It’s time to get used to Donald Trump. Democrats all seem to have agreed that, if they take back the House, voting to impeach Trump would just make them look vindictive and foolish – and even if a Democratic House impeached Trump, the trial would be in the Senate. Even if the Democrats took back the Senate – possible but not likely – they’d need two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors” – and getting two-thirds of any Senate to agree on anything is next to impossible. That saved Andrew Johnson. That saved Bill Clinton. That would save Donald Trump. Any Republican who crossed over and voted to convict Trump would be ripped to shreds by Trump’s base, the angry but solid core of the Republican Party.
Trump is safe. Trump stays, and forget the 25th Amendment because that’s about a president’s “inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the Office” – medical matters, or stretching it a bit beyond any actual words in that amendment, psychiatric matters. No one wants to go there. Psychiatry is imprecise. One man’s pathological paranoia is another man’s deep wisdom. Trump may be an embarrassment, even to most Republicans, but that’s not a debilitating pathology. He’s just embarrassing. So is drunken Uncle Fred at Thanksgiving dinner. Get used to it. Donald Trump can do real damage in the real world, and Uncle Fred can’t, but Trump isn’t going anywhere. Impeachment is hard – intentionally so – and the 25th Amendment is intentionally narrow. The nation needs a stable government. The nation needs continuity. There are no do-overs. The nation’s embarrassment doesn’t matter. The nation will just have to get used to Donald Trump.
This may be a test of character. Good people make the best of any situation. Good people don’t whine, but this is just embarrassing:
President Donald Trump is being criticized for his self-congratulatory tone in a Memorial Day tweet in which he said “those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today” and then cited the growing economy and low unemployment.
Trump sent the tweet Monday before heading to Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to those who died in service to the U.S.
The tweet was this:
Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18 years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!
That was embarrassing:
Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Obama administration, tweeted: “This day, of all days of the year, should not be about any one of us.”
John Kirby, a State Department spokesman in the Obama administration, called Trump’s tweet “one of the most inappropriate, ignorant and tone-deaf things our Commander-in-Chief could have said on a day like today.”
Yeah, well, get used to it – Trump is who he is – no harm done – but David Frum, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush who left the Republican Party long ago, does see harm:
It is the responsibility and honor of the president to speak for the nation on the solemn occasions of collective remembrance. Some presidents are endowed with greater natural eloquence than others, but that does not matter. What the country listens for is the generous and authentic message underneath the rhetoric, whether that rhetoric is graceful or clumsy. The last general to win the presidency said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” The country heard those words, believed them, and trusted him.
The 45th president is often described – and sometimes praised – as “authentic.” That compliment, if it is a compliment, is not truly deserved. In many ways, President Trump is not the man he seems. He was not a great builder, not a great dealmaker, not a billionaire, not a man of strength and decisiveness.
But there is one way in which he truly is authentic: He is never able to play-act the generous feelings that he so absolutely lacks.
Frum sees something terribly wrong here:
It’s not news that there is something missing from Trump where normal human feelings should go. His devouring need for admiration from others is joined to an extreme, even pathological, inability to return any care or concern for those others. But Trump’s version of this disconnect comes most especially to the fore at times of national ritual.
Donald Trump cares enormously about national symbols – the flag, the anthem – when he can use them to belittle, humiliate, and exclude.
Trump has called for revoking the citizenship of those who burn the flag. He has suggested that NFL players who do not rise for the Star-Spangled Banner should be deported. He scored one of the greatest victories of his presidency when the National Football League submitted to his demand to punish players who did not stand at attention for the anthem. Vice President Pence ran the victory lap for Trump on this one.
But when it comes time to lead the nation in its shared rituals of unity and common purpose, Donald Trump cannot do it.
Frum argues that this, then, is more than an embarrassment:
What happens then if the country should find itself in a moment when national leadership is required? A mass-casualty terrorist attack, a natural disaster that takes many lives, a crisis that might lead to war, a war itself? Trump’s decisions are leading the country toward possible conflict in the Korean Peninsula and against Iran.
What if that leadership actually arrives at the brink of outright conflict? How can a president who only grabs credibly ask others for sacrifice? How can the most untrustworthy man ever to hold the office effectively summon anyone to follow him?
