Will Melania Make This Better?

By

Leonard Zwelling

Maybe that’s what has been missing from Donald Trump’s White House life. A good woman.

Now that his wife has moved into his new home that was formerly known as the White House and now as Mar-a-Loco, perhaps he can stay in bed until at least six in the morning and stop tweeting. Maybe. I doubt it.

If there is one thing we have learned about Mr. Trump is that he plays by his own set of rules and he is unlikely to change. Ooops. That’s two things.

The problem appears to be one that is common among men (and it appears to be uniquely Y-linked) of power. Their powers of listening have diminished to the point of being non-existent. We have seen this in leaders in spheres other than American political life. Like at the top of academic medical centers and, of course, corporate America. Uber comes to mind.

There is great danger in this, not only for the leader, but for his constituents. That would be us.

The world is an ever more dangerous place. The western alliance that has kept the peace for seventy years may be crumbling with the Brexit vote, the Trump election and the recent upset in the British parliamentary elections last week. Nothing can be taken for granted and nothing is as predicted by logic. That goes for our own government.

The leadership of the House of Representatives is making excuses for the foul behavior of the president when it should be trying to rein him in. But Capitol Hill is so caught up in the possibility of scandal, impeachment, and Russians that the legislative agenda is no longer on the front burner of the representative legislative body. They passed a health care bill that is soundly disliked by most Americans and the bill stands waiting for the Senate to do something with it—in secret. Meanwhile, hundreds of executive branch jobs remain unfilled not because the Senate is sitting on them, but because the president hasn’t nominated people for the positions. Besides, who wants to work for this White House when the first move one has to make before interacting with the president or his staff is securing the services of a personal attorney?

This is not a formula for success.

If Mrs. Trump can do anything to refocus her husband’s energies on actually being president instead of calling people liars who we know are not liars, she will have served her adopted country well. One can hope.

I find this all very disconcerting. The country is in need of at least three major pieces of legislation: a health care bill of some sort that actually betters the system, a tax reform bill that creates a fairer structure of taxation and does not increase the national debt on the fallacy that economic growth will exceed five per cent, and an infrastructure bill so that the airports in America can look as good as the one in Johannesburg.

In her new book, An American Sickness, Elisabeth Rosenthal outlines the untoward influence of money on our system of health care delivery and payment. It is a wonderful book, but very depressing. Unlike many such books, Dr. Rosenthal’s gives concrete advice for health consumers that can both improve the health care they receive and save them money. Frankly, I wish I had written it, but I am glad someone has. I wish some people in Washington, DC would read it.

We are in a precarious place right now in America. Our world position is being seriously challenged by adversaries and friends alike. At a time when we need to be steady to reinforce our values we are skittish and unpredictable. That may sound like a winning strategy to some. It isn’t.

Maybe Mrs. Trump can get The Donald to snap out of it and start making sense. Maybe…

Leonard Zwelling