Just a week ago President Trump delivered an impassioned and effective performance during his first address to Congress. For many, the president’s tone signaled a fundamental shift in his communication style. It demonstrated an intent to unify the country, and also to bring some prestige back to the Office of the President.
And true, while some immigration activists and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries characterized the president’s speech as “divisive,” most pundits agreed Mr. Trump sounded more presidential than ever.
Many commentators suggested a president had been born that evening. As progressive commentator Van Jones emphatically stated in his post-speech analysis: “He became president of the United States in that moment. Period.”
So whether one agrees with his policy agenda or not, it was evident the president attempted to speak to win people’s minds and hearts. Really, there was little that could have been said better. He even garnered a respectable bump in his approval numbers following the speech.
For a moment, his conciliatory and aspirational tone created momentum in the president’s favor. But alas, that momentum was short-lived, no thanks to another set of artless tweets.
On Saturday, reporters were awakened from their weekend slumber to a series of them, including the following:
“Terrible! Just found out that (former president Barack) Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
“How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Suddenly, all the major news organizations were abuzz with negative critiques about his “intemperate nature,” with the triumph of the previous week’s address practically forgotten as President Trump surrogates rushed out to explain the tweets.
This may lead many to ponder why, with so many talented individuals advising the president, no one has successfully convinced him to “drop the smartphone, and step away from Twitter.”
Why hand the “dishonest media” (his words, not mine), more fodder to perpetuate a cartoonish image of himself?
I mean really, with all due respect, give it a break already … por favor.
In all seriousness, for the president’s sake, and for the sake of the nation, isn’t it time for Mr. Trump to hire a social media manager to serve as a gatekeeper?
Isn’t it time to start speaking to all Americans in a consistently unifying and aspirational voice, rather than just playing to the base that got him elected?
And, wouldn’t it be more productive and a better use of the president’s time to refocus his efforts on streamlining government, targeting waste, “cleaning house” (including at intelligence agencies), and aggressively recruiting top talent with a sincere commitment to public service?
This could be the president who actually completes many public policy priorities that have been kicked down the road, like immigration and health care reform. But it will require talented and courageous advisers to convince President Trump to give the visceral social media nonsense a rest.
Sandra Pedroarias is director of Hispanic and Latino outreach for Think Freely Media (TFM) and manages Think Freely Latino (TFL) (www.thinkfreelylatino.org), a TFM project. She previously served as senior adviser to the U.S. treasurer and acting director of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.