He’s Doing the Best He Can

Barely a day goes by without Donald Trump reminding us all of his total disregard for the truth, his startling ignorance, or his affection for murderous autocrats. The President of the United States generally exhibits the behavior of a sick, unfeeling sociopath. I am not a fan.

That said, you have to feel for the guy. It’s not his fault that he lacks so many of the attributes that are required to do this job successfully: a breadth of knowledge, maturity, empathy, curiosity, a sense of humor, emotional intelligence, discretion, self-discipline, self-awareness, selflessness, and the ability to put the country before self. Just to name a few.

Besides, any energy spent demanding that he suddenly develop these qualities at the age of 72 is wasted. The sad truth is, he’s doing the best he can.

And, of course, we knew who he was from Day One. The subtext of his entire campaign — starting with the announcement speech in which he called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers — was: “Please do not elect me President — I cannot do this job.” Trump himself famously prepared only one speech for Election Night — a concession. (One can only imagine how gracious that speech congratulating President-elect Clinton would have been.)

That’s why Republican leaders didn’t want him to get the nomination. But when he got it, they decided they cared more about tax cuts and judges than they did about having a President who was good at the job. And the damage they caused by making that decision isn’t just that we have a bonehead in the Oval Office who can’t make his first trip to a warzone without revealing the identities of every member of Seal Team Five.

Because we have a President who is terrible at the job, the government he is in charge of is failing to perform basic functions — and people are getting hurt as a direct result.

We just had the second death of a young child from Guatemala in our custody. Yes, the family separation policy Trump and his allies chose to implement is awful on its own. But even though we’ve stopped it, there are still thousands of children being held in what are essentially private prisons. The Department of Homeland Security has no plan for what to do with these children or how to keep them safe. This tragedy wasn’t just a result of cruel policy. It was the result of incompetence.

Meanwhile, Trump has slashed funding from the Centers for Disease Control’s budget to stop potential pandemics from spreading here from other countries. He didn’t run on a platform of making it harder to detect and contain outbreaks in other parts of the globe, but that’s exactly what his actions have accomplished. Remember Ebola? Trump’s America First policy forgets that there are jet planes that fly passengers from way far away.

There’s damage like this happening all throughout our government.

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to protect us from environmental disasters, but Trump has fired all the scientists from the scientific board that advises the EPA, and wiped out its rules for testing toxic chemicals and waste in our waters. What’s in your glass? You have no idea — and, thanks to Donald Trump, neither does anybody else.

FEMA is supposed to help people recover in the wake of natural disasters. But Puerto Rico is still suffering — and, instead of taking a serious look at its failures in the response to Hurricane Maria, the Trump administration deleted the information on the FEMA website detailing access to drinking water and electricity on the island.

A Trump family employee with no previous experience in housing policy is in charge of housing policy in New York and New Jersey. Senior positions at the State Department and at every other executive agency are going unfilled. Officials from large for-profit universities being investigated for defrauding students have been put in charge of investigating large for-profit universities being investigated for defrauding students.

Our government is in chaos. And Donald Trump can’t fix it. Even if he tries his best. (Which he won’t, work ethic being another quality he lacks.)

But Congress can. Democrats don’t need to waste our time getting angry every time Trump says something stupid or mean. What we need to do is oversight, and a lot of it. We need to figure out exactly what this guy has broken — whether through malice or neglect or greed or sheer incompetence — and start fixing it before more people get hurt.

And we need Republicans who knew they were putting a dangerously unqualified buffoon in the White House to either help us contain the damage or get the hell out of our way.