Monday, July 3, 2017

Carl Bernstein: "We're in the midst of a malignant presidency"

Carl Bernstein, partner with Bob Woodward in the extraordinary reporting on the Watergate scandal that helped bring down the Nixon presidency 45 years ago, said this on CNN's "New Day" program yesterday:
". . . .  We're in the midst of a malignant presidency.  And that malignancy is known to the military leaders of the country;   it's known to the Republican leadership in congress who recognize it;  and it's known to the intelligence community.
"The presidency of Donald Trump is not functioningIt's not functioning, partly because of his attacks on the press . . . But it's really not functioning because the character and the capabilities of this president are called into grave question, in a way that those who know him best are raising serious concerns about."
Bernstein acknowledged that it is the "greatest journalistic challenge of the modern era" to know how to cover this and "what it means and where it's going."

This was said on a CNN panel that was reacting to the latest tweet from Trump in his ongoing war with the media (most intensely aimed for the past few days at the "Morning Joe" anchors, although CNN is his ongoing punching bag).

But this latest vulgarism from the president on Sunday morning was a repurposed video of the president engaging in an impromptu wrestling/slugging match, ringside, with a WWW official.   The video had been doctored to place a CNN logo over the face of the guy he was pinning to the floor and punching.   It was blatantly violent -- although, if Trump were capable of sublety in messaging, you might think he meant that, like pro wrestling, this fight is fake.  But subtlety is not Donald Trump's style.   It's more likely meant to illustrate his oft-stated dictum:   you hit me, I hit you back ten times harder

One panelist was arguing that this was nothing to what you see on "Saturday Night Live" all the time.   That is an astonishingly dumb defense.   This is not a comic actor we're talking about.  This is the president of the United States of America, who leaves in just a couple of days to meet with the G20 world leaders -- including his first one-to-one meeting with Vladimir Putin.  This video will play on international television;  it will be on everyone's mind when they meet as an august body in Germany on Friday.

I think Bernstein is right.   There is serious concern about this president's mental and emotional capability to serve as our president -- at least right now.   Don't we have good reason to worry about what's going to be said between him and Putin, who is a master at manipulating people?  What if Trump just spouts off some crucial nuclear secret?   And don't  we also have good reason to worry about how he is going to represent our country in front of the whole world?

Is it time to invoke the 25th Amendment?


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