“How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” the old joke goes. The answer is “Just one, but the light bulb has to want to change.”
That bit of wry humor came to mind yesterday when I heard remarks Sen. Dianne Feinstein made in San Francisco. Actually, she made two sets of remarks — one at a townhall, a clip of which follows, the other a day later to clarify what she meant she shared her view that “Donald Trump could be a good president.” The opinion was met with jeers from the audience.
The setting for Feinstein’s first comment was virulently anti-Trump. The senator was asked two loaded questions by a moderator. The first was when she thought Republican leaders would turn against Trump. The second was whether she believed it was better to “criticize him publicly and urge his resignation or impeach him.” (Translation: Hang him or send him to the electric chair?)
Feinstein briefly and haltingly addressed the constitutional procedure for impeaching a president, which clearly made her uncomfortable, before submitting:
Look, this man is going to be President most likely for the rest of this term. I just hope he has the ability to learn and to change and if he does he can be a good president. And that’s my hope. I have my own personal feelings about it. Yeah, I understand how you feel. I understand how you feel.
The following day she issued this “clarification”:
The duty of the American president is to bring people together, not cater to one segment of a political base; to solve problems, not campaign constantly. While I’m under no illusion that it’s likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies, I want President Trump to change for the good of the country. [Emphasis added]
It is fascinating to note that the highlighted portion of the quote could have been lifted verbatim from any number of published critiques of Barack Obama’s limitations, which included these among others.
In fact Obama was no less an iconoclastic president than Trump. He was elected with virtually no executive experience, and his election was more of a fulfillment of what Langston Hughes called “a dream deferred” than it was an affirmation of his readiness or ability to lead a nation.
Obama was no less radically left than Trump is radically right. Much of what Trump has done so far via executive fiat (another trait the two share) is undo many of Obama’s experiments in “social justice.”
If Feinstein were not so blindly partisan, she might have been aware of the irony of the “assessment” portion of her clarification. As for the second part, I would ask how many senators it takes to change a president.