December 10, 2018
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The Trump presidency is not crippled

President Donald Trump speaks during a listening session with the Retail Industry Leaders Association and member company CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 15, 2017.

Let’s talk about the overblown reporting on how the Trump administration is already crippled.

The media only want to generate bombastic, histrionic stories about the demise of the Trump administration and the general destruction of the United States. The media are getting a little ahead of themselves. These stories are a tad early.

For instance, no less than Thomas Friedman from The New York Times wrote, “We were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and we were attacked on Nov. 8, 2016.” Really? Friedman thinks Trump’s election as president is a situation tantamount to Pearl Harbor and 9/11? Talk about not giving the man a chance.

Even The Washington Post has fed into the narrative that the Trump administration is off the rails, from headlines including “Flynn departure erupts into a full-blown crisis for the Trump White House” and “Flynn episode ‘darkens the cloud’ of Russia that hangs over the Trump administration” to “The president lays the groundwork for a nationwide voter intimidation program” and “Donald Trump is suddenly looking like a very weak autocrat.” Can we pause for a moment?

Trump has been president for less than a month, and Democrats and their allies in the media are already howling that he is an abject failure. I’m no Trump toady, but so far, Trump has had one poorly drafted executive order and one or two personnel misfires and has fed the flames with some clumsy media performances, but this isn’t that unusual. Does anybody remember Zoe Baird?

And let’s not get too spun up about the allegations that Republicans in Congress are already throwing in the towel on everything from tax reform to repealing and replacing Obamacare. Again, this is just the start. Obamacare wasn’t signed into law until more than a year after Barack Obama took office. Not having repealed Obamacare yet does not constitute a failure.

Trump also just held a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was civil and serious, made some news and even had a measure of graciousness about it when Trump introduced Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and Netanyahu referenced his longstanding relationship with Jared Kushner. There were no eruptions, nobody got hurt and everything seemed downright presidential.

Of course, that means members of the media are already throwing a fit about the fact that the news conference mostly stuck to the topics at hand, and they didn’t have an opportunity to harp at Trump about what they want to talk about — namely Russia, Flynn. So Trump didn’t take endless questions about the Flynn resignation. Well, maybe that’s because he’s not ready, he knows it’s going to be unflattering, and at this point would only inflame the story, and so he wants to talk about that issue at a time and place of his choosing. Maybe a little media strategy is beginning to emerge from the Trump White House. Maybe that’s another reason for the media to panic.

Anyway, all that being said, I do wish Trump and his team would learn from touching the hot stove. Pain is a helpful mechanism, in that it lets you know you are engaged in behavior that’s harmful to you. They shouldn’t let things like “Saturday Night Live” hurt their feelings, and they shouldn’t completely ignore the media. They should take some criticism to heart. But I do know a lot of good people going into this administration, and I have a lot of faith that they are self-aware and will make some obviously needed adjustments going forward.

When you look at the blaring headlines I’ve already mentioned and then add in the protests, the Meryl Streep speeches, the “SNL” skits and all the other exclamation marks from liberals, it’s easy to get the sense that things are going off the rails. But if you take a minute to think about how long the president has been in office, the fact that Trump and his team have had to deal with some obstacles is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s better that they deal with problems now rather than later.

Everybody should take the long weekend, breathe into a brown paper bag and regain some perspective on where we are under President Trump.

Ed Rogers is a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns.


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