Not even six months into his term, for all intents and purposes, Donald Trump’s presidency is dead.
dead in the sense that he will imminently be run out of office.
Republicans have made it clear that there is literally nothing he could
do, no matter how destructive, obscene or humiliating to the republic —
that would make them remove him. But it is functionally dead, in the
sense that the Trump presidency has any moral force at home or abroad
(in fact, if you look at rare European Trump friend Teresa May’s situation in the UK,
it’s quite the opposite), or that the president has the influence or
the power to move his political agenda through a Congress that itself is
imprisoned by his scandals. Remember “infrastructure week?”
Whatever happens from here — whether Robert Mueller finds actual crimes
or a criminal cover-up surrounding Russiagate — the man whose entire
life has revolved around filling the gaping hole in his psyche with
forced praise, vows of loyalty and boasts about “winning” will go down
in history as a disastrous fluke, whose ascent to high office resulted
from the machinations of a foreign power that manipulated American
voters to avenge their hatred of a woman. History will remember him as
the most disgraced and scandalized American president of the modern era,
eclipsing Richard Nixon and making a damned near success of George W.
Bush by comparison. Donald Trump is, by all accounts, an object of
global ridicule; reviled around the world with the exception of the
capitols of authoritarian regimes and of course, the Kremlin. His own
sycophant party defends his misdeeds by declaring him to be almost
childlike in his innocence and inability to understand the basics of
governance, such that the former director of the FBI had an unprecedented duty to teach a 70-year-old real estate tycoon right from wrong.
Trump’s most ardent defenders — his unpleasant sons, when they take
time away from from grubbing off his office, his weird hireling
Sebastian Gorka and his thuggish former campaign manager Corey
Lewandowski — can only talk to his existing fans via Fox News and
Breitbart. No one else will have them. His favorite daughter and
ineffectual adviser Ivanka is down to securing cover stories in pop culture magazines
explaining why she stands both with and against her dad — the better to
sell shoes made in Chinese sweatshops to the trendy people who have
turned their backs on her. His son-in-law, already talking about
escaping back to New York, may be lucky to avoid indictment.
corrupt the men around him were during the campaign — Manafort and
Flynn and Page and Sessions and the rest, Trump brought all of this on
himself. He hired them. He eagerly benefited from and solicited Russia’s
aid in tarring his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, even to the
point of publicly encouraging Russian hacking. His Twitter attack on Jim
Comey is what prompted Comey to release his notes from their bizarre
meetings in hopes of triggering the appointment of a special prosecutor.
His continued attacks on Comey, including his personal lawyer’s attempt
to sic the Justice Department on the fired FBI director, on top of the
firing itself, could hand that prosecutor evidence of obstruction of
justice and abuse of power. We may yet get to witness the spectacle of a
president pardoning his cronies, and then himself.
presidencies have been declared dead in their first year before. Bill
Clinton had a hell of a first 24 months, even though he, like Trump,
enjoyed a congressional majority. Scandal after scandal befell the White
House, including the failure of Hillary Clinton-led healthcare reform.
But Clinton’s scandals, from “filegate” to “travelgate” to a brouhaha
over a haircut, were petty, personal and domestic. The Whitewater affair
that metastasized into a romp through the president’s sex life was
transparently a Republican witch-hunt that the public easily saw
through. Clinton didn’t have the cloud of collusion with a foreign power
and the fundamental questions of legitimacy that hang over Trump’s