Thursday, June 28, 2018

Donald Trump is the President of the United States

I have been complemplating writing this post for a long time and keep putting it off. I feel like I need to write this before I post anything else about politics or President Trump, which are somewhat conflated subjects at this present moment. But the first 100 days came and went, then there was the inaugural anniversary. And I think recently there was the first 500 day mark. Missed them all. I could spin this and say "Hey, I wanted to make sure Trump is OK. You know, doesn't flip out or turn out to be actually a fascist dictator, you know...." But that's not it. I can't help it that I'm an optimist who knows a little about actual history involving fascist dictators.

You can find tons of negative stuff on this blog about Trump if you wish, dated two or so years ago. Some of it I still agree with. Other stuff I would agree with except it would make me look even stupider than I was then.

The main reason I feel obliged to write this is that I was very critical of Trump during the primaries, voted for Kasich, and was displeased that Trump got the nomination. I was sure he was going to lose. I even had a friend who saw him as a conspirator placed in the ring to throw the fight to Hillary. I'm not into conspiracy theories, but this one was enticing due to my Trump-disdain.

In hindsight I missed a lot of signs of Trump's impending upset over Clinton even though I saw the same signs in rural Ohio that Salena Zito saw in rural PA. I want to comment on Trump and his administration on this blog more, and the reason is that I have been spending way too much time on social media. I need to go back to the "good old days" of blogs which are much harder to use, seemingly. (More on that in another post....)

Anyway, back to the election. My problems with Trump and my anxiety about the election did not improve much during the run up to the 2016 Election. The polls were so bad and I was so turned off by some Trump supporters that I wasn't paying attention to anyone pulling for Trump and predicting his victory even if they were making some sense.

I was reading Nate Silver's polling site incessantly until mid-September of '16 when I started a very long, on-site project in Detroit for an automotive finance company with a very diverse employment demographic. I voted early in Downtown Cleveland as soon as the polls for early voting opened. For President I voted dutifully for the Trump-Pence ticket. I was never a #NeverTrump person; I'm a process-voter and I always believe there is a calculus which can be used to determine the best or least bad candidate.

I was staying at an Air-BNB in Southfield, Michigan and listening to the election night coverage on a Salem radio station. I realized at the moment that Trump was declared the winner that my biggest objection to his candidacy was always that he was going to lose. So, there went that. I had a bunch of other objections to him that still bug me: the relentless tweeting, the trade-war silliness, the unwillingness to let others fight small battles, the braggadocio, etc. However these are minimal now compared to the cold war declared on conservatives at this time and the attempt to smear us all as racially bigoted, harass people in public, etc.

The day after the big win, I was seated with a bunch of middle-aged white colleagues at the cafeteria of said automotive finance company with very diverse employment demographic. We were all kind of quiet and looking at each other trying not to grin, seemingly. I said, "Well, I can't believe it but Trump won." Everyone sort of loosened up and cracked wide smiles and nodded. "Yep," "Pretty amazing," were some of the replies. "I mean," I said, "Trump frickin' won Michigan!" More replies of "Yeah, pretty amazing." No one wanted to talk much about it in case the security cameras were pointed at us.

In the weeks that followed I really couldn't believe what was going on in the media and in the liberal minds. Anger, frustration, temper tantrums.... Van Jones's famous "whitelash" comments were an example of some of the more mild reactions. Women left in the middle of dates if they found out the dude voted for Trump. Remember that? Some crazy nut advised women to "get your abortions now" just to show where the mind was going, if there was a mind involved in that verbal exchange.

But during those weeks and months I was really consoled by the fact that Trump had really moderated, and his actions deviated from his earlier rhetoric. The case in point is the travel ban. As written, the travel ban does not mention religion, hence the Supreme Court Justices who upheld it did not even need to consider the fact that he referred to a Muslim travel ban in campaign speeches.

I started having interesting juxtaposed arguments with people on both sides. One day I argued with a relative who hates Trump. I pointed out that he really isn't doing anything different than other Republican Presidents would be doing, so you either dislike the Republican agenda in general or you have something personal against Trump. There was probably truth in both these possibilities, but he would not accept either. To summarize his reason for hating Trump: Trump is evil and we must oppose evil. The next day I was at a picnic for a Catholic group arguing with Trump fanatics ("Trump-train" people) that Trump needs to tone it down with the tweets and trash-talking private citizens. They jumped on me reflexively with "What, would you rather Hillary be President? What about Antifa? Huh?" and "He has to do this to drain the swamp," a phrase that is getting stale and shouldn't be used as a blanket excuse for everything Trump does. These guys were Buchanan-ites so I said, "Hey, I think Trump is doing a lot of good things. Bombing Assad and Syria? I'll take that any day...." That shut them up.

