From the Editor’s Keyboard

Trump’s tantrums: Washington DC set for an era of Damage Control

By  | 21 February 2017 at 10:21 | 2326 views

Washington DC is the centre of the three branches of the federal government of the United States of America. The suffix DC officially stands for District of Columbia; an area that covers land ceded by the neighbouring states of Maryland and Virginia. Now, DC is taking a whole new meaning.

With Mr. Donald J. Trump in the White House, the suffix is quickly beginning to stand for the control centre of Mission Damage Control. By all indications, this will remain so until Mr. DJ Trump eases up on his tantrums, or until he leaves office – whichever comes first.

The new US president is seeking to keep campaign promises he made as a presidential candidate. In policies, pronouncements, and social media tweets, President DJ Trump has kept his supporters happy or at least hopeful. That is one side of the political coin of the USA today. The flip side is not so pleasant; neither for his closest associates nor for the world as a whole. As he keeps throwing spanners in the works of fundamental American values and traditions, President DJ Trump has given his kingmakers and the Republican party enough to make them as alert as armchair firefighters; nervously hoping for a change in his tactics as they brace for the next episode of Trump tantrums. So far, it is not whether Mr. DJ Trump will do, say, or tweet something outrageous or embarrassing, but when it will happen.

Already, Vice-President Mike Pence has been out in Europe trying to douse doubts raised by comments from Mr. DJ Trump – before and after he became president. Pence’s Damage-Control diplomacy took him first to Germany. Top on his agenda was making clear what exactly the White House’s stance will be on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). President Trump has said NATO is obsolete; indicating his contempt for the alliance.

NATO was set up primarily to protect western democracies. In terms of potential adversaries or enemies, NATO’s focus was on communist powers like the then Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has since collapsed, but the Russian federation that was its core still stands and remains a formidable military threat to NATO member countries. How Mr. Pence plans to make Europe and other NATO nations believe him is anybody’s guess. The problem is President Trump is a staunch fan of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

There is also the thorny matter of the travel ban; an executive edict that President DJ Trump issued so hastily that US Immigration officers were caught unawares and unsure about the fine details of the White House decree. Add to that, President DJ Trump’s recent reference to Sweden as an example of the unsavoury effects of immigration. “Sweeeden, Sweeeden,” Trump kept repeating at a recent rally of his supporters in Florida. President DJ Trump thought he had a trump card and he played it so loudly that nobody could really read what was on the card.

The irony is that Trump’s trump card was dealt through the media. The same media he keeps condemning had carried reports about a documentary on crime in the Scandinavian country. President Trump obviously did not get the finer details correctly; instead selecting to use excerpts to suit his presidential DJ agenda. Soon it was time for the Damage-Control task force to clarify the blooper to the government and people of Sweden. Meanwhile Trump’s ’Sweeeden’ jokes abound in cyberspace. The truth is that such a gaffe and many of Trump’s tantrums are not really as funny as they are troubling.

What is most worrying is that Mr. DJ Trump is president of the United States. For now, he wields the legal and political authority that goes with the office, if not the moral authority. Among his responsibilities is his exclusive access to the ultra-sensitive code that could fire devastating nuclear weapons. President DJ Trump needs to stop playing the DJ (The Donald John). He needs to start thinking, speaking, and acting like the POTUS (President of The United States). Otherwise DC evolving to mean Damage Control may be just the beginning. Sooner or later, the suffix in Washington DC will represent Danger Control. Or, worse still, Devastation Control.

Let us hope, for the sake of humanity, that this never happens.