Thursday, March 21, 2019


Grab the world's tiniest violin and play a sad song for President Trump's aides:
Aides struggle to see strategy in Trump’s Conway, McCain fights

The president has repeatedly forced people around him to make painful choices between their loyalties.

... With a single insult-filled morning tweet, tapped out from the White House residence before 8 a.m., the president extended his dispute with [Kellyane] Conway’s anti-Trump spouse, George, into a bewildering second day. By the afternoon, Trump had complemented it with new attacks on a dead man: the late Republican senator and war hero John McCain. Speaking in Ohio, Trump declared that he “never liked [McCain] much ... [and] probably never will.”

... the saga has left even White House aides accustomed to a president who bucks convention feeling uncomfortable.
Oh, boo hoo. So what's the theory as to why Trump is doing this?
Some people close to Trump speculated that he might be consciously trying to remake the news environment — creating a bizarre spectacle to displace criticism of his tepid response to the massacre of dozens of Muslims in New Zealand, the timing of the administration’s decision to ground Boeing’s 737 Max jets, and frenzied anticipation around the expected release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.
But Trump lives in the Fox News bubble, where there are no complaints about his response to the New Zealand massacre (his fans have no sympathy for the victims, or for any Muslims). The bubble dwellers don't associate him with the Boeing situation, and they think the Mueller investigation is a wi... do I even have to say it?

I agree with George Conway that Trump has narcissistic personality disorder. I don't agree with those who believe that Trump's attacks on Conway, renewed attacks on McCain, and incessant tweeting last weekend are a sign of mental deterioration or dementia.

Trump is just bored.

Maybe "bored" isn't the right word exactly. He has no battles to fight -- the Mueller report hasn't landed, the shutdown is over, the midterms and the Brett Kavanaugh fight were months ago, the North Korea initiative crashed and burned, the 2020 presidential campaign is just beginning (with too many names for Trump to remember, much less spell or pronounce correctly -- how the hell do you say or spell "Buttigieg"?), and there won't be any significant legislation from this divided Congress anytime soon (surely you didn't think Trump was seriously putting together an infrastructure plan).

Under those circumstances, what do you expect Trump to do all day? Read briefing books? Familiarize himself with issues? He's Donald Trump! He doesn't do that!

And since we're between the sorts of news cycles in which Trump is automatically important -- the way he was during the shutdown, and the way he will be when the Mueller report drops -- Trump has to be asking himself: How do I sustain my brand? The obvious answer: Twitter beefs! Fight with someone! Then fight with someone else! The base loves it! The base thinks it's presidential!

And as long as the base loves Trump, Republicans in Congress have to remain loyal to him or risk primary challenges the next time they run. (Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who recently attacked Trump, is 74 years old, has Parkinson's disease, and won't be up for reelection until 2022, assuming his health holds up. No Republican looking at an election sooner than that wants to be Trump's enemy.)

So to sum up: Why the feuding and tweeting? It builds the brand, it keeps the GOP loyal, and it's something Trump can do when he's bored.

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