Trump Bumbles His Way to Malevolence

One movie line that I keep seeing as a way of defining the nihilistic, ego-driven politics of Donald Trump is from The Dark Knight, when Alfred says to Bruce Wayne, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." But I'd go with a different line from the same movie, when the Joker, dressed in a nurse's outfit, says to a maimed Harvey Dent, "Do I really look like a guy with a plan?"

There are a lot of things you can say against the administration of George W. Bush, and we should never forget them. We should never forget that they lied us into war. We should never forget the utter failure of the federal government to help Americans after Hurricane Katrina. We should never forget the policies that brought us to the brink of financial ruin. As terrible as Donald Trump is, let us not lose sight of how catastrophic Bush was.

If nothing else, though, you could say that the Bush administration was operating under a coherent ideology. It might have been a worthless, corrupt, and utterly false ideology. But there were guiding principles - the spread of democracy, trickle-down economics, and privatization of the government. The actions of President Bush did damage to the nation that will likely take generations to recover from. Still, you can't fault him for not having a philosophy of governance (or at least Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, et al had a philosophy and Bush just went along for the ride).

As Trump bumbles along, lost in his dementia cloud, blown aloft by yes-men and yes-women, he is simply going with his gut, not caring who he angers or betrays or offends, thinking that his every action must be innately awesome because he has been told, unendingly, that he is awesome. His gut, he told his slavering idiot hordes, made him a rich man (ignoring that having a rich father made him a rich man). And those hordes believed him and most still believe him to this day.

But going with your gut is not a plan. There is no control. There is no grand ideology. There is merely Trump. And, obviously, whatever Trump thinks in the moment is correct and, if you're in his administration, you agree and support it or you're gone. Yet, perhaps for the first time in his life, Trump is facing an opposing force that doesn't leap at his whims. And he's so dumb that he probably really thought that the president is like a CEO.

The pattern of Trump's capricious actions in the first part of his presidency is pretty consistent: What will make him look good in the moment? Got the Chinese president at your party house for dinner? Brag about bombing Syria over dessert. Hanging out with a pair of Russian officials? Show that you have the best intelligence (even if it's actually Israeli intelligence), secrecy, classification, and identity of the source be damned. It was the pathetic action of a man who could never make his father proud (if we're opening the nickel-therapy booth here).

As for his behavior with former FBI director James Comey, it now seems likely that Trump fired Comey because he felt chastened when Comey wouldn't give in to his good-buddy cajoling and lay off Michael Flynn. Trump doesn't like to be denied and doesn't like to lose control. And he had with Flynn and the Russia investigation.

The only thing working in Trump's favor right now is that Republicans aren't scared enough to care enough to act on all this. Oh, they make little noises about caring, but mostly, Trump has a party of willfully blind parasites that won't check or balance him. It's depressing because we don't expect anything more from Republicans. We knew they were going to catch Trump and push him back up like a group of Pizza Hut employees on a forced team-building exercise of trust falls.

We are in a pattern right now where each day will bring a new revelation of some new action by Trump that pushes into impeachable, if not traitorous, behavior. Each day we await some Republican to take the key that they have to unlock their handcuffs and do something about it. We can't take it. As a nation, as individuals, as communities, this is taking a terrible toll on us. It's like we're in some cruel psychological experiment where we see how much crisis we can take before we break.

There is no plan. There is no ideology. Trump's utter incompetence and unabashed ignorance is a kind of malevolence, especially if it's aided by a congress of co-conspirators who do, in fact, know better.

(Wouldn't it be crazy if Jason Chaffetz actually becomes the hero here on his way out to the big Fox money?)