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Who thought Trump couldn’t get worse?

By Ad astra

Just when we thought Trump couldn’t possibly get worse, he has. Almost every day he exhibits more grotesque behaviour. It astonishes his colleagues, the media, the US electorate, world leaders, and indeed the entire world.

Back in May The Political Sword published America – what have you done?, which described the contemporary chaotic scene in the White House: That was at the time of Trump’s discussion with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office, during which he foolishly exchanged vital intelligence with him. Trump subsequently denied this but later admitted that it had occurred, excusing his mistake on the grounds that he was entitled to do so!

America – what have you done? was published around the time that Trump fired FBI chief James Comey. The story behind this changed by the day. It emerged that Trump had tried to get Comey to wind up the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn who had resigned after being confronted with the fact that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office. Trump maligned Comey viciously, calling him incompetent, a ‘grandstander’ and a ‘showboat’. He said he was ‘crazy, a real nut job’, extraordinary language from the President of the United States.

Next, gaffe-prone White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was fired and replaced with the sycophantic Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Spicer was fired because he had objected strongly to the appointment of ex-hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director to whom Spicer was to be subservient.

Then Trump fired Reince Priebus, White House Chief-of-Staff, and replaced him with homeland security secretary, General John Kelly. Priebus had been Trump’s campaign advisor and loyal supporter, but he still got the chop – loyalty runs in only one direction in Trumpland.

Shortly afterwards, Trump fired the foul-mouthed Anthony Scaramucci who had made a profane outburst against Priebus. Scaramucci lasted just ten days.

Steve Bannon, previously executive chair of Brietbart News (a far-right American news, opinion and commentary website), who became Trump’s chief White House strategist, was already on thin ice with Chief-of-Staff John Kelly who was unhappy with the influence he wielded in the White House. Asked about Bannon’s future, Trump was initially equivocal with: ‘We’ll see’, but within days Bannon had been fired. Trump said this ‘was a great day at the White House’. Bannon though had the last say as he returned to his old position at Breitbart News. He told The Washington Post: ‘No administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go.’

Take a look at Trump’s firings/replacements/resignations/departures/job changes in his first six months, up to 1 August. There have been more since:

By the end of August Trump had also sacked White House adviser Sebastian Gorka. Gorka, a close associate of Steve Bannon, had generated controversy with his combative interviews and anti-Muslim views. No doubt Gorka will not be the last to exit.

In the same press release, on the Friday evening that Hurricane Harvey was headed for Texas, Trump announced that he had signed a directive to reinstate the ban on transgender troops in the military.

The riots in Charlottesville marked another low point in Trump’s presidency. They were initiated by far-right, white supremacist, Nazi sympathizers with connections to the Ku Klux Klan, who objected violently to the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, an American general who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Lee had married into one of the wealthiest slave-holding families in Virginia and took over the estate. He was cruel. He encouraged his staff to severely beat slaves who were recaptured. One slave described Lee as one of the meanest men she had ever met.

The extreme right clearly supported Lee’s behaviour and actions and resisted removal of this symbol of him. Anti-racist groups staged a peaceful counter protest, but the extremists, spoiling for a fight, began a violent pitched battle that left many injured and one dead.

It was Trump’s reaction though that landed him in deep trouble. At first, instead of roundly condemning the extremists for initiating the riot, he condemned both sides. Then, realizing that he had upset many of his colleagues and much of the electorate, he reversed his stand in a hastily-arranged press conference, where through gritted teeth he read a carefully scripted statement condemning the extremists and their bigotry, naming them all: ‘Racism is evil. Those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.’

 

Image from The Atlantic

It was obvious this ran contrary to his real feelings, so much so that he soon reversed this balanced statement with a now-typical Trump rant, this time about both sides being to blame. He defended the far-right protesters at the Charlottesville rally, saying they were not all neo-Nazis and white supremacists and laid the blame for the violence equally on what he called the ‘alt-left’: ‘You had a group on one side and group on the other and they came at each other with clubs – there is another side, you can call them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. You had people that were very fine people on both sides.’ Trump’s attempts to claim ‘moral equivalence’ enraged not just Democrats and those opposing the provocateurs, but also his Republican colleagues, who came out in numbers to condemn him in strident terms.