Drunken Uncle Fred doesn’t have to summon anyone to follow him. Donald Trump does. Chris Cillizza offered this – Donald Trump just put the ‘Me’ in his Memorial Day tweet – a cute way of putting it, but he makes the same point:
This is a tweet about Trump masquerading as a tweet about Memorial Day. The remembrance of those who fell in service to the country is used here by Trump as simply a launching pad to tout accomplishments during his first 16 months in office.
Need evidence? Ask yourself if those who died for the country did so while thinking about the current unemployment rate. Or how a family mourning someone lost fighting for the United States today would react when the President ends a tweet allegedly honoring their service with this: “Nice!”
That is appalling, and embarrassing, but no more embarrassing than this:
President Donald Trump on Sunday lamented the lives “devastated” by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In his latest attempt to discredit the federal probe, Trump tweeted that the “young and beautiful lives” allegedly “destroyed” by the “Russia Collusion Witch Hunt” had “journeyed to Washington, D.C., with stars in their eyes.”
“They went back home in tatters!” he tweeted.
No one knew who Trump was talking about. At least nineteen people have been charged in Mueller’s investigation, but he didn’t specify any one of them. He was whining about the unfairness of life and asking the nation to sob along with him. That was embarrassing, but not appalling. The media generally ignored that one.
That shouldn’t become a habit. Donald Trump may be no more than just what he us, our drunken Uncle Fred, but there’s no need to get used to what the New York Times’ Sui-Lee Wee reports here:
China this month awarded Ivanka Trump seven new trademarks across a broad collection of businesses, including books, housewares and cushions.
At around the same time, President Trump vowed to find a way to prevent a major Chinese telecommunications company from going bust, even though the company has a history of violating American limits on doing business with countries like Iran and North Korea.
Coincidence? Well, probably. Still, the remarkable timing is raising familiar questions about the Trump family’s businesses and its patriarch’s status as commander in chief. Even as Mr. Trump contends with Beijing on issues like security and trade, his family and the company that bears his name are trying to make money off their brand in China’s flush and potentially promising market.
The nation may have to get used to this too:
The most recent slew of trademarks appears to have been granted along the same timeline as Ms. Trump’s previous requests, experts said. But more broadly, they said, Ms. Trump’s growing portfolio of trademarks in China and the family’s business interests there raises questions about whether Chinese officials are giving the Trump family extra consideration that they otherwise might not get.
These critics say the foreign governments that do business with Ms. Trump know they are dealing with the president’s daughter – a person who also works in the White House.
“Some countries will no doubt see this as a way to curry favor with President Trump,” wrote Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, and Norman Eisen, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, two nonprofit watchdog groups… “Other countries may see the business requests made by his daughter’s company as requests they cannot refuse.”
Ivanka Trump is a senior advisor in the White House. Ivanka Trump has her own business too, and she’s making a whole lot of money in China. President Trump is deep in trade negotiations with China, and negotiations regarding North Korea, and the Chinese are being very nice to Ivanka Trump. President Trump is now being very nice to China, ignoring all his experts on all the nasty things the Chinese do:
Mr. Trump said in a surprise announcement on May 13 that he was working with China’s president, Xi Jinping, to save jobs at the Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE. The company was left paralyzed after American officials forbade companies in the United States from selling their chips, software and other goods to ZTE for violating trade controls. Mr. Trump’s announcement was widely seen as a potential peace offering to Beijing as the United States and China threatened each other with tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of trade.
Just before and after that announcement, Ms. Trump won some long-sought trademarks covering her name in China.
Six days before the ZTE announcement, China said it approved five of Ms. Trump’s trademarks, according to data from China’s trademark office. Then, on May 21, China awarded Ms. Trump two more trademarks in snacks, spices and bleaching preparations. In total, Ms. Trump now has 34 trademarks in China that would allow her to capitalize on her brand in the world’s second-largest economy.
Get used to it:
Mr. Trump himself has more than 100 trademarks in China. Several United States senators have criticized these trademarks, warning it could be a breach of the United States Constitution and that foreign governments could use Mr. Trump’s trademarks to influence foreign policy decisions. Mr. Trump has said he has handed over control of his business to his two adult sons. The Trump Organization has said it has been actively enforcing its intellectual property rights in China for more than a decade to protect its brand from infringers.
