How many more bars can we lower while Trump remains in the White House?
Today we must head to the dictionary to redefine the word presidential. Of course when we use it in front of nouns like motorcade, helicopter, and residence, we can pretty much leave it alone. It still serves a purpose. But when we use it as a description of the president’s behavior, we have to be a little more demanding.
Presidential is more than fomenting a crowd to attack reporters or lock up Hillary Clinton. Presidential should define an attitude of certainty and dependency—the certainty that one is doing the right thing for having depended on the right people for advice.
Nowadays it appears that if Trump struggles through an entire news conference without making fun of a physically challenged reporter or uttering a racist remark or calling some woman nasty, we’re ready to crown him with the word presidential. Yesterday, for instance, presidential apparently meant a look of complete bewilderment mixed with an attack on two Democratic governors, Andrew Cuomo and Gretchen Witmer—an attack that followed his characterization of Washington’s governor as a snake. Washington had been the first state especially hard-hit by the virus.
Later Trump explained his attack on Michigan’s Gretchen Witmer as retaliation for a lie she told.
Here's the lie.
“The federal government did not take this seriously early enough, and now it is on us to make sure we’re doing everything we can based on the best facts and science available and that we are always putting the health of our people front and center….”
Trump’s six weeks of happy talk are recorded proof of the accuracy of Witmer’s allegation. Six weeks of experts agreeing “it’s not if but when” failed to move the administration to action, and his laying the blame on President Obama was laughable. Six weeks he wasted when testing kits and respirators could have been manufactured and distributed, hospitals could have geared up, the supply of masks and even hand sanitizer could have been increased, stores could have been warned to look out for hoarders, and price gougers could have been prosecuted. We all know that Witmer’s right, even the Republican governors know we’re late to the party and underdressed.
Speaking of which, that hat has to go. It’s probably crucial at a rally, but it clanks badly when worn during a speech issuing a national emergency. If he has to wear a hat, why not one emblazoned with USA so that he at least gives the impression that he cares about all Americans, not just his admirers.
Remember when Trump said this?
"This is a great country. It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They’re outraged, they’re sad. They love America just as much as I do."
Of course you don't remember—he never said it. That passage was from George W. Bush's oval office speech after 9/11. Even with a teleprompter Donald Trump would be incapable of displaying the sentiment expressed there. He doesn't feel it. He doesn't know it. To him "human worth" is approval rating and nothing more.
Bush didn't write that speech—I know that—but he gave it because we needed it. It's the way someone who really is presidential actually earns the designation.