President Donald Trump will win re-election. Anyone who watched Wednesday’s presser after Trump’s big night Tuesday knows in his or her bones that it will happen, because the president is getting better and better at the job. We in the media are rightly upset that the White House has suspended the press credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta, but I suspect the public is with the president on that move and generally admiring of his disdain for those of us with microphones and keyboards.
When I first interviewed Trump in early 2015 before he declared for the presidency, and almost a year later before the New Hampshire primary, I referenced his July 21, 2005, testimony to the Senate on the then-pending remodel of the U.N. headquarters. It is an amazing performance that will capture your rapt attention if you find it on YouTube. Trump was in his element, talking real estate development, New York City commercial space and contractors, labor unions and naivete among lessees. He was funny, precise and in command of an amazing array of facts. (You can also see over Trump’s left shoulder the current ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. Grenell was then spokesman for the United States at the United Nations, and if he gets sent back to New York as is rumored, he will be a talented and rhetorically gifted ambassador.)
I bring up the U.N. testimony because the exchanges with the media on Wednesday, especially with Acosta (who has been a welcome guest on my radio show) were lopsidedly in favor of the president. The president has spent two years learning the job to which he brought a communications skill set unmatched by any other commander in chief, except Ronald Reagan, and as much – if not more – television experience than the Gipper. President Barack Obama could do “cool” as well as anyone. Nobody is better at “combative” than Trump, and we live in an age addicted to combativeness. Cable news has adopted sports-like coverage and monetized combativeness. So, too, video games and blockbuster comic-book movies. The culture is built on combativeness.
And the president is getting better and better at the policy and performance aspects of the presidency, getting better on the details even as he sharpens his jousting skills.