When Donald Trump came into office as president on January 20, 2017, he had neither governmental nor military experience. This was the first time in the history of this nation that any American president did not have a background in one of those two areas.
The thought and hope of many was that because he was a “successful” business person he would learn on the job, be a quick study, and become presidential. He has not.
What Trump has done instead is to try to run this country as if it was his company displaying a woeful ignorance and lack of regard for what government does, how it operates, and the balance of power among its three branches. Based upon his self-centered behavior to date, it might be time to change the words of the patriotic song “America, My Country Tis of Thee” to go as follows:
My Company tis of me
A land of puberty
Of me I sing.
Land where I never lied
Land of my boundless pride!
From every mountain side,
Let Trumpdom ring.
One of Trump’s initial steps to try to turn this country into his company - his family business in fact - was to bring his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka into the White House and to install them as key, and possibly his most trusted, advisors. Another was to replace the presidential retreat of Camp David with Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida. His hosting of weekend events there for foreign dignitaries took taxpayers’ dollars and pumped them into his company’s coffers.
The country has managed to live with this company-centered approach and the chaos, consternation, and confusion that it has generated. What is more difficult to live with has been Trump’s more recent outrageous behavior which has included:
- Summarily firing FBI Director James Comey through a letter delivered by the President’s bodyguard to Comey’s office while the Director was in Los Angeles
- Convening a closed door meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office, excluding the American press but allowing a Russian state media photographer to take pictures
- During that meeting with the Russians, disclosing highly classified information on the Islamic State that the U.S. had been provided in confidence by Israel
Combine that with the ongoing barrage of Trumper-tantrums tweeted out by the president and the disclosure that in a February meeting Trump asked Director Comey to dismiss the investigation into Michael Flynn and Russia and you have conducted more than a little unbecoming of the leader of a country. Maybe not so much so, however, if you believe it is your private company and you think you have the sole power to do or say whatever you want.
Trump’s callous disregard for propriety and protocol is bothering many ranging from those in the intelligence community to the press.
Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations on May 14, James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, said the American democracy and “our institutions are under assault both externally… and internally.” When he was asked, “Internally, from the president?”, Clapper replied, “Exactly.”
In its May 13 issue, The Economist wrote,
Donald Trump rules over Washington as if he were a King and the White House his court…Fortified by his belief that his extraordinary route to power is proof of the collective mediocrity of Congress, the bureaucracy, and the media, he attacks any person and any idea standing in his way.
Whether it’s as a king or the head of a company, Trump’s un-presidential governance style has even started to grate on those in his own party.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R- KY) said we could “do with a little less drama from the White House.” Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), head of the Foreign Relations Committee described things as in a “downward spiral.” And, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has declared that the President needs to “right the ship” and “get his house in order.”
Some have tried to defend Trump’s actions and words as due to his ignorance or just Trump being Trump. Neither defense is acceptable.
For better or worse – and, unfortunately, for the most part, it has been worse – he is our president. Along with that position, comes significant responsibility and substantial accountability.
Donald Trump does not seem to grasp this. That is one of the reasons at commencement addresses he talks about himself and how badly he is treated.
For example, in his Liberty University speech, Trump portrayed himself as an “outsider” and encouraged the graduates to be outsiders as well. He told them, “Demand the best from yourself and be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interests and the power structure.” He added, “Does that sound familiar, by the way?”
In his commencement comments at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Trump got more specific proclaiming, “Look at the way I have been treated lately, especially by the media…No politician in history – and I say this with great surety – has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
Pulitzer Prize winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, historian David McCullough in a speech delivered to a joint session of Congress in 1989 declared, “Besides Congress, the presidency seems clear, orderly and easy to understand.” The presidency of Donald Trump appears just the opposite.
It has turned things upside down and inside out. And, truth be told, the blame or credit for where the country stands today and the regard for Mr. Trump must be placed where it belongs – at the feet and in the seat in which President Trump sits.
As we stated at the outset of this piece, the hope was that Mr. Trump would be able to draw upon his business experience and expertise to be an effective President. That hope seems to have been misplaced.
As was documented in many articles during the presidential campaign, throughout the course of his business life Donald Trump has had numerous business failures to match up against his successes and one of his greatest areas of accomplishment has been in bringing and being named in lawsuits. The bottom line is that his business acumen might not be nearly as “huge” as promised or expected.
Nonetheless, what is – is. Donald Trump occupies the White House and he is running the country - our company, as he sees fit, bringing to that task what and who he is.
Who is Donald Trump? Throughout the presidential campaign, much was written about his personality and he was frequently the topic of journalistic psycho-analysis.
Recently, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an article declaring that “At base, Trump is “an infantilist who has not mastered any of the three key tasks most “mature adults have figured out by the time they are 25…”
- The ability to sit still and to focus their attention
- Having an accurate sense of themselves
- The ability to perceive how others are thinking
Liberal New York Times columnist Frank Bruni shares Brooks’ perspective. In his May 14 column in the Times Sunday Review he opines, “The President is no shrewd strategist. He’s just a child.”
Brooks wrote, “Trump is a 7-year-old boy bouncing around a classroom.” So, there we have it, this 7-year-old boy in this 70-year-old man’s body serving as President of the United State.
This boy/man was given the keys to his company by his father at a very young age. He now has the keys to this country and he is acting as if it is his company
What we should be fearful of is that he uses those keys to unlock the doors and maximize the benefits for himself and his business interests and to lock the vast majority of Americans out.
America cannot come first when Trump and his company does.