Giving Trump too much credit
From an op-ed yesterday on CNN's website:
Welcome to the shock event, designed precisely to jar the political system and civil society, causing a disorientation and disruption among the public and the political class that aids the leader in consolidating his power. Those who still refuse to take Trump seriously cite his incompetence for the rough start in office. Yet this blitzkrieg was intentional. "Get used to it. @POTUS is a man of action and impact...Shock to the system. And he's just getting started" his counselor Kellyanne Conway tweeted Saturday.
As Conway implies, these first days of the Trump administration could be considered a prologue to a bigger drama, and one that reflects the thinking of Trump and Bannon alike. From their actions and pronouncements, we cannot exclude an intention to carry out a type of coup.
Many may raise their eyebrows at my use of this word, which brings to mind military juntas in faraway countries who use violence and the element of surprise to gain power. Our situation is different. Trump gained power legally but this week has provided many indications that his inner circle intends to shock or strike at the system, using the resulting spaces of chaos and flux to create a kind of government within the government: one beholden only to the chief executive (Donald Trump and Steve Bannon's coup in the making).
This gives Trump too much credit, which is typical of lot of smart people seeing complexity where none exists. Trump and Bannon may have some such power grab in mind, but their attempt has been so incompetent it can only be ascribed to sheer stupidity. They are still playing to their Republican base, as if the presidency is merely a continuation of the primary campaign. They apparently think their performance will expand that moronic minority into a national majority. So far the polls show that it isn't working.
The administration's incompetence in court was so glaring Ed Kilgore wonders if Trump/Bannon even wanted to win the case:
After last night’s defeat in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of his efforts to get his travel ban reinstated, Donald Trump needs to come to grips with a fundamental question: Does he want to win this legal battle? Or does he want to use the frustration of his plans by the courts to score political points and enrage his followers? (Does Trump Even Want to Win in Court?)
If Trump hadn't picked so many unnecessary early fights---with the media, the intelligence agencies, and the judiciary, to mention only the most important---their "coup" might have been successful, if that's what they have in mind. If pigs had wings, they might fly.
Why did he pick those fights? Because Trump's most salient characteristic isn't narcissism, greed, misogyny, and racism, though he's also about all of that. It's stupidity. That's his real Achilles heel, though he might also be clinically insane and has avoided being institutionalized only because he's rich.
Given his severe intellectual and emotional deficiencies, we can count on President Trump fucking up most of what he tries to do. The easily refuted falsehoods, the personal insults, the conflicts of interest, the screwed up policy roll-outs, etc. will all continue, in addition to all the fuck-ups by the same kind of people he's put in his cabinet.
Kevin Drum worries about Trump's intellectual capacity:
Every new White House has lots of growing pains and plenty of leaks. But they never feature leak after leak after leak portraying the president as a boob. That's something new. At this point, I'm mostly curious about who's doing the leaking. Is it career staff from the Obama era who are still working in the White House until they get reassigned? Or is this coming from folks who were actually hired by Trump? If it's the former, it's still unprecedented but probably just represents lingering resentment. However, if Trump's own people think he's an idiot and are happy to let the whole world know it, something is very, very wrong. But I don't know which it is (Trump's Staff Sure Seems Eager to Tell the World He's an Imbecile).
After watching and listening to Donald Trump for the last 18 months, I know which it is: He clearly is a boob.