Week #34 begins with Trump angry about losing the headlines to yet another Hurricane, so he took to starting a war with his own political party to get some ink, and publicly flip-flopping on several major issues.
Not only Hurricanes Harvey and Irma upstaged him, but another headline-stealing natural disaster occurred in Mexico when a magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck the Pacific coast not far from Mexico City. Trump was so angry it took him 5 days to acknowledge Mexico’s pain and loss of life.
Hurricane Irma devastated Florida, just about wiping out the Florida Keys and flooding city after city, leaving 6 million people without electricity and countless homes and businesses severely damaged or destroyed. 30 people died, including 8 seniors stranded in a nursing home, but the president chose not to mention them or their bereaved families, instead saying “so few lives were lost” and gushing about how happy he was to be there.
He did have praise for Governor Scott, then bizarrely touted the US Coast Guard’s “brand” going up in value, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
To be fair, Trump has not been a disaster in dealing with natural disasters, and the federal response from FEMA and other Federal Agencies is automatic and working well in the stricken areas all over the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. Not interfering in the process made him look almost presidential, and so did backing off his blackmail demands to tie getting his border wall funding to his approval of disaster relief funds. That didn’t last very long.
On Wednesday, 28 year-old former teen model and Trump’s long-time “personal assistant”, Hope Hicks, was officially made the new (!) White House Communications Director. It’s unclear how personal was her assistance while at the Trump Organization, or what abilities she possesses that would make up for having very little experience for one of the most complex, sensitive and influential positions in the world.
Ms. Hicks was described by the New York Times during the 2016 campaign as “… a near-constant presence by Mr. Trump’s side, flying in his jet, living rent-free in a Trump-owned apartment.”
While that sounds pretty obvious who she is and what was her role in Trump’s life, she did train at a top PR firm before joining The Trump Organization in 2014, and is descended from two generations of public relations titans of the industry, so let’s not rush to judgment of this conniving strumpet just yet.
The president also announced his tax reform bill would be unveiled within a month, urging Congress to “move fast,” in spite of the fact that it has not been written yet, and Republicans were gouging each others’ eyes out as well as warring with Trump over his reaching out to Democrats.
The president had dinner with the Democratic Senate and House leadership, where a deal was struck to save the 800,000 Dreamer immigrants from deportation and provide them a path to citizenship, with Trump agreeing to (!) abandon building his precious wall in exchange for heightened border security.
This sounded too good to be true because it was too good to be true, since Trump immediately reneged on his end of the deal with the Democrats via Twitter, only hours after they announced it.
He seemed to have bowed to the will of his Republican Congressional majority when they threatened mutiny over the president colluding with Democrats, but he flip-flopped yet again on Thursday, once again supporting the deal he had made with the Democrats.
While he was busy reversing himself, he also revisited his spirited defense of White Supremacists, once again assigning equal blame to Nazis and those who oppose Nazis.
Between humiliating House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell and whittling his inner circle down to cronies and family, Trump is alienating both sides of the aisle, even after the Senate voted to let him keep the same broad war-making powers stemming from the 9/11 attacks that led to a president singlehandedly invading the wrong country (okay, technically it was a Vice President, but Bush’s name was on the door).
Trump also infuriated the lone Black Republican Senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, who gave Trump a stiff public rebuke over his White Supremacist-pandering speech about the conflicts in Charlottesville, Virginia, possibly triggering Trump’s doubling down on his Nazi defense.
Or maybe he did that to throw a bone to his racist supporters to quell their fury over the loss of their beloved border wall, or he was just mentally unraveling under the twin pressures of the presidency and the specter of multiple criminal investigations aimed at Trump and his entire administration. Hard to say what motivates a madman.
Trump needs Republicans to enforce his edicts, and they need him to sign off on their slash and burn agenda, but he also needs Democrats since they’re the only ones who still know how to craft workable legislation. Both sides are also very aware that Trump just might throw them under the bus at a moment’s notice, or reverse positions on any issue at any time. Who knew this could be so complicated?