Wednesday evening, after a round of the familiar, incoherent “Do this or I’ll shoot my own dick off” bluster and 10-miles-from-the-brinkmanship, the White House quietly signaled it would continue making insurance subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act, to avoid a government shutdown.
The same evening, after whole actual years spent calling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a disastrously bad deal (it is one!), two years of promises to withdraw from it before his 100th day in office, and all of maybe a couple hours’ worth of meetings with officials who’d like to see the trade agreement preserved, Donald Trump folded up like a beach umbrella and announced that, hey, actually, NAFTA is pretty good. You see, he is “a nationalist and a globalist,” now.
Last night, despite pressure from the White House to force a(n asinine, suicidal) last-minute vote on the GOP’s radioactive Obamacare rewrite, House Republicans spiked the effort back in Trump’s face, preferring not to sacrifice their jobs so that the least popular president in modern history can blame them for his own unbroken record of embarrassing failures.
Earlier this week, a California* district judge blocked part of Trump’s executive order stripping federal funding from cities that limit their cooperation with his crackdown on immigration. This is at least the third and probably more like the sixth (who can keep track?) time Trump has been sonned by a federal court. He responded, of course, with an impotent Twitter rant and then a threat to break up the Ninth Circuit. Who wants to make a bet on how that effort will go?
That’s just this week, and probably not even all of this week. An automated Trump Administration Failure Tracker would overload the world’s data-processing capacity. All he does is take Ls. The failing president Trump accomplished nothing in his first hundred days, and has to take beatings on all his campaign promises just to keep the government’s lights on! Sad! Loser!
The barest, bleakest consolation of Donald fucking Trump being elected president of the United States was that, yes, he is a spastic, Uristat-suppurating totalitarian anus with half the wit of a can of Spam and none of the dynamism, but at least there might be an electric nihilist thrill in seeing him bring his pro-wrestling heel act to the fusty business of governing. Even on the delivery of this, he has failed. His presidency, as spectacle, as TV, is flaccid and dismally repetitive. Decreasingly ambitious promises are followed by instantaneous withdrawal at the first sign of opposition, then by petulant lashing-out at Democrats or conservatives or CNN or the New York Times, then by a mewling, self-pitying interview with an organ of the very media he pretends to despise, then by a shuffling of the craven frauds and stooges with whom he surrounds himself, then by a round of deeply embarrassing senile-old-granddad boasting about the scope of his electoral college victory to fluff himself up for the next iteration. And again. Murder She Wrote was less formulaic than this.
The one thing Trump ever had going for him that wasn’t gifted to him by his daddy was a reef fish’s reflexes in pursuit of the next news cycle; for decades, each latest stunt or tabloid item or bankruptcy that swiveled the public’s attention his way was leveraged, nigh-instantaneously, for the purchase of the next one. This is how he made himself, if not richer or more successful in business—he was born the former and is not by any meaningful measure the latter—then at least extremely famous. In the campaign, those basic and finely honed attention-seeking reflexes helped him crush the scattered field of GOP candidates and—give or take a few lucky breaks, a failing civil society that has cast tens of millions of frustrated people completely adrift, and a world-historically unloveable opponent who campaigned on the abundantly false notion that everything’s already super duper awesome thanks to our meritocrat overlords—helped make him president.
The bright irony is that now that he’s in the Oval Office, those reflexes do him no good: Literally everything he does commands more media attention than anything from the first seven decades of his life. But he has no other moves; of course he doesn’t. He’s globally incompetent, cripplingly ignorant, and profoundly stupid, a paranoid, doddering old shit-for-brains passing out framed printouts of the electoral map like Werther’s Originals and calling up his air-headed dilettante son-in-law to come over and get the dang VCR working. Hey, hey you guys, hey, remember last November? Gosh, what a time.
Nova Smoked King Lear is the president of the United States. He can do nothing; he just loses and loses. It’s dysfunctional politics, of course, but that’s hardly new; Dysfunctional Politics has been in syndication longer than anyone now reading this has been alive. What else is on?