Two weeks ago, driven by curiosity, I wrote a column asking what felt like a relevant question: “Does anybody in America with the exception of blood relatives and maybe a small percentage of paid employees actually like Donald Trump?”
You’ll note this is a different question than the one traditionally posed by pollsters, who ask not about likeability, but whether voters approve of the president’s job performance. Instead, I was curious about the man himself.
Do people think President Trump is a good guy? A role model for America’s kids? Someone you’d like living next door?
Approximately 300-some emails later, it appears we can divide readers’ opinions about this president into a few broad categories. Some people liked his record while ignoring his personality completely, (thus also ignoring my question, but, hey, let’s not pick nits).
Others loathe liberals and Democrats with a passion (also missing the point, but again, let’s not quibble). Many folks believe presidents don’t exist to be liked, but only to do a job. Lots of readers really hate President Trump. About as many really hate me.
Then there’s James McNamara of Glendale, who actually answered the question.
“I admire (President Trump) because he is a good father,” McNamara wrote. “I say that because all of his children grew up with fame, having the name Trump, great education and of course the money…. With having all of that money, they grew up relatively normal. I think that goes back to their up bring (sic) and a father figure like Trump. He taught them the right way to do things.”
For offering a cogent explanation about why he likes this president – although some of you doubtless will disagree about the character of the Trump kids – I salute Mr. McNamara. There’s no prize involved, merely kudos for completing the assignment. Unlike, say, Duane from the West Valley, who wrote:
“Typical little Jewboy &^%$#. Mamma’s boy #$^#$*. @$^*er. Whiny *^#@s like you are the problem with country #%$& today. Ur jealous that our President is a GREAT MAN. #@$& you.”
There’s more to the email, but that was the most coherent paragraph and the best spelled. Duane, I asked our editors to include really big pictures in the paper this week and a coloring page for you, but they shot me down. As my late Aunt Sylvia would’ve said, “Sorry you’re so verklempt. Oy vey!”
After filtering out personal attacks, the most frequently cited point paralleled the notion expressed by reader Loren Greenberg, who said, “You don’t need to like him – If he can do the job, that’s what’s important.”
Loren continued: “I don’t want a likeable president. I want one that will keep this country safe, not deplete it’s armed forces to the extent that Russia & China are ‘suddenly’ … military powers to match our and in some areas exceed our military. I want a president who will not allow open boarders like we see in Europe. I don’t care if I don’t like his personality, I don’t plan to have dinner with him.”
In the end, all the responses taught me something: Likeable politicians are so few and far between on either side of the aisle these days, they rank not as icons, but as anomalies. The days of a president we can rally behind – or point to as a role model – seem gone and gone for good. What we have instead in 2019 the president as Rorschach blot.
Each of us sees what we want to see in the most powerful leader in the world. In the end, I guess that says just as much about us individually as it does about the person in the Oval Office.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.