 

Image from The Daily Dot

Not satisfied to leave the Charlottesville episode to fade out of conversation, he stirred the pot again at a rally in Phoenix where he ‘sought to portray himself as the real victim, and launched an all-out assault on the media, branding journalists who “do not like our country” as the true source of division in America….The crowd – some scowling, some laughing – turned and jeered at journalists in the media enclosure and chanted: “CNN sucks! CNN sucks!” Even as he spoke protesters outside the Phoenix Convention Center had gathered to voice anger at his presence.’

Since then Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have devastated his region. They will cost his nation billions of dollars in restitution. Trump’s initial reaction showed little regard for the victims, whom he met only on his second visit to Texas; he seemed more concerned with the size of the crowd that attended his rally. He promised lots of money and praised emergency workers.

Recently, he created controversy by his move to end President Obama’s DACA program that protected 800,000 ‘dreamers’ who had entered the US as children of illegal immigrants, who now live and work there. Trump gave Congress six months to ‘legalise’ the program, then did a deal with the Democrats to address this issue, much to the chagrin of the Republicans. The White House then gave contradictory accounts of what had transpired, confirming then denying the deal – typical Trump somersaults.

This man, who conducts international diplomacy via early morning tweets, managed to annoy PM Theresa May after the recent bomb event on London’s underground, with his tweet: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!” May angrily retorted: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

Trump is incorrigible. His inner feelings always burst out. He generates discord whereever he goes. Commonsense and diplomacy are anathema to him. In business he called the shots and said whatever he liked. Now he cannot abide the constraints that the most powerful man in the world ought to accept. The only time he showed any constraint was when he was mugged by the reality of Afghanistan, and although it broke a pre-election promise, he took the advice of his generals and decided not to withdraw from that hell-hole.

Reflect on these events, which have occurred in the few months since America – what have you done? was published. Ask yourself if Trump’s behaviour has made the analysis offered at that time more or less valid. Let me quickly remind you of my thesis about Trump:

The following were held to be Trump’s underlying personality defects, which evoke his extraordinary behaviour:

Lack of insight
Paranoia
Delusions of grandeur
Narcissistic personality disorder
Overbearing, punitive, bullying and ruthless behaviour patterns
Willful ignorance

Each was elucidated.

It was this analysis of the personality and behaviour of Trump that evoked the piece: America – what have you done?

Do you think his subsequent behaviour has made this assessment more or less valid?

Take another look at: America – what have you done?, and tell us what you think.

What is your opinion?

What do you feel about President Donald Trump seven months in?

How do you expect him to extract himself from the mess he has created?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

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25 comments

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  1. Möbius Ecko

    As well as all the questionable appointments, sackings and more controversial appointments as replacements, there’s the real problem of no appointments.

    There are still many positions to be filled, the most ever after six months of a new president. This inaction is also crippling the White House and the running of the US.

    And like Abbott with Gillard, Trump is determined to destroy everything with Obama’s fingerprints on it, purely for the sake of revenge on Obama. The validity and beneficence of the policy don’t matter, nor does the long-term damage caused by getting rid of these programs matter. After getting rid of the Clean Rivers Act, the latest is to get rid of the ban stopping toxic coal ash from being dumped into the environment. It seems the only reason for doing this outside of giving polluters free reign, is that it was an Obama edict.

  2. diannaart

    The only principle Trump stands for is: “What is good for Trump”

    He has always subscribed to some in-born sense of entitlement, now that he is president, he feels even more justified. I can imagine not many in the white house are speaking honestly and directly to Trump, so why should we expect any change in his behaviour?

    In fact to disagree with Trump, is to reveal a failure a weakness in the observer (not in Trump of course). “The Apprentice” was a perfect fit for such a man, President of the United States is a disaster.

