Trump won’t stop even when he’s losing
By Jennifer Rubin
President-elect Donald Trump lost the popular vote. As he enters office, his approval ratings are lower than those of any president in 40 years. Trump’s biggest obstacle in his struggle for approval — his insatiable need for it and Americans’ refusal to bestow it — is Trump. He fired up a minority of American voters in just the right spots to beat a really flawed candidate in the electoral college — in a race in which he provided virtually no detail, let alone coherence, for his agenda.
Now he has gone and picked fights with civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, the head of the CIA, the entire intelligence community, the press (again), “Saturday Night Live,” the cast of “Hamilton,” various American businesses perceived to be “shipping jobs” overseas, NATO, Angela Merkel, the European Union and the catch-all category of “my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do.” We find it surprising his approval hasn’t hit the mid-30s.
Presidents play two roles — head of government and head of state. Trump may find it hard going in both departments. Heads of government need order, coherence, certainty, a talent for persuading (not bullying), enough grasp of detail to navigate their way through major policy decisions and discipline to stay focused on the task at hand. Has he ever displayed any of these qualities? Not that we have seen. Trump, as we are seeing, may have even more trouble filling the head-of-state role because his entire personality cuts against decorum, magnanimity, calm, empathy and grace.
No slight, real or imagined, can ever be ignored, no matter who is involved. A civil rights icon or a loyal ally — no one gets a pass because he respects no one, sees no higher purpose than to protect his own ego.
The Washington Post reports on his personal isolation:
“Trump is a man isolated, increasingly cocooned away from the voters who lifted him to his seemingly improbable victory. He favors his own people and his own places, creating the veneer of accessibility — his tweets reach millions and he still answers his cellphone — while placing himself in almost entirely habitual settings.
“He spends most of his days in Trump Tower, with few close friends and few meaningful one-on-one interactions beyond the family members, advisers and loyalists who are whisked by gold-colored elevator to his 26th-floor office for private audiences. Trump rarely leaves, not even for a breath of fresh air; nor does he encounter many people he does not already know or who do not work for him.”
Aside from TV viewing, he likely never hears criticism, has to endure a different point of view or has to show deference to others.
No one knows how that all translates into a governing style. When you collect opponents faster than you make friends, leave your allies no clue where you are going next and cannot control your own emotions, operating in the real world, let alone in the Oval Office, becomes difficult.
Trump may be his own insurmountable challenge.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog.