Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trump the Unqualified Autocrat

Susan Glasser at Politico has written a terrifying summary of Trump's first year of, to put it mildly, lacking foreign diplomacy skills.

To give you an idea, here Glasser is referencing a September 2017 dinner among Trump and leaders of four Latin American countries (emphasis added):

"After the photo op was over and the cameras had left the room, Trump dominated the long table. His vice president, Mike Pence, was to his right; Pence had just spent nearly a week on a conciliatory, well-received tour of the region, the first by a high-ranking administration official since Trump’s inauguration. To Trump’s left was his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. 'Rex tells me you don’t want me to use the military option in Venezuela,' the president told the gathered Latin American leaders, according to an account offered by an attendee soon after the dinner. 'Is that right? Are you sure?' Everyone said they were sure. But they were rattled. War with Venezuela, as absurd as that seemed, was clearly still on Trump’s mind.

 By the time the dinner was over, the leaders were in shock, and not just over the idle talk of armed conflict. No matter how prepared they were, eight months into an American presidency like no other, this was somehow not what they expected. A former senior U.S. official with whom I spoke was briefed by ministers from three of the four countries that attended the dinner. 'Without fail, they just had wide eyes about the entire engagement,' the former official told me. Even if few took his martial bluster about Venezuela seriously, Trump struck them as uninformed about their issues and dangerously unpredictable, asking them to expend political capital on behalf of a U.S. that no longer seemed a reliable partner. 'The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’”"
The portrait painted here is that Trump is, at best, an incompetent front man (as some of his Republican "reassurers" suggest) while more level-headed folks actually run the show and, at worst, he's an incompetent autocrat who can't actually be controlled.

I think it's the latter.

Trump has given no indication that he has even a rudimentary understanding of the US political system or that he is aware of, let alone would respect, checks and balances. I doubt he could even pass a citizenship test. Per former State Department employees, he also rejects expertise in the arena of foreign diplomacy, per Glasser's account, and instead demands that policy be set by his own ignorant "instinct" and/or according to what Presidents Obama and Bush had previously done (in which case he does the opposite).

All of this is likely how he ran his businesses: petty, abusive, unqualified, self-obsessed, imbued with toxic masculinity.

We are in trouble. We may not (at least obviously) see the effects of this dangerous incompetence immediately, but one day, we will. And, his Republican Party, which controls Congress yet heartlessly and recklessly fails to take meaningful action to oppose or remove him, has full complicity.

Who could have predicted that Trump would see the "nuclear button" as an extension of his white dick? (Everyone. Literally everyone. Except, I guess, The New York Times which is super impressed by his Twitter usage).

Don't forget, folks: All of this, or a woman! 

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