Donald Trump carried Wisconsin and Kenosha County - just barely - in the 2016 election. In the aftermath, pundits nationwide opined his victory over Hillary Clinton was a mandate for a new way of doing things in Washington. Drain the swamp, Trump said repeatedly on the campaign trail.
Trump declared it an historic victory, one of the largest in American history. It wasn't. His predecessor, Barack Obama, Obama's predecessor George W. Bush and Bush's predecessor Bill Clinton all received more Electoral College votes than Trump in their elections.
Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer, proudly claimed from the press room the new president's inauguration crowd surpassed that of Obama’s in 2008, and photos showing otherwise had to be doctored. From the starting gate, the hyperbole was off and running. It hasn't stopped.
Trump has gone out of his way to attempt to quiet his critics. If he doesn’t like a news story, it’s “fake news.” He’s suggested the Federal Communications Commission could potentially revoke licenses of broadcast networks critical of him. The FCC can’t do that – the networks don’t have a license, the affiliate broadcast stations do - but that didn’t stop Trump from making such a chilling suggestion.
Trump's bombastic rhetoric is nothing new. One needs only check his near daily early-morning Twitter messages for proof. Most of the time, we can shrug it off. But last Saturday, the president said something out loud that should give us all pause.
In a meeting with Republican donors, Trump commended Chinese President Xi Jinping for consolidating power. "He's now president for life. President for life. And he's great," Trump said, according to a recording obtained by CNN. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. He then added: "Maybe we'll give that a shot someday."
It was Trump being Trump. The president has shunned traditional presidential protocol since taking office. In the same meeting with donors, he once again blasted Hillary Clinton. He's been president for more than a year. He needs to get past Clinton. Governing should be his focus.
But it is the suggestion that “maybe we’ll give that a shot someday” coming out of the mouth of the leader of the world’s most powerful, democratic nation that is troubling.
For a president to even utter such a thing isn’t just un-presidential, it’s dangerous.