“I can be more presidential than anybody. Other than the great Abe Lincoln – he was very presidential.”
Trump spoke these words in March, after winning the Michigan Republican Primary. He was responding to questions about his behavior during the campaign: his coarseness, his preference for personal attacks, his name-calling and so on. He and his surrogates repeated the sentiment often during the campaign, even as the field thinned out. Trump never showed the slightest inclination to change the tone of the meanest campaign ever run.
When he finally won the nomination, we were told things would certainly be different from that point on. He would compete against Hillary Clinton on the issues. All the personal attacks, crazy accusations, threats, and venom would recede. He would “pivot”, meaning he would transform into a more suitable version of a likely nominee and turn his attention away from his hard-core base of loyalists in order to win over the broader general electorate.
But it never happened. He was the same. Worse, even. Some expressions of dismay from various quarters, just to show I’m not making it up:
Well, he won the election without pivoting. I guess he felt he still needed to be the combative man-baby to win and maybe he was right.
Now, he’s president-elect, and this week he’ll be president. He doesn’t need to pick fights with people who don’t like him, particularly when you realize he’ll be inaugurated with the lowest approval rating of anyone since they started keeping track. That’s a lot of fight-picking.
This week he picked fights with several people, just to keep in fighting trim I suppose. Meryl Streep, John Lewis, NATO, Angela Merkel, were among his targets.
The Lewis fight is particularly appalling. There is no upside for Trump in this, and there is certainly no upside for America. Trump rallied his 60 million against Lewis, who had said Trump wasn’t a legitimate president, given the Russian interference. They said things like, “He did something 50 years ago – so what!” Well what he did 50 years ago was literally put his life on the line for other people and a cause he believed in. What Trump did 50 years ago, conversely, was dodge the draft, acting, as always, for himself and risking nothing.
Or they said, “he’s a poor congressman – his district is in terrible shape”. Lewis represents most of Atlanta, which in Lewis’ thirty years of representation, has done very well. But that’s not the point. Whether you want to argue with Lewis’ talents or record as a congressman or not, you can’t argue that in the same thirty year period, Trump represented anyone but himself. In fact, he has never held any public office or even played any private role representing the cause of anyone else.
Our next president, who has made a career of selfishness, is criticizing someone who has made a career of selflessness.
Why does he do it still? There are two possible explanations, and you’re not going to like either of them.
The first is that when he tweets, he is not tweeting at you and me. He doesn’t care that we’ll be outraged. He doesn’t care what we think at all. He is tweeting to the 60 million that voted for him and they absolutely love the fights he picks. Of course, it makes no sense at this point, since they already have the president they want and that’s that. From here on, Trump will be the President of those who “up-vote” him. This is not good for the rest of America, and absolutely horrible for the rest of the world.
The second explanation is that all this fighting is not a choice he’s making. He can’t help himself. He is who he is. There are not “two Trumps“. This is not good for anyone, either. And the rest of the world knows it better than we do.
These last four links were all to my own musings on the subject. I’m repeating myself. I can’t help it. I blog to those who up-vote me. I am who I am. Also sprach Stewie Generis.