Leo Kelly

Dear Mr. President,

Please, enough with the vanity. It's bad for the country and undermining your administration at what should be its strongest point.

We don't want you to fail, President Trump. Your success equates to the country's success. But, in just a matter of days, you've displayed a striking need for universal veneration. You long to be worshiped by the masses. You need to be considered legitimate. You want people to admire you for simply holding the office.

If it doesn't end, it's impossible to see how your administration will govern successfully.

Let's use your inauguration as an example. You reportedly seethed after pictures on Twitter showed a rather sparse crowd. Your spokesman, Sean Spicer, came out the next day and read a terse statement that was patently untrue about attendance, or lack thereof. He quickly backtracked Monday. Your less-official mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway defended the administration's reaction with a new term for untruth, "alternative facts." 

It's clear all of this was done because you, President Trump, can't stand that millions of people don't like you. 

But that's where things stand. Polls show you have the highest disapproval rating of any modern president at this early phase of his term. Some 45 percent of Americans dislike your handling thus far, according to Gallup. Just 36 percent approve. Those are incredible statistics, of which you should take note. A failure to do so comes at your own peril.

What's perhaps most shocking is your apparent surprise at the lack of universal adoration. You ran probably the darkest campaign in centuries. Your rhetoric belittled minorities, women and thousands of members of the media. Many of the Republican leaders now smiling beside you at photo ops blasted the things you said and stood for. Speaker Paul Ryan once called your words the "textbook definition of racism." Your own vice president, before joining the ticket, labeled your widely hyped Muslim ban unconstitutional. 

The day after your election victory, you promised to be a president for the entire country. And then, as if campaigning is all you know how to do, you embarked on a "thank you" tour to the states you won. The world is more complex than simply winning and losing. This isn't a football game.

Even now, your impulsive egotism leads to the vilification and degradation of hardworking Americans. On Monday, you falsely claimed that millions of fraudulent voters are what cost you the popular vote against Hillary Clinton. Every time you repeat that fabrication, you're undermining democracy itself and, in the process, belittling the jobs done by election officials in states and counties throughout the country. 

It's utterly perplexing that, after all this, you expect total adulation from the very people whom you spent 18 months attacking. You're neither king nor religious prophet. Respect isn't compulsory. And your distaste for dissent is alarming. 

To be clear, we don't agree with large segments of your platform. Your border wall has the whiff of a boondoggle-in-waiting. Your unwillingness to divest yourself of your many business holdings fosters legitimate questions about your allegiances. Your cabinet is stocked with the very billionaire class that you said owned Clinton. Your gag order on federal regulators is an affront to transparency and smacks of the politicization of science.  

But all that doesn't mean you don't make a point or two. Flippantly cobbled free trade deals have contributed to massive pain throughout the Rust Belt, yet a trade war would end badly for Quad-Cities manufacturers and thousands of employees. There are certainly opportunities to get some of the hundreds of billions stashed offshore back into circulation in the U.S. While our allies should be supported, it's true that, as measured by gross domestic product, the U.S. footed more than its share of the bill over the years.

Millions of Americans spent the day after your inauguration protesting you, Mr. President. They assembled in towns and cities across the country.

They're scared. They're scared you might come after them now that you wield such immense power. Who can blame them? Your hand is too busy feverishly banging away on Twitter to be steady. You're too wrapped up in perceived slights to focus on the country. This country is about more than Donald J. Trump.  

You have a small window to right things and show all Americans that you're their president, regardless of policy differences. It won't happen unless you drop the vanity. It won't happen until you ditch the divisive campaign rhetoric and binary world view. Of greatest import, it won't happen until you realize that the presidency isn't about one man or his television ratings.

You still have time, President Trump -- time to turn it around, time to prove us all wrong.

So, please, Mr. President. Act the part.

Local editorials represent the opinion of the Quad-City Times editorial board, which consists of Publisher Deb Anselm, Executive Editor Autumn Phillips, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander, City Editor Dan Bowerman, Associate Editor Bill Wundram and community representative John Wetzel.

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