I feel like yelling at the screen: "Stop. Just stop."
I have never felt this way about a president of the United States.
I used to like to listen to Ronald Reagan. Didn't agree with him, but he had a way about him. And I was never actually afraid of Reagan.
I had a lot of bad thoughts about George W. Bush, but at no time did I want to yell at him. I might have said, "You're wrong" or "Stop the war," but I never said, "Just please, for once, stop!"
Why is the president of the United States fighting with the players of the NFL?
What is he doing in a brawl with an unemployed free agent?
Why can't he stop calling the leader of North Korea, who has nuclear weapons, names?
Where, oh, where, is Gen. John Kelly?
"It doesn't matter," my son says, taking the paper from me, telling me to change the channel -- a realist in the "What can you do?" school, figuring that the market "has already accounted for it."
Trump's signature campaign issue, the repeal of Obamacare, is going down the tubes. Houston is still reeling; Florida is still a disaster. Puerto Rico is in ruins. The president is watching television, thinking, "Who do these football players think they are? Who does this guy in North Korea think he is? Don't they know who I am?"
It is not that Trump is getting bad advice. His top aides were plainly so embarrassed about what he did that they (or those close to them) leaked that they had advised the president not to get in a game of North Korean name-calling before appearing at the UN, and he obviously chose to ignore their advice.
Because he could. Because he wanted to. Because he feels that those guys should respect the flag. (Well, the president should respect the First Amendment, but I digress.) Because he can't shut up when it comes to this schoolyard brawl with a hot-tempered guy with nuclear weapons. No one is telling Trump to do this. They are telling him not to do this. They are telling him not to increase the risk, by even a tiny amount, of unspeakable horror. He gets on his smartphone, and he ignores them. He ignores them all. He tweets what he wants.
He's in the trenches with the NFL, demanding that the league expel the players whose protests he disapproves of. Nuts. Just nuts. What is he doing, the president of the United States, getting in the middle of this? Giving the players an even bigger audience, for sure. If only that were all.
"Lack of impulse control," I think the shrinks call it. "Contain it," we used to tell our kids sometimes -- meaning that not every single thought or opinion is worth sharing, particularly when it will just provoke a useless fight. The older you get, the more important that becomes. A lifesaver, it is.
Saying that to Donald Trump is about as hard as anything.
Actually getting him to do it may be altogether impossible.
A cellphone can be a dangerous weapon when wielded by this president. Clearly, Gen. Kelly can't get it away from Trump's hands.
But it is not the most dangerous weapon at his disposal: Whether or not Gen. Kelly can keep that one away is the most terrifying thought of all.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.