In the absence of any moral judgment, intellectual ambition or human feelings deeper than an itch, Donald J. Trump’s inner life is entirely reactive.
So, whenever the President goes spectacularly off the rails, it’s always worth asking, “what on earth made him do that?”
Yes, the North Korean nuclear weapon and delivery system developments were a mighty predicate in themselves, and Kim Jong Un’s blustering threats only made the provocation worse. But, the world asked, why meet rage with rage, and impotent rage at that?
Trump’s rhetorical response, “fire and fury,” “locked and loaded,” sounded more like the Big Bad Wolf than an ostensible world leader. He had “get even” down, but completely ignored, “Don’t get mad.”
It was only when it sounded like Trump was closing in on, “Nuclear war? Bring it on!” that Nurses Tillerson and Mattis stepped in with lullabies to impose nap time on the spluttering warmonger.
One wonders if Head Nurse Kelly is going to start carrying a tranquilizer gun?
He might have used it last week, at that the globally-televised news conference that turned into a Trump rant on the terrible events in Charlottesville, VA. Trump probably thought he was on safer ground, making inexcusably “even-handed” judgments in favor of White Supremicists and anti-Semites. No way this could start World War III.
But in re-fighting World War II and The Civil War, and fighting for the wrong sides of both, the angry President — sneering, snarling and interrupting — built a bonfire, log after log of his own rage, and burned down his own Presidency.
What was Trump so mad about? Sending Robert E. Lee and his many statues to the funky storeroom of history? You really think Trump cares about General Lee? Or the Confederacy? Or Slavery? I don’t think so.
Was he upset at the injustice of the neo-Nutsies being drowned out at their own shout-out, and then being upstaged when one of them committed a heartless murder?
Annoyed, perhaps, that the Liberals won this news cycle, but for Trump, that’s like being proven a liar: it happens all the time. You win some, you lose some. “Bad” happens.
What did set off the August eruption of over-the-top-even-for-him episodes (did I mention Trump’s mindless “military option” in Venezuela?). It was, I believe, a conclusion the President reached even before the Pyongyang alarm bell rang: “I’m cooked!”
When the FBI, acting on Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s warrant staged a dramatic and soon-to-be-public dawn raid at former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s house, Trump got the picture. Mueller intends to indict Manafort for financial crimes Trump knows he’s done himself, likely with people or institutions (Deutsche Bank, for one) Trump has used himself.
The potential next steps — from Manafort going on trial, or Manafort becoming a co-operating witness, Mueller tracking Manafort’s suspect Russian connections and finding many of them also have links to the President or Don Jr. or Jared – ALL lead to the same destination: a Trump Presidency which does not complete a single term.
I’m guessing when The Donald learned of the raid and its implications, it made him the very angry man we’ve seen.
And, I’m betting, he still is that guy.
Which is more than enough to frighten even Steve Bannon. On his way out of the White House, Bannon noted that Kim Jong Un’s tens of millions of South Korean hostages make the idea of attacking him a non-starter.
And Bannon was also openly contemptuous of Trump’s Venezuela “military option.”
But Bannon knows his former boss. Telling Trump directly, “Don’t be crazy,” can trigger an “I’ll show you” reaction.
That’s why Bannon’s way to head off some stupid American military intervention somewhere is to warn the President, “Don’t let ‘the generals’ fool you.” Get mad at them, not Kim Jong Un or Nicolas Maduro. You’ll have fun and no one will get hurt.
Meanwhile, the inevitable progression of the Mueller investigation, frying or flipping Manafort and Gen. Michael Flynn, just for starters; probing The Family, his son, his son-in-law, his son-in-law’s sister-in law seems designed to make our volatile President ignite (and maybe quietly resign) before he is impeached or indicted.
Let’s hope the Trump eruptions continue to show up mostly on Twitter. The President should be encouraged to spew all the words he wants (in 140 keystroke stanzas, to be sure) but he should be kept away from sticks and stones and nuclear weapons.
Nobody wants an over-reaction from a Presidential pre-corpse.