The Time cover of Donald Trump seeing himself as king reminded me, as do his actions and blather, of another demented monarch:
— I will do such things —
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth.
He promised to Make America Great Again, but has no idea how to accomplish that, or even of what greatness would mean. Nearly all of his policies or attitudes have lowered our standing in the world and made us more vulnerable. He alternates between praising and insulting both allies and foes.
Even when his promises are — verbally — specific, they are illusory. Trump wants to save or add to American jobs. How will he do that? One plan is to impose a tariff on imported automobiles and parts. Even The Wall Street Journal couldn’t swallow that one, estimating a net loss of 157,000 jobs. Policies or rationales change almost from day to day. Proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum won’t be applied to Canada or Mexico; yes, they will. Tariffs imposed on Canada are based on national security; no, they are in retaliation to Canada’s tariff on dairy products.
A wall on the Mexican border will be paid for by Mexico; no, Congress is at fault for not funding it. His policy on China — punish it, seek its aid in Korea, impose tariffs, help save jobs for ZTE — is anyone’s guess on any given day.
He wanted to bring North Korea under control and destroy its nuclear capacity, or maybe just talk. He threatened fire and fury, then had a medal struck showing him and Supreme Leader Kim Jung-un. He called the meeting off, insulting Kim, but then decided that it’s on, and hoped that they will like each other. Operating without knowledge, experience or preparation, he declared that summit negotiations are just a matter of attitude.
After babbling about Canada’s burning the White House, Trump arrived late to the G-7 meeting, left early and attacked the host country and Prime Minister Trudeau by his ususal route, Twitter.
He then flew to Singapore to meet Kim. The meeting was a made-for-television affair at which he embarrassed himself and his country by fawning over Little Rocket Man and saluting a North Korean general.. He wants to dominate the world, but he gave status and legitimacy to a cruel dictator who boasts that his missiles can reach the U.S.
Trump got nothing in the joint statement but a vague promise of "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," given before without result. He gave up joint war games with South Korea, without having alerted that nation or our Defense Department. He had denounced the agreement with Iran, which had teeth, and now is touting one with North Korea which does not. Trump, the master of the deal, was played.
He tossed off a few of his usual inanities, the topper being his suggestion that we view North Korea from a real estate perspective: "They have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo?’ "
Trump’s disdain for alliances, his trade wars — and threats of the shooting variety — and his fascination with dictators such as Kim illustrate his desire, like Lear’s, to be the terror of the earth. His megalomania and autocratic ambition, along with his daffiness, were revealed in an episode yesterday. Noticing that "Fox and Friends" was taping on the White House lawn, he tweeted: "Wow, the highest rated (by far) morning show, @foxandfriends, is on the Front Lawn of the White House. Maybe I’ll have to take an unannounced trip down to see them?" After all, who beats them in adulation of our leader? During an impromptu interview, he said, referring to Kim: "He is the strong head. . . . He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same."
Trump’s tweet brought other reporters to the grounds. Wandering among them, he was in full fantasy mode, praising himself for imaginary successes ("I did a great job this week"), and blaming Democrats for everything wrong, for example his administration’s policy separating immigrants from their children.
Donald Trump is, to put it bluntly, as dumb as a post, even as to matters of self-interest. He is under investigation for colluding with Russia, so he proposed readmitting Russia to the G-7. He claimed that he fired James Comey based on a memo criticizing Comey’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, but admitted on national television that it was about "the Russia thing" and, in a meeting with Russian officials, said "I just fired the head of the F.B.I. . . I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off."
At that meeting he gave away a secret provided by Israeli intelligence; he later said publicly that he didn’t identify Israel as the source, which of course made everything right. He is under investigation for obstructing justice, but has criticized his Attorney General for recusing (rather than shutting the investigation down), threatened to take over the Justice Department, floated the possibility of pardons for those who might turn on him, and even asserted the power to pardon himself. He’s innocent, but manages to look very guilty.
His only visible talent is for self-promotion, but even that is simply the working out of his pathetic need for adulation. His frequent references to opponents as weak, or to critical news media as failing, reveal his fear that he is weak.
A republican form of government was supposed to be an improvement over hereditary monarchy because it would avoid the advent of an incompetent leader. It doesn’t always work.