I wrote on my Facebook yesterday that I was concerned about Trumps comments about protestors:
The use of the bully pulpit has a long history in America, but it has traditionally been used by the White House to spread a coherent agenda rather than challenging Americans to fall in line to an ideology or to stop criticizing the president. It has been a persuasive mechanism rather than, for lack of a better term, a bullying pulpit.
Despite the fact that Obama and Clinton have already made their calls for a united America, Conway’s comments on The Sunday Shows show further proof that the Trump team sees the protestors as crybabies of the left who need to be “shut up.”
Instead of stepping forward, looking at key policy decisions, and trying to figure out the proverbial first 100 days, Trump is on twitter decrying about a lack of unity. President’s must hunker down, soldier on, and find ways to unite people. He must develop a skin that is thicker so that he can use the Bully Pulpit for things that matter.
I am obviously opposed to Trump. I did not vote for him and I do not support any of his policy decisions, but Americans will never get the chance to do the real work of policy debates if our president is a petulant child who cannot take criticism. The buck now stops with him. He cannot blame the media. He cannot even blame congress, as he has the blankest check of almost anyone since George W. Bush in terms of political power.
He has shown some signs of thinking about policy as he tries to think about things like health care reform. Specifically Trump has stated that:
Trump suggested provisions that prevent insurers from refusing coverage for preexisting conditions and which allow children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26 should stay.
It must be noted, however, that barring insurers from refusing coverage and keeping the “rule of 26” will, according to one opinion at the Washington Post, leave insurers bankrupt if the other sections of Obamacare are not kept intact. This is because young people would have no incentive to get health insurance if they know that they can always sign up if they do get sick later on. We need (SURPRISE! SURPRISE!) an individual mandate in order to make this type of health care work with the type of rules that Trump has signaled he will keep in place.
But instead of building on and trying to work through these difficult policy decisions, the second major issue that Trump has decided to go after on his Twitter Pulpit is the New York Times. Rather than sitting down to actually work out the details of policy, Trump has retreated back into the conservative echo chamber of the right wing media to spew more lies about the New York Times. As during the election, the Post has done a good job of trying to correct the record to show that everything Trump has said about the Times over the last few hours is out of context and false.
I told my wife after the election that I was willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. I had been wrong about him winning the Republican nomination, I had been wrong about people’s reactions to the things he has said and done, and I was also wrong about the outcome of our presidential election (although I still don’t believe I’m wrong about the overall direction our country is headed). So maybe there was just something I didn’t understand and that Trump would come together and try to bring unity. What I’ve seen so far, however, is Trump breaking bread with British Brexiter Politicians and retreating further and further into a partisan echo-chamber of the far-right and alt-right. He is not trying to be president of America. He is still trying to portray himself as the savior of America and to use the Bully Pulpit as his chance to make himself the Messiah instead of placing America on a track that would actually make it “great.”