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Constantly In An Angry Frenzy, Trump Is An Out-Of-Control Chief Executive

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Constantly In An Angry Frenzy, Trump Is An Out-Of-Control Chief Executive

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Trump is ripping us off

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Once upon a time, President Trump was capable of sublimating his rage and bluster into actions that seemed presidential, at least occasionally.

His address to Congress in late February, while oversold as the “moment he became president,” was at least a competent execution of an ancient Washington ritual.

His decision to bomb Syria in April, while repudiating his campaign rhetoric of non-intervention, attracted rare expressions of support from the usually hostile liberal foreign policy establishment.

His visit to France earlier this month, while marred by an offensive comment to the wife of French president Emmanuel Macron, temporarily downplayed political differences for the sake of a good military parade.

No more. Trump’s antic megalomania has entered a new phase where fear drives his anger, self-absorption, grandiosity, and toxic masculinity into behaviors that dominate the increasingly surreal news cycle and preclude him from achieving a even semblance of normality, even for his supporters.

The centrifugal force of Trump frenzy is spinning off allies in Republican and conservative elites who have been clinging to his coattails since November in the hopes of enacting their agendas. Not only is the president losing his insurance policy against impeachment, he is losing his capacity to sell himself to the sympathetic.

Turning Point

In the first months of his presidency, Trump operated in two modes: as a still-active candidate holding forth in campaign-style events, and as a passive chief executive willing to rubber-stamp the agenda of the Republican Congress.

Today, Trump has doubled down on his candidate mode—demanding the prosecution of Hillary Clinton and haranguing the Boy Scouts—but in the process he has cast the rubber stamp aside to beat his own chest.

It was impossible to see at the time, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision in March to recuse himself from the Russia investigation was a key—maybe the key—moment of the Trump presidency. Ever since, the president has been controlled by fear. Without Sessions at his side, Trump feared FBI director James Comey would conduct an independent investigation of the Russia affair. He demanded Comey’s loyalty and when he didn’t get it, he fired him, which he thought would relieve the “pressure” he felt.

It didn’t. Instead, Comey’s firing and dramatic Capitol Hill testimony quickly led to the appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, which only increased the pressure. Trump considered firing Mueller, but feared the consequences so he didn’t. When the New York Times reporting on his son’s June 9, 2016, meeting with a Russian government attorney implicated his own family in the investigation, he expressed fear that Mueller might investigate his family business—a “violation” he said would be “unfair” to the presidency.

That fear was justified. When Mueller made it clear that he would look into the Trump family business, Trump made clear his intention to get rid of him.

Fear Feeds Frenzy

Trump’s bizarre passive-aggressive attacks on Jeff Sessions are understandable only as an expression of fear that he has no sure defense against Mueller. His stream of tweets denigrating Sessions, who was his first supporter in the U.S. Senate, make clear that he cares more about self-preservation than personal loyalty or Sessions’ aggressive efforts to escalate the drug war and disenfranchise Democratic voters.

Advancing these crusades are more important to the alt-right than serving as Trump apologists, which is why Breitbart News is now criticizing Trump and defending Sessions as the “man who embodies the movement that elected Trump.”

Trump’s sporadic interventions in the health care debate made clear that he wanted a “win” more than he wanted Republican unity necessary to ram through unpopular legislation. When Trump called the House health care bill “mean,” he killed its chances in the Senate.

As Senate Republicans struggled to come up with new legislation, Trump demanded they send him something, anything, to sign. When nine Republicans voted with Democrats to kill a draconian bill, he singled out Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski for denunciation. His fear of losing, expressed with sexist pique, was no favor to Mitch McConnell as he scrambles to assemble 50 votes for anything that can be depicted as Obamacare repeal.

Then, fearful of his growing image as an ineffectual leader under investigation, Trump suddenly tweeted that the 2,400-plus transgender people in the U.S. military are no longer welcome to serve. As a candidate needing to mobilize his shrinking base of cultural conservatives, the decision made a certain cynical sense. But as a chief executive, it further undermined his own team. In two tweets, Trump overturned Defense Secretary James Mattis’ quiet decision to study the issue for six more months.

