As you may have heard, soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump is very bad at being president.
Technically, that’s still just an opinion, but it’s edging ever-closer to becoming an indisputable fact.
We learned this week that Trump managed to blab classified information to Russian diplomats during a jovial Oval Office meeting that was closed to everyone except a Russian media outlet. The sensitive intelligence that was shared reportedly came from Israel and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “was meant for US eyes only and was provided as part of a longstanding sharing agreement that is predicated on mutual assurances of secrecy.”
That bonfire of Trump’s vanity was swiftly swept aside by a New York Times report — later confirmed by multiple news organizations — saying that recently fired FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo following a meeting with Trump that details the president asking him to end an investigation into former National Security Adviser and noted Russian money enthusiast Michael Flynn.
Interfering with an FBI investigation is what brought down President Richard Nixon, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Democrats and even a few Republicans tossing around words like impeachment and Watergate.
Trump is scheduled to take off Friday on his first international trip as president, but that will come under a sun-eclipsing cloud of scandals. He may be the first American president to head overseas with people at home wondering whether he’ll come back voluntarily or be extradited.
The problem here is not, as some Trump loyalist might suggest, the “fake news” media or the intelligence community or a conspiratorial “deep state” or chemtrails or fluoride in the water.
The problem is that Trump is very bad at being president. It’s as if hiring an over-glorified realtor to do a president’s job may not have been America’s best idea, historically speaking.
While attempting to defend Trump’s leak of sensitive information during the meeting with Russian officials, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said there was no way the president jeopardized national security because: “The president wasn’t even aware of where this information came from.”
That’s reassuring. Kind of like when someone from the gas company says your house won’t blow up because he has no idea where the gas leak is coming from.
Trump doesn’t seem to grasp how government works or seem the least bit interested in figuring it out. People tell him the kind of big, important things presidents get told, then he turns around and tells someone else because it makes him sound impressive and in the know.
He allegedly asks the head of the FBI to stop investigating potentially treasonous behavior by one of his buddies and doesn’t grasp why that’s: wrong; dangerous; probably obstruction of justice; and quite possibly the kind of thing that gets presidents impeached.
He thinks he’s fully in charge, the boss of America. But the judicial system and Congress have both knocked him back. The people refuse to love him and the media refuse to do his bidding.
This is all proving too complicated for a clearly confused 70-year-old whose main claim to fame is yelling “You’re fired!” at washed-up celebrities and other attention-seeking reality television contestants.
But while Trump might spill classified information to foreign powers, he’s never going to admit he’s in over his head. Everything will remain perfect and hugely successful and amazingly wonderful, and any criticisms will be lies from haters and losers and people who he’ll suggest better watch their backs.
Trump has masterfully turned the presidency into a gripping reality television show, because I think that’s all he knows. He can stir, he can inflame, he can outrage. He can boast and lie and be larger than life in a way that belies his incredible smallness.
But he’s bad at being president. And he can’t change.
The week isn’t over yet and there’s already talk of impeachment. There are already Republicans running scared and donors jumping ship and grand plans for tax cuts and deregulation and giant walls lost in a swirl of dumb tweets and dumb and dangerous comments.
Should the most drastic step be taken, the only thing I’d recommend we do for this president who doesn’t understand the presidency is not call it an impeachment proceeding.
Let’s call it a “You’re fired! proceeding.” That might help him understand.
By Rex Huppke
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. -- Ed.
(Tribune Content Agency)