Hysteria and sanctimony are proving to be a terrible strategy for dealing with Donald Trump, Financial Post

Un texte intelligent provenant du Financial Post, il faudrait peut-être un peu moins d’hystérie de la part de nos médias libéraux sur notre supposément supériorité moraliste.

William Watson: Hysteria and sanctimony are proving to be a terrible strategy for dealing with Donald Trump, Financial Post, January 30, 2017


I’ve been #NeverTrump from Day One, even before Day One, from his first musings about running for president. I still am. The guy’s megalomania is bizarre. “I could run my company perfectly and then run the country perfectly.” If it were an act, it would be in bad taste, but it doesn’t seem to be an act. After an infamous anti-Goldwater petition in 1964, the American Psychiatric Association decreed its members must not express opinions on the mental health of people they have not personally treated, so I suppose an economist is even less qualified to do so. But does anyone think Trump is normal? We’ve had needy megalomaniac presidents before; the office attracts them. But previous ones thought it best — and possessed the mental discipline — to hide their worst impulses. Trump seems almost permanently out of control. And he’s been president barely a week. Wait until the pressures build.

My view remains that Americans did the world no favour by electing this man. He may well end up doing some policy good (as the Post’s Lawrence Solomon argues), but the cost to the world’s collective stomach lining, as we worry about what his next Tweet portends, doesn’t seem worth it.

And yet, Americans did elect him. What we need to decide is whether hysteria is the best strategic response to a president who himself seems to fly off the handle at the least provocation, who in fact seems to have no idea where the handle is, or even that there is a handle.

Hysteria? CBC’s The National on Sunday spent its first 44-and-a-half minutes (if you include commercials) on Trump’s border ban. And they added another 90 seconds at the end, in case you missed the point that, hey, some Americans are very upset by the border ban.

·       Only in the final moments of Canada’s national news did we also learn that, over the last few days, no fewer than 31 New Brunswickers have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning from space heaters they’ve had to resort to because the recent ice storm brought down so many power lines.

·       Sorry, New Brunswick, with a couple hundred people being delayed at the U.S. border, Toronto doesn’t care about your poisoning.

Even if you want your news All Anti-Trump All The Time, other stories are possible.

·       How’s Mexico’s president doing in the polls after cancelling his Washington trip?

·       How did Trump’s phone call with Putin go?

·       Have more people showed up for the inauguration yet?

That the “Muslim ban” was bungled was news. The “Muslim ban” itself, which is not what it actually is, was not news. The Muslim ban was Trump’s first idea, on Dec. 7, 2015, a kind of Pearl Harbour on himself that he quickly backtracked from. What he’s doing now is Ban Lite. I hate to quote Kellyanne Conway, but she’s right that there are several dozen majority-Muslim countries it doesn’t touch. (In fact, why not Saudi Arabia?)

CBC news on Sunday spent 45 minutes on the president’s border ban

That Trump is doing what he ran on is not news. It was the story of all last week. Ban Lite is probably unwise — though that depends on a balance of several probabilities no one can be sure about. It’s distasteful. It’s un-American. Parts of it may be illegal, though courts will determine that. But it’s not a 45-minute story. If Trump refuses a court order, that will be big news. But he hasn’t yet.

Getting back to psychiatry, what’s the best way to deal with Trump?

Media hyperventilation, as he aptly calls it, almost certainly won’t work. He feeds off his opponents’ denunciations. And his base doesn’t care what CNN, let alone CBC thinks.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, so far the leading candidate for Trump-whisperer, tried holding hands, literally and figuratively. In the 20th century, she would been getting calls from her G7 counterparts, asking how the visit went and what he’s really like, as they work up strategies for dealing with him. Nowadays they’re probably too afraid the CIA and Putin would listen in.

Sanctimonious pro-diversity tweets from our prime minister picked up in headline stories by The New York Times won’t help either. Justin Trudeau may find himself able to charm his contemporaries, Ivanka Trump and her husband and presidential counsellor, Jared Kushner, and work through them.

But if he gets on Trump’s enemies list, that’s not good.

You mustn’t give up your principles when dealing with someone like Trump. But continuously broadcasting your moral superiority is, well, Trump-like. JFK, who admittedly suffered his own neuroses, used to quote British military historian Basil Liddell Hart: “Avoid self-righteousness like the devil. Nothing is so self-blinding.”

Financial Post