◆ The inmates have taken over the lunatic asylum. That’s how it seems these days
The inmates: President Trump, the Congressional Democrats, and the media with its unrelenting anti-Trump drumbeat.
The asylum is America.
President Trump’s persona has invited attacks, directed more at his person than at his policies (though they have taken a lot of incoming fire, too). The only US president who suffered more public vitriol was Abraham Lincoln. Not that I’m comparing them . . .
Amid the controversy, it’s worth remembering that President Trump has made important, substantive initiatives such as replacing Obamacare, tax reform, budget constraints, and infrastructure improvements. Unfortunately, his many blunders have obscured achievements and stymied his initiatives.
The Presidency Really Matters for a Healthy American Democracy
The presidency, its attributes and code of conduct, is the foundation for a continuing healthy democracy. The criteria are a modicum of dignity, exercise of sound judgment, and personal stability.
A bit of eccentricity is acceptable, but not bizarre tweeting, paranoia, and a pattern of verbal inconsistency. Those unforced errors invite legitimate criticism that morphs into vitriol. Is America having a nervous breakdown?
Trump’s recent trip to the Mideast, the NATO and G7 summits, and papal meetings were successful—some more than others, of course. But they provide evidence that his presidency can survive and succeed.
But will it? Running the country is not a one-person project. The Trump inner-circle is composed of competent patriots-masochists who seek to serve a bizarre boss.
Good Donald, Bad Donald
We are in the fifth month of a 48-month term of office. There is a good president Donald and a bad, juvenile Donald. The underlying distraction is the bad Donald. That’s the president’s persona, not matters of state.
What are the sources of curative leverage? What can restrain the bad Donald and coax out the effective leader?
The Republican members of Congress have the political muscle to confront the president. So do the president’s immediate family counselors. In another time, with another president, the media might help. Today, that’s a long-shot, at best. First, they would have to return to their primary professional responsibilities: objective reporting and fact-based commentary.
Another untapped resource for US domestic and global stability and achievement is Democrat and Republican “switch-hitters” who could create an over-arching strategy for the president and Congress.
◆ Donald Trump has developed his unique persona for the past seventy years. It is highly unlikely he will change. At the very least, he needs a massive ego massage, perhaps one administered with that Big Stick Teddy Roosevelt talked about.
Or maybe we could ask him, “Mr. President, why not think of America and your responsibilities as President as another potentially successful Trump Tower project?”
Richard Friedman was chair of the National Strategy Forum/Chicago. He has served as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Counselor to the American Bar Association Committee on National Security.