Letter to President Trump: Drop the Ball

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I like a president with some fight in him, and President Donald Trump certainly has plenty of that. One of the common criticisms about former President George W. Bush was that he wasn't willing to push back. A criticism about former President Barack Obama was that he was too interested in being liked around the world to raise a fuss. President Trump cannot be accused of either, but is he choosing his battles wisely?

I lost some of you as soon as you read what resembles a criticism of the president -- even before you considered my position. So I'll bypass trying to convince you and speak directly to President Trump.

Dear President Trump,

I love your spunk! I love that you are willing to get in there and stand up for the nation and yourself. And while I certainly do not agree with you on everything, I do believe your heart is in the right place as it pertains to making America great again, as you have coined it. I don't even mind your use of Twitter, though many would love to scramble your brain and make you forget your password so you could never use those once-140, now-280 characters again. The liberal media love to control the narrative, and Twitter has taken that power away from them, so I say go ahead and use Twitter to speak directly to the people. But, like with all things, use it wisely.

If I may, I will offer you a tiny piece of advice, and I'll start with a question. Why, sir, are you engaging LaVar Ball in a discussion about which he has zero interest in being fair-minded? The dude is obviously not going to thank you for rescuing his son from the hands of China's (in)justice system. His boy thanked you for using your influence to get President Xi Jinping to release him and his two UCLA basketball teammates following their alleged/admitted shoplifting spree. They had little choice, of course, as you took to Twitter beforehand, put them on blast and pondered publicly if they would thank you. (See note about using Twitter wisely.)

They did thank you, but Dad Ball took to television both to poopoo the notion that you had anything to do with his son LiAngelo's release from Chinese custody and to trivialize shoplifting. Not one to let a diss go unchallenged, you punched back. While many agree with your assessment of Mr. Ball, who made himself look like an "ungrateful fool" without your pointing it out, again on Twitter, was it necessary to punch down? Anyone who has made the comments Ball made after his son was returned to America when he could have received 10 years in a Chinese prison, recognizes he's not going to be reasonable. If he has to be coerced into being grateful for his son's rescue, such an attempt is a waste of time. Your battle with him -- over which his attention-seeking self is salivating -- is unfruitful, unnecessary and, frankly, unpresidential.

Your staunchest supporters will rebuke me and say that they are tired of "presidential," adding, "We elected him precisely because he is not 'presidential.' President Obama was 'presidential,' and look where that got us." Yes, I know. And I'm not advocating for a do-nothing, just-look-the-part president. I'm not expecting you to be like any of your predecessors. Like I said, I like your spunk. I can appreciate the New York-ness that distinguishes you from others. After all, I'm a native New Yorker myself. I'm not even suggesting you be presidential in the way many define that. But I am saying that there is a certain dignity of the office, just a little something-something that should be expected. One something is not allowing your desire for credit to make you beg for it. Just do the right thing, and the fair-minded among us will thank you. The haters never will, but so what, right? Another something is refraining from fighting folks who want to be fought so they can get attention. I mean, if they get from you what they want, have you actually won? You just end up looking childish. Your base will love you regardless, of course, but you will further isolate others.

I appreciate that you have mastered the art of the deal, to steal from your book title, and, indeed, you used those powers to bring those boys home after they embarrassed themselves and our country. What you accomplished was presidential by anyone's definition. Let that be enough, and let LaVar Ball, the ungrateful father, whose response embarrassed his son more than his son embarrassed himself, show himself for what he is. You have done much good in less than a year in office, sir, but in this, you dropped the ball -- because you would not drop the Ball. Please let it go now.

Adrienne Ross is owner of Adrienne Ross Communications and a former Southeast Missourian editorial board member. Contact her at aross@semissourian.com.

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