Alan Zendell, May 17, 2017
Last night, during his Town Hall appearance with Bernie Sanders, John Kasich was reluctant to say what he thought of Donald Trump’s presidency. He equivocated with, “I never say I told you so,” and reminded viewers that he didn’t support Trump in the primaries and didn’t attend the Republican convention. Sanders didn’t equivocate as much as struggle to find the right words, settling for, “There’s something different about this guy.” The normally straight-shooting Sanders couldn’t bring himself to say what was on the minds of millions of viewers: Donald Trump is not only unqualified to be president, he’s mentally unbalanced.
Rather than beat on Trump further, they joined in urging Congress to stand together for the good of the country. It wasn’t too difficult to read between the lines. The only way to neutralize Trump and prevent him from doing further harm to the country is to forego partisanship and insist on competent and fair investigations into the president’s conduct. Both men had decided that there was a line they shouldn’t cross in criticizing Trump in a public forum seen around the world. If only Trump were capable of similar restraint.
People I know who from the start urged giving Trump a year before judging him are discouraged by his antics but not yet ready to give up the ship. I wish I could agree with them, but I am convinced that the best we can hope for is that the Kushner faction in the West Wing can keep him muzzled. When the President constantly creates his own crises and single-handedly neutralizes any progress on his party’s legislative agenda, I feel under no constraint to mince words.
Donald Trump’s emotional development is stuck at the level of a nasty, spoiled little boy who never received the guidance and discipline he needed. His narcissism has evolved into a compulsive behavior pattern that he is unable to control. His behavior as president is no different than it was throughout his business career. The difference is that before he was elected, the only thing that checked his amoral petulant nature was his lust for greater profits.
In the business world, he learned early on that refusing to back down would intimidate most adversaries. Justice in the world of business isn’t always equated with ethical or moral behavior, and most of those who opposed him, even with truth on their side, couldn’t afford to fight Trump’s high-priced army of lawyers. As for his hateful personal behavior, the power of his money usually rendered it irrelevant.
When Trump said he’d run the country like a business, he was telling us clearly that he had no intention of changing either his tactics or his behavior. Many of us knew from the start that it wouldn’t work. Personally, I’m not at all surprised that he appears to be treading water in quicksand. I was literally caught in quicksand many years ago, and I came away from the experience changed, but I doubt that Trump will learn from any of this. When I heard him whine about how badly he’s being treated while addressing the Coast Guard Academy graduates today, all I could do was shake my head. Really Donald? Do you accept no responsibility for the rising tide of protests against you?
History may record today as the day when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein emerged as the hero we needed to right the ship of state. Trump was reportedly on the verge of selecting Senator John Cornyn (R, Texas) as the new FBI Director, despite the fact that his only qualification for the job was a record of loyalty to Trump, and everyone in both parties was demanding that the new director be someone with a strong background in law enforcement and a record of unquestioned impartiality. Perhaps realizing how his selection would look, Cornyn announced that he didn’t want the job earlier today.
Rosenstein knew that the Justice Department had to step in without delay to assure that people had confidence in the integrity of the ongoing investigations. By appointing the highly respected Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to take over the FBI investigations, he in effect prevented Trump from making a shambles of the process.
Do any of us know what the investigation of Russian interference in our election and the possibility of collusion by Trump or his staff will yield? Of course not, but Rosenstein’s action assures that whatever the findings, the country can align itself behind them. If they doom Trump’s presidency, so be it. If they exonerate him from impeachable or criminal actions, we will at least be able to move past this chapter.
Would that change Trump’s behavior or would it leave him with a puffed up sense of vindication that will only make his insufferable behavior worse? In the 1997 film As Good as it Gets, Jack Nicholson played an obsessive compulsive misanthrope, who famously told Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.” I can’t even imagine what would motivate Donald Trump to say that.