A blistering anti-Trump editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal proves the Resistance is alive and well, and working.
I’d argued early on that the best way to undermine Trump’s presidency was to undermine Trump personally, by targeting his fragile psyche. The more the left can get under Trump’s notoriously thin-skin, the more erratic Trump (who already skirts a fine line in terms of his apparent mental health) would become. And the more erratic Trump becomes, the lower his polls drop, and ultimately the less support for his agenda among Republicans in Congress and the GOP intelligentsia.
What I didn’t realize was how easy it would be to play Trump, and how quickly he would descend into a very public madness.
Which leads us to today’s editorial in the WSJ. Now keep in mind, this is not an opinion piece written by some partisan. This is an editorial from the very-conservative very-Republican Wall Street journal editorial board. It doesn’t get more GOP-pure than these folks. And even they are eviscerating Trump today.
The editorial is behind a paywall, but I can share a bit from the piece, titled “A President’s Credibility”:
Then they discuss Trump’s now-debunked claim that President Obama “tapped his wires”:
Comparing the president to a drunk.
And the final paragraph:
It simply doesn’t get any stronger than that.
Now, what does this mean?
The job is getting to Trump.
Clearly the opposition, and the presidency overall, is unnerving Trump. I suspected all along that Trump never planned on winning the election. The race was simply a way for Trump to yet again get his name in the papers, and hopefully make a few bucks afterwards. Instead, Trump caught the tiger’s tail and now isn’t entirely sure what to do with it.
Biggest licensing deal ever, gone terribly wrong.
Once Trump realized he actually had a chance of winning, he then saw the presidency as his biggest licensing deal ever. Trump has made a lot of money over the years lending his name to other people’s money. The presidency would thus be Trump’s biggest deal yet. As was reported this past summer, Trump planned to have his vice president take charge of domestic and foreign policy, while Trump would stay busy “making American great again.” Trump wanted to be chairman of the board, while Mike Pence dirtied his hands with the day-to-day operations of America Inc.
Sadly for Trump, the presidency doesn’t quite work as hands-off as he’d like. Leading the free world has a funny way of intruding on your daily regimen of 6 hours of TV and weekends playing golf with your rich buddies.
Trump’s authoritarian instincts don’t serve him well in a democracy.
Donald Trump ran for president of the wrong country. While I’m sure a core base of Americans love a fascist, our system of checks and balances does not. And that’s been terribly frustrating to Trump. The Chinese were allowed to send tanks in to crush the democracy uprising in 1989, and Putin gets to even annex his neighbors. So why can’t Trump take a swipe at Muslims? Because democracy.
Trump’s inexperience in politics makes him less effective, and even more frustrated.
Trump got lucky, to be sure — the two-fer combo of FBI Director Comey and Vladimir Putin helped push Trump over the top in November — but even without Trump’s deus ex machina little helpers in Washington and Moscow, Trump did better than someone of his caliber should have. But raw populism, with a touch of fascism, only gets you so far. It’s all well and good for an election, but it can be difficult to run a legislative agenda based on charisma alone. The US government is like a big unruly corporation. If you bring in an outsider to run things, the insiders, who know the rules inside and out, are going to run circles around him. And they are.
Manafort, Manafort, Manafort.
Nothing points out how clearly over-his-head, and out of control, Trump is than the tale of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. Manafort, you’ll recall, was forced to leave the Trump campaign last summer, after increasing reports about his high-paid work for pro-Putin forces in Ukraine.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that during his previous consulting work, Manafort had a $10 million per year contract to help push Putin’s foreign policy in Europe and America.
Spicer’s response: 1) That Manafort guy, never heard of him. 2) Who cares what Manafort did before he joined the campaign.
No, Spicer didn’t actually say he didn’t know Manafort, but he has said for days that Manafort had only a small, short-lived, incidental at best role on the Trump campaign. In fact, Manafort ran the Trump campaign as its chairman.
As for Spicer’s second point, that nobody cares what Manafort did before he joined the Trump campaign — “to dredge up someone’s work from a decade ago,” to quote Spicer — is insane. I can’t imagine hiring a top campaign staffer who ostensibly did work for Vladimir Putin (or in Manafort’s case, to be accurate, worked for a Russian oligarch who was a top friend-of-Putin, in order to push Putin’s foreign policy in Europe and America). It stretches credulity to suggest that a presidential campaign would ever let someone like this work as a top adviser, let alone the man running the entire campaign. And the notion that the campaign wouldn’t want to know that Manafort was palling around with FOPs (friends of Putin) to the tune of $10m per year? Dear lord.
It should be assumed that Spicer, while seemingly channeling Melissa McCarthy, is actually channeling Donald Trump. Trump is clearly demanding that Spicer defend him and his at all costs, to hell with what’s best for truth, adminstration or America. Thus Spicer’s recent defense of Michael Flynn, and now Spicer’s weird claim that Manafort’s previous work promoting Putin’s foreign policy is somehow not relevant.
And all of this comes back to Trump’s temperament. A better politician, a more sane man, would have vetted his campaign staff better, and would have known better how to respond to such controversies now that they’re out of the bag. A lesser man feeds those controversies, and ultimately helps to destroy his own presidency.
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