Trump is Bipartisan Now

“President Trump,” The New York Times reports, “struck a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday to increase the debt limit and finance the government until mid-December, blindsiding his own Republican allies as he reached across the aisle to resolve a major dispute for the first time since taking office.” Republicans are stunned; pundits are struggling to discern his overarching strategy. Why did he cut a deal with “Chuck and Nancy?”

I think the answer is simple: He is, as Jeb! Bush predicted he would be a long time ago, a chaos president. He is sheer id, will to power, and destruction. He has no principles, so he has no core beyond the desire to win, which for him is domination.

Obama was Vishnu, the preserver. Trump is Shiva, the destroyer of the world.

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Trump and the White Nationalists

So I tuned into Fox News last night to see how they were framing things. I assumed it would be much as Trump was–about extremism on “many” sides, and how Obama started this by refusing to condemn the Black Panthers and so on. The show I tuned into was Steve Hilton’s, the English populist’s, and his message was pretty much that Trump was ruining populism by refusing to condemn White Nationalism. Populism is a response to economic inequality, he said, and black people are the biggest victims of that. What we need is economic nationalism, not white nationalism. Populism must be multi-cultural. Etc. It made me wonder: will this be the face of Fox after Murdoch Sr. and Trump are out of the picture? It also made me realize how much Trump has squandered.

Had he done what he said he would–hit the ground running with a trillion dollar infrastructure program, shored up Social Security and Medicare, made health care cheaper and better, and started a trade war instead of outsourcing everything to Goldman Sachs and the Koch brothers, he would have redoubled his support among Democrats and Independents. As it stands now, the only policies that are uniquely his are the Wall and the Muslim ban–the rest is right wing Republican boilerplate. Islamophobes, racists, and anti-Semites who like David Duke may also like Trump more than they would someone like Pence, but it’s not like they would ever vote for a Democrat. Politically speaking, they don’t really bring him anything except the kind of tsuris that he opened himself up to this weekend.

I think the electoral map is so tough and the Democrats so divided that Trump will retain the Senate in 2018. If he doesn’t finish his term (and I don’t think he will), it’ll be because the Goldman Sachs wing of his own party decides that he is a liability. Had he built on the populism that he ran on, he might have become president-for-life.

After Trump

The question is not what Trump can get away with, but how much degradation the American system can withstand. I suspect it passed its limit, long before last November 8.

Looking ahead, there isn’t going to be any kind of restoration–just reinvention, for better or for worse.

The President has lost his Marbles

Trump was never half as smart as he said he was, but even as recently as six months ago he was a lot quicker than he is now. Pretty much every word out of his mouth these days bears witness to his declining cognitive capacities, his inability to control his impulses, and his estrangement from anything resembling reality. He has become a walking, talking poster for the symptoms of early-stage (or not-so-early stage) dementia, but because his politics are so poisonous, his administration so corrupt, and the stakes for the world so high, we continue to talk about him as if he is strategizing instead of clinically devolving.

When I read this item at Axios this morning, I suddenly saw the elephant in the room. The headline is (after his Paris Accord decision, it actually reads like a punchline): “Trump Pitched Congressional Leaders on a Solar-Powered Border Wall.”

Trump floated the idea that the wall could be covered in solar panels and the electricity generated used to pay for the cost.

Trump said his vision was a wall 40 feet to 50 feet high and covered with solar panels so they’d be “beautiful structures,” the people said. The President said that most walls you hear about are 14 feet or 15 feet tall but this would be nothing like those walls. Trump told the lawmakers they could talk about the solar-paneled wall as long as they said it was his idea.

This happened yesterday–after he broke diplomatic relations with Qatar with a Tweet (stranding our military bases in now-hostile territory) and challenged Sadiq Khan to an IQ test. This is from the guy who thinks that climate change is a fraud, solar power is a waste (Solyndra!) and that our energy future is in coal.

What else happened yesterday? A story broke that he made his dopey son Eric steal from a cancer charity on his behalf (that was when he still had all his marbles). We learned that Russia maybe did do a little more to our election than just plant fake news stories. We also learned that Trump has turned on Jeff Sessions of all people, and that he is resentful of all the attention that his son-in-law Jared is getting.

The proverbial anthropologist from Mars would take one look at any of those stories and conclude that Trump is not just an authoritarian agent of Russia but cognitively and emotionally off the rails. If he wasn’t such a monster, his unraveling would be a tragic spectacle.

I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but I’m pretty certain that some very important figures in the military, business, the Republican party, and even Congress have noticed this too and have already started discussing how they can ease him out of power and install Mike Pence in his place. I would bet that Mike Pence (who I just learned from Jane Mayer’s DARK MONEY was Charles Koch’s favorite for president in 2012) is an active participant in those conversations–and maybe Jeff Sessions too. And I would further bet that they’ve decided that the best way forward is to give him enough rope to hang himself with–which in his case is his cell phone and his Tweeting compulsion.

Russia stole the election, the president they installed is not only a sociopath but mentally incompetent, and Mike Pence–the Evangelicalist tool of the Koch brothers–is about to become our next unelected president.

Why isn’t everyone else talking about this? Because I’m pretty certain that I’m not the crazy one.

The Windmills of his Mind

People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the electoral college. Big, big, big advantage. I’ve always said the popular vote would be a lot easier than the electoral college. The electoral college — but it’s a whole different campaign (unintelligible). The electoral college is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall, they want to see security. Now, it just came out that they’re 73 percent down. … That’s a tremendous achievement. … Look at this, in 100 days, that down to the lowest in 17 years and it’s going lower. Now, people aren’t coming because they know they’re not going to get through, and there isn’t crime. You know the migration up to the border is horrible for women, you know that? (Unintelligible.) Now, much of that’s stopped because they can’t get through.

The Washington Post’s annotators flag the braggadocio and dishonesty in Trump’s AP interview; what’s striking, though, is how disconnected, stereotypical, and obsessive his thinking is, and how inadequate his language is to express it. It would be an interesting exercise to ask a psychiatrist to compare this to an interview transcript from a year ago, and another from five years ago.

If you think Pence looked resolute staring down North Korea, just imagine how steely he’s going to look when he transmits “to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives [a] written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Of course he’ll need “a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress” to sign on to it, but if you read the excerpt above (or better yet, the whole thing) it’s not so hard to imagine that happening.