Before Donald Trump became president, he was the star of “The Apprentice.” Somehow, he has managed to maintain his reality show persona as commander-in-chief; complete with the requisite drama and bravado. Welcome to the Trump Theater!
Temper and Accusation Are Trump’s Standard Responses
Instead of his iconic phrase, “You’re Fired,” Trump now uses, “Shut Down the Government.” In fact, on May 2, 2017, he threatened this for the second time in his short tenure. Temper tantrums seem to be his standard modus operandi, both pre and post election. The president uses Twitter to complain when he does not get his way, Congress appears to be ineffective, or the press broadcasts something that is not flattering.
Another phrase he spouts continually is “fake news.” This has become a mantra for the president and his administration. Apparently, their list of approved news agencies is rather short. Other sound bites Trump and company have inundated the airwaves with:
- alternative facts;
- comments or statements were misinterpreted;
- “I inherited a mess;”
- and the best, “Lies, all lies.”
POTUS Seems Bent on Trumpling American Democracy
Perhaps America is ready to begin counting down to the end of Trump’s presidency, especially after the debacle of his first 100 days. In November 2020, a new president will be elected. As of May 3, the blessed event is only 1,279 days away.
Another thing that would be good to count is how many times the current POTUS demonstrates he is bent on Trumpling the U.S. Constitution and America’s democracy. In just over 100 days, the president has rattled Americans. His approval rating is 41 percent. Those who disapprove of Trump’s job performance is 54 percent, according to the Gallup Poll taken during the week of April 24-30.
Between 1938 and 2017, the average presidential approval rating is 53 percent after 100 days of job performance. President Trump’s is 13 points lower.
By comparison: Barack Obama held 52 percent in May 2009; in 2001, George W. Bush’s number was 55; his father, George H.W.’s rating was 60 in 1989. The only president whose rating was not over 50 was Bill Clinton — 45 percent.
Brian Klaas, a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics and author, implores:
Americans of all political stripes…agree, at minimum, on preserving the bedrock principles that make the United States a democracy.
It appears the president, his cabinet, advisers, and loyal Trumpeteers are hell-bent on destroying the democracy Americans held prior to Trump’s election. Their target — First Amendment.
Trump Believes Libel Laws Not Strong Enough
The president began to put into motion his plan of action against news professionals during his campaign. He verbally attacked reporters and even encouraged Trumpeteers to physically assault journalists.
Calling the people who report the news, “dishonest and scum” is an affront to those tasked with keeping the public informed and is a slap in the face of democracy. In “The Elements of Journalism,” Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenthal outline the difference between the free press and state-run news. The authors contend:
The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.
He has repeatedly defended Vladimir Putin, who believes the most efficient way to deal with negative media reports is to murder journalists. When expressing his approval of the Russian president’s actions, Trump suggested the American legal system needs to reconsider how it defines libel.
Politico compared POTUS’s war against media to a cultural-anthropological theory of ritualized warfare. In the comparison, they used this example:
A sort of pantomime of battle most famously observed among the Dani people of Papua New Guinea, who would regularly line up in formation to shout insults and shoot arrows at warriors from rival villages with no decisive outcome.
The Trump Theater is, unfortunately, going to be aired via Twitter or his mindless interviews for the next 3 years, 8 months, and 19 days, when he leaves office. America is sure to be entertained, enraged, and amused by the president’s frequent verbal tirades and blunders. Nonetheless, he should not be excused for his blatant attacks on the First Amendment and democracy as a whole.
Opinion by Cathy Milne
Time and Date: 2020 US Presidential Election
TickCounter: Trump Leaves Office Countdown
CNBC: ‘I inherited a mess!’: Five of the best quotes from Trump’s crazy press conference
Gallup: Presidential Approval Ratings — Donald Trump
New York Daily News: President Trump demands government shutdown in angry tweets
Politico: Trump’s Fake War on the Fake News
Three Rivers Press: The Elements of Journalism; Bill Kovach & Tom Rosenstiel; 2014
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Hernán Piñera’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License