Dan Rather has been writing about Donald Trump a lot, and he is in just as much shock as we are that Trump is president. After watching Wednesday’s press conference, Rather just couldn’t keep quiet.
Rather refers to Trump as “President Asterisk”, saying Trump is illegitimate.
Watching the press conference today and the days that have preceded it, I think that is what Donald Trump, with his dangerous mixture of big ego and thin skin, is worried about – especially when it comes to the Russian hacking determination. His beating of his chest and bellicose tweets about his big win and the sore losers who won’t accept it are really the actions of weakness not strength. He worries that history will consider him a less than fully legitimate president from the start – President Asterisk.
I would caution Mr. Trump in this regard. We have had many very close elections, although none with the shadow of a foreign power’s interference. And there are presidents with asterisks next to their names. But they have earned that typographical symbol for what they did when the got into office – with top of the list Richard Nixon whose moral and legal transgressions earned him a place of relative infamy.
What’s done is done with the vote. There will not be an election redo. But if you, Mr. Trump, fail to take the Russian threat seriously, there will be an asterisk next to your name. If you do not disentangle yourself from your business interests, if you promote corrupt or conflicted advisors and cabinet members, if you fail to understand the gravity of the foreign policy crisis you face, if you deprive millions of health care without an alternative, if you fail to act on the global threat of climate change, if you pit Americans against each other by race, gender, and religion, if you undermine science and reason, if you do these or any of the other items on a long list of what now seems probable, there will be an asterisk next to your name.
As difficult as it may seem to believe now, politics is ephemeral. We remember presidents, we try to rank them, we write about them, we study them, much less for how they entered the White House but for what they did once they got there.
History is watching President-elect Trump, the asterisk part is up to you.