The astounding, unrelenting foolishness of President Trump
Trump has had a bad presidency just this week — and it's not that unusual a week for him
Forget impeachment. Forget the 25th Amendment. Is there no way the United States can rid itself of Donald Trump simply because he's so unrelentingly foolish?
The president has any number of bad qualities that have been covered to death. He is racist. He is sexist. He is mean, greedy, and vain. Many previous American presidents have exhibited these traits to greater or lesser degrees — Woodrow Wilson was a notorious bigot — but it's possible that none exceeds Trump in sheer, simple inanity.
It was absurd for Trump to believe that the United States could take Greenland off Denmark's hands, like Michael Corleone elbowing aside Moe Green in Las Vegas. It was bizarre for him to take exception to the Danish prime minister acknowledging that absurdity and to cancel his upcoming summit in Denmark as a result. And it was almost beyond comprehension that he capped the whole thing by insulting the prime minister with his favorite pejorative for women: "nasty."
It was merely narcissistic for Trump to suggest Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister, had insulted the entire United States by vetoing his Greenland land grab so directly.
"She shouldn't treat the United States that way," the president said Wednesday. "She said 'absurd.' That's not the right word to use."
Actually, the word was remarkably precise. But she didn't insult the United States, Mr. President. She was criticizing you. There is a difference.
This is not the worst thing the president has done this week. It might not even be in the top three or four. He has questioned the loyalty of American Jews. There's that whole "chosen one" business. His administration has unveiled a plan to detain and imprison migrant families for extended periods. He has shown himself to have a grade school understanding of the conflict over Kashmir, which just happens to involve two nuclear-armed powers. And news emerged that the budget deficit will reach $1 trillion next year, swollen by Republican tax cuts for the rich.
Trump has had a bad presidency just this week — whether he realizes it or not — and it's not that unusual a week for him.
But Trump's puerile behavior over Greenland is particularly worth highlighting, if only because it throws into sharp relief the whole "emperor has no clothes" extremes of his presidency. The president's actions, his fit of personal pique, do nothing to advance the interests of the United States. They do not make Americans safer or more prosperous. There is no rationale for them, beyond the president's own thin skin. America's foreign policy — and thus our security, and thus the security of the world itself — is being held hostage by a short-sighted, incurious narcissist.
This is not reasonable.
It is not reasonable that the president has disrupted the relationship with a longtime ally over this matter. It is not reasonable that we are led by a man whose vanity exceeds his common sense. It is not reasonable that such a man holds power because of a system that elevated him despite the fact he received fewer votes than his opponent. It is not reasonable that there seems to be no way to bring a swift and merciful end to this state of affairs. It is not reasonable that the people empowered to do so have apparently calculated that they have bigger fish to fry.
The problem here is bigger than our usual political disagreements. I think Donald Trump and his administration are wrong on immigration, taxes, health care and climate policy, just to name a few issues. But those disagreements are best settled at the ballot box — presuming, of course, that elections are fair and untainted. Trump's actions with regard to Greenland, though, call into question his very fitness for office, and that is not something that can be determined through a straw poll. Indeed, there seems to be no effective mechanism for doing so.
And so it seems we are doomed to keep living out this unreasonable presidency.
It is tiresome to complain about Donald J. Trump so often and so endlessly. The forest is burning in the Amazon. Alaska is melting. America's infrastructure is crumbling. There are so many problems to solve that aren't of the president's making. It would be great if we could come together to address some of them.
That requires leadership from a president who isn't micromanaged by his shortcomings, however. We know everything we need to know about Donald Trump. He isn't going to change. The right thing for America and its leaders to do is to turn him out of office, the sooner the better. In such a foolish age, it would be the only reasonable thing to do.