Audacity Without the Hope

Donald Trump’s super power is being able to weather the pressures associated with presidential-sized scandals. Any one of the scandals currently facing him would have brought down an ordinary president. In his case, each one has merely confirmed Trump’s core belief that Trump needs to be more Trumpian.

Donald Trump likes to talk about winning. But his skills actually lie in being either unaware or unwilling to accept that he has lost; to put it in the parlance of the season: He repeatedly scores own goals and then cheers at the accomplishment.

People are starting to describe the family separations at the border as Trump’s Katrina. But that analogy would only hold if George W Bush had been both the hurricane itself and its failed governmental response.

Trump is both the hurricane that created the tragic scenes at the US border, and the orchestrator of what will undoubtedly be a botched attempt to right (or even acknowledge) the wrong. Which is to say: It’s a bad scandal.

The coverage of children in cages would justifiably send a normal president into political war room mode. Trump is so bored by the border that he’s spent the duration of the crisis busying himself with minor scandals like the true message behind Melania’s dress and the cleanliness of the canopies, windows, and doors at the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

A mortal celebrity like Roseanne can be taken down by one tweet. Trump regularly issues one or two equally offensive digital missives from the back of an SUV on the way to play a round of golf at one of his own courses. Scandals of that size and nature aren’t even enough to affect his putting.

As the Russian collusion and obstruction of justice vice tightens, how does Trump react? He uses Twitter to obstruct justice (or to announce that he has just obstructed justice in some other forum). When you can’t feel pain, what does it matter if its self-inflicted?

You know how you feel overwhelmed by all the news? That’s how Bob Mueller feels about examples of obstruction.

Trump set America back decades at the G-7, and he left feeling buoyed. Trump failed to prepare for the North Korea summit and then gave away a lot in exchange for nothing. He then hopped on Air Force One, certain a Nobel Prize was in his near future.

Trump’s foundation never really gave money away to anything except his own campaign. In normal times, an exposé like that could ruin a presidential term. In this presidential term, it might not be enough to merit a tweet.

What’s even more surprising than the fact that Trump has this super power is that he’s managed to surround himself with a (still unindicted) collection of minions who share his profound imperviousness to shame.

Kirstjen Nielsen openly lied about a policy that was at that very moment separating kids from their parents at the border, and then she headed out to grab dinner at a Mexican restaurant. (No one around her hinted that this might not be the best idea, but you’re the one living in a bubble…)

During a press conference Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that, “Just because you don’t see a judge doesn’t mean you don’t get due process.” And she didn’t feel the least bit conflicted — or even burst out laughing.

Scott Pruitt still has a job. Let that one soak in.

The only wall Trump has built is the one between himself and the slings and arrows of reality. But that wall is closing in. And it will ultimately come tumbling down.

The only question is which of our democratic norms are left standing when we sweep away the rubble.

That’s where your super power comes in. It’s called voting.

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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