" But even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked."
— Bob Dylan, in "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)."
Donald Trump's presidency is only about three weeks old but its seat-of-the-pants style suggests that a new president's shift from campaigning to governing has for him proved elusive.
Like an athlete endlessly reliving that game-changer home run, Trump seems compelled to remind his audiences of his successful campaign for the White House. On Monday, visiting the headquarters of the Southern Command, he bragged to the troops about his election. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are getting restive these days, as fulfillment of last year's campaign promises, notably the repeal/replace of Obamacare, drift further down the calendar.
Trump has embraced the promised issuance of executive orders but that was not unexpected. Whether they will bend the federal bureaucracy to his wishes is another matter. Oddly, the signing ceremonies reflect his egoism: Holding the order up for the cameras suggests a "show and tell" moment.
The larger question is how long it will take before Trump demonstrates a firm grasp of governing. That is, competence as opposed to ideology. Competence demands a consistent focus on important issues, yet his egotism and insecurities seem to be undermining his presidency and America's world standing.
That is not entirely surprising, given his Twitter addiction that reflects his slavish attention to televised trivialities. When Trump insulted Meryl Streep as "overrated" after she reproved him for mocking a reporter's physiological difficulties, his 140-character defensiveness was on full and embarrassing display.
Then there are his peevish complaints about losing the popular vote because millions "voted illegally." (Note to Trump: It's not illegal for women to vote.)
Trump's fixation on unimportant stuff has strengthened the influence of chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, whom former Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "wants to be the intellectual, strategist bomb-thrower."
As if to prove the point, the ideologue-in-chief told The Hollywood Reporter, "Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power." He is Rasputin to Trump's Tsar Nicholas.
I have a cousin who self-identifies as: " primarily a Libertarian [and] a seven-tenths social liberal and eight-tenths fiscal conservative on the left-right spectrum." But "when I see Big Government looming too big, too Orwellian, I default to Republican."
His take on Trump:
"I'm still standing by my prediction last November that Pence will be president by October. Trump is nuts and will be [impeached and] removed from office. It [will] be too hard to gloss over his affliction [of] grandiosity impulsivity, hypersensitivity to slights or criticism, and an apparently actual (not staged) inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality."
Leadership requires foresight, boldness, reliable assumption of responsibility, openness to bipartisan advice and shrewdness in dealing with America's enemies. It also demands humility, the realization that Americans look to presidents for guidance and reassurance.
So far, Trump does not seem to have grasped that job description. He has a seemingly pathological tendency to retaliate against individuals or organizations over criticism or perceived insults.
On matters that demand a president's attention, Trump too often responds embarrassingly, as his telephone conversation with Australia's prime minister last week suggested.
Given Trump's arrogant boastfulness ("I know more about ISIS than the generals") it is hard to imagine his evolution into a true leader.
Maybe that's why even some Republicans are wondering if buyer's remorse is in their future.
Or as the comedian Irwin Corey, who died this week at 102, famously said: "If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."
Michael Loftin is a former editor of the Chattanooga Times editorial page.