Trump’s White House Is a Black Hole

The Republican Party is learning what should have been obvious from the outset: Mr. Trump’s chaotic personality can’t be contained.

.. combining it with the awesome power of the presidency virtually guaranteed he would become more volatile and transgressive.

His presidency is infecting the entire party.

.. The Republican Party once championed the principles of liberty and limited government, yet Mr. Trump is indifferent to them.

Republicans once sought to strengthen relations with Mexico; today they delight in antagonizing our neighbor. Not long ago, Republicans made outreach to Hispanics a top priority; today the signals that the president and his party send are that Hispanics are alien, unwelcome, nothing but trouble.

In 2012, Republicans defended Mitt Romney when he said Russia was our biggest geopolitical threat; today they are wholly untroubled by its effort to subvert the 2016 presidential election.

.. Republicans have long argued that human rights should play a central role in American foreign policy, from the presidency of Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush’s. Today human rights are viewed at most as an afterthought.

.. At the national level the Republican Party has become a destructive and anarchic political force in American life.

.. Rather than nourishing a sense of gratitude, he stokes grievances.

.. One White House aide, asked by The Washington Post whether John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, could have been more truthful or transparent about the dismissal of the staff secretary Rob Porter, answered honestly: “In this White House, it’s simply not in our DNA. Truthful and transparent is great, but we don’t even have a coherent strategy to obfuscate.

.. All of this is antithetical to conservatism. On balance, Republicans are seeking to conserve very little

.. “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

.. The Republican Party once prided itself as a defender of objective truth against postmodernism. Today, it has become the party of perspectivism — the view, articulated by Nietzsche, that all truth claims are contingent on a person’s perspective rather than on fundamental reality. “It is our needs that interpret the world,” Nietzsche wrote in “The Will to Power.”

.. the institutional expression of Donald Trump’s distorted and impulsive personality.

.. Party leaders who were once willing to challenge Mr. Trump, to call him out now and then, are now far more compliant and therefore far more complicit.

.. Mr. Trump was and remains the people’s choice — evidence that, while the president has accelerated the worst tendencies of the Republican Party, he is not solely responsible for them. He did not appear out of thin air.

.. Americans are longing for a more ennobling, less exhausting political leader.

.. people are tiring of the incessant conflict created by politics these days.

.. But as long as Mr. Trump is president, they will feel this way. He won’t change, and neither will the Republican Party. That’s how institutional corruption happens, from the top down.

The Most Abused Press Secretary in History

Sean Spicer, meet Ron Ziegler.

.. Nixon didn’t value that perspective, though—“The press is the enemy … write that on a blackboard a hundred times,” he once told Kissinger.

.. In the week after the Watergate arrests in June 1972, as the news broke that the burglars had ties to the Nixon reelection campaign, Nixon ordered Ziegler to minimize the crime. He did so memorably, dismissing it as a “third-rate alleged burglary attempt.” When Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein doggedly pursued the story, Ziegler accused them of “shabby journalism” and “character assassination.”

.. he continued to duck and weave in Spicer-like fashion, and even introduced his own “alternative facts” into the lexicon of politics, begrudgingly declaring the president’s long-standing insistence of White House guiltlessness “inoperative.” “If my answers sound confusing,” the Los Angeles Times quoted him saying during a 1974 White House briefing just a few months before Nixon resigned, “I think they are confusing because the questions are confusing and the situation is confusing—and I’m not in a position to clarify it.”

.. Praise and censure in the Nixon years were parceled out according to an aide’s willingness to defy the hated press—a pattern that has also been attributed to Trump.

.. Ziegler was just 29 years old when he became the White House press secretary. It was a job that most thought would go to Herb Klein, a former Southern California newsman and longtime campaign spokesman for Nixon, but the new president wanted someone more compliant. Ziegler’s inexperience was itself seen as an insult by the White House press corps

.. Most of the press corps began by treating Ziegler like a puppy-dog frontman, recognizing his advertising background and low rating in the inner circle to be the insult it really was,” Safire recalled.