Ten months into his term, no one should be surprised that Donald Trump is not “presidential.” His approach to the job seems to be binary. On the one hand, statesman-like, scripted speeches that (usually) say important, correct things. On the other hand, Trump’s tweets and off-the-cuff remarks that might be confused with those from a middle school brat.
One of the worst things Trump has done since his election? Punching down, e.g. his unnecessary spat with Jeff Flake and gratuitous personal insults of Bob Corker. Was any thought given by Trump to the notion that he might need these two senators to pass legislation he campaigned on? No; Trump’s lizard brain was in control.
True leaders don’t do this. They don’t need to. Trump, for some reason (I’ll pass on psychoanalysis here) clearly believes he needs to do this. It’s beyond dumb, and is the best answer to Trump Acolytes who claim that the man is engaging in four-dimensional chess that we mere mortals are just too stupid to fathom.
Trump has gone out of his way to alienate those in Congress he needs to accomplish anything that depends on passing legislation. Which is to say the most important things he ran on (repeal-and-replace Obamacare, tax reform).
As for the “great and beautiful wall,” that was and is nothing but boob bait. If you doubt this, how to account for the dramatic reduction in illegal border crossings under Trump? Even the New York Times, hardly a friendly news source for him, acknowledges this. Having a wall on those parts of our southern border where one is feasible will help. But is hardly the answer to our overall porous borders and lack of “extreme vetting” of people from various Third-World hellholes.
A president needs to learn when to engage and when to ignore and rise above the fray. And to keep doing the good things he’s been doing. If Trump is capable of learning anything, this is one thing that would make the rest of his otherwise all-but-assured one term better.