As much as I dislike Donald Trump politically and personally, there are times when I think that Donald Trump could have been much different. Even if his words don’t match the actions, it’s hardly uncommon for politicians to fall short on their promises. Theresa May, the current Prime Minister, is often accused of not being able to match her words with deeds or of falling short of her intended promises. It could all have been so different for both of them and yet strangely, they share a common theme: much of their failings and their mixed messages are largely self-inflicted.
Hurricane Harvey has truly upended the lives of hundreds of thousands across Texas and while the response of both the volunteers and the various branches of government has been admirable, it will take a long time before people can start to rebuild their lives and move on with their lives long after the streets are cleared of floodwaters.
This has been the first domestic crisis under the Trump administration and here, we might have been able to see a different Donald Trump. Speculation continues to abound whether he would falter as Bush did or stand tall as Obama managed to. We might have even had a chance to give Trump credit where it’s due.
Sadly, early indications have not been hopeful. In fact, just before Harvey, Trump was sending out mixed messages by the dozen. Even now, with Trump in Houston promising to help make things better, he is tainted by his own self-inflicted mixed messages.
During a speech at a veterans convention, he made a call for unity before shooting through his message barely a day later by insulting members of his own party and a few hours after a divisive rally in Arizona where he threatened to shut down the government just to get his way on funding on his border wall (you know, the one that Mexico is going to pay for…)
Then we get to Joe Apario and this is where Trump has really shot himself in the foot by pardoning a man who violated the 1st and 4th Amendments on top of racist and divisive policies as Sheriff in Arizona. The fact that Trump did it because he thought it would get better ratings, at a time when Hurricane Harvey was closing in on Texas, is beyond pathetic and stupid. This is especially tragic since it comes a week after the protests in Charlottesville and the death of civil rights activist Heather Heyer by a far-right supporter.
Even when the hurricane made its presence felt, Trump decided to show that he was paying attention to it by giving a Tweet-by-Tweet update on the situation, the situation being that it was a big storm, the rainfall was historic. What should have been (and at times, was) a chance to show empathy turned into a reminder of Trump’s selfish narcissistic ways. I’m sure others found it ironic that Trump was actually listening to experts this time instead of accusing of making up facts.
Now Trump is in Texas to look at the damage and there are fears that his presence will distract from rescue efforts or that his personality will get in the way of his real job: to provide comfort and support, to offer a sense of Americans working together. Who knows, maybe Trump will finally have a revelation as he glances at the real America that he misses in his rallies and his consumption of Fox News.
I’ve often felt that Donald Trump could be different but it’s hard for a seventy-year-old billionaire reality TV star and failing businessman to change old habits. I still think that there are times when Trump could have actually earned some praise for his actions, but so far, my hopes have proved futile.
I don’t think Trump will be able to reset his presidency over Harvey but I don’t think he will perform as badly as people expect. The trouble is that, as always, Trump is his own worst enemy. It’s hard to think of Trump in a positive light now after everything he has done and continues to do. The same man who is now planning to tour Texas and assess the damage is the same man who failed to denounce the far-right protesters in Charlottesville, the same man who makes divisive rallying cries and threatens to shut down a nation’s government when he doesn’t get his way.
I hate to consider myself a constant critic because I strive to see the good in others, but I seldom see it in Trump. What he gives us is his own work, his own words in each and every Tweet. If he complains about the press coverage he receives (which he will, no doubt), then perhaps someone should give him a stern lecture about actions and consequences.
Donald Trump is a man of mixed and divisive messages.Whatever response he gets from his Texas trip will be a consequence of that lack of consistency.