Coming Apart? Maybe Not

Day by day the Trump administration is coming apart. Revelations abound about the dysfunctions of the Trump team, about Trump’s ignorance and incompetence, and now about a “resistance” group in the White House that is actively countering Trump’s “amorality” and “erratic” leadership style. Donald Trump surely can’t last much longer. Or can he?

We might all be guilty of wishful thinking here. Yes, between Bob Woodward’s Fear and Mr. (or Ms.) Anonymous’ assault on Trump’s character, you would think any normal leader would decide that enough is enough. But Donald Trump isn’t a normal leader with normal emotions. As Woodward reports, he believes in never taking a backward step, never apologizing, never showing weakness. He’s like Hitler in his bunker—except that Trump won’t commit suicide.

More importantly, Trump hasn’t been mortally wounded by any of the books about him. Nor has the anonymous op-ed really exposed new and terrible things about Trump’s character that we didn’t already know. In fact, the op-ed supports Trump in two ways. First, the writer claims that some officials are “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda.” S/he acknowledges that Trump has delivered on key campaign promises beloved to both his base and Republicans in Congress: “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” What the writer, possibly a senior intelligence official, most resents is Trump’s performance in foreign affairs, such as his embrace of dictators, his trade policy, and treatment of allies—in short, his unfitness to be a commander in chief. Major defects, to be sure, but evidently not serious enough for the writer to resign in protest.

Second, Trump, with help from Steve Bannon, has consistently maintained that a “deep state” has been undermining his presidency since day one. Now along comes a “senior official” whom Trump can say proves the existence of the deep state, giving life to Woodward’s stories about other officials who have all along engaged in acts of bureaucratic sabotage. Trump’s cry of “treason” may seem credible to many.

When the smoke clears for the umpteenth time in this absurd presidency, we may find ourselves still at square one, hoping for electoral victories in November and the start of impeachment proceedings in January. We’re no closer than we were a few days ago to mass White House defections, Congressional Republicans turning on Trump, or people in “the base” suddenly realizing what a jerk they elected. Meanwhile, Brett Kavanaugh is a day closer to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, many children remain separated by ICE from their families, shootings continue unabated, and bad news mounts on climate change. So let’s get back to work.

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  1. I just took a look at the recent facebook posts of people who have supported Trump. There are mostly folks I knew in high school. They are still posting but nothing recent directly about Trump. One woman who is an officer in the local Republican party posted about End Times which, though she is religious, I have never seen before. Others posted about the supreme court, boycotting Nike, and that Social Security should not be taxed. Normally at least one of these people would have something specifically about Trump. This is a small sample, but could this show a little shift in the base?

  2. I strongly agree with this piece. We are not at the beginning of the end. If Trump had a high degree of competence, he would likely ride this out. However, competence is not his strong suit. You see this in his reaction to the combined impact of the Woodward book and the NYT Op Ed piece. His response was to attack Woodward, the Times and the writer of the Op Ed. It might have been much stronger if he had said, “I told you I was going to shake this place up and I’m doing it. It’s true that I have staff that don’t like everything I’m doing, but I didn’t come here to make my staff happy. I came here to do the things I promised I would do. The more you hear people complain, the more you will know I’m getting things done.” I suspect that you will see this incompetence unfold as the Mueller investigation proceeds. At least I hope so. Trump does not inspire loyalty. If Mueller continues to flip people, he may amass enough substance to warrant an impeachment action in the House. If the Democrats win the House, things could really heat up. If they don’t, much of this roiling is likely to fade away. Either way, it’s hard to see a two thirds vote in the Senate. I would still take a bet that Trump finishes out his term. It would be a bet I’d be happy to lose. Bob W.


  3. My deepest concern about the Op Ed piece is that it is a powerful distraction. It potentially siphons serious attention away from stronger, better developed strategies such as Mueller, Other Investigations (NY, DC, and Maryland AGs), and Impeachment. It will certainly divert the media and will inevitably entice them into the Wonderland of “who spilled the beans”? Even more bizarre, it may create a new infant industry of “experts on the 25th Amendment” or, “just how crazy is the Donald and can it be proved to people who don’t read this Blog”. On the other hand, I guess the accumulation of stories like these may also serve some positive function. Maybe Sarah Suckerbee will finally give up on the creep and leave the Press Room.

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