Stable genius

A few quotes to ponder:

“I am a stable genius,” said Donald J. Trump on several occasions, most recently after he threw a tantrum to abruptly end a meeting to discuss infrastructure.

“You have been telling me you are a genius since you were seventeen. In all the time I have known you, I still don’t know what you mean,” sang Steely Dan in “Reeling in the Years.”

“We were out-prepared,” testified former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson under oath to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as he described a meeting between Putin and Trump.

More colorfully, Tillerson commented while Secretary of State after the President changed his mind again, “He is a f**king moron.”

Testifying under oath to a House Committee, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer said “Donald Trump is a racist, he is a con-man and a he is a cheat.”

“You will have to do a deal with the European Union,” said German Chancelor Angela Merkel eleven times in one sitting to Trump until it finally sank in he could not do a trade deal just with Germany.

“Donald Trump lies every day even about things of no consequence,” said former Trump attorney Thomas Wells.

Finally, former National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn said after witnessing the President lie about what he said to the Australian Prime Minister, “He is a prodigious liar.”

Lastly, at 60 years-old, I am hard pressed to recall a very smart person bragging on how smart he or she is. These folks need not brag.

I could go on, but that will give you a sense. The title of this post depict two words that are not top of mind to me to define the US President – stable or genius.

Fantasy Headlines in 2018 (or are they?)

The following are fantasy predictions of headlines based on opinions formulated over the last few years and months from actual news stories. Will some of them come true? Who knows, but I tried to come up with a plausible forecast, recognizing I took many liberties to tell a story.

Rex Tilllerson tenders his resignation; Trump names CIA Director Mike Pompeo new State head

Damaging videotapes from “The Apprentice” are released – Blacks, Jews outraged as Trump denies authenticity, threatens lawsuit of producer

Congress, Governors condemn Trump’s racist language in Apprentice tapes

More women come forward to accuse President of sexual assault after release of tapes; Trump says all are lying

Several female GOP Senators and Congress members add their voice asking for an ethics investigation of the President

Trump attacks Collins, Murkowski, Ernst for daring to condemn him

McCain, Corker, Flake and Graham call for  ethics investigation joining growing a number of female legislators

Huckabee-Sanders tenders resignation after being unable to defend President – Sources say she was fired

Congress yields to pressure for ethics investigation of the President. President, Bannon threaten all involved

Mueller indicts Jared Kushner on collusion with Russian agents and not reporting all financial dealings with foreign interests

Trump asks Sessions to have Mueller fired, Rosenstein and Sessions refuse to do so

Trump fires Sessions, appoints Chris Christie

Christie fires Rosenstein, Senate leadership assumes Mueller investigation

Mueller indicts Trump, Jr. for lying to the FBI, Senior says he is not involved throwing son under the bus

Trump tweets reveal a totally unhinged President causing alarm to supporters

Trump’s approval rating falls beneath 30% as base shows concern and support wanes

Senate leadership pushes Trump to consider resigning – he refuses calling them cowards

Trump is indicted for obstruction of justice and collusion with Russians

Congress begins the impeachment process, Ryan and McConnell again encourage Trump’s resignation

Putin turns on Trump saying he should consider resigning

Kelly, McMaster and Mattis threaten resignation en masse unless Trump resigns

Ivanna begs father to resign to save himself, brother and husband, Trump refuses

Donald J. Trump resigns as 45th President, Pence to be sworn in

Trump base cries foul, violent protests break out. Bannon, Hannity rage

Pence names Senator Joni Ernst as Vice President in surprise move

Plea deal is revealed. Trump, Kushner, Trump, Jr. won’t face trial if Trump resigned

Pence, McConnell and Ryan ask for calm as global leaders look forward to working with Pence

Vindictive Trump appears on Hannity accusing everyone of a witch hunt and unfair treatment

Mueller arrests Trump for violating plea deal after Hannity appearance

Recalcitrant Trump is released, goes into seclusion

Democrats retake majority in House. GOP keep slim majority lead in Senate.

