I hate the phrase “acting presidential.” Earlier today, while checking out what my senator, Chuck Schumer, is tweeting, I ran across those two misleading words. Chuck was begging Donny to “act presidential.” This is pathetic. Think about it. What does it mean to “act presidential?” It’s a mushy, meaningless phrase that has come to mean, under the Trump presidency, “not behaving like a retarded crime boss.” Which is tantamount to saying, “Behaving like a human being capable of thought and empathy.” To be sure, I’ve never heard of any president being asked by a senator, in earnest, to behave as though he holds the office he does. As with all things in 2017, we continue to break new ground.
My biggest problem with the entreaty that Trump “act presidential” is that I know our country’s habit of looking to movies and TV for more than just entertainment, “acting presidential” has a very specific meaning. It’s something that’s done by guys like Bill Pullman, Morgan Freeman, or Michael Douglas. But when they put on the mantle of the presidency, these guys don’t do anything that a real president actually does; for the most part, they play presidents who are exclusively reacting to a disaster of one kind or another. They could be dealing with hostile aliens or terrorists in the White House, but they don’t get any actual presidential work done. We only know they’re “presidents” for two reasons: everyone refers to the guy as “Mr. President”, and because he acts how we imagine a president would act under those conditions. That means that Harrison Ford is able to be decisive, commanding and calm while avoiding a nuclear disaster, or Bill Pullman doesn’t totally freak out when aliens land on the front lawn of 1600. That’s it. Nothing more to it. It just means being a calming entity who other people actively want to be around and protect.
Ok. Schumer has a point. That description of what the average person thinks is presidential behavior has never, nor will it ever, be embodied by our Twit-In-Chief. However…
Begging the dummy-in-chief to act like a president has confused him. He chose Martin Sheen’s president from “The West Wing” as his model, but clearly forgot which Sheen he was trying to emulate. The Orange Disaster’s version is less Martin Sheen and more Charlie Sheen. Sigh.
I don’t give a flying fuck about how the guy acts so long as it’s not like an angry, narcissistic third-grader who should be in fifth-grade but was left behind. Because he’s stupid. What I do care about is that he gets the job done. If you look at the job requirements and tasks of the president, you’ll soon see that Trump’s performance is so poor he’d have been fired long ago if he were the average American in an average American job.
So we can clear up this nonsense about acting” presidential”, here’s the real presidential job description:
Let’s start with the kiddie version from Scholastic.com just to get warmed up:
Job Description of the President:
The Constitution assigns the president two roles: chief executive of the federal government and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. As Commander in Chief, the president has the authority to send troops into combat, and is the only one who can decide whether to use nuclear weapons. As chief executive, he enforces laws, treaties, and court rulings; develops federal policies; prepares the national budget; and appoints federal officials. He also approves or vetoes acts of Congress and grants pardons.
Getting a feel for what the guy is supposed to be doing? What you just read is geared toward kids who are about 10 years old. I’m sure they understand what Scholastic is teaching them. If you judge exclusively by the phrase, “enforces laws, treaties, and court rulings…”, Trump is behind the middle school bell curve.
For those of us who care for a little more information about what the president is supposed to do but clearly is not, I went to a source that Trump might have run across during his wasted tenure at U Penn: Sparknotes. Actually, he would have used Cliffs Notes, but it’s the same “for dummies” presentation of what you have to know not to flunk out of school.
Here’s a pared down list of what Sparknotes.com offers up as “how to act Presidential.” I’ll assume descriptions are not necessary for our reading audience:
- Acts as the symbolic leader of the country
- Executes the law
- Appoints key federal officials
- Grant pardons and reprieves
- Commander in Chief
- Runs the armed forces
- Chief Diplomat
- Negotiates with other countries
- Chief Legislator
- Signs or vetoes legislation, introduces legislation, works with Congress on the budget
- Introduces legistlation
- Creates Budget with Congress
- Helps his or her party raise money and elect candidates
Now let’s work our way through the list with an eye toward assessing if Trump is actually our “acting president” or just “acting like a president”, or neither.
TRUMP’S 6 MONTH JOB REVIEW (just like what you probably have to put up with)
- Acts as the symbolic leader of the country – Doing well, provided we all agree that our country is Stalin-era Russia.
- Executes the law – Fail. Basic lack of command of any legal premise, beyond civil infractions for which he has been sued.
- Appoints key federal officials – Fail. Filled offices with inept favorites and his kids. Which is redundant.
- Grant pardons and reprieves – Fail. Planning a self-pardon on twitter to avoid releasing financial information to his own government isn’t quite on point.
- Commander in Chief – Fail The armed forces have openly declared they will not take direction from the president’s twitter account. That’s a good thing as it’s his main form of communication.
- Runs the armed forces – Fail (see above)
- Chief Diplomat – Fail. Just ask President Macron and his wife.
- Negotiates with other countries – Fail. Trump has a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “negotiate” and has confused it with “collude” and/or “accept money from.”
- Chief Legislator – Don’t even.
- Signs or vetoes legislation – Fail. His proposals have been inane or unconstitutional. No joy in Trumpland.
- Introduces legistlation – Fail. (see Chief Legislator)
- Creates Budget with Congress – HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!! Managing money!!!! American banks won’t lend him any money….because he can’t manage it! HA HA HA!!
- Helps his or her party raise money and elect candidates – Fail. His party hates him and won’t willingly get near him. Don’t just go on what I say! Ask ummm…..everybody.
If you don’t agree with any of the above, I’d like to know about it. But I feel confident that Employee Trump’s performance has been at or below expectations, and that was a pretty low bar to start with. I’m so sorry, Mr. Trump. Please clean out your desk and security will escort you out of the building.
In your hotly anticipated new free time, please, please… don’t even THINK about trying out acting.