Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Slacker's Guide to the Presidency

The Slacker's Guide to School began its life as an actual guide, for actual slackers, by an actual slacker. In those days it wasn't even written down, rather taking the form of a loose collection of impassioned rants directed at students who were either failing miserably despite lots of potential, or hapless misfits who had accidentally found themselves in positions or situations for which they were woefully unprepared. Interesting, then, that we return to the original purpose of this blog to deal with our new President Elect.

I will write the remainder of this directly to Mr. Trump, and I do hope that the forces of the Internet will help this to reach him. Otherwise, I could convert it to a 2,100-part Tweetstorm. That seems to work pretty well.

Mr. President Elect,

If this turns out to be too weighty and full of big words--as typical Slackerguide posts tend to--I'm going to hope someone will summarize it for you. That sounds pretty mean right out of the gate, but you've said that you don't have time to read and I get the sense that you don't like to receive advice, especially stuff you find redundant. This takes the form of a whole lot of written advice, so I have reasonable expectations of how this will be received. What follows are some humble--okay, not at all humble--requests for you to shape your presidency. I predict that there may be a need to check in from time to time to expand and modify this list between now and 2020--or when you get fed up with this whole thing, whichever comes first.
  1. On Staffing - As I write this, you're in the middle of assembling your team. Recently you went with both Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon. Previously, you countered your own qualities with Mike Pence. It seems that you are already on board with the concept of balancing the strengths and weakness of people in leadership (see also: here) but there's a catch. You don't seem to like dissent very much--or even opinions generated outside of your own head--and are running the risk of being presented with way too many opposing views. You don't need to reward everyone who supported your campaign, much less those who simply held off saying mean things about you. False equivalency is a large part of how you got to be President, but when it comes to racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and the rest, not all opinions deserve equal consideration.You should start thinking "gift basket" rather than "Cabinet post" for the idiots, racists, and crazies who joined the Trump phenomenon. Due to the slow genesis of Slacker posts, it's been some time since this paragraph was originally written. By now, most of your cabinet has been selected. Maybe if the Senate grows a set and denies confirmation, you'll get another shot at this swamp-draining concept.
  2. On Taxes - You don't do your own taxes, which is understandable. I don't do mine anymore either. However, my wife took an H&R Block class many years ago and I listen to her. You need to take such a class, or ask Melania to do so, so that you also understand what things consolidating marginal rates, and repealing the estate tax, and ending Head of Household designation, would do to wealth and income inequality. Working class people elected you and you owe it to them to design tax reform that doesn't end up screwing them further. Surely enriching billionaires at the expense of your own constituency couldn't be your intention.
  3. On Republicans - Keep in mind, you didn't win because you were a Republican, you won as the CHANGE candidate. Many Republicans voted for you because they expected you to sign everything that will find its way into Paul Ryan's head, but honestly, what has that guy done for you? You got a good many Republican votes, but you also got lots votes from people who just wanted something different--including working class Democrats. Being Paul Ryan's rubber stamp isn't different. Veto stuff, even at random sometimes just to keep them guessing.
  4. On Speechwriters -You've had a complicated relationship with teleprompters. We all watched you try to talk yourself into reading those words, and we all heard you deviate from the prepared text to comment on it, as if you were seeing it for the first time and still trying to make sense of it, we've all heard you repeat simple concepts over and over again, apparently successfully hypnotizing the country by doing so. You do much better when you use words written by other people--for one thing, there are lots more to choose from.
  5. On Social Media - I enjoy your late-night Twitter rampages. I'm sure they won't let you do it while President, but maybe you can sneak a phone under your pillow sometimes, just for old time's sake. They can't be watching all the time, right?
  6.  On Obamacare- I know that Repeal and Replace is high on your to-do list--not high enough that you expect to have to work weekends, but high. Be careful, though. It's a quagmire. Republicans have been tilting at the windmill of "Obama's" healthcare plan since it was signed into law, but you'll find that it is more of a compromise than a truly Democratic plan. It's an ugly compromise that preserves the idea that free markets can make this work, that people should be able to get care (even if they've previously been sick), that young people should have some time to get their act together after college before they're really on their own, and lots of other conflicting interests. Read up, or talk to people who have. I suggest starting: here
  7. On Quitting Your Day Job - Really, you must. No one believes that you can refrain from having your businesses at the top of your priorities list for four years. If your kids are running things, and you're living part of the time in the same building as your corporate headquarters, incredulity is further strained. Even if you turned all of it over to them, much of the reason we build wealth is to enrich our children. Separating your assets by handing it to them isn't really separating your interests. Because the Trump brand is so easily recognized, by you and foreign interests, you can't be believably blind to it, nor it to you. Move to Washington. Appoint people to handle daily operations whose names we don't know, and have your kids spend this time enjoying their trust funds. You won't do it, but it was important that I point out that you should. 
  8. On Education - So far, not so good.. A full post on this topic will follow at some point. 
  9. On Climate Change - It's real. Honestly, check it out.
  10. On Nukes - Most of us spent the '80s terrified of global nuclear annihilation. You spent the '80s, well, not. Someone needs to get you a VCR and a copy of War Games, The Day After, and the British version called Threads. Really, get caught up on Russia, and mutually assured destruction, and the rest before they give you the codes. This really matters. Even more than items 1-9. Get it right.
I'm not entirely convinced that you ever wanted to be President. I think you wanted to run for President, but no one, including you, thought it would actually happen. Still, it happened, and now you have a job to do. You can push much of the actual work off on others, but you need to get involved enough that you can make important decisions. That's the part of the job you can't delegate, and while you may thrill at the idea of all of the power, there is a lot of work involved in getting ready.

So far, your transition hasn't given us much cause for hope. You seem more invested in billionaires and C-list celebrities than the people who elected you. You are making blunders on the international stage and not showing any interest in making corrections or apologies. You only seem happy when you're back to your old habits on Twitter and on the stage at rallies. This isn't the lifestyle you thought you'd be living right now, and you're going to need to come to terms with that. As mentioned several times in this post, you could turn this around by actually paying attention to the people who elected you. I hope that you do, because I honestly believe that if you get yourself impeached, that Mike Pence will be infinitely worse.

Sincerely,
The Slacker's Guide to School

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