We’re just over a month into the presidency of Donald Trump and what a ride it has been.
To be fair, for the most part, Trump so far is doing exactly what he campaigned he would do. I can’t tell if people are surprised by that (they shouldn’t be) or simply horrified (fine, whatever).
But more than anything, the lesson of the first 30+ days of the Trump presidency is how much competency and experience and knowledge matter, especially when you’re trying to change a culture that’s been imbedded for decades as the status quo.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a fan of a lot of Trump’s proposals and/or policies. I’m taking a wait-and-see outlook on many things. I am already not a fan of his avowed Nationalism (ranging from border taxes to strong arming businesses to build in America) which is a one-way ticket to economic despair and stupidity. I am, however, a fan of his desire to rebuild the military. I’m no fan of his idiotic ability to be distracted by issues ranging from Nordstrom to the ratings of the Apprentice, but I am a fan of his proposed tax cuts. We’ll see.
Here’s what we do know; The Trump administration still doesn’t get it in a variety of ways.
Not only must they immediately accept that they will be targeted every day for everything they do, they also must get much, much, better at what they do. They look like fools and have no one to blame but themselves.
The roll-out of the Immigration executive order was a total disaster and screamed “amateur hour.” The handling of reports that National Security Adviser Flynn spoke with Russia prior to taking office was bungled, lame, and pathetic.
This is why you need some qualified, inside people to help guide you along the way. Trump is surrounded by people who have never been in an administration, a ton of military people who have no idea how politics work, and political people that have never been at the level they are now. Vice President Pence is as “inside” as the Trump folks get, and with all due respect, he was a member of the House and not much more when he was in Washington. Running Indiana (his former job as Governor) is nothing like running Washington.
The scars are already showing and the political cartoon to best describe the first 30 days, regardless of what you think about Trump’s policies, would be him shooting himself in the foot over and over again. It’s getting cringe-worthy to watch how bad this administration is at communicating and reacting. One wonders how they were so unprepared, and then one realizes, oh that’s right, they’ve never done this before.
When George W Bush was elected in 2000 (and he was elected people, get over it), Vice-President Cheney, as inside Washington as you get, famously counseled the President on what to be prepared for as he entered office amongst a divided and angry nation. At first, Bush, a fairly naïve and, for the most part, well-intentioned guy, eschewed Cheney and his advice and felt he was just being “negative.” He quickly learned how Washington works and relied on the counsel of his experienced experts to work more on his messaging (not that it created a successful presidency, but at least they were far less embarrassing than the Trump administration is so far…which considering how they messaged Iraq and Katrina is really saying something derogatory about the Trump folks).
None of this is meant to be either an endorsement or condemnation of the Trump administration, that’s for later in my opinion. It is, however, meant to be a commentary on the state of affairs we’re dealing with. The “left wing,” of this country is completely unhinged and the “right wing,” of this country is completely emboldened to the point of an attitude that seems to say “we can do whatever we want, how we want.” Neither of these attitudes are good for America. As former Education Secretary Bill Bennet said recently “In Washington you’re either on offense or defense, period.” Trump needs to get not just on offense, but targeted, focused, directed offense and do whatever it is he’s going to do. For the time being, he and his administration are making it way too easy for half of this country to declare him Hitler incarnate. That’s on him and his team and they need to stop simply saying “fake news.” They’re becoming their own parody of an SNL skit and have much work to do. Competency matters. Get competent.