The Presidential Not-Top 10
Shout out to ESPN and Sportscenter for revolutionizing the highlights game by giving us the Not-Top 10, the comically worst plays of the day. Well, with a president so comically unfit for the job, I thought it would be fun to compile a Not-Top 10 of his worst traits and behaviors. Hopefully there is something to learn and laugh about in here!
We’re going 10 to 1, to the #1 worst Trump trait. Here we go.
10. The Handshakes
You’ve all seen them. We all laugh about them because they’re funny. But when you’re a world leader like he is and you’re shaking hands with more powerful and important people, this stuff is no joke. Take that handshake with Abe, that look afterward says it all! Abe is thinking to himself, “WTF is up with this guy?” Is that what you want world leaders to think of our POTUS? Absolutely not! Now why are the handshakes so dumb? Because this is not how world leaders are supposed to meet when they do photo ops. Usually the aides from both sides discuss what kinds of photo ops to do, who sits where and does what. Trump does absolutely none of that. So a world leader is now meant to guess what Trump will do when they meet? That’s just stupid, petty behavior. Diplomacy is meant to be carefully planned, not some off-the-cuff willy-nilly thing. And good diplomacy starts with a good handshake, not whatever Trump is doing.
9. His Twitter
You thought this would be lower down the list, right? Well anyway, it’s up here because Trump’s Twitter is so ridiculous that it can be ignored. Trump’s Twitter is home to the idiotic, tone-deaf, ill-advised 140 character ramblings of an angry old man. In all honesty, most people should just unfollow his account and only look at his dumb tweets when they get retweeted by the news media. He has never had a good idea that originated on Twitter. Why? Because good policy doesn’t fit within 140 characters! That’s why! The fact that Trump’s main voice as a president is Twitter shows you how ill-equipped for the job he is. Trump’s insistence on tweeting out whatever he wants is rash and dumb. And it lacks the depth necessary to tackle the complexities of domestic and foreign policy. So you should just ignore it. Trust me, most other leaders of the world probably do too. Unless they’re South Korea right now, in which case they are probably begging him to stop riling up North Korea via Twitter.
8. His Deadlines
My explanation of this is that Trump’s job as a business and real estate mogul just doesn’t translate to being POTUS. In the business world there are strict deadlines of when things should get done (quarterly reports, monthly updates, etc.). Real estate is probably similar, you want to sell/rent all your units quickly. In the high stakes world of the Trump Organization, that new deal for whatever needs to get done fast! Politics is a slow game. It involves working on lots of different interests, getting the viewpoints of different people, and drafting legislation that works for the most people. That’s certainly a simplified version of things, but it highlights how these two jobs don’t function in the same way. A great example of Trump being impatient and sticking to his deadlines has been the repeal and replace effort. When the original House bill was failing, Trump had only devoted a couple of weeks to the effort. But instead of realizing the House bill needed more work, he lied about how good it was and demanded a vote by the end of the week. This humiliated Paul Ryan! All because he had a deadline of when he wanted this done. Politics does not work on deadlines, it takes a long time to draft a good bill. Trump needs to learn this or he will never get anything substantial done.
I am not going to have an innocent and frankly naive attitude that governments around the world don’t have issues with cronyism. Except with Trump, he should be avoiding cronyism at all costs. In most cases, politicians who appoint their cronies to key positions have had a career in politics. The dangers of these cronies is the fact that groupthink intensifies when you only have people around you with similar views. However, Trump is not really in that class. Who are his cronies? Mostly, sycophants that have worked with him or have associations with his real estate empire. He bragged during the campaign about having the best people, but really most of them are comically unqualified for their jobs as his advisers. Take Jared Kushner: he has no political experience whatsoever but is in charge of a whole host of domestic and foreign issues simply for being married to Ivanka Trump. Many people hoped that Trump would appoint established and experienced GOP politicians to key government posts. But for the most part, that too didn’t happen. Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, has no relevant diplomatic experience aside from lobbying countless countries as CEO of ExxonMobil. Betsy Devos’ family just gave boatloads of money to the GOP so she got a job. I should stop there. To make matters even worse, because Trump doesn’t have many connections in the political sphere, there are hundreds of positions that are simply left unfilled. You can’t appoint cronies to staff a huge government if you don’t have a lot of cronies. This all adds up to a very dysfunctional and unqualified group of people working for Trump. It certainly makes the Trump WH very entertaining.
6. Loyalty Obsession
I thought about putting this farther towards the bottom of the list but I settled here since it’s more silly and petty than what is coming. But really Mr. Trump, you are the POTUS, not a mafia don! Loyalty to you personally is not what makes a good appointment to an advisor position, cabinet head, or anyone else for that matter. For example, you thought it would make sense to ask former FBI Director Comey for his personal loyalty? Not only was that highly inappropriate, it makes you appear more guilty. If you want to convince us that you’re innocent of collusion with the Russian government program to support your election, there is no reason to ask the FBI Director to be loyal to you and make an investigation into Flynn go away. Attorney General Sessions serves at the pleasure of the president? No, the Department of Justice is a federal cabinet position where you head up a department of prosecutors and pursue justice as the administration sees fit. That doesn’t mean that he has to do whatever you say, and this was something that Sessions himself grilled Sally Yates on when she was getting confirmed as deputy attorney general under Obama. This insecure feeling that even people that technically serve together with Trump are out to get him is childish and unfitting of POTUS.
