In 2015, an author wrote: “The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesperson for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense for that office that we all held? That means everyone in the administration should look and act professionally, especially the president. Impressions matter.”
These words are in “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again,” and the author is President Donald J. Trump. His words are a criticism of his predecessor, then-President Barack Obama. But not since Richard Nixon has anyone done more to lower the standards of the presidency than the current one.
As of this writing, the world has weathered 168 days of the Trump administration, with approximately 1,300 more to go. Or as columnist Eugene Robinson recently wrote, “If you want to look at the bright side of things, at least we’ve learned that the nation can survive half a year without a sane, functioning presidency.”
Who can forget former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, having effectively being ridiculed and nicknamed “low-energy Jeb” by the president, accurately predicting a “chaos candidate will be a chaos president?” In a normal political environment, his words might have been prophetic.
However, in these trying times, they are not. Is anyone genuinely surprised that a candidate who has behaved in a selfish and childlike manner throughout his 71 years is now having trouble transitioning into a president who can carry himself with class for more than a few hours at a time?
After all, he predicted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” It’s important to note that when he first made this statement in June 2016, the president did not qualify it with any reference to such a shooting being in self-defense. Nor has he since.
Unfortunately, it is a pretty accurate statement. The president’s core base number would not weaken, and if it did, not by much. This is why the president will continue to make sexist, insulting and vindictive comments about women such as “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski and can publicly ignore a request for a handshake from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
I enjoy watching “Morning Joe” and usually find the dialogue between Brzezinski, co-host Joe Scarborough and the panelists to be fair and informative. But the priorities of cable news programs — on both the left and right — are oftentimes ratings first and balanced coverage second, and these programs are largely responsible for the rise of the offensive businessman and playboy to the commander in chief.
Throughout the campaign, favoritism was always shown towards him. Other candidates were usually required to appear in studio for interviews. Candidate Trump, though, only had to call in because he was always a ratings draw. Often dismissed as nothing more than entertainment or a bad joke, including by many in the media, Trump now has his hand on the nuclear trigger.
I want my president to be better than me. I want to look up to him or her, regardless of political persuasion. The president should be one who even detractors can still point to and say to their children, “I do not agree with the president on much, but he is a good role model for you.”
I expect the president to be thick-skinned and not take every criticism personally and respond. I also want my president to stand up to President Vladimir Putin with the same disdain that he does a female cable news anchor.
President Ronald Reagan always carried himself with class and dignity, despite an often-hurtful domestic agenda, especially towards minorities. The American president must always be presidential and about the business of promoting America and her people — all of them — and not repeatedly insult segments of the electorate.
That is what America had with President Obama. Even if you may not have agreed with him on much, he was a role model for all Americans as a husband and father and will always represent the very best of America.
“You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?” These are the immortal words of Army lawyer Joseph Welch to Sen. Joseph McCarty during the communist witch-hunt of the 1950s. It’s too bad they are just as apt today.
Sadly, at the core, this is the president.
Cooper is president of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.