By Hannah Reich Berman

Several months back, when Donald Trump let the country know that he was a presidential hopeful, I kvetched about him and I ridiculed him. To be candid, occasionally I still do. But since honesty is important, I must confess that there are times when, as un-presidential as he may be, I find myself liking what he has to say. That does not mean I agree with all his wacky ideas, but I often like listening to them.

The man is a bully and a blowhard, and very few people can get away with making such outrageous suggestions. Yet it seems to be working for him. People find it refreshing that he says aloud what others may think but will never say. Also, at the outset of Trump’s declaration that he would seek the presidency, I made fun of his ridiculous hairstyle. But after all this time, I have gotten so accustomed to seeing it that it no longer looks quite so hilarious. Apparently one can get used to just about anything.

The Donald has been called out for many of his silly remarks and foolhardy promises. But we, as a nation, are now focused on matters so much more serious than Trump’s blusters and boasts–matters such as the vicious murders that were carried out in a luxury hotel in Tripoli, on the streets of Paris, and then in California. The world has been caught off guard and, thanks to a seemingly inept commander-in-chief, we have been caught napping. Incredibly, Obama actually congratulates himself on a job well done. If the job he does is well done, what does a poorly done job look like? In addition to waging an ineffective campaign against ISIS and presenting us with Obamacare, the man is determined to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison despite a 30 percent rate of recidivism; he lets these monsters go and a third of them return to terrorism.

Another of my original criticisms of Trump was his proclivity for repeating himself. That has not changed; he still does it. But, putting things in perspective, it might be preferable to hear someone repeat himself than to hear someone speak and say absolutely nothing–as our illustrious president recently did when he gave a speech from the Oval Office.

It was wise to have the cameras roll in that recognizable room, because were it not for those surroundings nobody would actually believe it was the president of the United States talking. So ineffective were his words, and so shallow his promises, that he gave another speech two weeks later. The second was not much better than the first, and nobody’s fears have been allayed.

The clincher was when, a week later, he said in an interview, “I have not watched enough cable television to realize that Americans were nervous and fearful.” After the massacre in Paris and in San Bernardino, he did not know on his own? Where is that man’s head? And where are his advisers? Possibly his advisers do not have any sway with him because it is apparent that he listens to nobody. How I long for the day when he leaves office!

It has been my lifelong habit to do countdowns. As a child, I did them to calculate how many days until my birthday party. Now I do them when I am counting how many days are left before the first Passover Seder night or how many weeks until a grandchild’s bar mitzvah or wedding. I also do countdowns to keep track of how many days it will be before a grandchild returns after a year of study in Israel.

Counting down days, weeks, or months brings a measure of satisfaction. It had never caused me displeasure until now–as I count down the months left until Obama’s final disastrous term comes to an end. It cannot be soon enough! Except for the worry of a terrorist attack closer to home, nothing in recent memory has brought more angst than the knowledge that more than a year remains with Obama at the helm.

At present, however, I am none too thrilled by the prospect of having Hillary (or Cagey Clinton, as I think of her) replace him. She may or may not continue Obama’s policies, but with her obvious arrogance and accompanying penchant for lying, that is something we will not know until she is actually in the White House. And if she does get there, we will never know what is what, from one minute to the next, because telling the truth is not her strong suit. Come to think of it, Obama at least tells the truth. He never says we are going to do much of anything about ISIS, and we do not. He wants to be known as the peace president, and maybe he was not lying when he said ISIS had been contained. He may actually have believed it at the time. Maybe he still does. The man is frighteningly out of touch.

After seven years of Obama, and now with the all-too-real prospect of having Hillary as president, a great many people are focusing on the coming election and the candidates. The farshluffeneh (sleepy) Dr. Ben Carson may be a fine neurosurgeon, but if he was scheduled to operate on anyone I cared about, I would ask his wife to slip a No‑Doz pill into his morning coffee. Who wants a surgeon falling asleep while operating? As of this week, Trump appears to have left Gentle Ben behind in the dust. But things change from week to week. Another hopeful whose numbers have climbed is Ted Cruz. Again, that is this week. Numbers are meaningless because they seesaw on a regular basis.

Since the first time Donald Trump opened his mouth to declare his candidacy, there has been a little three-letter word with a big meaning that swirls around him. The word is how. How will he implement his ambitious plans? He gives no specifics about how he will accomplish his goals. But there may be a good reason for that. He himself probably has no idea how. So, when he is questioned, he claims that how he will do this or that must remain secret because he does not want to give information to his enemies. Incredibly, he thinks people believe this. The best that can be said for that response is that it is laughable. Unfortunately, the presidency is no laughing matter. That’s the way it is.

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.


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