Chaos here, backlash there, shock everywhere. And in Washington and around the globe another gasping chorus of WTF commentary: reckless, not normal, reality show run amok.
And so on, et cetera, et cetera, for the one-hundredth-and-can’t-remember time of the Trump Era.
But there is something different about this week’s spasm of sudden policy lurches, graceless personal insults, oozing scandal news, and ceaseless West Wing knife fights.
It is the starkest example to date of President Donald Trump’s executive style looking untenable not merely from the outside — from the perspective of establishment politicians and media analysts — but from the inside, too.
Administration officials and outsiders with windows into decision-making describe a growing sense of despair within Trump’s ranks, driven by the mounting realization that the president’s brand of politics guided by intuition and improvisation is incompatible with a competently functioning executive branch.
Most alarming, by these lights, is mounting evidence that Trump lacks an attribute possessed by most previous presidents and certainly by all the most successful ones: a capacity for self-critique and self-correction.
Most of this week’s White House furors — the president’s zig-zag comments on gun control, an announcement on steel tariffs that caught his own economic team by surprise and sent the Dow plunging, his ongoing battle with his attorney general, and reports that foreign governments were scheming to exploit the inexperience and financial vulnerabilities of son-in-law Jared Kushner — were generated from within.
That’s left many in Washington and beyond wondering what happens in the inevitable moments — every modern president has faced them — when outside events take over, and the government has to deal with a major military confrontation, a major natural disaster or some other catastrophe.
“Nobody has any idea whether he has any sense of what it means to deal with a crisis,” said Leon Panetta, President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff and the former head of the CIA and secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. “It creates a really uncomfortable feeling because we really don’t know if we’re going to be able to confront a crisis and do it successfully.”
Read the whole thing …