“This is not presidential behavior.”
We’ve been hearing this phrase quite a bit since November regarding President Donald Trump and all of his Trump-tastic behavior.
A president doesn’t respond to criticism with insulting tweets.
A president doesn’t use Twitter to call out self-righteous celebrities and start social media wars with a troubled comedienne who’s been fired from a declining talk show not once, but twice.
A president doesn’t call people he doesn’t like “losers”.
A president doesn’t call outlets like CNN “fake news” and indirectly threaten their White House access.
A president doesn’t circumvent decades of media protocol by rearranging the press pool and inviting reporters to Skype into the White House press briefings.
The list is endless and has many people on both sides of the aisle saying, “This is not how a president acts.”
Except it is…now.
This is the era of Trump and there is no playbook for what we’re about to witness. It isn’t at all unlike what we experienced with the election of President Obama. His candidacy literally rewrote the playbook on winning and sustaining an historic presidency. While conservatives were busy railing against his endless “unpresidential” appearances on late night talk show skits and absurd YouTube channels, Obama was changing the way media and the White House interacted. He was circumventing traditional political mediums and bringing his message straight to where it counted the most – the people.
While Republicans raged about his lack of experience in government, Obama leveraged his status as an unknown to shape his image into whatever he wanted. He was a blank slate on which everyone could draw their own hopes and desires, fears and outrage.
While many of us expressed disgust at the sycophantic media who gave up all intellectual curiosity and journalistic integrity during Obama’s eight years in office, the 44th President marshaled the soft coverage to his full advantage, using the cover they gave him to push through excessive amounts of executive legislation while demonizing his political opponents at the first sign of pushback.
In short, Obama changed the game as we knew it. Trump has done the same.
We may fold our arms and spit snark and sarcasm about his obsessive tweeting, ego, appointments and inexperience but the fact is that we no longer have a rule book for how a “real president” is supposed to conduct himself. Obama made that loud and clear to the American electorate and Trump won on the strength of that lesson.
The fact is, Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America. He was elected for precisely the same reason we elected Obama – he’s an unknown quantity and his victory flies in the face of conventional wisdom. We can be as self-righteous as we want about his penchant for Twitter, but Trump has been acting the same way on Twitter since the day he announced his candidacy. People voted for him anyway…or maybe even because of his lack of concern for “presidential protocol”.
It’s going to be a long four years for those of you out there who can’t reconcile the personality of Donald Trump with the administration of Donald Trump. They are one in the same now. He is the president.
This is how a president acts…now.
Deal with it or don’t; I don’t think President Trump cares either way.