The Black Hole of Washington
Erick Erickson is the former editor of the very conservative website Red State, who now has his own very conservative site, The Resurgent. Though I disagree profoundly with almost all of his perspective, I nonetheless find him thoughtful and fair-minded in his analysis. So, it speaks loud volumes when a couple days ago he wrote something eye-opening about the story that Trump had leaked code-word level intelligence to the Russians.
“This is a real problem," he said, "and I treat this story very seriously because I know just how credible, competent, and serious — as well as seriously pro-Trump, at least one of the sources is,
“You can call these sources disloyal, traitors, or whatever you want.” But please ask yourself a question — if the President, through inexperience and ignorance, is jeopardizing our national security and will not take advice or corrective action, what other means are available to get the President to listen and recognize the error of his ways?”
The thing is, as bluntly critical as that is from such a thoughtful deep-conservative, that wasn't the eye-opening thing Erickson wrote. It was when he added --
“I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported." He then went on, " The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.”
When you're a conservative Republican, and you have Erick Erickson slamming you like that, you'd better start to duck and cover.
Though Republicans for the most part, in general, are still not yet calling out the president -- imagine by contrast if all this was Barack Obama... -- there are most-definitely signs of distress from high-placed voices, such as this from Erickson. Some are on the record, like a blunt release from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and when Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said "The Trump presidency is on a downhill slide." Or Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) bemoaning, "Can we have a crisis-free day? That's all I'm asking." Some are more circumspect, like a senior Trump administration official who told the Daily Beast bluntly, "I don’t see how Trump isn’t completely f*cked.” The publication also quotes a staffer directly inside the White House bemoaning, "“We can’t even wrap up one Russia fiasco before we’re on to the next one.”
Exacerbating the situation of a downhill, f*cked fiasco is that it's profoundly problematic when your administration is unable to even get a handle on dealing with the message because your spokespeople have become laughing stocks. Press secretary Sean Spicer is now best-known for Melissa McCarthy playing him -- psychotically, on SNL. After moments of genial quiet, his temporary replacement Sarah Huckabee Sanders suddenly comes across crazed at times, and like she's about to burst into tears. A reported replacement, "Fox News" host Kimberly Guilfoyle is only known as a possible change because she herself leaked that to the press -- which of course is just want you want from a press secretary, most-especially in an administration lead by someone pathologically obsessed with leaks. (Side note: I will bet cash money that Ms. Guilfoyle took herself out of the running the moment she gloated she was in the running.) Things got so bad that the White House had to track down Kellyanne Conway and trot her out again, to Anderson Cooper's disbelieving, rolling eyes.
It got so bad for Conway that Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe went public with their assertion about how when Ms. Conway would appear on their show, she would be so aghast about having to speak for Trump that when off the air she would say, "Blechhh, I have to take a shower."
And lest you think it so unlikely and irresponsible of them to dare suggest she would do such a thing -- harken back all the way to, oh, last year, when Kellyanne Conway was the spokesperson for Ted Cruz (R-TX) and bashing Trump.
(The original video of that Morning Joe segment was taken down, but you can see it here within Sam Seder's Majority Report. It starts around the 1:20 mark.)
And amid all this, one always has to be reminded that, for all this downhill f*cked disaster... -- we're only 117 days into the Trump administration.
To deal with the maelstrom that the administration is being pulled down into, there are two huge problems at the top of the list here for them.
The first is that to try and right the listing Titanic, Trump is reportedly so incensed at others (always others, as if he has nothing to do with creating and running this mess) that he is planning to Drain the Swamp -- yet again. I thought he did that before. How much can you drain a drained swamp? -- and bring in new people. The problem is that it was so incredibly hard to find these mid-range people, at best, to take the jobs in the first place, often second and third choices, so what level of quality are you going to get in trying to find staff, not just are fourth choices, but those willing to run into this f*cked fiasco and risk destroying their careers?
The second -- and even larger problem -- is that the problem is Trump himself. Someone woefully out of his depth, with absolutely no qualifications for the job, without the temperament to do the job, and a sociopathic, congenital lying egomaniacal racist con man. How do you build from that? Especially when it's specifically the very problem. When other administrations have had challenges, they at least had some substance to call on -- their own, and those around them. Trump has a sucking vacuum.
I am most fascinated to see what happens on Friday. Trump is scheduled to leave on an international trip. There are two possibilities: he'll call it off or go. He should probably call it off, what with the swirling vortex his administration is being drawn into, but I suspect he'll go, not only because cancelling would be an major embarrassment, but also he likely sees it as a way to get out of Washington. Here's the potential, horrible problem with that --
When the boss is in town -- and when that boss is Trump -- it's likely that employees are on their best, most scared, protective behavior. With Trump gone, and the moment wheels are up and he's out of U.S. airspace, I think there's a very real possibility of having SO much relief at that, with the very cause of this f*cked fiasco gone, and trying to save their necks, careers and self-respect, that there will be more leaks from the administration than a dilapidated tenement with a cardboard roof. Maybe not, we'll see.
A note to anyone going to the White House next week, though: wear a raincoat.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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