Six months have passed since I filed my last story as TVNZ's US correspondent. Six months since I last officially reported on President Donald Trump. I'm still getting used to that.

It's fine when I'm on the telly or radio and speaking with a correspondent about whatever latest catastrophe the President has enabled.

It no longer seems weird to look at him shaking the hands of world leaders or climbing down the stairs of Air Force One.

But sometimes, when my mind wanders and I bow my head to the shower stream, I feel the drum of water on my neck and consider the company he keeps: Kennedy. Reagan. Obama. And this p***y grabber is president?


I don't miss reporting fulltime on US politics. These are extraordinary times, but really, I don't. I'd find it exhausting to constantly document the president's ineptitude and never see much consequence.

In my five years in the US, every presidential political balls-up had an appropriate yin to its yang. Cause and effect. Upshot.

When Obama dilly-dallied on chemical weapons and Bashar al-Assad called his bluff, he was appropriately critiqued. When he had a ruinous debate in the 2012 campaign he took heat. When his opponent Mitt Romney was caught on camera criticising half the US populace, his campaign was dead in the water.

All of that seems minor now.

It's irresistible not to apply the double standards test to Trump. What would Republicans have done if President Obama had casually handed over top-secret classified information to the Russian foreign minister?

And if he took an intelligence briefing in the a restaurant? What if he played golf every week, and if the costs to protect his family were more than $US120 million ($173m) imagine the uproar if Obama's team had been under investigation and he tried to pressure then fired the head of the FBI?

Perhaps this week of scandal will end it. But I won't be surprised if it doesn't. Because for all his stuff-ups, bugger all has changed.

Trump is the man in charge and political scandals wash off him like grass stains in a bucket of Napisan. He's still incredibly popular with his base, and enjoys broad support from Republicans in Congress.


For the White House press pool these must be existentially challenging times. Why report on a president's gross ineptitude when the voting public is so doggedly partisan nothing will alter anyone's political resolve?

If an apparent obstruction of justice into an FBI investigation won't end a presidency, what, in short, is the point?

Presuming he survives, the only thing that might challenge Trump's standing is domestic policy. Legislatively, Trump has so far achieved very little, and all we can be confident of is his impunity to political norms.

But I'm waiting to see what happens when he passes some laws. What happens if people lose healthcare? What if we don't get a wall? The mid-term elections aren't so far away.

Jack Tame is on NewstalkZB,
Saturdays, 9-noon.