President Trump, Episodes 419 & 420: Macabre / McCabe

Part of writing opinionated political and market commentary on a daily basis is feigning surprise, anger, joy, vindication, incredulity, etc. etc. at whatever the biggest news story of the day happens to be.

That’s not difficult in the Donald Trump era. Just about everything he does is some semblance of extraordinary (and do note that “extraordinary” need not always have a positive connotation).

So on Saturday, I guess my penchant for consistently decrying Trump’s increasingly autocratic tendencies demands that I feign outrage and tell you about how the move to fire Andrew McCabe is a threat to America’s democracy.


But as I noted on the Heisenberg Report’s rather profane Twitter feed, I’d be lying to you if I said my first reaction late Friday evening when Jeff Sessions rejected an appeal that would have allowed the former FBI deputy director to retire this weekend wasn’t to laugh. And I laughed even harder when Trump tweeted this at eight past midnight:

Make no mistake, this is outrageous and anyone who reads these pages on a regular basis knows how I feel about the McCabe situation (McCabe archive is here) and about the President’s effort to commandeer the nation’s law enforcement apparatus more generally.

But watching Trump’s ongoing trials and tribulations as he tries to figure out how to “win” at being President is funny – and I’m not going to try and pretend like it’s not.

And yes, it’s easy for me to laugh at it because barring a situation where he actually tosses the nuclear football, the chances that anything he does will ever affect me personally are basically zero. So if I’m being completely honest, writing as I am from a literal island and having very little in the way of actual human contact on a daily basis, this is just a TV show with a comically absurd plot: Donald Trump wins the American presidency helped by Russians.

When that’s the premise, the possibilities are endless and not only is there a new episode every day, we get a real-time look into what the main character is thinking via his Twitter feed.

As far as the actual reasoning behind the McCabe firing goes, it’s painfully obvious and just like a TV show, everyone watching it knows what’s going on. You can read McCabe’s statement for yourself, but clearly Trump is just trying to undercut the Mueller probe and with McCabe he saw an opportunity to advance that effort while simultaneously stripping a career civil servant of his benefits, a testament to the President’s penchant for puerility and spite.

Jeff Sessions was caught between a rock and a hard place. Either he fired McCabe or risked being fired himself. Again, it’s just like a damn TV show. Sessions is one of those characters who you’re supposed to hate initially, but over the course of the series, he becomes torn, thus eliciting some begrudging sympathy from viewers. He’s then submitted to a series of tests that finds him struggling to decide whether to take a stand. He knows that taking that stand might effectively redeem him for a career spent doing all sorts of seemingly irredeemable things, but at the same time, he also knows that standing up for what he knows is right will lead directly to his own near-term political demise. Like any good TV show, that subplot hasn’t yet resolved itself, so we’ll all have to stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to fight a war the audience knows he won’t ultimately win. He’s facing his own impossible choice: take increasingly desperate measures to fend off the inevitable even as each measure taken digs a deeper hole or sit idly by as the walls close in.

The move against McCabe engenders further ill-will in the law enforcement and intelligence communities and virtually ensures that Trump will be figuratively crucified by both. Here’s what John Brennan said (read: warned) on Twitter this morning:

Like most popular TV shows, everyone has a pretty good idea how the final episode will play out. We all know how this ultimately ends.

But that’s not why we watch.

We watch to see what happens in between. The McCabe firing was enough to fill up Friday and Saturday’s episodes. You can believe Trump is working on Sunday and Monday at this very moment.

Stay tuned – “the ratings will be tremendous.”


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7 thoughts on “President Trump, Episodes 419 & 420: Macabre / McCabe

  1. ” he also knows that standing up for what he knows is right will lead directly to his own near-term political demise.” And what does Sessions think he has to gain by firing McCabe on behalf of President Dennison, instead of quitting? Is it possible that Sessions did it because he knows this firing will end up turning every FBI employee (the few who hadn’t already turned) against the Donald, and thereby get back at him for the “Magoo” insult? Or am I giving too much credit?

    1. I think too much credit given, AI. Sessions seems to be reveling in bringing his vision of “American law & order” to the land of the free, home of the brave. Like russlin’ up some immigrants and chastising liberal governors and mayors along the way. He’s doing the work he was ordained by god to do, even if his boss is making it difficult for him.

  2. We all know how this movie SHOULD end, but we don’t know if it will actually end that way. We are in uncharted waters: An unpredictable, narcisstic, sociopath President facing criminal prosecution, who is commander in chief of the most powerful military power in the history of world. A man unconstrained by truth or consequences, abetted by and allied with a hostile foreign dictator and his billionaire oligarchs. Trump’s removal of rational members of Trump’s cabinet, and replacing them with lunatic sycophants is one indication of where this going. I can’t predict the exact timing, but I am quite sure the Trump card will be played before November 2018. It will likely involve a manufactured “National Miltary Emergency” to justify ending the Mueller probe, with Iran and Assad as the designated villains. Trump has nothing to lose. There will be blood.

  3. It was actually the smart move if anyone cares about the prosecutions associated with the investigations into Trump et al. If that has to be explained, then people need to think a little harder about it.

  4. “Time,” is the great leveler here.

    The time between now and november 6. The time between now and Trump’s failure to appear for his interview with Mueller. The time between now and the time that Trump, Jr., Ivanka and Kushner and Hicks are interviewed or subpeoaned before a grand jury.

    The time between now and when any one, some or all of these people are indicted by a Federal and or NY grand jury: Sessions, Trump, Jr., Ivanka and Kushner are interviewed or subpeoaned before a grand jury.

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