How does one take the measure of President Trump’s stewardship to date?
There are positives, of course. (See Red in this issue)
But the rare positives have been, by all accounts, overwhelmingly overshadowed by negatives, ranging in significance from the annoying trivial to the risky, dangerous and destructive.
The question, at this point, is how to rank which of President Trump’s actions are “merely” mean-spirited, annoying, ill-mannered, or embarrassing for those of us who see our President as an important symbol of our country and its values . . . And which of his actions are truly dangerous, damaging, and destructive, to our country, our fellow citizens and the world.
The “Punk/Peril” Index
Hence we suggest a new index as a shorthand way to characterize the behavior of the President, his sycophants, minions, hangers-on, and other “staff” and “spokespeople.”
We call it the “Punk/Peril” index.
On the “Punk” scale we plot, from 1 to 10, the degree to which the behaviors of the President are “merely” distasteful and annoying: conduct that, in a semantically less reticent age, we would attribute to those of an ill-mannered, out-of-control, loud-mouthed, 6th-grade petulant punk with a tendency to pick on the first, second and third graders.
On the “Peril” scale we plot the degree to which the same behaviors are truly, seriously, dangerous, damaging or immediately destructive.
The resulting index for any given action may thus be expressed as a Punk/Peril Index in the form (x,y). For example:
If one takes the Presidents remarks about women and what he, as a “celebrity” could get away with doing to them, as outward and visible sign of his utter contempt for the notion of a woman’s status in general, and her right to terminate a pregnancy in particular, his “genitalia” remarks rise to (10,10) . . . punkish in the extreme and deadly, as his recent use of executive orders and pending appointment to the Supreme Court make clear.
The ill-fated appointment of Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor was classic Trump “punk” move: guaranteed to annoy. See Flynn’s dismal record at the DIA, his performance at the GOP convention, with a reputation, as once source put it “ . . . As a Captain Queeg-like character, so paranoid that his staff members were undercutting him and credulous of conspiracy theories.”
His failed appointment ranks ten on the “Perilous” scale both because of the unworthiness of the appointee AND because it made clear that Trump was ill-prepared to perform what is arguably the most important function of the President, to “provide for the common defense” in his role as Commander in Chief.
Mattis (2, 5)
Trump’s appointment of General James “Mad Dog” Mattis rates a “2” on the punk scale, but only because there is some suspicion Trump agreed to his appointment only because of his nickname.
Mattis ranks a relatively low five on the “Peril” Scale because, by most if not all accounts, he is both sane and capable. Marines do, however, tend to take following orders seriously . . . Perilous, given the Commander in Chief.
The Wall (10, 9)
Trump’s mean-spirited, factually incorrect (aka lying), mean-spirited, and crass disparagement of Mexicans, accompanied by threats of coerced payment and arguably tongue-in-cheek “invasion” of Mexico clearly ranks 10 on the petulant punk scale; its negative impact on relations with our most important neighbor to the south ranks only 9 only because there seems to be no real threat of a “shooting war” with Mexico.
Trump’s mouthing off about what he intends to do about China’s “island building” in the South China Sea, its currency “manipulation,” and our adherence to the “one-China” principle rank 10 on the petulant punk scale for their embarrassingly uninformed tone, and as yet another of Trump’s strutting attempts to appear “macho” in front of his dupes and minions. Provoking conflict with China rates a ten on both the economic and military “peril” scale.
Bannon (10, 10)
Reliance on, PLUS the appointment of a fellow petulant punk and entourage member with truly dangerous views clearly rates a (10,10)
The Perils of Petulance
You get the idea. Feel free to index your own favorite Trumpisms . . . And always remember that, like elections, the behaviors of petulant punks in high office . . . have consequences.