It was such a good week for President Donald Trump. And then it wasn’t.
Only a month and change into the job he never expected to win, Trump is learning that being president isn’t one victory tour after another. And if attacking “Obamacare” and demanding repeal and replacement may make for political theater, reality can be an uncomfortable replacement for rhetoric. Yes, the Republican Congress has been scrambling for a health care plan, but the public has been vehemently expressing, sometimes shouting (in town halls), the fear of what’s to come without the Affordable Care Act.
Then there was the fiasco over Attorney General Jeff Sessions and questions about his meetings with a Russian ambassador during the Trump campaign. Sessions said he wouldn’t oversee an investigation after pressure came from Democrats, and he resisted calls for his resignation.
That story brought back to the spotlight the Russian hacking of Democratic emails as alleged by the U.S. intelligence community, and the energy pushing the investigation has been ramped up by Republicans and Democrats. North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Trump supporter, continued to take a curiously passive posture about it all.
Then it came to light that Vice President Mike Pence, while governor of Indiana, used a personal email account for state business. And the account was hacked. He had ripped into Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server and called her “dishonest.”
The president also learned that no matter what a president, any president, does, criticism is going to follow. A raid on terrorists in Yemen ordered by Trump was said to be successful, but the death of a Navy SEAL and civilians brought forth critics who wondered if the action was worth the consequences. And what Trump figured was to be a love fest as he spoke about defense spending increases aboard a Navy carrier was followed by criticism of the outfit he was given to wear at the visit, an admiral’s cap and military style jacket. Critics noted he never served in the military.
Democrats joined the critics, and they couldn’t help but remember the firestorm over Hillary Clinton’s email server or Benghazi, the tragedy in Libya that Republicans blamed on Clinton. Millions of dollars and years of investigation by Republicans in Congress found no wrongdoing on Clinton’s part.
Trump should push the appointment of an independent counsel to conduct a definitive investigation. The president has never faced critics in his public life in show business to compare with those in Congress and others with government experience and stature who will grade his every move in the White House. Until he gets the investigation finished, whatever it may bring, he will not be able to build the public confidence he needs to get the job done.
He is only a month and some days in the presidency. Don’t worry. It will get harder.