MO­MENT: Trump be­ing pres­i­den­tial should not be rare

The Citizens' Voice - - Commentary / Nation - MARC THIESSEN writes a col­umn for The Wash­ing­ton Post on for­eign and do­mes­tic pol­icy and con­trib­utes to the PostPar­ti­san blog. He is a fel­low at the Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute, and the former chief speech­writer for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

First, the book has prompted Trump to show Amer­i­cans a side of him­self they had not pre­vi­ously seen. Where has the White House been hid­ing this guy? Watch­ing Trump be­ing this pres­i­den­tial should not be as rare as snow in the Sa­hara. If Amer­i­cans saw more of this Trump, he’d be ris­ing in the polls. Trump needs to re­al­ize that it was this meet­ing, not his bar­rage of tweets, that fi­nally de­stroyed Wolff ’s ac­count. The les­son is that be­ing pres­i­den­tial is far more pow­er­ful than the tac­tics that got him to the White House.

Sec­ond, the Wolff book has dis­cred­ited Trump’s me­dia crit­ics who em­braced Wolff ’s con­clu­sions that Trump did not have the men­tal ca­pac­ity to be pres­i­dent. NBC’s Peter Alexander asked dur­ing a White House news brief­ing, “Should Amer­i­cans be con­cerned about the pres­i­dent’s men­tal fit­ness?” CNN ran a story declar­ing, “Doc­tors call Trump’s men­tal health ‘dan­ger to na­tion.’ “Politico re­ported that talk of the 25th Amend­ment, which al­lows for the re­moval of the pres­i­dent from of­fice, is “Wash­ing­ton’s grow­ing ob­ses­sion.” The New York Times ran an edi­to­rial ask­ing, “Is Mr. Trump Nuts?”

Any sen­tient Amer­i­can who watched Trump in se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions with mem­bers of Congress could tell this “pres­i­dent with a drool cup” car­i­ca­ture is ab­surd. The fact that the me­dia gave so much print and air­time to this car­i­ca­ture did more to harm their cred­i­bil­ity than all of Trump’s in­ces­sant “fake news” tweet­ing over the past year.

Third, the book has brought about the end of Stephen Ban­non. Not only has Ban­non lost his White House job, he’s nowl­ost the sup­port of the Mercer fam­ily, his po­si­tion at Bre­it­bart and his cred­i­bil­ity on the na­tional stage. And he has earned a pres­i­den­tial nick­name — “Sloppy Steve.” His demise is a blow to the eth­nona­tion­al­ists of the alt-right and a chance for Trump to re­move an al­ba­tross around the neck of his pres­i­dency.

The pres­i­dent is now at a cross­roads. It was he who let the me­dia stay in the room for the meet­ing, and it worked. So, what does he do next? Does he build on this suc­cess by de­liv­er­ing a sub­stan­tive bi­par­ti­san State of the Union ad­dress, and use the power and trap­pings of the pres­i­dency to ex­pand his base of sup­port? Or does he go back to the tac­tics that made those ques­tion­ing his fit­ness for of­fice seem even re­motely cred­i­ble?

His op­po­nents have over­reached and given him an open­ing. The ques­tion is: Will he seize it or squan­der it?

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