Donald Trump's first speech before Congress was a pretty average performance for him. Between his tepid attempts to assuage Jewish and African Americans and his terrifying announcement of a new anti-immigration task force, there was a lot to scream at your tv, laptop, or phone about. One of the most enraging lines was Trump's assertion that the American people have to move past "trivial fights" and come together to Make America Great Again, which is table-flippingly upsetting. The hypocrisy of Trump's call for American unity is that he's made few attempts to control even his own penchant for divisiveness, much less support policies that truly bring people together.
"The time for small thinking is over," Trump said with a smile during the speech. "The time for trivial fights is behind us."
This is obviously not an inherently bad thing to say — everyone should be able to agree with the sentiment, and it would certainly be nice to have some more national unity. However, it just didn't sound right coming from Trump. He has already shown in his short presidency that he's not actually interested in doing that, and by asking others to do the work that he won't exemplifies what I see to be the hollowness of his leadership.
It would be one thing if Trump had actually adapted that attitude from the day he was inaugurated, but he was picking a small fight the same morning of the speech. Instead of acting like a commander-in-chief and taking responsibility, Trump was arguing about who was at fault for the death of William "Ryan" Owens, the Navy SEAL who died during a military operation in Yemen last month.
"This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something they wanted to do," Trump said Tuesday morning. "They came to me, they explained what they wanted to do ― the generals ― who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan." Yes, that is an actual quote from the actual president, who was actually trying to pass the buck on the death of an American soldier.
Moreover, Trump has shown this level of pettiness multiple times already. Remember the whole size of the inauguration crowd debacle? That's pretty much the definition of a trivial fight. There were also his constant tweets about Saturday Night Live, his whining about Nordstrom pulling Ivanka Trump's products from their stores, and his refusal to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner to top off the pettiness.
It takes some chutzpah for Donald Trump to say "the time for trivial fights is behind us."— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 1, 2017
Make no mistake — this is Trump employing gaslighting techniques to make America forget how he rose to power, by insulting his opponents until people got too distracted to remember his many faults. When the person who picks "trivial fights" for a living suddenly becomes the one calling for them to stop, you can bet there's an ulterior angle here. Pettiness has been Trump's M.O. from the start, so don't believe him for a second when he says he wants a change. But continue to be mad as hell about it, because Trump has yet to show America a single reason why it should trust him as president.