No matter that we may mount on stilts, we still must walk on our own legs. And on the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.–Montaigne
When we observe Trump either historically or in his daily antics, we see an outsize example of the banal existence of the local bully, the overly machismo, the thug who now has a gang of other thugs to establish his preeminence. I got a chuckle last week when Don Junior said he would do anything to protect this “great visionary…” What vision? More for me, more I give to my allies, more I can take from everybody else?
If you have ever worked for a family owned business or for an isolated part of a bigger company, you have seen the Trump types up close. They are the scheming owner who has built something from nothing but now is out of ideas, and is terrified of losing his grip or control. His very identity as a man, as a person, as a sentient being is tied to ACES OUTHOUSES or General Robbery Defense Office 10300. So change in his world is impossible because he or she or it is perfect and made something perfect. It has to be.
Thus, when Trump goes in the hospital for a checkup, the entourage has to follow him — wife, close aides, aides to close aides and so on. I’m sure they were noticeable only in their being there; leaning against walls, talking on smart phones, or huddling in cliques. Your safety and meaning is in being close to, loyal to and demonstratively subservient to the leader. Push back, even a little, and you’re in danger of exile — show him an error, and you’re subject to ridicule, name-calling, or being left in his equivalent of naked save for undershorts on the side of the road or tarmac, trying to find a way back home. Jim Comey, trying to get back from California; Reince Priebus, pushed into the back seat of a Taurus for a ride home.
The difference in Trump’s new allocation of power and the one he didn’t quite leave to take on this new mantle which is red, white and blue and something he finds tacky because its not gold or purple is that it isn’t his toy to play with. Other people with egos as big as his, and with intellects and talents far in excess of his, now have voices, votes and opinions and will, like it or not, be heard. This really enrages him at some level — it doesn’t occur to him that he needs the best people in terms of intellect, knowledge, skills, experience. Those people are threats to him, and he shakes them off in as humiliating and disdainful manner possible.
Now, to work for Trump you have to do whatever he wants, whether or not he can articulate it. Perhaps in opposition to what he said because you’re so well attuned to his personal zeitgeist that you realize that his North is really about 85 degrees out of alignment with reality. Don’t bother him with details unless it appeals to his ego and strokes his ID.
The issue with the movement of the US Embassy to Jerusalem as opposed to Tel Aviv, despite the advice of all his predecessors and the whole reputable National Security establishment and anyone with a modicum of common sense, is a great example. Trump is the Great Atomist; every man is an island, and he, he alone is a continent. There is no connection between people at a deep level; if I take a Shawn Spicer, and torment him that just encourages everyone else to do whatever is necessary! — To not be tormented like Shawn.
It might be possible for someone to run this Presidency the way that Trump tries to, as some kind of Bandit Tyrant-Benign Dictator. But, that would require a great deal of previous knowledge, a lot of skill, adept subordinates who can execute, and the ability to comprehend facts and ideas that vary significantly from the incumbent president’s mindset. Lots of energy, intellectual curiosity, and discipline. Trump has demonstrated none of those characteristics in his career or his presidency.
Rather, Trump is subservient to his own misguided and easily fooled ego; he so wants to believe in the magic beans that he sells, that a manipulative creep who is more adept than he is can get Trump to do just about anything. The move of the Embassy to Jerusalem is a great case of this. Netanyahu and Kushner convinced him that it was a pure win for him — he could disdain all previous presidents who didn’t move the embassy there, and demonstrate something important about the United States. Well, instead he showed something very sad.
As Prem G. Kumar points out in Foreign Policy
It was not, as Trump has alleged, because they lacked the courage of their campaign convictions. It was also not because they feared violence, though we have seen plenty of that in the past few days, with scores of Palestinians killed and hundreds more wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces along the Gaza border. It was because officials in previous Democratic and Republican administrations knew that recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, while getting nothing in return, meant that the United States would be abdicating any real role in promoting Middle East peace.
This blindness to reality, to the implications of what happens when a nation state as opposed to a pushy bullshit artist-real estate promoter does things like move embassies around or make pronouncements, is actually fairly dangerous. When George W. Bush talked of looking at “Putin’s soul,” more savvy and rational actors cringed, but realized it was probably about 90% PR talk. In this case, Trump has managed to ensure that Jared Kushner can stay home more with Ivanka, because he has pushed the United States into the powerless corner of the world in terms of a solution to the Muslim world and the middle east. We’ve unilaterally declared a winner, and now he just will get out his pencils and redraw boundaries in Palestine, a favorite party game for western plutocrats and fools since the Balfour Declaration.
