Terry H. Schwadron

Of all the issues facing the Trump administration, the most lasting seems to be the fact that words don’t matter — tweets, speeches, insults, alternative facts and more.

Or, at least connecting words and actions seems a low priority.

Language is loose, and open to reinterpretation once uttered, listening is almost nonexistent unless it reinforces previously held beliefs, and research and understanding have been set aside for what passes as ideology for this small group around the President. Even there, there seems now to be open recognition of strife for primacy.

Whether talking about “wiretapping,” Syria, health care, taxes, almost every issue of substantive policy, the administration’s talk is only loosely connected with how any of the policies will affect real people, including their political base, or the politics or reflect the actual problem being discussed. The sole exceptions are elimination of regulations to promote business at all cost and immigration, which has become a mean-spirited campaign against non-white, undocumented individuals, families and refugees.

Just how often do we have to hear words like “bombast” and “boasting” to describe the serious goals of a president of the United States? The President should know by now that his tweets are either impenetrable, useless as explanation or often unintended prods to misunderstanding.

The most interesting thing is that those around the President seem not to understand that this is a problem. They did not have me as a voter, and they have no interest in bringing me into the fold. So, none of the things I believe in — from honesty and reason to empathy and thoughtfulness in public policy — is worth their attention. Indeed, the consistent message at Sean Spicer’s daily press briefings, which have become curiously interesting in the way that auto accidents are, is that everyone is said to be missing the real news, which always turns out to be some past event that showed Mr. Trump as a winner.

With each week that passes, the record gets more complete on this tin-ear, mis-statement approach. Last weekend, as tens of thousands protested nationwide to demand that Mr. Trump release his taxes, Mr. Trump countered in a tweet asking who is paying for the protests. What? As it turns out, more than 69 nonprofit organizations were involved, but it was hardly a case of “paid protesters.” If you don’t want to show your taxes, so be it, but don’t say it is because you won the election. It’s language that just doesn’t follow.

Actions in Syria and Afghanistan with no understandable policy looks foolish and feels flimsy, even to the military which is called upon to perform the feats of non-diplomatic message-delivery. North Korea must be wondering what indeed we intend — as do I as a citizen.

The language about working with Democrats about health care at the same time he threatens to knock out the support for Obamacare insurers makes no sense at all. The idea that tax cuts will help everyone when even cursory looks show that these are cuts for the wealthy are simply asking for journalistic trouble.

We are almost 100 days in, and there is yet to be a straight, understandable policy about ethics, nepotism, presidential style, the national agenda or the how “America First” is supposed to work internationally. So, NATO is “not obsolete” anymore, NAFTA turns out to be more complicated than elimination can address. The President wants to say we will have clean water, but eliminates truckloads of environmental regulation. Worse, he says he wants a huge jobs program and there is no such program in sight.

Instead, we have lots of lip-flapping about Mr. Trump’s adroitness in working with China (after flip-flopping about currency manipulation and the rest), about his choice of a new Supreme Court justice (in a fight that portends the end of Senate oversight tradition), the winning strategy of cutting immigration deportation proceedings at the border (after threatening people and families).

The list of failures is increasing as well, but we’re advised not to look there at health care politics, North Korea militarism, the addition of Israeli settlements, among a variety of others. In its place, we get lots more information than we need about Mar-a-largo gatherings, Mr. Trump’s golf weekends and palace in-fighting.

Here’s how I would like the White House to celebrate Day 100 — with a vow to listen rather than spout.



Journalist, musician, community volunteer