Frank Rich spent thirty years in various positions writing for the New York Times. He now hosts a weekly column for New York Magazine as their writer-at-large. He rarely minces words, and today was no exception.
The beginning of the end of the Trump presidency came and went a long time ago. I have never wavered from my oft-stated convictions that (a) Trump will not finish out his term, and (b), the end will be triggered by a presidential meltdown that forces the Vichy Republicans in Washington to mount an insurrection — if only to save their own asses, not the country. This week was a big step toward that endgame, and surely one of the most remarkable weeks in American history.
Rich believes that Trump’s actions this week—his abandonment of Syria and Afghanistan, his petulant shutdown of the government, and the resignation of Secretary of Defense Mattis—signal an imminent unraveling of this “outlaw” Presidency, as Trump’s allies in the Republican Senate begin to balk.
We have a president of the United States who is moving to shut down the government at the same moment that he is inviting America’s adversaries to breach its defenses. The withdrawals in Syria and Afghanistan, combined with the exit of the last top administration official who aspired to serve the national interest rather than Trump’s, invites hostile moves against the United States from ISIS, Russia, China, North Korea, and the Taliban.
As Rich explains, the fallout from Trump’s chaotic and irrational behavior has reached the point where it threatens the bottom lines of the corporate backers that sustain the Republican Party. Whatever else he does in his efforts to undermine or weaken the nation, that is something that simply cannot and will not be tolerated. Rich believes the reactions this week of Senators Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio to Trump’s capitulation to hostile foreign interests are indicative of a breaking point, at long last.
[M]ore GOP leaders will follow. What will move them is not necessarily Trump’s hara-kiri isolationist agenda but the damage his behavior both abroad and at home is inflicting on the financial markets. The sheer uncertainty of a chaos presidency is pushing the Dow to its worst December since the Great Depression. McConnell and his humiliated departing peer Paul Ryan have tolerated Trump’s racism, misogyny, and nativism, his wreckage of American alliances, his kleptocracy, and his allegiance to Vladimir Putin. They have tolerated as well his con job on the coal miners, steelworkers, and automobile-industry workers of his base. But they’ll be damned if they will stand for a president who threatens the bottom line of the GOP donor class.
Meanwhile, we have an ugly time ahead of us, as the Administration enters its convulsive death throes and the hearings on Capitol Hill loom for the “lawyered-up Trump lackeys” about to be marched in to face a new Democratic House.
What we are likely to see in the meantime: further indictments of Trump family members and other close associates; a complete halt to governance in Washington whether there’s actually a government shutdown or not; new overt and covert threats to national security; a further effort by Trump to destabilize the Federal Reserve and assault its chairman; and perhaps, at last, an intervention by those Vichy Republicans, in the financial sector as well as in the capital, who see their own necks on the line.