Has it really only been four weeks since Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States? It’s been wild to say the least. I find myself wondering if Mr. President and his family are wishing that the “nasty woman” had been elected and they were safely enjoying life in Trump Tower. He is surely learning the job in a trial by fire and his opponents are licking their chops gleefully with every mistake that he makes.
It’s been pretty well documented that I am no fan of President Trump, but my personality is such that I have actually been feeling a bit sorry for him of late. He is proving to be quite amateurish and more and more the butt of jokes with each passing day. In the one Mardi Gras parade that I attended this past weekend in New Orleans he was skewered from stem to stern. The jokes were funny but after a time they almost became tedious even though Trump has brought most of the insults on himself.
It’s obvious to me that President Trump has a strong need to be loved and right now adulation is in short supply. I suspect that he is desperately hoping for a win, something that will put him back in the “good guy” status that he had when he was just a reality television personality and super salesman. Surely he is longing for the days when his and Ivanka’s merchandise were big sellers in major department stores and he was a ratings king on NBC. Now it seems that he is a pariah in the very places that he most loves. He surely proves that it can be very lonely at the top. (Side note: Have you ever tried Ivanka’s dresses? They are actually superb and make women look thinner than they actually are.)
I like to be fair and in all honesty this is not the first time that I have watched an administration produce some wildly unsuccessful policies before they got their sea legs. As beloved as President Kennedy now is, history demonstrates that his invasion of the Bay of Pigs was a total disaster. If he hadn’t been able to face down the Russians in the Cuban missile crisis his reputation for foreign policy would have been dreary. Lyndon Johnson messed up royally in the Bay of Tonkin and even lied about what had actually happened. Of course such missteps contributed to keeping him from seeking a second term of office and probably didn’t help his heart either. I don’t even need to talk specifically about Nixon whose administration might have actually been deemed a success had he not been so paranoid. Then there were all the wonderful highlights from Carter’s time including those long lines at gas stations and the Iranian hostage situation. In the first year’s of Reagan’s tenure elements of the press were certain that he was going to get us into a world war and destroy our economy. George H. W. Bush couldn’t live down his promise not to create new taxes after he turned around and created new taxes. Clinton’s first years had so many scandals that few thought he had a chance of being reelected and that was before he had even met Monica. In case you don’t remember what happened just think about the suicide of his closest aide, the imprisonment of a former business partner in the Whitewater affair and the infamous firing of the entire travel department. Poor George W. listened to some faulty advice and got us entangled in Iraq among other dubious efforts. Obamacare was designed so quickly that it was flawed from its inception. In other words, there have been few presidents with perfectly executed administrations, particularly at the very beginning. Still, President Trump has shown a particular talent for speaking and acting before thinking through the implications of his efforts. I believe that it is now time for him to learn from his mistakes and begin to take more care in making decisions.
We have a tendency in today’s world to want everything to happen quickly, forgetting that sometimes the best results come slowly. We seem to always be focusing on results but we want to see progress as fast as possible. In education we demand that school reforms demonstrate dramatic improvement in the space of only months even though we tend to understand that real change takes time.
I recall once reading about a school that had defied all of the odds in demonstrating excellence in what had once been a sub par campus. The principal explained that it had taken him ten years to create an educational environment in which students consistently learned at a high level. He had to build his faculty and dedicate hours to creating a curriculum attuned to the needs of the student population. He sent school leaders to learn the best educational practices. He and the teachers helped students to build their confidence and push themselves higher and higher. The principal was thankful that he was provided with the time that he needed to accomplish his goals. He noted that if his supervisor had been too anxious he might have been relieved of his duties before his plans had begun to show progress. He urged all leaders as well as the public to be patient and realize that deliberation was always a better strategy than haste.
I would suggest to President Trump that he slow his pace. I understand that he wants to fulfill his promises to his voters but his grand designs can’t be achieved in a matter of days or weeks or even months if they are to have a wise and lasting effect. He would be far better served by spending more time listening not just to his inner circle but also to his critics before writing any more ill conceived orders. I hope that he is beginning to realize that making far reaching pronouncements is not as easy as it may have seemed. Without thinking long and hard disastrous roll outs like his temporary travel ban will happen again and again. If he doesn’t take more care in choosing his closest aides and cabinet members he will be embroiled in legal battles for years. It’s time for him to take a deep breath and recalibrate. He might begin by ridding himself of the very negative influence of Steve Bannon as long as he is in the “you’re fired mode” of this week. Mr. Bannon is reinforcing the worst inclinations of President Trump. He may seem loyal but I think that he actually has his own agenda and is only using his influence to create policy.
I have a bit of advice for the opposition as well. Be selective in your criticism. Be aware that constant negativity soon begins to resemble nagging which virtually nobody likes or considers. Remember that if you make yourself too obnoxious President Trump will never listen to a thing that you have to say. Recall also that he wants to be liked. You can get your foot in the door if you use a bit of positive reinforcement now and again. If someone wise and honest wants to help President Trump encourage them to do so rather than condemning him/her. We definitely need good people around our president, not just those who want to build walls. My suggestion goes for athletes and stars as well. Be willing to go visit him and then quietly and respectfully present your points of view.
I’m hoping for a change all the way around but I’m not counting on anything. I fear that we are so far apart from one another that we are at present incapable of finding even an inch of common ground. I still believe that the answers to our problems lie in compromise. For too long the extremists in our society have been calling the shots. If we are to ever move forward we are going to need to work together. If there were one idea that I would most love for President Trump to embrace it would be to find ways of deliberating with all parties in an attempt to work together for the good of the country. As long as we keep fighting we will simply move back and forth in place never making headway of any kind. Since we can’t seem to agree on much of anything maybe for now that’s a good thing but we have to be ready to feel frustrated until we finally learn how to get along once again.