The presidency of Theodore Roosevelt gave us the Bully Pulpit, Trump just gives us a bull in a China shop.
As the Reign of Error reaches its 100-Days milestone today, people are not so much tired of winning as they are tired of sweeping up aisles of broken glass.
Trump told Reuters that he misses his old life and he thought being president would be easier. That can help explain why he’s been running around breaking everything from alliances to promises. The NAFTA debacle is evidence he doesn’t understand what he is doing, or even supposed to do. After announcing he would sign an Executive Order to withdraw from NAFTA, he backtracked, saying discussions with the leaders of Mexico and Canada led him to give the agreement another chance after renegotiation.
However, as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) noted, this isn’t really how this works. He told PBS NewsHour:
The fact that he doesn’t quite understand the ramifications, quite frankly, even the process — he said they already started negotiating, when the fact of the matter is you have to send a letter to Congress to even begin the process of having the conversation within your own country, within your own Congress, within the industry groups that would be affected by it.
That’s a 90-day process before you even start the negotiations with the other countries. And the fact that he didn’t even know that before he made his statements is worrisome to me, that he may actually, through trying to renegotiate NAFTA, he may actually make the process worse.
Trade policy, foreign policy, healthcare policy, none can be designed in 140 characters. They’re complicated. They are not meant to be ruled by royal decree, no matter how much the GOP Congress is willing to go along.
As the Trump administration bull rampages across our democracy, fortunately we have a growing cadre of bullfighters. As Nicolas Kristof wrote in the NY Times, nothing deflates an authoritarian more than ridicule.
In recruiting for the Trump resistance, Stephen Colbert may be more successful than a handful of angry Democratic senators. Trump can survive denunciations, but I’m less sure that in the long run he can withstand mockery.
The Atlantic also touches on this in a cover story on Alec Baldwin’s SNL portrayal of Trump.
So much of Trump’s popularity hinges on his image as a self-made miracle, a winner, a strong and successful man who is the best at everything and always gets his way. Baldwin has become our deflator in chief, a weekly pinprick in Trump’s balloon. Every time Trump tweets a wounded Sunday-morning response, every time Spicer laughs off McCarthy’s portrayal but then tries a little harder to bury his rage, every time Conway shows up on TV looking a little more challenged and broken, Baldwin can tell himself that SNL is not just making laughs but effecting change.
As you join the bullfight today, get prepared with a Matador Cocktail. As Philip Greene notes in his book The Manhattan, the recipe for the Matador was published in London in 1937, likely tied to the popularity of bullfighting, especially as noted in the writings of Ernest Hemingway. This refreshing variation on a Manhattan is:
.75 oz silver tequila
.75 oz dry vermouth
.75 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao
Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon peel