If you’ve ever worked for a crazy boss — and who hasn’t? — you know how badly it can jangle your nerves, often to the point where you feel completely beaten down.
Donald Trump, of course, is King Crazy, and you never know what he’ll do next. Will he call Nazis “fine people”? Take a brutal dictator’s word over that of his own government? Make a paper sailor hat out of the Constitution? Microwave uranium in the break room?
Who the fuck knows? He’s Donald Trump. He’s dumber than elk shit.
But sometimes he outdoes himself, and Monday was one of those special days.
Needless to say, the folks in the West Wing aren’t coping very well.
According to a new Politico report, White House morale is now at its lowest point since Trump lauded neo-Nazis after the murder of a peaceful protester in Charlottesville last summer.
As happened last August, when the president refused to condemn neo-Nazi demonstrators, Trump’s attempts to tamp down outrage have backfired. Stilted statements followed by ad-libbed remarks left even his allies feeling that while the president was technically acknowledging a mistake, he actually meant what he’d said on the first go-round – that he believed Putin’s denials of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“People are just depressed,” said one Republican close to the White House. “Nobody wants to take on the public heat of resigning right now but there are a bunch of people who were thinking maybe they’d leave after the midterms who are very seriously starting to consider accelerating their timetable.”
But will the moral repugnance these (relatively) sane staffers feel actually spur them to action? Oh, probably not.
But the president’s usual defenders, many of whom have been critical of him in public and almost all of whom are privately disappointed by his performance, say the following: While Trump’s statements are regrettable, they have few if any policy consequences. And it’s for that reason that senior-level officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton – those with the most impact on policy – are unlikely to step down.
Yet, as Charlottesville triggered public soul-searching by Trump’s Jewish economic policy adviser Gary Cohn, the spectacle in Helsinki has raised questions of how senior officials who accept that Russia is a serious adversary can continue to work for a president who looks the other way on Putin’s attacks.
Jesus. John Bolton is like a slightly-less-cuddly Nosferatu. If he’s repelled by Trump’s rhetoric, the rest of the White House must be on the verge of vomiting their small intestines.
But maybe it’s better if most of the current staff (but not John Bolton — ugh) stays. Trump has spent the past year and a half jettisoning anyone with even a whiff of expertise or talent. If he somehow makes it to the end of his term, his staff is going to look like the season 2 cast of Celebrity Rehab. If we’re lucky.
“Please don’t resign,” wrote Kori Schake, head of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in the Atlantic. “We should not want the moral satisfaction and practical devastation of clearing out people of conscience and allow the president to replace them with more malleable or compromised people.”