Donald Trump has called the mainstream media “the enemy.” But since January 20th, the media has been Trump’s best friend because they have, in the main, ignored the big stories about his disastrous presidency.
To be fair, Rachel Maddow has been superb. And the New York Times, Washington Post, and a few other print outlets have done a great job with the Trump-Russia imbroglio. Nonetheless, here are some of the big stories they’ve missed.
1.Trump isn’t an executive. Everything we’ve seen since January 20th, confirms the painful truth: Trump is in way over his head. Let’s consider the five basic tasks of any CEO: Vision, Resources, Culture, Decisions, and Performance.
Vision: What is Trump’s vision for America? We understand that he offers “Make America Great Again” as his vision, but what lies behind that? “Where’s the beef?” There isn’t any. Trump’s budget document ― the closest we have to a plan ― tears down the Federal government and gives massive tax breaks to the rich. Trump’s real vision is “Screw the 99 percent.”
Resources: Another responsibility of an effective CEO is to allocate resources (money, personnel, time, and facilities) to accomplish specific objectives. Trump’s budget gives resources to ICE and the national security state. The domestic agencies get the shaft. There’s nothing in Trump’s budget to improve the lot of the 99 percent.
Culture: A successful CEO builds a culture of competency. “A good culture makes people feel safe and respected, enabling them to perform at their best.” Except for his national security advisers (Mattis and McMaster), Trump has surrounded himself with a team of bumpkins. From the White House staff through the Cabinet secretaries to all the (few) political appointees, Trump’s prevailing credo has been “do they like me?” rather than “can they do the job?” or better yet, “can they make America greater?”
Decision-making: One of the defining aspects of management is making timely, effective, and responsible decisions. Trump doesn’t make decisions: he dithers. And equivocates.
When he has made decisions, such as his ineffective “full-court press” to repeal Obamacare, Trump has made bad choices. And then, when his initiatives have failed, he’s attempted to blame others. He’s a coward.
Forget looking for responsibility within this Administration. Trump’s operational model is “the buck doesn’t stop here.”
Performance: America’s corporate CEOs ultimately get judged by a narrow standard: share price. For president, the equivalent standard is, “How’s the stock market doing?” So far the stock market is up, so Wall Street thinks Trump is doing okay. Really? (According to Gallup, U.S. Economic Confidence is trending down.)
Another standard for a president is, “Has he kept us safe?” The good news is that there have not been any domestic terrorist attacks under Trump. The bad news is that since walked into the White House the whole world has been unsettled. Moreover, tourists are afraid to come here ― any non-native person-of-color is afraid to come to the U.S. Hmmm. That can’t be good for national security. Hmmm. If the rest of the world doesn’t like Trump, maybe that could have some impact on our economy.
2. Trump has no Foreign Policy: Trump wasn’t elected because of his foreign-policy chops but we expected some coherence. It’s not like all the Republican leaders are dummies. (Or have we got that wrong, too?)
First Trump liked Russia; now he doesn’t. Initially Trump didn’t like China but now apparently he does. And on and on. Trump’s foreign policy seems totally random; as if it is was most influenced by what he learned from watching “Fox and Friends” while he was getting dressed.
Consider North Korea. From his recent remarks, sounds like Donald is “mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.” What’s this mean? Is he going to attack North Korea? Hmmm. Think Donald knows that Seoul, South Korea, is less than 35 miles from the border with North Korea ― that’s less than the distance between New York City and Coney Island? Think Donald understands that if we attack North Korea it’s inevitable that Seoul would be devastated? Probably not but breathe a sigh of relief: there are Trump properties in Seoul so he probably won’t attack North Korea.
3. Trump’s Attack on Syria: The media mostly missed that Trump precipitated the heinous gas attacks because his administration announced they had take Syrian regime change off the table (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/31/us/politics/trump-bashar-assad-syria.html.) Next the ruler of Syria, or someone else, gassed the poor folks in Khan Sheikhun, Syria. Then Trump got pissed off, jumped to a conclusion, and bombed a Syrian airport ― with undetermined results.
The media applauded because they had been waiting for Trump to do something a tiny bit presidential. The problem is the media have now set the bar so low that any Trump act of foreign-policy violence is likely to painted as “presidential.” Rather than what it really is: thuggery.
4. Trump’s missing legislative agenda: Remember when Trump was going to sweep in and repeal Obamacare, cut everybody’s taxes, and unleash a trillion-dollar infrastructure program? That’s disappeared.
Trump isn’t going to be able to get anything passed in Congress but that won’t keep him from dismantling the social safety net ― and every part of government that isn’t the national security state. But the media doesn’t report this disgrace because it’s all “nuts and bolts” government stuff and the media doesn’t think their readers/viewers are interested. So, Trump will propose gutting Social Security to almost no notice while the mainstream media ponders weighty concerns like, “What’s Ivanka going to do next?”
Wake up national media! This isn’t a drill, it’s a real catastrophe!