Half his tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.
The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive. It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider. It is that he is weak and sniveling. It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.
.. He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying. He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic. He’s a drama queen.
.. Half the president’s tweets show utter weakness. They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn. “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president.”
.. “The Republicans never discuss how good their health care bill is.” True, but neither does Mr. Trump, who seems unsure of its content. In just the past two weeks, of the press, he complained: “Every story/opinion, even if should be positive, is bad!” Journalists produce “highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting.” They are “DISTORTING DEMOCRACY.” They “fabricate the facts.”
.. It’s all whimpering accusation and finger-pointing: Nobody’s nice to me. Why don’t they appreciate me?
.. His public brutalizing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t strong, cool and deadly; it’s limp, lame and blubbery. “Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes,” he tweeted this week. Talk about projection.
.. John J. Pitney Jr. of Claremont McKenna College writes: “Loyalty is about strength. It is about sticking with a person, a cause, an idea or a country even when it is costly, difficult or unpopular.” A strong man does that. A weak one would unleash his resentments and derive sadistic pleasure from their unleashing.
.. The way American men used to like seeing themselves, the template they most admired, was the strong silent type celebrated in classic mid-20th century films—Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda. In time the style shifted, and we wound up with the nervous and chattery. More than a decade ago the producer and writer David Chase had his Tony Soprano mourn the disappearance of the old style: “What they didn’t know is once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings they wouldn’t be able to shut him up!” The new style was more like that of Woody Allen. His characters couldn’t stop talking about their emotions, their resentments and needs. They were self-justifying as they acted out their cowardice and anger...His inability—not his refusal, but his inability—to embrace the public and rhetorical role of the presidency consistently and constructively is weak... “It’s so easy to act presidential but that’s not gonna get it done,” Mr. Trump said the other night at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. That is the opposite of the truth. The truth, six months in, is that he is not presidential and is not getting it done. His mad, blubbery petulance isn’t working for him but against him. If he were presidential he’d be getting it done—building momentum, gaining support. He’d be over 50%, not under 40%. He’d have health care, and more... He seemed to think this diarrheic diatribe was professional, the kind of thing the big boys do with their media bros. But he came across as just another drama queen for this warring, riven, incontinent White House. As Scaramucci spoke, the historian Joshua Zeitz observed wonderingly, on Twitter: “It’s Team of Rivals but for morons.”
It is. And it stinks from the top.
Meanwhile the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators. How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion and chaos and thinking it’s a good time to cause some trouble?
Why Trump’s White House Won’t Stop Leaking
Sorry, Anthony Scaramucci. Your mole hunt is doomed.
With Sessions, Trump Is Picking on the Wrong Guy
Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, the Queens-born developer and the Alabama lawyer, are finding that similar positions on political issues can mask deep differences on underlying principles.
For Mr. Trump, who has excoriated his attorney general on Twitter and reportedly discussed firing him, what matters most is personal loyalty to him, or rather loyalty to whatever he thinks his needs are at any particular moment. For Mr. Sessions, fealty to the law trumps all. For Republicans nationwide, it’s an acid test: side with a mercurial president who demands devotion, or with the attorney general, who insists on probity and the letter of the law.
.. For better or worse, Mr. Sessions sees the world in black-and-white, law-and-order terms — criminals on one side and trustworthy law enforcement on the other. That’s one reason he has re-expanded the use of civil asset forfeiture, drawing intense (and deserved) criticism from across the political spectrum. He takes the same approach with illegal narcotics.
.. Moreover, he has deep faith in the American political system and its institutions. He is deeply trusting of the Justice Department’s criminal division; his highly regarded deputy, Rod Rosenstein; and the professionalism of the F.B.I. rank and file. In Mr. Sessions’ mind, removing himself from the equation put Mr. Trump in no more or less legal danger than before, because the facts and the law would lead where they would lead, regardless of his participation.
.. As a prosecutor, Mr. Sessions had a distinguished record of going after Republican officials accused of misdeeds and of declining to pursue Democratic officials he thought (correctly, as it turned out) were wrongly charged.
.. If he thought he was getting a lackey, a wingman or the political equivalent of a capo, he was sorely mistaken.
.. But any fair-minded person must grant that unlike his boss, Mr. Sessions has the courage of his convictions. He believes illegal immigration hurts low-skilled American workers. He believes illegal narcotics ruin lives. He believes (wrongly) that trade protectionism helps American workers. He backed Mr. Trump last year, despite concerns about Mr. Trump’s bombastic disregard for social norms to which Mr. Sessions himself adheres, because he saw Mr. Trump as a fellow believer who, for all his flaws, had the actual ability to achieve those ends.
.. They clearly are appalled by Mr. Trump’s one-way loyalty test.
.. But those statements of support for the attorney general were the easy part. How they follow through in the coming weeks, especially if the president fires him, will determine whether they are remembered as principled lawmakers or craven pols.
.. If Mr. Trump knifes rather than protects his friends, soon no friends will remain to watch his back.
Jeff Sessions has done more for Trumpism than anyone. Trump still wants to ditch him.
Miller, once a Sessions acolyte, remains in the White House, his silence loudly suggesting that he’s content to let his old boss twist in the wind.
Over the past decade, conservatives have taken a hard look at criminal justice reform and concluded that our long-standing, tough-on-crime political war led to a system that was too punitive, too reflexive and too racially separate — to the point that just about the only bipartisan thing going in Washington right now is the joint bail reform initiative of conservatarian Sen. Rand Paul and San Francisco liberal Sen. Kamala Harris. But the Sessions Justice Department, consonant with the swaggering lock-’em-up rhetoric of the Trump campaign, has ordered federal prosecutors to aim for the toughest penalties in every case.
Non-Trump conservatives find the Sessions Justice Department’s expansive statism hard to swallow; his reiterationof the tried-and-failed War on Drugs is particularly repellent to those who claim to believe in federalism. Despite decades of Republicans advocating for power to flow back to the states and away from one-size-fits-all Washington regulatory and legal control, the “beleaguered” attorney general’s almost obsessive anti-drug crusade has focused on states that have passed marijuana decriminalization and legalization. Just the kind of showy but ineffective and unconservative policy that Trump routinely favors.
Sessions reversed an Obama-era reform that had been heralded across the political spectrum when he reapplied civil asset forfeiture regulations, allowing law enforcement agencies to seize property for people suspected of crimes — a move that law professor and conservative USA Today columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds rightly argues is a message that “the feds see the rest of us as prey, not as citizens.”