When I heard you say: ‘No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly,’ I thought, really? And it wasn’t just your inaccurate claim that perturbed me so much as the self-pitying tone.
Dear Mr President,
My favourite poem is only two lines long.
It’s called ‘Self-pity’ and was written by my fellow Brit, DH Lawrence.
‘I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself,’ it reads. ‘A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.’
It’s meaning is simple: human beings are uniquely susceptible to self-indulgent, emotional wallowing. Animals, by contrast, are only concerned with survival and devote all their energy to that achieving that goal.
I thought of this when I heard you say on Wednesday: ‘No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly.’
Dear Mr President. Your pitiful claim of being treated worse than any politician in history wasn't just factually inaccurate, the tone was that of a President Snowflake. Calm down
As many rushed to point out, assassinated US presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy probably had it worse.
Oh, and on the wider world stage, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a tiny prison cell and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest for 15 years.
When you get to Italy next week, they may remind you of Roman emperor Julius Caesar who was stabbed 23 times by his friends and colleagues? Or Sicilian tyrant Phalaris, who was roasted alive in a giant bronze bull he used to torture opponents…
You get my drift.
By comparison to all these politicians, Mr Trump, you’ve indisputably had it easy.
But it wasn’t your factually inaccurate claim that perturbed me so much as the self-pitying tone that went with it.
Since when, and I say this with great respect, did you turn into President Snowflake?
What happened to the tough, no-nonsense, fearless winner who was going to make America great again?
The guy that campaigned so brilliantly to pull off the greatest coup in US election history wouldn’t recognise the one begging us to feel sorry for him now.
In fact, he’d probably be repulsed by him, wouldn’t he?
He’d surely consider him a ‘loser’?
Someone who couldn’t stand the heat when he got into the White House kitchen?
Yesterday, you doubled down on this lamentably weak thought process by tweeting: ‘This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!’
This kind of all-consuming media scrutiny is nothing new.
Both Clintons were both subjected to ‘witch hunts’ of torrid relentlessness.
The Clintons were both subject to relentless witch hunts
Obama was put through the mincer by Trump himself over his certificate, and George W. Bush was savaged for everything from Iraq to Katrina
Barack Obama was put through the mincer too, not least when a certain Donald J. Trump suggested he wasn’t born in America and demanded to see his birth certificate.
Ronald Reagan was ripped to pieces when he won his election, condemned as a lightweight B-movie actor who didn’t know what he was doing.
And George W. Bush was brutally savaged for everything from Katrina to Iraq.
Negativity goes with the territory for any world leader these days, albeit increasingly fuelled by social media hysteria and slathering 24-hour cable news punditry.
It’s how you deal with it that defines you.
President Trump, you’re an unbelievably controversial, divisive character who people either seem to love with a passion or hate with a vengeance.
A major part of your appeal to those who voted for you is your strength to handle anything that’s thrown at you.
Time and again in the campaign, you were battered by scandalous storms that would have destroyed weaker-minded candidates.
On each occasion, you stood up, put your big boy pants on, beat your chest and stared down your critics.
That Donald Trump was the man I’ve known for the past decade; a rough, tough charismatic tycoon who likes nothing more than fighting for what he wants and whacking back anyone who whacks him.
The President Trump I saw whining away on Wednesday about how mean everyone’s being to him was a pitiful parody of Candidate Trump.
I’m not saying all your complaints are invalid.
It’s true that since the first few months of your campaign in 2015, when the print and TV media gleefully gifted you more friendly airtime than all your 18 Republican nominee rivals combined, you’ve been targeted for some pretty vindictive attention and coverage.
But it’s also true that you’ve brought much of this on yourself by constantly branding mainstream media ‘fake news’ and pouring scorn on your own intelligence agencies and the judiciary.
These institutions make for very powerful and unforgiving enemies, as you are beginning to discover.
If you keep attacking them, they will keep attacking you – and eventually, they will win. They always do.
Smart generals of the type you love will tell you that it’s never a good idea to wage a war you can’t win.
So CALM DOWN and start treating them with more respect.
Accept you have to all work together for the good of the country.
It won’t stop them doing their jobs, and that might be very uncomfortable for you at times, but it might stop them doing what they’re doing now which is actively trying to destroy your presidency through endless selective damaging leaks.
As I wrote two days ago, it’s been your worst week as President.
But two things have conspired to give you a lifeline.
First, the Russia collusion investigation is now in the hands of a Special Counsel. This, if you and your campaign team are all telling the truth about having no nefarious links to Russia – and no such evidence has so far emerged - is a good thing because it will clear things up once and for all AND you can refuse to discuss the investigation any more on the basis that the Special Counsel is handling it.
Second, you’re flying off today for your first foreign tour; a major 9-day trip to many important countries including Saudi Arabia, Israel and Italy, during which you’ll meet myriad Kings, prime ministers and the Pope.
This has been the worst week of your presidency. Stop whining and be the strong man that American elected. As you head off, please, don't f*** it up! Stay on message, stay off Twitter and play to your strengths - be charming and do some good deals
This is a golden chance to repair the damage of this past week.
So, don’t **** it up!
That means staying ON message, not firing off incendiary abuse to all sundry on Twitter at 3am.
It also means playing to your strengths of charming world leaders and doing deals with them, just as we saw with President Ji of China.
Most importantly, it means behaving in a strong, confident and dare I say it, PRESIDENTIAL manner – ditching the whiny brat ‘boo-hoo’ stuff that must dismay your base as much as it delights your enemies.
This is the moment to put those big boy pants back on again and be the President your voters assumed they were getting.
It’s also a moment to change the habit of a lifetime and be very disciplined with your tongue.
An old Arab proverb says: ‘The smarter you get, the less you speak.’
If you come back in ten days’ time without veering off script, and having gathered positive not poisonous headlines, you will be immeasurably stronger than you are now.
Bill Clinton was nearly dragged down by the Monica Lewinsky scandal but instead of wallowing in self-pity, he decided the best strategy was to put his head down and get on with his job.
The economy roared and he ended up a hugely popular president.
That scenario could yet happen to you if you curb your worst instincts.
Kind regards, Piers.
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