Another political tell-all could soon hit bookshelves, this time from President Trumpâs long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
STUART — A White House adviser to four presidents spoke Tuesday night to a crowd of hundreds about navigating tricky political waters in the modern age.
“We need to be honest with each other, we need to talk to each other, and we need to listen to people who are not like us,” David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, told a crowd of about 700 people at Temple Beit HaYam on Southeast Monterey Commons Boulevard.
“We’ve got to keep this great country together,” said the 75-year-old Harvard University professor who said he was “quadrupally blessed” to serve as adviser to four presidents, from Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton.
Speaking on “The State of the Presidency” at the temple’s Rappaport Center, Gergen said he wants President Donald Trump to succeed because it would be good for the nation.
“Not that I agree with his policies, but it’s important for a president to keep us advancing as a people, and I don’t think we’re doing that right now,” Gergen said.
Saying he thought former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was going to be the Republican nominee, Gergen said the media gave Trump an advantage during the primaries by giving him so much airtime in pursuit of higher ratings.
“A lot of us (in the media) bear more responsibility for Trump’s victory than we would like to admit,” he said. “Whatever else you may say about him, he does have a sixth sense, he does have an instinct for the national conversation.”
However, Gergen said, Trump “is a much better candidate than he is a president.”
Trump’s campaign message and style appealed to working class white males who had felt disrespected.
“They wanted their dignity back,” Gergen said. “They wanted to be treated with dignity.”
Gergen said the level of trust among Americans for their government and key institutions has fallen considerably since the decades following World War II.
Trump’s approval rating in polls has recently exceeded 40 percent, closer to the ratings for recent predecessors, but still well shy of the 64 percent that President Dwight Eisenhower averaged in Gallup Polls during his eight years in office from 1953 to 1961.
Gergen cited a report by The Washington Post that found Trump has made more than 2,000 statements in his first year in office that were either wrong or misleading.
“No CEO in the world could get away with that,” he said.
Trump has hastened the decline in trust among Americans, Gergen said.
“What is this campaign about fake news but to lower trust in the press, intelligence agencies, judges and now law enforcement,” he said.
Gergen offered first-hand observations of how Nixon mishandled the Watergate scandal, which he called “a case study in what not to do.”
“We’ll never know whether he ordered the break-in (of Democratic headquarters in the Watergate Hotel), but people who did the break-in thought that’s what he wanted,” Gergen said. “He (Nixon) created a mood where it could happen.”
Then, Nixon failed to come clean and tried to cover up the mess.
“A lot of very fine people had their lives destroyed because they were young and did what they were told, and told what they were doing was not unusual,” Gergen said.
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