On November 17, 1973, with the Watergate Scandal crashing like tidal waves around him, President Richard Nixon made his famous proclamation, “I am not a crook.” An unnamed White House staffer at the time told the Washington Post that Nixon felt that he was the subject of a witch-hunt. Calling the investigation that led to articles of impeachment and resignation a witch-hunt was another poor strategy decision for Nixon.
Though he seemed to show a modicum of restraint during Thursday’s press conference, barking denials and cutting off reporters, someone still needs to supervise Trump’s use of his Twitter devices. In yet another uncanny parallel to the Nixon administration implosion, Trump echoed Nixon’s sentiments by tweeting his opinion of the current investigation as “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
In the few months since Trump’s inauguration, White House staffers, advisors, the media, and the public have quickly learned that the president frequently goes rogue with his official comments. From day-to-day, no one is sure exactly what he is going to say or tweet. The presidency has devolved into a series of “Apprentice” episodes, with the host ramping up the controversy for what can only be attention, Twitter followers, or ratings.
Perhaps someone in the White House needs to take Trump aside and simply explain to him that there are no more Nielsen ratings. He always seems so shocked at his approval numbers, like the president is confused about what goal he is trying to accomplish. Too many years of scripted and over-dramatized reality television have left Trump incapable of understanding the unscripted reality of running a country.
During Thursday’s conference, Trump once again showed the American public how loose his grip on reality and facts really is when he surmised that “everybody” thinks the Russia probe is ridiculous. Trump’s White House staff and advisors evidently forgot to tell him about a recent NBC NEWS/Wall Street Journal poll conducted after the Comey firing. According to that poll, 78% of Americans want the independent investigation.
Every statement Trump makes and every amateur Tweet that he posts sustain and advance the necessity of the current investigation. The president seems incapable of accurately conveying information. His pathological inability to accept polls, facts, and other reliably sourced evidence beg the question of whether he is even able to tell the truth at all.
When Trump dismisses questions with abrupt, “No. No. Next question,” replies he appears even less credible than his predecessors Nixon and Clinton. Maybe Nixon sincerely believed he was not a crook and Clinton mustered a tear when he issued a firm (and somewhat believable), “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” In either case, and despite the lies, they at least made an effort.
Trump just seems angry and indignant that the media, Congress, and most of America are questioning him.
After years on “The Apprentice,” critiquing business acumen and executive potential, Trump has become too accustomed to giving unquestioned orders and baying — to the delight of his adoring audience — his trademark dismissal to unsuspecting novices. Questions on every issue, act, and statement naturally accompany occupying the Oval Office. Trump is certainly at least intelligent enough to have known that.
Before moving from reality television to the loftier stage of American politics and the nation’s most scrutinized venue, the White House, Donald Trump should have considered being a political apprentice. Maybe he could have learned the skills demanded of the president of the greatest nation on earth. Instead, he is only going to be surprised and disappointed when someone finally gives him the news: “You’re fired.”