If ever there was a line from a public official blind to reality, it was Donald Trump’s at yesterday’s (February 17) news conference. Meeting all the evidence of an administration in disarray, with mounting questions from everyone but Republicans about his ability to govern, Trump said: “Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”
Actually, if that were the case, Trump would not have called a news conference, his first since taking office. The man who hides behind Twitter detests having to answer questions, especially from the “dishonest” press. Trump is used to giving orders, comfortable within himself about his correctness and invulnerability. But yesterday’s performance revealed a man on edge, psychologically no less than politically. As usual, he lied big-time—about his electoral advantage, about the media, about his puny accomplishments, about the “mess” of the economy when he took over, about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals being “in turmoil,” about the “smooth rollout” of his travel ban on Muslims, about “criminal leaks,” and of course about his popularity (which just set another all-time low at 56 percent disapproval to 39 percent approval, according to the Pew Research Center). This was Richard Nixon times five.
The alleged purpose of the gathering was to introduce a new nominee for labor secretary. But that poor guy got a minute of Trump’s time; the rest was devoted to defense, and to parrying rather sharp questions from a press that now, finally, seems to be “feeling it.” The shackles are coming off the mainstream media: the veracity of Trump’s assertions are being directly challenged; his capacity to govern is being disputed; and his inability to go beyond the personal and speak directly and clearly about topics that matter to the American people is increasingly in doubt (even by one Fox News commentator afterwards).
When will Republicans finally say, “This charade cannot go on.”
(Full text and video of Trump’s news conference is at www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/us/politics/donald-trump-press-conference-transcript.html.)