We Think: The Trump Watch

We Think: The Trump Watch

January 20, 2017.

The 45th president of the United States was inaugurated today, inheriting a fractured nation along with the unique opportunity to be a healer.

Or not.

It’s President Trump’s watch now.

Barack Obama took office eight years ago calling for hope and change, and dazzling the nation with his rhetoric. But it’s hard to mount a convincing argument that America is a kinder, gentler and stronger nation today.  No matter who or what is to blame, it happened on his watch.

President Trump has the lowest public approval rating of any newcomer to the office since pollsters started asking the question. That’s not a revelation given the campaign that was waged last year, but it makes things a lot more challenging for the new team in town.

About 70 congressional Democrats boycotted today’s inauguration for one or reason or another, a scale that is unprecedented. We think that’s disrespectful to the nation. It shows they are throwing down the gauntlet early, and that will make things tougher for more responsible members of the loyal opposition.

A new president leads through inspiration, example and action.

President Trump is a change agent, and most Americans wanted a president who stood for change. It wasn’t just a Republican thing. The strong showing of Bernie Sanders was evidence that many Democrats were disenchanted with establishment politics too.

While this worked in his favor, the new president’s effectiveness will be constrained if he continues to use acrimonious language at will, and tweets when peeved. All the Republican spin doctors in the world won’t be able to explain this away day after day. Moreover, President Trump faces a Congress in which he has never served and with which he has never worked. And a Republican majority that he cannot necessarily count on to rally behind all his proposals. It’s a good time to assemble more allies.

President Trump is still an enigma for the news media. Most don’t like him and have yet to figure out how to deal with him. He doesn’t like the media either, for the most part, and continues to paint that canvass with an indiscriminate brush.  We hope the recent shouting of questions by a CNN reporter to the president-elect, along with his responses, was not a harbinger.  And that we’re not heading into four years of name calling and enemies lists like America experienced in the late sixties. Those were the days of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, and a greatly troubled America.

Early signs are that the national leaders of the Democratic Party — and progressive interest groups — will contest the Trump Administration at all times and in all ways, rather than seek cooperation for the greater good of the nation. Some say it’s naïve to expect otherwise. Others call it payback for how some Republicans treated president-elect Obama eight years ago.  No matter, we think it’s a misguided political strategy — especially early on.

On the other hand, the post-election gloating of Republicans has not subsided and may not for a while. That’s to be expected, but it ought to be tempered by the reality that this was more of a Clinton loss than a Trump win. She was the flawed candidate of the establishment, and ran an uninteresting, uninspired campaign — even though she received nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump, a historical record for a losing candidate. Trump said give me a chance, and enough voters in the right states said okay.

We hope President Trump will lead by (positive) example and seek out responsible leaders of all persuasions to move America forward.

The new watch starts today.

 

Tribune Staff
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