Nah, Trump is more likely to be president for four years than presidential for four days.
Now comes the hard part. Having won the Indiana primary, driving his last two rivals out of the race and all-but-officially securing the GOP nomination,
Donald Trump has to start making nice with Republicans if he has any hope of uniting the party against Hillary Clinton. After acting like a petulant child for the past ten months, he now has to start acting his age. He has to act “presidential.”
“At some point,” Trump said last month, “I’m going to be so ‘presidential’ that you people will be so bored.”
That point began last week. In a speech at the Washington Mayflower hotel, Trump attempted to “outline” his views on foreign policy, in an unprecedented and deliberate attempt to bore, rather than entertain, his listeners.
The speech was remarkable in its unremarkability. For only the second time in his campaign, Trump read aloud from a teleprompter. “I’m not one of these teleprompter guys,” Trump said just four days before speaking from a teleprompter. For Trump, teleprompters are like nuclear weapons — to be employed as a last resort.
He promised coherency in foreign policy. Whereas
President Obama has been “reckless, rudderless and aimless,” President Trump will be “disciplined, deliberate and consistent” — the exact opposite of what he’s been as a presidential candidate.
America gets no respect, Trump said, and neither does he. He wants to be taken seriously, and last week’s descant was aimed at persuading skeptics that Trump can be just as scripted and conventional as other politicians.
Instead of accusing women of menstruating, Trump talked about the GDP, “a rebalancing of financial commitments” and other boring stuff. More impressively, unlike
George W. Bush, he pronounced “nuclear” correctly. He had less success with Tanzania.
That wasn’t his only miscue. Paraphrasing John Quincy Adams, Trump said, “We do not go aboard in search of enemies.” Nor do we go abroad in search of them, he might have added.
Trump said that NAFTA destroyed America and that he will destroy the Islamic State. Though he did not say so explicitly, one can surmise that President Trump will annihilate ISIL by negotiating a free trade agreement with its leaders.
As usual, there were more references to intelligence than demonstrations of it. “We need to think smart” about technology, Trump said, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence, a subject in which he specializes.
Rest assured: President Trump will hire “talented experts” to advise him, not people who “look awfully good” while “being watched on television.” Miss Universe contestants need not apply.
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President Trump will promote Western values, not try “to spread universal values that not everybody shares or wants.” I don’t blame him. It is literally impossible to spread universal values, which by definition everybody shares, if not everybody shares those values. It is also impossible to comprehend that sentence without the aid of marijuana.
The content of Trump’s speech was less important than its presentation. Simply by speaking from a teleprompter, which President Obama does all the time, Trump proved that he can do what presidents do. He can be “presidential.”
It remains to be seen if he can be presidential for longer than an hour. The odds are against him, and he knows it. He also knows that people don’t want him to be presidential. Being presidential means being serious, and being serious means being boring, which is against Trump’s nature.
“I don’t want to change my personality,” Trump told a crowd last week. “It got me here!”
Indeed, it has. “Maybe I’ll just never leave!” Trump exclaimed last night.
What Trump doesn’t want to leave is the campaign — i.e., the spotlight. He has less interest in being president than he does in running for it.
One can safely wager that Trump is more likely to be president for four years than presidential for four days. His impending nomination notwithstanding, with any luck, he’ll be neither.