    On the plus side – everything changes… eventually.

  3. Möbius Ecko

    Not only are many not talking honestly to Trump, many are ignoring him and his edicts completely. One organisation doing this on climate change is the Pentagon.

  4. diannaart

    Absolutely, ME.

    Not only the Pentagon, but many of the states as well.

    In my family, my father was a chronic alcoholic. Therefore, having a reasonable conversation was near impossible… I remember mum saying we will just continue to “work around him”. I have encountered many people I had to “work around” but that is what happens when the king/queen is nekkid.

    Will the people of the USA learn from this political episode? That’s the question for which I have no answer.

  5. Möbius Ecko

    They didn’t learn from Reagan, they elected W Bush. They didn’t learn from W Bush, they elected Trump.

  6. Aortic

    Gore Vidal, ” anyone thinking of running for President of the United States, should immediately, by definition, be disqualified from doing so.” Truman,” no one gives you money and expects nothing in return.” By the time they reach nomination they have been been compromised a thousand times over. How to try and overcome? Public funding of elections may be a start for all western democracies at least.

  7. Michael Taylor

    Mo, you’d think they’d learn one day.

  8. helvityni

    Well, I hope we have learnt from the Abbott/ Turnbull years…

  9. Kyran

    “Who thought Trump couldn’t get worse?”
    When someone is sick, you always want them to get better. Not worse.
    Whilst he is undoubtedly sick, I was sort of hoping he would get better, for all our sake’s.
    There was a PBS broadcast, before he assumed the presidency, about how he had trashed the protocols for the ‘transition period’. I haven’t found the link yet, but if you look at these, you will get the gist.

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/makes-successful-transfer-presidential-power/

    http://www.pbs.org/weta/washingtonweek/blog-post/ensuring-smooth-transfer-power-how-presidential-transition-works

    Whilst he may have ‘Delusions of grandeur’, most, in the real world, consider he has nothing more than delusions of adequacy. Maybe even delusions of competency. In any event, his delusions (however delusional) are now our reality.
    As to his business practices, well, what can you say.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/09/03/if-donald-trump-followed-this-really-basic-advice-hed-be-a-lot-richer/

    Don’t take my word for it. Search ‘trump’s wealth’. Or you can search ‘trump’s business interests’.
    That the self-proclaimed emporer is devoid of garments can only be a surprise to his followers, devoid of sight. Let alone vision.
    We have a way’s to go, Ad astra. With all of his wealth, he should be able to get help. That he needs a psychiatrist, rather than a medic, is his choice. That his wealth affords him that choice is a problem most of those with poor health, mental or otherwise, don’t need to concern themselves with. If they are poor, asking for access to healthcare, in either form, is a waste of time.
    Thank you Ad astra and commenters. Take care

  10. Max Gross

    We are witnessing the twilight of US hegemony. The Empire has fallen.

  11. Miriam English

    I think USA has been needing a Caligula for some time. They need it to wake them up. Claudius became emperor after Caligula’s disastrous reign and ruled wisely for 13 years. He would have continued for longer if he hadn’t died suddenly, thought to have been poisoned by his wife.

    Unfortunately Rome didn’t even learn from that, as Nero came after… although they at least had the excuse of lead poisoning reducing their collective intelligence (pipes and water vessels were lined with lead). The only thing even remotely comparable in its ability to reduce collective intelligence in USA is FOX News. I’m not kidding. Studies have shown that FOX actually makes people stupid.

    Trump is sick, but he’s no Caligula, so maybe USA hasn’t hit the bottom yet. I fear there is much, much worse to come.

  12. Miriam English

    Putin must be laughing himself silly at how easy it was to gut the USA.

  13. wam

    good read tothestars but 538 has trump at 44% approval so he has good support.

    mobius, who didn’t learn?

    The saddest and most dangerous 4 letter word in the english language is ‘they’.
    Aborigines suffer most by the word as it is almost always followed by a negative and allows no individual differences.

