February 16, 2017
During the course of the past 27 whirlwind days, my bleeding heart’s sent a tricky question to my mind while it contemplated the news of the day. It’s gone a little something like this:
Is it OK to feel bad for an embattled President Donald Trump on a human level?
That’s not to say I have at many – if any – points up till now. It all boils down to a utilitarian philosophy. Do I think Trump has the greater good in mind when he speaks and signs? Nope.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
His me-first brand of selfishness is the sort of defect that good parents help their children shed before they turn double digits, if not earlier.
I consider it a defect because he has boasted that he’s singularly fulfilling promises to the minority of voters who supported him at the expense of others.
And encouraged Americans to check out news outlets that provide positive spin while deriding others as “fake news."
And used the power of his office to impact the bottom lines of businesses over which he seeks leverage.
And inexplicably allowed his offspring to sit in on high-level meetings.
And said he wants to change rules and regulations because “friends of mine that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money.”
Those – and other projectile-regurgitated actions during his young, chaotic time at the White House – don’t bode well for the notions of inclusiveness, compassion and distinguished leadership.
Like a brook trout flopping around on the deck of a Crestliner, he bounced around from one thing to the next with seemingly no clue.
It’s central casting for what happens when a businessman with zero political experience – other than providing money, an action of which he constantly reminds everybody in a quest to attain "outsider" status – finds himself in a professionally foreign world.
Which brings us back to the compassionate humanization of Trump.
I never thought he actually wanted the job of president; I thought he wanted to win the job of president to prove he could to everybody who laughed at him during his predecessor’s roast of a speech at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner.
I tried to chalk all the subsequent rhetoric up to that egotistical quest for powerful vengeance. Many of us hold grudges, and they don't define our whole selves.
Well, but I haven’t seen much out of his first four weeks in office to convince me otherwise.
Like a brook trout flopping around on the deck of a Crestliner, he bounced around from one thing to the next with seemingly no clue as to where he’s supposed to be or whether he can actually do what he's said he would do.
He reverts to campaign chatter so often that his press conferences have the controlled feel of a pre-election rally.
He wields catch phrases to divert attention from the fact that he’s in so far over his head it’s hard to consider anything he does – from ditching his wife to walk up the White House front steps to Tweeting about a sketch-comedy show – in any way, shape or form respectable.
Some see that as a dangerous formula. Part of me sees it as a reason to feel bad for a guy under massive amounts of pressure he never anticipated.
How he's traveled off to the comforts of his Florida golf club – for the third time this weekend – already speaks to a man who lacks a support system around him. Reports of him clocking out and donning a bathrobe in the early evening hours paint a sad picture, even when met by cries of inaccuracy.
Under normal circumstances, this would be enough to humanize a figure who’s been subject to an inordinate amount of criticism.
Like any classic pro-wrestling heel, it’s impossible to truly believe there’s absolutely no goodness inside their miserable (as presented) hearts.
Yet, Trump has done very little to counteract his easy vilification.
That’s a personality trait – nay, flaw – that dates back to his days of filing for bankruptcy protection multiple times in Atlantic City and then boasting that he made bank and got out at the right time.
I tried to draw some parallels in my mind.
While I despise hit-and-run drivers, I’ve had pen-pal relationships with some to better understand why they did what they did while connecting on a human level.
While I abhor Diner en Blanc, I tell myself that attendees aren’t as awful as the street-blocking tribute to privilege at which they gleefully dance with sparklers in hand.
While I support a reformed version of capital punishment, I still feel sympathy for those who lose their lives to lethal injection, even though they died for taking lives.
Shouldn’t I be able to both dislike but pity a guy who’s in so woefully over his head that he can’t find life-sustaining air? While noted statesman Matthew McConaughey and patriot Lindsay Lohan seem to think so, I just can’t.
Maybe I'll be able if he sets aside the constant bullying bluster and proves that he doesn’t consider compassion a mark of weakness, who knows?
At this point, it's a waste of time to feel sympathy for a wholly unsympathetic character, even if the very future of our nation hinges on his ability to find the humanity in himself so others can do the same.