Now that President Donald Trump has occupied the Oval Office for six months, I want to issue my own progress report on his job performance thus far.
1) Whenever a new POTUS enters the Oval Office, I keep in mind that the Peter Principle might come to life in that POTUS. The Peter Principle states “that people are promoted to their level of incompetence.”
I haven’t been alone in thinking that President Trump might embody the Peter Principle. In a September 2015 commentary titled Donald Trump is fixing to be the Peter Principle personified, Steve Watson writes, “Trump forces us to revisit the almost-forgotten Peter Principle. In short, he is a textbook case of the successful individual rising in stature and position until he reaches his downfall, at the lofty level of his human incompetence.”
Peggy Noonan had a similar thought in mind when writing her 08/04/16 column The Week They Decided He Was Crazy. Referring to what Americans would face no matter who won the 2016 presidential election, Noonan writes, “I end with a new word, at least new to me. A friend called it to my attention. It speaks of the moment we’re in. It is kakistocracy, from the Greek. It means government by the worst persons, by the least qualified or most unprincipled. We’re on our way there, aren’t we? We’re going to have to make our way through it together.”
In other words, regardless who was elected, Noonan expected the 45th POTUS to be someone who shouldn’t be in the Oval Office.
So, did Donald Trump rise to the level of his incompetence when he became the 45th President? I cannot dismiss that possibility.
2) For years, some people on the political Right kept insisting that the federal government would run better if only a businessman (as opposed to a politician) were elected President. Well, those people got what they wanted. Hopefully, they have learned their lesson, because President Trump has proven them wrong.
As the owner of his own company, Trump the CEO was used to getting his way, used to controlling all of his company. However, Trump the President doesn’t have that kind of power. As much as he tries to tell members of Congress what to do, he has no authority over them.
Likewise, Trump the CEO could kick reporters off his private property if he wanted to, but Trump the President can’t try to stop White House reporters from doing their jobs without experiencing negative consequences as a result.
Thus far, President Trump has tried to bully both members of Congress and members of the White House press. He is so used to fisticuffs in the corporate world that he hasn’t been the statesman that the POTUS needs to be. In short, President Trump has been needlessly abrasive.
3) I do not find fault with everything that President Trump has done thus far. For example, President Trump did well when he ordered a strike “on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians” in Syria. In giving such an order, President Trump demonstrated that he will use force when the use of force is justified.
Also, President Trump isn’t wrong in trying to reduce the amount of federal money going to foreign causes that aren’t vital to America’s self-interest. That is what he did when he reinstated the so-called Mexico City Policy and withdrew the USA from the Paris Climate Accord. Considering just how big the federal debt is right now, the USA can’t afford to spend federal money on non-vital foreign causes.
Americans on the political Left have a bad habit of extrapolating every pet cause overseas as allegedly being vital to America’s self-interest. Those pet causes could be financed with private donations coming from those who favor such causes. However, that would require those who favor such causes to be generous with their own money. Being generous with other people’s money is easy; being generous with one’s own money is difficult when one wants to have all sorts of earthly pleasures.
So, at the six-month mark in his presidency, I assess that Donald Trump isn’t a total failure, but he definitely needs to improve the way that he interacts with other politicians, with members of the press and with people in general. His use of fisticuffs needs to stop.