Trump’s ice­berg looms

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - KATH­LEEN PARKER kath­leen­parker@wash­

Don­ald Trump had his worst day since he was elected pres­i­dent — we’ ll just call it Fri­day — and his worst week since the last one.

Things can only get worser and worser, as the Bard would per­mit me to say.

Let’s start with the vote-a-rama and the “skinny re­peal,” which puts me in mind of a state fair ride and plac­ing an or­der at Star­bucks.

I’d like a skinny re­peal, please — venti, with mocha.

As all know by now, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) didn’t get the skinny on re­peal and shocked the cham­ber by vot­ing no with a thumbs-down. Not even with a Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity could Trump dump Oba­macare in its slimmest ver­sion yet. McCain, who post­poned treat­ment for ag­gres­sive brain can­cer and flew to Wash­ing­ton to cast his vote, joined fel­low Repub­li­cans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Su­san Collins of Maine, as well as all the Demo­cratic mem­bers, to put the ki­bosh on any real hope of re­peal this year, much less re­place.

In most ways, McCain’s seem­ingly last-minute ma­neu­ver should have sur­prised no one. Al­ways the mav­er­ick, McCain, who has de­fied death be­fore, is no one’s wing­man. If he thought this vote might be his last stand in the arena, he would make it worth­while and mem­o­rable.

Back at the Pon­derosa, Trump at least had a soul mate in whom to con­fide, An­thony Scara­mucci, the White House’s new com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor. “Mooch” or “Mini-Me” to Wash­ing­ton in­sid­ers, Scara­mucci is Trump’s kneecap­per. Good cop, meet se­ri­ously bad cop.

Scara­mucci is the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Trump’s deep brain. To the ex­tent that the pres­i­dent ever with­holds a thought, Scara­mucci is there to ex­press it for him. He’s his hu­man Twit­ter feed. Thus, we may as­sume that what Scara­mucci says, Trump thinks. Thanks to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, we’re privy to enough pre­mium quotes to en­ter­tain our­selves for months.

As you may have heard, Scara­mucci called Lizza on Wed­nes­day in a rage over his “leaked” fi­nan­cial records and Lizza’s re­port­ing of an in­ti­mate Trump din­ner that in­cluded Fox News’s Sean Han­nity and Kim­berly Guil­foyle, who, sources say, told Trump that thenWhite House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is a leaker. When Scara­mucci de­manded that Lizza di­vulge his source, Lizza, a po­lite, eru­dite fel­low, de­clined and did what re­porters some­times do: He taped the con­ver­sa­tion, cap­tur­ing a hail­storm of pro­fane tirades against leak­ers and, specif­i­cally, Priebus — “a [ex­ple­tive] para­noid schiz­o­phrenic.” By late Fri­day af­ter­noon, Priebus was out of a job, with Trump tweet­ing that he was re­plac­ing him with Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly.

Next, we visit El Sal­vador, where, strangely, we find At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions. We know Trump wants to get rid of Ses­sions, but send­ing him into the maw of the beastly MS-13 gang seems ex­ces­sively ag­gres­sive even for this pres­i­dent. While Poor Ses­sions (see pre­vi­ous col­umn) was prac­tic­ing Span­ish for “I have noth­ing against tat­toos, but se­ri­ously?,” Trump was mak­ing a play in Ohio for tighter im­mi­gra­tion by fo­cus­ing on the gang’s mur­der­ous record.

And, lest we ig­nore the gold coin Trump mag­i­cally pulled from his ear, the pres­i­dent ran­domly or­dered trans­gen­der peo­ple out of the mil­i­tary. What, no women bleed­ing this week?

Health care, schmealth care, in other words. As buf­fer to the in­evitable, Trump made sure to cre­ate a lit­tle side­bar drama — ex­pelling thugs and trans­gen­der peo­ple, root­ing out leak­ers and traitors, and threat­en­ing to fire any­one who says “Rus­sia” in his pres­ence.

So many shiny ob­jects, so few left to fool.

A few Trump loy­al­ists may wait for the last lifeboat, but it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore this ad­min­is­tra­tion cap­sizes, ti­tan­i­cally. Trump’s first-year agenda is DOA along with health-care re­form. Go­ing af­ter Ses­sions has hurt the pres­i­dent with con­ser­va­tives. His chaotic White House op­er­a­tion is a con­stant re­minder that no one’s in charge. The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of all of these af­fronts to nor­malcy, deco­rum and democ­racy is to re­veal the pro­file of a deadly ice­berg off the ship of state’s bow.

Light shifts to a small lifeboat off in the dis­tance. Row­ing slowly is an old man whose pos­ture be­trays a straight spine de­spite ob­vi­ous in­jury to his arms and shoul­ders. A smile creases his face as moon­light catches a twin­kle in his eye. A deep scar above it im­i­tates a wryly arched brow. He chuck­les at the me­mory of Trump say­ing he was a war hero only be­cause he was cap­tured and turns to make yet an­other fi­nal ges­ture.

This time, he doesn’t use his thumb.

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