John Dickerson provided for the essential ‘must see and hear’ moments from the Sunday morning news shows. I loved the commentary that former host Bob Schieffer offered the nation each week, and knew that once Dickerson took over the reins there would be changes. One should be allowed to make the show reflect the host. But in this far too often up-side down world there is much to be said for seasoned and reasoned minds to ask the nation to take a breath and evaluate where we are with a dose of sanity.
That is precisely the role Dickerson played today. I much appreciate his calm manner, his determined focus, his unrelenting drive to get facts, and then his ability to weave everything we have learned this past week into a powerful statement.
President Trump said President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
This week, the FBI director said there was no evidence of that. This wasn’t just a fact-check. It highlighted how lightly President Trump treats the presidency.
We have presidents and we have an office of the presidency. Opponents respect the office, even if they disagree with the occupant. Presidents are criticized, but the presidency is behind protective glass.
That’s why a president can come into office attacking his predecessor’s policies, but later celebrate the dedication of his predecessor’s presidential library. It is why George W. Bush prepared a smooth transition for Barack Obama, and why President Obama did the same for Donald Trump.
Once on the job, a president also gains respect for the presidency because they learn, as President Trump did this week, that the job is harder than it appeared from the campaign trail.
The historical continuity of the presidency is an heirloom and a tool. Presidents gain stature by hugging those who came before them. Donald Trump visited Andrew Jackson’s grave and compared himself to the seventh president, who also spooked elites.
These perks and protections are why presidents honor the presidency.
“I shall keep steadily in view the limitations of my office,” said Andrew Jackson. Break the limits, and you break the office.
Nevertheless, President Trump compared his predecessor to Nixon and McCarthy, called him sick and bad.
To break glass like that, a president must have a good reason and proof. President Trump had no evidence and no higher purpose.
Tending the presidency is important for a disruptive president like Donald Trump, because it shows people he knows the line between renovating the office and demolishing it. You measure twice, and cut once. You don’t cut without measuring at all.