Shortly after Donald Trump was elected president last November, many of the billionaire’s critics tried to convince themselves that he would finally tone down his divisive rhetoric and curtail the unhinged behavior now that he was actually going to be president of the United States. It was a kind of defense mechanism against the utter shock of the situation. Hardly anyone had truly believed that Trump would — or even could — be elected president, so when he was, many dumbfounded (and terrified) people resorted to self-deception in order to cope.
Of course, many Republicans had similarly deluded themselves earlier in the year, after Trump had managed to win the party’s nomination. Now that he was entering the general election as a major-party candidate for president, the reasoning went, he would finally “pivot” and start acting … well, presidential.
We all know how that turned out, of course. After just four months in the Oval Office it should be absolutely clear that President Trump will not be changing any time soon. That is to say, he will not stop tweeting like an unhinged maniac early in the morning or peddling blatant falsehoods and conspiracy theories or revealing classified information to foreign officials in order to boast, or repeatedly breaking democratic norms — whether it be personally attacking sitting judges who rule against his policies, or calling journalists “enemies of the people.” In other words, Donald Trump will not (read: cannot) stop acting like Donald Trump — an impulsive, vindictive and unscrupulous billionaire with the temperament of a pubescent boy.
And at this stage in the game, it is unclear whether Trump will even make it to the one-year mark in office. The New York Times’ bombshell report earlier this week, which claims that the president tried to get former FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into the president’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, suddenly made impeachment (and possibly criminal prosecution) seem like a real possibility.
Over the past week, of course, the heat kept building. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed as a Justice Department special counsel to oversee the investigation into the Trump campaign's apparent connections to Russia. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was revealed to have joked last year, in a recorded conversation, that he believed Trump was on Vladimir Putin's payroll. And investigators are now reportedly focusing not just on former close associates of Trump, like Flynn or onetime campaign manager Paul Manafort, but also on people who currently work in the White House.
No longer are genuine calls for impeachment limited to the liberal blogosphere and social media. Major publications and politicians are now dropping the I-word and considering whether the president belongs in office.
“We've seen this movie before,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “I think it appears at a point where it’s of Watergate size and scale.” Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., meanwhile, replied in the affirmative when asked by The Hill whether the reported Comey memo might merit impeachment. “But everybody gets a fair trial in this country,” stated the congressman. A senior official in the Trump administration was even more candid (albeit anonymously) to the Daily Beast, saying: “I don’t see how Trump isn’t completely fucked.”
There is no doubt about it: President Trump is in serious trouble — and there is no doubt that he did this to himself. It is hard to see how something like this wasn’t always inevitable, considering the kind of man Trump is (and always will be). Over the past four months, the Trump administration has been a constant circus, with one fiasco after another. Most of these disasters have been entirely self-made -- unlike the president himself, whose success is a result of having a wealthy father.
It is absurd to think that anyone imagined that Trump could suddenly change his ways and become a reasonable and level-headed adult. Trump is neither reasonable nor level-headed, and while he may be twice the age legally required to be president, he is temperamentally a child.
The real question now, it seems, is whether Republican politicians will finally surrender to the fact that Donald Trump is a borderline insane person (and possibly a criminal) who deserves to be evicted from the White House. The next question will be how severely this monumental debacle impacts the Republican Party and the future of American politics.
“The GOP is going to be ultimate victim of [Trump’s] confidence game,” remarks David Faris in The Week. “Both the Republican Party and the president are already deeply unpopular, less than four months into his presidency … Rather than protecting him from the consequences of every indecency, crime, and provocation, the smarter play for Republicans would be to begin the process of removing the president from office immediately.”
Whether Republicans will go this route — and it doesn’t seem as improbable as it did just a few days ago — is as yet uncertain, but they must realize at this point that things aren’t going to get any better or calm down as long as this man is president.
The final question that we must all ask ourselves after this real-life tragicomedy has finally played itself out (one hopes before 2020) is how this deranged and disturbingly unfit man was elected president — and how we can make sure that nothing like this happens again. After the presidency of Richard Nixon, various reforms were passed to crack down on political corruption and limit presidential power. Forty years later, another disreputable president will hopefully inspire another wave of reform.