 

The circus is not going away

While Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey will be ceasing their circus tours ending an era, we have an even bigger circus going on in the White House. It is the new greatest show on earth, but unfortunately that is not a good thing.

Former Republican Congressman, Senator and Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen was being interviewed by the BBC earlier this week. A question was asked regarding the President’s lack of veracity with the truth. The correspondent said the world is noticing and leaders are coming to the conclusion that they cannot trust Donald Trump.

Cohen said it is more than that, as not only is it the lack of trust in Trump, he represents America, so it is our trust that is at risk. He added “the world is watching our circus.” He added when President Kennedy approached French President De Gaulle for his support in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy offered to show him pictures of the missiles. De Gaulle said he did not need to as he trusted America. Cohen did not sense Trump and America would get that level of trust.

Even Trump’s hand-picked people (Messrs. Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, Tillerson and Pence) are having to apologize for his remarks, assuage our allies and openly disagree with the President. One NATO leader asked “who speaks for America?” When our leader lies about the smallest of things to nurture his large ego and has problems with the truth on larger issues, it requires others to fill in the gaps.

Yet, this should not be a surprise as Trump has always had trouble with the truth per six authors who wrote his biographies and his best seller. It was no different during the campaign when fact checking organizations said he lied 70% of the time, by far more than any other presidential candidate since 2007 when their measuring started. This same percentage is holding steady in his Presidency per these same fact checkers.

While I am in the camp of giving him a chance, he has not been able to achieve even my low bar of expectations. A key reason is he cannot stop lying. Even during his lone speech that got accolades, he lied at least eight times. And, when caught in a lie, he doubles and triples down on the lies enlisting his staff to get the coarsest sand paper to smooth out his stories. They say he is not lying, you misunderstood him, he was speaking jokingly or did not mean to use that specific term, e.g.

Yet, when something major happens, both Americans and our allies have to be able to trust the President. Right now, the answer is they will be less inclined to do so. I have shared before I don’t believe a word the man says. If he says it, the odds are in my favor it is not true. As just one example, he said he has never met a Russian businessman who bought his house and had his plane on the same tarmac as Trump’s on two separate occasions – I don’t believe him. Now, I a may be wrong to think that, but his track record would say I’m right.

And, that is sad. We do not need a circus in the White House. We need a leader. We need someone to tell us the truth.

A quick tally

While I am all for giving our new President a chance, early indications are not very promising. Hopefully, he will learn from these lessons. If not, we will see more of his advisors apologizing for their boss, explaining he did not mean that or just offering their different opinion.

A quick tally will reveal the following record:

– He rolled out a travel ban without vetting it with Congress or leaders of departments who would oversee it. Not only was it ruled unconstitutional, it revealed chaos and incompetence, neither good traits.
– He has picked fights with Mexico, Iran, Australia, Germany, China, Sweden, France and the EU. Many of these are unforced errors.
– He has foolishly picked fights with the media and his intelligence departments.
– He has decided to invent problems with his tweets and lost precious time with his staff chasing their own tail. These are almost entirely unforced errors.
– He had to fire (or accept the resignation of) a key advisor in Michael Flynn and watch one of his cabinet nominees remove himself from consideration due to a few problematic actions that should have been discovered beforehand.

I do like a few of the cabinet members (McMaster, Mattis and Kelly, Tillerson), while a couple are poor choices (Sessions, Pruitt, DeVos, Perry)  and Bannon is just a god-awful pick in my opinion. It should be noted that Pence, Mattis, Tillerson, and Kelly each have tried to assuage world leaders that their boss really did not mean what he said and have actually openly disagreed with his pre- and post-election rhetoric.

He has been busy with executive orders that don’t do a whole lot, other than let him beat on his chest. I don’t mind reviewing regulations, which we should do routinely, but arbitrary guidelines are more symbolic. And, I like that he has met with business leaders about jobs, but his good actions are being dwarfed by these other things, not to mention his Russia problem, which may be his Waterloo.

So, my quick tally of what has transpired gives me pause. I feel in five short weeks, the world is a less safe place because of this President. And, that is not a comfortable feeling, I am hopeful the saner heads will prevail on his decision-making and tempernent.