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It's only fair to give the devil his due

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D.G. Martin

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Can’t you say anything good about President Donald Trump?

Some of my friends claim that I do not give our president a chance. They say I always overlook his good qualities. So I have decided to respond to that criticism by thinking of good things I can honestly say about him and then making a list to share with you.

I first looked to the Boy Scout law for ideas of good qualities Trump might have: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I found no help there. Trump does not even pretend to be a Boy Scout.

But he has other qualities that I think are positive and worthy of praise and inspiration.

1. Healthy habits. His no smoking and no drinking policy, over an entire lifetime, is a good example for young people.

2. Inspiring older people to serve. He is not the oldest president. Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left office. But at 72 Trump is old enough to inspire a generation of older people to get off the couch and help their country. Note that Trump at 70 was the oldest person to take office. Reagan was only 69.

3. Overlooked concerns. Trump’s ability to ascertain and respond to the real concerns of an overlooked American public is an example for other political leaders.

4. Mobilizing. He has mobilized hundreds of thousands of previously uninvolved voters in the public life and brought them and their ideas into the political arena. From these people will come some activists and problem solvers of the future.

5. Open communication. Trump has brought about a revolution in communication by our leaders. The direct contact, absent the filter of news organizations and other leaders, certainly has downsides, but our political leaders will never again be dependent upon others to reach their supporters.

6. Giving voice to marginalized citizens. Trump has given a voice to important groups of Americans who have felt left out or stayed out of the public dialogue for reasons of their own choosing. Some groups and individuals with strong views on issues of immigration, race, gender, and social policy can no longer say that their views are ignored.

7. Resilience. When Trump’s businesses or personal life have tanked, he always comes back. When his casino businesses failed, he did not throw in the towel. Although many other people would have never recovered from such failures, he somehow recovered, establishing new businesses and new credit lines when most people would have departed the scene.

8. Energy. He spends hours on the campaign stages, booming with spirit, never letting up, and calling the crowds into action. He not only conveys enthusiasm but also infuses the crowds with the same spirit. He pops up everywhere, tweeting in the middle of the night, travelling, campaigning, golfing, meeting with friends and foes across the world.

9. Turning defeats into victories, or re-framing defeats as victories. For instance, after his losing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he revised his position and now claims credit for protecting its most popular feature, coverage for pre-existing conditions.

10. Charisma. Even if his charismatic appearances do not move you, you have to concede that this quality draws large crowds and strongly motivates his followers.

11. Opportunistic. Both as a businessperson and as president, he jumps on unexpected opportunities that present themselves. When recent campaign opportunities arose to exploit the Kavanaugh hearings and the caravan of refugees in Central America, he did not delay.

I am not a fan of Trump and I could write a much longer column about his faults as our country‘s leader. But those, like me, who usually oppose him would do well to recognize that it is only fair to give the devil his due.

D.G. Martin is a a retired lawyer, politician and university administrator and is host of UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch.

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