Trump’s Learning Curve

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Trump’s Learning Curve

Let me start by saying that I am no longer #NeverTrump, because NeverTrump makes no sense anymore.  Donald Trump is our fairly- and constitutionally-elected president, and it would be asinine and absurd to continue to oppose his election.  As I wrote here:

Although I stand by everything I have written about President-elect Trump, I now hope that he will prove me wrong. I hope that the weight of the office he is about to enter will cause him to be a man of sober demeanor, thoughtfulness, and wisdom. I hope he will put his vision, energy and creativity to work on the myriad of issues facing our nation. I hope that he will be faithful to the many promises he made to his supporters who voted for him in good faith. I hope he does, indeed, make America great again. I will pray to that end, and if he meets the challenge, I will all too gladly eat a whole flock of crows.

Congratulations, Mr. Trump. You fought hard, and won one of the most difficult contests ever devised by mankind. I will pray for you because you are now my president (or soon will be). And as such, you deserve my respect, my support (within biblical boundaries), and my prayers.

I still believe that.  However, that doesn’t mean that I’m just going to whistle my way past the graveyard, and ignore the bodies that seem to be digging their way out. (I love zombies!)

Along those lines, one of the seriously under-reported/under-analyzed problems with the Trump presidency is his apparent difficulty working and playing well with his own team.  We saw this rear its head repeatedly during the campaign, when Republicans—even those who wholeheartedly supported him, like Pence and Preibus, to say nothing of his grudging supporters—had to make campaign and media appearances to explain and defend the sometimes unexplainable and indefensible, such as the Access Hollywood tape, and tweets about Miss America, and attacks against Gold Star families, and a host of other foibles, missteps and boorish behavior.  During a campaign, Trump’s defenders had to bite their tongue, maybe swallow some bile, and find creative ways to maneuver the narrative in order to protect their candidate without losing personal credibility.  Some did better than others.  (I’ll never take Newt Gingrich seriously again.)

But this is no longer a campaign; it’s a presidential administration.  It’s running the greatest country in the world.  So when it looks like Trump knew about Flynn’s lies regarding discussions with the Russians on January 26th, and failed to tell Pence, but instead knowingly trotted him out to the Sunday morning news shows on February 9th to repeat Flynn’s lies—well, Houston, we’ve got a problem.  If Trump is willing to throw his V.P. under the bus for the sake of Flynn, whom he subsequently fired (in the White House, fired is spelled “R-E-S-I-G-N-A-T-I-O-N”), who is truly safe?  Perhaps Bannon.  Maybe Priebus.  Possibly Conway.  Maybe no one.

Another thought that occurs to me—again—with respect to the Flynn fiasco is that Trump is learning that being President is a lot harder than just simply “bringing in the right people, the smart people.”  You have to know which smart people are right, and which ones are wrong.  Flynn is very smart, but he was a very wrong pick.  It’s good that Trump is willing to acknowledge that, rather than reverting to form and doubling down on Flynn simply out of pride and stubbornness (which would have been a complete disaster for the administration which is already very, very low on trust and unity).  But to the bigger point, Trump is learning that being president is not the same as being CEO of a company, and it’s a pretty darn hard job.  You can’t just hire anyone you want, and you can’t just do anything you want.  According to a Politico column:

Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought, according to aides and allies who say that he’s growing increasingly frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy. In interviews, nearly two dozen people who’ve spent time with Trump in the three weeks since his inauguration said that his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he’s faced the predictable realities of governing, from congressional delays over his Cabinet nominations and legal fights holding up his aggressive initiatives to staff infighting and leaks.

Leaks, obstruction, policy details, turf wars, power politics, distrust (both for those outside the administration and even within it), infighting.  Some of these things are part and parcel of the corporate business world.  Some aren’t.  They are all features of any White House, and a good president knows how to manage them, and find the right people who can reliably help him manage them.  It remains to be seen whether Trump can adapt and learn.

Here’s hoping.

Scott Gosnell founded Pros and Cons in 2003. He also has a day job as a practicing attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, which explains his complete irresponsibility with regards to his blogging schedule. In a former life he worked in several churches as a youth minister, where he was forced to do unspeakable things like chew ABC gum (Already Been Chewed), bob for liver (uncooked), and participate in condiment wrestling. Hey, would you look at that – I guess they are speakable. In addition to the practice of law, Scott is a certified law enforcement officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Alabama Historical Ironworks Commission, and a tactical firearms instructor. Scott and his wife, Donna, have three children, Caleb, Hannah Beth, and Austin. He also has a dog named Sierra and a cell phone named Curtis.

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