Understanding President Trump

We have always taken pains to judge our political leaders through a lens that is part partisan affiliation and part deep-seated values.

These values include consistency and truth-telling. We generally don’t tolerate being deceived or lied to, even if the deceiver shares our political stripes. “Flip-flopping” is anathema in our political world. Consequently, when a politician does change their mind, they feel the necessity of explaining why to a skeptical populace.

These rules seemingly do NOT apply to President Trump. He has dramatically “flip flopped” on so many issues that it’s difficult to know exactly where he stands.

Sign Up for E-News

To highlight just a few:

1) He originally called the Electoral College “a disaster for democracy” until it saved his election, whereupon it became “genius.” He has said so many different things regarding H-1B visas and the minimum wage that your guess is as good as mine as to what his policy would be today.

2) President Trump had said, “The Republicans who want to cut Social Security and Medicaid are wrong.” In his announcement speech, he made his position clear (or so we thought): “Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.” Now, the president has backed the House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would change the financing of Medicaid to a block-grant system inevitably reducing the funding dramatically. We have yet to see if Social Security is on the chopping block as well.

3) Trump, during the campaign, consistently derided the robust stock market under his predecessor as illusory: “We have a very false economy…The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market.” Now that he is the president, he points to its upward rise as proof of his success.

4) On the campaign trail he was asked about the positive unemployment numbers that were being reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Rather than concede that the Obama Administration had succeeded in reducing unemployment, he instead attacked the messenger’s “phony employment numbers.”

He suggested that the rate of unemployment, reported at 5 percent, “was really 22 percent” or even “42 percent.” He wouldn’t stop there, however. He went on to label the unemployment rate “one of the biggest hoaxes in modern American politics.” On several other occasions he characterized the figures calculated by career economists as “phony.”

Recently, President Trump received the February jobs report, which continued the positive trends of the Obama years. Since it’s during his watch, all is forgiven with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and now Trump claims their reports are accurate and solid proof of the validity of his economic policies. What about his earlier statements? When White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked, he responded, “I talked to the president prior to this and he said to quote him very clearly. ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.’”

If we have learned anything during the brief time that Donald Trump has been president, it is that he is unlike any other. He is not about truth-telling and consistency but rather dwells in a different universe. Last fall, Sen. Marco Rubio called him a Twitter troll and later was called “our troll in chief,” to which Mr. Trump replied “a great compliment.”

Troll culture has been evolving through the internet for the past 20 odd years. Political reporter Amanda Hess recently described exactly what is involved in trolling: “Trolling describes an ethos. The troll is a figure who skips across the web, saying whatever it takes to rile up unsuspecting targets, relishing the chaos in his wake and feasting on the attention, good or bad.”

So, when he calls for a 2,000-mile wall or suggests banning an entire religion from entering the country, most of his supporters understand his rants as exactly that, rather than actual plans. But there is a dark side to the world of trolling that President Trump now inhabits. As Ms. Hess points out, “Trolls work by exploiting the gap between the virtual and the real. They float…across the web, then reach out and rattle people who are pinned down by fixed ideologies, moral codes, and human emotions.”

“Trolls” are typically outsiders who rebel against the dominant groups and generally terrorize the status quo from the sidelines. The election of Mr. Trump has made “our troll in chief” the consummate insider. The end result is extremely alarming for many of us in that the troll sensibility now dominates our political landscape. The fox is now in charge of the hen house. Forget our old litmus tests of truth-telling, consistency, ideology, moral codes, principles and empathy; all that matters now is raw power, disruption and planned chaos.

Many people I have talked to are at a loss on how to navigate this new world of outrageous presidential rants and Tweets. Liberal television commentator Rachel Maddow, recognizing perhaps more than most what exactly is going on, has decided to ignore Mr. Trump’s Tweets and focus on policy. She has embraced as her litmus test our old-fashioned standards of consistency and truth-telling.

Perhaps we should follow her lead.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

Live and Learn

When I was a senior at Fordham University (1970), the school initiated an experimental program allowing a small number of seniors to teach a professor-assisted accredited pass/fail course. I applied and to my amazement was one of three students selected. The course I taught was titled Philosophy of Education.

The underlying theory of my course was that every educational system has an ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Should Valentine's Day Be Celebrated at School?

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’ve been a third-grade teacher for over 20 years and have never allowed my students to celebrate Valentine’s Day in my class. I know my colleagues think I’m mean, but I’m refusing to celebrate it for many reasons.

1) Children hand out cards to each other and there’s always some child left out or who gets very few; 2) Children are always asked ...

What Next for Sober Houses?

February 7, 2018

To the editor,

As Yogi Berra famously said: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

As reported in the Jan. 25 edition of Yorktown News, 482 Underhill Ave. is back in the sober house business, this time operating as a “family,” not a convalescent, home. And because it’s operating as a family home, there are no town regulations, standards, guidelines ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22, 7:00 PM

NY Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor

Book Club for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 12:00 PM

Club Fit, Jefferson Valley

Yoga for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown Receives GreenFaith Certification

February 16, 2018

The First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown has completed the requirements for GreenFaith certification (www.greenfaith.org). GreenFaith is an organization which helps religious communities grow in environmental leadership. GreenFaith certification was a two year process that required a number of accomplishments in the areas of stewardship, education, worship, environmental justice advocacy, and ...