look to France, Sweden or Canada as templates, but their systems are far from ideal. No doubt, Obamacare was in trouble.

Our military was stretched awfully close to its workable limits, considering we are in a peacetime era (this is peacetime, right?).  

And it’s been immensely evident for years that our infrastructure is neglected and crumbling. This is way overdue.  President Obama did make the point first, but more along the lines of a job creation program than a coherent, long-term plan (not that we should expect better from President Trump).

His criticism of our handling of North Korea and Iran was not completely without merit.  I’m not convinced he’s the leader to fix things, but that’s another issue indeed.

Donald Trump promised the moon and the stars to virtually all who would listen.  That is to be expected. It’s what candidates do. He had all the answers. Nothing daunted him.  “It’s easy,” he said.

We eventually manage to hear every candidate’s plan.  At this juncture, the onus is on us as voters to do our homework and make our decisions.  How confident are should we be in our fellow Americans doing their homework?\

 

I would prefer not to dwell upon the minutia of all Donald Trump’s prior misbehavior.  This is not to say that I support the sneaky (potentially fraudulent) business dealings or that I condone extramarital affairs.  Truthfully though, we could probably just about fill a stage with past presidents of similar ilk.

Most of us, when pressed, will admit that we most want a president to be effective.

Politics aside, it’s about the execution of tasks.  At this, the president seems to have been making a valid effort at doing much of what he promised on the trail.  Once again, chiefly speaking to his clamoring base. Polls may have shown a degree of fluctuation, though very few of his fans and his enemies have changed their opinions of him in a year and a half.  

YES, he panders. I don’t criticize him for that – even though I disagree with much of it. Having been less than thrilled with the plans of the last half-dozen or so presidents, I shall refrain from stone-throwing on agenda ALONE.  There are other reasons to throw.

Here's the pivotal question: Why is it that every time Trump identifies a legitimate problem, he follows with a poorly developed (if not hair-brained) solution?  And why does he heed no advisor’s word? And how does he manage to piss off so many lawmakers at every turn?

The chief answer to that is his propensity for self-sabotage.

It’s the tweeting.

It’s the chest-beating.

It’s the opinion reversals.

It’s the dismissive discourse.

It is the adolescent behavior.

It is at times like this, I most miss the ‘measure ten times, cut once (if at all)’ demeanor of President Obama.  Even George W Bush’s acquiescence to VP Cheney was a more desirable situation. Both examples had us dealing with grown-ups.  This ‘Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out’ mentality is positively shameful. Weren’t we supposed to be the example for other nations emulate?

 

I know nothing about running a huge government.  But I do know a little about assembling talent, nurturing ideas and building a network.  There is something to be said for respecting protocol. And there most definitely is an art to the deal.  So far, President Trump hasn’t yet demonstrated that magic touch of which he has so often boasted.

Washington (and the nation) is sharply divided today.  That preceded Trumpism. Donald Trump both exploited it and he exacerbated it.  And while exploiting the division got him into the oval office, that same division has crippled him ever since he took the helm.

It would sure be nice if someone besides the usual suspects could call him out.  Unfortunately, it looks like the insiders are more worried about their donors and their next election campaigns than they are about saving the country.

And hearing lame duck Republicans, at long last, speaking their mind?  That’s capitol hill’s equivalent to kissing your sister.

Will the nonsense ever end? I don’t know it if will – or if it can.

Sure. Trump will go away eventually. But the problems that existed before him will endure.  And the colossal damage he will have caused may be (dare I say?) irreparable.

Once this craziness actually is all over, we will have a lot of work orders on our schedule.  And identifying exactly where to begin is the labyrinth of detail in which the true devil resides. Surely, we will have to look at how candidates are chosen and groomed in the future, and how future campaigns are to be run.

We may have to rethink everything.  What worked in 1980 may not work today.  Think of how many elementary schools still have handwriting and telling time on an analog clock as part of their curriculum. Crazy, huh?  A third party might finally be in order.

Who knows?  If Einstein was right about World War Four being fought with sticks and stones, perhaps we will benefit by retaining the very basics.  Some relics of the past may come in handy. Others are best left there.

One thing is clear. There is a decided majority of voters who are willing to pick woefully flawed candidates in order to ‘drain the swamp’.  (Add up the Trump votes with the Sanders votes.) Hopefully, we find some middle ground by November 2020.