By Dave Simpson, columnist
“It takes a kid two years to learn how to talk,” my father used to say, “and the rest of his life to learn how to shut up.”
I thought of that the other day when I read the comments of former President Donald Trump on the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Trump wrote this:
“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the fake news media. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace.”
Donald, Donald, Donald.
He never learned that crucial part my father mentioned about when to shut up. He never learned from doubting the patriotism of John McCain. And, good as he looks in comparison to our current president when it comes to simple competence and awareness, he still hasn’t learned how to avoid walking into every screaming buzz saw of controversy that presents itself.
I voted for Trump twice. I liked the results he got, in the face of relentless, bare-knuckled, dishonest opposition, baseless accusations and dripping, unbridled hatred from Democrats and the majority of the news media. Compare those results – on the economy, unemployment, the border, cutting regulations, tax cuts, facilitating the development of three vaccines, and many other accomplishments – with the train wreck we have in Washington today. (Which, come to think of it, is unfair to train wrecks.)
Criticizing President Biden borders on unsportsmanlike. It’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Who will ever trust our country again after the debacle in Afghanistan? Laughably asking OPEC to boost oil production after doing everything in his power to hamstring our domestic energy industry. Promising to bring a pandemic under control even as deaths in our country this year exceed those last year. Inflation running rampant. Gasoline prices through the roof. Almost two million illegal immigrants streaming across our southern border. And now a supply chain crisis threatening the very gifts under our Christmas trees.
And he’s incapable of speaking to the American people without most of us saying, “What the heck did Joe just say?” Seems like every time he talks, his staff has to walk back at least one bone-headed misstatement.
Suddenly, I don’t hear much from my Democrat friends about competence and the adults in the room.
So what we have is a competent but brash narcissist in Trump, lashing out at dead military icons, as opposed to stunning incompetence on the part of Biden, who, as the old saying goes, “could screw up a steel ball with a rubber hammer.”
Given a choice, I’d take the competent narcissist every time.
It makes you wish the voters could have been more tolerant of “mean tweets,” and that Trump could have learned not to attack guys like Colin Powell when they aren’t around to defend themselves. How easy it would have been for Trump to write, “My condolences to his family.”
Trump supporters can be excused for fantasizing about a candidate with Trump’s ability to get things done, but without the proclivity to insult anyone who disagrees, to throw gasoline on every available conflagration, and to use the death of a patriot like Powell to settle scores. Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo (have you noticed how much weight he has lost?) come to mind.
(A prediction: Our love affair with politicians who are former prosecutors is over. Don’t be surprised if our next president is a decorated war veteran, or number one in his class at West Point.)
Meanwhile, Rep. Liz Cheney was quick to label Trump’s comments about Powell “pathetic garbage,” which you would expect her to say. But it’s hard not to notice the contempt she increasingly shows to voters of a state that overwhelmingly supported Trump, and which elected her by large margins in the last three elections.
Trump, predictably, has called Liz Cheney a “smug fool,” and said, “to look at her is to despise her.”
Donald, Donald, Donald.
He’s got some work to do on the shutting up part.