This, dear President, is what happens when you try to bully the free press…
Excerpts from a longer piece by Maureen Dowd for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump was promising to destroy a vile criminal cartel.
Unfortunately, not his own.
But one could be forgiven for mistaking the vicious tactics of the MS-13 gang, as described by the president in a Long Island speech on Friday, with those of the Trump White House.
“They don’t like shooting people because it’s too quick, it’s too fast,” Trump said, adding: “They like to knife them and cut them, and let them die slowly because that way, it’s more painful, and they enjoy watching that much more. These are animals.”
The president could have been describing his own sadistic assault on Jeff Sessions, “as flies to wanton boys,” as Shakespeare said. Trump turned Sessions — with all his backward views on gays, drugs and criminal justice — into an unlikely hero for lawmakers from both parties who began hailing him as a crown jewel of American jurisprudence.
In his speech, Trump encouraged police brutality and said he was “the big, big believer and admirer of the people in law enforcement, O.K.?” He said that he’s protecting the backs of law enforcement “100 percent.” Except for Sessions, Sally Yates, Preet Bharara and Robert Mueller.
As two people close to Trump told The Times’s Maggie Haberman when asked why he was tormenting Sessions instead of firing him: Because he can.
The dark pandemonium of the Trump West Wing has become a wormy scene worthy of Hieronymus Bosch. As Trump Fox News cheerleader Katrina Pierson likes to say, “People have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Trump unleashed his Mini-Me pit bull Anthony Scaramucci to maul Priebus, and The Mooch cast himself as Cain to Priebus’s Abel, eviscerating him in a lewd rant to, of all places, The New Yorker. Then Trump delivered the coup de graceless Friday evening, tweeting from Air Force One as Priebus deplaned that he was replacing the chief of staff with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Trump is trapped in a caricature of masculinity that corrodes his judgment. As red meat for his base, he tweeted that after consulting his generals he was banning transgenders from the military. But his defense secretary, James Mattis, and generals quickly pushed back on the idea.
But after all his bragging about being a great negotiator and closer, it is President Trump who can’t get it done. Trump can’t get it done for his pal, Putin, either. In fact, the biggest legislative accomplishment before Congress leaves for August will have been passing new sanctions on Russia because lawmakers don’t trust their own president. Talk about weak.
Congressional Republicans are losing their fear of Trump, making ever more snarky comments about him. North Korea is shooting off missiles and the White House is flustered. The generals are resisting Trump’s tweet edicts. The mortified leader of the Boy Scouts had to apologize for the president’s suggestive and partisan speech.
And what could be weaker than that?