The West Wing has come to resemble the dankest realms of Twitter, in which everyone is racked with paranoia and everyone despises everyone else.
What made the Emperor Nero tick, Suetonius writes in “Lives of the Caesars,” was “a longing for immortality and undying fame, though it was ill-regulated.”
.. Many Romans were convinced that Nero was mentally unbalanced and that he had burned much of the imperial capital to the ground just to make room for the construction of the Domus Aurea, a gold-leaf-and-marble palace that stretched from the Palatine to the Esquiline Hill.
.. Chaotic, corrupt, incurious, infantile, grandiose, and obsessed with gaudy real estate, Donald Trump is of a Neronic temperament.
He has always craved attention.
.. Future scholars will sift through Trump’s digital proclamations the way we now read the chroniclers of Nero’s Rome—to understand how an unhinged emperor can make a mockery of republican institutions
.. He was post-Freudian. (“It makes me feel so good to hit ‘sleazebags’ back—much better than seeing a psychiatrist (which I never have!).”)
.. In due course, Trump perfected his unique voice: the cockeyed neologisms and the fractured syntax, the emphatic punctuation, the Don Rickles-era exclamations (“Sad!” “Doesn’t have a clue!” “Dummy!”).
.. Then he started dabbling in conspiracy fantasies: China’s climate “hoax,” President Obama’s Kenyan birth, “deep-state” enemies trying to do him in.
.. “Stop Being Trump’s Twitter Fool,” Jack Shafer, of Politico, advised, just after the election. Trump’s volleys were merely a shrewd diversion from serious matters.
.. “you’d expect that people would have figured out when Donald Trump is yanking their chain and pay him the same mind they do phone calls tagged ‘Out of Area’ by caller ID.”
.. Sean Spicer, the President’s first press secretary, insisted otherwise. Trump, he pointed out, “is the President of the United States,” and so his tweets are “considered official statements by the President of the United States.”
.. Trump’s tweets are most valuable as a record of his inner life: his obsessions, his rages, his guilty conscience.
.. he set a White House record with a sixteen-tweet day.
.. took credit for a year without an American air crash,
.. he continued to offer respect bordering on servility to the likes of Vladimir Putin.
.. One of his signature phrases—“fake news”—has been adopted by autocrats from Bashar al-Assad, of Syria, to Nicolás Maduro, of Venezuela. To the astonishment of our traditional allies, Trump humiliates and weakens a country he pretends to lead.
.. He surrounds himself with aides who are either wildly incompetent or utterly defeated in their attempts to domesticate the mulish and bizarre object of their attention.
.. There is no loyalty or deliberation in the White House, only a savage “Lord of the Flies” sort of chaos. Each day is at once preposterous, poisonous, and dangerous.
.. And so the West Wing in the era of Trump has come to resemble the dankest realms of Twitter itself: a set of small rooms and cramped hallways in which everyone is racked with paranoia and everyone despises everyone else.
.. Trump has reacted to Wolff’s book in the manner of a wounded despot
.. Nero had hoped to last long enough on the throne to re-brand the month of April “Neroneus” and the city of Rome “Neropolis.” He did not succeed.
.. The President sees one West Wing satrap and Cabinet official after another finding a distance from him. “Where is my Roy Cohn?” he asked his aides angrily
.. He is unfit to hold any public office, much less the highest in the land.
.. The President of the United States has become a leading security threat to the United States
Trump not only showed up for the St. Louis debate that Sunday, he stood on the stage and told Clinton that if it were up to him she’d “be in jail.” Ten days later, Trump insisted at the Las Vegas debate that allegations made against him by nine women of groping and other unwelcome physical contact were so baseless that he “didn’t even apologize to [his] wife” for his actions.
.. It is dangerous to underestimate Trump’s survival skills.
.. how tenaciously Trump pursued power, along with five key assets he has to maintain his grip on it
- .. Trump is an incredibly skilled politician.
- Second, there is the power of the presidency
- Well-regarded people — such as national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — have shown a willingness to sacrifice their own credibility to protect Trump
- a retinue of prominent law firms appear ready to provide legal and public relations cover in defense
- the desire of many observers to try to normalize Trump and get “back to business.”
- an agenda of repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes.
- It might take shockingly little .. for pundits to conclude that he is “back on track.”
- intensity of his most devout supporters
- he was probably right when he said that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody”
- this group is 25 percent to 40 percent of the electorate
- they make up a majority of Republican primary voters in most Republican-held districts
- die-hard supporters are more devoted to Trump than they are to the rule of law.
- an increasing number of Americans generally, and Trump supporters specifically, have “lost faith in democracy.”
- he may even be at his most dangerous in “wounded animal” mode.
This move became inevitable once Rosenstein was embroiled in the Comey firing.
.. Frankly, the White House has every reason to panic. No one will intimidate or throw Mueller off course.
.. every member of the staff, the vice president and the president will brace themselves for interrogation, production of potentially damaging documents and, incidentally, big legal bills.
.. He now goes overseas — something the homebody Trump reportedly dreaded — as a wounded president with an uncertain future. Nothing could be more disconcerting to allies than dealing with an impulsive, ignorant president — one whose future is far from certain.