how long will Trump last?

Edward Luce, chief US columnist for the Financial Times, writes that either the US political system will bring Trump down, or Trump will destroy the system.

There is no alternative. Or is there?  My fear is that something equivalent to 9/11 might happen, and Trump would suddenly become a popular leader. The system could continue, with an authoritarian in charge.

In his first month Mr Trump has declared war on the intelligence agencies and the media. It looks like the judicial branch is next on his list of enemies. There is no middle ground in Mr Trump’s Washington. Either the forces that are against the president will bring him down or he will destroy the system. My bet is on the first. But I would not stake my life on it.

Do not be reassured by Mr Trump’s cabinet. Many of them are experienced individuals. ….

Even Kellyanne Conway, and Sean Spicer — Mr Trump’s controversial adviser and press secretary — would probably look fine if they were working for a different president. ….

Robert Harward, the ex-navy Seal who turned down the job to serve as Mr Trump’s national security adviser, is a harbinger of things to come. In any normal circumstance, someone of Mr Harward’s background would have leapt at the honour of such a high position. But Mr Harward could not stomach the prospect.

It would have meant serving a president who thinks he knows more than his generals about war, more than his spies do about intelligence and more than his diplomats do about the world. The only people with whom Mr Trump agrees are those who agree with him. It is an open question how long it will take for Mr Trump’s existing appointees to reach the same conclusion. There is a thin line between doing your duty and being humiliated.

Edward Luce, “Donald Trump and the siege of Washington“, Financial Times, 20 February 2017 (gated paywall).

2 Responses to “how long will Trump last?”

  1. Douglas O. Walker says:

    I do not like defending Donald Trump.  The man is a bastard and I strongly opposed him in the Republican primaries.  He has terrible failings anyone can see.

    At the same time, Trump is a man of unusual ability who has made a fortune through complex real estate transactions, successfully invested in many countries, been a phenomenal success on television, and turned his name into a worldwide brand.  He is the father of five decent and successful children who obviously love and respect him and look to him for guidance in their lives.  Almost without exception, people who have worked with him for decades insist he is a great and honest and open and generous boss, who does not discriminate by race, age or gender and who is supportive in their personal lives.  He entered the political arena and, to my regret, defeated 16 well-known and respected Republican opponents, any one of which I would have preferred over him.  As a conservative, I am pleased to say he beat a very strong liberal Democrat in the Presidential election, and is now pushing the very goals and objectives he said he would during the campaign.  Finally, he has chosen very successful and knowledgable men and women for his Vice President and Cabinet, experienced people who generally agree with him and are competent to carry out the political priorities he announced during the campaign.  Nothing he has done (so far) is out of the mainstream of past American policy and practices.

    Trump has no more “declared war” on the intelligence agencies and the judiciary than Obama did when he fired all U.S. attorneys at the start of his Presidency as well as many ambassadors, generals and admirals during his early years. Many in the military claim Obama purged the officer ranks of anyone who disagreed with with his social agenda. Unfortunately, there is nothing new about a President sweeping the halls clean of potential political rivals and those who disagree with him..

    Everything Luce says about Trump is speculative. We simply do not know that much about him and what he is doing. It is best to admit this and take a wait and see approach to his administration. Nothing that has happened so far is at all unprecedented and unexpected.

    Given his mouth and his lousy demeanor, it all makes for a very mixed bag to be sure.  But say what you will, this is not a man who is insane or mentally unstable.  On the contrary, he is a shrewd and calculating man operating in an environment that is treacherous and two-faced and utterly determined to destroy him and the political desires of those who support him.  At times, I am amazed he survives. But he does, and with the Republicans holding both houses of Congress, a large majority of statehouses and legislators, and a large majority of locally elected officials there is no reason he will not continue to survive. Trying to remove him on political grounds is a fool’s errand.  Half the country would rise up in revolt.

    I very much doubt there will be a drastic fallout from a Trump Presidency qua Trump.  Not to say the country is not in deep trouble, especially in the economic and financial realm.  And of course the political class despises him and is doing everything they can to weaken him. But the country has been in deep trouble for many years, with problems and imbalances steadily accumulating and no one, including Trump, doing a thing about them.  If it enters a crisis under Trump, a distinct possibility let me say, it will not be anymore Trump’s fault than those that came before him. 

  2. Thanks for the comment, Douglas. It is very long, but I did not edit it because I think it important to read other views. People here in Victoria, BC are very afraid of Trump, and fear the worst. I hope they (and Luce) are wrong. The hiring of McMaster is a good sign — he is everything that Michael Flynn is not. Other Trump appointees still in office — such as Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway — worry me as much as Flynn did. I will become convinced of Trump’s good intentions when they go the way of Flynn, replaced by responsible people.