Sunday, May 14, 2017


I'll repeat something I said on Twitter yesterday: We've been trying to prepare ourselves to deal with the Trump presidency by reading 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, and On Tyranny, but maybe what we should be reading are biographies of recluses: Howard Hughes, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson. Maybe we should be watching the last reel of Citizen Kane.

Consider this CNN story:
... officials described to CNN a sense of dejection within the West Wing ranks, where most aides were caught off guard by Trump's decision [to fire FBI director Janmes Comey] and had little ability to develop a cogent response....

Through it all, Trump has remained largely out of sight, not leaving the White House once since he returned late Sunday night. He grew increasingly isolated and agitated, associates tell CNN, going a full week without hearing the applause and adulation that often brightens his mood.
At Axios, there's a piece titled "Trump's Inner Circle Is Getting Smaller":
President Trump's trust in his staff is weakening, particularly as the James Comey debacle continues to unfold, and he's relying more and more on his family and himself....

And then there were four: [Steve] Bannon has reportedly been pushed to the fringe on major decision-making. Instead, Trump's loyal and most trusted inner circle is Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, and Keith Schiller (the man who delivered the letter to Comey).
A thirtysomething glitterati couple with no government experience, Trump's 28-year-old former campaign press secretary, and ... um, Trump's former bodyguard.

Elsewhere at Axios, there's this:
At the urging of longtime friends and outside advisers, most of whom he consults after dark, President Trump is considering a "huge reboot" that could take out everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer, White House sources tell me.

Trump is also irritated with several Cabinet members, the sources said.

"He's frustrated, and angry at everyone," said one of the confidants....

If Trump follows through, his innermost White House circle would shrink from a loop to a straight line of mid-30s family members with scant governing experience: Jared and Ivanka.
Axios reports that Trump is thinking about bringing in new people -- but if he does, you know he'll turn against them too, as soon as he can blame them for some disaster that's actually his fault. After that, the inner circle will shrink again to Jared, Ivanka, and a few ego-stroking loyalists who can't be scapegoated because their jobs don't involve policy.

All these stories note that Trump is gradually emerging from his sulk -- he gave that commencement speech at Liberty University yesterday, and he'll begin a foreign trip next Friday -- but what if his mood swings continue? What if his retreats to the residence and the 60-inch TV happen more frequently and last longer?

I'm afraid he might survive that way, and even win a second term. Once they've become famous, we like recluses and eccentrics. They can retreat for years and we'll welcome them with open arms when they emerge -- think Michael Jackson or Dave Chappelle. We grade them on a curve -- did we care that Vegas-era Elvis was bloated and drugged out and not the hip-swinging sex god we remembered? And when they're not doing the thing we first loved them for, we cling to any sighting of famous recluses, however unsettling -- look, there's Michael Jackson dangling a baby out a hotel window while wearing a mask to hide his latest attempt to shrink his nose into nonexistence!

This, at least, could be the reaction of Trump fans. They'll stop expecting him to actually do anything as president -- instead, they'll wait for him to emerge, and just his emergence will make him seem heroic to them. And we in the anti-Trump community might lower our guard -- hey, the guy we thought was a potential Hitler can't even leave the house without a retinue to get him dressed!

This could be Trump's best career move yet: just staying home, watching TV, and emerging periodically to bask in admirers' adulation. That's all he really wants, right?

No comments: