The Trump administration needs to take a lesson from the Boy Scouts of America and “be prepared.” The incidents of members of the administration not being prepared are numerous and significant but should not be surprising.
The presidential debates made it quite clear that Donald J. Trump is a good deal more comfortable speaking off the “top of his head” than doing the requisite preparation to gain a thorough understanding of key issues and the implications associated with those issues. Becoming president apparently has not changed his view of the importance of preparation as it is clear that he takes greater pride in signing his numerous executive orders than understanding those orders and the ramifications of implementing them.
The Constitutionality of his executive orders dealing with his Muslim “ban” is a prime example of failing to do the requisite preparation that would have made it clear that it would not pass court review. Failing to understand the public reaction to losing key elements of Obamacare is another clear example of failing to do one's presidential homework before pulling the trigger on the oft repeated campaign promise to repeal the health care law. To then state that “no one knew how complicated health care was” only serves to reveal how out of touch on issues this president is.
Similarly, after a full campaign season of accusing China of currency manipulation as well as the need to get tough with North Korea, it only took ten minutes with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discover just how complicated the North Korea issue is not to mention that China no longer manipulates currency. Imagine if Trump devoted 20 minutes to mastering the learning curve? How about a full hour dedicated to his studies? Maybe our president needs to enroll in Trump University and take a few courses in government or public policy?
Compounding the lack of preparation of this president is having other members of his administration following his lead in not needing to prepare appropriately. Press Secretary Sean Spicer comes immediately to mind, especially his ill-conceived Hitler analogy.
Anyone, especially anyone responsible for providing information to the press, should know that you have much more to lose than to gain when you start a sentence with the words “even Hitler...”. If you do go in that direction because you are so hell bent on showing just how barbaric a ruler Bashar al-Assad is, it would be wise to make sure you understand the aspects of your analogy. Demonstrating your ignorance regarding the herding of German citizens who just happen to be Jewish into gas chambers to be exterminated because of their religion only serves to highlight the irresponsibility choosing Hitler as a comparison to Assad to highlight the barbarism of Assad. Referring to the gas chambers as “Holocaust Centers” further demonstrates ignorance of the issue. Trying to justify use of the comparison by pointing out that dropping the chemical gases from the sky is somehow more barbaric only serves to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust and the millions of Jews who were herded into those gas chambers in the concentration camps to be exterminated en masse.
Lesson to be learned by Mr. Spicer: do your homework.
Now, of course, Mr. Spicer isn't the first press secretary overwhelmed by trying to give credibility to an unqualified president. However, regardless of how difficult being the voice of the president may be, ensuring you think before you speak is on you. Not too long ago another press secretary, Dana Perino, the press secretary for President George W. Bush, was asked a question that referred to the Cuban missile crisis. She clearly was not familiar with that part of our history, but, rather than just acknowledge that, she chose to provide the excuse that “it happened before I was born.” Yes, she really said that. Maybe that explains how she could wind up on Fox.
Maybe, just maybe, if the focus as set at the top by the president wasn't to spin the responses to questions from the press but to just be straightforward with the answers, there would be fewer instances of being caught in the spin.
Trump during his presidential campaign pledged, among many other things, to be more transparent if elected. Sounds good, but that was then, and this is now. When inquired about the decision by the White House not to make the names on the White House visitors log public, Mr. Spicer pointed to the past practice of previous administrations and the decisions by those administrations not to make the logs public. Following past practice is not unusual; as a matter of fact it is quite common and is the basis of our judicial system and the reliance on precedent.
However, this president ran on the promise to bring more transparency to Washington. To cower behind past practices makes as clear a pronouncement as can be uttered that this administration, when it comes to transparency, is no different than any other administration. This campaign promise is as empty as most of his other promises proving once again that the difference between running for president and being president is the difference between fantasy and reality and I don't mean alternate reality.