Trump’s re­ally weak week

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -


Trump was promis­ing to de­stroy a vile crim­i­nal car­tel. Un­for­tu­nately, not his own. But one could be for­given for mis­tak­ing the vi­cious tac­tics of the MS-13 gang, as de­scribed by the pres­i­dent in a Long Is­land speech on Fri­day, with those of the Trump White House.

“They don’t like shoot­ing peo­ple be­cause it’s too quick, it’s too fast,” Trump said, adding: “They like to knife them and cut them, and let them die slowly be­cause that way, it’s more painful, and they en­joy watch­ing that much more. Th­ese are an­i­mals.”

The pres­i­dent could have been de­scrib­ing his own sadis­tic as­sault on Jeff Ses­sions, “as flies to wan­ton boys,” as Shake­speare said.

Trump turned Ses­sions — with all his back­ward views on gays, drugs and crim­i­nal jus­tice — into an un­likely hero for law­mak­ers from both par­ties who be­gan hail­ing him as a crown jewel of Amer­i­can ju­rispru­dence.

In his speech, Trump en­cour­aged po­lice bru­tal­ity and said he was “the big, big be­liever and ad­mirer of the peo­ple in law en­force­ment, OK?”

He said that he’s pro­tect­ing the backs of law en­force­ment “100 per­cent.” Ex­cept for Ses­sions, Sally Yates, Preet Bharara and Robert Mueller.

As two peo­ple close to Trump told The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman when asked why he was tor­ment­ing Ses­sions in­stead of fir­ing him: Be­cause he can.

Six months in, Trump has pushed out a stag­ger­ing num­ber of top peo­ple, cul­mi­nat­ing with Reince Priebus. And in his para­noid, ag­grieved iso­la­tion, he’s even think­ing about nix­ing Steve Ban­non, neme­sis of the Mooch, and mulling fir­ing the one who could get him fired, Mueller, and par­don­ing him­self for pos­si­ble charges.

Trump learned his tech­nique of pub­licly crit­i­ciz­ing and freely fir­ing from Ge­orge Stein­bren­ner, one of the ruth­less, tow­er­ing char­ac­ters he mod­eled him­self on when he started hang­ing out at Yan­kee Sta­dium in the ’70s.

The dark pan­de­mo­nium of the Trump West Wing has be­come a wormy scene wor­thy of Hierony­mus Bosch. As Trump Fox News cheer­leader Ka­t­rina Pier­son likes to say, “Peo­ple have to get com­fort­able be­ing un­com­fort­able.”

Trump un­leashed his Mini-Me pit bull An­thony Scara­mucci to maul Priebus, and The Mooch cast him­self as Cain to Priebus’ Abel, evis­cer­at­ing him in a lewd rant to, of all places, The New Yorker.

Then Trump de­liv­ered the coup de grace­less Fri­day evening, tweet­ing from Air Force One as Priebus de­planed that he was re­plac­ing the chief of staff with Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly.

Trump had al­ways re­sented Priebus for ad­vis­ing him to get out of the race af­ter the Billy Bush “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape story broke — known as Priebus’ “scar­let AH,” ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post — and for not un­der­stand­ing that Trump is not a mere Repub­li­can; he’s the head of his own “beau­ti­ful,” us-against-them move­ment, “the likes of which the world has never seen.”

Priebus wasn’t “an orig­i­nal,” as early Trump loy­al­ists are known, or a pop­ulist. But he was Paul Ryan’s Wis­con­sin BFF, which made Trump doubt where his chief of staff’s loy­al­ties lay when it came to Congress.

And Trump and the Mooch had fin­gered Priebus as a leaker, which bugs them, even though they them­selves are leak­ers ex­traor­di­naire.

As The Post re­ports, Trump’s de­lighted de­mean­ing of Priebus in­cluded this in­ci­dent: “At one point, dur­ing a meet­ing in the Oval Of­fice, a fly be­gan buzzing over­head, dis­tract­ing the pres­i­dent. As the fly con­tin­ued to cir­cle, Trump sum­moned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the in­sect.”

Af­ter tor­tur­ing Reince for months, Trump hap­pily gave him the fi­nal hu­mil­i­at­ing shove. As the tweets hit the White House cell­phones, Priebus’ col­leagues Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino jumped out of the Sub­ur­ban they were shar­ing with Priebus, leav­ing the job­less man in a driv­ing rain on the tar­mac at An­drews Air Force Base, the weak­est link tossed off the sled for the press wolves.

You’re a killer and a king or a loser, as Fred Trump liked to say. And any­one who doesn’t un­der­stand that Trump is more im­por­tant than the GOP or the in­sti­tu­tion of the pres­i­dency is, in his mind, a loser.

Any­one who doesn’t get that the loy­alty should be for him per­son­ally, rather than the coun­try, is, to Trump, a loser.

Trump is trapped in a car­i­ca­ture of mas­culin­ity that cor­rodes his judg­ment. As red meat for his base, he tweeted that af­ter con­sult­ing his gen­er­als he was ban­ning trans­gen­der peo­ple from the mil­i­tary. But his de­fense sec­re­tary, James Mat­tis, and gen­er­als quickly pushed back on the idea.

With Priebus, The Post re­ported, the pres­i­dent ob­sessed on im­po­tence. “The word was ‘weak’ — ‘weak,’ ‘weak,’ ‘weak,’ ‘Can’t get it done,’” an of­fi­cial told the pa­per.

But af­ter all his brag­ging about be­ing a great ne­go­tia­tor and closer, it is Pres­i­dent Trump who can’t get it done.

He couldn’t even close the deal on a pa­thetic, bare-bones health care bill, in­ef­fec­tu­ally bul­ly­ing Lisa Murkowski, a Repub­li­can se­na­tor from Alaska, and fail­ing to win over John McCain, who glee­fully had his re­venge for Trump’s mock­ery of him as be­ing a loser be­cause he was cap­tured in war.

Trump can’t get it done for his pal, Putin, ei­ther. In fact, the big­gest leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ment be­fore Congress leaves for Au­gust will have been pass­ing new sanc­tions on Rus­sia be­cause law­mak­ers don’t trust their own pres­i­dent. Talk about weak.

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans are los­ing their fear of Trump, mak­ing ever more snarky com­ments about him. North Korea is shoot­ing off mis­siles and the White House is flus­tered.

The gen­er­als are re­sist­ing Trump’s tweet edicts. The mor­ti­fied leader of the Boy Scouts had to apol­o­gize for the pres­i­dent’s sug­ges­tive and par­ti­san speech.

And what could be weaker than that?

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