When the story is told about the Trump presidency, historians will say that Trump took a country that was running relatively well and friggin’ broke it. He was totally incapable of governing and he got worse over time. Oh, and the Republicans jumped on board with Trump and helped him damage our country by failing to speak up and by pandering to him.
The sheer number of bad things that happened this past week was an indicator of Trump’s inability to function as a president.
Hold onto your hats. Here we go:
- After talking with the authoritarian leader of Turkey, Erdogan, and hearing what Erdogan wanted him to do, Trump abruptly did what Turkey’s leader wanted him to do. He tweeted that he was immediately pulling our troops out of Syria. He claimed we had beaten Isis. Which is a lie. We are close to surrounding Isis and near to finishing them off. The timing for this draw-down of our troops is terrible for our country because it gives Russia and Turkey what they want, but it is not consistent with what we should be doing for our allies in the region, including the Kurds who have fought and died as our allies against Isis. This abrupt withdrawal of support for the Kurds is tantamount to betrayal and is a death warrant for many of these fighters not to mention an estimated 50,000 Syrians who will also die because we are leaving them high and dry.
- This Syrian troop removal decision by Trump was so unconscionable that General Mattis couldn’t take it anymore and went to the White House in person to hand Trump the letter in which he resigned in protest. Which is a big deal. Mattis was supposed to be the wheels on the bus, the guardrail of our democracy, the adult in the room. His resignation letter is one we need to read carefully because he essentially accuses Trump of being in bed with what he calls “malign actors”; the Russians and Chinese, as well as other authoritarian regimes. He accuses Trump of abandoning our allies. Mattis leaves in part because Trump abruptly took the advice of Erdogan over his advice without consulting with him or with our allies or the Pentagon.
- The Dow is dropping like a stone. Stocks just suffered the worst week since 2008. The Nasdaq is down over 20% from its peak. The market is responding, in part, to Trump being crazy and erratic. It looks like the stock markets have finally figured out that Trump is not crazy like a fox but crazy like a chaotic nincompoop. Another concern of the stock market is a global slowdown which, in part, is the result of Trump’s highly damaging tariffs and America First policies.
- The Federal Government has shut down over Trump’s dumb border wall. Why? Because Trump listened to Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, a bunch of self-important TV personalities, who told him that his base would abandon him if he gives in on the wall Mexico was supposed to pay for. These nutty people are telling Trump how to function as president. Apparently they are running our country along with Erdogan and Putin instead of people like James Mattis. Trump has built up the idea of the wall in the minds of his followers. The Wall is supposed to be the magic rabbit’s foot that will keep them safe from all they fear. Above all, Trump’s big fear is that he might lose his base which he knows could someday translate into twenty or more Republican Senators doing the right thing and telling Nancy Pelosi they WILL vote to eject Trump if the House impeaches him. Fear is motivating Trump to do everything possible to please his base and fulfill everything he told them he would do on the campaign trail even though 56% of Americans don’t want that dumb wall. Everyone on both sides of the aisle agrees we need border security, not an ineffective wall.
- Another thing Trump promised his base he would do is get the troops out of Afghanistan. Putin, in his annual press conference, questioned why the US is still in Afghanistan after 17 years. So, Trump dutifully and abruptly decided he would get troops out of that country too. We all know Trump must obey Putin for some sketchy reason that Trump is working as hard as he can to keep secret from us. Which is also the reason why Matt Whitaker is not recusing himself over at DOJ.
- Matt Whitaker, Trump’s hitman, temporary AG at the DOJ, rejected the recommendation by the head of the ethics group at DOJ to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation. Whitaker decided not to follow that advice. Rather than become a Jeff Sessions-like abomination to Trump, he is doing Trump’s bidding, trying to act like Trump’s flack-jacket, protecting him from incoming artillery fire. This is a continuation of Trump’s effort to obstruct justice. I think it is entirely possible that Trump will Tweet-fire Mueller over the holiday break. I hope I am wrong. It will depend on how afraid Trump is feeling.
- The US also lifted sanctions on Russia’s VTB bank which was identified in court documents at the Cohen sentencing as the bank that had agreed to fund Trump Tower Moscow. Oleg Deripaska also benefits from this suspect move by Trump. You might recall that Deripaska is the oligarch connected with Paul Manafort’s wrongdoing.
The sheer volume of bad decisions and impulsive acts from this president is multiplying. I think these acts are eventually going to catch up with him. But the wheels of justice are moving too slowly for most of us. Although there is some good news when it comes to our judiciary. It is good to know that Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, sided with the liberal justices to deny the administration’s request to impose harsher rules for asylum seekers. It was also comforting that Judge Sullivan read Flynn and his lawyers the riot act at his sentencing hearing for insinuating that Flynn had been duped or entrapped by the FBI. It felt good to hear a judge speak up about our country, and stand up for the truth, facts and the law. But the guardrails that Trump and his minions are breaking are not being replaced fast enough for those of us who are already shocked and furious but also terrified about what Trump is getting away with and what he might damage or destroy next.
My biggest concern is that Trump seems to be losing the ability to engage in PROCESS. By that I mean, he is too fearful, too distracted, to sit down with people to try to work something out or listen to other people interactively anymore. Instead, he is only capable of listening to Fox News commentators or Rush Limbaugh or Erdogan or Putin and then tweeting, commanding, and demanding that his orders be followed as if he is lobbing grenades from the trenches. I believe that is all he is able to manage psychologically. Not that he managed much before. But I think we are seeing an even greater psychological deterioration in terms of his ability to process information and work with other people.
The evidence for that is that instead of consulting with the Pentagon about Syria, he just declared it. Instead of consulting with Mattis, he just tweeted an order. Instead of working with lawmakers, he is demanding his wall be funded at the 5 billion dollar level or he shuts down the government and blames someone else. Instead of meeting with or consulting with advisors, he is declaring, insisting, tweeting and commanding. Trump must feel alone in the White House, implementing his Donald Trump First and Only Me Plan, listening to Fox News, hunkered down, tweeting, terrified, unhinged.
We need adults in Washington D.C. to stand up and we need them NOW! Where are they? The House is going to be led by Pelosi and the Senate has Chuck Shumer, starting January 3rd. which will both help and hurt this situation we are in with an unstable president going further off the rails as his fear deepens.
The incoming Congress will add both intensity to Trump’s fear, and some guardrails for us. Whitaker, for example, is going to spend much of his time before the House Intelligence Committee assuring the committee members that he is not tinkering with the Mueller investigation. They will hold his feet to the fire. We also hear that Mueller plans to have his report to the AG by February. I am not sure if that means Mueller will write a partial report and continue on with his work, or if he has had to farm out parts of the investigation to other prosecution teams around the country because he is no longer able to conduct an investigation effectively. Either way, his report can’t come soon enough. We need to know what Trump is hiding from us.
What our country also needs above all, right now, are well positioned, principled, courageous Republicans to stand up to Trump. We need the people who have worked with Trump and know how sick he is to speak up and speak out. We need the person who wrote the Op-Ed in the N.Y. Times about how we shouldn’t worry because a secret group of inside people is keeping the country safe, to come out from the shadows and tell the truth about how impaired Trump is. We need those people to tell the world why Trump is so dangerous. Speak Out! Your country needs you!