Corporations, party and the military are turning away from the U.S. president. Fall guy Steve Bannon also can’t help him..
After this week, Donald Trump has it coming politically, doesn’t he? That is being heard often now, in a mixture of vicarious embarrassment, indignation and astonishment. If the economic bosses, one’s own party and the military position themselves against the president, he cannot survive for long. There is no fall guy, and throwing out right-wing chief ideologist Steve Bannon will not save him. As a result, one hears words like impeachment, resignation, occasionally even assassination.
What Trump allows is unprecedented, as is the widespread reaction of people turning away from him. Right-wing extremists in Charlottesville bellow racist and anti-Semitic slogans. One of them steers his car into counterprotesters, terror as one knows it from Islamists. The president, however, refuses to name the guilty parties. He only briefly relents when public pressure mounts. The next day, he reverts back to his earlier remarks during a press conference. He is supposed to be promoting his program for infrastructure, but instead gets carried away in a tirade, asserting that violence on the left was at work as well as violence on the right, and it’s just that no one has the courage to say it.
Is Trump speaking out of conviction or in a calculated way to avoid alienating voters on the fringe right? Only he knows. The backlash surprised him. Corporate leaders resigned from his advisory panels in droves. Two Republican former presidents, George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, claimed that any president must condemn racism, anti-Semitism and hate. Leading Republicans are criticizing Trump. The commanders-in-chief of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the National Guard are denouncing the neo-Nazis and distinguishing themselves from Trump.
Frustration is growing in the White House. Many there think this presidency can no longer be saved. Chief of Staff John Kelly sees his efforts to instill discipline in the administration being sabotaged. Gary Cohn, the administration’s highest economic adviser and a Jewish-American citizen, is thinking of resigning as the downplaying of anti-Semitism appalls him.
Insight Is Not To Be Expected from Trump
The United States as a world power is losing respect. Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville is only the most recent in a series of examples that show he is not suited to be president. He has no political-moral compass and no discipline that helps him react in a level-headed and moderate manner instead of reacting spontaneously and emotionally. Responsibility and integrity are foreign to him. He invents alternative facts and threatens the deployment of nuclear weapons and trade war.
Can his presidency still be salvaged? No. There were presidents whose reputation dipped to a similar low after seven months; Bill Clinton, for example. However, Clinton succeeded in being re-elected because he accepted his mistakes and made amends. That can’t be expected of Trump. Bannon’s departure doesn’t make it easier. Trump’s problem is not the wrong advisers. He himself is his worst enemy because he ignores advisers when they tell him what he doesn’t want to hear. Bannon will open a further front and declare war on the White House from the outside.
Is the end of the presidency approaching? No, again. In more than 200 years of U.S. history, there has never been an impeachment.* Certainly, Trump has done much to make himself a premiere case for removal. Yet impeachment is more of a political than a criminal process. A majority in the House of Representatives is necessary to bring impeachment charges, and it takes a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict. And for this, it depends on Trump’s party.
This president may be embarrassing to the Republicans. They will only go to extremes if they see a threat to their power. Republicans control Congress and govern in 35 of the 50 states. Why should they jeopardize their dominance with a controversial impeachment process? Around one-third of voters are sticking with Trump. It would be more dangerous if they turned away from their party because it pursues a removal procedure. For Republicans, it is safer to just distance themselves from Trump. The party can still live with him after a fashion. For the United States, Trump’s presidency is stalled. He will hardly accomplish anything. But he will stay.
*Editor’s note: Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body formally levels charges against a high government official, and does not necessarily mean removal from office. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, but acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.