  14. Miriam English

    wam, actually, 44% would be pretty bad for a new president. At this point Obama had 50% approval. But Trump is only scoring 37% approval and it just keeps falling lower and lower. No other president in USA history has scored this badly this early in their term. Well, I guess he can at least say he’s setting a new record. 🙂

    Trump never had a majority approving of him. Recent investigations show Russians didn’t just use fake news and trolls and bots on social media, they actually hacked into the election databases and altered electoral rolls to remove names of people who were not likely to vote for Trump. They may have also hacked into the electronic voting machines too, as was shown at a recent DEFCON (computer conference) where a voting machine was presented as a challenge to the attendees. They hacked into it in just 90 minutes. So it’s a fairly safe bet that Russia has too over the past few years.

    Disturbing information has come to light that the Russians placed at least $100,000 in advertisements on facebook, targeting swinging voters. They could target weak-minded people via ads with racist phrases, such as “how to burn Jews” and “why Jews ruin the world”. We need to be aware that Russia is also making similar attacks on European democracies, so they’re likely to target Australia too. Russia is in pretty big financial trouble (perhaps because of the high level corruption bleeding off massive amounts of money — corruption has made Putin one of the wealthiest people in the world). They depend fairly heavily upon selling fossil fuels so are one of the strong purveyors of climate change denial. We can expect increased propaganda from our dying coal companies, the international oil producers, and Russia.

  15. Jack

    The US needed a circuit breaker of a president(good or bad). Just continuing the cycle of Clintons/Bushes wasn’t going to change anything. The Russians wanted this to change too, as the constant negative US/Russian relations of the last x years has not helped them. I find it amusing that the US gets annoyed that somebody tried to influence their election when they have been doing it to other countries for decades

  16. diannaart

    Good point, Jack. The USA (generally speaking) does not do irony very well, being more the “do as I say, not as I do” type of imperialist.

  17. Roswell

    The US has interfered with something like 85 foreign elections, so yes, Jack/Dianna, it is a bit rich of them to get precious over the Russians allegedly interfering in theirs.

    (Personally I don’t like the idea of any country interfering in another country’s elections, whether it be the Americans, the Russians, the Chinese, the Indonesians, Liechtenstein or the Dothraki).

  18. Roswell

    PS: or the Grays. ?

  19. diannaart

    Roswell

    I understand your concerns regarding the Grays, but for yours truly, it is the hidden agenda of the White Walkers that bodes ill fortune…

  20. Roswell

    Dianna, you’re a mind-reader.

    I almost said White Walkers instead of the Dothraki, but I thought we already have enough of them in politics. So it was a bit too close to the bone (think Abbott, Hanson, Trump, Dutton).

    I’d settle for the peace-loving Grays. ?

  21. jimhaz

    [What do you feel about President Donald Trump seven months in?]

    Early on, I thought he would be on the way out by now. I did not think he would last a year.

    Now the polls appear to have stabilised and US voters have become used to “IT” so I imagine the polls will remain fairly stable rather than continue to decline.

    My own view of him has become more relaxed over the last couple of months. Now that Bannon is out and we have some non-idiotic generals in the mix, I would say he is no longer continuing the partial coup attempt and Bannon left of his own accord when it became clear the checks and balances would not let Trump rule in the “no compromise” manner that a dictator would.

    I am hoping he does great lasting harm to the republican party, until such time as Mueller’s report makes him resign.

  22. Miriam English

    jimhaz, what makes you think the polls for Trump have stabilised?
    If you look at the Gallup polls for Trump they continue their noisy, but inexorable slide downward.
    http://news.gallup.com/poll/201617/gallup-daily-trump-job-approval.aspx

    Trump utterly disgusts me, and the only positives I can see are the damage he’s doing to the Republicans, throwing some cold water on USA’s more mindless patriots, and getting more people interested in voting in order to ensure that doesn’t happen again. It might also undo the astonishing level of gerrymandering the Republicans have used to steal election after election. And perhaps it might fix their pathetic, 3rd-world-standard election process.

