Hours after being ousted out of the White House, Steve Bannon, Trump’s controversial chief strategist and former right-hand man made a potentially prescient statement: “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won: It’s over.”
Whilst he may be referring to Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ nationalist agenda, one can’t help but wonder whether the president’s recent nuclear threats against North Korea coupled with his pro-neo-Nazi remarks have marked the official start of his downfall. Has the Narcisist-in-Chief now entered the final death throes of his presidency?
According to Tony Schwartz, the co-author of Trump’s memoir “The Art of the Deal,” the president will not make it until the end of the year: he predicts that the former reality TV star will step down by autumn, if not sooner.
Having spent 18 months shadowing and interviewing Trump, Schwartz has a fair understanding of the property tycoon’s psyche. And, he believes that in exchange for renouncing the presidency, Trump he will try to negotiate some kind of immunity deal from the Russia scandal:
The end game is on: Trump goes down or we do. He will blow up the world to prove he matters. We must stand up in opposition every day
The comments come a week after the Tweeter-in-Chief threatened to unleash a wave of “fire and fury” upon North Korea unless it reins in its intimidations towards the US. He even raised the prospect of a preemptive strike, marking a radical departure from his predecessors who have always sought to avoid aggravating nuclear armed states, and for obvious reasons.
Instead of calming a situation which involves the lives of millions of people, Trump sought to escalate his rhetoric, and enter a dangerous game of nuclear brinkmanship with the mercurial Kim Jong Un. Even if he was only calling Kim’s bluff, such irascible and irresponsible behaviour does little to shore up America’s waning credibility in the age of Trump.
And, after tarnishing his reputation abroad, he now seems hellbent on sullying his standing at home by lamenting the removal of U.S. Confederate statues:
Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!
The move came after he sympathised with neo-Nazis last weekend following a racial clash in Charlottesville which left several people injured and one person dead. Instead of taking the opportunity to come down hard on racism and chart the moral course of the nation, Trump insisted that there were some “very fine people” amongst the torch-wielding white supremacists: Never mind that that they were chanting: “blood and soil” and the “Jews won’t replace us.”
A wave of business leaders have now left his business councils, with one White House agency resigning en masse, writing: “We cannot sit idly by without speaking out. Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions.”
Describing it as a “defining moment” for Trump’s presidency, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney excoriated Trump for his lack of moral decency:
Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. Unless it is addressed by the president with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.
According to one State Department expert, there is a now 60 percent chance of a civil war breaking out in the US within the next 10 to 15 years. But, however far the tide seems to have turned against Trump, it would be wishful thinking to presume that the Republican Party will finally stand up against him.
Although the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both released statements decrying racism, saying that white supremacism has no place within the GOP, neither of them dared to actually criticise the president by name.
After all, they are too scared to upset his powerful base ahead of next year’s midterm elections. At some point however, one must surely choose Country over Party?
Assuming of course that Trump survives this latest nightmare, shrugging it off like all the sticky controversies before it, it’s impossible to deny that his presidency has been severely compromised. Although he may have deluded himself into believing that he doesn’t need any allies, he’s wrong.
As John Cassidy writes in the New Yorker, in order to get anything done in Washington, a president has to wheel and deal with powerful people and interest groups, but “by dint of his pigheadedness, or prejudice, or both, he has made it virtually impossible for people of influence to stand by him.”
Given the volatile nature of his recent actions, one can’t help but wonder whether Trump is finally imploding under the weight of the presidency? Perhaps it has simply got too much for him? Or, maybe he is sabotaging himself because subconsciously, he has just had enough.
Alternatively, perhaps he’s doing the Russian president’s bidding. According to an explosive yet unsubstantiated dossier penned by a former MI6 officer, Putin helped Trump to win last year’s election in order to “disrupt and divide” the entire western democratic order. Perhaps the president’s destructive actions are his way of carrying out his handlers orders?
Nevertheless, whatever his reasons may be, we have certainly entered some dangerous territory. After all, as Trump’s domestic troubles escalate, he may look to military exploits overseas as a means of distraction. As Gideon Rachman writes in the FT, embattled governments are “more inclined to adventurism abroad:”
The German government that led Europe into the first world war felt under acute threat from domestic political enemies. But on the day war broke out, an exultant Kaiser told a crowd: ‘I no longer recognize any parties or affiliations; today we are all German brothers.’
All of this inevitably leads one to question whether Trump could unwittingly ignite another world war. His recent actions towards North Korea illustrate how his erratic behaviour could provoke Kim, leading both sides to escalate out of control until the unthinkable happens. As historian Tobias Stone points out:
A nuclear explosion is not caused by one atom splitting, but by the impact of the first atom that splits causing multiple other atoms near it to split. The exponential increase in atoms splitting, and their combined energy is the bomb. That is how World War One started and, ironically how World War Two ended.