Friday, 17 February 2017
If you get the chance do watch Trump's latest press conference. It was unhinged, it was all over the place, it was angry, frustrated. He kept telling the press that they are fake news, even when he was tacitly admitting that what they had been reporting was true. He even told the world that he was not ranting and raving. In fact he ranted and raved about it.
This was a press conference called ostensibly to address the chaos in the White House because of difficulties with nominees not being confirmed and with only recently appointed National Security Advisors having to quit. Yet Trump claimed that his administration is a fine tuned machine. Those in the know, by the way, suspect that the leaks about Michael Flynn came not from the intelligence services but from the White House.
This press conference was classic Trump. It was all bluster and anger and finger pointing and contradictions. It cannot, for instance, be fake news about the Michael Flynn Russia scandal because the veracity of the reports was confirmed by Flynn resigning. Trump may claim to be angry with the 'lying media' but the media told the truth about that and forced him to sack a man he would have held onto had not the public been made aware of his treachery via the media.
Trump went on the attack in this press conference because he knows that he is in trouble. The whole Muslim ban was bad enough, but that only appalled a certain section of American society that doesn't vote for Trump anyway. The Flynn scandal was an order of magnitude worse because it exposed the double dealing and lies of Trump's White House and his campaign. They were in regular contact with Russian officials during the campaign and may well have coordinated with them. This has not been denied. Instead they seek to change the subject to the source of the leaks. But, given what came out, those leaks are easily justifiable. Anyway they only serve to confirm what we suspected already.
There is something odd about Trump's relationship with Russia. The Flynn debacle has made it more difficult politically for Trump to take a softer line with Putin. Nevertheless he shrugged off Russia's buzzing of US ships off the east coast and launch of a missile in contravention of arms limitation treaties. What else does he have planned for America's relationship with Russia, the kleptocratic, murderous Russia that has invaded the sovereign territory of a neighbouring country? Why does Trump keep defending Russia? Do they have some hold over him?
Many have suggested over recent weeks that Trump's various pronouncements and tweets are part of a sophisticated strategy that will be revealed in time. I have long argued that there is no sophistication here at all. Trump is an ignoramus. He is ill educated, bone-headed, lazy, vain, narcissistic and quite startlingly dumb. His briefings have to be one page long and include pictures. During the campaign he boasted of how he would beat ISIS (he is obsessed with ISIS) with a brilliant but secret new plan. It turns out that his plan was to get his generals to come up with a plan. They did so - actually the Obama administration had started the process - but they couldn't present it to the new president. It was too complicated for him to understand.
And one only had to listen to his answers to the press when alongside Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be astonished at his ignorance. One state solution? Two state solution? One or the other he said. We can do a deal. How? You cannot, by definition, impose a peace deal on an unwilling party. But that sums Trump up. On one of the most intractable issues in world politics he was blasé, insouciant. In truth he couldn't be bothered to do any of the reading or preparation. He just turns up and wings it. And his finely tuned machine once again betrayed that it has a faulty component or two because his UN ambassador flatly contradicted her boss. The two state solution, she said, remains US policy. Never mind what the president says, he doesn't know what he's talking about.
During his press conference, among many gems, Trump told a rapt world that he had been briefed and he could share with us what he had been told about nuclear holocaust: it would be like no other. Its reassuring that the man in charge of the world's most powerful military is now cognisant of this important fact and how grateful we should all be that he told us this direct and without the lying media to filter it.
Everything is a mess, he said. He inherited a mess. But don't worry because he is going to sort it. He doesn't identify what he thinks is a mess other than the jobs being exported. His solution to that would make matters worse. His ignorance of economics is startling too. Last week it was reported that he had to ask an adviser which was best: a strong dollar or a weak dollar. Does that sound like someone who can come into office and clear up some inchoate mess he has identified, inchoate because we all thought that the American economy was doing pretty well and creating jobs. The world is in a bit of a mess for sure, but its not clear how a man who has only just learnt about the realities of nuclear war will help. His solution also seems to involve appeasing Putin. Presumably he won't have heard what happened the last time appeasement of a dictator was tried. We could ask him to read about it but can you boil the Nazis down to one page with pictures?
The Russian scandal and the emerging facts about it are going to bring Trump down. I now confidently predict this. Congress will have no choice but to investigate Trump's dealings with Russia and to force him to reveal his finances and tax returns. There are rumours that that file full of Trump's indiscretions in Moscow may now have some basis in fact after all. For all of these reasons Republicans should now start distancing themselves from this catastrophe in the making and prepare to bring him down. They should do so for reasons of self preservation if nothing else. It might be that the mere threat of being exposed will force him out. That would be doing us all a service. Donald Trump is not fit to be president. He is too stupid to be president. He is too ignorant and belligerent to be president. He is temperamentally unfit to be president. Anyone supporting or backing him will find it toxic to their future. That is why he needs to be investigated and removed. That is now urgent.