Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's to be done about Trump?

Liberals and progressives have considered Donald Trump unsuited to be president from way back during the campaign.   Some of his opponents in the Republican primary said the same thing.  But now we're getting a broader range, even some Republicans in congress who talk about it in private.  Sen. John McCain, who has already called for a select committee to investigate, said on Tuesday night that "it's reaching the point where it's of Watergate size and scope."

Even before the latest debacles, the conservative writer and radio host Erick Erickson, of "RedState" fame, wrote for his "The Resurgent" blog that he usually takes Trump stories with a grain of salt that get overblown by the liberal media.   But then he continued:

"What sets this story apart for me, at least, is that I know one of the sources . . . [who is] solidly supportive of President Trump, or at least was . . . .   But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given.  He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.

"So some of the sources are left with no other option but to go to the media, leak the story, and hope that the intense blowback gives the President a swift kick in the butt.   Perhaps then he will recognize he screwed up.  The President cares vastly more about what the press says than what his advisers say . . . .

"I am told that what the President did [leaking to the Russians] is actually far worse than what is being reported.  The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources.   He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed. . . .

"This is a real problem and I treat this story very seriously because I know just how credible, competent, and serious -- as well as seriously pro-Trump, at least one of these sources is."

Let me repeat for emphasis:   This comes from Erick Erickson, a conservative radio host and blogger, who knows one of the sources of the leak about Trump spilling secrets to the Russians and who has been a big Trump supporter -- who now is painting a negative picture of the president from an insider position.

Another, even more chilling description comes from another conservative, the respected New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who had already written three days before about Trump's unfitness for the presidency;  but he concluded at that time that, since Republicans in Congress had already made their peace with his deficiencies, they were not likely to do anything about it, unless he did something much worse.

Now, he has done something much worse.  Douthat wrote again, exerpts below, for his New York Times column.

"The presidency is not just another office.   It has become . . . a seat of semi-monoarchical political power . . . and the final stopping point for decisions that can lead very swiftly to life or death for people the world over. . . . 

"One needs some basic attributes:  a reasonable level of intellectual curiosity, a certain seriousness of purpose, a basic level of managerial competence, a decent attention span, a functional moral compass, a measure of restraint and self-control. . . .  Trump is seemingly deficient in them all. . . .

"There is . . . a basic childishness to the man who now occupies the presidency.  That is the simplest way of understanding what has come tumbling into light in the last few days:   The presidency now has kinglike qualities, and we have a child on the throne.   It is a child who blurts out classified information in order to impress distinguished visitors.   It is a child who asks the head of the FBI why the rules cannot be suspended for his friend and ally.   It is a child who does not understand the obvious consequences of his more vindictive actions -- like firing the very same man whom you had asked to potentially obstruct justice on your say-so.

"A child cannot be president.   I love my children;  they cannot have the nuclear codes.  [Douthat then explains why he thinks impeachment is not appropriate, because he does not believe that Donald Trump is capable of understanding what he has done wrong.   Rather, he recommends removal from office under the provisions of the 25th Amendment.]

". . . .  It is an argument, instead, for using a constitutional mechanism more appropriate to this strange situation. . . which allows for the removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is 'unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office' . . . . 

". . . his incapacity to really govern, to truly execute the serious duties that fall to him to carry out, is nevertheless testified to daily -- not by his enemies or external critics, but by precisely the men and women whom the Constitution asks to stand in judgment on him, the men and women who serve around him in the White House and the cabinet.

"Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press.  (And I assure you they say worse off the record.)   They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpitate with contempt for him . . . .

"It is not squishy New York Times conservatives who regard the president as a child, an intellectual void, a hopeless case, a threat to national security;  it is people who are self-selected loyalists, who supported him in the campaign, who daily go to work for him.   And all this, in the fourth month of his administration."

These are two voices from the conservative ranks.   Not enemies, not liberals, not partisans trying to score points.   These are from the same political party that elected Donald Trump president.


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