I voted for him, yes, and given the same choices, I’d do so again, but he’s making an ass of himself. Maybe that’s not entirely true because he’s behaving much the same way he did through the primaries, so I guess he was already an ass and he’s just reinforcing that general perception. When he actually governs I like what he does, but his personality is blocking his agenda.
Cruz was my choice, but Trump won the nomination. During the primaries and general election campaign, I wrote columns critical of Donald Trump and my conservative readership reacted. Some agreed. Others said Trump was the only candidate strong enough to kick butt in Washington, D.C. — both Democrat and Republican butts — as necessary. I agreed that was indeed necessary, and Trump seemed fearless — unaffected and unintimidated by whatever criticism media directed to him. He’d throw it right back and that’s why he won. But was really he as fearless as he seemed?
A truly tough leader would stick to his battle plan, would expect criticism, and wouldn’t let it knock him off track. But maybe voters overestimated Trump’s strength. We’re still in the early rounds of this long fight, but the left and the media — which are one and the same — are getting to him. They haven’t landed any solid punches because there’s no evidence of collusion with the Russians, but they’re playing a head game with Trump and it’s working. He’s not sticking to his fight plan. The criticism is affecting him, bigly. The Hillary campaign focused entirely on Trump’s temperament, but Clinton lost because of her own flaws. It’s ironic now that she was right about his temperament. It’s tripping him up.
Senior adviser Steve Bannon said last February at CPAC that: “(C)orporatist, globalist media … are adamantly opposed — adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has … If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day — every day, it is going to be a fight.”
Steve Bannon was absolutely right. He said then that he believed Trump would stick to his agenda through it all, but I wonder what he’s thinking now. Are the rumors of Bannon’s reduced influence true? I have no inside information, but I don’t think Trump has been acting on Bannon’s advice during the past couple of months. I’ll bet Bannon is trying to channel Will Rogers, whose sage advice was: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Most of us who voted for him wish Trump would just shut up — and put his phone away too. Don’t tweet until you first consult with advisers.
Is Trump really as tough as he pretends to be? Perhaps, but with many braggarts there’s a deep-seated, inferiority complex under a brusque persona. He can’t point to positive opinion polls the way he did in the primaries, and from which he drew energy. Media onslaught against him since his inauguration has been unprecedented and relentless — and he’s not handling it well at all. A recently released study on Trump’s first 100 days from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy claims he got three times more media coverage than previous presidents — and 80 percent of it has been negative.
Fox News was the most balanced, but even its coverage was slightly more negative than positive. O’Reilly and Hannity were unequivocally with Trump, but the rest were either lukewarm or against him. It’s not too late to get back on track. The foreign trip is helping and Trump is sticking to script, mostly. Let’s hope that continues.
When he was negotiating real estate deals, Trump dealt with people who wanted to do business with him. If he expressed annoyance they would be inclined to compromise, but it’s not like that in politics. Political enemies on the left are not moved by petulance. They’re persuaded only by massive public support of the kind Ronald Reagan had. They’re not seeing that behind Trump so they’re obstructing him wherever they can. They rely on their media army to portray the November election as illegitimate. They’ve relentlessly charged that Trump won only because the Russians helped him. That there is no evidence to support this after almost a year of investigation — zip, zero, nada — doesn’t deter them in the least.
I don’t know this, but I’d guess that Trump hasn’t played much poker. The left is bluffing. It has nothing, but as Cool Hand Luke said in the famous movie by that name: “Sometimes, nothing can be a real cool hand.”
Especially if you’re playing against the fragile ego of Donald J. Trump.
Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at tommclaughlin.blogspot.com.
- Category: Columns