* Say what you will about Trump (and we’re not through saying it), but there’s one aspect of his presidency that should transcend all others. And, yes, that includes his various pathologies and his blatant unpreparedness for the most important job in the world. It’s his impact on North Korea and, as a result, his impact on the only world we have.
It won’t be much of a consolation if–as an existential red line is being obliterated by name-calling nuclear duelists–it had been looking like politics as usual would be playing out among sycophantic, self-interested GOPsters looking out for incumbency. So much, seemingly, for Trump arrogance, greed, hypocrisy, misogyny, dishonesty and mental laziness. So much for the “wall,” the drilling, the climate accord, the unilateral pullback from international trade, the nativism, the media attacks, the scapegoating, the middle class betrayal. It had all seemed tolerable in the short term–until we were blindsided by the miscalculation from hell before the short term ended.
Trump and Twitter are the unholiest alliance since Cain and Abel. As Conor Friedersdorf recently noted in the Atlantic, “The wrong words about nuclear war could literally end human civilization.”
Hell, George W. Bush never looked so prudent. This is what it took.
* Trump calls himself a “genius”–not just “like, really smart.” And he’s, like, right–if you define “genius” the way he, not Miriam Webster, obviously does. “Genius” to Trump means the ability to know what certain people want and how they need to hear a response, like, voiced. Whether we’re talking Miss Universe sponsors, subcontractors, an Alt-Reich rally, coal miners or selected CEOs. He knows who wants stuff, and he knows who simply needs a cult figure to channel. Jim Jones with a MAGA cap.
* One of the ironies about the Trump Administration going after the credibility of the FBI–as well as that of Robert Mueller–is that the bureau is a literal law-and-order icon known for its right-leaning careerists. No, this isn’t J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, but let’s not forget that without James Comey, this would arguably be a Hillary Clinton presidency. Ironic, indeed.
* “Oprah for President?”
Donald Trump has, among other things, normalized the abnormal. It used to be where party officials and pundits alike could more or less agree–politics notwithstanding–on a given candidate’s credentials and bona fides. As in pertinent–government or military–experience. As in enough familiarization with the world at large. The Oval Office is not entry level for those who aren’t grounded in real-world reality.
With the rules re-written, it’s no longer a reach to consider that a politician and a pop culture celebrity are variations on the same theme. If Trump can be president, then, retrospectively, Pat Paulsen didn’t look so bad.
And Oprah Winfrey, a far better person and billionaire populist than Trump, can legitimately be in this conversation. If she really wants in–and not just to be a resistance icon and an Indivisible Movement avatar–the option is hers. She’s powerful; she cares; she has an eclectic network of talent at her disposal; she’s beyond media savvy; and she can self fund, if necessary.
* Anybody else miss Mitt Romney? He may just have another couple of incarnations left. As a senator from Utah and, who knows, maybe a refreshingly normal, temperamentally safe, Republican alternative in 2020.
* Stephen Bannon: At least Roy Moore still likes him. And he’ll always have a place in cross word puzzles.
* Trump has labeled the mainstream media the “enemy of the American people.” That sustained attack theme won’t change because Trump doesn’t change, and he knows the “fake news” assault works all too well with his base. But how about post-Trump? What will the relationship look like in his chaotic, media-demonizing wake?
Here’s the sobering assessment of presidential historian Jon Meacham. “Will part of the Trump legacy be a permanent state of political and media warfare? I hate to say it–my gut says yeah. But I hope I’m wrong.”