During the Bush years, a lot of conservatives wished he would fight back against his critics. It could be so frustrating. Bush was routinely slammed as the second coming of Hitler (sound familiar), mocked, lied about, and he rarely fought back. He seemed determined to let history judge him and seemed oblivious to the fact that history is written by the winners.
Even having been the target of Trump’s tweets more than once and literally having had the crazies show up at my front door, I do have to admit I kind of, sort of appreciate that he is willing to fight back against his critics. He is not waiting for others to push back for him, but has taken advantage of the bully pulpit to bully and fight back.
I say all that also with the caveat that I wish he would do less of it. I get the impression sometimes that he thinks he is a hammer and all he sees are nails. The needling of Arnold Schwarzenegger about ratings, responding to Meryl Streep, etc. still does not seem becoming of a President of the United States. I fear this behavior sets a dangerous new precedent for presidential behavior, behavior that will trickle down in society to others. Civil discourse is already coarsening and it will escalate because if the President is doing it, why can’t others do it too?
And still, I am glad he is not passive in his own defense, even when I disagree with him. Towards the end of the Bush years, I had more than one conversation with people that ran along the lines of “why should we defend him if he’s not going to defend himself?” We don’t have to worry about that with Trump.
One of the other downsides of this, however, is that some might shy away from honest criticism of the President and he is going to need honest criticism and evaluation. The “Trump is always right” crowd and the “Trump is always wrong” crowd will continue to clash and both are useless. The people who think Trump can do no wrong are not worth listening too, but neither are those who think he can do nothing right. I fear, though, that many in the middle who are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but also maintain healthy skepticism and concern, might be bullied into silence.