Ok, so what’s become increasingly clear over the past 48 hours is that Donald Trump i) has no idea what he’s doing in terms of governing, and ii) only cares about himself when push comes to shove.
He didn’t take the first deal the Democrats threw at him on Wednesday because he wanted to speed relief to hurricane victims and avoid a catastrophic U.S. default. Or if he did, it wasn’t because he cared about the victims or the default. Rather, it was because he cared about what public opinion would be if he was blamed for holding up the relief effort or contributing to 11th hour brinksmanship on the debt ceiling.
And to the extent the fate of Harvey victims and markets were subjugated in his mind to his own approval ratings, the interests of his party were simply pushed aside altogether. Which apparently surprised a lot of Conservatives although I’m not sure why. Was anyone in the GOP really under the impression that Donald Trump cares one way or another about conservatism? Give me a break.
“Trump is the exact opposite of what he tries to project: The thing he cares about is what others think of him,” E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote on Thursday, maligning Trump’s schizophrenic DACA waffling. “He’ll adjust his views again and again to serve his ends as circumstances change.”
That was on full display as he punted to Congress on the fate of the Dreamers. He’ll rescind the program to pander to his base, but he’ll simultaneously say things like this on Twitter in order to appease the critics:
For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about – No action!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2017
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
It was the same thing with the debt ceiling. Here’s Dana Milbank:
House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.
After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats’ call for a three-month extension of the government’s borrowing limit was “ridiculous.”
“That’s ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment,” he repeated. He called it “unworkable,” said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what “I don’t think is a good idea.”
About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants . . . a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.
Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn’t been seen since, well, the day before.
See what’s going on here? Trump doesn’t really have an agenda beyond Trump. It’s always about what he thinks will be best for his image, although as evidenced by his frequent Twitter outbursts and impromptu press conferences on Thomas Jefferson, even that effort sometimes falls victim to the impulses of Pennywise, the racist orange clown, who lives with Steve Bannon in the back of the President’s mind.
And in case all of that wasn’t enough to convince you that Trump is someone who has no principles whatsoever, it looks like he’s getting ready to get rid of the debt ceiling altogether.
“We have great respect for the sanctity of the debt ceiling,” he told reporters while meeting today with the Emir of Kuwait. And then, in the very same breath, he said this: “There are a lot of good reasons to get rid of debt ceiling.”
That’s the same Trump, in the same conversation.
That comes just an hour after WaPo reported that the President is working with Schumer and Pelosi on a “gentleman’s agreement” to permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt limit.
“Trump and Schumer discussed the idea Wednesday during an Oval Office meeting,” the Post says, adding that “the two, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, agreed to work together over the next several months to try to finalize a plan.”
To all the GOPers out there I would ask this: how do you reconcile that with your fiscally responsible views?
Remember, this is the same Schumer and the same Pelosi about which Trump tweeted this earlier this year:
Tell us again, Mr. Trump, whose party is a “mess.”
So yeah – this man has no idea what he’s doing and no idea what he wants beyond trying to manage his reputation on the fly.
The problem for America is that this person is now in control of the country, which means policy is now a function of whatever it is that happens to be going on below that blonde beaver pelt he wears on his head.