This rash style is not only a gift to the Trump resistance, which has always depicted him as an impulsive bully, it is also corrosive to the loyalty of people who took a chance on joining his government. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose decisions on the Iran nuclear deal and the Saudi campaign against Qatar have been undercut by the White House, has started talking about leaving his job even sooner than he planned. When Tillerson’s doubts were reported in the press, he took an unannounced vacation.

Like most Americans, the poor Secretary of State just wanted a break from the Trump frenzy, which shows no sign of abating.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.

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27 Comments

  1. FireBaron July 28, 2017

    What people tend to forget is that Teflon Donnie didn’t really want the job in the first place. He ran for the publicity to improve his flagging bottom line. Consider the rhetoric he continuously foisted on us during the campaign – if he didn’t win the nomination, there “could” be blood in the streets (i.e. he didn’t really expect to win it); Crooked Hillary could only win by cheating (i.e. he didn’t expect to carry the Popular or Electoral votes) and many other rants.
    How about this – his vow to work 7 days a week! That went out the window with his first of many four-day weekends to one of his resorts.
    He never listens to his advisors – thus his ridiculous performance at the G-20 trying to perpetuate his “Thug-in-Chief” image and repeatedly getting slammed for it.
    What about his promise that we would have better and cheaper health care than the ACA. I have yet to see a proposal from the White House about it, all the while slamming the third most successful government program in history.
    Now we have the perpetual draft dodger deciding Transgender people cannot serve in the military after promising to support them during the campaign. Of course, he did this without the input of Secretary of Defense Mattis, or any actual input from “HIS” Generals. (Just for the record, when did they become “his”? I thought they were the US Government’s Generals).
    At some point the grown-ups are going to have to realize that this man-child should not have been allowed to take the oath of office and replace him with someone with an operational clue that is not agenda driven (Orrin Hatch, please answer the white courtesy phone)

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 28, 2017

      Yes, I too am amused by Trump’s constant reference to “my generals, my this, my that”. Maybe the Trumpites are beginning to see the obvious in Trump’s personae.

      Reply
      1. Gerry Francis July 29, 2017

        Aaron – I doubt that the hardcore Trumpies will ever change their opinion of him. They all seem to have their head so far up their butt that they have brown ring around their shoulders. Did you see the guy with the Trump tattoo on his arm? Talk about crazy……

        Reply
        1. Marilyn July 29, 2017

          At least the Joint Chiefs of Staff have told him that a tweet doesn’t constitute an actual order so nothing will be done about transgender service people until an actual order is made. Since writing an actual order is more difficult and time-consuming than tweeting, it may take a while.

          Reply
          1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 31, 2017

            Good point. Donald may have to hire an intern to help him out.
            Writing an Exec. Order? That’s like pulling teeth for Donald.

            Reply
        2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 31, 2017

          “Brown Ring” around the shoulder—great imagery!! Yeah, The tattoo was in very poor taste, and shouldn’t be shown in public.
          Bumper stickers like “I Like Ike!” can be removed, but that tattoo is there as a permanent reminder of his folly.

          Reply
          1. Gerry Francis July 31, 2017

            Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘Tramp Stamp’.
            I can’t imagine anyone going through life with that face permanently etched into their skin.

            Reply
    2. midway54 July 28, 2017

      Bravo!!

      Reply
  2. Dominick Vila July 28, 2017

    Trump thought the U.S. Presidency was a ceremonial job that involved the President issuing orders and courtiers running to implement them. He did not understand the concept of having three-branches of government with equal power, or that presidential proposals could be challenged, criticized, or rejected. Let alone the fact that Presidents are expected to work. What is driving him nuts are the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, potential collusion, shady deals with the Russians, and the fact that efforts to repeal the ACA, one of the most important pieces of legislation championed and passed by his self-prescribed nemesis, has been repealed time and again by fellow Republicans and ALL Democrats in Congress. For a narcissist autocrat accustomed to getting his way, what is happening is unacceptable. Will he fire AG Sessions? Replace Priebus with mini-me Scaramucci? Like he said, time will tell. What is evident is that Trump’s mental well being is far from being well, that he is unfit to be President, and that his presidency is unraveling as a result of his statements and actions.

