Opinion: What You See Is What You Get With Trump (8/23)

by: Kevin W

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and so, so much has happened in that time. In just the last month we’ve seen:

  • Trump call for a ban on transgender members of the military.
  • The FBI raid the home of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
  • Trump threaten North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
  • White supremacists march in Charlottesville, VA, to purportedly protest the removal of a Confederate statue. This led to:
    • An act of domestic terrorism where a white supremacist hit a crowd of counter protesters with his car, killing a 32 year old woman named Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
    • Trump refusing to denounce the white supremacists at the rally, saying there was violence “on many sides.” After intense pressure, he condemned them days later in a carefully scripted statement only to revert to his violence on all sides argument a day later.
  • Trump hold a rally in Phoenix, AZ where he blasted the “totally dishonest” media. [Full transcript here]

Each one of those topics has enough to unpack for its own article (and we will certainly revisit the events in Charlottesville), but there’s something quick I’d like to get to today.

Today’s topic is the simple fact that:

There is no “Presidential” Donald Trump coming.

What you see is what you get with Donald Trump, full stop. Any hope that he would rise to the occasion and provide the presidency with the gravitas and respect it deserves should have long ago been dashed. Instead, he has made a mockery of the most powerful job in the world.

Trump is a man consumed by a narcissistic desire to be seen as the biggest and best: the man with the best ideas, best speeches, the biggest crowds, and the biggest electoral victories, despite all evidence to the contrary. When the facts don’t line up with his world view, he simply dismisses them as fake news. If any other person behaved this way we would call them delusional and accuse them of living in a fantasy world.

On top of his alternative reality, Trump has failed to grasp that in his position his words carry weight; that there is a portion of the population that will take him at his word solely because he is the president. In those followers’ eyes, to question him would be unpatriotic. So when Trump disparages our intelligence agencies, the news media, or even his own party, he undermines a part of the population’s faith in the institutions that form the foundation of our country.

His attacks on the media and intelligence community may be deliberate, but they have the side effect of undermining faith in the presidency as well. For the majority of the population it’s become impossible to take his words seriously. Just last night, Trump complained about the media’s coverage of his original (non) condemnation of white supremacists, saying he had spoken out strongly against the hate groups. Then, minutes later, Trump lamented the firing of Jeffrey Lord from CNN, a man who was fired for tweeting a Nazi slogan. The irony of his comments is enough to make your head spin, but situations like that are a near daily occurrence in this administration.

Yet despite this reality, whenever Donald Trump speaks from prepared notes or reads from a teleprompter without going off script, he is lauded by pundits for acting “presidential.” After each rare moment of mediocrity, a talking head will ask, “is this the moment Donald Trump became president?”

That’s how low we’ve set the bar for this administration: we now think doing the absolute bare minimum is worthy of high praise.

None of this should surprise anyone at this point. Trump has acted in a self-serving manner his entire life and his presidency has been ridden with moments lowering the standards of behavior for a president. While he is president in name, being presidential entails putting the country and its citizens foremost above oneself for a greater good. Unfortunately Donald Trump has shown time and time again that he only cares about Donald Trump.

But don’t take my word for it: if you want to know what Trump truly thinks, just listen to his own words. Not of the Trump who is occasionally coerced into reading a prepared remark, but the one who flies off the hinge when given an opportunity to speak from his heart. What we saw last night in Phoenix is the latter – the true Trump. The man he is fundamentally can’t resist making the story about himself and going off on self-congratulatory tangents. And when he’s at his worst, he’s a man with a habitual need to play the victim and lash out at every perceived slight like a child.

I’m pleading with not only the media, but everyone who consumes it to recognize that there is no “other” Trump waiting in the wings. It’s time to stop pretending there is. When we’re honest with ourselves about who he is as a person, we can make honest assessments of his actions as president. Please don’t get fooled again.

 

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