LEPPERT: A bumper-sticker transition for the winners

January 14, 2017

A friend of mine tweeted the other day that she saw a bumper sticker that simply said: “He won. Deal with it.”

Setting aside what sage advice that truly is for a moment, I have a little bit of confusion as to whom that advice is directed. Could it be a Republican owner of this bumper who believes the anti-Trump crowd needs to deal with its loss? Or is it coming from a Democrat who has spent the last eight years listening to and reading a constant barrage of Obama spew and lived to tell about it?

It could go either way, really. And it is useful advice both ways.

Democratic voters are certainly struggling with the new political situation post-election. But I am predicting that will pass soon. It will largely pass this very month.

Then comes the real transition.

It has been an awfully long time since the GOP had a president face the kind of sustained criticism Donald Trump will face. President George W. Bush effectively became a president during wartime in the first year of his presidency following 9/11. His approval ratings soared immediately afterward as the country united to face the new era of homeland security and the war on terror. Though his re-election in 2004 was relatively close, he never faced the public and partisan opposition President Obama received for his entire two terms.

Enter President Trump, whose personality does not lend itself to the type of critique and attack he is beginning to face. There is no longer another candidateto point to in response to opposition. There is no longer an opposing party that has the ability to block his agenda or his ability to lead. He owns all the responsibility America can give him and, more important, the accountability.

This will be difficult for him.

However, what is already becoming obvious is that his supporters will struggle to defend the almost laughable errors he has made and seemingly will continue to make post-inauguration.

Tweeting about intelligence briefings? A tweet complimenting Vladimir Putin for his restraint in responding to U.S. sanctions for cyberattacks? Tweets threatening U.S. companies with tariffs and taxes for not taking orders from him?

When these things start causing us real trouble, the nation’s tolerance will wane. And as that tolerance goes, so will the ability to defend it by Trump’s supporters.

One of the things that will make adjusting to our new president tough is that he is following a president who, like it or not, was excellent serving as “head of state.” We can argue about his role as “head of government,” but there is no dispute regarding the class he brought to the office.

President Obama rarely misspoke. He was always appropriate in his tone. He was comforting to foreign heads of state. He was soothing and encouraging as he delivered messages following times of crisis. He was cool.

Chris Matthews described his time in charge as the “immaculate presidency” because of the lack of blunders and the near absence of ethical trouble his entire administration experienced.

Not many people expect anything like that out of Donald Trump. Not even a large portion of his support network. So now that he has won, I worry that those who are celebrating right now will have the harder time dealing with it.

It’s a great bumper sticker. I hope it catches on.•

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