Those of us who believe that Donald Trump constitutes an ongoing threat to the democratic future of this country had a tough January. After Trump passed his “tax cut” (the one written in pen in the margin, pages X’d out, not a single committee meeting, no witnesses and interest groups, these things used to take a full year and hundreds of hours of hearings. We need to keep repeating this. This isn’t government by grown-ups.), Trump spent the holidays drunk on those same cuts, apparently the market did, too, as it shot to new highs. When the January approval rating came out, Trump had risen to “almost normal bad president” level of 40. That was disconcerting.
See, everything about a president is political, and though Mueller may prove obvious and substantial crimes, those crimes may not matter to the Republicans, but they especially won’t matter to the Republicans if Trump is relatively popular, i.e. “above 40.”
Coming off January makes yesterday’s news welcome:
Despite Trump’s bullish take on his performance, the president’s approval rating fell five points over last month to 35 percent, according to a CNN survey, conducted by polling firm SSRS. That number matches the lowest rating of his presidency in December.
A separate poll by USA Today and Suffolk University’s Political Research Center found similar results, with the president’s approval rating also slipping to match the lowest point that survey has found at 38 percent, with 60 percent disapproving of the job he’s doing.
It is a tragic truth that the world’s ebb and flow will unleash tragedy, especially in a big country. It is equally true that Trump can’t meet those tragedies with a presidential response. He is a very small man and shallow-thinker, caring for near nothing beyond himself. Thus it is that when history takes on a new “name” like “Parkland,” or when the stock market falls, when the Mueller confirms it is “worse” in some respects, on those occasions, Trump inevitably fails.
Trump may see rising poll numbers if the news of the month mirrored themes from a reality show, the horse race of politics. But the president must speak to, and for, a nation when 17 of our children are gunned down mercilessly. It also on those occasions that the country most misses President Obama or even George W. Bush.
To be sure, the Mueller indictment hurt Trump. He looks like a bigger bluffer than ever, and Mueller’s investigation is establishing that Russia remains a threat. Some of the drop could be attributed to Russia not being a “hoax.”
But, tragedies like Parkland are of the type that cry out for a nation’s “leader” to be as big as the office. We need him to be better than “us,” because he must represent “us” when meeting with the families and community. I am speaking of any president on such occasions. But, it will never be Trump, never.
I’m not sure he actually believes there’s anything bigger than him. He calls the military leaders “my” generals, wants missiles paraded in front of him, that doesn’t sound like someone who believes there’s something bigger out there. The bar is not that high. Adopt some sort of “not near enough” gun restrictions, enforce the sanctions on Russia and give a Parkland kid your cell phone number, a normal president would be at 42% without a second thought, literally.
Not Trump, he can’t rise in the polls through challenging news, especially tragedies. His unapologetic materialism and self-love are exposed at their brightest contrast. Other presidents used to get boosts when history called on them to represent the people during a tragedy. I suppose that’s why we miss President Obama brushing-away an angry tear at Newtown during times like these. I know I won’t shed any tears when Trump departs, and I have a feeling those kids at Parkland won’t, either. For the last 10 days, the Parkland kids have led the United States, filling a void. I am proud to follow, and I don’t think they are done.