(Rich Galen, Mullings) – From Palm Desert, California
President Donald Trump is no President Theodore Roosevelt.
Roosevelt, quoting what he called “an old adage,” famously said in a 1902 speech in Chicago: “Speak softly and carry a big stick”
Roosevelt was pointing out that it was the U.S. Navy that would have to enforce the determination of our 5th President, James Monroe, that European nations not be permitted to seize territory in the Western Hemisphere. Monroe made that point in 1823 during what we now call the “State of the Union” address.
This is known as “The Monroe Doctrine.”
From the moment he came down the Trump Tower escalator, the President has blustered and bellowed about things he is now learning he knew nothing about. The call to “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare, the line that sent huge crowds into paroxysms of joy for the next nearly 600 days became, the week after he was inaugurated:
“An unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
I leave it to you to define who “nobody” is in that quotation (provided by the Washington Post).
Russia in general, and Vladimir Putin, in particular, were, to Donald Trump, like movie starlets waiting for him to climb down from the “Access Hollywood” bus.
CNN published a list of 80 – EIGHTY – quotes and Tweets from Trump that praised Putin. This, from July 8, 2015 with Anderson Cooper, is typical:
“I think I get along with him fine. I think he would be absolutely fine. He would never keep somebody like Snowden in Russia. He hates Obama. He doesn’t respect Obama. Obama doesn’t like him either. And Snowden is living the life. Look if that – if I’m president, Putin says, hey, boom, you’re gone. I guarantee you this.”
Eighty-seven days into his Presidency and there have been some “booms” but Russia having sent Edward Snowden back to the U.S. has not been one of them.
The President promised a wall would be built along the Mexican border that Mexico would pay for. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a planned meeting with President Trump over the issue of that wall.
The President claimed last week that illegal border crossings have fallen 64 percent. Depending upon where you start the crossing meter, that number is about correct. But more to the point, he may well use that figure as an offramp from his almost daily pledge to build a wall, saying, “We don’t need it anymore.”
Trump assured us that his great success in business was due to his personal fantastic, unbelievable, extraordinary, incredible ability to pick the best people to work for him.
During the campaign, guys named Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page all held senior positions – paid or not – and all are targets of investigations into their relationships with Russians.
His White House inner circle has been at war with itself since before the inauguration. In the ensuing three months the mistakes, misstatements, misdirections, and misunderstandings have provided daily fodder for cable news channel pundits, late-night comics, and the occasional columnist.
Trump and his minions have taken to downgrading the status of some of these people. Paul Manafort, according to Sean Spicer, had a limited role for a limited amount of time. President Trump told the NY Post that senior strategist Steve Bannon “was not involved in my campaign until very late,” and said to the Wall Street Journal that Bannon is “a guy who works for me” which, as the NY Times’ Frank Bruni put it “ranked him with the groundskeepers” at Mar-a-Lago.
When it comes to his role as “commander-in-chief” Trump said at a speech in Iowa “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
But, he hired retired 4-Star General James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense and (after a false start with Michael Flynn) 3-Star General H.R. McMaster to run the National Security Council.
The launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria and the largest non-nuclear bomb – the MOAB – in Afghanistan were quick, tactical, and seemingly successful attacks.
Donald Trump has the “Big Stick” part of his Presidency down pat. Now, if he could do some work on the “Speak Softly” part, he might be onto something.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.