If this is the honeymoon phase of the Donald Trump presidency, what in the world is everyday marriage going to look like?
Because this is not like three marriages, where he had prenuptial agreements with those wives that told them what he expected and what they could expect in case of a breakup.
The national interest — like any normal marriage — requires trust. Trump is building a relationship with us citizens that requires us to trust him, but he doesn’t trust us.
Did he really learn that Barack Obama had his Trump Tower phones bugged in October before the presidential election? Of course not. If he had any real proof, he would at least tell the White House staff what he knows. He has gone uncharacteristically mum
That staff goes all moon-eyed mad when the media asks whether they believe he has seen real evidence. They try to be loyal to him, but won’t say that they actually believe.
If we were only considering the false attack on Obama, that would be more than troubling. But think about what else we are being asked to trust.
We are asked to trust a man who claims his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s in 2008. Simply not true. Any picture you can find shows Obama’s crowd on the West lawn of the Capitol was much larger. And does it really matter?
Even Trump’s claim that the sun came through as he began his inaugural speech. In fact, it started raining. Ask anyone who was there.
Even that he “likes” Obama. Tweet after tweet proves that is not true. He called Obama a “bad (sick) guy.”
Trump has a right to withhold his tax returns under the law, but even there he is using a dodge. He is “under audit,” he says. Still, for 2012, 2013 and 2014? How long are all these audits taking? And will we ever see any tax returns? Probably not.
Going forward, he has put the power of the presidency behind the new healthcare law now being argued in Congress. How much will it cost and how many people will get insurance through it and how much of a tax break will insurance executives get? No numbers are available.
On the campaign trail, Trump habitually used two phrases to drive his message home: Trust me” and “Believe me.”
That’s kind of what a married man says when he comes dragging through the front door at three o’clock in the morning. It usually is met with skepticism. The first time. The next time, more doubt.
And remember what Willie Nelson said when he was caught in a compromising position: “Well, are you going to believe what I tell you, or are you believing what you are seeing?”
How could the president begin to turn this momentum around? Does he want to turn it around, or is he happier with the turmoil of unproven claims? A lot of insiders believe he is happier with the turmoil.
A Washingtonian, a man who once was chief of staff for an important government official, called me the other day to ask the key question: “Are you seeing any Trump supporters beginning to have second thoughts?”
Not many, I said. If he had called this week, I would have had a different answer. The evidence is anecdotal, but the questions are beginning to pile up.
“I’m really worried about the country,” said a loyal Republican who voted for Trump. “I always knew he was narcissistic, but I really wonder, is there is something worse there.”
A local friend said, “I didn’t vote Republican for the first time in my life, and this is turning out just the way I was afraid it would.”
As I write this, I am mindful that an overwhelming majority of Southeast Georgians supported Trump, and probably would again. I understand that some of them think the deck is stacked against him. Some agree with him that the media is “the enemy of the American people.”
Given the choice, a lot — maybe an overwhelming majority — would vote for Trump again. Thus far, they have been able to sustain their trust that he can build a stronger economy and turn back social changes that challenge their beliefs.
Trust, though, is a fragile thing. Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
Or, to put it another way, be careful with the truth in the honeymoon weeks or be prepared for distrust when the relationship is tested in a crisis.
Time for a marriage counselor? Who would that be?