Friday, August 11, 2017

A 'Seriously Sick Psyche': Trump's Self-Created Wars

Are North Koreans really threatened by Guam,
an island located 3,000 miles across the Pacific?
To paraphrase an observation I read on Twitter earlier this morning, say what you want about President Obama, no one ever lost sleep worrying about the possibility of war with North Korea.

Trump's erratic statements spooked U.S. financial markets this week even as the Wall Street Journal's Spencer Jakab insisted this morning that markets traditionally ignore North Korea's provocations.

But analysts Gareth Leather and Krystal Tan of the subscription-based independent economic research company Capital Economics warned of the dire global economic consequences of a military conflict on the Korean peninsula.

To say nothing of the impact on Korean civilians who would inevitably be caught in the crossfire, as well as the servicemen and women, on both sides, whose lives would be lost based on little more than empty hot-air rhetoric - and vague threats against Guam, an island located 3,000 miles away from Korea.

Why can't the erratic POTUS just let the North Korea-thing cool down to allow State Department officials, foreign affairs experts and our Asian allies in the region to use diplomacy and negotiation to calm tensions and forge international consensus on a resolution?

It's increasingly clear to most observers that Trump's belligerence, overreaction to North Korean rhetoric and unchecked Twitter attacks on his own allies are evidence of a man willing to do anything he can to distract attention from special counsel Robert Mueller's expanding investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 presidential elections.

Just consider the past 48 hours; which includes Trump actually thanking Vladimir Putin for expelling hundreds of American diplomatic staff from Russia.

Yesterday Trump openly criticized Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the latest in a series of attacks this week, not only trying to blame the Republican-majority Senate for the fact that not one of Trump's major legislative policy initiatives has been passed - but also insinuating that McConnell should step down from his leadership position.

Mitch McConnell addressing a Rotary Club
meeting back in May
McConnell was back in his home state meeting with constituents at a local Rotary Club in Florence, Kentucky on Monday when he suggested that the stalled White House agenda is largely a result of Trump's own chaotic behavior and his total lack of understanding about how things work on Capitol Hill.

"Now our new president, has of course, not been in this line of work before and I think had unrealistic expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process. "

"So part of the reason I think people think we're underperforming is because too many kind of artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the complexity of legislating many not have been fully understood."

"May not have been fully understood" is an epic understatement where 45 is concerned.

Now I may not always agree with McConnell on policy issues or personal politics, but he's a man of decency and tact - and I think his comments about Trump were about as direct a rebuke to the White House from the Senate that we've seen in quite some time.

As Leigh Ann Caldwell and Andrew Rafferty reported earlier this afternoon for NBC News, some of the Republican Senate's heavy hitters all released statements of support for McConnell via Twitter, so there's little question McConnell's comments echo the feelings of the entire Senate chamber.

And not just current Republican senators either, former Senators have had enough as well.

This morning reported that former New Hampshire Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey, who called Trump a "sociopath" in 2016, published an open letter on Thursday in which he implored New Hampshire congressional representatives to back legislation known as the Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act.

Former New Hampshire Senator Gordon Humphrey 
The act, known as H.R. 1987, was introduced in Congress back in April by Maryland Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin and has a number of prominent Democratic co-sponsors.  

It would establish a commission of 11 bi-partisan members of the House and Senate to determine if the president is mentally fit to carry out the duties of his office.

Humphrey tried to block Trump's presidential nomination in 2016.

As Vox reported, Humphrey also sent an open letter to the Concord Monitor in which he said, in part:

"Donald Trump is impaired by a seriously sick psyche. His sick mind and reckless conduct could consume the lives of millions...We cannot leave our national security and our families' safety in the hands of a president whose poor judgement, belligerence, vindictiveness and reckless impetuosity constitute an indictment of his mental health."

Listening to Trump's comments about McConnell and overheated rhetoric on North Korea this week has given even Trump supporters (like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich) pause to wonder about POTUS' mental stability.

Recent poll tracking data from RealClearPolitics shows that his approval rating continues to trend lower while his disapproval rating edges higher.

Former CNN commentator Jeffry Lord
And one of his most ardent mainstream media supporters, former CNN commentator (and resident Trump apologist) Jeffrey Lord was fired by the cable network on Thursday after using the words "Sieg Heil!" in a Twitter response to Media Matters president Angelo Carusone.

Words which normally accompany the Nazi salute and only give credence to allegations of links between white nationalists and Neo-Nazis and Trump supporters and advisers.

Unnamed sources within the White House claimed the FBI's unannounced pre-dawn raid of former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort's home back on July 26th seriously spooked Trump and his top advisors - and caught them off guard as the raids took place 24 hours after special counsel Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to force Manafort to testify under oath in the investigation into Russian interference and collusion.

Given that the North Koreans have been using overblown fiery rhetoric for years, Trump's decision to ratchet up the tension with his amateurish "Twitter diplomacy" is either a reflection of his inexperience with foreign policy and ignorance of the Korean conflict - or his inability to control himself.

Or, perhaps it's simply a reflection of his willingness to do anything, including starting a war with the media, his own political party, or a hostile foreign country, in order deflect attention from an independent investigation into whether he and his campaign staff knowingly colluded with Russia to alter the outcome of the elections that put him into office.

None of those options bodes well for the people of the United States, or the flailing Trump presidency; which increasingly seems like it dwells in some parallel reality.

No wonder he's still talking about Hillary Clinton's emails - he's' just waiting for something to stick to the wall.

No comments: