In the eyes of many around the planet, the newly-minted Leader of the Free World isn’t fit for the job and it appears that a substantial percentage of Americans are reaching the same opinion. As Donald Trump’s approval rating hovers around the 45 per cent mark — the lowest for any president during his honeymoon period — I can’t see it going anywhere but south.
He and his team have blotted their copybook so many times that it would take a war or a major attack on US soil to get the American people rallying around their leader, just as happened post-9/11 when George W. Bush shot from zero to hero overnight. And in light of Trump’s constant aggressive stance against his country’s adversaries (and some of its closest friends) anything could happen.
The newbie could be forgiven for failure to understand his position’s restraints at this juncture. He must be frustrated that many of his campaign policies aren’t running smoothly. I would guess he’s sympathetic to President Bush’s half-joking remark, “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier... as long as I’m the dictator...”
To be fair, he is bringing in business, mega investments and jobs. The US stock market has rallied to record highs. But he isn’t currying favour with major corporations and heads of state with charm and persuasion, he’s using the tool of intimidation to make them offers they can’t refuse or else.
One of his biggest mistakes was to take on the judiciary. Insult one, and you insult them all. Currently he’s disparaged four; one he’s described as “a so-called judge”; three others serving on the Ninth Circuit of Appeals neglected to reinstate his travel ban because they acted politically.
Lawmakers have attacked him on this on the grounds that delegitimising the judicial branch of government undermines democracy. Seriously, though, is there anyone who thinks they can win a case by disparaging the men and women on the bench!
His bashing of the mainstream media as “fake news” and “a fourth arm of government” has put editors’ backs up. As a result, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post are merciless in their coverage. Every blunder, large or small, is hyped up to the maximum and the same goes for his surrogates.
His right-hand woman Kellyanne Conway is so eager to please her boss that she tried to defend his travel ban by citing a massacre — ‘the Bowling Green Massacre’ — that never happened and subsequently plugged his daughter’s clothing line on Fox News urging viewers “to go buy Ivanka’s stuff” which flouts conflict of interest rules pertaining to high-level government employees.
I feel sorry for the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer or Justifier-in-Chief. He does his best to defend the indefensible and in response he’s the butt of jokes and fodder for impersonators on Saturday Night Live, congratulated by chuckling CNN anchors as award-winning performances. To add to his woes, CNN has reported the President regrets hiring Spicer and blames his chief-of-staff for recommending him.
No doubt Spicer is having second thoughts as well, particularly as he scratches his head wondering how he can spin the latest scandal involving National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. He was allegedly communicating with Russian officials to advise them to hold off on a tit for-tat response to the latest round of anti-Russian sanctions while President Barack Obama was still in office and is accused of having sinister connections with Russian spy agencies.
It’s well known that Trump’s relationships with Mexico, Australia, Germany, Iran, China, the EU and Nato aren’t exactly warm. But what must be truly troubling from his perspective is the way ordinary folk — as opposed to disgruntled activists from just about every spectrum of society — are hitting out against Republicans and members of his administration.
The controversial Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who’s had little good to say about state schooling, was blocked by protesting parents shouting “Shame, Shame” from entering Jefferson Middle School in Washington.
Americans furious with Trump and a potential repeal of Obamacare without a viable replacement are shutting down Republican town halls and haranguing conservative speakers.
At least two Representatives, Tom McClintock and comedic actor Gavin McInnes, had to be rescued by police.
The atmosphere is souring daily. The numbers of those who voted for the reality star are soaring and they are making their feelings known in no uncertain terms on Twitter.
The impeachment word is cropping up more frequently within Congress, but that’s a long shot requiring two-thirds of Congress to vote in favour.
What happens if the public fury reaches critical mass? There is no precedent to rely on. But whatever is the Trump administration’s destiny, there is one jar that will forever be cracked — respect for the office of the President of the United States.
Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at email@example.com.