Of Pivots and Paranoia: Trump’s Very Bad Week
BY MAX BURBANK | It seems impossible, but only a week ago, addressing a joint session of Congress, Donald Trump was riding high. Ascending the human scaffold of a Navy Seal widow, the president achieved what one-time Trump critic Van Jones called “One of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period.” Suck on that, Gettysburg Address. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for Big Daddy Trump!
Done deal. Resistance finished. Pivot achieved, right? And yeah, about a dozen so-called Trump pivots have re-pivoted in the opposite direction almost immediately over the last year. Sure, pundits who’ve gone Cuckoo-for-Previous-Pivot-Puffs have ended up looking like Charlie Brown suckered into trying to kick Lucy’s football just one more time — but not this time, right?
Trump read aloud, in public! He didn’t get all sweaty and red, all his clothes stayed on, and he didn’t wet himself. Not one time! Come on! That makes Trump the most Presidenty President in the entire history of Presidenting, right?! Pretty good for a Tuesday, huh?
Yeah, not so much. Less than 24 hours later, The Washington Post brought Trump’s pivot honeymoon to an abrupt, unconsummated end, breaking the story of the Right Honorable Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third’s somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. It seems as if the gentleman from Alabama might have ever so slightly perjured his li’l ol’ self: At his confirmation hearing, under oath, he stated he “did not have communications with the Russians,” which turns out to be just the tiniest bit totally untrue. Sessions met with Russian ambassador Sergey “Fat Tony” Kislyak in September, at the height of the Russian cyber campaign to seat King Donald on the American throne. Who knew when Trump blamed election tampering on “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” he meant Kislyak?
Thursday morning in Virginia, Trump delivered a speech from the deck of the USS Gerald R. Ford — sporting a flight jacket and official ship’s cap, attire which folks who actually served might find slightly offensive. Our own modern-day Demosthenes, Donald Trump, told the assembled sailors, “We’re wearing this, right? I have no idea how it looks, but I think it looks good. It’s a great-looking hat. Just like this is a great-looking ship.” He then went on to tell the press he had “total confidence” in Sessions and that there was no reason for him to recuse himself. That evening, Sessions called a press conference to announce he would indeed recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign. One might assume this meant Sessions and Trump had discussed the matter during the day and strategically adjusted their position. One would be wrong. Sessions didn’t consult or warn Trump, which didn’t go over well. That’s probably why Trump had him stand in the Mar-a-Lago lobby and greet guests later that weekend, an act that is in no way humiliating. Just ask Mike Tyson.
Friday morning Trump did what the great leaders of men have always done in times of crisis: threw the kind of gigantic, hissy, toddler tantrum usually accompanied by the words “I do not need a nap! I do NOT need a NAP! I AM NOT TIRED!!” Enraged by his staff’s inability to plausibly explain why his entire cabinet appears to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian state, Trump put hapless Chief of Staff Reinhold Richard “Reince” Priebus and aging-frat-boy-reanimated-corpse Stephen “Steve” Bannon on double secret probation, excluding them from the weekly golf vacation/pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago. Accompanied only by Ivanka, Jared and the grandkids, and ensconced in familiar, properly gilded surroundings, one might think the leader of the free world would calm down and try to at least appear in control, as he had just berated his staff for failing to do. That is such a cute idea. But alas, no.
Instead he woke up extra early Saturday morning, took what was presumably one of many back-up secret phones from one of many unspeakable hiding places and hammered off a series of tweets accusing Barack Obama of having “wires tapped” him during the campaign. Okay, first of all… no, you know what? Screw that. Like his racist birther nonsense, like his impossible assertion that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election, there is literally zero evidence to support this claim, and even trying to explain why it’s blisteringly moronic lends it a dignity that it in no way deserves.
Those in his inner circle have tried to cheer him up. He got to sign Travel Ban 2.0, which is mostly the same as Travel Ban Classic, but with a new, improved 10-day period for Customs and the TSA to build up to guessing the degree to which they can abuse people who seem Muslimy. They unwrapped the ultra-secret “Repeal and Replace” with the super-cool defunding Planned Parenthood expansion module.
It’s just not working. Trump’s pissed. This was supposed to be a good weekend. Hell, it was supposed to be smooth sailing all the way to the port of dictatorship. Instead he didn’t even get a full chaos-free day, and it can only be the fault of absolutely everyone except himself.
Maybe that’s the secret. Maybe he won’t be able to “Make America Great Again” until he fires every last traitor, disappointment, and choke artist. Maybe this is a job for “He Who Alone Can Save Us.”
Alone. That’s how Superman would handle things. Jesus was a solo savior. And compared to Trump? Those guys? So overrated. Losers. Sad.