Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 23, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

 

Mr. Covfefe — aka the American president — has just spilled it all over the place. And nothing will take out the “damned spot.”

The truth is clear as a June day: Donald J. Trump has no idea how to play his part. He doesn’t have the class or the chops; nor does he have curiosity or compassion. To borrow a phrase from him, he does not “look the part.”

So, the world stage is shape-shifting as we speak. You have to respect Europe — especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the new leader of the free world. NATO nation leaders, clearly disgusted with Trump’s cheap attempt to bully them with false claims, do not want to do business with the interloper.

That didn’t take long, becoming an outcast in the post-war Western defense alliance that we set up with a transatlantic touch of generosity and genius.

And now, thanks to Trump, the United States is an outlaw in the global community with the June 1 breach of the landmark Paris Accords. That was a lot easier than getting rid of Obamacare. When Exxon is on the world climate train and the nation is not, we have squandered a lifetime’s chance to do the right thing.

The American presidency is the highest form of performance art, with all eyes on you, all the time, judging how well you play your character. Sadly, in this case, it’s hard to take him anywhere.

George Washington and Ronald Reagan were consummate masters of public appearances. Dignity was Washington’s watchword. He was the strong, silent type, always flawlessly dressed, on a white horse. He consciously defined the role for the republic. Grand, but not ostentatious like a king. Reagan added humor and cheer to his presidential public face and he, too, cut a figure on a horse.

Trump on a golf course is, pure and simple, the ugly American from central casting.

If you happened to see the commander in chief at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, laying a gorgeous wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it was hard not to notice him smiling and smirking (and singing a bit) his way through the national anthem. This is the most hallowed ground around. Next to him, Defense Secretary James Mattis held his ramrod salute and stern face through the strained moment.

When Trump said, “I always like to call him General” about Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (a former Marine Corps general) and delivered an unctuous speech as if to overcompensate for his lack of military service, it hit me.

The only class of Americans that Trump speaks well of is the military. And that fact is reflected in new budget numbers. While he slashes government science, peace, civil rights and health research funds, the Pentagon is his favorite child. And he hates people like yours truly, waging “war” with the press.

There are public figures who act their roles with gravitas. Scott Pelley, the 60 Minutes anchor who struck a blow as a truth-teller with rigor, was undaunted when tweets started pouring from the White House, like an ogre’s silent scream in the darkness before the dawn. The blue-chip newsman just got fired from “CBS Evening News” for low ratings — a casualty of the Trump era.

Hillary Clinton, however “likable,” holds her own on any public stage. Barack Obama is a natural performance artist. No matter what, Bill Clinton was fun to watch and matured into his performance art circa 1995. Of these three, he combined heart and mind the best.

Trump’s overnight creation on Twitter made lexicographers go back to bed.

“Covfefe” has set off anxiety that, as a friend wrote, “one’s president might communicate just about anything to the world at any moment.”

Trump tweeted this about the mystery and meaning of it all: “Enjoy!”

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.