Don­ald Trump is not be­com­ing any more pres­i­den­tial

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Ruth Marcus Colum­nist Ruth Marcus’ email ad­dress is ruth­mar­cus@wash­post.com.

Less than two weeks into the re­al­ity that Don­ald Trump will be our next pres­i­dent, the sit­u­a­tion feels more omi­nous than on elec­tion night.

“At the right time, I will be so pres­i­den­tial you will be so bored,” Trump as­sured us back in April, when the no­tion seemed fan­ci­ful. “I know when to be pres­i­den­tial.”

Does he? On three di­men­sions -- tem­per­a­ment, com­pe­tence and ide­ol­ogy -- Trump’s con­duct since the elec­tion has of­fered more ba­sis for worry than for re­lief.

That Trump’s tem­per­a­ment is a prob­lem is un­der­scored by exit polls show­ing that 63 per­cent of vot­ers do not think he has the tem­per­a­ment to be pres­i­dent -in­clud­ing 26 per­cent of Trump vot­ers.

In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the elec­tion, it was pos­si­ble to ar­gue the tem­per­a­ment case ei­ther way. There was Pres­i­den­tial Trump, pro­claim­ing that he would be “pres­i­dent for all Americans.” He dropped the talk about lock­ing up “Crooked Hil­lary” in fa­vor of prais­ing her ser­vice to the coun­try.

And then, in­creas­ingly, there was Tweet­ing Trump, start­ing with an as­sault on “pro­fes­sional pro­tes­tors, in­cited by the me­dia,” and con­tin­u­ing with a se­ries of attacks on the “fail­ing” New York Times “up­set that they looked like fools in their cov­er­age of me.” Pick your ad­jec­tive: thin-skinned, child­ish, un­pres­i­den­tial.

Also in the bas­ket of wor­ries about tem­per­a­ment: Trump’s heed­less­ness to is­sues of con­flict of in­ter­est and nepo­tism. The govern­ment is not, or shouldn’t be, a fam­ily busi­ness. Whether the fed­eral anti-nepo­tism law tech­ni­cally ap­plies to Jared Kush­ner, its spirit would clearly be vi­o­lated by hav­ing Trump bring his 35-year-old son-in­law, en­tirely lack­ing in govern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, onto the White House staff.

And the ar­range­ment would pile con­flict upon con­flict. Trump’s re­fusal to fol­low the prac­tice of pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents and put his hold­ings in a blind trust means that his chil­dren (and spouses who ben­e­fit from their hold­ings) should be kept at arm’s-length from the work­ings of govern­ment -- not put on his tran­si­tion team or in his White House.

On the sub­ject of Trump’s com­pe­tence, again, vot­ers knew what they were get­ting: 60 per­cent said he is not qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent, in­clud­ing 23 per­cent of Trump vot­ers. But the ap­par­ent dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion of the tran­si­tion does not bode well for the con­duct of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Sure, all tran­si­tions are chaotic, but Trump’s, with the post­elec­tion purge of Chris Christie and the New Jersey gov­er­nor’s loy­al­ists, has started in a par­tic­u­larly chaotic man­ner. The Christie-led group, I’m told, was ac­tu­ally in rea­son­ably good shape. But who needs pre­pared­ness when there are scores to set­tle, on the part of the can­di­date or his son-in-law?

Choos­ing Alabama Sen. Jeff Ses­sions to be the na­tion’s chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer -- and over­see is­sues of dis­crim­i­na­tion, po­lice bru­tal­ity and vot­ing rights -- does not bind the wounds of divi­sion. This is a man who called the NAACP “anti-Amer­i­can,” said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK un­til I found out they smoked pot,” and de­scribed a white civil rights lawyer as a “dis­grace to his race.”

Choos­ing re­tired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to serve as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser does not bind the wounds of divi­sion. This is a man who has tweeted that “fear of Mus­lims is RATIONAL” and de­scribed Is­lam as a “ma­lig­nant can­cer,” a “po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy” that “hides be­hind this no­tion of it be­ing a re­li­gion.”

Per­haps the full pic­ture will be less dis­turb­ing than the sketch so far. Per­haps Trump will grow on the job. The ev­i­dence so far of­fers slim grounds for hope.

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