Trump is incapable of wielding power

This is the most important takeaway from Trump's drowsy photo op at St. John's Church

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

On the first day, nothing. Nothing too on the second and third and fourth and fifth save for complaints, idle and intermittent. By the sixth, a retreat underground amid the crashing bricks and bottles, a quiet reassurance of safety (his). Then on the seventh night: soundbombs and gas deployed not in the hope of retaking the streets of Washington from the looters of stores and mere private residences but to keep our drowsy emperor awake on his short stroll to a photo opportunity with an awkwardly held Bible against the backdrop of a church dedicated to the Beloved Disciple.

Years from now, among the defining images of these strange times will be one of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue taking a purposeless walk to St. John's Episcopal Church in the middle of a city-wide riot. The most important takeaway from this real-time television commercial is the conclusion it should force from observers: Donald Trump is not a dictator. He is not an authoritarian. He is not a fascist or a Caesarist or a Peronist or an -ist of any other known variety. He is emphatically not a Nixonian proponent of law and order. Any of these things would require the president to have convictions and prejudices distinct from his own political fortunes, real or perceived. To pretend otherwise encourages the delusions of Trump's most blinkered enemies in journalism and his most delusional supporters. Both of these groups would like to believe that the president is a man of action, a politician with a coherent ideology, a strategist with defined goals — above all, a swift unwavering maker of decisions. They differ only in their moral assessment of this fantastical personage, who bears no meaningful resemblance to the senescent ditherer in the White House.

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