I’ve been working on being sympathetic to President Trump. Not toward his policies, but to him as a human being. This has been a tough, miserable, nasty and just plain sad couple of months for him, and I’m trying to feel his pain.

Trump’s whole agenda is way behind because he can’t get his team in place, in part because some of the people he’s been asking to join him are just too “busy” or they can’t seem to tell the truth to Congress. I bet that’s been about as much fun as being dropped into a pool of water filled with ice cubes.

Being president is especially tough for someone like Trump who is accustomed to getting his way, through tantrums or threats. People say he’ll be a good president because he has run a successful business. But they aren’t at all the same thing, are they? Trump built a company that is so tightly controlled that blood relatives are just about the only people let into the inner sanctum. He runs the show. He hires and fires.

Now, he finds himself the president of the United States of America, for gosh sakes, and it’s not like that at all, is it? Sure, he’s got the nice plane and the house with the columns, but it’s a complicated, mentally exhausting job, with a bewildering array of new demands. Plus people on all sides who have to be consulted and won over, and who won’t just follow orders.

During the campaign, Trump could pretty much say whatever he wanted, and the wilder the better. He could promise earth-shaking change. Deporting millions of immigrants. Bringing back all those blue-collar jobs. Making America great again!

Now, it turns out, all those things are tough to get done. Sure, he can fire off some executive orders for a while, but we’ve already seen their limits. Most of Trump’s cabinet nominees made it through, but that’s small potatoes, every-day stuff. The tough work is just beginning. And it all has to go through Congress, which is a mess.

In Congress, it’s a hundred times easier to stop things than to get them done, as the Democrats learned with Obama and as the president’s Republican allies are about to be reminded of. Trump has to put his big ideas into detailed bills. Then they need a majority of votes in both houses (I know, that seems crazy).

I’m beginning to understand why Trump admires Putin so much. He doesn’t have to deal with this stuff. Anti-government leaks? They have the Gulag. Opposition party? Just cyber attack the voting machines. Courts to protect the law? Not if judges like to look at jails from the outside.

But that’s all a dream, and and Trump’s stuck here in the reality of modern America. Or is he?

What about if he stopped listening to all those people with their alternative facts? Like the media. The courts. Moderate Republicans. The FBI and CIA. Scientists at NOAA and NASA. They’re all out to get him, and ruin his best-ever presidency. He should stick with the people he trusts. The ones who see through all that liberal, swampy Washington stuff. Like Steve Bannon. And the talk shows. And Fox. All those conspiracies they whisper about? True. True. True. And scary. Very scary. The crime rate is raging because of Mexicans. Muslims are all secretly terrorist supporters. Democrats sold our industries to the highest bidders abroad. The CIA and FBI are now agents of the Democratic party. And Trump was bugged by all of them, with Obama leading the charge.

This is where my sympathy for Trump, as a human being, is challenged. And my fear of him increases.

Last week, the president kind of lost it. First he told an interviewer that he felt “besieged” on all sides. Then he flew into a rage about his attorney general recusing himself form the Russian investigation. By Saturday morning, he was tweeting explosive charges against Obama that he’d heard as conspiracy theories, the night before, on some of the right-wing echo chambers.

All of it made me wonder if this president can handle the job. If he really knows what reality is. And if he’s beginning to lose his grip.

The president seems to have no desire to hear facts that don’t confirm his beliefs. And a dangerous habit of lashing out, with whatever is within reach, to attack someone or something that he perceives as a threat. None of it bodes well for America in the months ahead.

Let’s hope that he learns how to govern more and tweet less, before we see a complete meltdown.

Alan Caron, a Waterville native, is the owner of Caron Communications and the author of “Maine’s Next Economy” and “Reinventing Maine Government.” He can be reached at: [email protected]


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