Well, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, There I Go Again…
We won’t only talk about Donald Trump today. I’m also taking on a professor of history at Princeton University -- AND a political historian there.
Then I’ll shield myself from the grenades hurled from every direction. (If I had any sense I’d stop here, wish you a good day and head to lunch. But as many of you like to tell me, I have no sense.)
First. I watched most of the State of the Union the other night. I thought the president was pretty good. No kidding. Sort of reminds me of Mike Bloomberg. When Mr. Bloomberg became Mayor Bloomberg, he was pretty gruff and awkward – especially at the microphone. He grew into the job, got more comfortable and handled the spotlight better as time went on.
It’s a bit hard to believe, but the same might be happening with Donald Trump.
He was gracious in his State of the Union. I didn’t hear one bit of childish name-calling. His presentation was professional. Actually presidential. I really believed he wants to work across the aisle.
Of course, CNN and others called it divisive. I wonder what they expected. Trump held his ground on Trumpian Principles – he just couldn’t leave the Mueller investigation alone -- and yes, he still wants THE WALL.
So let’s get it over with and move on. Give him a check for the $5 billion and let’s see what he does with it. The government, we hear, wastes billions and billions every year. At least this $5 billion will put people to work.
Meanwhile, about those Princeton profs...Two questions:
When did “rich” – as in, “Hey! I’m filthy rich!!” -- become a dirty word?
And why does it rankle you when billionaires want to be president? Well, maybe not you, but a lot of your friends.
True, our wealthy commander-in-chief has rankled a lot of people. But not every wealthy American is President Trump.
We’ve already talked about Mike Bloomberg toying with the idea.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is tossing it around. Oprah Winfrey made some noise. So has President Trump’s alter SNL ego Alec Baldwin. Kanye West. Will Smith. And God Forbid, Roseann Barr.
Let’s face it…all people might be created equal, but aren’t so much when they grow up. Somewhere along the line, Baby Barr and Baby Bloomberg took different paths.
Abe Lincoln envisioned a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
I wonder who Abe had in mind. Professional politicians? Or people who work in the everyday, real world?
Lincoln was a little of both. He worked on boats, was a store clerk, surveyor, soldier and then lawyer who got elected to the Illinois Legislature and then the Congress before the people chose him their president. So all that gave him some standing to relate to the real people.
Of course the argument you’ll make is that the Mike Bloombergs don’t live in the real world with the rest of us, he with his private jet, helicopter and the ability to buy just about anything on the planet.
Maybe. That he one got fired, took the subway to City Hall or wore the same two pairs of shoes to work every day – alternating, of course -- doesn’t change the fact that when he wants to play golf, he flies his own helicopter to the course.
But people like Mike Bloomberg and Howard Schultz know how to manage, know how to hire, know how to navigate and negotiate intricate deals across the globe – and know how to make money work for them.
Putting it simply, they know how to get things done.
Many thought the same about Donald Trump. A lot still do. What a lot of us didn’t know is that Trump would be so mercurial, so bombastic, so egotistical and frankly so insultingly childish at times that he has a hard time bringing people together to get things done.
“It’s all an act to get elected,” I heard over and over again during the campaign.
Uhhh, no. Maybe he turned a corner with his State of the Union.
Princeton Professors Kevin Kruse and Julian Zalizer are right when, in an Opinion piece last week in the Sunday Advance, they say Americans began to sour on professional politicians – read that Washington Insiders – after LBJ’s Vietnam and then Nixon’s Watergate. That’s when we began to see outsiders – still politicians but outside the Beltway – like Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
But the profs also seem to believe that political experience translates to political acumen.
“We have thrown out the idea that having worked in government and demonstrated one’s qualifications in a lower-level elected office is one of the best measures to see how a person will handle the awesome responsibilities that come with the Oval Office,” they wrote.
I just don’t see how someone who built Starbucks into what it is, or someone who took a simple idea of giving business people more and better information into Bloomberg Technology, managing those businesses into global giants, have less standing than someone who governs a state or sits in the strangling atmosphere of Washington politics.
Max Rose is new to Staten Island and new to politics. As far as I can tell, he’s not a billionaire. But he’s telling it like it needs to be told. His four-letter words aside, I like the message.
“If I have to watch again people, public servants, sitting around a table sensibly agreeing to something, and then having news anchors on cable news shift the dynamic and cause them to flip flop, I’m going to lose my $%^$% mind,” Max told the Daily News.
He was talking about the shutdown but could have been talking about any aspect of how our politicians govern.
Americans are desperate for someone new, someone different. Someone with a message. They couldn’t have had a starker choice – Trump or everyone else.
Donald paved the way.
Who knows what Trump will do in the next election, but if a Bloomberg or Shultz rises to the top, they’re worth a real look. This is not the time to drift back to politics-as-usual.
Brian J. Laline wrote this for the Staten Island Advance.