J. Adams Jefferson
Dec 29, 2018 · 5 min read
The Walrus and The Carpenter, Sir John Tenniel. Through The Looking Glass. Wikimedia Commons.

The Last 100 Days of the Trump Presidency (cc: @Thomas L. Friedman)

One wonders what, really, is the point of Thomas Friedman’s apparently sincere, well-meaning offer of helpful advice to a beleaguered Republican leadership (“Time for G.O.P. to Threaten to Fire Trump: Republican leaders need to mount an intervention,” December 24th).

Excuse me, Tom, an “intervention”? Like, “We really want to help you, but first you have to admit you have a problem.” There’s not an ivory-inlaid toilet in Trump Tower that believes rational discourse could provide positive therapy for the moral disease that wanders unrestrained in the mirrored halls of Trump’s brain.

Indeed, one searches intently amid a thousand-plus commenters on Friedman’s piece to find a single one that seconds the motion, to take seriously the notion of an “intervention.” Instead, the Times Picks cut straight to the chase, giving a platform to thoughtful folks who know more than most of us about VP Pence, to begin to speculate about the contours of a Pensibble presidency.

Across the spectrum, from WSJ Opinion writers to Fox and Friends and the brain trust at NYT and WaPo, everyone with ears to hear recognizes that something different has happened this time. It doesn’t even need economic hypervolatility and a government shutdown over alternative facts (while Democrats prepare to accurately leverage the doors of the House) to amplify the tweet:

With Mattis’ resignation, the calculus changed.

And on that day, I opened a file, to begin chronicling The Last 100 Days of the Trump Presidency. How will it go down? It depends on Trump, sure. Perhaps it depends on external actors or destructive forces in our midst that we haven’t countenanced, yet. I shudder to think how vulnerable we are, how hapless is Trump in meeting matters of consequence, how full of guile and betrayal of the American idea.

Or is there something peculiarly American in Trump’s inimical excess? His fervor to import the Russian model, a government of billionaires, by billionaires and for billionaires (robber barons, not philanthropists) — there is still something that sets him apart from Putin, more than the so-far secure guardrails of our system. But maybe we haven’t seen the worst of Trump, yet.

No question, however, the Trump show is imploding under the weight of its own imbecility. And Friedman’s got a couple things right, or partially correct. The time has come…to talk of many things. A conversation’s already happening, and it must be announced to Trump, doesn’t matter how or where, in a room, on social media or antisocial media (you take your pick, which is which).

It goes like this. You always thought we were cowed by your greatness, Donald. You thought everyone gave way to you because we feared you could turn the base against us. Sure, some are rodents. They were never in charge. President McConnell holds the reins. We could have slapped you down at any moment, on Day One, just for example, by enforcing the bribery clause of the Constitution. Don’t you get it? We choose not to. We like your Unreality TV. Nobody can foam at the mouth like you, kid. You’re one of a kind, a real gift. You dazzle ’em and bamboozle ‘em.

But, see, you were always Coffee-Boy Trump to us. You just do exactly what we want, then we let you be the goofball with golf clubs. Sure, the showmanship helps us get away with it, but nobody’s gonna sweat it if we have to cut you loose. We’ll find somebody else to screw the oysters.

So get with the program. We created the pitchfork army because it gives us an edge, but they’re still ours, not yours. You’ve had a taste of it, haven’t you? One. News. Cycle. That’s exactly how long it takes to get Ann Coulter and the whole brigade telling you to go eat worms.

We’re coming to a crossroads. How it plays out is up to you. The toady, Vice-President Ryan, got impeached, you saw that — okay, he took early retirement, rather than face ignominious unseating. If push comes to shove, you might want to think about that. Declare victory, and then resign. You won’t lose many fans. But what we’re talking about here is that it doesn’t work when your enemies are jihadists. You think Pelosi’s gonna let you slide on this one? We’re not either. And you’re starting to impact our livelihood. That just won’t fly.

So here comes the crossroads. Mueller’s gonna slam-dunk ya. Kid, you gotta know, you can’t cut him off now, there’s too many AGs, too many subpoenas, it ain’t gonna end pretty. You’re a one-trick pony and a one-term turkey, and that’s all there is to it. Help us out now, and we’ll help you out.

You want to throw stinkbombs at Mueller, maybe give him the ax? We’re your posse, baby. We just need to know you’re not gonna sink the boat we’re all on together. We’ll get you through the term, and then you’re on your own, nobody’s promising more than that.

But if you don’t play ball, then you’re out at the plate, kid. Oh, my, he did what?! You’ll find out where loyalty sticks when you really haven’t earned it.

I’ve overheard more of this conversation, but you get the drift. The point is that no one ought to imagine Trump can really take direction from his betters, even if President McConnell says, this is real, Donny Boy. Your job is on the line, and we’ve got the machinery, we’ve got the votes, and we’ve got the motivation.

So the ocean’s heating up, and Trump is cooking. If my thermometer is correct, we’ll be in a New World around All Fools Day. Then it’s Pence Pretense to hammer against. I’m scared, I admit it. But I’m watching in slow, slow mo. I’m not a prolific writer, and I can be away from television, media, internet for months at a time — there are other things than history to care about, you know — but maybe I’ll blog this transition a bit, as I see it unfolding.

Donald. You listening? I’m your worst nightmare. You couldn’t hear Stephen Vincent with a megaphone, and you don’t know why Jamal Khashoggi is smiling when you close your eyes. It’s because words matter, and they add up. McCain couldn’t raise his arms above his shoulders in real life, as a result of deformity caused by torture, but he’s saluting Mattis from the grave. Go ahead, pass an Executive Order against that.

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