Help me define the best (or worst in this case) metaphor of the Trump presidency

After the most recent incredulous statement by the US president about ingesting disinfectant as a possible cure for COVID-19, I felt this Marie Antoinette moment might be a metaphor for his presidency. Yet, there are truly many contenders for such a distinction.

Below are twelve top of mind statements or actions that could be considered. Sadly, there are more to choose from. So, readers please let me know your top three, including others I may have overlooked.

1. Ingesting disinfectant – he has to tried to explain this away as sarcasm, but to see Dr. Birx trying to avoid eye contact when he asked her what she thought is telling.

2. Sharpie gate – this is when the president played meterologist and scared the state of Alabama by drawing on the map the hurricane may hit them. This was an unforced error thst aides spent a week trying to diffuse.

3. Firing Comey without telling him – for a person who liked to say “You’re fired” on TV, the president cannot bring himself to fire soneone in person. James Comey found out he was fired via TV news. But, Trump failed to tell his Communication team, so Sean Spicer was hiding in the White House bushes with staff to plan what to say.

4. First travel ban – Trump likes to use the word disaster to define anything he did not do. The first travel ban was so disastrous, it waa pulled after two days. The president failed to vet the change with various stakeholders including the people who would need to conduct the ban. So, people did not know what to do and the lines were long.

5. India/ Pakistan brokering peace deal – this faux pas did not get much air time, but the president announced in front of the Pakistani leader the India prime minister asked him to broker a peace deal between the two countries over the Kashmir conflict. Within the hour, India put out a press release saying no such request was made.

6. Tariffs paid by China – the president has said this at least a dozen times, so it may be a good candidate because of its staying power. Trump likes to say China is paying the tariffs. Economists correct him each time saying US importers pay the tariffs which are passed onto the consumers. So, we pay the tariffs.

7. Extorting Ukraine – after watching a parade of reputable public servants testify under oath at a great risk with such a vindictive president, Trump was impeached over extorting Ukraine for personal gain. He likes to focus on one phone call, but if that call was so “perfect,” why did his staff try to bury it?

8. Siding with Putin over CIA – in Helsinki, standing side by side with a man who is KGB trained on disinformation, Trump sided with Putin over the advice of his intelligence people. Senator John McCain wrote an op-ed piece to blast the president’s words as “traiterous.”

9. Pulling out of Paris Climate Change Accord – the president’s stance on climate change was my worst fear going in. So, he announced pulling out of the Paris accord on June 1, 2017, the day following Exxon shareholders voting for management to tell them what Exxon is doing to address climate change. When we exit, the US will stand alone in the world.

10. Transgender in military – the announcement to ban new transgender people in the military got the press, but the decision process is the metaphor. Per the book “Fear” by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward, the president announced his decision by two tweets around 10:05 one morning saying the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he had decided to do this. Problem is they had not. The time is important as the Joint Chiefs waited downstairs to meet with the president to go over four options and the pros/ cons of each. The president was told of this and asked when would be a good time to meet. This is a key reason DOD James Mattis abruptly said that a tweet is not an order.

11. Wandering alone at G20 – this was a sad to watch as the president wandered the tables looking for someone to talk with after dinner at a G20 meeting. He finally wandered over to meet with Vladimir Putin alone, a very scary situation with a very informed leader and Trump, who does not study history or issues. Plus, it is a metaphor that he would gravitate to Putin’s table rather than an ally of our country.

12. Bragging on fixing the economy – this is the most relentless of topics and, until the virus hit, was his claim to fame. The problem is he did not fix the economy. Yes, economic growth continued under his watch, but when he was sworn in on January 20, 2017, the US GDP was in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth (that is seven plus years), the stock market had more than doubled under Obama, and unemployment was under 5%. Presidents get too much credit and blame for the economy, but for Trump to say he fixed the economy is untrue – it was not broken He has added both short term tailwinds and long term headwinds.

So, that is a dirty dozen, so to speak. I wanted to limit them twelve, so leaving off Charlottesville, his rallies, his ignoring the early warnings on COVID-19, or just his litany of routine, daily untruthfulness or beating up on the press, etc. proved difficult. Let me know your top three choices. Please feel free to add any others. It is funny, depending on how I want to focus my attention, I could pick a different three – is impact, continuity, or inanity the best measure?

