As the helicopter soared off the South Lawn last week members of the media and even White House staff members issued a sigh of relief – 17 days with President Trump away from Washington D.C.
The president, dressed in a red-tie, white shirt and dark suit looked like an emasculated Rodney Dangerfield as he headed off into the sunset almost as if it were a scene in the movie perpetually playing in his head. It was the end of the first act of this frenetic presidency while the second act in the psychodrama began with Prosecutor Robert Mueller opening a second grand jury into the Russia/Trump “Witch Hunt” and issuing the first of what may be many subpoenas.
Prior to his escape from D.C. the president executive produced scene after scene in the press room punctuated with fringe characters including Duke graduate Stephen Miller who – with seemingly perpetually dilated eyes – told us the president is all-powerful and cannot be questioned.
After six months of covering the Donald Trump administration, you get the feeling somewhere the president is trolling the personal ads on the Internet looking for just the right character to bring out at a press briefing, who will then spray the air with caustic perfume, dance, smile, make a public and graphic display of affection for our commander-in-chief before snarling, baring their teeth and running off into the night just before a D.C. sunrise turns them to dust.
Whatever the case may be, the administration has been teetering since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The president hasn’t helped himself out any by tweeting out threats to his own party after the failure to pass a healthcare package – and he really didn’t do himself any favors by blaming Congress for strained relations with Russia. It only fueled speculation that the Don and Putin are friends with benefits.
The White House reveled in two trips to West Virginia in the last week, and when West Virginia governor Jim Justice changed his party affiliation to the GOP and praised Trump, the White House was giddy. Justice was previously a Republican until he switched to being a Democrat in 2015. Like his mentor, the Donald, he’s just an opportunist willing to do whatever he has to do in order to keep his talons sunk in the voters backs.
The Donald hoped news from West Virginia would portend great things for his chaotic presidency. Still, as Act II opens, there are storm clouds on the horizon for the embattled president and his leaking ship of minions, circus freaks, sideshow barkers and cheerleaders.
So this week we begin scene two of Act II with a mentally questionable world leader threatening nuclear destruction. No. Not that one – the one from North Korea.
Trump promised to rain fire and fury the likes of which the earth has never seen on the second-rate dictator from a country struggling to be part of the Third World – prompting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to say Trump was just speaking in hyperbole in terms the maniac from North Korea could understand.
That killed nascent bomb shelter sales all over the country, but did little to ease the queasy feeling from many of the electorate in the U.S. who fear their president is unhinged and the fight between him and the North Korean leader resembles nothing more than two drunks in a bar arguing over who is more obnoxious.
After Tillerson said, “Hey he was just kidding,” the President came out and tweeted how he’d renovated our nuclear arsenal and we’re still all-powerful and hopefully we’ll never have to use our nuclear power.
Meanwhile retired Marine Corps General John Kelly – still in his first month as the chief of staff is having as much success as his predecessor Reince Priebus at keeping the president’s itchy twitter finger holstered.
This whole 17-day hiatus from D.C., according to some staffers is an attempt to reboot the administration.
But in as much as a good three-act play depends on Act One to set up all the rest of the action, there is no way the president can outrun the stain he spread himself in his first six months.
His incessant tweeting, his mean-spirited behavior, his lack of decorum, his lack of understanding of how to bring anyone into the big tent that doesn’t worship or agree with him, and the Russian Witch Hunt all overshadow anything he’s done to help others.
He has opened his propaganda channel on the Internet which broadcasts from Trump Tower in New York. He continues to promote, fire and endear himself to a whole cast of sordid characters straight from television shows like Mannix or Colombo in the 70s.
Where this ends is anyone’s guess. The GOP in Congress and the U.S. Senate have begun to back away from the president as Trump’s approval numbers continue to evaporate – boiling away those who had hope he was different than he campaigned and leaving the president with his most ardent and radical supporters still clinging naively to hope or vindictively to revenge, anger and power.