March 22, 2018


Trump is finally getting a taste of accountability. And it's driving him nuts. (Paul Waldman, March 22, 2018, The Week)

The lesson sunk in, helping Trump to develop a willingness to go where others with some sense of propriety or ethics wouldn't dare. He could take on huge debts and then leave others holding the bag, he could skirt rules and laws whenever it suited him, he could take a wife (or two or three), cheat on her and then discard her for a younger one when he got bored, and through it all maintain his celebrity and his lifestyle. When you're a star, as he later said about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity, they let you do it.

Whenever anyone Trump had wronged tried to fight back -- a small business owner he stiffed, a woman he abused -- he had the lawyers handle it. Sometimes a threatening letter was enough to make the problem go away, or he might sue them (before running for president Trump had sued someone or been sued a mind-boggling 3,500 times). At worst he'd make a payoff, for a sum that was meaningful to his antagonist but miniscule to him, like the $130,000 paid to the porn star Stormy Daniels to allegedly cover up their affair. The routine was familiar, handled almost entirely by his underlings, and left him free to continue acting the way he always had.

Trump's ability to escape accountability reached its apotheosis with his presidential run, in which again and again he did and said things that everyone told him would destroy his campaign, but never did. Every appalling statement, every fight he picked, every person he offended -- and how he emerged unscathed every time -- reinforced the old lesson: I can get away with anything.

But then he walked into the Oval Office and found that the presidency is surrounded by layers of accountability and constraint. The courts can overrule his policy choices. Congress has to be convinced to put his preferences into law. When he does something stupid, there's a good chance that one of his own aides is going to whisper it to a reporter. In just the latest example, on Tuesday Trump was handed briefing materials by his national security staff in preparation for a phone call with Vladimir Putin, on which the words "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" were written in all caps, lest Trump seem to validate Putin's corrupt election win. Naturally, Trump proceeded to congratulate Putin, and by the next day the story was in The Washington Post, making him look like a fool, a Putin lackey, and someone who gets treated like a child by his own staff.

Meanwhile, he's getting sued by multiple women over sexual misconduct, and worst of all is that diabolical Robert Mueller. Someone who doesn't care when Trump insults him, who can't be threatened or intimidated or sued or bought off, and who has the temerity to demand that Trump answer questions and turn over documents. Just who the hell does this guy think he is?

One gets the impression that what galls Trump the most isn't that Mueller is running a "witch hunt" trying to uncover evidence of wrongdoing when Trump's behavior was obviously above reproach. It's that Mueller just keeps going, turning former Trump associates, handing down indictments, and getting answers to his questions. 

Posted by at March 22, 2018 2:07 PM