    But I hope Trump hangs in for the long haul. Dog help us all if that religious lunatic Pence gets the presidency.

  23. Miriam English

    Man! I love Matt Taibbi’s writing. About a third of the way through his fairly long article The Madness of Donald Trump he drops this poisonous delicacy:

    We deserve Trump, though. God, do we deserve him. We Americans have some good qualities, too, don’t get me wrong. But we’re also a bloodthirsty Mr. Hyde nation that subsists on massacres and slave labor and leaves victims half-alive and crawling over deserts and jungles, while we sit stuffing ourselves on couches and blathering about our “American exceptionalism.” We dumped 20 million gallons of toxic herbicide on Vietnam from the air, just to make the shooting easier without all those trees, an insane plan to win “hearts and minds” that has left about a million still disabled from defects and disease – including about 100,000 children, even decades later, little kids with misshapen heads, webbed hands and fused eyelids writhing on cots, our real American legacy, well out of view, of course.

    Nowadays we use flying robots and missiles to kill so many civilians and women and children in places like Mosul and Raqqa and Damadola, Pakistan, in our countless ongoing undeclared wars that the incidents scarcely make the news anymore. Our next innovation is “automation,” AI-powered drones that can identify and shoot targets, so human beings don’t have to pull triggers and feel bad anymore. If you want to look in our rearview, it’s lynchings and race war and genocide all the way back, from Hispaniola to Jolo Island in the Philippines to Mendocino County, California, where we nearly wiped out the Yuki people once upon a time.

    This is who we’ve always been, a nation of madmen and sociopaths, for whom murder is a line item, kept hidden via a long list of semantic self-deceptions, from “manifest destiny” to “collateral damage.” We’re used to presidents being the soul of probity, kind Dads and struggling Atlases, humbled by the terrible responsibility, proof to ourselves of our goodness. Now, the mask of respectability is gone, and we feel sorry for ourselves, because the sickness is showing.

    So much of the Trump phenomenon is about history. Fueling the divide between pro- and anti-Trump camps is exactly the fact that we’ve never had a real reckoning with either our terrible past or our similarly bloody present. The Trump movement culturally represents an absolute denial of our sins from slavery on – hence the intense reaction to the removal of Confederate statues, the bizarre paranoia about the Washington Monument being next, and so on. But #resistance is also a denial mechanism. It makes Trump the root of all evil, and is powered by an intense desire to not have to look at the ugliness, to go back to the way things were. We see this hideous clown in the White House and feel our dignity outraged, but when you really think about it, what should America’s president look like?

    Trump is no malfunction. He’s a perfect representation of who, as a country, we are and always have been: an insane monster. Frankly, we’re lucky he’s not walking around using a child’s femur as a toothpick.

    When it’s not trembling in terror, the rest of the world must be laughing its ass off. America, land of the mad pig president. Shove that up your exceptionalism.

    I have a lot of friends in USA, and there are a lot of things I love about USA science and culture, but there is something really repulsive in humans when they feel power. Being the most powerful country in the world turned many in USA into monstrosities. We, here in Australia, got a strong dose of it too and gave strength to the Pauline Hansons and Peter Duttons and the loony Abbotts in our population. I’m sure there are more than a few people in neighboring countries that will be glad to see us brought down by our self-inflicted meanness and our interminable whinging as hard done by (while we waste and over-consume more than any other nation).

  24. diannaart

    Hear! Hear! Miriam.

    We cannot point to the USA and claim moral superiority, not when we accept the truth of the settlement of this country, use refugees to warn off other people FFS, deny the truth of low stagnant wages or unemployment due to many factors from industrial closures to simply not being able to cope with the Centrelink system, blaming young people on crap wages and insecure employment for not being able to afford a home of their own and having the sheer arrogance to vote on whether a minority of people are entitled to marry… I had better stop.

    When we claim to feel dismay at the hypocrisy of Turnbull or the utter madness of Abbott, we are looking back at ourselves – our leaders are us plus power.

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