If you’ve been paying attention to such things then you’ve probably noticed by now that pro-Trump comments, when served up in political articles that permit comments, used to fall, more or less, into two categories: the long, tedious, personal insults for everybody on the left who is anti-Trump on the one hand, and the suspiciously brief, almost embarrassed, semi-pangyric about the “roaring economy” and the “terrific” rate of unemployment – all thanks to Trump – on the other.
The former is final proof of the bankruptcy of the point of the writer. So is the latter, come to think of it. But now a third category is emerging, and it comes in the form of a grievance: “All this negative news is getting in the way of Trump doing his job,” they say. “How can Trump be expected to be an effective president,” the indignant interlocutor demands to know, “when all the Trump news is always so relentlessly defeatist?”
They never exactly put it that way, of course. The intended message is inferred from a series of quasi-literate grunts, squawks and hoots. But in the annals of “you have got to be freaking kidding me,” that one takes the proverbial cake. So it’s hardly surprising that the inquisitor – be it Kellyanne Conway or some anonymous, knuckle-dragging monotooth — seldom waits around for an actual answer.
But let’s get straight to the point. It would be generous to refer to Donald Trump’s otiose tenure as president of the United States as a “phone-it-in” presidency. That would suggest he actually does something, if only by phone. After all, that’s what the complainants are actually implying – that he’s “working really hard for you and me.”
I’ve got some bad news for them. He doesn’t do a damned thing. Oh sure, he shows up for events when they serve his ego. State dinners, rallies, Executive Order signing ceremonies and the like. But the rest of the time? He’s what the English call work shy. When the cameras are turned off he spends as little time as he can get away with doing actual work. And that situation can go on for days. Or even weeks.
So these days he’s got what you might call a ready made excuse. He can claim all these subpoenas and criminal investigations and all this negative news is interfering with his, ahem, “work.” He can’t get any work done, thanks to us.
What he’s referring to is different from the work Trump takes credit for, of course. The magnificent economy and unemployment rate that President Barack Obama handed Trump in 2016 was so sturdily built and superbly tuned that even Trump couldn’t kill it right away, try though he might. Besides, the unemployment rate is what is known as a “trailing indicator” for an economic downturn. In other words, it’s usually the last to go, not the first. First to go (and today is no different from how it was in 1929) is the stock market, and Donald Trump’s depredations via tweets are beginning to be felt on Wall Street in a very big way.
The bottom line, Kellyanne or Mr Monotooth, or whoever you are, is Donald Trump never gives us any good news to report. Instead he berates Nancy Pelosi and threatens Bob Mueller, while standing in front of the graves of people who died at Normandy on the seventy-fifth anniversary of that heroic invasion. He’s your president. If you don’t like the news he’s giving us, you can jolly well take your complaint to him.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.