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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

On tonight’s episode of “As The Trump World Turns,” special investigator Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is heating up, feuding Republicans fail to get anything done on health care, President Trump’s approval rating plunges, the president is publicly bashing his own attorney general, and the White House is in absolute meltdown, with two longtime staffers fired in dramatic fashion (the tears flow!).

That’s what’s really happening. Yet on Monday, Trump had the audacity to tweet: “No WH chaos.” In reality, the only constant in the Trump administration to date has been chaos — and, as often happens with chaos, it’s all getting more chaotic.


The White House is in full implosion. And never in the history of politics — I mean all the way back to Roman times — has anyone imploded the way Anthony Scaramucci did.

The Mooch was hired as the new White House communications director, and on July 21 appeared in the briefing room to take questions from reporters. A brash, crude little man — a perfect “Mini-Me” for Mr. Trump if ever there was one — Scary Moochy yammered away in his New Yawker accent, holding court like a street performer, and even blew a kiss to the crowd at the end of his premiere.

But The Mooch is an angry guy — very angry. He publicly vowed to fire everyone in the communications department, already rife with leaks. And in a profane conversation with a reporter (apparently The Mooch doesn’t know how to go off the record), he called then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus a “f–ing paranoid schizophrenic” and a “paranoiac.” He also said he’s nothing like top White House strategist Steve Bannon, using an unprintable metaphor for self-regard. Ten days later, he was an ex-White House official.

Just six months into office, there have been 16 high-profile departures from the White House and the administration. The Mooch may not have been high profile, but his sudden rise to power and thundering crash into the dustbin of history is emblematic of what plagues this White House and the entire Trump administration.

Everything that can go wrong is going wrong. The Senate failed to pass the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, with Sen. John McCain voting against it (the same Mr. McCain, a bona fide war hero, whom Trump mocked during the presidential campaign by saying he likes “people who weren’t captured”). Mr. Trump is whipping Jeff Sessions, apparently bent on forcing his own attorney general to quit. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is “increasingly isolated” — at least to CNN — and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, publicly thumped by Mr. Trump, decided to take time off last week, spurring rumors that he’ll be the next rat to flee the sinking ship.

All this, as it always does, comes from the top (a fish rots from the head down, says the ancient proverb). As the newly appointed press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said after Sean Spicer was fired: “The president, as always, enjoys healthy competition.” And Mr. Trump can be a petty man: An unnamed source recently told The Washington Post that Mr. Trump once summoned Mr. Priebus to the Oval Office and told him to kill a fly that was buzzing overhead.

In the sieve-like White House, everyone’s talking — which is never good. One White House adviser told The Daily Beast that “the president specifically gave [Mr. Scaramucci] the green light to go after Reince.” Others are quietly phoning up reporters to tell them the daily goings on — and there are a lot of subplots in this chaotic White House, with nearly everyone there believing they’re the real star of this outrageous reality show.

But Mr. Trump’s power is diminishing by the day. Swept into office on what felt like a mandate from working Americans sick of politics as usual, Mr. Trump has already lost his clout with GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill. They now openly defy him — on health care, of course, but also on Russia sanctions, Mr. Trump’s sudden ban on transgender people in the military, and more. Said Sen. Lindsey Graham, “This is not draining the swamp. What he’s interjecting is turning democracy upside down.”

Mr. Trump, to be sure, loves the chaos. It’s how he’s wired. Yet while the narcissistic non-politician neophyte could still pull out some legislative accomplishments, he also knows things are getting away from him, fast. Why else bring in a four-star general, John F. Kelly — who knows next to nothing about the day-to-day workings of a White House — to run the show?

One thing is clear: The chaos is taking a toll. The most recent Rasmussen poll puts Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39 percent. He’s losing some of the very people who voted for him. And Mr. Trump doesn’t like losing, not one bit.

It’s only been six months since Mr. Trump moved into the White House, but it sure seems like a long time ago that he said: “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to get tired of winning.”

Instead, we’re all just a bit weary of all the chaos, aren’t we?

Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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