What a week it has been.
But that is not totally honest — is it? This — and you know what I mean by this — has been going on for well over 100 days now. We can only hope that the end is in sight. Before I can even touch this last week or so, we have to look back at the winding and bumpy road that has brought us to the current position.
I was personally optimistic about the ideological diversity in the Trump White House. We had traditional Republican operatives like Reince Priebus, Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. Vice President Pence was to be the voice of the religious right to the billionaire from Manhattan with few existing connections to that sizeable faction of the GOP. The nationalist-populists were able to get their stake with ideologues Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller who have certainly defined Trumpism more than the man it is named for. And then came the unorthodox choices, like son-in-law Jared Kushner, who along his wife Ivanka have histories as donors to Democratic politicians and are — by most accounts — politically liberal. In fact, you’d think Ivanka and Jared would be the very people Trump’s campaign was centered against: metropolitan, elite, Ivy League educated, wealthy and socially liberal.
I had personally dreamed of a non-stop exchange of ideas from the best and the brightest minds the country has to offer. Each one reaching the desk of someone I had hoped could be the greatest executive in the world. But what we have gotten instead has been four months of chaos and ideological incoherence.
How can the administration that attempted to ram through the abhorrent travel ban be the same one that appointed Justice Gorsuch to the bench? Just look at the dichotomy of an administration that signed an executive order allowing churches to endorse political candidates and may soon promote paid maternity leave. This doesn’t make any sense. And it shouldn’t.
It is because, as President Obama lamented, Trump is not an ideologue — but a pragmatist. And the ideologues that have surrounded him have been competing for his squirrel-length attention span since the campaign. When four to five different groups all want the president to pursue a different agenda — it is no wonder we have gotten so used to the chaos of the last few months. No single person can possibly be a unifying Republican leader, populist champion of American workers, evangelical superstar and please the metropolitan elite. President Reagan could certainly tie together various factions of the Right in his electoral landslides. But you, Mr. Trump, are no Ronald Reagan.
I’ve been left with something of a sour taste in my mouth from this administration. Aside from being overjoyed with the selection Justice Gorsuch and pleasantly surprised with the missile strikes in Syria, I have to confess myself disappointed. It was at Trump’s urging that the American Health Care Act was rammed through house without a CBO score on a Thursday before a break. Not only a PR nightmare, but a move that could very well jeopardize the Republican majority in the House of Representatives over a bill that doesn’t have a prayer of surviving the Senate. Sacrificing long term policy goals for a “win” and celebration in the Rose Garden.
But, as promised, we should return to the last 10 days, which have been chaotic even by this administration’s standards. Let’s do these one by one.
May 8th: We learn that President Obama warned Trump that General Flynn had been compromised by Russia. Trump hired him anyway. This wasn’t even particularly difficult knowledge to attain. Anyone with internet access could find the photos of Gen. Flynn with Vladimir Putin at a 2015 dinner for Russia Today — a wing of the Kremlin’s propaganda network. One need only look at his fringe beliefs that followed to piece together the rest of the puzzle.
May 9th: President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. The string of justifications that followed included citing the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.Not the first time this has happened. Not by a long shot. Almost everyone who has associated with this administration has been asked to go out and lie on the President’s behalf. Recall Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” — Sean Spicer’s reputation that he has spent a lifetime crafting is vanishing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was put out last week to float the Rosenstein story only to have the President give a different justification under 48 hours later.
May 10th: President Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Not exactly friends of the United States, are they? The former orchestrated the blocking of American initiatives at the United Nations and the latter is regarded as a spy and recruiter of spies by intelligence officials.
May 11th: President Trump — wait for it — contradicts the justification the White House had given for the firing of James Comey. Stating that he planned on firing Comey anyway.
May 12th: Trump tweets about having tapes of an earlier meeting with James Comey.
May 15th: The Washington Post breaks the story that President Trump shared highly classified intel regarding the Islamic State in his meeting with the Russian officials. The information was regarded as so secret that many within our own government were not granted access to it. This move not only jeopardized the security of that specific source, who is likely embedded in ISIL controlled city, but also the intelligence sharing network that we have with many of our allies. This does not even begin to scratch the surface of the competing interests that the United States and Russia have with regard to Syria. As Russia wishes to keep Assad’s regime capable of pushing back rebel forces and the United States is largely looking to combat the Islamic State and is no friend of the Assad regime.
The omnipotence of “the Russian connection” specter certainly does not look good for the embattled President. It is found everywhere in this time frame from hanging over the firing of Flynn for his associates and the firing of Comey, who sought to begin investigation. It haunts former Trump allies Roger Stone and Paul Manafort and hangs over the reputation of Mike Pence — who we can only hope was ignorant, at best, of the situation at hand.
I long for the days of 2012, when it was Governor Mitt Romney who warned President Obama and the American people of the threat that the Russian Federation posed to our country and democracy.
In the past few days we’ve seen long-time Trump allies like Ann Coulter defect, Republicans refuse to go on Fox News to defend the President and the beginning of an independent investigation into this situation. In the meantime, some on the right have dug into conspiracy theories about Seth Rich and the “deep state” to cling on to the last few seconds of their 15 minutes of fame to distract from this situation that is now too large to ignore.
This is unsustainable and untenable on every level and needs to end.
This lifelong Democrat hijacked the Republican party and the conservative movement to get himself elected while making unkeepable promises to the “forgotten man.”
History is watching. And we owe him nothing.