By A. Lidden Pate, Jr
We have passed through the end date of Donald Trump’s second year as president with his annual State of the Union address up for debate. To be or not to be? Not debatable, however, is whether his competence for the presidency is being questioned. It is, and vigorously so by us, that is, by American citizens in all 50 states. And our answers are sharply divided. There are those among us who see few, if any qualities in Trump that are worthy of a successful president. There are those among us who think he is masterful. There are few among us who’re undecided about whether Trump has the ability to function effectively in the highest office in the land.
In addition, there are at least two obvious traits in Trump’s persona about which most of us Americans agree: (1) He is a unique president, very different from most, if not all of his 44 predecessors, and (2) he is not a master of the literary arts, as have been several presidents—Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama, to name but three.
Trump is well aware of his lack of persuasive oratorical and writing skills. So, to compensate he has relied heavily upon those who agree with his ideology while possessing the linguistic skills he does not have, especially in speech-writing. Almost certainly, the one person upon whom Trump has relied the most to compensate for his literary inabilities is Stephen Miller, who has functioned as his chief communicator to the public.
To understand Donald Trump today one must understand Stephen Miller, a most unusual man, who, at the young age of 33 wields enormous power within the Trump administration.
Stephen Miller was born into a Jewish family and grew up in Santa Monica, California. In 2007 he earned his B.A. degree (political science) from Duke University. His first major political job was as an aide to Senator Joseph Sessions.
Stephen Miller is smart. He is ambitious. He is articulate. He is aggressive. He is a champion of the ideas that standout in Trump’s “Make America Great Again.” Miller is widely perceived to be a far-right political activist, and that reputation has been his since high school. In the time he has served as Trump’s senior adviser, he has been the prime advocate of several of the most controversial actions Trump has taken, like the separation of the immigrant families on the U.S. southern border.
The “ideology” that Miller and Trump promulgate includes their anti-immigrant posture, their retreats from globalism and from alliances that have been the center of U.S. foreign policy for 70 years, and their supportive stances toward White Supremacists.
Trump and Miller are different men— by generation, for sure, and also by the personality each appears to have. Trump is an extrovert. Miller, more inner-directed.
Trump and Miller complement one another. Qualities lacking in one can be found in the other. At the same time, troubling qualities of insecurity and immaturity are equally discernible in both.
Which should be a cause for great concern among all Americans.
Neither Trump nor Miller has the ability to show respect for others who look, act and think differently. And their efforts to express "empathy" or "sensitivity" toward those who are hurting come across as shallow and insincere.
The absence of an inclusive understanding of American history, both share. And each looks with unexplained suspicion at the democracies of U.S. Allies while emitting extraordinary praise and adoration for dictators, at times quite weirdly to perceptive minds.
Most notably, Donald Trump and Stephen Miller are totally absorbed in “self,” the most disturbing symptom of their childish immaturity.
So, since we’re in doubt about the State of the Union, let’s ask about the State of the Presidency?