China’s infamous “trademark squatters” – people who register the names of famous brands and people and “squat” on them in the hopes that they can cash in on it – have flocked to the Trump brand. According to Mr. Feng, there are more than 10 Ivanka trademarks registered by parties not related to Ms. Trump.
Some of these include a company in the southern city of Foshan, which has registered “Yiwanka,” the Chinese translation of Ivanka, for sanitary pads and tampons. The Nanjing Good Daughter Wine Company, an alcohol maker, has registered Ivanka Trump in English and Chinese.
Ivanka Trump will now get richer and richer. So will her father. So will the Nanjing Good Daughter Wine Company. That may drive our foreign policy now. Get used to it. There are no do-overs.
And get used to what Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman report here:
As a candidate, Donald J. Trump claimed that the United States government had known in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks. He hinted that Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep two years ago, had been murdered. And for years, Mr. Trump pushed the notion that President Barack Obama had been born in Kenya rather than Honolulu, making him ineligible for the presidency.
None of that was true.
Last week, President Trump promoted new, unconfirmed accusations to suit his political narrative: that a “criminal deep state” element within Mr. Obama’s government planted a spy deep inside his presidential campaign to help his rival, Hillary Clinton, win – a scheme he branded “Spygate.” It was the latest indication that a president who has for decades trafficked in conspiracy theories has brought them from the fringes of public discourse to the Oval Office.
Get used to it:
Now that he is president, Mr. Trump’s baseless stories of secret plots by powerful interests appear to be having a distinct effect. Among critics, they have fanned fears that he is eroding public trust in institutions, undermining the idea of objective truth and sowing widespread suspicions about the government and news media that mirror his own.
“The effect on the life of the nation of a president inventing conspiracy theories in order to distract attention from legitimate investigations or other things he dislikes is corrosive,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and biographer. “The diabolical brilliance of the Trump strategy of disinformation is that many people are simply going to hear the charges and countercharges, and decide that there must be something to them because the president of the United States is saying them.”
In short, everyone is so used to this that what’s not so now just might be so, or is so, as far as anyone knows, but that seems to have been the plan all along:
Mr. Trump’s willingness to peddle suspicion as fact has implications beyond the Russia inquiry. It is a vital ingredient in the president’s communications arsenal, a social media-fueled, brashly expressed narrative of dubious accusations and dark insinuations that allows him to promote his own version of reality.
Students of Mr. Trump’s life and communication style argue that the idea of conspiracies is a vital part of his strategy to avoid accountability and punch back at detractors, real or perceived, including the news media.
“He’s the blame shifter in chief,” said Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer. “Conspiracies, by definition, are things that others do to you. You’re being duped; you’re being fooled; the world is laughing at us. It goes to this idea that you can’t believe anything that you read or see. He has sold us a whole way of accepting a narrative that has so many layers of unaccountable, unsubstantiated content that you can’t possibly peel it all back.”
So, Donald Trump isn’t just an embarrassment, like that drunken uncle at Thanksgiving dinner, he really is a bit unhinged, and he is also quite clever at the same time:
Former aides to the president, speaking privately because they did not want to embarrass him, said paranoia predisposed him to believe in nefarious, hidden forces driving events. But they also said political opportunism informed his promotion of conspiracy theories. For instance, two former aides said Mr. Trump had resisted using the term “deep state” for months, partly because he believed it made him look too much like a crank.
But Mr. Trump saw that it played well in the conservative news media, and so in November, he began using it, the two aides said. The strategy appears to have yielded results. Several polls have shown a dip in public approval of the special counsel investigation over the past several months, as the president has repeatedly attacked it. And a Monmouth Poll released in March found that a bipartisan majority believes an unelected “deep state” is manipulating national policy.
That means that a bipartisan majority of Americans finally got used to Donald Trump. Let him be embarrassing. He may be right, somehow.
This was a test of character. Trump isn’t going anywhere. There are no do-overs. Good people make the best of any situation – but there’s no good anywhere in this situation. This is a test of character. This man is not just embarrassing. He’s dangerous. Good people change the situation. How? That’s the real problem now.