Trump's weekend of madness
Remember when Saturdays and Sundays were for relaxing?
Ah, the weekend. You might remember a time when weekends were for relaxing, for tending to your garden or spending cherished time with your loved ones. Your fridge was pinned with grocery lists and reminders. You may recall doing a crossword puzzle over coffee, or spending a few languid hours watching sports on TV. Not so anymore: During the Trump Era, weekends are blocked off on our calendars for sorting through the consequences of whatever time-bending policy outrage is dumped into the news cycle from the corridors of power in Reprobate Rome late Friday afternoon or evening.
This weekend was no exception. After days of caterwauling and feuding that involved the appointment of aspiring war criminal John Bolton as national security advisor, the assassination of the archduke moment in our impending trade war with China, the looming threat of a porn star's revelations about the president's peculiar peccadillos, the Dow's worst week in over two years, and the empty and quickly unfulfilled threat to veto a six-month spending bill, Trump and his advisors decided that a good way to put the cherry on top of this slipshod sundae would be to implement new regulations banning trans men and women from serving in the U.S. military.
The president, of course, then promptly hopped on a plane to Mar-a-Lago to regain the energy necessary to post his standard allotment of grouchy, semi-literate early morning tweets before preparing to hate-watch the Sunday night Stormy Daniels interview. Even if you think the president is playing multi-dimensional strategic chess here, you have to ask: Which of these horrors is the distraction from which? Why not draw attention away from the Mueller probe by stringing together a few hours of presidential behavior in a row every other day? This is a White House that still hasn't learned that the best way to control the media narrative would be to restore a sense of normalcy to the office and to the country.
Instead, the president and his advisors chose chaos, of the sort which would have amounted to the worst week of any other presidency in American history but was just another seven days for a Trump administration which should probably should just use a temp agency for its major hires. So far this new year, the president has fired or sent a gaggle of The Best People running for the hills of the private sector, including his Communications Director Hope Hicks, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, his Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Porter, his chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, and his lawyer, John Dowd, whose newfound interest in not being disbarred or spending the rest of his career in a state of disgrace has mysteriously coincided with the escalation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's 2016 election interference.
President Trump is the lonely teenager in Say Anything spending Saturday night at the Gas 'N Sip and claiming he is there "by choice." On Sunday morning, the president was feeling so rejected by the nation's legal community that he rolled out of bed, flipped on Fox News, and claimed pitifully that "Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case," but that "some are conflicted." They might all be feeling a bit more conflicted after the adult film star with whom he allegedly had an affair shortly after his son Barron was born in 2006 revealed to 60 Minutes that the future president told her "You remind me of my daughter" during one of their trysts. She also claimed that an emissary of the future president once threatened her and her infant daughter. This lot: They are like a crew of colorful stooges from a Coen Brothers movie, except not funny and worse at everything and somehow nastier.
The stark contrast to another weekend of the president's sordid machinations, childish outbursts, and gross revelations was the unfolding of one of the most consequential social movements this country has seen in years: In cities all over the country, outraged citizens gathered to demand action on gun control from a political elite that for decades has been content to watch Americans butcher each other in movie theaters, schools, concert venues, and office buildings. Not yet wearied by the cynicism of watching the same depressing ritual play out over and over again, a group of traumatized and courageous young people who survived last month's massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have managed what seemed impossible just months ago: mounting a sustained challenge to the NRA's stranglehold on our political system and our collective imagination about gun rights, and keeping one of these depressing mass murder spectacles in the news for longer than a week. They are not going away, and have plans to translate their reformist fervor into deliverance at the ballot box this November. As MSD activist Cameron Kasky told the Vietnam-era sized throng of protesters, "Stand for us or beware, the voters are coming." I wouldn't bet against them.
The president, of course, had not one word to say about Saturday's beautiful collage of his citizens and their demands. He couldn't even manage to issue even some anodyne statement about the value of protest in a democracy through his Twitter machine, but instead found time to send multiple tweets about an ISIS supermarket siege in France that killed four people. Just to be clear: This is part and parcel of the entire Republican political class. They see millions of their constituents hurting and begging for change, and their response is a silence so total it can't even be penetrated by the barest expression of sympathy.
But the GOP's biggest problem in D.C. remains not Saturday's protesters nor the party's embarrassing fealty to the country's gun zealots but the disgraced albatross living occasionally at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and dragging the party's fortunes into the abyss with him. Their miserable silence about the president's ongoing unraveling suggests they know that Americans are, very soon, going to take back their country — and their weekends.