If all the world’s a stage, and Donald Trump is in the role as President, he is playing the part unlike anyone before him. And the reviews, not only from many here in the United States, but from other countries around the world, are bad. (Russia excepted). For many Americans, in the two weeks since the inauguration, we have whipsawed from tragedy, to farce, to the theater of the absurd.
It may be too much to say that, so far, the Trump Presidency owes much to the work of the early Marx Brothers–but, if so, not by much. There have been back aways, back downs and turn-arounds, mixed with rash decisions, insults, falsehoods and chaos.
Headlines worthy of Saturday Night Live tell of Mr. Trump threatening and berating foreign heads of state, such as those of Mexico and Australia. (Let’s repeat for emphasis, Mexico and Australia!) These are two countries that long have been good friends and strong allies, vital to defense of our country. When it comes to dangerous adversaries like Iran or complicated emerging powers like China, Mr. Trump seems to be blowing up American foreign policy based on the impulse control (or lack thereof) of his Twitter finger. This is not only chaotic and confusing; it is dangerous.
Ban refugees. Provide propaganda fodder for ISIS. Demonize journalists. Mock members of Congress, including many from your own party. All the while, the President says that’s what you need to do to “fix things.” His base believes in his ability to get the job done because, after all, wasn’t he a successful business CEO? Nevermind Mr. Trump’s own complicated business history, an experienced and wise businessman, as with an experienced and wise political leader, knows that success requires statesmanship and diplomacy as well as naked strength.
The President and his chief strategist Steve Bannon aren’t just charting a go-it-alone path. It seems they won’t be satisfied until the previous world order is up in flames. They’re hell-bent on destroying trade deals, and Bannon was just quoted to the effect that he was itching for a fight against China and in the Middle East. There was a time where the world felt it could count on American stability -economic, social, and political. All that is changing. A recent Washington Post headline read “Shock. Outrage. Resistance. Repeat. Is this the new normal in Trump’s America?”
The Trump Administration is staging something much grander than you average political theater; Trump’s presidency is starting to feel more like reality television. That is to say, the episodes are staged and the plot twists are scripted to shape a narrative that involves plenty of conflict. We hear this is the “new normal” but this is not a normal Americans should want to get used to accepting.