STEINBERG: How will Donald Trump top last week? Just wait
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Monday morning. Yawns all around, coffee for most, and a general blinking at the week ahead.
Before we plunge in, let’s quickly review last week, shall we?
On Monday, President Donald Trump met with “victims of Obamacare.” That evening he delivered a rambling, vindictive speech at the Boy Scout National Jamboree so politically aggrieved that the Scouts were later forced to apologize.
Tuesday, Trump lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Wednesday, Trump attempted to abruptly expel thousands of transgendered service members from the military.
Which brought us, gasping, to midweek. On Thursday, the New Yorker shared the obscenity-laced tirade of his new communications director, slurring Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, who was then fired, replaced by a retired general on Friday, the same day the president urged police to brutalize suspects they are arresting.
Miss anything? Oh yeah, the seven-year effort of Republicans to repeal Obamacare cratered. Again.
Miss anything else? Investigation into what degree Trump is in thrall to Russia — whether through collusion, corruption, or just because Vladimir Putin knows how ruinous a Trump presidency will be — made its clockwork progress forward.
Miss anything else? No doubt, but we must move on. Which is the whole trouble. Here it is Monday, again, and while last week’s developments are alarming and unresolved and important, the truth is we’ll be moving on to new crises. It never stops; it only gets worse.
That dynamic is slow to dawn on even the most savvy observers. Here is a single sentence from Sunday’s Washington Post. See if the same word pops out at you that struck me:
“John F. Kelly will be sworn in Monday at the nadir of Trump’s presidency, with historically low approval ratings, a stalled legislative agenda and an escalating Russia investigation that casts a dark cloud.”
“Nadir” poked me in the eye like Moe Howard’s forefinger. Does anyone believe that we have arrived at the nadir, the low point of Trump’s presidency? That finally, after six months of crashing into one ditch, spinning his wheels, flailing about, then digging a new, lower ditch and heaving his twitching administration into that ditch with a splash, that now, suddenly, magically, things are going to turn around for the president and he’ll be on the high road to success? In your dreams.
Won’t happen. Can’t happen. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse.
Some won’t perceive it. The same people who believed Donald Trump was the right guy to run the country, because he was untainted by governmental experience, haven’t been gazing at the train wreck with the sickening, what-have-we-done drop in the pits of their stomachs that responsible adult people would feel. They aren’t going to start. No, inspired by the vicious nonsense Fox News crams into their heads like sawdust, they’ll traffic in the same magical thinking and reality denial that got us all here in the first place.
No, what the Post meant was “the nadir of Trump’s presidency so far.” My guess is the true bottom is years away, maybe during his second term, after the Democrats, also unhinged, run Susan Sarandon for president in 2020 and lose, bigly, and we get a second term Trump: older, heavier, less inhibited, more unhinged.
Can’t leave you with that image. It’s Monday morning. Look on the sunny side. It’s all out there to see. The media howls in full-throated horror at each Trump excess. Decent Americans react in visceral horror to his unpatriotic, immoral acts. Sen. Orrin Hatch, of all people, a conservative Republican from Utah, condemned Trump’s surprise attack on transgendered soldiers, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff replied to the tweet with, in essence, “The hell you will.”
This is a long-haul process, a car alarm that never stops blaring but can’t be ignored, because somebody really is breaking into your car; worse, vandalizing the country you love. If I thought we were at the nadir, I’d be dancing around a maypole, because that would mean we got off light. We won’t. The nadir is coming.