|MARK MAKELA / REUTERS|
Donald Trump's presidency by tweet is crumbling. The preening grifter is barely coherent, wracked by paranoia and in a full-blown panic after suffering stinging defeats in the midterm elections and in the courts, including stern dressings down by the chief justice and some of the very judges he appointed. The Russia scandal investigation is steaming ahead and in a mere five weeks, a Blue Wave will engulf the White House as Democrats launch investigations into the capo di tutti capi's tax returns, shady financial dealings, hush money payments to mistresses, guns-for-oil foreign policy, and much more.
His post-midterm election behavior is that of a beast cornered.
He fired Jeff Sessions and hired Matthew Whitaker. He tried to ban a CNN correspondent from the White House but lost in court. He skipped a visit to a military cemetery in France. He criticized the admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He reveled in climate change denial while floating bizarre theories for the California wildfires. He issued a bewilderingly incoherent statement chockablock with exclamation marks questioning the CIA's conclusion that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the death of WaPo columnist Jamal Khashoggi. He wanted the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. And in a political stunt that has backfired badly, he authorized troops on the U.S.-Mexico border to use "lethal force" against a migrant caravan. U.S agents later fired tear gas across the boarder at approaching asylum seekers. You know, the barefooted women and diapered children who are the"criminals" and "gang members" Trump is trying to keep out of the former Land of the Free.
So are we there yet? No.
As long as Mitch McConnell slithers unimpeded through the Capitol and the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts's scolding aside, gives Trump a pass as the lower court injunctions on his more draconian policies are heard, the nightmare he has visited on America will continue.
But there is hope here as well. McConnell's caucus may fray around the edges as Democratic investigations get traction and the secrets hidden in Trump's tax returns are bared, while it is my belief that even with party boy Brett Kavanaugh on the high court, and even if the court's so-called independence is pretty much a mirage, it will rule against Trump's contention that executive privilege neuters constitutional protections.
An astounding 40-plus court rulings have gone against Trump. Besides which, kidnapping migrant children and putting them in prison camps just isn't playing well with many of the men and women in black robes.
Trump may have told over 6,400 lies in the last 22 months, but here's the truth: He's scared shitless as a lifetime of sins and a presidency built on deceit crashes down on him. Oh, and keeping that base energized while reverse engineering his own and other autocrats' lies -- notably Vladimir Putin, Mohammed bin Salman and Kim Jong Un -- remains reflexive but has become downright exhausting.
Nothing has Trump more frightened than Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
Mueller may be close to unsealing a long-expected round of indictments against more Russia scandal witches (he's bagged 35 to date) and reaching ever deeper into what remains of the president's inner circle. Considering all the bad actors in the scandal, as well as associated with Trump's myriad financial intrigues, the indictment list might be longer, but the special counsel and other federal prosecutors have flipped some seriously major horsepower.
They include Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime lawyer-fixer; Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, his former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager; Michael Flynn, his disgraced national security adviser; Felix Sater, his partner in dodgy real estate deals, and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer.
"Cohen may know where the bodies are buried," notes one pundit, "But Weisselberg buried them."
When Trump backed into his improbable presidency with an assist from Putin's cyberwarriors, the right-wing noise machine, a feckless mainstream media that allowed Trump to repeatedly jerk its chain and an archaic Electoral College, he was making a bad situation worse. Bipartisanship had ceased to exist after eight years of relentless Republican attacks on Barack Obama, and the pernicious effects of big money on politics were everywhere. Trump's brand of "governing" by fear and fiat was perfect for the swamp he promised to drain and instead has filled to overflowing.
This makes a recently-introduced criminal justice bill that reforms draconian drug sentencing laws such a rarity because it has brought together the American Civil Liberties Union and the Fraternal Order of Police, Republican conservatives and Democratic liberals.
Lurking behind this rare piece of good news (the only other one I can find is that Trump recently went more than a month without playing golf, a record for someone far more focused on mulligans than being presidential) stands Matt Whitaker.
Whitaker is the right-wing nut job Trump appointed to be acting attorney general after firing Sessions in the expectation that he could take down Mueller and maybe prosecute Clinton and Comey while he's at it.
As a U.S. attorney in Iowa, Whitaker sought longer-than-usual drug sentences, including threatening a woman who had a non-violent arrest record with a life sentence if she didn't accept a plea bargain that would have sent her to prison for over 20 years. That is until a federal judge -- you know, the kind Trump loves to hate -- stepped in after the woman had served 11 years and cited prosecutorial misconduct in urging Obama -- you know, the predecessor Trump also loves to hate -- to commute her sentence. Which he did.
Sessions opposed the reform bill, which exists in part because of beasts like Whitaker. Trump is said to support it, a rare instance of decency for a nihilistic cretin who is the very definition of beastliness. But for how long?
That Blue Wave washed away any realistic talk of Trump running for reelection. He is incapable of consensus, let alone coalition building. He, in fact, is toast. But beyond pending indictments and blasts from the Democratic subpoena cannon, there is the biggest reason why Trump has to be run out of town, whether on a rail or by his own locomotion. He cannot be allowed to continue to destroy America. Nor can the job of trying to rebuild it be put off much longer.