5. Zero-Sum Thinking
This has been talked about with regards to trade mostly but I see its implications in Trump’s rhetoric. Simply put, Trump views the world as a world of winners and losers. The winners take things from the losers. Immigrants take jobs from white people. China takes from us in trade. Poor people take too much money from the government. It’s a simplified version of the world that carries the logical strength of an elementary school student’s development. Basically, when you are that young, you simply cannot think of things in a more complex manner than “that bully took my lunch money, and now I lost it.” Trump looks at trade in this way. He legitimately feels that the US is getting bullied by the world. But that’s not a nuanced look at the situation. It is the same with immigration. Immigrants are not taking the jobs of white people. Instead, a more nuanced take on the situation is that more uneducated white people are getting pushed out of jobs by automation, downsizing of the company due to losses, loss of manufacturing to other cheaper labor countries, etc. In most respects, this is not the fault of immigrants. It is instead something the US has to work harder to understand and make sense of. What can we do as a country to ensure that we keep up in this global economy and have meaningful jobs for all that want them? Blaming immigrants and saying you want to build a wall does nothing to fix the problem of rising unemployment in the Rust Belt and Appalachia. Trump needs to understand the world as a complex set of forces that are constantly evolving and playing off of each other. Simplifying it down to just winners and losers makes for a good rally speech but does nothing to help those that are enthusiastically cheering at the rally itself.
This one doesn’t take a lot of explanation. Trump lies with such frequency and lack of remorse that it’s shocking. In fact, I would posit that Trump himself sees very little different between the truth and a lie. It is as if the line is so blurry to him that he decides he doesn’t care about it. Take the Donald Trump Jr. meeting with the Russians. When the news broke that he had met with them during the campaign, Trump apparently dictated a lie to his son about what happened at that meeting. Remember those lies about the crowds at his inauguration? He forced Spicer to go out there and lie to everyone about them, even though there was visual evidence disproving the lie. A POTUS shouldn’t have Kellyanne Conway telling the media that there are “alternative facts”. Our POTUS tries so hard to hide the fact that he is brazenly lying. That’s not good. Fortunately, we are smart enough to see straight through all the BS that comes out of the White House these days.
3. Contempt for the Law
Trump has contempt for any law that doesn’t benefit him or who he perceives as supporting him. In true autocratic tendency, Trump wants to change any law that he doesn’t like. Can’t get repeal and replace passed because of filibuster rules? Trump wants to get rid of the filibuster. That’s a terribly toxic idea to peddle around Washington. Getting rid of filibusters essentially kills bipartisan bills entirely. Instead, what we would get would be whichever party controls the Senate can do essentially whatever they want. Removing the requirement for bills to be bipartisan and supported by both parties is not the direction we need to go. Simply put, it would drive Republicans and Democrats farther apart, which we should not pursue. Now for an even more toxic disrespect for the law. Trump talked about this frequently during the campaign. He wants to get a Supreme Court that can overturn Roe v. Wade. That is just wrong. Once the Supreme Court rules on a case, it should be final! Essentially Trump is saying that if you don’t like a ruling, overturn it. If you don’t like a law, get rid of it. If you don’t like a congressional norm, abolish it. Where does it end? What if he doesn’t like part of the Constitution? It is a slippery slope. We don’t want to have a POTUS who decides to rip up everything this country has worked for just because it doesn’t benefit him.
2. Moral Vacuousness
Trump has no concept of morals. More important than doing what is right is winning. The Trump Jr. meeting and his defense of it is the epitome of this. Trump claimed that anyone would take that meeting because it was all part of opposition research, which all candidates do. But let’s be clear, he shouldn’t be ok with his son taking this meeting. Blatantly in the email is mention of the Russian government’s effort to support his election. Trump Jr. should’ve taken this email straight to the FBI. It should be morally wired into Trump that it is wrong to accept help from foreign governments to win an election. Because that is treason. Instead, his son replies, “if this is what you say I love it.” His father, who for a year may have worked to cover up that this meeting ever happened, says that anyone would take this meeting. I wouldn’t have. And you shouldn’t support someone who would take that meeting.
- Unwillingness to Learn
We’ve made it. This is the worst trait about Trump. This is the reason he will never be a successful president. He doesn’t try to or want to learn about the job. He is lazy, doesn’t do his research, and supports whatever the last person he talked to supports. The most flagrant example of this trait was the Healthcare debate. He spent some time working on the legislation and publicly exclaimed, “nobody knew Healthcare could be this complicated.” No Mr. Trump, everyone but you knew that. I knew that. I have learned more about how healthcare worked in the past year than I could’ve ever imagined. I could articulate to you the mechanisms that make Obamacare work and what needs improvement. I have written a simple explainer on this blog. I am 26. I have no political experience. I have never worked in a hospital. I have health insurance. I read the newspaper and learn. I am smarter than our president. Our president never learned how health insurance worked enough to explain his new legislation to the American people. He couldn’t advocate for his law and prove why it was better than Obamacare. He couldn’t even understand how much health insurance is supposed to cost. Because he doesn’t know anything about the lives we live and doesn’t care to. He will never be a successful president. And we shouldn’t wait around expecting that he will get better. He won’t. He doesn’t want to.