The Trump-free zone

Published 12:40 pm Monday, February 27, 2017

Early in this new presidential administration, and earlier still in my latest writing venture, I’m considering making my columns a Trump-free zone.

Starting, obviously, not today.

Donald Trump appeared somewhat frequently in past columns, in which I variously referred to him as a “blustery loose cannon,” a “tiresome bully” and a “troll,” “spectacularly unqualified” and “truth-challenged.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

All of which is still true. But never mind. That was then; this is now, after his self-proclaimed “biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” (Unless you count Bill Clinton, twice, Barack Obama, twice, and the first President Bush.)

I have friends on either side of the Trump divide. Some are certain he is indeed on the path toward making America great again. This suggests they believe America has heretofore somehow been less than great, but again, never mind.

Other friends seem to see it as their civic duty to leap upon every perceived blunder and offense the new president commits, and to broadcast them as widely, often and stridently as possible.

So on the one hand I see posts like this:

“You go Mr. President @realDonaldTrump tell it like it is!”

And, on the other hand, this, which makes my own Trump characterizations sound like pillow talk:

“We need a redo. This man and anyone from his TRAITOROUS party need to be gone! (Yes. If you voted Orange Menace, you are a traitor. I’d like to hang/shoot you myself.)”

This sort of conflict troubles me. I’m a peace maker, at heart. Given the choice between confrontation and conciliation, I lean toward the latter. Social tension makes me … tense. Defusing turmoil is my aim.

But in this instance, I don’t see any reasonable chance of mediation between the two extreme sides. They breathe the same air, but live in different worlds.

I like to think there’s a lot of comfortable room to inhabit between those kinds of views, and no comfort at all on the far edges.

For one thing, I lack (a.) the linguistic skills required to parse what Donald Trump is actually saying at any given moment, and (b.) the mental gymnastics necessary to defend it as in any way connected to reality.

But I’m also lacking the energy to live in a constant state of outrage. It’s physically and psychologically draining.

So I’m going to put my column focus elsewhere.

For those inclined to masochism, there will still be plenty of other places to read positive or negative accounts about the latest Trump doings. And I feel confident I can find plenty of other topics to write about. I can’t promise they will all be of major import – I can, in fact, promise that much of them won’t be. But maybe that’s exactly what we need: a distraction from the current unpleasantness.

That unpleasantness will still be going on, of course. But these things have a way of working themselves out. Perhaps, as some hope, Donald Trump – elected by a minority, but a geographically well-configured one — will indeed be a short-term president.

Or perhaps our government will prove strong enough that we’ll muddle through, somehow, and our worst fears will turn out to be unfounded. The optimist in me insists that could happen.

Meanwhile, I reserve the right to renege on the Trump-free vow, if some monumental provocation arises. The realist in me insists that could happen, too.

Joe Rogers worked for The Clarion-Ledger, The Tennessean and The New York Times. He can be reached at or on Twitter @jrogink.