The kin­der, gen­tler Don­ald Trump?

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist Kath­leen Parker is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group.

Wit­nesses who tuned in to Don­ald Trump and Barack Obama’s post-elec­tion get-to­gether can’t have missed the change in the pres­i­dent-elect’s de­meanor and af­fect.

Quiet and re­served, he seemed al­most chas­tened. Dare I say, hum­ble, and def­er­en­tial to the man whose cit­i­zen­ship he chal­lenged for years lead­ing up to his can­di­dacy. The real es­tate ty­coon best known for ego, in­sults and in­vec­tive seemed al­most sen­si­tive and earnest, as well as ap­pro­pri­ately re­spect­ful to­ward the pres­i­dent and the rare cir­cum­stances in which he found him­self.

It was ... odd. Was he drugged? Was he too ex­hausted to rally the show­man? Or, was Trump, in fact, feel­ing the grav­ity of his ac­com­plish­ment, the bur­den of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and the nearly sa­cred aura of his sur­round­ings? I pre­fer to think the lat­ter. As ev­ery pres­i­dent learns, there’s a world of dif­fer­ence be­tween run­ning for the of­fice and serv­ing as com­man­der in chief. Sud­denly, the lure of the con­test and the in­tox­i­ca­tion of vic­tory are re­placed with the over­whelm­ing recog­ni­tion that you are soon to be the leader of the free world. From re­al­ity show to Oval Of­fice is quite an un­ex­pected ca­reer path. If Trump promised his fans they’d win so much that they’d get tired of win­ning, Trump may be wea­ri­est of all. Now what?

But there may have been some­thing else at work Thurs­day when Trump and Obama ap­peared as pres­i­den­tial pals at a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing their hour-and-a-half-long meet­ing. That is, the White House it­self brings out the rev­er­ent in the ir­rev­er­ent. When you step in­side, you be­come a part of some­thing larger than one in­di­vid­ual or 320 mil­lion souls. You can feel history breath­ing in those walls. Walk­ing down grand cor­ri­dors, heels click­ing against mar­ble, you pause for a mo­ment to lis­ten, cer­tain there had been other foot­falls be­hind you. The busi­ness of the free world, the se­crets of past ad­min­is­tra­tions, and the col­lected an­guish of all pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents who, de­spite prayers and earnest in­ten­tions, of­ten found themselves fail­ures — all are col­lected here. No one mea­sures up to the job. Now it’s Trump’s turn. The world waits with a thou­sand ques­tions, prin­ci­pally: Will he re­ally do what he said he would? Will he put Hil­lary Clin­ton in jail, build a wall, ban Mus­lims and ex­port 11 mil­lion im­mi­grants who didn’t fol­low the rules? Will he re­ally re­peal and re­place Oba­macare?

Will he re­ally seek to muz­zle the me­dia, aban­don NATO or even con­sider the real nu­clear op­tion? Will he re­turn to be­ing the guy who tweets all night and bul­lies his en­e­mies? Or will he give the speech of his life­time, apol­o­giz­ing for his loose talk and the pain he caused oth­ers? I’d be happy to write it for him.

In the mean­time, as­so­ciates, col­leagues and em­ploy­ees — former and cur­rent — con­firm that Trump is a very mixed bag in­deed: An im­pa­tient ge­nius who doesn’t read but grasps in­for­ma­tion quickly; a “screamer,” by his own de­scrip­tion in his book “Think Like a Bil­lion­aire”; a hard-charger who doesn’t sleep and ex­pects 24/7 avail­abil­ity and loy­alty from his em­ploy­ees (and his Cabi­net?); a no-BS artist who sees through oth­ers’. Nei­ther a true Repub­li­can nor a Demo­crat, he is by his own ac­count “an army of one.” Not for long. We hope. One of his former em­ploy­ees, the op­ti­misti­cally named Louise Sun­shine, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that, though Trump will be chal­lenged by the de­mands of the job and the ne­ces­sity of putting country be­fore ego, “he will do it.” Such faith is about all we have for now, but the im­age of a hum­ble Trump seated next to Obama was a wel­come palate changer. Ob­vi­ously, Obama is still pres­i­dent, and he set the tone — both for the meet­ing and for the na­tion to ob­serve. If some Amer­i­cans haven’t liked the cut of his jib or the con­tours of his poli­cies, they have rea­son to feel pride in a leader who mod­eled class and dig­nity wor­thy of his of­fice. Like­wise, Hil­lary Clin­ton last week was a shin­ing ex­am­ple of how to ac­cept de­feat and sur­ren­der nobly to our demo­cratic sys­tem’s elec­toral re­sults, not­with­stand­ing her win­ning the pop­u­lar vote.

She, Obama and, yes, even Trump are on their best be­hav­ior be­cause, as each has said in her or his own way, the peace­ful trans­fer of power is our solemn duty as cit­i­zens and as keep­ers of civ­i­liza­tion’s bright­est flame.

Let’s not blow it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.