It’s hard to believe, but the evidence is overwhelming: no one in Donald Trump’s White House is politically competent.
We knew Trump’s menagerie didn’t know spit about governing or policy. We knew they considered ethics a joke. (Senior Administration officials refused the orientation/training routinely offered by the Office of Government Ethics.) But even acknowledging the cringingly inept performances of Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, no one could have anticipated the level of abject cluelessness revealed by the firing of James Comey.
Perhaps the Washington Post said it best:
Donald Trump has surrounded himself with sycophants and amateurs who are either unwilling or unable to tell him no. He lacks a David Gergen-like figure who is wise to the ways of Washington and has the stature to speak up when the president says he wants to fire an FBI director who is overseeing the counterintelligence investigation into whether his associates coordinated with Moscow. Without such a person, Trump just walked headlong into a political buzz saw.
Senior officials at the White House were caught off guard by the intense and immediate blowback to the president’s stunning decision to fire James Comey. They reportedly expected Republicans to back him up and thought Democrats wouldn’t complain loudly because they have been critical of Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Indeed, that was the dubious excuse given publicly for his ouster.
“Caught off guard”? Really? How utterly devoid of political savvy–not to mention operating brain cells– would you have to be in order to be surprised by the public reaction to so clumsy and obvious an attempt to derail an investigation likely to uncover serious criminal conduct?
Did the geniuses advising our embarrassment of a President really think the American public, the media and the political establishment would believe that Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email was the reason he was terminated?
The word “Nixonian” has been tossed around, but really, Nixon and his co-conspirators were far less naive than the sorry collection of white supremacists, consiglieres, and know-nothings that form Donald Trump’s inner–and only– circle.
Media outlets report that grand jury subpoenas were recently issued to associates of Michael Flynn, and that Comey had requested additional resources for the investigation of Trump and Company’s ties to Russia. These events, and the damning testimonies of Sally Yates and James Clapper earlier this week, evidently sent the White House into panic mode.
Whatever the calculation (assuming anyone in that den of ineptitude is actually capable of calculating), the President has placed Congressional Republicans firmly between a rock and a hard place. During Watergate, a not inconsiderable number of Republicans put nation above party. American politics is much more polarized now–and we have fewer statesmen and more ideologues in both parties–but I have to believe that the combination of public outrage, Trump’s blatant corruption, and fear of what might happen in the 2018 elections will persuade at least some in the GOP to do the right thing.
Frank Rich wrote an article titled “The Comey Firing May Be the Beginning of the End of the Trump Administration.” It should be read in its entirety, but here’s a taste:
A White House gang this insular, this politically naïve, and this transparent in its maladroit efforts at deflection and deception is a gang that can’t shoot straight. No one in the West Wing apparently even considered that it might look bad to time this debacle on the eve of a day when Trump’s only scheduled official event was an Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. No doubt these same brilliant masterminds now think that Washington will go back to business as usual.
If the public outrage that greeted Comey’s firing is any indication, America will not go back to “business as usual” until a special prosecutor issues a comprehensive report.