Obviously I have been very much enjoying my new role as "the sensible person" even if I am not always recognized as such. In the past I was always looked at as the hyper-conservative. Now I'm properly cynical like the other guys I'd meet in the barber shop if I wasn't a bald cheapskate. I have tried to be very sensitive to the fact that certain people felt like they really couldn't vote for Trump because of what disgusting behavior he has indulged in. I was sitting in a bar in Pennsylvania with five of my friends whom I've known since grade-school. They are all religious conservatives. I was the only one who voted for Trump. Some of them were fine with the fact that I did that, but others were disgusted with me, two in particular. I think it's possible that they might have since changed their mind after Gorsuch, but they are both college professors and I think Trump's pedestrian manner come across as grating to them.

This post has turned into sort of a ramble fest, but maybe that is the best way to introduce my transformation into someone who appreciates what Trump does for the most part if I don't always admire the way he does it. Around the time of the convention, I had been going to send an acquaintance of mine who was an early "Trump Train" passenger a scathing email in response to an email touting his undying Trump support. I'm very glad I did not. If there is one thing to learn from the Trump Presidency so far it is that to lose one's temper is to lose totally, and to control oneself is always the best long-term strategy.

One of Trump's strategies from the get-go has been to troll people until they lose it, or at least show their true colors. That's how he took out Marco Rubio with the Little Marco remarks. Rubio should never had made the "small hands" remark, it was a complete limp-wristed softball for Trump. I admit that watching him do it now earns my reluctant admiration. It reminds me of my favorite exchange in the original 1957 12 Angry Men when Lee Cobb rips Henry Fonda in conversation with E.G. Marshall.

"I'm a pretty excitable person. I mean, where does he come off calling me a public avenger, sadist and everything? Anyone in his right mind would blow his stack. He was just trying to bait me." says Cobb.
"He did an excellent job," replies Marshall.

I have told my kids many times that I like generally the direction in which Trump is taking our country, and that I'm glad he is president rather than Crooked Hillary, but I have also stressed to them that they shouldn't emulate his intemperance and name-calling. (You see what I did there, right?) I think that objectivity is always to be striven for in the matters of the policies which govern our nation and that is why I find it silly for people to insist that Trump is "not my President! Not my President!" I've never said anyone was either my President or not my President, like I refer to my mother or my wife or my car.

Donald Trump is the President of the United States. That is an objective, unbiased fact. And every night we say the exact same thing during our family prayers. We used to say "God Bless President Obama," and now we say "God Bless President Trump."


  1. I don't get people who are getting upset about the trade war thing. If the figures are to be believed, we're running a huge trade deficit with, well, every other country. I think one of Trump's biggest goals is bringing back US jobs, and evening out the trade deficit should help with that.

    1. Barb, you are absolutely correct that there is a huge trade deficit. But I agree with Milton Friedman on the issue, i.e., it doesn't matter.

    2. I would prefer that billions of dollars not leave our country so we can buy crappy drywall and cheap appliances and pet food that kills our pets and baby food with who knows what in it. We're not a charity. We're not required to make the rest of the world rich off of our labor just because.

  2. Paul, I agree with pretty much everything you say. I was appalled when Trump became the candidate. Even now, I certainly don't consider him my "god-king" or anywhere close. (Pace Mark Shea.) But I think he is doing a pretty good job overall. And I thank God every day that we didn't get Evil Hillary.

  3. Paul, have you seen this? "Hamster wheel of rage," LOL! Describes Mark's FB wall to a T. I also like Simon's Dengist comment. (Although Dengist is just a fancy way to say "pragmatist.")

  4. A few late comments from this "NeverTrumper" during the 2016 election:

    1) I agree with Pauli -- the Trump administration has done many things that previous GOP/"conservative" administrations should have done but didn't. Not only better in the relative sense than a Mrs. Clinton administration would have been, but objectively better. Good on Trump for that.

    2) Now that Trump has had a year to learn the game of being President, I think he'll now excel on certain issues. North Korea, for example. I had the sense from the Singapore summit that Trump knew exactly how to play Little Kim, with Kim having no clue on how to deal with Trump. Man against Boy. Ditto on the G-7 meeting immediately prior.

    3) Having said that, the idiotic trade war may well turn into the disaster that sinks Trump's presidency. History tells us(Smoot-Hawley, anyone?) that trade wars sink the world economy -- especially now, given the extent to which every country has specialized its output. Sorry Barb, but I could go on. I'm with Pauli on this one.

    4) But worst of all, Trump himself is letting down the country by his divisiveness. Is it all his fault? No -- the extent to which the country is divided may not even be mostly his fault. But he could have gone a long way toward unifying the Nation, and seeking to persuade rather than dividing-and-conquering for political gain. I really hate this, and the damage will be long-lived.