Thursday, June 8, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He forced himself to let his surrogates defend him against James Comey's damning testimony--which may have been a mistake.

Speculation has been rampant for several days about how Trump--prone to angry outbursts even in periods of relative calm--would react to Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. Trump himself added fuel to the fire on Monday and Tuesday with lengthy Twitter tirades that gave credence to recent stories about his dark and deteriorating mood

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal lawyer, seems to have at least temporarily succeeded where other aides have failed in convincing Trump that his presidency hinged on his ability to stay out of the fray and off Twitter--if only to prevent him from further incriminating himself on obstruction charges. Reportedly, Kasowitz accomplished this by promising Trump that he would take the same aggressive approach in Trump's stead. (His statement in response to Comey's testimony was indeed fiery, if only loosely based on facts.)

Unfortunately for Trump, not all of his surrogates were as adept. Paul Ryan offered a plausible but unflattering defense of Trump's actions: that Trump should be forgiven for his highly inappropriate and seemingly illegal attempts to interfere in the Flynn investigation because he simply didn't know any better. And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who for all the bad blood between them amounts to one of Trump's allies in the Senate, gamely defended Trump in the hearing by suggesting that he was an "unconventional non-politician who, because he has not worked in government before, either doesn’t understand or, quite frankly, is not interested in convention."

Why should anyone care?

  • Presidents don't get to plead ignorance, even when they are in fact ignorant.
  • A president who is unprepared for the job, and unwilling or unable to learn, is unfit to keep it.
  • It's pretty sad when a president not publicly losing his temper gets counted as a win.