The Trump White House is imploding.
The only real thing to debate in that sentence is the tense. “Has imploded” is certainly arguable. Still, as the events of the past few days have shown, implosion, in politics as in physics, is not a moment but a process. The damage continues. It builds on itself as the edifice collapses.
The temptation, of course, is to begin with Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and his profane rant against former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
But the more powerful, more ominous evidence of implosion and its consequences is found in the collapse of congressional efforts to repeal/replace/do something, anything, with the Republican Party’s chief nemesis over the past seven years: the Affordable Care Act.
Who could have imagined, on the day after the election, or even on Inauguration Day, that this would end so ignominiously?
You might be asking why the Senate’s failure to move repeal forward, by a single vote in the early morning hours, signifies presidential weakness.
[It] is evidence, in part, of the unavoidable complexities of health-care reform and the ideological schisms within the party.
But it also illustrates a truism of modern American politics: Moving forward with a complicated or ambitious legislative agenda requires the propulsive force of presidential leadership. Troops do not perform effectively without a general at the helm, a leader they both respect and fear.
A master legislative tactician such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can get you only so far; the rules of the Senate make it easier for McConnell to block (see, for example, the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland) than to enact. A president distracted by infighting, inattentive to detail and sagging in the polls can announce all he wants that “I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand.” No wobbly lawmaker is going to rally to that cry.
While health-care reform fizzled, Trump burned. First over his “weak” and “beleaguered” attorney general, then over the hapless, doomed-from-the-start Priebus. Will the president’s new choice for chief of staff, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, fare much better? Don’t count on it.
Daily, the president’s boundless anger seems to find a new target: He is variously unhappy with his lawyer/his strategist/his press secretary.
There is always someone else for Trump to blame, never himself.
Every new White House has its rocky moments and personnel readjustments, some more than others. Every White House suffers from factionalism and infighting, to some degree. But Washington and the country have never seen anything like this.
The truest — and scariest thing — that Scaramucci said on CNN was that “there are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president.”
At this point, the remaining mystery is how, when and how badly this disaster of a presidency will end.