Donald Trump slipped into the Oval Office through a wormhole of confusion about the American identity.
.. We were moving from a white-majority, male-dominated country and manufacturing base to a multicultural, multilateral, globalized, P.C., new energy, new technology world, without taking account of the confusion and anger of older Americans who felt like strangers in a strange land.
.. And we certainly don’t want men like Rob Porter who have punched, kicked, choked and terrorized their wives to be in the president’s inner circle, helping decide which policies, including those that affect women, get emphasized.
.. We don’t want the White House chief of staff to be the sort of person who shields and defends abusers — and then dissembles about it — simply because the abuser is a rare competent staffer. Or a man who labels Dreamers “too lazy to get off their asses” simply because they didn’t apply for legal protections in time.
.. John Kelly served as a character witness not only for Porter, after he didn’t receive security clearance because F.B.I. agents had heard the harrowing tales from his battered ex-wives. Kelly also testified as a character witness for Gen. Robert E. Lee and a former Marine who pleaded guilty to sending inappropriate sexual messages to female subordinates; who drove drunk to an arraignment; and who got charged in Virginia with sex crimes against children.
.. As a more lucid Trump tweeted in 2012 about Rihanna getting back together with Chris Brown, “A beater is always a beater.”
.. We don’t want a president who bends over backward to give the benefit of the doubt to neo-Nazis, wife beaters, pedophiles and sexual predators — or who is a sexual predator himself.
.. We don’t want a president who flips the ordinary equation, out of some puerile sense of grievance, to honor Russia and dishonor the F.B.I.
.. We don’t want a president who is too shallow to read his daily intelligence report and too obsessed with the deep state to deal fairly with our intelligence agencies.
.. We don’t want a president who suggests that Democrats who don’t clap for him are treasonous and who seems more enthralled by authoritarian ways than democratic ones.
.. who loves generals but trashes Gold Star parents
.. who wants the sort of chesty military parade that we mock Kim Jong-un for, a phallic demonstration of overcompensation that would only put more potholes in the D.C. boulevards.
.. one who could be so easily trapped in lies that he can’t even be allowed to talk to an investigator.
.. And, finally, we surely don’t want a president who seeks advice on foreign affairs from Henry Kissinger. Ever. Again.
Many are unmoved by incidents such as the ill-timed “Pocahontas” crack or even the anti-Muslim retweets, because they see the anger over these incidents as an expression of either political correctness or a desire on the part of the media and the Left to silence worries about Islamist extremism.
.. most in the GOP to treat the president’s faults as an acceptable price to pay for putting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, along with the reversal of many Obama policies and victory over ISIS.
.. Nor has he been able to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to establish an aura of competence or a sense that the country is in good hands. To the contrary, the tweets and the gaffes have fed a narrative that Trump is out of control.
.. With each such absurdity, Trump chips away not only at his own stature but also at the ability of his party to unite Republicans or to win independents and centrist Democrats.
.. The assumption that a Trump presidency could consolidate or expand Republican control of Congress — the necessary predicate for any of the policies or changes that conservatives claim to want to implement — is being undermined primarily by Trump, not the criticisms of his opponents. Each episode of Trump behaving poorly and demonstrating bad judgment — such as the tweets that can be interpreted as an embrace of a conflict with all Muslims rather than just Islamists — obscures his achievements and reinforces the image of his administration as a circus.
.. Trump is providing an otherwise leaderless and intellectually bankrupt Democratic party with exactly what it lacked in 2016: the ability to mobilize its base of minorities and educated whites by giving them a reason to turn out in the kind of numbers they failed to do for Hillary Clinton.
.. If Trump continues to be Trump, and there’s no sign he can be reined in, Republicans are bound to pay a price for it.
But is Twitter really the problem?
.. Twitter is just a tool. With or without it, Trump’s conduct would be disordered and self-sabotaging. The Comey firing is but one of hundreds of examples.
.. The crude way Trump fired Comey — without the courtesy of a meeting or even a phone call — guaranteed a new and skilled enemy.
.. Twitter played no role in Trump’s blurting of classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, or in his choice to slander Comey as a “nut job” to them. Twitter wasn’t implicated in many other blunders, such as undermining the NATO alliance by refusing to confirm our commitment to Article 5; praising the Philippine president for his extrajudicial murders of drug addicts and dealers
.. It is Trump’s inexplicable and insatiable appetite for conflict that keeps roiling the waters.
.. When the city of London has just endured another horrific terror attack, the decent thing is to express American sympathy and solidarity. Trump instead picked a fight with London’s mayor.
.. Trump is feuding with his own staff and even with his family.
.. This is a reprise of a campaign theme, perhaps the chief campaign theme. America, Trump argued, was being led by boobs and incompetents. “I alone can fix.”
.. But the truth is that he is the incompetent, and too vain and insecure to recognize his own faults. When he screws up, he blames those around him.
.. even the best people are diminished and tarnished by what Trump requires of them and does to them.
.. He makes liars of previously honorable men and women.
He was too incompetent to understand his own health care bill, or accurately describe the direction in which the “armada” designed to intimidate North Korea was heading, or restrain himself from disclosing highly classified information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. But he’s also too incompetent, it appears, to destroy liberal democracy.
.. Rather than building a high-minded pretext for firing Comey, Trump, according to the New York Times, invited Comey to dinner in January and demanded his personal loyalty. If that wasn’t incriminating enough, in February he baldly asked Comey to end the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Then, after Comey asked for more funding to investigate the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, Trump fired him
.. it’s harder to mount a populist assault on the rule of law when you’re not even that popular.