17 thoughts on “Help me define the best (or worst in this case) metaphor of the Trump presidency

    • VJ, it does. I was trying to do the same for Obama, Bushes, Clinton and Reagan. While there are metaphors that could remember them in a bad light, they are far fewer to choose from. Yet, with the exception of W, I can think of more good metaphors than bad. Keith

      • As maddening as past leaders might have been, they all presented a caring for the country as a whole – less accent on the partisan differences, and certainly less self-interest. It is hard to watch the continual pandering for worship.

      • VJ, that is an excellent point. Trump’s first inclination is to protect his image. So, he does not hesitate to divide, blame, bully or lie to protect it. Keith

      • I definitely gave it a “Like”! But as several commented, Keith, your list only hits the highlights. It would takes pages to list everything!

        BTW, I wonder if you might be willing to add the option to “like” comments? It can be done through your Admin page, under Settings, Discussion. There have been several who commented that I would enjoy being able to let them know. 🙂

  1. Applauding your restraint, I couldn’t limit it to twelve. Unapologetic hubris flourishes in each of your top twelve. Conspicuously absent is mention of self congratulatory bravado like grabbing women by the pussy because he can, or shooting someone on 5th Avenue and getting away with it.

    • Lisa, so true. Will he go away is the question? Will he claim a false election? In my view, this person deserves to lose in a big way and it troubles me that he has fooled so many people and been abetted by so many sycophants. Keith

  2. We know Keith, you know, I know, other contributors to your excellent blog know.
    The problem is there are a substantial number of people who refuse to know and will find all sorts of excuses to claim why you are ‘wrong’.
    It is right most of the USA public should be worrying about this pandemic, another pandemic which has been steadily growing over the years has been missed.
    The Divisive Virus.
    No longer can folk laugh and josh about their political differences. No longer is there consensus.
    Too often is there:
    ‘You are with us or against us,’
    This situation created Trump.

    • Roger, very true on all counts. What people fail to realize, is he eventually divides his own followers. As they peel off, he indicts them. As Thomas Wells (a former Trump attorney) said, if you are on Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it, as you will not be there for long.

      Right now, the Republican Senators get a little more emboldened each day – not a lot mind you, but a little. They are realizing Trump will take them down with him. They truly missed their opportunity to rid the country and their own party of this cancer. It would caused some short term problems, but they would have been on the side of the Angels.


      • Like many a politician even going back into the classical times they feared ‘The Mob’.
        Those wearing the baseball cap ‘Make America Great Again’, those queuing for bullets and guns instead of medical supplies and so forth.
        Those who created Trump and will not have their dream taken away from them.
        Until ‘The Mob’ are isolated from the rest, until ‘The Rest’ act as one solid loud voice saying ‘Enough’, the politicians will always be looking over their shoulders.
        And they will be secretly praying for the arrival of ‘The Rest’

  3. Note to Readers: Depending on my focus, I think the “First Travel Ban” is the best metaphor for the Trump presidency. I knew before the election, Trump was prone to bully, lie, sexually harass, and self-promote. I also knew from business reporters, while Trump was great marketer and salesperson, managing businesses was not his strength.

    What I did not realize is how incompetent and chaotic his management style is. The “First Travel Ban” occurred early in his presidency. Now, Trump defines anything he does as “beautiful” or “perfect,” and anything that he is trying to fix as a “disaster.” This First Travel Ban was an unmitigated disaster, primarily because the president did not think it was important to follow Management 101 – plan, communicate, improve, and execute with patience and time.

    To me, it was a clear indictment that the president is actually much worse a manager than these reporters let on. Again, it is not fake news that Trump announced his ban without telling people beforehand and it was pulled after two days.

  4. I could add so many … so very many. His cabinet picks, his denigration of the press, his treatment of women … your list is a great start, but I simply cannot choose just three, for they are all abominations. I think, though, that if I had to pick one it would be the parent/child separations at the border and treating children, even infants, as criminals, keeping them locked in cages with inadequate hygiene and then some even being sexually abused by the people in charge. That, to me, is the single biggest abomination, though there have been so many that it keeps me awake at night.

    • Jill, well said. Your choice maybe the most heinous metaphor and to see it explained away by his ardent base is a sad reflection on them. Ironically, the Build the Wall schtick that got him elected was overstated as a solution to a problem that was not that bad. But, once he has committed something, he has to do whatever it takes to justify said issue. Keith

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