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly July 28, 2017

      GM Dom,

      Haven’t seen you around much. Good news, I hope.

      I will admit a fascination for a book, “The Trump of August”, which details how Trump spirals out of control and bumbles into a devastating war. Don’t know if you saw, but the Trump “Transgender Tweets” came in three parts. The first tweet announced that Trump wasn’t going to put up with it anymore. Some in the military questioned if Trump was going to order them to attack someone (who?) by tweet. Palpable relief when the later tweets showed it wasn’t WWIII

      I don’t buy the Author’s contention that the Trump of April is somehow more Presidential or more in control than the Trump of July. Trump was, and is, looking still for anything he can get Fox to call a “win”. The specifics don’t matter. The issue doesn’t matter. The sale, the win, is the only thing.

      Reply
    2. sigrid28 July 28, 2017

      When will the GOP have Pence initiate the 25th Amendment? I hope they take action soon, before sensible members of the cabinet (Mattis, Tillerson, for two) are fired or driven out of office. I cannot understand how leaders in the GOP can still assume that this President Trump will advance their agenda better than a President Pence, especially since Trump is exhibiting so many characteristics that demonstrate how unfit he is for office and how dangerous it is for him to be entrusted with classified information, let alone the nuclear codes. I hope the defeat of Repeal and Replace is the turning point.

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila July 28, 2017

        I see Pence as a much more dangerous leader than Trump. Not because Pence cannot do the job, he can, but because he is much more qualified, disciplined, and determined to achieve specific conservative goals than Trump. The ACA repeal and replace failures ought to be a wake up call for Trump and Republican members of Congress, but I’ll be surprised if they seize the opportunity and score points by exhibiting bipartisanship in finding solutions to some of the problems affecting the ACA. What is likely to damage Trump’s aura of invincibility are his attacks against AG Sessions, a champion of the far right, and the Russian investigation which is likely to reveal money laundering and other illegal activities leading to quid pro quo detrimental to our well being, interests, and security. I suspect the latter is the reason Trump has engaged in daily nationalist – patriotic – events nationwide. He is in damage control mode, and trying to find every distraction in the book to make us forget one of the most unseemly circumstances in U.S. history. What is happening is likely to make Watergate look benign by comparison.

        Reply
    3. pics fixer July 29, 2017

      We got this guy because people were too lazy to vote! That’s what happens with a low turnout. Add to that the fact that all those absolute and proven lies thrown at Hillary stuck because she didn’t address them in an aggressive way. “In the absence of the truth, the lie is always believed.” The Democratic Party laid there like a dead fish and people didn’t vote. If only 10% more people voted, Trump wouldn’t be President. Also, if Hillary and the Democratic Party were as aggressive as the Republicans and Trump, he couldn’t get close enough to be a threat.

      Like Pogo said: ” We have seen the enemy and it is us!”. Make the Mid-Terms a time to clean house and elect Demarcates for every job, even dog catcher.

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila July 29, 2017

        I think Hillary and the DNC took her victory for granted, ignored core democratic constituencies, and reacted when it was too late. Comey’s intervention did not help. Like you said, voter complacency, or over confidence was also a major factor.

        Reply
        1. pics fixer July 30, 2017

          Hay, my parents would tell me to never take anything for granted. A lesson that Hillary seemed to have forgotten. I cannot disagree with you.

          Reply
  3. ORAXX July 28, 2017

    Trump has no plan and never did. He isn’t going to morph into a responsible adult, and anyone believing he will, is as deluded as the man himself. The only hope I have for the Trump presidency is that he doesn’t throw a tantrum and start a war because he lacks the judgment and the temperament, not to.

    Reply
    1. Gerry Francis July 29, 2017

      I agree! Isn’t congress supposed to be looking at “War Powers” hopefully, in an effort to control this madman?

      Reply
      1. ORAXX July 29, 2017

        You’d sure hope so. However, being the great ‘team players’ they are, it may be expecting too much to hope they’ll put their country’s future ahead of party loyalty.

        Reply
        1. Marilyn July 29, 2017

          Please see my reply to Gerry Francis. I realized after posting that I probably should have replied to you as I think my response is relevant to what both of you posted.

