Donald Trump is bluffing his way through a job that happens to be the most important one in the world. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if when he jars awake at 3:30 a.m., terrified, awakening from a nightmare about what’s in store when they really find out about Russia, that the first thing he does is wrap his arms around himself and rock back and forth saying, “I am the most powerful man in the world, I am the most powerful man in the world,” and then starts tweeting to prove it, most of all to himself.
Trump knows that he’s a deadbeat and an imposter. In real life he has no experience as a success at anything to inform him about how things work in general, let alone in government. His most relevant experience for the job he has right now is a role he play acted in a reality show loosely based upon the broad parameters of his life, sort of the city slicker version of “Duck Dynasty,” kids and all. That’s the best he’s got inside himself to draw upon, so that is what comes out. NPR:
Donald Trump promised to run the White House like a business, and that business appears to be a reality television production company.
At the NATO summit, the conflicting statements, the dramatic last-minute news conference — not to mention the buildup over what Trump would say and do there — all added up to a dramatic arc. There was suspense, confrontation and then a hero appearing tough to vanquish his adversaries.
“Remember the word ‘$33 billion more’ they’re paying,” Trump said in his closing appearance. “And you’ll hear that from the secretary-general in a little while. He thanked me, actually. He — he actually thanked me. And everybody in the room thanked me.”
Plus, there’s a cliffhanger: Trump heads to Helsinki on Monday to meet directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I think we go into that meeting not looking for so much,” Trump said.
Trump doesn’t want anybody to get high hopes for any interesting developments with the Moscow story line. In truth, Putin is the protagonist and Trump merely the supporting player in this saga, although he did give lip service to asking Putin about meddling with the election in 2016.
He committed to raising election interference with the Russian leader, but when it comes to Putin, Trump is deferential — not tough.
“So all I can do is say, ‘Did you?’ and ‘Don’t do it again,’ ” Trump said.
Trump is not only deferential, he always speaks of Putin in glowing terms. He’s Putin’s best groupie, his adoring fan boy. Which makes it all the more alarming that Rod Rosenstein just introduced one hell of a plot twist when he announced that Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents Friday. The timing was not coincidental. Trump was just pulling up to Windsor Palace when those televised proceedings were interrupted for this news item. Now both Democrats and Republicans are screaming for Trump to cancel the Helsinki Summit. Trump loves to create drama, but he doesn’t like to be upstaged. What’s he going to do? He’s got to play the hero, so does he forge ahead with the meeting, or would it be more heroic to listen to those around him who are actual lawmakers and fold? Nah. Slate:
Given Trump’s attitude toward both the Mueller investigation and Putin (and Schumer), it seems pretty unlikely he will call off the summit he’s been pressing for since the earliest days of his presidency. After previous conversations with Putin, Trump has said he accepts the Russian leaders denials of election interference. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that. And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it,” he said after a meeting with Putin at a summit in Vietnam last year. Just last month, Trump tweeted, “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”
What a fool believes, he sees. Trump lives in a bubble where he believes that nothing is really good or bad but spinning makes it so. No matter how much egg is on your face, just double down. Or do what he did at NATO, pretend that he achieved a great diplomatic feat when in fact he merely signed off on what was already agreed to and then took a victory lap to make it look good on camera.
Trump brought his aggressive destabilizing rhetoric to the NATO summit, even if catastrophe was averted at the end of the episode. European diplomats are feeling exhausted and disrespected after the Trump tornado came to town, but at least he hasn’t pulled U.S. troops out of Germany.
The season finale is coming up at the Helsinki summit on Monday, and we’ll see whether Trump’s behavior with Putin in person is as deferential as his rhetoric from afar.
Republican Senator Ben Sasse said it plainly: “The U.S. intelligence community knows that the Russian government attacked the U.S. This is not a Republican or a Democrat view – it is simply the reality.” That’s the problem, reality, to a guy who only knows reality TV. Between what happened with the indictments Friday and whether Trump further destabilizes the Middle East by giving Syria to Putin and his cronies in Tehran, in exchange for an empty promise, the direction of this show could change dramatically.