Dick Yarbrough: Some Dutch-uncle advice for a president who needs it

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Dear President Trump:
Pardon this journalistic equivalent of spitting in the wind but I thought it was important that you hear from one of the “deplorables” who resides on neither the left wing or the right wing. Believe it or not, there are a lot of us in the middle.
Before I go any further, let me say that I am not speaking for great-grandson extraordinaire Cameron Charles Yarbrough, who is a shrewd investor in the stock market (with some help from a few friends) and would be bowled over to know that the Dow has gone over 23,000, except he is busy getting a helluva good education in a public school.
I know one person who knows you very well and has been in your office a number of times. He says that in private you are much more low key, thoughtful and possess a good sense of humor than your public persona would indicate. He also says you don’t take advice from people who are in a position to give it. With all due respect, no one is smart enough to never need some “Dutch-uncle” advice on occasion.
As background, over my past career I dispensed advice — sometimes not what they wanted to hear — to the CEO of the eighth largest corporation in America and to the man who created and executed the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Both, like you, were the smartest men in the room but, unlike you, they were smart enough to know what they didn’t know and they listened. I hope you will.
First off, you are no longer building big buildings. You are the president of the United States. Act more presidential. Stow the public insults. I find it incomprehensible that the leader of the free world would engage in Twitter battles with late night TV hosts and entertainers. You give them a credibility they don’t deserve. Ignore them. They aren’t worth your valuable time.
Same with “fake news.” The national media doesn’t necessarily fake the news but they can slant it with an adjective here, an adverb there and then toss in a snarky headline for good measure. I dealt with the national media for much of my career. They live in a cocoon.
Inside the Beltway, they are big stuff but do we believe them out here in the sticks? Only if we are predisposed to their point of view, meaning liberal. The media need to dismount their high horse and do a bit of soul-searching as to how their credibility has dropped with the general public. But they buy their ink by the barrel, so that’s one fight you won’t win. You have made your point about fake news. Let’s move on.
Cut the hyperbole. Everything is not “the biggest, greatest, most outstanding, very wonderful, etc.” That is real estate talk. You aren’t in the real estate business anymore. You are running a country.
Lower the rhetoric. It is interesting to contrast your style with our other “outsider” president, Ronald Reagan. Here was a man so comfortable in his own skin that he almost encouraged his enemies to underestimate him. I would love to see him dealing with this fractious Congress. No question he would prevail.
One of my friends was the late Larry Speakes, Mr. Reagan’s press spokesman. He tells of a proposed speech the president was to make in Berlin, encouraging then-Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev to dismantle the Berlin Wall. A nervous State Department, afraid of upsetting Gorbachev, would expunge the line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The president would add it back in. Back and forth this went until Reagan asked everyone if they knew who was president of the United States. “You are, sir,” they replied. “Then put the line back in and leave it.” No rants. No public histrionics. Just being president.
You are doing some good things in getting us out of a government not of laws but of capricious and arbitrary regulations. Too bad it gets lost in some inanely stupid tweets — like how you are smarter than the people you have selected for your Cabinet. Why is that necessary?
In short, drop the reality star shtick and be our president. Unite us, don’t divide us any worse than we already are. The Chardonnay-sipping crowd hates you. The red meat crowd loves you. Most of the rest of us are somewhere in between. We would feel a lot better if you quit playing president and acted like one.

Dick Yarbrough

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb