Trump picks a fight he doesn’t need to

Commentators have wondered whether Donald Trump might prove a less combative president than he has been a presidential candidate.

Would he be able to refrain from picking fights with people on Twitter?

Might he avoid complaining about unfavourable media coverage?

Could he rise above petty politics and name-calling?

Trump’s war with the media continues

Unfortunately, the indications so far are not promising.

Barely a day has passed since his inauguration, and the new President has already resumed his war with the media.

Their crime on this occasion? To compare (unfavourably) the crowds that attended his inauguration with those that attended the inauguration of Obama in 2009.

Obama’s inauguration was better attended

Now the result of the comparison will not surprise.

Obama’s inauguration was that of America’s first black President. It was a moment of great significance, relief and hope given America’s troubled history.

Furthermore, Obama was very popular. He carried himself with dignity. He employed his voice to brilliant effect, his oratory entrancing his audiences. They might forget what he had said afterwards, but they had been inspired, and the impression would stay with them.

Small wonder, then, that hundreds of thousands flocked to attend his inauguration.

A partisan comparison – but it shouldn’t matter

One might be tempted to sympathise with Trump in this matter.

The media is being churlish to make the comparison, which is unfavourable to him. The story is trivial. It has received far more coverage than it deserves. And in principle, such partisan comparisons might be best avoided.

But the truth is, it doesn’t really matter.

Trump has become President – he doesn’t need a fawning media. He should ignore any jibes and just get on with the job.

Trump won’t let it pass

Sadly, Trump hasn’t risen above the affair. Instead, a spokesman for the president went on the offensive on his behalf.

The media is misleading the people, said the spokesman, angrily:

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe”

No evidence was offered for this assertion, and the pictures the media had shown would seem to contradict the statement quite clearly.

On the basis of that evidence, few people are likely to believe the spokesman. One suspects that the overwhelming majority of those who do believe him already supported Trump. The statement, therefore, will have achieved nothing.

An angry intervention on a trivial matter

This was an angry – and quite possibly dishonest – intervention on a fundamentally trivial matter. President Trump will have only reinforced the impression that he is thin-skinned.

Another battle lost because engaged in.