The notion that Chief of Staff John F. Kelly can bring order to the White House rests on the false premise that President Donald Trump is rational, disciplined and understands a president is measured by whether he passes his agenda. There is not a shred of evidence that Trump is rational, disciplined or understands how to pass his agenda. Tuesday morning alone provided powerful evidence he is emotionally unstable and unaware of the gravity of his words:
• He said he could beat Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an IQ test. Trump then insisted he never undercuts anyone and has confidence in the man who allegedly called him a “moron.” This sounds, colloquially speaking, nuts. Who behaves this way?
• His tweet insulting Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was weak and incoherent. “The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation,” Trump wrote without explaining the origin of “Liddle.” He insisted that Corker was “made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!” Actually Corker has be lauded for his remarks, which both he and the Times recorded.
• Trump said he won’t fill a lot of jobs because there are hundreds of thousands of people in government. He apparently is unaware that assistant secretaries, undersecretaries and other political appointees are needed to carry out a president’s agenda. Maybe he can’t find anyone to work for him and has given up. Maybe his aides can’t get him to pay attention. He’s not running the executive branch; it’s too much for him even to fill senior spots.
• He brushed aside the notion he was setting the country up for World War III by insisting we were on the wrong track but we’re not anymore. Does anybody think he could identify with any precision what our policies toward North Korea and Iran might actually be? He doesn’t seem able to explain how not talking to North Korea because it is a “waste of time” has put us on the road to a peaceful resolution.
• Apparently in reaction to the backlash against immigration demands sent out by adviser Stephen Miller, Trump tweeted, “The problem with agreeing to a policy on immigration is that the Democrats don’t want secure borders, they don’t care about safety for U.S.A.” He actually had/has a deal with “Chuck and Nancy” to enhance border security in exchange for protecting the dreamers. Does he remember this? Does he recall that he needs and wants a DACA resolution?
We are not alone in finding Trump’s utterances bizarre and even a little scary. Trump’s own advisers suggest a president if not in need of “adult daycare,” then in need of serious counseling.
The Post reports:
“Trump in recent days has shown flashes of fury and left his aides, including White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, scrambling to manage his outbursts. He has been frustrated in particular with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was reported last week to have earlier called the president a ‘moron.’ . . . One Trump confidant likened the president to a whistling teapot, saying that when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode. ‘I think we are in pressure cooker territory,’ said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.”
A president “isolated” in the White House, in a “pressure cooker” and without “generational peers with whom he feels comfortable venting about his staff or his rivals, or just talking about sports” — as described by advisers and other allies (with advisers and allies like this...) — does not provide a picture of a functioning president. It sure sounds like someone playing president on TV who finds himself in over his head and must be led around by aides who fear his unfitness will be laid bare for all to see. The aides can stop worrying about word getting out — we already see it.