Trump’s Runaway Presidency
The standard metaphor for anything that is going “south”, that is to say, badly wrong, is a speeding train hopping the rails – an impending train wreck. Since it is so overworked and such a cliché, perhaps we should opt for another analogy to the Donald Trump presidency – the runaway semi-tractor trailer.
In this one, the president is the owner-operator of the bigly rig and the rig is the Office of the Presidency and the contents of the trailer is the stability and well being of the nation.
But this is not fully accurate either, since the driver (Trump) does not really own the rig or the trailer – he’s only a lessee and he certainly has no ownership interest of the trailer’s contents, or what in trucking vernacular is referred to as the ‘load’.
In this version of the oft repeated account of the runaway truck trope, the driver himself has sabotaged the brakes. Witnessing this, we don’t know the precise motive behind his doing so, but are left to only speculate. In the case of this driver, little else fits other than the operator is a thrill seeker and such a reckless act is an escalation of his impulse to indulge in truck driving as a new category of extreme sports.
Trump is an adrenalin junkie. He believes that he will be able to ditch the truck at the last minute and emerge unscathed. Alternately, it may be that he is relying on one of those emergency turnouts that have the enormous pile of gravel dubbed a “truck arrester bed” by highway authorities, that will serve to immobilize the rig and prevent it from careening end over end in a jack knife.
The truck arrester bed in this iteration of runaway truck is Trump’s devoted political base, depicted here (below right) in one of it’s moments of unbridled euphoria.
Before we examine the condition of Trump’s emergency runaway ramp, let’s look at some particular mile markers on the 10 degree downhill grade.
Keep in mind, this is merely a short list, because the full Monty, so to speak, would consume an entire volume:
- Following the inauguration, Trump’s first priority – instead of reaching out to unite the country, is to bitterly dispute the media estimates of the size of the crowd at the outdoor inaugural festivities and claim that Hillary Clinton’s significant lead in the popular vote count was strictly due to election fraud.
- The conduct unbecoming (both before and after the election) of Trump. His vicious personal attacks on real and perceived enemies and opponents; his reckless and disruptive use of social media (Twitter); his uncouth public manners in diplomatic settings and his gross negligence with regard to facts.
- The Trump White House sits on information received from the acting head of the Justice Department, Sally Yates, indicating that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had numerous meetings and unlawful interactions with Russian officials and members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Administration officials were in receipt of this information for over 2 weeks before finally being forced to act on it in the face of news reports detailing such acts as Flynn lobbying for foreign governments including Russia.
- The firing of former FBI Director James B. Comey, Jr., which is now widely recognized as a patented case of obstruction of justice and which Steve Bannon has characterized as “the biggest political mistake in modern history”.
- Trump’s bitter and abusive treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions due to Trump’s anger over Session’s recusal in the Russiagate investigation.
- Trump’s serial clumsy, incompetent and in several cases, suspicious firings of scores of other cabinet members, administration officials and aides – and his perverse predilection for issuing statements that contradict his communication staff and other White House officials, even his U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley .
- The president’s dangerously provocative and irresponsible statements on the North Korean missile tests and the ratcheting up of tension in a war of words with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un. Even Steve Bannon, Chief White House political strategist during much of the belligerent rhetoric, stated in an interview that, “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
- Trump’s unfounded claim that he was “wiretapped” by the intelligence community during the presidential campaign. The claim later was completely debunked although Trump still clings to his statements, even now that his own Justice Department dismissed the claim.
- Trump’s silence on his son-in-law Jared Kushner and other members of the administration using private e-mail servers for White House business, in contrast to his encouragement of campaign rally chants of “Lock Her Up!”, referring to campaign opponent Hillary Clinton.
- His closed door meetings with Russian officials in the White House and admission that he revealed classified national security information to them, which in turn has eroded the confidence of America’s allies. It was also learned that Trump coached his son Donald Trump Jr., to frame his meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, in terms of a discussion regarding “adoption policies” rather than the real agenda, which was to gather oppo research from her and other Putin confidants on Hillary Clinton.
- The president’s divisive handling of the violent protests involving white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia and subsequent callous messaging regarding race relations, including calling black NFL athletes “sons of bitches”.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,'”
In contrast – Trump earlier had commented that some of the people marching at Charlottesville, were “very fine people”. Members of Trump’s own administration distanced themselves from his toxic rhetoric.
- Trump’s extensive golf vacations in contradiction to his campaign criticism of Obama’s golfing, when he frequently said of the former president, “President Barack Obama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars — unbelievable!” Trump was on record, repeatedly assuring supporters at campaign rallies that, “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”
- Since then, it has been discovered that Trump is billing the taxpayers (perhaps the word should be ‘bilking’) hundreds of thousands of dollars for the use of amenities at his various properties, including his golf resorts. Additionally, it was reported that the Secret Service asked for $60 million to be added to their budget to meet the needs of Trump’s constant comings and goings from Mar-a-Lago and New York City. The head of the agency was forced to deny the report, but the denial was not credible, given the fact that the story from the Washington Post, was based on internal agency memos.
- The suspect pardoning of convicted former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, lending credence to accusations of political corruption.
- The inept and incompetent breakout of Trump’s travel ban, which was complicated by Trump’s injudicious public comments regarding it.
- Trump’s ongoing betrayal of his original campaign assurance that he would disclose his tax returns to the American people. “I would release tax returns….I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary….I have no objection to certainly showing tax returns.” – Trump, on February 25, 2016
- Trump’s serial flip flops on dozens of promises he made to his voters, ranging from DACA, to the debt ceiling.
- Reversing the previous administration’s efforts to demilitarize civilian law enforcement agencies by re-opening the pipeline of surplus military equipment from the Pentagon to police and sheriff departments across America. Trump has also conveyed a sentiment expressing a desire to see police resort to excessive force when the opportunity presents itself.
- His disgraceful messaging on the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.
- The president’s public undermining of his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson on any number of foreign policy matters, but most notably Tillerson’s efforts to engage North Korea diplomatically.
- Trump’s antagonistic attacks on important members of his own party, including Tennessee Senator Bob Corker and Arizona Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake.
- His confused and contradictory handling of various attempts at repealing and replacing Obamacare – all of which have resulted in failure.
- And to bring matters up to date, a resumption by Trump of threats he has made on several occasions to abridge the First Amendment of the Constitution by advising the Federal Communications Commission to pull the licenses of television networks that broadcast critical reports of him and his presidency.
We still don’t know what Donald Trump’s endgame is with this uninterrupted stream of careless and daredevil behavior. What we do know is that if Trump is relying on his political base to serve as the emergency “truck arrester bed”, he is likely to discover that he has overplayed his hand. Trump, as usual – subsisting in the alternate universe of his impromptu and fact deficient trash talk, may be self deceived about the extent of his following.
Aside from the fact that it has been demonstrated that half of Trump’s Twitter followers are potentially malicious “bots” and that another large number are actually opponents following for the purposes of contradicting his ignorant eruptions, Trump’s actual and much more narrowly hedged constituency is shrinking at the margins as the days and weeks proceed.
Look out down below, because here he comes …