As a teacher, I have been known from time to time to say things I should not. Chalk it up to being tired, frustrated with external problems or students who are not having a good day either. When this happens, I strive to do my best to apologize and quickly correct my behavior. My students typically show me grace because such occurrences are rare.
Unfortunately for the Donald Trump, his tendency to go off-script is not nearly as rare and it is having a devastating impact on his presidency. In part, this likely is because he is used to being a chief executive of a company and not a country. The former tends to reward boldness and forgive those who are brash, while the latter often considers such traits to be reckless and rude.
A case in point is a verbatim transcript of the president’s recent press conference, where he is either defensive or combative, depending on your political bent. What no one would dispute is that, as of late, he has been doing a lot more damage than control.
Republicans in Washington seemed to wait for the president to respond with what people would consider a reasonable amount of outrage and, when he equivocated, party leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain repudiated the white supremacists, and by default, the president himself for his perceived inaction against them. Critics inside and outside the party have criticized the GOP’s response to the situation.
And it doesn’t help Trump in his efforts to convince people he’s not a racist that racists are backing his comments to the hilt. At the same time, an anti-fascist film made by the U.S. government in 1947 is breaking the Internet, as is President Obama’s tweet that echoes the same sentiments.
We’re not talking about racial slurs or an apparent pattern of overzealous tactics by law enforcement, which are, of course, reprehensible but sadly, old news. This has escalated to running down people with a car. You might be able to argue that it was risky to engage armed neo-Nazis, but, if the facts bear out the initial reports, what transpired was premeditated murder and merits a response of utter disgust.
While tragic for America, this is but a distraction from the larger concern of North Korea and its most recent provocations. Weird Al Yankovic, who should be free to worry about his next parody not nuclear fallout, appears more focused on solving this crisis that the president is.
Is it true the mainstream media does not like Trump and that bias may creep up in its reporting? Yes. But the same is true for the conservative media in the opposite direction. The problem is that Trump is giving more ammunition to his enemies and is making it harder for his friends to support him.
Unfortunately for Trump, his ego may be his own undoing. As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation grinds on in the background, Trump’s political blunders may be overshadowed by his legal woes.
Richard Nixon thought he was above the law as president (and Trump is giving people cause to believe he shares that conviction), but if the current president is not careful, he may find himself repeating the words of the only president to resign in disgrace.
Trump may be looking for his Jackson Moment, or his Roosevelt Moment or his Reagan Moment but, if he doesn’t watch out, he will get his Nixon Moment instead.