Let’s give credit where credit is due is a summary of President Trump’s skillset. Is he an effective leader? Is he the smartest man in the room always and does he have the “best” words? Like in the classroom, integrity and effort matter; some professors put more weight on those qualities than others; the grades below respect that methodology.

Negotiation: "The art of a deal" is a great slogan. The challenge is style. He is good negotiating “fair deals” when he has the power and can bully. Some argue the art of a good and fair deal is both parties unhappy. That’s called compromise. Trump has made progress in getting some deals in place that are better for America, but at what price? How much is integrity worth? How will his style work when we find ourselves on the other side of the slope? A once-successful businessman, who treated me well, shared in a conversation that you meet the same people on the way down you met on the way up.

After his business burned and insurance didn’t cover it, he went back to his roots – selling seafood from the back of a truck. I stopped one day, shocked to see this proud and successful man, in freezing temperatures, with fingerless gloves so he could handle fish. He said his fish vendors were still good to him, though he never imagined retirement years like this. He added that he was grateful for the way he treated people who now treated him respectfully and compassionately on his down slope. “C”

Health care: Fixing health care with something “beautiful” was a big a Trump promise. Dismantling Obamacare was all he cared about. With 23 million losing insurance completely and millions more threatened that their preexisting conditions will make insurance premiums skyrocket, or make them uninsurable, his health care “fix” doesn’t exist. He has no ideas, he has no plan, he has no heart. “F-“

Economy: Trump inherited a slowly growing economy created by Obama after a bad recession. Not satisfied with slow growth, Trump threw gasoline on the fire because he likes “bright, shiny things.” He gave tax breaks to the rich and to corporations with trickle-down to the common folks. The stock market soared, helping the rich get richer, but also helping the middle class with 401K’s. Because he hasn’t broken it, he gets a “B” grade on the economy. He can’t be blamed for COVID-19 affecting this category, except that his poor response to the virus has pushed the economy to open, regardless of infection rates, perhaps affecting the economy’s comeback. Jobs rebounding is good, but hardly the "mission accomplished" he touts.

Supreme Court: His Republican cohorts ran out the clock last administration, giving Trump the opportunity to appoint two new justices. Both are conservative and will fulfill his, and his supporters' agenda. He gets an “A” for this one, if you are a conservative. Attribute it to luck and a Republican-led confirmation system afraid to buck Trump for fear of consequences (Trump is not afraid to “eat his own” – everyone is dispensable to him).

Truth-telling: Everything coming out of his mouth is suspect. Over 10,000 documented lies; most of them on purpose or perhaps he’s an “excellent” guesser on a bad streak. He hates the media and "fake news" because they expose him; something he isn’t used to (people standing up to him). He is best at doubling down, playing to his base with "truths" that suit his purpose (Kelly Ann Conway’s “alternative facts” statement tells the story). As a person who never apologizes for anything, truth is not in the Trump playbook. His base loves that he “tells it like it is,” not seeming to care how it moves the truth meter. What Trump tells them often has no basis in truth, allowing them to chant glorious things like “lock her up.” “F-“

Summary: Giving credit where credit is due, in Trump land, means if you’re with him, just like in a marriage, you live with what you married, or you divorce. To date, like in some marriages, his people stay because of the bacon. Trump gives them what they want, whether it is a conservative Supreme Court intent on killing abortion and right to choose precedent Roe vs. Wade, or race-baiting, tax breaks for the rich and putting America first (at all costs). As a nation, let me ask readers what “making America great again” means to you and what are you willing to sacrifice. It’s the same question I think about as a parent; I can make my children listen to me when they are young (I am bigger and stronger), but at what price; a question that needs answering before it is too late and your child is grown, with resentment (a first cousin of hate) that perpetuates family of origin “chi” to future generations.


“Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.”

-Czeslaw Milosz, poet and novelist (1911-2004)