Finley: Trump must put up and shut up

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

It’s time for Donald Trump to put up and shut up.

His gloating, boasting and taunting since his election victory were inappropriate for a president-elect, and will be even more so for a president.

Winning the White House was just the first step. Now he has to win his agenda.

That won’t happen if he makes it so easy for critics and skeptics to dismiss him as a thin-skinned buffoon.

A lot of Never Trump conservatives are willing to get behind him in the name of finally pushing through a pro-growth agenda for the country. But we can’t build trust that he won’t walk us off the dock with his borderline maniacal behavior.

Why is he incapable of ignoring a single slight? A thin skin is not an asset for a president, the best of whom are attacked mercilessly. His hysterical, all-caps tweets in response to last week’s reckless Russian collusion story read like someone protesting too much.

Trump is a very big fish now. But to survive, he also has to be a smart one. That means not striking at every piece of bait dangled in front of him.

It’s become a badge of honor to be attacked on Twitter by Trump. Celebrities major and minor are lining up to be the next to provoke him. The quickest way to grab a headline is to tease a hostile tweet from the president-elect.

More than anything else, it was Trump’s volatility and erraticism that turned me away from the Republican nominee during the campaign. But since the election, I’ve committed to giving him a chance.

I’ve certainly enjoyed the reaction of the stock market to his proposed tax and regulatory moves. And it’s hopeful that companies are bringing jobs back in anticipation of a better business climate. His cabinet picks are impressive. A president’s success depends mightily on the supporting cast, and Trump will have a good one.

But leading the country rests solely on his shoulders. People won’t follow someone they don’t respect.

How can they respect an American president who stoops to waging a Twitter war with a pretentious and overwrought actress?

The office is bigger than that. Trump shouldn’t punch down. Ignore the sour grapes chatter and let his success speak for itself. Stop bragging, start doing.

Trump sees in his unlikely victory validation of everything he did during the campaign, including the angry outbursts, the gratuitous insults and the incessant tweeting. That ignores the reality that 54 percent of the country didn’t vote for him, and many of those who did were holding their noses when they cast their ballots.

America hasn’t changed so much that it will find being governed by a hair-trigger president with a playground sense of grievance a good thing.

A lot of smart people have urged Trump to shut off his Twitter account and knuckle down to the hard work of fulfilling the promise to make America greater. He’s so far ignored that sound advice.

In five days Donald Trump will become president. America needs him to also become presidential.

Nolan Finley’s book “Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice” is available from Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble Nook.