Something this important should have had either the President or Vice President there to congratulate the Israelis on their coup de main, which this really was. Well, there would have been reasonable Secret Service objections to going to this ribbon cutting soiree in the middle of what’s really a war, but instead Ivanka, Jared and Steve Mnuchin did the honors which were poorly coordinated and choreographed anyway. Jared, who is a Presidential Assistant and Ivanka as First Daughter Assistant got the talking parts. Pat on the head of the favorite child, and maybe Jared might get some opportunities to get another bailout for his real estate empire.
While the SNL sketch at the top captures the banality and the sleaze and the lack of situational awareness driving his bulldozer in the sky, Trump’s performance this weekend on Twitter was enough to anger God, confuse Satan, and generally piss off the combined choirs of angels and the Satanic hordes. What the hell was that about?
Great abuses in the world are begotten, or, to speak more boldly, all the abuses of the world are begotten, by our being taught to be afraid of professing our ignorance, and that we are bound to accept all things we are not able to refute: we speak of all things by precepts and decisions. The style at Rome was that even that which a witness deposed to having seen with his own eyes, and what a judge determined with his most certain knowledge, was couched in this form of speaking: “it seems to me.” — Montaigne
Trump really seems confused about the powers of the Presidency. He gets his “intelligence” from the snake oil producers of the conspiracy world, unfiltered by knowledge, facts, nuances or any appreciation of the mechanisms of the Constitution or the realities of governing. He thinks that it’s supposed to be one giant Trump organization; as citizens we should be glad it’s not, simply because the Trump organization manages to combine “lean” operations with excessive bloat and incompetence. If the Russians, the Chinese and rest of the crooked operations in finance and lending world wide didn’t find Trump Org a great way to launder money, he would have been reduced long ago to the old business of being a slum lord while trying to multi-level market ties and Trump bidets.
One thing that a lot of fantasists do develop is a real awareness of how things work. Trump lacks the attention span to do that; anyone who’s ever run a workplace investigation into who’s stealing lunches out of the corporate refrigerator knows that the first thing you have to do is cultivate your narcs. When you’re asking questions, you keep following up until you have all the information possible and have a reasonable understanding as to what just happened to the kosher corned beef on rye with potato salad that was taken.
In the case of the FBI, they were wondering with good reason what all these Russians were doing calling, visiting and sending fruitcakes to Trump tower. Remember, Trump introduced the world to “Doctor Carter Page” as a key member of his foreign policy team. While that was deranged in and of itself, Page already was subject to FISA warrants. If the FBI hadn’t investigated what was going on with Russia and the Trump campaign, they would have been guilty of dereliction and incompetence.
While Trump’s attempt to bully the FBI into an investigation of it’s own investigation to determine whether or not the bureau was operating from some political motive has caused a justifiable uproar, I interpret Rod Rosenstein’s response as being the equivalent of giving a crying baby a cookie. Basically, it amounted to saying “Thanks for the lead, Mr. President. We’ll get right on it.”
You know, if the FBI had gone public with half of what was leaked about the Clinton email and on Russian influence, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The fact that Trump was elected in spite of the intelligence the Bureau and the Intelligence Community was turning up, Trump wouldn’t have been elected. The fact that he was inaugurated despite being one step away from an actual agenIf the Trump administration was even marginally functional, our Baby Doc Duvalier wannabe would have had his White House council and maybe even Keith Schiller his personal hitman explain Investigation 101. Or, if Rudy was a compent defense attorney instead of a PR flack running on PR fumes from 9/11, he’d have explained it. Instead, they left the man to his own devices, and with neither golf nor ketchup covered well done steaks with cronies to distract him, he devised a really great example of why he shouldn’t be allowed to have sharp objects.
Rolling Stone has done a great dissection of the “Obama administration — FBI — No Collusion — Witch Hunt — Demand Inquisition into Political Harassment” weekend twitter nonsense that Trump produced this past weekend. The saddest thing is that this is the President of the United States, and he’s demented, ignorant and delights in showing the world his ass.