Sunday, January 07, 2018

A Presidency That Is Not Just Illegitimate But Abnormal As Well


Unless you’re a right-wing extremist you probably don’t know who Stephen Hayes, editor of the Weekly Standard, is-- although they often trot him out on Fox News, CNN and CNBC as a Republican commentator. Aside from a couple of crackpot biographies on Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, he’s best known as a writer for an insane book about how Saddam Hussein was working with al Qaeda (a GOP fantasy that has been proven wrong). He’s a loon, but, oddly, he’s not a Trumpist loon. This post should probably read in the context of Dr. Brandy Lee’s evaluation of Trump’s deteriorating mental state.

On Thursday Hayes penned a column for the Weekly Standard that emphasizes how abnormal Trump’s stay in the White House is. His point: despite passing the Tax Scam, getting some neo-fascist judges confirmed and wrecking much of the American regulatory system, “there’s still nothing normal about his presidency-- a fact that was made abundantly clear less than 72 hours into 2018.”
On January 2, Trump tweeted a nonsensical attack on his own Justice Department and, implicitly, the leaders he handpicked, as captives of the Deep State. The president seems to believe justice will be thwarted unless Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and James Comey soon find themselves in jail. Or, as he prefers: “Jail!”

Almost exactly 12 hours later came a Trump tweet taunting the unstable leader of a nuclear-capable rogue state. Apparently Kim Jong-un’s nuclear “button” isn’t as big as Trump’s. That’s really what he said. In between, Trump took shots at the “failing New York Times” (despite record numbers of subscriptions and digital ad revenues) and suggested, fancifully, that he was responsible for a year of aviation travel without a fatality.

The next day, an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff appeared online. Wolff, who had nearly unfettered access to Trump’s inner circle for the better part of a year, quoted former White House adviser Steve Bannon accusing Trump’s son of treason for meeting with shady Russian sources. In response, the president released a statement--  an official White House statement-- claiming that Bannon, a man he had trusted to run his political operation, was not of sound mind. Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to trash Bannon. Among his most ferocious attacks came one on Bannon’s political acuity, citing as evidence the former Trump adviser’s support of Roy Moore’s losing Senate candidacy in Alabama and eliding, for convenience, the fact that the president endorsed and campaigned for Moore, too, despite plausible accusations he had sexually assaulted teen girls. Later that evening, Trump’s lawyer sent a letter to Bannon demanding that the former aide stop criticizing the president, citing a campaign nondisclosure agreement.

Trump has a long history of threatening lawsuits-- not for legal reasons, of course, but for political and psychological ones. Trump frequently threatens to sue those who frustrate him-- the New York Times (for publishing the accounts of women who’d accused him of sexual impropriety), the women themselves (for “lying”), the makers of an anti-Trump ad on veterans (for saying he didn’t love the veterans when he really did love the veterans), Ted Cruz (over his citizenship), the Club for Growth (for ads in Iowa he didn’t like). Trump was seeking less to silence Bannon than to remind him of the consequences of leaving the circle.

Bannon knows a lot, perhaps more than anyone other than Trump family members, and he is tentatively scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on January 11. What’s more, Bannon has long privately expressed concerns about Trump’s dealings with Russians. If Trump’s goal was to neuter Bannon, to bring him back in line, it seems to have worked. “The president of the United States is a great man,” Bannon said, shortly after the letter went out. “You know I support him day in and day out.”

The following morning, Trump lawyers sent a letter to the book’s publisher threatening legal action and demanding they cease publication immediately.

So the president wants a book banned. He wants a political opponent in jail, and, for good measure, maybe the former FBI director, too. He thinks his former top adviser is insane.

This isn’t normal. And it’s not just “Trump being Trump,” the preferred dodge of elected Republicans. It’s a reflection of the president’s troubled mind and of his erratic, irrational judgment.

Trump’s media defenders will tell us, once again, that he was joking, that we shouldn’t pay attention to his antics. Seriously not literally, and all that bunk. And they’ll point, once again, to tax reform and Justice Neil Gorsuch.

I’m glad Trump signed tax reform that Republicans in Congress have been working on for years. I’m glad he’s taken the advice of Federalist Society leadership and nominated conservatives rather than liberals to the courts. And I’m glad he’s listening to conservatives who have long advocated giving the administrative state a trim.

But this is a president who played a mine-is-bigger-than-yours game in public with the leader of a rogue nuclear state. This is something more than abnormal; it’s dangerous.

We were lucky in 2017. The United States didn’t face a crisis that required presidential leadership. We didn’t have to have the sober judgment of a thoughtful statesman. We won’t be lucky forever.

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At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This, sadly, is the presidency America has earned for letting Reagan get away with so much and no one ever doing anything about it.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DWT is massively and only focused entirely on the supposed dysfunctionality of the Trump administration - pretty much every second article on this website is on this issue. However, DWT seems completely unconcerned about the other more-than-seeming dysfunctionalities abounding US politics.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

The way he's been ranting on Social Media he & the GOP are a cartoon act.

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:11, you are not correct. Almost daily DWT posts a piece proving that the democraps are total shit -- corrupt, hapless, cowardly, corrupt, inept, fraudulent, stupid, shortsighted, treasonous and corrupt. Did I mention corrupt?

Yet DWT's service to democraps is never in question. It continues to try to find decent people and support them in order to swell the ranks of the democraps.

Yeah... I don't get it either.

But you know what... if voters refuse to save themselves, why should we expect some miracle (the death of the democrap party and the coalescing of a truly left progressive party in that vacuum) to save the voters from themselves?

All I know is that DWT is NOT helping voters save themselves and it is working very hard to prevent any such miracle.

So it's lather, rinse, repeat again... except the shampoo bottle is filled with pig shit.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I like keeping comments up by maroons like Anonymous at 7:11. This is the kind of determined ignorance and disregard for facts that has brought us Trump and GOP control of the House and Senate. So pitiful...


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