There’s no mistaking now that the president of the United States is out of control.
Our democracy entered the crisis mode overnight. Only Republicans can save it, and there is no reason to think that they will.
It is time to be afraid, to light up the phone lines of every elected Republican in Washington to express alarm and demand that they warn the president publicly that their patience has limits. Impeachment is an option and may become a necessity.
Last night the president drove out one of the last voices of reason in his inner circle, his national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, and replaced him with arguably the most extreme war hawk in Washington, the mad John Bolton.
A few hours earlier a leader of his legal team, John Dowd, who had advised patience and cooperation in dealing with the Mueller probe, quit and was replaced by Joseph diGenova who most recently is known for promoting conspiracy theories on Fox television.
This morning, after the Congress saved the president from imminent government shutdown by sending him a bipartisan spending bill, he threatened to veto it, just to remind himself and us that he gets to decide.
And Congress, the only government agency with the authority to save him from himself, has left town for a two-week Easter recess. The child-king will be home alone, ranting and raving through the White House free to do whatever he wants.
He has the power to do great damage for no reason other than to feel the power, to stroke his fragile ego, to strike back at his critics.
He has already demonstrated that he sees and judges other people, and indeed the world, by how good they make him feel about himself, but he’s incapable of seeing, or acting upon, any needs outside of his own. He has said bluntly, for example, that U.S. relations with France and Russia depend, not on policies or national interests, but on whether he and the other country’s leader “like” each other. Yes, that is what he said.
That, combined with his gross ignorance of foreign and domestic policy and his unwillingness to learn, would disqualify anyone from the presidency in a normal world. But we have a president who allows no dissent, no opposing view, who instead surrounds himself with people who flatter him and take his whims as law.
The problem is bigger than Donald J. Trump. Hard-right political beliefs have metastasized across the world’s strongest democracies—Italy, Germany, Britain, France, Austria,—though not yet come to power. They control the Philippines, and in Poland and Hungary they have attacked and damaged the independence of the judiciary and the press.
But it can’t happen here? On Tuesday a dozen Pennsylvania Republican legislators moved to impeach four state Supreme Court justices because they voted to strike down changes in the state’s gerrymandered congressional districts. That is an outright attack upon the state’s independent judiciary.
In the U.S. Congress a resolution of impeachment, if there were to be one, would begin in the House Judiciary Committee, now made up of 22 Republicans and 17 Democrats. Of the Republicans, at least half may be fairly described as uncompromising supporters of Trump, not likely to vote for a resolution of impeachment. Yesterday, for example, instead of considering Trump’s attacks on the courts and the Department of Justice, the committee’s Republicans issued a unilateral subppoena for documents concerning Hillary Clinton’s emails.
I recently heard Trump make an offhand comment that soon he would have the staff that “I always wanted.” It seemed an odd thing for a president to say, as there was little to keep a new president from assembling the team he wanted. But it seems clear now that what he wanted was not policy expertise but emotional support.
The republic cannot afford to be his nanny.