          Reply
      2. Marilyn July 29, 2017

        I think Barbara Lee introduced an amendment that would restore to Congress the sole power to declare war which had been lost after 9/11. Then Paul Ryan very quietly without notifying anyone removed that amendment from the bill that it had been attached to. So ORAXX is probably right that the team players for Trump can’t be expected to rein him in.

        Reply
  4. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 28, 2017

    Trump is the Biff Tanner of “Back To The Future” notoriety. Like Biff, Donald is officious, narcissistic, crude, and a bully, who likes to preen and strut. But he has Marty’s weakness—Marty would get riled whenever anyone called him “Chicken”, which would lead to unfortunate consequences. But that was OK in a movie. In real life, such toxic mercurial tendencies can result in a permanent loss, and Donald is in a vicious cycle of getting angry over every slight he feels is made to his authority. Any refusal to bow down to Trump is taken as an insult which drives Trump into an abnormal fury. The authoritarian tendencies of latter-day Prussia and Central Europe have left their imprimatur, permanently, on Donald Trump’s personality.

    Reply
  5. Budjob July 28, 2017

    There are tortillas that are wrapped tighter than this fucking freak!

    Reply
  6. Gerry Francis July 29, 2017

    I wonder when, or even IF the Republicans will ever step back and take an honest look at the health care issue. Get sensible and reach across the aisle and invite input from the Democrats on how to fix what’s wrong with the ACA and come up with something that’s good for the American people instead of having closed door – Republicans only – luncheons, & dinners in an effort to produce a win for the Republican Party ONLY. Wake up Mr. McConnell – all you guys were elected to serve the American Public NOT the freakin’ Republican Party. Stop trying to please that jak-azz in the White House.

    Reply
    1. Eleanore Whitaker July 29, 2017

      They can’t. They now have the problem THEY created since Reagan. First, they stagnated wages, then they gouged prices on necessities and then, they tried to get rid of payroll deductions for SS, Medicare and Medicaid.

      When they went after healthcare, that was the last straw for working class Americans who are fed up being “working poor.” How do you have a job and still remain poor?

      Why would any worker allow money to be deducted from their paychechs solely so Republicans can dump it all into privatized Wall Street accounts? Why would any worker pay out of pocket for healthcare insurance that is nothing more than legalized extortion?

      The Republican can’t let go of the idea that they create mass deprivation for working class people who now will never trust them to take high office again. Would you trust any Republican whose entire campaign is paid for by HMOs and Big Pharma?

      Reply
  7. Eleanore Whitaker July 29, 2017

    I’ve had 4 CEOs as employers, one an umbudswoman to the SBA, another became a US Senator and the other 2 were like Trump, rotten to the core.

    My desk was never more than 20 feet from their offices. So 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, I saw and heard things I ws told to “never repeat.” Most of it was related to “company policy” or “employee policies.” It amused that the 2 stinkers never realized they were employees and so was I.

    Anyway, by observation, the 2 stinkers were always abusive, always angry and nearly always trying to intimidate anyone within 200 yards of them.

    It occurred to me then that no job is worth the stress of having to deal with a maniac who has anger management problems and is seriously mentally off the beam.

    Their bottom line operative was that in order to get employees to stretch themselves to the marrow, they had to yell, scream, bitch and threaten. That was their “managerial style.” But, while those working closest to them were forced into silence, these mentally deficient morons tried to use all of us as their personal spies on our fellow employees.

    I refused. I have a conscience and I’m a certifiable altruist. I chose to exit their employ rather than go on in endless hours of berating, screaming and childish tantrums, not to mention skanky tactics to trap employees.

    Reply
  8. rhetoric_phobic July 29, 2017

    trump took the WH gig to further his own business interests. Governing was going to be a sideline. He didn’t have a clue it was going to require more than he has and he was too ignorant to know he had to surround himself with qualified people to even have a hope of pulling it off. Instead he picked his kids and the keystone cops to advise him.

    Reply
  9. johninPCFL July 30, 2017

    Agent Orange only has one “agenda”, whatever Putin wants.

    Reply

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