BY SUSAN ESTRICH
You know, the one who hung out with establishment types, invited Bill and Hill to his wedding, liked Democrats, knew how to bring a group together. That guy.
And for season one, just imagine that his target was not red-state conservatives and Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables;” it was not less-educated and whiter voters; it was not any of these people because he already had them. Even if he had killed former FBI Director James Comey. To get better ratings, you need the people you don’t have.
Donald Trump – that Donald Trump, the Donald Trump New York friends used to tell me was an OK guy if you didn’t fight with him – might have actually pulled this country together.
He had everything going for him. His base was solid. He could make any overtures he wanted, offer any symbols he chose. Notice how little he thinks of those things, cautioning us after the fact that we should not read too much into his embrace of a Russian and a Korean dictator.
So what about some of the old-fashioned political gestures like flying the flag at half-mast and honoring a man who served his country? Why not take the bold measure of moving past the Planned Parenthood wars? Why not declare a truce with the press in the name of the First Amendment? Why not tell us we can agree to disagree about Colin Kaepernick?
Campaigns always polarize people. If not, there would be no heat, just the buses from the elderly homes [I used to run fleets of those in Florida].
But what most presidents try to do once they win, to varying degrees and with varying degrees of success, is bring the country together. Then, of course, the partisanship comes back for the midterm elections, but it does so on calmer waters, not on top of the daily battles and protests and screaming matches that have torn us apart since the last election.
That is what makes these midterms so flammable. There is already too much tinder in this fire. And everybody’s about to run around lighting up as much as they can.
The great tragedy of Donald Trump’s presidency may not be what he does – for all his shenanigans, the economy motors on – but what he could do with that strong economy to unite America and make us even greater.
Nobody takes on hard issues in campaigns anymore. Remember: “Read my lips: no new taxes.” Actually, yes [we had new taxes]. A strong economy is when you take on race issues. Has to be. Immigration, too. Everyone knew we had to make changes in ObamaCare. Trump could have taken the credit for saving it, not failing to destroy it. He beat Clinton. He won. Stop. Be gracious. John McCain, too.
A president who cannot be invited to funerals of the leaders of his own party is doing it on purpose. Why? He’s playing to the wrong demo.
The other Donald Trump might be pissed as hell at the Justice Department, but he would shut up about it because every time he raises it, it makes people think better of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And whether the president thinks this or not, no one should be angrier than him – or at least pretend to be – over the very idea that Russia would use technology to try to influence the most precious right of all, the right of a democratic people to fairly elect its leaders.
Tell Vladimir Putin you don’t want his help or need it. That is what a winner does.
America was ready to embrace Melania Trump as the Second Coming. Instead, it certainly seemed that she was turned off by the same things we were. The jacket? How much would it have taken the other Donald Trump, the one who likes strong women, to go out of his way with all this crap in the background to show her respect, even if it meant flying home every night?
None of these things would really be so out of character for the pre-campaign Donald Trump. It’s just that he got lost on the way to the White House.
– Susan Estrich’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer