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Monday, March 26, 2018

Donald Trump: Man at War - The New York Times

By Charles M. Blow March 25, 2018,

"As Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Friday:

“@realDonaldTrump is now set for war on 3 fronts: political vs Bob Mueller, economic vs China/others on trade, and actual vs. Iran and/or North Korea. This is the most perilous moment in modern American history — and it has been largely brought about by ourselves, not by events.”

I agree fully with this assessment.

Some have viewed President Trump’s recent moves as a sign of rising self-assuredness in the man.

I see quite the opposite. I see a man growing increasingly irascible as his sense of desperation surges. The world is closing in on Trump and he is in an existential fight for his own survival.

This is precisely what makes him so dangerous: As the personal threat to him grows, his threat to the country grows. The power of the American presidency is an awesome power, and Trump will harness and deploy it all as guard and guarantee against his own demise.

Add to his sense of panic his compounding emotional and psychological liabilities: He has an inflated view of his own skills, talents and expertise. He knows only a fraction of what he has convinced himself that he knows.

He prefers casual conversation to literary examination, opting to listen rather than to read, which is both a sign of a severely compromised and restrained intellect and an astounding arrogance about one’s information absorption.

While pundits mull whether the cloud of chaos Trump keeps swirling around him is simple incompetence or strategic plotting, The New York Times reported Friday:

“Aides said there was no grand strategy to the president’s actions, and that he got up each morning this week not knowing what he would do. Much as he did as a New York businessman at Trump Tower, Mr. Trump watched television, reacted to what he saw on television and then reacted to the reaction.”

This is all gut and instinct. This is all reactionary emoting by a man of poor character, one addicted to affirmation. He desperately needs to be the king-of-every-hill he sees in the mirror: He was the ladies’ man, businessman, smartest man, toughest man. There was nothing beyond him, and he didn’t have to follow the rules, he only had to follow his instincts.

But Washington politics is a long way from New York City real estate. Wrangling Senate votes is a long way from prowling for playmates. This is the big leagues and this little man is feeling the stress and strain of it.

Even if he can’t be good, he at least wants to look good, to fake it to try to make it. This may be one of the reasons he is inviting so many television personalities into his cabinet.

This is all just window dressing. Trump is truly in the cross hairs, and he knows it.

Just as he is going to war on three fronts, he is being attacked on three fronts.

The Robert Mueller investigation is bearing down on him as an inevitable in-person interview with Trump — and all of its potential pitfalls — draws nearer. I have resisted predictions about what could come of the investigation because it would be little more than conjecture. Only Mueller knows what Mueller knows. But, it appears to me that the president is surely acting like a guilty man, or at least someone trying to shield another who is guilty.

Then there is the porn star, the playmate and the reality star: Three women currently in litigation over sexual contact with Trump — two admittedly consensual and one allegedly not. The most tantalizing and threatening of the three is the case with porn star Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels. Daniels and her attorney, as well as language in the nondisclosure agreement that she signed, suggests that she has some compromising written and photographic evidence about her encounters with Trump.

Furthermore, in Daniels, Trump seems to have met his match as an internet troll. When someone on Twitter asked Clifford, “What snack foods do you recommend for watching you on “60 Minutes” tomorrow night? Nachos and wings feel so January, you know?” Clifford responded: “Tacos and mini corndogs just seems so right … and yet, so wrong. I believe the more traditional choice is popcorn, however.”

Yes, the subtext of that tweet is exactly what you think it is. Note to self: Never pick a fight with a porn star.

And now with the massive March For Our Lives, we see that going into the midterms not only are black voters and suburban white women energized against this president and his congressional protectors, so are young people who feel betrayed, particularly on the issue of gun control, by politicians beholden to the N.R.A.

Trump talked big about standing up to the N.R.A., and then summarily caved to the N.R.A.

If this surge of enthusiasm leads to Democrats flipping the House — and the long shot, the Senate — and something comes of the Mueller investigation or the women’s lawsuits, you can rest assured that impeachment proceedings will be in the offing. This is why Trump is going to war."

Donald Trump: Man at War - The New York Times

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