Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Causes and contributing factors can be argued cogently, but there's no denying that this presidency is at a crisis point

Just what are you supposed to do with this if your misgivings about handing the Republican presidential nomination and then the presidency to Donald Trump were so strong that you opined in print and online in the strongest terms possible right up until the moment it was a done deal,  proceeded with a willingness to jeopardize friendships and professional associations, and voted your conscience at each stage of the process?

Uhhhh. I’m not very happy with what has happened so far. I guess we have to try to push him to keep his promises. But this isn’t North Korea, and if he doesn’t keep his promises I’m out. This is why we voted for him. I think everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque, it was the issues.
I hate to say it, but I agree with every line in my friend Frank Bruni’s op-ed in The New York Times today. Where is the great negotiation? Where is the bull in the china shop we wanted? That budget the Republicans pushed through was like a practical joke… Did we win anything? And this is the great negotiator?

That's Ann Coulter. Toward the end of the interview in which she says this, she makes even more plain how dire her outlook is:

I think all of the Trump true believers are petrified.
And it's not just his pundit shills who are waking up to the realization that they invested in an illusion. It's administration insiders, people on the payroll. H.R. McMaster may well continue to hew to the official line, but what do you think is going on in the recesses of his mind as he grapples with being directly contradicted - in a tweet, of course - regarding his terse denial of any classified information being revealed to Lavrov and Kislyak at that Oval Office meeting?

Eventually, it gets so un-fun to be burned that key folks look seriously at bailing:

There will always be figures willing to sacrifice their credibility on the altar of political power, but trustworthiness is something that cannot be easily restored once lost. The Trump administration is sacrificing its sincere surrogates by humiliating them repeatedly in public, and those who value their integrity will one day soon stop volunteering as tribute. No one speaks for Trump. Pretty soon, no one else will want to.
And it's not just staffers. At least one US ally is having its "worst fears confirmed.": 

Two Israeli intelligence officers are none too pleased with the alleged leaking of intel by Donald Trump to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, one saying it is their “worst fears confirmed.” The unnamed sources made the comments today to Buzzfeed.
“We have an arrangement with America which is unique to the world of intelligence sharing. We do not have this relationship with any other country,” said the officer, who spoke to BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity as he was not granted permission to speak to the press.
“There is a special understanding of security cooperation between our countries,” they said. “To know that this intelligence is shared with others, without our prior knowledge? That is, for us, our worst fears confirmed.”
One of the sources had previously shared with Buzzfeed their concern that Trump would leak sensitive information to Russia. The leak in question concerned Israeli intel on an ISIS plot to smuggle laptops loaded with explosives onto airplanes. The information was shared by Israel with the U.S. under a special intel sharing relationship between the two countries. A relationship that is apparently now under strain.
“There has to be trust for this sort of arrangement. I cannot speak for Israel’s entire security apparatus, but I would not trust a partner who shared intelligence without coordinating it with us first,” said the officer.
Ben Shapiro at NRO examines the leap of faith made by "conservatives" who swallowed the DJT Kool-Aid, and why it was destined to work out badly:

To understand conservatives’ willingness to overlook Donald Trump’s personal problems, it’s important to understand the context in which Trump’s fans saw him: as a real-estate magnate. Real estate takes a certain level of expertise. It takes fluency with numbers. It takes willingness to structure “the art of the deal.” It requires patience and the ability to grapple with learning curves — adaptability. Success in real estate means careful planning years in advance and a willingness to pull the trigger on big moves. It requires a certain level of character, too: Your reputation in real estate helps determine whether good deals will ever materialize. Those who begin as real-estate sharks don’t have decades-long careers, in the main. 

Trump, his conservative defenders said, was a real-estate mogul — the most powerful real-estate mogul in America. That made him, by inductive reasoning, a decent person, despite his adulterous liaisons. 
But many conservatives refused to acknowledge the two points about Trump that should have given them cause for concern, even if they believed the somewhat flawed meritocracy-character link. First, Trump didn’t earn his magnate status; Trump inherited a massive amount of wealth from his father and, by most available estimates, has significantly underperformed the real-estate market. Second, and more important, there is at least one area of meritocracy where conservatives discard the supposed character-success link: in the entertainment industry. Conservatives have always understood that talent for entertaining and quality of character may actually be inversely linked: You’d be hard-pressed to find a conservative touting Kim Kardashian’s success as proof of her good character.

Trump is an entertainer. He acts like an entertainer. He obsesses about his ratings, he spends hours on his hair, he agonizes over public perceptions of his successes and failures. He cannot bear to be out of the spotlight, and he feels personally threatened by those who occupy it more than he does for any period of time. 
Conservatives wouldn’t pretend that Paris Hilton would make a good president because she’s so successful in her other ventures. Yet many conservatives told themselves a story whereby Trump was more Warren Buffett than Paris Hilton, so they could continue to maintain the positive image of his character. 
We are here because too many of us lost sight not only of the three pillars of conservatism, but the personal traits our worldview has always lauded: dignity, the capacity for sober and humble reflection, refined articulation, and a reverence for clarity.

It mattered, as far back as July 2015 when Trump descended the escalator at his Tower, that he had "a grotesque personality." His slavish devotees may have thought it burnished their credentials as lofty thinkers to elevate one or two issues - think immigration and trade - above alarm at redistribution, above general economic ignorance, above cultural rot, and above the intensification of global threats, and declare that these pet issues had such a champion in one candidate that his patent unfitness must be overlooked, but that which is immutably so in this universe cannot remain buried in the cacophony of human folly forever.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, the president is 70 years old. The likelihood that he's going to grow up and become a statesman is not great.


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