On the EDge: We deserve better than a 140-character presidency

Composite image includes Twitter icon modified; White House image courtesy of wikepedia public domain https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5e/US-WhiteHouse-Logo.svg/1000px-US-WhiteHouse-Logo.svg.png, St. George News

OPINION — The Twitterverse is a complicated place. In 140 characters or less, careers and lives can be made or broken.

Twitter is a place where you can often receive the news quicker than the TV or print media can deliver it.

It is a place where you can post opinions to huge numbers of people if you are hashtag savvy and have a clever message.

You can reach out to just about anybody in the world in a few keystrokes, you can weigh in on a topic of social, cultural or political interest and you can, quite literally, make a flaming fool of yourself.

We, sadly, are seeing too much of the latter these days as the Tweeter-in-Chief has broken protocol and severed ties with the formality of the Oval Office.

Quite simply, Twitter is not the place to make official governmental policy announcements.

But, in the last few days, we have seen a decision to bar transgender individuals from military service broadcast on Twitter. We have seen a major White House personnel shakeup announced via Twitter.

This is not the way a cogent, intelligent leader operates, especially one so concerned with the flow of information from the White House.

No, what we see here is a reluctance to offer a respectful dialog with the reporters charged with covering this presidency, an arrogance that disdains questions that just might be difficult to answer, an upheaval in the manner of public dialog.

It’s crass.

It’s crude.

It’s the chaotic behavior of a bombastic personality offering no chance for intellectual discourse.

The entire Beltway has been rendered dysfunctional, the result of some misguided attempt at payback against an administration it holds in utter contempt and an unyielding persecution of the opposing party.

It’s what happens when you pursue winning at all costs, but, even with the home team advantage, cannot muster even a minor score.

That’s why our military leaders wisely said they will not implement the president’s announcement to ban transgender service. The reasoning? There was no official directive to do so and until there is an official document laid on the table, they jeopardize their credibility and standing by responding to a specious Twitter blurb that may or may not have come from the president.

Running the government isn’t like running some real estate pyramid scheme or shady business deal to put the screws down tight on a competitor, it is a function of attending to the public good and not the stroking of a massive ego fed by yes-men.

We saw that Friday afternoon when we were informed, via a Twitter message, that John F. Kelly would replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff. Priebus, the day before, was the unwitting target of a vile, crude, profane attack by White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. It provoked Priebus to resign almost immediately.

It was the conclusion of a very bad week for the administration, which also saw its health care bill fail in the Senate and the president get taken to task by the head of the Boy Scouts of America. The president had used his platform at the National Scout Jamboree to rip into the Obama administration, pillory, once again, his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton and hammer on Republicans who did not support a health care bill that was crafted behind closed doors and sprung upon Congress with little input.

A dismayed Michael Surbaugh, chief executive for BSA, issued a statement to offer his “sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. … We have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.”

This is not how it’s supposed to go. You can’t drain the swamp if all you do is fill it with new gators.

But that is the state we find ourselves in, even in Utah where Legislators are tripping over themselves to make accommodations to preferential segments of the population by considering John Cannon as the replacement for Michael Christensen. Christensen is retiring as the head of its Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, which provides legal and policy review of proposed legislation. The problem here is that Cannon is currently the top legislative lobbyist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that is a major problem for a Legislature.

The office has a reputation as a nonpartisan body, however the appointment of Cannon would cast a long shadow, especially among those who say the LDS church already has far too much influence over Utah’s legislative matters. In the area of governance, where suspicion of collusion and partiality is unacceptable, this would be a major blow to the Legislature’s credibility. But, that’s what happens when the lines between church and state are blurred or, as some would insist, erased.

So, we are a nation adrift, from the highest echelons of government to our state levels, as those entrusted with the responsibility of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness fritter it away to the exigence of special interests, political partisanship, ego and an ignorance of how our system was designed to work.

Even the Nixon White House was not this chaotic and disheveled.

We should hearken to the words of Sen. John McCain when he gave his emotional, passionate civics lesson to the nation last week, saying: “Sometimes, I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy. … Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth.  It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’”

He went on to describe the process of the Senate as a set of “arcane rules and customs” that “are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all.”

But, it’s a description that aptly captures the essence of our entire governmental system.

We are approaching a constitutional crisis in the United States.

It will be hastened should Attorney General Jeff Sessions be forced out and replaced by a minion who would do the president’s bidding by firing Robert Mueller, hired as special counsel to investigate Russian interference in our last election.

The stakes have been elevated substantially.

And, with so much on the line, we require something more than 140-character governance.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian August 1, 2017 at 7:50 am

    America (the ideals, the Constitution) certainly deserves better. Americans, the pathetic, sorry excuses for a citizen that so many in America have become, are getting exactly the government they deserve, unfortunately. Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of government that a “social justice warrior” snowflake deserves. Exactly the kind of government an uneducated (which has very little to do with having a college degree), apathetic, entirely distracted depth-less “deplorable” deserves.

    Unfortunately, MANY on both the left and the right ARE getting exactly the government we deserve. Many republicans forgot who they were under Bush, and many democrats forgot who they were under Obama. And its killing liberals and conservatives alike that have any kind of depth and intellectual honesty at all. How could this have happened? WE the People made it so, unfortunately. And We the People are the only ones who can fix it. Therein lies the problem, because WE the People are unlikely to change. The only thing we can do is start by changing ourselves and our families, and hope the tide shifts.

    • comments August 1, 2017 at 11:12 am

      actually agree 100%. America is becoming like one big trailer park full of idiots and degenerates.

    • Not_So_Much August 1, 2017 at 5:17 pm


  • John August 1, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Ecclesiastes 10:2 = The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.

