Briefly – a minor union boss named Chuck Jones took to a few media outlets to criticize the Carrier deal that Trump/Pence negotiated last week. Not news. Several other persons and/or sites (including, most famously Sarah Palin) have criticized the deal for various reasons. Trump, so far, has been wise to avoid the scrum and stick to his narrative which will eventually drowned out the other voices. However, for whatever reason, this Chuck Jones commentary got under the PEOTUS’ skin and he took to twitter to respond (ugh). Of course, now we all know Chuck Jones’ name. We’re hearing all the critics come out of the woodwork again. Trump has now put Carrier employees in the very awkward position of supporting either the men that saved their jobs or their union buddy.
For the record – this isn’t an issue of right versus wrong. I’ll even accept the idea that Trump is correct in both his numbers and his critique of Chuck Jones. What I have a problem with, and Robert Reich (you’ll remember him as the diminutive former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton) agrees with me – is that the optics are bad. Really, really, bad. This is going to be an ongoing problem for President Trump unless his staffers can really get it across to him that every time he does something like this, it diminishes his stature, both domestically and globally. This is why you have underlings. So that they can go out, shoot some arrows and you can be seen to remain above the fray.
For those of you that think this is a problem that is unique to President-Elect Trump, might I remind you that President Obama had a very similar predilection, just not with Twitter. His was whenever he would go off script while speaking. We all remember the Trayvon Martin comment “If I had a son, he might look very much like Trayvon…” as well as the ill advised comments about Ferguson, Missouri and numerous other situations he made worse rather than better.
The bottom line is that Presidents need to look at this as a carefully orchestrated and choreographed musical number. There are lots and lots and lots of moving pieces. Some are unseen. Some aren’t even noticed till well after the dance is over. But they are all scripted to have a desired effect. There is a lot to be said for subtlety. Right now, President-Elect Trump is still feeling out what works and what doesn’t. Let’s hope he puts this in the “doesn’t work” category and saves his Twitter pronouncements for really, really important stuff!