Alan Zendell, December 21, 2018
Events have been so dynamic, so confusing, with everything seeming to change by the hour, I must have missed it. Apparently, the president’s cabinet and national security advisers have all been replaced by three television personalities. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter, three of the most rabid and brazen commentators on the extreme right are now directing policy for the White House.
That’s how bad things have become in the desperate struggle to keep Trump’s base happy. Yesterday, the trio’s influence on the President forced a shameful, embarrassing impasse over a border wall and funding the government. You can be sure Trump ran his Syria policy by them too, after being rebuffed by virtually his entire administration. So what if it cost him the only remaining respected member of his Cabinet? Who needs Defense Secretary Mattis when he has the unholy trinity on his side?
I don’t always agree with Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, but he got it right today. Donald Trump is having a temper tantrum because he can’t have his border wall. Worse, he’s doing it on every cable news channel in the world. Can anyone imagine Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping behaving this way? God only knows what’s going on in foreign capitals as they watch our clown car White House implode.
Trump received a public rebuke from Secretary Mattis over betraying the Kurds, one of our most reliable allies in the Middle East. That Mattis’ remarks made no impression on him tells us how seriously dysfunctional this administration has become. As of yesterday, the only person the White House could trot out to defend Trump on TV was Stephen Miller, the rude, shrill little boy whose hatefulness has caused even his own family to renounce him.
The president’s inability to back down or compromise, aside from making a mockery of his reputation as a deal maker, is creating one avoidable crisis after another. His tendency to make every situation entirely about himself has by turns been amusing, irritating, and downright creepy. It has now reached the point where it’s a roadblock to anything constructive happening as long as he’s in office.
Remember the Terrible Twos and the Frightful Fours, when your toddlers went into frenzied paroxysms whenever you said, “No?” Remember how frustrated and helpless you felt trying to reason with them? You threw your hands in the air and tore at your remaining hair, praying that you’d all survive until they grew up. That’s what dealing with Trump is like. He has the emotional maturity of a four-year-old and it’s never going to get better.
Consider that his latest pigheadedness over the border wall has even made Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell look statesmanlike. I’ve wondered for two years what it would take to make McConnell refute Trump publicly, but he showed admirable respect for the integrity of the Senate when Trump demanded (not for the first time) that he change the rules to strengthen the Republicans’ slim majority.
Are the wheels really coming off, as one Republican anonymously told reporters? Consider that the Trump administration has left health insurance in its worst shape in decades. The majority of Americans do not want a wall on our southern border, and today, the Supreme Court again refused to support Trump’s ban on asylum.
Trump’s trade war with China has done nothing but increase chaos in world markets, and the massive tax bill forced through by Republicans has caused the federal deficit to pass a trillion dollars for the first time ever. Lack of confidence in our prospects in the near future has equity markets is freefall – if your retirement plan’s fortunes are tied to the S&P 500 index, they’re more than ten percent poorer than they were at the beginning of 2018.
Our allies can no longer count on us, and our enemies are emboldened. Trump has abandoned international efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and completely lost the respect of foreign leaders. Predictably, the North Koreans stiffed him, and he is in the process of dangerously destabilizing the Middle East, having handed Russia and Iran bloodless victories that stunned even them. And none of this is even related to his immoral character and despicable treatment of women and non-white minorities.
What began as a running joke about alternate facts is now an extremely serious consequence of having a president who has no respect for the truth. No one in Congress can believe anything that comes out his mouth, and foreign leaders have no idea what to expect from him.
This isn’t the least bit amusing. It’s damned dangerous. If you’re not as frightened as I am, you probably should be.