    • Anejo August 2, 2017 at 7:33 am

      Romans 13:1-3 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
      Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
      For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

  • hiker75 August 1, 2017 at 8:34 am

    President Trump is no different from the candidate Trump. He won the electoral votes so this is who we have.

  • DRT August 1, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Considering the choices for president in this last election, it’s my opinion that the people who pull the strings in both parties should be taking out and shoot.

    • DRT August 1, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Taken out and shot. I hate auto correct!

    • comments August 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

      The folks who slither around behind the scenes and run the show, and basically the entire show, are what I like to call zionists, and most of them are actually zionists, with some exceptions. It’s all just like one of their hollywood movies; we have no power to change anything with voting; they run things and we voters are essentially just passive viewers of whatever they decide to do. Who do you think preselected hillary and trump? It sure as heck wasn’t the people of this country. It was those who run things from the shadows. Our voting is no matter to those with the real power. They play by their own rules….

      • Paul August 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

        I think Trump preselected himself. It wasn’t the NRP by a longshot. If you remember, there were 17 in the mix, and the people selected Trump.
        So who’s yer daddy now?

        • comments August 2, 2017 at 10:57 pm

          Seems for about 2 years before the “election” all I heard on the TV was trump did this and trump did that. The media had their orders to talk about nothing but trump for 2 years straight. Without that kind of free exposure you don’t get “elected”. The “election” was predecided from the get go. I’ve heard the theory that media only covered “the donald” so excessively (an obscene amount of constant coverage) because it brought in so much advertising cash, but that can only be part of the story. They had their orders; the other R-party candidates got little to no coverage. And now we have our obscene, orange-faced, arrogant, corrupt billionaire clown to call “the president”. Maybe “the donald” is actually the degenerate creature this country deserves for a leader. I don’t even know anymore…

  • ladybugavenger August 1, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I have an idea, all you people that don’t like the President, next election: run for President!
    Put your name on the ballot and run. Start thinking of your campaign promises. If you ran for President, what are the issues you would run on?

  • ladybugavenger August 1, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Number one rule: do not worship government.

    How does Trump affect my personal life? Uhhhhh let’s see, he doesn’t. How did obama affect my personal life? Uhhhh well the only thing was mandatory insurance. But I’m covered now and I wasn’t charged a penalty for last year. How does God affect my life? Every aspect of it. I’m nothing without God.

    No matter who’s President my life is in danger of rape, murder, theft, corruption, lies, manipulation, backstabbing, home invasion, kidnapping and the list might go on and you can add to it. It’s by the grace of God I’ve made it this far and whatever happens in my life it’s for the glory of God. Not for the glory of any president or any person on earth. Thank you Jesus!

  • Utahguns August 1, 2017 at 10:57 am

    A “140-character presidency”?
    I’ll take that over a miserable, Constitutional hating, socialistic, non-transparent, community organizer any day.

    Don’t bash Trump for the efforts he’s had to put in to MAGA and drain the swamp. It’s the last eight years of the chimp-in-chief that we’re still recovering from.

    Ed, are you still whining because Hillary lost?

  • Henry August 1, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    You should switch to Twitter, Ed. You could easily condense your 1,000+ word articles, chock full of rambling vapid opinion, to less than 140 characters.

  • Kilroywashere August 1, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    The tweet is the new language of the birds. It is a true green language, as it is an organic way to communicate. A.D D. America thrives on an abbreviated construct, so the Twitter nitch of limited characters makes sense. President Trump is the 1st to use it to his political advantage and Twitter helped win an election. A tweet by-passes the media. We have just seen the beginning . The language of the birds is a powerful tool. As far as getting tired of it, etcetera and other comments, who cares. It is now a part of the political landscape in this here United States of America . Geeter use to it.

  • Whatteverrr August 1, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    SAD !!
    Merica done gon Crazy!!

  • Whatteverrr August 1, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Conservative/ sensible
    Doesn’t matter
    45 will lead to ALL OF OUR DEMISE
    we’re all screwed

  • uselogicplease August 2, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I dumped the POS Spectrum because I hated reading the old Hippies left wing drivel. Now I have to see his stupid comments on the St. George News as well! Hey Ed.. Move to CA or at least SLC..

    • St Geo August 2, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Ed doesn’t live here anymore. He’s left the country for Mexico.

  • commonsense August 2, 2017 at 8:56 am

    If Trump was failing Ed would be very quiet. The fact is, jobs are up, the GDP is high, the markets are booming, illegal immigration is way down, police are empowered, the military is relevant again, taxes may come down, infrastructure is a priority and over-regulation is peeled back. Yes, you can hate his style but you can’t argue with his results.

    • comments August 2, 2017 at 11:34 am

      the same old blah blah from you, “doctor”. We get it, trump has become your God and savior. To you I guess he is the 2nd coming?

      • St Geo August 2, 2017 at 11:54 am

        Your comment is nothing more than and ad hominem attack. Commonsense stated fact.

        • comments August 2, 2017 at 11:03 pm

          he says “police are empowered”. Empowered to do what? they already behave like a paramilitary, and still won’t do traffic patrols. How much more “empowered” do we want them to be? Everything else he stated applies to obama’s final year or so. You nutters are beyond reason. and that was not ad hom.

  • commonsense August 2, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    I really don’t relate much to the Trump personality but every time I open my IRA statement I appreciate his good work. He’s not much of a Republican or conservative, more a populist in the manner of Teddy Roosevelt.

    • comments August 2, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      Oh my G–, Teddy Roosevelt? the donald is a TV clown. smh. How was your IRA in obama’s last year? I recall the markets only ever going up up up during obama’s entire 8 years, after Bush II collapsed the whole finance system.

      full-on clown circus. it’s what you are, buddy 😉 I mean “doctor” hahah 😉

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