I wasn’t sure I’d be able to rise to the demand of fully engaging with, and writing about, politics in the Trump era. Despite accusations from many on the right side of the spectrum, I can handle the losing. I survived the first Electoral College debacle of my lifetime in 2000 with Bush vs. Gore. And suffered anger, indignity and a brief, but near paralyzing case of hopelessness after John Kerry was Swift Boated in 2004. The less-ethically challenged, more socioeconomically inclusive candidate does not always come out on top. A fact of adult, American life.
However on November 9, 2016, one point in my mind was an absolutely settled thing. No longer would I subject myself to Chuck Todd and his criminally negligent “moderation” of NBC’s Sunday morning stalwart, Meet the Press. The caretaker of the Overlook Hotel (many thanks, Charles Pierce) had thoroughly proven himself to be a Trump softball thrower during a 2016 Presidential campaign marred by general journalistic malfeasance. But when you’re the host of America’s longest-running television show, following in the majestic footsteps of Tim Russert (I think we’ve all agreed to pretend David Gregory never happened), the country has the right to expect more than talking point regurgitation with Sunday brunch.
A series of strange events launched with the 45th President’s inauguration on Friday, January 20, 2017. The introduction of the country to Press Secretary Sean Spicer and “alternative facts,” protesting crowds at the Women’s Marches far exceeding attendance at the President’s own parade. And Chuck Todd remembered he was a journalist. Writer Egberto Willies and others have offered measured praise: “Recently Chuck Todd has been doing his job in reducing the spin by pointing out unadulterated facts when Republicans enter their lying mode.”
So anyway, Trump has been President for three weeks and I’m three for three with Meet the Press. These are strange times indeed. On today’s edition, the topic wasn’t explicitly discussed by the panel or guests. But with each installment of the suddenly reinvigorated program, Chuck Todd gets closer to verbalizing a question on the mind of many Washington talking heads. This week Politico published Trump Vexed by Challenges, Scale of Government. Writers Alex Isenstadt, Kenneth P. Vogel and Josh Dawsey report, “The new president’s allies say he has been surprised that government can’t be run like his business.”
Two thoughts and queries immediately present themselves.
- No shit, Sherlock.
- Is Trump going to give the nation the gift of resignation?
My friend Charles Pierce of Esquire recently observed that “the executive branch of the government is being run by a not-entirely-stable guy who wanders the White House in a bathrobe and signs executive orders that put white nationalists into delicate positions in the national-security apparatus apparently without knowing what he’s signing.” Those with any real understanding of Trump’s character, as opposed to desperately or cynically projecting non-existent leadership qualities onto the former host of The Apprentice, are unsurprised.
More tantalizing is the prospect of a rampant, power-hungry narcissist getting tired of his squeaky new toy (the life, liberty and prosperity of the American people) less than a month into his administration. We saw how stewardship of the nation aged George W. Bush and Barack Obama. While it’s beyond presumptuous to assume that Trump shares the care-worn empathy of his predecessors (while I’ve never been and will never be a fan, there’s ample evidence that Dubya is at least a human being), might he already be aggravated enough by the actual work of running the country to vacate office of his own accord?
Anonymous aides quoted in the Politico piece are not, shall we say, mincing words. He’s “furious…He doesn’t like this shit.” Corporations, Trump seems to be realizing, may not be people after all. People are messy with their opinions and insistence on transparency, justice and democratic principle. Their tendency to take to the streets to demand equity and opportunity for all – not just shareholders and the family of the guy in charge.
The writers continue: “Interviews paint a picture of a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high. Two visitors to the White House last week said they were struck by how tired the staff looks.”
Well, well America. I was afraid the Trump regime would grind us down. But with a third weekend of vibrant, peaceful protests in the books (this week’s outrage: Republican plans to deprive millions of their health insurance with an Obamacare “repeal and replace”), seems we’re just getting started. Keep up the pressure good people. You too Chuck Todd.