Out and About (Sort of): Day 1 -Trump Undone by Howard Freedlander


On my way to writing a different column, I learned again on Day 1 of the Trump Administration that truth is a terrible distraction to the spanking new President. Nothing new, really.

Our new President takes narcissism and insecurity to new heights. If held accountable to facts, he feels insulted and disrespected. The real world is an unpleasant circumstance. Nothing new, really.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, his first full day as leader of the Free World, Mr. Trump disputed the number of attendees at his inauguration the day before, despite visual evidence, and claimed that his feud with the nation’s intelligence community was a creation of the “dishonest” media, despite evidence of his tweets during the transition period damning the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). At a January 2017 news conference, he even charged U.S. intelligence officials with conducting a Nazi-like smear against him

What was sorely lacking on Day 1 was even a scintilla of substance.

Instead, our new President appeared before the CIA’s Memorial Wall of heroes and said nothing about the brave people whose names are listed on this hallowed wall. As is his annoying and self-serving custom, Mr. Trump demeaned the audience by citing his war with the media over the number of people who attended his swearing-in. While he expressed strong support of CIA employees—and that was commendable—he failed again to focus entirely on the subject at hand.

It was during his remarks that Mr. Trump ascribed the ill will between him and the intelligence community to the hateful media.

So, what we saw during the Presidential campaign and the tweet-filled transition will be a mind-boggling staple of the Trump reign of power. The “you, “the American people, whom he addressed repeatedly during his inaugural speech, was merely a rhetorical device. His self-preoccupation underscores his being. Nothing new, really.

The first of 1,460 days of occupancy of the White House by the highly-flawed Donald J. Trump was actually an incredible and historic one not only in Washington, DC and throughout the world. The Women’s March the past Saturday illustrated the power of peaceful protest in a strong democracy.
Family members and friends descended on the nation’s Capital to proclaim their objections to Mr. Trump’s documented behavior toward, and comments about women.

Crowds exceeded expectations in Washington, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Juneau, Alaska, London, Paris, Melbourne, Australia and other cities.
Maybe that’s why Mr. Trump was mad. His words and behavior possibly have spurred a movement. That would be ironic. He constantly boasts of the movement that his candidacy spawned.

It’s because I have to accept the truth—that Donald Trump’s boorish behavior, his paper-thin skin, his incessant self-glorification and his alarming lack of personal and intellectual depth will most likely not yield to Presidential growth—that I write this column. It’s human to expect the best.

Some might ask: what did you expect? Some might assert: he never indicated he would change his garish stripes. Some might say: this authenticity is what got him elected. He’s a change agent, some might argue, and you better accept that reality.

Further, some might suggest that I and others should give the billionaire businessman a chance. After all, he just was sworn in. He needs time to adjust to the demands and laser-like scrutiny that accompanies his exalted position.

If past is precedent, our 70-year-old President sees little need to change. He won the election, and that’s all that matters.

I suspect that impeachment will shadow, if not end the presidency of Donald Trump. Bound by his own rules and standards of conduct, he likely will step over the legal and ethical lines. He will find that utter service to himself does not translate into service to his fellow Americans.

Day I brought out the worst in Mr. Trump. We can only hope for the best—whatever that is.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Letters to Editor

  1. Susan Peel says:

    Excellent summary of first day… “Sad.”

    (PS great illustration too of what narcissism looks like. Very different from democracy may I add!)

  2. Elizabeth Gowe says:

    It is my opinion that as Americans we are trying to be united and should support our new president, even though I may or may not have voted for him. Therefore today I am unsubscribing to The Talbot Spy and I will also pass this on to my may friends that keep reminding me that the Eastern Shore is mostly Trump supporters. Be you democrat or republican you need to stay positive, but if you did that you would have a story, WOULD YOU?

    • Deirdre LaMotte says:

      That’s right, hole up in front of Fox and turn Rush on. What Trump voters have done is a desecration. We all now have to accept the malignity that a large percentage of our citizens overlooked the most vile statements every time this man spoke….and still elected him. The bully on the playground in a man’s suit is mentally ill, and that is being kind.

      He has a self-absorbed thin-skin vulgar narcissist…and he does not know or care about this country. But he is the loudest racist in the room and voters really like that.

  3. C. Paul Cox says:

    Even though my friend Howard Freedlander and myself agree on very little politically, I am writing in support of this column. Many people in this country are dismayed and distressed at the shift this country has taken. This column accurately reflects the sincerely held sentiments of many many people. To put it in a nutshell, people are uncomfortable with Donald Trump being president. Interestingly, that includes almost all Americans including to a certain extent the ones who voted for him. But we should not be surprised at this. Our history is full of new presidents coming into office as Disrupters in Chief. Andrew Jackson came out of the frontier with a chip on his shoulder determined to shake up Washington. Lincoln literally disrupted the union. Teddy Roosevelt was considered a cowboy by establishment D.C. Franklin Roosevelt was decried as a traitor to his class. In our own time we have had Ronald Reagan, a Hollywood movie actor. I am optimistic that our union is still strong and will remain so under President Trump. I accept that Howard and many others will never be comfortable with him but I would consider it a great loss to our community if he stopped giving voice to his thoughtfully considered concerns in the Talbot Spy.

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