WASHINGTON – Donald Trump had his worst day since he was elected president – we’ll just call it Friday – and his worst week since the last one.
Things can only get worser and worser, as the Bard would permit me to say.
Let’s start with the vote-a-rama and the “skinny repeal,” which puts me in mind of a state fair ride and placing an order at Starbucks.
I’d like a skinny repeal, please – venti, with mocha.
As all know by now, Sen. John McCain didn’t get the skinny on repeal and shocked the chamber by voting no with a thumbs-down. Not even with a Republican majority could Trump dump Obamacare in its slimmest version yet. McCain, who postponed treatment for aggressive brain cancer and flew to Washington to cast his vote, joined fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, as well as all the Democratic members, to put the kibosh on any real hope of repeal this year, much less replace.
In most ways, McCain’s seemingly last-minute maneuver should have surprised no one. Always the maverick, McCain, who has defied death before, is no one’s wingman. If he thought this vote might be his last stand in the arena, he would make it worthwhile and memorable.
Back at the Ponderosa, Trump at least had a soul mate in whom to confide, Anthony Scaramucci, the White House’s new communications director. “Mooch” or “Mini-me” to Washington insiders, Scaramucci is Trump’s knee-capper. Good cop, meet seriously bad cop.
Scaramucci is the personification of Trump’s deep brain. To the extent that the president ever withholds a thought, Scaramucci is there to express it for him. He’s his human Twitter feed. Thus, we may assume that what Scaramucci says, Trump thinks. Thanks to The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, we’re privy to enough premium quotes to entertain ourselves for months.
As you may have heard, Scaramucci called Lizza Wednesday in a rage over his “leaked” financial records and Lizza’s reporting of an intimate Trump dinner to include Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who, sources say, told Trump that then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was a leaker. When Scaramucci demanded that Lizza divulge his source, Lizza, a polite, erudite fellow, declined and did what reporters sometimes do: He taped the conversation, capturing a hailstorm of profane tirades against leakers and, specifically, Priebus – “a [expletive] paranoid schizophrenic.” By late Friday afternoon, Priebus was out of a job, with Trump tweeting that he was replacing him with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
Next, we visit El Salvador, where, strangely, we find Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We know Trump wants to get rid of Sessions, but sending him into the maw of the beastly MS-13 gang seems excessively aggressive even for this president. While Poor Sessions (see previous column) was practicing Spanish for “I have nothing against tattoos, but seriously?,” Trump was making a play in Ohio for tighter immigration by focusing on the gang’s murderous record.
And, lest we ignore the gold coin Trump magically pulled from his ear, the president randomly ordered transgender people out of the military. What, no women bleeding this week?
Health care, schmealth care, in other words. As buffer to the inevitable, Trump made sure to create a little sidebar drama – expelling thugs and transgender people, rooting out leakers and traitors, and threatening to fire anyone who says Russia in his presence.
So many shiny objects, so few left to fool.
A few Trump loyalists may wait for the last lifeboat, but it’s only a matter of time before this administration capsizes, titanically. Trump’s first-year agenda is DOA along with health care reform. Going after Sessions has hurt him with conservatives. His chaotic White House operation is a constant reminder that no one’s in charge. The cumulative effect of all of these affronts to normalcy, decorum and democracy is to reveal the profile of a deadly iceberg off the ship of state’s bow.
Light shifts to a small lifeboat off in the distance. Rowing slowly is an old man whose posture betrays a straight spine despite obvious injury to his arms and shoulders. A smile creases his face as moonlight catches a twinkle in his eye. A deep scar above it imitates a wryly arched brow. He chuckles at the memory of Trump saying he was a war hero only because he was captured and turns to make yet another final gesture.
This time, he doesn’t use his thumb.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.