Josh Marshall points out that Trump has, apparently, rolled on some issues.
Just in the last 24 hours he appears to have been rolled so many times that one imagines his rough edges might start to be worn down until he becomes something more like a clumpy and perhaps oblong ball.
Examples? One, he meekly agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States would maintain the One China policy. The White House press release on this matter actually said, “The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy.” Whether the SPOTUS understood what he agreed to, we can only guess.
Then this happened yesterday:
Then this afternoon EU foreign policy chief (in effect, the EU foreign minister) Federica Mogherini said that she had been assured in her meetings with top administration officials that the Trump administration intended to “stick to the full implementation of the [Iran nuclear] agreement.”
Of course, in this administration “top administration officials” are the equivalent of little boys who get sucked into grown-up meetings when they aren’t squirting glue into the White House light sockets or short sheeting the bed in the Lincoln bedroom.
But Trump on the campaign trail had promised over and over to undo the deal. It was the worst deal he ever saw. And if history is our guide, he may change his mind again. And a few more times.
In the past 24 hours or so, the White House has changed direction several times on the travel ban. Yesterday the Washington Post issued news alerts 30 minutes apart, one saying that Trump would not further appeal the restraining order, and the other saying he would. Both alerts were based on White House statements. A wag on twitter referred to “Schrodinger’s Executive Order: both being appealed and not being appealed.”
More recently, Trump himself announced he would issue a new, revised travel ban next week. Probably. But all options are still on the table. And, of course, this morning he tweeted that “Our legal system is broken!”
Can we say Trump is flailing? I think so.
Trump also is still obsessing over losing the popular vote. Just two days ago he started ranting about it again in a closed door lunch with ten senators, Politico reports.
On Thursday, during a meeting with 10 senators that was billed as a listening session about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the president went off on a familiar tangent, suggesting again that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that he won the presidential election.
As soon as the door closed and the reporters allowed to observe for a few minutes had been ushered out, Trump began to talk about the election, participants said, triggered by the presence of former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who lost her reelection bid in November and is now working for Trump as a Capitol Hill liaison, or “Sherpa,” on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch.
The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” of people who were “brought in on buses” from neighboring Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire.
According to one participant who described the meeting, “an uncomfortable silence” momentarily overtook the room.
Friday, FEC Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub asked Trump to cough up his evidence.
“The scheme the President of the United States alleges would constitute thousands of felony criminal offences under New Hampshire law,” FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said in a statement. (http://bit.ly/2lAnk7t)
And so on.
As we say in the Ozarks, the boy ain’t right. So the question is, how long before he completely melts down?
The capitulations on China and Iran — which I hope stand — suggest to me that Trump is becoming increasingly mentally confused, or else he’s just exhausted. Becoming POTUS must be like walking into a buzzsaw, and if one is mentally and emotionally wobbly to begin with, one is likely to fly to pieces.