So far, so good, even if "normal" is far from what we're getting from this presidency

What if Trump is proving a ‘not normal’ president is not a problem after all?

By —— Bio and Archives--February 18, 2018

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What if Trump is proving a 'not normal' president is not a problem after all?

I know it seems like a long time ago, but in the run-up to the 2016 election, the predictions of catastrophe in the event of a Donald Trump win were quite something.

  • He would touch off a nuclear war, we were told, with some intemperate remark on Twitter.
  • He would destroy the vaunted public institutions of America with behavior decidedly un-presidential.
  • He would diminish the office by getting into flame wars with people like Rosie O’Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • He would empower Nazis, fanatics and haters to run rampant in the streets.
  • He would be an authoritarian strongman who would shred the Constitution and trample on everyone’s rights.

In general terms, he would scare people, upset people, offend people and destabilize everything simply because his brash, abrasive personality is so different from what we expect in our presidents.

Those of us who pointed out that Hillary Clinton was corrupt, inept and extremely left-wing were told we had to pull the lever for her anyway because Trump’s personality traits simply made him unfit for the presidency.

And all this was most frequently summed up with the declaration that Trump was “not normal,” and that this simply would not do in a president.


Thirteen months into his presidency, you certainly have to agree that if normal means conventional, this has not been a normal presidency. Trump has indeed gotten into flame wars on Twitter. He has been brutal in striking back at his media tormenters. He has publicly upbraided members of his own cabinet when he thought they were falling short in the job.

He even taunted North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over the matter of who had the bigger nuclear button on his desk (hilariously prompting media “fact checkers” to breathlessly inform us Trump does not have a literal nuclear “button” on his desk).

In short, Donald Trump’s style and comportment as president hasn’t been all that different from what he showed us as a candidate.

And yet none of the predicted calamities have happened. The economy is roaring. Domestic energy production is soaring. Taxes have been cut. Regulations have been slashed. Presidential abuses of power have been reversed, which is not the sort of thing you normally expect from an authoritarian strongman.

Kim Jong Un is indeed acting provocative with his nuclear missile tests, but he was doing that all along, and now the Trump Administration is bringing together a coalition of nations in the hope of getting him under control. We’re also working with our allies to finish off ISIS, stand up against Iranian agression and counter Russia’s efforts to dominate global energy markets.

In other words, even with a president who does not act like what we expect in a president, things seems pretty stable and in many ways pretty darn good.

I do see a threat here, but it’s not to the country. It’s to the political elites who tried to sell us this idea of how presidents have to act and think.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says a president has to behave in a certain way, or conduct himself with a certain style. There are norms we’ve gotten used to over the years, but there’s nothing that says a president can’t be successful while flouting those norms. It’s just that most presidents find it wisest to stick to the norms in order to avoid upsetting the proverbial apple cart.

What Donald Trump is doing is taking the whole idea of “presidential” behavior and laying it to waste. He’s rejecting every conventional parameter of how presidents can speak and function . . . and the country is doing just fine. He certainly attracts his share of criticism for it, but he doesn’t seem to care and the business of America proceeds apace just the same.

What will result from this? Probably that political elites will no longer be able to lecture the public about certain personality types being the only ones allowed to be president, for fear of dire consequences if the public dare ignore their instructions. Just about every newspaper editorial page warned the public that electing Donald Trump would be dangerous because he seemed different, unstable and unlike what we’re all used to. The public filed that advice in the circular file and elected him anyway.

Maybe it was never necessary to have a president who acts “presidential.” Maybe there is no such thing. Maybe we were just operating according to a template that had outlived its usefulness and needed to be shredded.

And maybe now we can elevate substance over style for a change, which would be a very good thing for a country that could use some substance in the face of serious problems.

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