Rarely have so many needed so badly to have so many platitudes be true.
▪ Men (we don’t know about women yet) grow into the presidency when they get to the White House. There have, of course, been exceptions to this rule, including Richard Nixon. But for the most part, we usually see previously hidden reserves of dignity, diplomacy and gray hair emerge from the men we choose to lead. We will see if Donald Trump becomes a statesman, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the orange hair to disappear.
▪ Everyone wants the president to succeed. Well, maybe not Mitch McConnell when Barack Obama was elected. Or Newt Gingrich when Bill Clinton was elected. But millions of Americans will get over their shock! shock! shock! and wish Trump well as his tenure gets underway.
▪ The first lady of the land becomes a role model. That seems to be true a lot. Eleanor Roosevelt and social progress. Laura Bush and reading. Nancy Reagan and saying no to (illicit) drugs. Michelle Obama and eating your vegetables. Melania Trump? Wearing endless successions of white, fitted dresses while seeking a speech writer who doesn’t plagiarize words of civility from former first ladies.
▪ We are a great, united country striving to overcome our differences and live together in peace and unity and be a model republic to the rest of the world. Unless the president-elect vows to deport 11 million of us, ban Muslims, build a huge wall and lower taxes on the rich. Oh well, maybe that was so yesterday.
▪ After a grueling 18-month campaign, we come to know a candidate well. Though we have not seen Trump’s tax records or his health records or any specific policy proposals, we know a lot about his hair, his children, his many houses, golf courses and hotels, his lawsuits, and his passionate, long-held interest in women’s bodies.
▪ Politics is just politics. Except that presidents have great powers to lift us up, knock us down, formulate tax policy, get us into and out of war, set a mood, destroy a mood, give us a good example, give us a bad example and change the White House drapes.
▪ Presidents build on the legacies of their predecessors. Unless they have vowed to repeal their signature health care laws, nuclear deals, trade pacts, diplomatic overtures and plow over the vegetable garden.
▪ Celebrity is fleeting. Unless you have a succession of top-rated reality TV shows.
▪ There’s no I in team. But the Trump campaign was pretty much all about one man. Although, if the much-married Trump chooses the thrice-married Gingrich as his secretary of state and the oft-married Rudy Giuliani as attorney general, we may have interesting new lessons in relationships.
▪ Everything happens for a reason. Except when it doesn’t. Sometimes emotions of rage, resentment, desperation, envy, hopelessness, vindictiveness and hate prevail without reason being in the mix. But sometimes they don’t.
▪ It’s all about the economy and jobs. They are huge, but the well-kept secret is that the president has no power to create jobs. Trump says he will make it easier for the rich to create jobs by getting Congress to cut taxes on them and eliminating regulations on businesses. It’s called trickle-down economics and, so far, despite decades of Republican leaders pushing it, it hasn’t worked. We will see what Trump can do. But we know he will hit the ground running.
▪ Come on, America, things could be worse. Yes, you could have been on that plane to Mexico City that actually had a poisonous snake on it.
▪ Fighting for what is right is worth it. Good, decent, hard-working Americans who care about their values don’t have a real choice and never give up even when a lot of other people make a lot of stupid decisions.
▪ The country always survives — wars, depressions, stains such as racism, natural disasters and bad choices for president. Yes, history shows us that is true.
Whether you believe we will keep America great or make it great again, we are stronger together. And the pendulum swings …
To the rest of the world: Watch us while we peacefully transfer power, yet again. On to the inaugural balls and another glitzy white gown on Melania!
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.