The New York Times
There’s a bright side to everything. It’s true that Donald Trump could turn out to be the worst American president ever. But think how happy that’s going to make James Buchanan fans.
Buchanan’s been on the bottom for 150 years, but his days may be numbered. Sure he sent the country careening into civil war. But he never tweeted about it.
“We’ve heard that from some visitors,” said Patrick Clarke, director of Buchanan’s home in Lancaster, Pa.
You can’t help thinking about this stuff on Presidents’ Day weekend. When the guy we’ve got now has scheduled the first big political rally of his 2020 campaign.
He told you he’d make history! Trump is running for re-election before he can find the bathroom switch in the White House. It’s definitely something to tell the grandchildren. Don’t forget to print out the stories. You can use them as decorations on the wall of that old basement bomb shelter where you’ve secretly been starting to store canned goods and bottled water.
I know some of you are worried that the president is losing his mind. Perhaps you think that he’s depressed over the fact that his first four weeks in power have been marked by a disastrous attempt at immigration control, the axing of the national security adviser, the ignominious retreat of a nominee for labor secretary and a failed military raid in Yemen.
No. “I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done,” Trump said at his press conference. Remember, this is not a man who does self-deprecating irony.
The now-famous press conference did give us a whole new vision of what the Trump Era is going to entail. Beginning when he called in reporters to announce a new nominee for secretary of labor and then gave the topic only 100 words in the next hour and a quarter.
You may have been unnerved by the president’s description of Obamacare. (“I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they’re not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.”)
And perhaps his riff about Russia weirded you out. (“… probably Putin assumes that he’s not going to be able to make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular for me to make a deal. So Hillary Clinton tries a reset. It failed. They all tried. But I’m different from those people.”)
Stop this. We’re trying to think positive. The good news is all this was not actually evidence the president is suffering a mental collapse. He’s always been like that.
We’ll take any cheering up we can get. Earlier in the week, Trump invited Chris Christie to a lunch at the White House. While everybody else at the table got to pick what they wanted to eat, the president made Christie order meatloaf. “It’s emasculating!” cried a talk-show host to whom the governor of New Jersey — for some reason — reported the tale.
“No it’s not,” Christie responded, rather weakly. “It is the president.… And the meatloaf was good.” It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to contemplate the fall, humiliation and political ruination the governor suffered at the hands of his alleged friend Donald. But every time it happens, there’s a little sunbeam.
Right now the administration is such a mess that after national security adviser Mike Flynn was pushed out of office, Trump’s next pick claimed he couldn’t take the job because he needed to spend more time with his family. That’s bad. On the other hand, the president did promise to create jobs. And the way we’re going, sooner or later everybody in the country is going to get an offer to serve in a top White House position.
En route to Florida for his re-election rally, the president stopped off at a Boeing plant in South Carolina, and supporters who had worried that the administration was going off the rails were heartened when he read his speech like a normal person. There were only a couple of off-the-cuff remarks about what a winner he is, and only one sort of strange moment, when he was talking about Air Force One. “What can look so beautiful at 30?” Trump demanded. “An airplane.”
Meanwhile, at the James Buchanan house, Patrick Clarke declined to offer any personal opinion on whether Trump could send Buchanan up a notch in the ratings. But he did provide an excellent example of thinking positive: “You know, if my guy wasn’t rated worst — if he fell smack dab in the middle — he’d be lost.”
Hold that thought. Whatever else happens you can take comfort in the realization that we’re not going to spend the next four years stuck with some boring mediocrity. We’re going nowhere near the middle.