Donald Trump’s biography as of November 7, 2016 would’ve included the following: sued by the U.S. Justice Department for racial discrimination; pretended to be his own PR flaks “John Miller” and “John Barron” during calls to the media; bankrupted multiple business; questioned a sitting U.S president’s citizenship; mocked the disabled; disparaged veterans and war heroes; attacked the Pope; promoted sexism, racism and anti-Semitism; admitted sexual assaults on women; and lied 24/7. The following day, incredibly, “45th U.S President” would be added. But is it a surprise that just three months into his presidency his administration appears to be careening off the proverbial cliff at 180 MPH?
Most Americans understood how unqualified and erratic Trump was, and to the tune of 3 million votes chose Hillary Clinton instead. But that pesky little thing called the Electoral College had a different plan. By a margin of about 80,000 votes (and with some help from ex-FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin) in the key “blue wall” states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump squeaked out a shocking victory. The unfortunate result is that we now have the most emotional, insecure, impulsive, petulant, volatile, mentally-unhinged and dangerous president in the history of Western democracy. It’s a bone-chilling reality.
In the past week in particular, in which Trump summarily fired Comey, the president’s unraveling could not be more spectacularly glaring. Of most concern is that Comey headed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign and possibly Trump himself. The investigated fired the investigator. Horrible optics.
In defending against accusations of obstruction of justice, Trump and his spokespeople have gyrated between various illogical reasons for the termination: Comey’s criticism of Hillary Clinton last year; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “recommended” it due to bad morale at the bureau; Comey was a “showboat” who Trump was planning to fire anyway; Trump had steadily “lost confidence” in Comey since the inauguration (note: on April 12 Trump said he had “confidence” in Comey, and on May 3 Spicer reaffirmed that assurance).
This utterly dizzying vortex of bullshit has been perpetuated by vice-president Mike Pence, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Principle Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump himself. CNN’s Dabid Chalian called this latest stunning display of lying a “crisis of credibility.” And it’s only getting worse.
‘ComeyGate’ feels appreciably different than the myriad prior Trump gaffes and scandals. The lies have become so insurmountable that Trump & Co — whose endless barrage of misrepresentations and falsehoods had typically kept the media on the ropes — is no longer ahead of them, instead falling prey in their very tangled web. The lies are coming so fast and furious from one interview and tweet to the next that the administration is failing miserably in the shift from offense to defense.
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday provided some disastrous new data for the administration: when asked for a one-word description of Trump, the top three words were “idiot,” “incompetent” and “liar.” And his approval dropped to 36 percent from 40 percent in mid-April (He’s only 111 days into his presidency. Historically, a president’s popularity erodes precipitously throughout his term).
As such, Trump’s policy agenda is in a standstill. It will be virtually impossible for him to achieve any major legislative objectives (health care, tax reform, immigration, infrastructure) while his honesty, credibility, integrity and legitimacy is in serious question, and while his administration appears to be coming apart at the seams.
Trump is personally spiraling out of control and sabotaging his presidency. Judging from the spate of terminations so far, (including Attorney General Sally Yates and NY federal prosecutor Preet Bharara), reports of staff infighting, frequent and critical leaks and the dark cloud of RussiaGate looming ominously over the White House, it’s hard to fathom how he can or will last four years.