Sorry, the “breaking news” in this submission is the “breaking news” that this country has conditioned itself to being run by an old-school, dictator-wanna be, cigar-chomping, medal-wearing, balcony-standing, impulsive, man-boy. It is no longer “breaking news” when the President of the United States, rage tweets, spewing vicious hatred toward a specifically-named reporter and source, and gloating, in a weird combination of arrogant-obliviousness, that his personal “fixer” won’t “flip.”
Don’t get me wrong, it has been “noticed.” By now, you’ve drawn strange comfort from the photograph from much-respected Barbara Bush (may her soul rest in peace) funeral. Yes, the picture of both Presidents Bush, President Clinton and Obama, with wives, Mrs. Trump – oddly – does not look out of place at all, with the group, and the photo does not seem to be “missing anyone.” The picture practically screams: “Love them or hate them, these are serious people who feel an obligation to their country-first, and are comfortable together.” In that sense, damn right, no one is “missing.” In fact, the way to make that picture “weird” and “icky” is to add Trump. Somehow, I’m comforted, that in matters of real historical importance, it does seem that “civic leaders” know that they must find a way to keep Trump clear. In a world where George W. Bush is more comfortable around Hillary Clinton, than Donald Trump – and he clearly is, something is right.
It almost makes me think that even the Republicans have an unspoken agreement, I am speaking of the Kochs, the Grahams, maybe even McConnell, that if it ever “gets to the point,” they, too, will know it is time to remove Trump from the picture, just not yet.
Hence the rant, because apparently the “yet” can’t come fast enough.
What the ever-loving-hell is happening when a president can call out a reporter by name, for simply being “critical,” and bragging that his own “fixer” won’t flip? Congress is not in an uproar? People are not at the gate? Here is some breaking news, in the “real world” of “normal times,” the President of the Fking United States of America acts with decorum and respect for the press. Actually, the president is supposed to act with decorum and respect for any other person acting in official capacity, with the possible exception of ruthless, murdering dictators enriching themselves off their citizens, Putin as an example. Even then, there is a “way” the President of the United States speaks; mature, understated, self-disciplined and thoughtful. It is NOT like this, (As summarized by The Daily Beast):
“The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip,’” President Trump posted to Twitter. “They use……..non-existent ‘sources’ and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected.”
The Daily Beast concluded that the “drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael” to whom Trump referred was Sam Nunberg, a former political adviser and aide who was prominently quoted in the recent Times article that our childish president did not find loving enough of his greatness. Oh, but Trump was not done!:
“Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if……..it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”
Wrong, jackass …sir.
Wrong wrong wrong.
May I please translate the entirety of the above into “President of the United States’-speak”?
First, with respect to the New York Times article, the way a “President of the United States” speaks is to NOT speak! Every president, ever, has at some point-in-time, picked up the New York Times and thrown it across the room, furious. Every. single. one. That’s because “news” is “nuanced” and how something is perceived can be wholly truthful and yet not tell the full story, or it may be it tells a full story that should have best been kept “in-house” (mad at the leaks, not the story). Those presidents, each and every one of them, then scream at the dog, or to an old college buddy over the phone, or at absolute worst, their staff. But, to the media, to the public, the “President of the United States” does not say a damn thing. Period.
Saying anything is just so damn dangerous. It threatens the integrity of the entire system, that a fair and free press, one that challenges authority, is a necessary part of this grand experiment in “democracy.” Every president, until now, knew it. The question going forward is, whether the next president “knows it” and reverts right back to normal, “Obama-like,” presidential behavior? Or will the next president be a Republican? I kid. I expect the next Republican president to also revert to “normal.” It is now our only hope, so long as that next Republican is a ways down the line.
With respect to the investigation and FBI raid into his decades-long personal lawyer, the “President of the United States” says NOTHING out loud, but releases an official White House Statement (which is a “thing,” or at least, was), which reads these EXACT words. “The President of the United States does not comment on ongoing investigations. With respect to his longtime friend, Michael Cohen, the President expects Mr. Cohen to be honest and upfront with investigators.”
Period. That’s it. That is “Presidenting For Dummies 101,” to butcher 2-for-1 metaphors, it is not hard. For the sake of this particular rant, set aside just for a second that we’re mixing behaviors here a bit. Normally, a president isn’t shaking in fear of investigators and acting so obviously guilty because, normally, presidents are not so obviously guilty of something terribly bad. Set that aside for a moment. Let’s just concentrate on “acting out” the office, something even “W” managed, and managed particularly well, in the days after 9-11.
The entire reason that “acting presidential” is relatively easy, is because it is also so essential. There is a certain “way” that a president conducts himself publicly (privately, that’s a little different). Words matter. How the President speaks, matters. He speaks for all of us, because, in theory, he works on behalf of all of us. But not this one, he has only ever worked for himself, like a dictator.
Hey, my proof is in our pudding. It is one thing if the “elites” at the Kennedy Center do not invite you to their gala. Maybe you can write that off to personal taste. The White House Correspondent’s Dinner? Well, everyone else managed to pull it off, and there was some value to that silly event when for one night these self-important people could laugh at themselves.
But, now shift gears, now get to the “real stuff” where no one wants you around. What about Parkland? What about the Bush funeral? What does it say about a nation when events take place that are deemed too serious, too sobering, to be spoiled by the presence of this “president”? It is not like he seems to disagree. He didn’t seem to want to be a part of the “real stuff” anyhow. Again, he’s in it for him, not you, me, or anyone who doesn’t play a role in “enriching” him in every sense of the word. But, if Trump is deemed “beneath” certain events, trips to allies (he fears protestors), state funerals, the mass shootings, then what the hell is happening in this country? How do real Republicans like Graham, Hatch, Rubio, McCain (whom we wish well), how do they sleep at night? Where is their leadership when needed most?
Some good news to tie up this rant of a column. There is still a line. And, everyone seems to know it exists, including Trump. Perhaps we get through this “interim” period with Trump doing only “limited-lasting damage.” God only knows what goes through McConnell’s mind, but perhaps he does have an “out” plan if events occur that “everyone knows” Trump should not be “in the picture,” so to speak. Very hard to tell.
I know this, just because we have become numb to twitter tantrums against a journalist, conjuring images of ordering the reporter hauled off to jail for “anti-American sentiment,” does NOT mean it is “normalized” behavior for an American president. I grow tired of the “too kewl for school” liberal blogging crowd (my bro’s and sisters) who accuse “the corporate media” of “normalizing” Trump. Nope, the very fact that all this stuff made the news means it is far from normal. Thus, there’s hope. There’s hope that Trump knows he is not “normal” and will seek an “abnormal out,” and there’s hope that one day Congress will erupt in outrage. I guess it won’t be today, except here, where we can share it together.
Well, I feel better. Thanks.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.