It doesn't get easier 6,000 miles away.
"Don't you like your president?" asks a man who is a strong supporter of Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu and our Donald Trump. I try to explain it's not a matter of liking. I respect Israel's right to choose Netanyahu, a man who I do not agree with, just as we Americans have the right to elect as our president a pathological liar and manipulator who can never admit a mistake.
Consider, for example, today's Trump headlines.
With much of the country glued to the coverage of Hurricane Dorian, the president announced (by tweet, of course) over the weekend that Alabama would be hit by the storm. It wasn't. It wasn't supposed to be.
So what to do? Admit a mistake?
Not Donald Trump. He doesn't make mistakes. Everyone else does. So on Wednesday, the White House released a video of Trump holding a doctored map showing that, as of last week, the "cone of uncertainty" where Dorian was supposed to hit included Alabama. Except it didn't. The cone appeared to have been redrawn with a Sharpie to make Trump look like a he was right when he was wrong — a daily job for Trump's team, and one of the obvious reasons for the constant turnover.
White House spokesmen challenged the press for pointing out that the cone looked like it had been redrawn. But they didn't deny it.
Now, it's pretty troubling that the president of the United States had no idea where the biggest storm in recent history was expected to hit.
But what is inexcusable is Trump's absolute inability to admit that he made a mistake.
Two weeks ago, Elizabeth Warren did something that Trump would never do: "Pocahontas," as the president has derisively referred to her, offered a public apology to Native Americans for having repeated her mother's claims that their family descends from Native Americans. She owned her mistake, took responsibility, faced those she had offended and apologized.
Could you imagine Trump doing that? Never.
Of course, the Trump people proclaim to be unafraid of Warren in a general election because her policies are more progressive than those of a majority of Americans. Certainly, Warren's approach is totally at odds with the Trump approach of giving tax breaks so rich guys like him don't have to pay a dime. But is that really what Americans who do pay taxes want? And even if it is, policy only counts so much. Hillary Clinton didn't lose on policy. Barack Obama didn't win on policy. More than any other issue in presidential politics, character counts. Maybe folks were unfamiliar with Trump's arrogance, his tendency to lie, his instinct to attack and his mental cycling last time around. No more. His growing unfavorability rating reflects that.
This time, we all know who Trump is: the man who is allergic to telling the truth or taking responsibility, the loudmouth who lies and manipulates to get what he wants, even if he changes his mind as to what that is.
As if the Alabama Sharpie Affair weren't enough for one day, the Pentagon announced Wednesday that it is defunding recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as projects aimed at protecting European allies from Russia, to build "the wall" that no one but Trump wants and literally no one thinks will be effective. You can't put a wall around the United States. It was a campaign promise that should have died in the campaign. Instead, the still-ravaged island of Puerto Rico will lose $400 million in much-needed relief so the president can keep bragging/promising his wall on the campaign trail.
As for the inhumanity America has shown at the border, the sick and dying children, the families who may never be reunited, well, they're just as easy for Trump to forget about as the business of Alabama. Alabama did not get hit. It was Puerto Rico. And Florida. And the Bahamas. And the Carolinas. But who has time for that when we have a wall to build?
No, I don't hate the president. I hate the Islamic State group. I hate white supremacists and anti-Semites. Donald Trump just breaks my heart, turning the life's work of so many of us, myself included, into dust.
(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)