It almost goes without saying that Donald Trump’s first major press conference as PEOTUS was an absolute travesty to dumpster fires everywhere. Angrily insulting the media for bringing up the inevitable questions about his potential blackmail by Russian agents, lying to the American people once again about how he’s going to divest himself from his businesses, and having his staffers on hand to cheer him on like it was a pep rally. . Doug Saunders of the Globe, who has been around the block a few times said the last time he’d seen anything “remotely like this in content or style were the [Libyan dictator Muammar] Gadhafi family’s press engagements in the early 2000s.”
Legendary journalist Dan Rather, who has also seen his fair share of press conferences, took to his Facebook today to send Trump a dire warning, chastising him for his unpresidential behavior and giving him a damning nickname we all should work into the zeitgeist:
Watching the press conference today and the days that have preceded it, I think that is what Donald Trump, with his dangerous mixture of big ego and thin skin, is worried about – especially when it comes to the Russian hacking determination. His beating of his chest and bellicose tweets about his big win and the sore losers who won’t accept it are really the actions of weakness not strength. He worries that history will consider him a less than fully legitimate president from the start – President Asterisk.
I would caution Mr. Trump in this regard. We have had many very close elections, although none with the shadow of a foreign power’s interference. And there are presidents with asterisks next to their names. But they have earned that typographical symbol are for what they did when the got into office – with top of the list Richard Nixon whose moral and legal transgressions earned him a place of relative infamy.
What’s done is done with the vote. There will not be an election redo. But if you, Mr. Trump, fail to take the Russian threat seriously, there will be an asterisk next to your name. If you do not disentangle yourself from your business interests, if you promote corrupt or conflicted advisors and cabinet members, if you fail to understand the gravity of the foreign policy crisis you face, if you deprive millions of health care without an alternative, if you fail to act on the global threat of climate change, if you pit Americans against each other by race, gender, and religion, if you undermine science and reason, if you do these or any of the other items on a long list of what now seems probable, there will be an asterisk next to your name.
As difficult as it may seem to believe now, politics is ephemeral. We remember presidents, we try to rank them, we write about them, we study them, much less for how they entered the White House but for what they did once they got there.
History is watching President-elect Trump, the asterisk part is up to you.
President-elect Asterisk won the White House on the back of a tidal wave of lies, hatred, and conspiracy theories. We now know that there is a very good chance that he is being blackmailed by a foreign power and therefore cannot be trusted to fulfill the duties of his office in the best interests of the American people and the United States, and nothing he has done so far has indicated that he isn’t at Moscow’s beck and call. Unless he renounces his ties to Russia and divests himself of his business and begins to show an honest interest in actually governing and not just taking credit for the work of others, we must deny him the legitimacy he craves so desperately.