The thought has been bandied about that we should be a little lenient with our new President, especially since he has no political experience at all, and we should actually see what his policies are once he’s in office and not on the campaign trail.
New presidents usually get a “honeymoon” period of a few months while they settle in to office and the new Congress gets used to working together. They get to coast a little on the wave of optimism that swept them into office, and spend the political capital they earned on the campaign trail on pushing through the key items in their agenda.
But our new president takes office with historically awful approval ratings after an extremely close and contentious election, with clouds of scandal lurking over him.
Do we still give him a chance to at least try to be a good president?
If he had made some acknowledgement of just how much of a fluke his victory was. A mere eighty thousand votes in three states were his effective margin of victory. That’s less than a tenth of a percent of all the votes cast. Ten million more people voted for someone else than voted for him. It pretty much comes down to sheer luck. All the little random things – external to the campaign, like meddling from otuside agencies – that can affect the outcome of an election broke his way. He was really, really lucky, and he had better know that.
In any election, whether you win by a landslide or squeak through with a handful of votes, it’s customary – and appropriate – to give some message to those who voted against you that you are aware of their concerns. The first thing the new president did after his “win” was to go on a “Victory Lap” where he went to rallies with his supporters. Not cool. He’s continued to belittle the other side. It’s also customary when filling out your cabinet that you give a little reach out to the other side. Perhaps by nominating someone they like to one of the less prestigious positions. Toss them a bone; keep them happy. Give them a nod on something that doesn’t matter much, and maybe they’ll support you more on something that is important to you. Nope. Haven’t seen any of that.
Speaking of cabinet appointments, it seems that he’s going by the rule that an easy way to be the Smartest Person in the Room is to surround yourself with idiots. Rick Perry, who couldn’t even remember that he wanted to get rid of the Department of Energy, for Secretary of that department? Betsy DeVos, who cannot answer the most softball of questions about educational policy for Secretary of Education? It seems like someone gave the president-elect two lists: one of cabinet positions, and one of people who needed to be rewarded with a position. And all he did was match them up in the order they were on the lists.
Also in the realm of appointments, it is also customary for all significant appointees of the outgoing president to submit their resignations effective at noon of Inauguration Day. It’s an acknowledgement of how they got their job, and that the new president is at liberty to make his own appointments. In practice, it is also the custom that these appointees stay on the job until their replacements have all been nominated, vetted, and confirmed. It helps with the smoothness of the transition. One George W. Bush appointee actually stayed on the job into Obama’s second term. No department, no matter how small, can really function without the manager-in-chief. Think of your own job – how well do things go when your boss is on vacation? But our new president must have thought he was still on his reality/game show. Early in January, all ambassadors appointed by President Obama were told, not just that their resignations were accepted, but they had to have their desks cleaned out and be out of their embassies by noon on Inauguration Day. They were effectively given their two weeks’ notice. Not only was this insulting, it forced them to scramble around to make new living arrangements. Many of them have families, with children in schools near their postings…. Other firings made no sense. The commander of the DC National Guard, who would be assisting with the myriad security preparations of the Inauguration, was able to see his men off to their duties in the morning, but he couldn’t welcome them back afterwards….
Finally, one would expect a modicum of humility given the awesome powers and responsibilities of the Presidency. I haven’t seen even a hint of that. It’s not surprising, our new president seems actually incapable of anything even accidentally resembling modesty or humility.
So, no, he does not “deserve a chance”. He’s done nothing to earn it.