Hard on the heels of our celebration of the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is a slightly less patriotic milestone: the conclusion of Donald Trump’s first six months in office. Only 42 more to go!

Six months has been more than enough time to learn what we’ve got. Indeed, six weeks gave us all the information we needed: Donald Trump is an immature, needy, compulsive 70-year-old, obviously fixed in his ways, who knows little about domestic politics, whether it’s getting a new health care bill passed or designing a tax overhaul. But domestic policies are his strength, at least compared to his foreign policy expertise.

Last week was designated “Energy Week” by the White House, which if nothing else reminded us that the US, under Trump, had just joined Syria and Nicaragua as one of three countries, out of 198, rejecting the Paris Climate Accord. Energy Week had been anticipated a month earlier when the Dakota Access pipeline went into commercial operation; in celebrating it, Trump boasted how he was also encouraging renewed coal production — no doubt to assure global warming continues unabated.

This week — at least for our inexperienced White House occupant — appears to be Foreign Policy week. He kicked it off Monday with a call to China’s President Xi to seek Chinese help in containing North Korea’s long-range missile development. Trump’s call for Xi’s help came just after the US had sold over a billion dollars’ worth of missiles and other military hardware to Taiwan and sent a destroyer near some islands China claims in the South China Sea, which the Chinese promptly denounced as “a serious political and military provocation.” Good way to ask China to help with North Korea.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un responded early on the 4th of July by testing another missile, one that experts concluded could travel as far as Hawaii and Alaska. China is caught in no-man’s-land: it hardly wants a war to break out in the Korean peninsula, but it is even less interested in seeing the North Korean regime collapse and a unified Korea loom on the horizon. But US choices are no better: launch an attack against North Korean missile sites leading to a possible disastrous reaction by nuclear-armed Kim, or let North Korea continue to develop missiles that will soon be able to deliver a nuclear strike against the US mainland?

President Trump’s initial foray into the international scene was his visit to Saudi Arabia, where he somehow managed to give the green light to the young, inexperienced king-to-be, Mohammad bin Salman, to launch a dangerous feud with the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, where the US has an airbase staffed with 10,000 US and NATO troops.

His next stop on his tour d’horizon of the Middle East was a visit with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. His Israeli trip came barely 10 days before the 50th anniversary of the ’67 war — 50 years of occupation by Israel of the homeland of millions of Palestinians. Right after Trump’s visit, Israel initiated construction on its first government-approved settlement in the West Bank in 25 years. 

As you read this, Trump is in Poland, seat of Europe’s most right-wing government, en route to attend tomorrow’s G-20 summit where he’ll have one-on-one discussions with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Trump has made his admiration for Putin abundantly clear: “I always knew he was very smart,” Trump said shortly before his inauguration, praising Putin for not reacting to the sanctions the Obama administration had put on Russia for interfering in the elections that landed Trump in the White House.



So as the “fake news’’ media digs deeper into details of Putin’s meddling in our elections — which led to the Justice Department’s appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller — it’ll be interesting to see how Trump takes on Putin. Or doesn’t.

What will be even more interesting are the discussions between Xi and Trump: Russian cyber-meddling is an annoyance that needs to be dealt with; China’s out-of-control diminutive buddy Kim could kick off a nuclear war.

Six months into his presidency. And a lifetime, or so it seems, of unpresidential behavior, sexist tweets, childish bullying: he is what he is.

At this point, maybe the best approach is for the mainstream media to relax. Stop focusing on Trump. Stop writing about his behavior. All last weekend, every time you turned on CNN, or Meet the Press, or the other Sunday talk shows, the focus was always on Donald Trump, the aging, childish tweeter.

What the media seems unable to grasp is that that’s just manna from heaven for the yellow-haired septuagenarian: he thrives on publicity; he lives for it. 

He loves being the center of attention of the various television and newspaper outlets he attacks: that’s why he attacks them.

Surveys show his approval rating hovering at just 35%, his rock-solid base. Trump is the most unpopular president, at this early moment in his presidency, that we’ve ever had. It took George W. Bush over half a decade and two losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to get to the low approval rating Trump has managed to grab in one-tenth the time — and without any wars.

His tweets attacking MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” — and the resulting negative reaction from both parties in Congress, including Maine’s Republican Senator Collins — fed his base. The news of his embarrassing behavior, repeated over and over again, only solidifies it. And much worse: it feeds Trump’s own insatiable ego, which encourages further aggressive tweeting, further media attacks — a vicious circle which continuously stimulates him. He was elected, he said, “to drain the swamp.” Instead, he’s spreading it.

The real way to punish this old man with a teenager’s insecurity is to ignore him. Donald Trump came out of Queens, an “outside borough” of the big city. And he’s been trying to get acknowledged by the inside-borough types for half a century. Even being elected president hasn’t satisfied his adolescent neediness. Remember that weird scene when Commander-in-Chief Trump was taking a page out of North Korean behavior and demanding every member of his cabinet publicly declare their undying adoration and fealty for the man. To discredit him, the scene was played repeatedly on television — with Trump no doubt more delighted each time he saw it.

So don’t play into his hands: ignore him. Sure, write about the real news involving the White House: with North Korea and Putin and China, not to mention ISIS, out and about, there’s plenty of real news. And plenty of opportunity, unfortunately, for our insecure president to make dangerous decisions. But ignore his tweets and provocative comments — focus on the real news.

Donald Trump doesn’t smoke; he doesn’t drink or do drugs. He’s got a much worse addiction: the need for constant ego-stroking. The more he sends out his off-the-cuff tweets at daybreak, the more the press reacts — and the more his hardcore base rallies around him.

Bottom line: the more he’s the center of our news — good news, bad news, any news — the more he revels in it. 

Stop feeding the beast.