Powered by Max Banner Ads 

By Stump Connolly

Last week marked the first anniversary of one of the most frightening speeches I’ve ever heard in American politics –– Donald Trump’s “I Alone” speech to the Republican convention.

In one of the great panders of politics – and politics is full of them — the Republican nominee recounted all that ails America, and he had a solution for all of them. “Nobody knows the system better than me,” he said, “which is why I alone can fix it.”

So six months into his term, how’s he doing?

“The W.H. is functioning perfectly, focused on HealthCare, Tax Cuts/Reform & many other things. I have very little time for watching T.V.” he tweeted two weeks ago. Then he trashed his Attorney General, replaced Sean Spicer with Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director . . . and changed the channel.

A Pugnacious Sort

We have all had to lower our standards for leadership in this administration, but is it too much to ask I Alone not to turn every policy debate into a referendum on his own fragile ego?

Whether he is feuding with the media over his inauguration crowd or berating federal judges for staying his Muslim travel ban, his determination to show he can say or do anything he damn well pleases as president isn’t just delusional, it’s a cancerous obsession.

“This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites within the media or Hollywood or anywhere else,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his new press secretary, said at the height of his kerfuffle with Morning Joe and Mika.

But you don’t have to be liberal to earn his ire. He has harsh words for any Republican who stands in the way of a health care bill. His twitter account drips with disdain for CNN, the failing New York Times, the Amazon Washington Post, and their fake news. And don’t get him started on the Mueller investigation, that slow-rolling tar ball coming up Pennsylvania Avenue and scooping up everything in its path, including his son.

Pomp and Circumstance

When he is not on twitter or glued to the TV, I Alone likes the pomp and circumstance of signing executive orders. He likes it so much he sometimes signs things that aren’t orders at all, just stuff he’d like to see happen. Most of the real bills he signs are regulatory rollbacks or routine housekeeping. But every signing is another occasion to remind people he is making America great again – like the country can be saved by a slogan – by renaming a VA health center in rural Pennsylvania.

To focus I Alone on the issues, his staff sets up elaborate roll outs for Infrastructure Week, and Tech Week, and Made-in-America Week. I Alone sleepwalks through them like he’s touring a county fair exhibit. His real comfort zone are campaign rallies where, surrounded by fawning supporters, he can flog old enemies (Hillary Clinton) and perceived new ones (disloyal Republicans), and ramble on about whatever pops into his head.

Drain the Swamp

A surefire applause line in those rallies is his promise to drain the swamp in Washington. But the swamp only seems to have gotten murkier since he took office. His cabinet is stuffed with millionaires and billionaires, three of whom — Scott Pruitt at the EPA, Rick Perry in Energy and Betsy DeVos at Education – are running departments they think shouldn’t exist.

Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street firm his campaign commercials claimed “robbed our working class” and “stripped our country of its wealth” has contributed four partners to his White House economic team — Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin, Jim Donovan, and Dina Powell ­– and one ex-partner, Scaramucci, as director of communications.

They occupy a White House teeming with people who don’t much like each other (not unlike The Apprentice). There’s the Bannon faction and the Kushner faction, the national security advisors, an ever-changing line-up of public spokesmen, and now, the lawyer faction. Which is in ascendance depends on who has the president’s ear on that particular day.

On the day-to-day level of keeping the government wheels turning, meanwhile, outlying federal departments labor under a dearth of leadership. In his first week in office, I Alone fired all of our ambassadors overseas and all 93 U.S. Attorneys in the Justice Department. Six months into his administration, only a handful of ambassadors have been confirmed as replacements and 91 of the 93 U.S. Attorney posts remain vacant.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is running pillar to post trying to put out fires in Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Ukraine, and Qatar – I Alone started that one – without ambassadors in South Korea, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, France, Britain and Russia. Fifty-seven other key diplomatic posts, including six undersecretary jobs, don’t even have nominees waiting for confirmation.

Of the 570 executive branch positions that require Senate approval, only 50 have been confirmed –– compared to 203 at this point in the administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton –– and there are no names in the hopper for 375 others. Tillerson, meanwhile, is so frustrated by his role in the administration, he is ready to resign by the end of the year, according to CNN and Newsweek.

The White House justifiably complains Senate Democrats are slow-walking nominees through the confirmation process (they are), but the line of people awaiting approval is short because I Alone insists on weeding out candidates who opposed him in the primaries, and many qualified career officials want no part of an administration that won’t listen to them.

On The World Stage

In his two trips abroad, the President has cultivated his image as a buffoon, mingling uncomfortably with other world leaders and managing to say all the wrong things, in the wrong places.

In six short months, the world’s confidence in American leadership has dropped from 64 to 22 percent, according to a Pew Research survey. In interviews with 40,000 people in 37 countries, 75 percent of respondents describe our president as “arrogant,” 65 percent as “intolerant” and 62 percent as “dangerous.”

Domestic Tranquility?

His standing at home is not much better. His approval rating in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll has dropped from 40 to 36 percent since taking office, the worst performance by a new president in 70 years.

Can it get worse? Probably not. Another poll taken at the same time reports that 32 percent of Trump supporters don’t believe Donald Jr. met with a Russian lawyer (24 percent said they are not sure). So there’s a floor to the intelligence of voters, and I Alone is bobbing just above it.

Whether that is due to the Russian investigation, or the botched Republican health care effort, or his ever more irksome tweets –– 61 percent of Americans wish he wouldn’t –– is beside the point.

I Alone Can’t Fix It

For all his vaunted skills as a dealmaker, I Alone can’t rub two Senators together to get a health care bill over the finish line. (Although it might have helped if he understood what health care in America entails.) As the Senate voted to take up the health care debate, I Alone retreated into his tweets and rallies — “I can be more presidential than any president,” he told a crowd in Ohio — where in the span of 26 hours The Washington Post counted 29 false or misleading statements.

The role of statesman thus fell to Sen. John McCain, returning to the Senate floor after surgery for a brain tumor. “We’re getting nothing done. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done, McCain said. “We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.”

“Lets hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today,” he added.

For months I Alone has been telling us he’s been waiting pen in hand in the Oval Office to sign a health care bill. Sending him one that enjoys the support of Republicans and Democrats, reflects the input of doctors, hospitals, and patient care advocates, and protects the hard won benefits of Obamacare would go a long way to restoring our faith in government.

You might even call it a win. And there’s nothing I Alone likes more than a win, as long as he gets credit for it.


Trackback URL