WASHINGTON – “If only he would stop tweeting.”
Those words came from a friend of mine named “Jack,” quite possibly President Donald Trump’s biggest fan. A former secret service agent, Jack is your typical die-hard Trump supporter.
That is to say, he’s a white, Christian male, married with two kids. He’s honest, hardworking – a true-blue patriot, brave and loyal to the core. He and I are at political odds these days and argue frequently about Trump.
“Yes, but” is about all I can get out before Jack is off on a rollicking defense of the president, whom he finds utterly unobjectionable – except, that is, for those “dadgum tweets.”
What?! Yes, even Jack was appalled by Trump’s tweets about London Mayor Sadiq Khan following the London terror attack. Hearing about them propelled Jack into a 40-minute tirade, he told me.
Maybe there’s hope after all. The only hitch is that Jack thinks Trump would be fine if only he’d stop blurting unfiltered thoughts on social media. (We probably differ on our definition of “fine.”)
The first of the tweets in question came the morning after the London incident. Trump cited the casualty numbers, then added: “Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed’!”
Utterly wrong and false. Fake news, if you will.
What Khan had said was that Londoners shouldn’t be alarmed by the increased police presence. Therein lie several magnitudes of difference. Thus, we infer, Trump either opted to be repugnantly antagonistic or was balefully misinformed. The latter might have been forgivable had Trump admitted as much. But no, instead, this childish man (or mannish child?) doubled down.
In a subsequent tweet, he wrote: “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM 1 / 8mainstream media 3 / 8 is working hard to sell it.”
One doesn’t know whether to scream or scream louder.
Surely, even Trump can’t believe that people are so gullible as to accept that the media, in reporting Khan’s complete quote rather than the abridged “presidential” version, are trying to put something over. But then, Trump doesn’t have to believe it. He knows his fans will consume whatever he serves because they elected him, didn’t they?
The bilious billionaire conned the nation – and people like Jack aren’t bothered.
“The truth is, I don’t care about anybody anymore,” Jack says, referring to umbrage over Trump’s more-troubling policies, from the travel ban to the wall. “I only care about our country.”
About this, I have no doubt. An Iraq veteran and a physically imposing man who knows how to handle artillery, Jack’s the guy you want in your bunker. Unlike most denizens of the Washington swamp, he’s refreshingly without guile or artifice. And when he talks about love of country, I know he’s not talking about raising a flag on July 4. He’s talking about putting his life on the line.
Thus, I take Jack’s comments seriously and respectfully. I try to understand where he’s coming from as I consider the disconnect between my view of this disastrous president and that of a bit more than one-third of the American people. How can we see things so differently?
In a word, he told me, Obama.
Whatever Trump is, former President Barack Obama is viewed by Jack and cohorts as having been far worse, enough so that nothing Trump does stylistically matters as much as what Obama did substantively. The deeds-over-words trope dovetails with Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s scolding of NBC’s “Today” show anchors Monday. The media focus too much on what Trump tweets, she said, and not enough on what he does.
But words do matter, as Conway well knows. When you’re the president, they matter profoundly. Trump can’t pretend anymore that he’s just ol’ Donald being himself. That this must be explained to him is concerning enough. More to the urgency of his Twitter obsession: If he’s impulsive enough to toss off a gratuitous insult to a mayor grappling with catastrophe, what else might he be willing to say – and to whom?
So, yes, on the one hand, Trump must stop tweeting. On the other, how else would we have known how truly demented the man is? Luckily, it’s not too late to save the country, yet. But if Jack is worried about the president’s tweeting, it may be time for congressional Republicans to acknowledge what has long been obvious, declare the man incompetent and deliberate accordingly.
If not, you ain’t (even) got Jack.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.