America’s Amateur President

After the first three days into his presidency, Donald Trump and his administration have made three things clear. First, they won’t make any truce with what, as Trump reiterated in his speech at the CIA headquarters, he considers the dishonest media. Second, although comical, the Trump administration won’t compromise with the size of anything that involves Trump. And, third, Donald Trump’s “unpresidented” tweets are likely to make more news than his executive actions, as evidenced when he sought opinion on his Twitter engagements from the inauguration ball attendees.

For any other incoming administration, these might not be even an issue. But, Trump, an amateur in Washington’s political arena, seems to have taken a markedly different approach. That is, making a big deal out of non-issues.

As the first president who possesses no public nor military background, Donald Trump’s ascendancy to power was, in fact, promising in the sense that he could bring about radical changes that Washington has never experienced before. His now-obsolete slogan, “Drain the Swamp,” infused many Americans with a wild enthusiasm. They saw a political redeemer in Trump who, despite his questionable personal and business records, would purify Washington of all political vices.

Unfortunately, Trump let them down almost immediately. Trump was quick to fill in his administration mostly with the so-called Washington insiders. To make things much worse, some of his picks were actually antagonistic to the very departments they are assigned to.

In Trump’s defense, every incoming administration makes decisions that raise some eyebrows at first. Over time, it is the president who, by displaying pragmatism and listening to alternative opinions, tries to undo some of the mistakes made earlier in his tenure.

This is not the case for Donald Trump. Trump has already alienated the media, labeling the networks that publish unflattering news as fake. The war that he personally waged on the media during his clangorous campaign picks up a new pace as he enters the White House. His press secretary’s first “official briefing” was nothing but a Bickering Bickersons’ show targeting the media.

By ridiculing journalists, Donald Trump’s administration is doing him a huge disservice. Free press and democracy go hand-in-hand. As the leader of the free world, it is the vested duty of Trump’s administration to uphold the free press. A few angry tweets, occasional naming and shaming, and a round of applause from the intelligence community that fears transparency might seem appealing for obvious reasons.

But these are not what Trump is signed up for. The presidency is the toughest of all jobs. Trump has to learn how to deal with the raucous media. He also has to accept that, because he is the president, not everyone is going to see when he sees a half-a-million at his inauguration. Above all, he has to come to terms with the fact that as long as he is in the White House, he is no longer a flamboyant and bad-tempered billionaire who can say whatever comes to his mind.

Trump has to maintain presidential decorum and be more discretionary in his choice of words. No wonder this will be hard for Donald Trump to achieve. After all, he believes that he should not pay heed to his “enemies,” who plead for a more restrained Twitter usage because his social media presence is a smart way to “bypass the dishonest media.” Social media is a powerful tool that can prove to be useful to an incumbent. But, under no circumstance, should it be viewed as the primary platform to interact with the world. Hence, it is imperative for Donald Trump to demonstrate his resolve to focus on the immediate problems without being so absorbed in the gimmicky world of Twitter.

Whether it is the size of the inauguration day crowd or the problems that, according to Trump’s inauguration day speech, America grapples with, it is hard to miss the Trump administration’s obsession with aggrandizement. The truth is, after the dire consequences of the Iraq War, Americans are less likely to be duped by any more ploys. They want to see the results of the promises that Donald Trump has made and believe that his administration is less about the establishment and more about the people.

This is a gargantuan task to deliver for which Donald Trump needs full cooperation from people he likes and dislikes as well. Only by forging a healthy working relationship with all concerned parties from both sides of the aisle can Donald Trump ensure that he is a professional, not an amateur player in Washington’s treacherous politics as he is in the business world.