Donald Trump – He Never Learns: Presidents often learn from their mistakes and evolve over time.
Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pack the Supreme Court and then let his foot off the gas and rescinded.
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John F. Kennedy led a failed invasion of Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs. He publicly apologized and never tried this kind of folly again.
Lyndon B. Johnson looked at his political demise and decided not to run again.
Bill Clinton lost his first midterm election and famously governed from the middle using his brand of governing evolution called triangulation by finding the middle lane in American politics.
Trump Is Obstinate, to Say the Least
Donald Trump was different during his presidency. The more mistakes he made, the more he refused to change. There was no evolution or governing from the center.
I cannot recall a time when he apologized during his presidency. He never admitted a loss. Even a partisan like Barack Obama was introspective during his midterm election disaster, saying he and the Democrats got a “shellacking” in 2010. Obama was reportedly humbled and said he needed to do a better job.
Give Peace a Chance and Admit You Are Wrong
The American people sometimes prefer a president to make amends. George W. Bush was punished for once answering a question about what he regretted during his presidency. He thought a bit but admitted no faults. Many Americans wanted him to apologize for the invasion of Iraq, but Bush later conceded mistakes he made after his presidency.
Not Forgiven for January 6
The worst moment of Trump’s presidency has to be the January 6 insurrection. This was the time that America needed the most healing. Trump could have admitted he made a mistake by fanning the flames of the violent and deadly protest at the Capitol.
He instead doubled down and did not take responsibility for his actions leading to his second impeachment.
At Least Admit Some Fault for the First Impeachment
The first impeachment could have been a time for Trump to be contrite. All he needed to say was that if he had to do the phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over again, he would not have encouraged Zelenskyy to investigate the Biden family.
Maybe an apology would not have helped against rabid Congressional Democrats, but it could have helped him with the American public.
No Need to Fear a Public Bloodletting
Many Americans who observe politics know there are ups and downs in any presidency. They know that mistakes can be made, and they are often ready to forgive. In other countries, especially in East Asian nations such as Japan, politicians can take this to extremes. After a political scandal, the leader will not only apologize, but the person will stand in front of the media and bow in shame, and then resign. Some guilty Japanese politicians have cried in front of the cameras. This is taking the apology too far, but it shows that some cultures want the guilty politicians to admit they are wrong and quit in shame.
Trump: No Evolution or Lessons Learned
Could Trump have evolved more during his presidency? Changing behavior is just not in Trump’s DNA. He is a pugilist who looks at politics as a death struggle against his enemies. These can be from his own party, not to mention those in the media and members of the Democrat party.
Does He Not Care About His Legacy?
What does Trump want to be remembered for?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, he looked to be ready for re-election. The economy was healthy. Unemployment was historically low. The country was mostly at peace aside from the war in Afghanistan that was leading toward conclusion.
But America felt like it was coming apart too, especially during the coronavirus scare. Trump could have become a healer, but that was never in the cards.
He Can’t Admit to Wrongdoing
Contrition after the racial incidents and during and after his impeachments were opportunities for Trump to learn lessons and convince the American people that he could take responsibility and admit he was wrong. This could have gone a long way to help his legacy, even though he appeared to never care much about his legacy.
Maybe one day, especially if he loses re-election again, he can become introspective and examine mistakes in his presidency and wish he would have handled them differently. Even Nixon admitted he let the country down during Watergate.
Trump has shown that he doesn’t learn and doesn’t adjust from mistakes. He will likely be remembered for those faults.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.