Friday, June 23, 2017

Viewpoint: Nonplussed By the Nonplussed

Had a long over due visit with a good friend the other day. He has to be one of the smartest political minds I’ve ever encountered. He’s also a great person. We connect on the human level as we talk politics, people and approaches to problems. He’s a lawyer who’s taken his legal training to a higher level. I want to hear what he thinks and it would appear he wants to know what I think. Wow, there really is no accounting for taste is there. The added benefit is we don’t look alike.

When the subject of President Donald Trump came up I sensed a tinge of the nonplussed in his spirit. Nothing hostile, mind you. Just a clear indication that he was aware of my own sense of being nonplussed by a president who’s nonplussing an entire nation.

“Nonplussed” is one of those phrases that says and doesn’t always say exactly what we are thinking. It comes from Latin root words meaning “no more, no further”. Definitions include “to render utterly perplexed; puzzle completely”. Another defines this verb used with an object this way “To put at a loss as to what to think, say, or do; bewildered.”

That may very well have been part of how my friend might feel about some of my columns . But the longer we talked, the more it became apparent that he, too, is nonplussed by a President he supported in November. The most revealing thing he said was how he and other supporters are now second thinking their choice. It is the kind of honesty I’ve come to admire him for and look for from him.

But it also represents a political sea change of sorts. Trump’s approval rating is evidence of that. At the 100 day mark Trump is what the Washington Post calls “the least popular chief executive in modern times”.

What a dubious and disturbing assessment. In spite of his proclamations otherwise, voters aren’t seeing any major legislative accomplishments after his first months. The administration’s inability to do anything meaningful with or against Obama care sticks out like a kind of Presidential sore thumb.

Polls also make particular note of little if any improvement in “his temperament and honesty”.

This may be the most disturbing of all observations. I suspect that number is at the heart of his 53 percent approval rating. Only 42 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance. They are his base along with a few percentages added on for his aggressive posture toward North Korea.

But the truth is Trump’s disapproval rating is “14 points higher than Bill Clinton’s disapproval rating in 1993”. When compared to Former President Barack Obama, his numbers are cause for alarm. At the same time in his Presidency, President Obama had a 69 percent approval rating compared to a 26 percent disapproval rating.

Add to all of this the latest Russian Connection news and the “Nonplussed” have even more reasons to linger in a Nonplussed state. CNN sites 3 more “Trump-Russia connections”.

Last December comes word Trump’s son in law “met privately with the head of a Russian bank under U.S. sanctions”. January brings revelations one of his major donors “flew to a remote island to confer with a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin”. I hear things like this so much I’m beginning to think of Putin as a kind of ex officio Vice-President. Then comes word that as long as four years ago, “a Trump advisor interacted with a Russian spy trying to elicit intelligence”.

No wonder my “Nonplussed” friend and many of yours are thinking twice about their Presidential choice in a kind of Nonplussed way.

Dennis Edwards is the Interim-Pastor of Richmond’s Historic 4th Baptist Church. He is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist, a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology.

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