Defenders of Donald Trump’s presidency, for the most part, cite the lies, distortions, and hypocrisies of his opponents or the failures of the other side’s policies as proven by the misery and insecurity they have produced for many of our fellow citizens individually and the nation at large. These arguments are certainly correct. They are also, at this point, irrelevant. The presidential campaign is over, and arguments that won that campaign are of limited value in the present circumstances. If I buy a car based on very effective advertising and the rear end evidences a persistent wobble, I am not mollified by the dealer’s reminding me about all the reasons I chose to buy that car, nor why other makes are less good than the lemon I think I am stuck with. Neither will I be content if the dealer offers me two new rear tires every 7,500 miles to replace those I need to accept will be worn by the wobble I’m now told is just inherent in the design. I want the car fixed.
Voters chose Donald Trump because they were convinced that he could do better. Americans ignored the condemnations and ridicule of Republican rivals, Democrat opponents, and compromised media because we believed these had already had more than enough chances, and their efforts, guided by putative expertise, cosmopolitan sophistication and “brilliance,” always brilliance, had produced what Trump was wont to describe as “a mess.” We voted against a seemingly remote and unaccountable elite: “Lock Her Up.” We voted against a diminished vision of our place in history and today’s world: “Make American Great Again.” We voted for national security and an affirmation of our right to control our own destiny: “Build the Wall.” We voted for a federal government as steward of the nation’s well-being, rather than a servant of the interests of those who move and shake in Washington DC:”Drain the Swamp.”
Now it is up to Donald Trump to convince those of us who took the gamble and voted for him that we got more than the tee shirt because right now he desperately needs us to stand behind him once again. The opposition– notwithstanding Special Whatever Mueller– is permanent, unyielding, hysterical and aroused by the smell of blood with the prospect of more. There is no convincing them, no mollifying them, nor is there any compromise that will be good enough for them– so how about doing a little more to convince us we were right to trust him with the big job? A little more means more than another rustbelt rally and being sure the cameras catch the President not bowing Obama-like to some Saudi potentate during the upcoming Mideast trip.
The teetotaler needs to show us a little sobriety; the Queens trash talker needs to watch his mouth. Most of all the most awesome greatest builder of the most tremendously beautiful buildings, who ran a great, great company, needs a little reflection on his leadership. Leadership is not doing whatever you feel like doing at the time because you can since nobody who works for you can stop you because you are Donald Trump and they aren’t. Erratically changing signals and whimsical Tweeted zingers to discomfit self-regarding bureaucratic Boy Scouts who annoy you don’t rally battered, tired staff or congenitally-skittish Republican pols eager to find justifications for not delivering on Republican promises. In the presidential enterprise, leadership means keeping faith with those who elected you and its corollary—not putting unnecessary roadblocks and silly diversions in the path of those you need to help you.
Alternatively, you could prove Barack Obama right, stay the current course and send new Chief of Staff Jared Kushner out to say that you never really enjoyed playing golf with those Koch Brothers, Ivanka hates their parties, and so they can keep their proffered money in support of tax reform—after all “everything will be all right” anyway. Right?