President Trump’s irresistible urge regarding institutions is to smash them. Whatever useful purpose they serve is only important to Trump when those purposes serve him. One example, the “police” as a concept is great when Trump is preaching Law & Order, but the FBI (and by extension, the DOJ) is a Deep State hive of Obamaites shovel-ready to bury the glorious reign of MAGA.
Another: the Supreme Court is the most important institution in America, carving legal protections for Americans besieged by liberal activist judges who create rights out of whole cloth. That is, until “but Gorsuch” sides with the enemy, forcing us to navel gaze at our conservative values as we are betrayed by the institution.
Justice Gorsuch and Chief Justice Roberts react to this kind of Hulk-as-POTUS with horror and disdain. In fact, it may be impetus for the latest face slaps (DACA and transgender rights) from the Court which have so bedeviled Trump.
And another: John Bolton believes in the value of institutions, and having been inside the chaos palace that the West Wing of the White House has become, he memorialized his experience in book form, to the consternation of the president and his coterie (who simultaneously claim it’s a pack of lies, and that it’s classified). Judge Royce Lambert, in an order denying the Trump administration’s motion for an injunction to block Bolton’s book, acknowledged that Bolton’s book “The Room Where It Happened” may have harmed the nation. But apparently that’s not worth the value it has in fighting against Trump’s institutional smashing.
Defendant Bolton has gambled with the national security of the United States. He has exposed his country to harm and himself to civil (and potentially criminal) liability. But these facts do not control the motion before the Court. The government has failed to establish that an injunction will prevent irreparable harm. Its motion is accordingly DENIED.
These examples don’t even begin to exhaust the rich veins of Trump discards: Gen. John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, Gen. H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn; the list is nearly endless. In fairness, some of the ex-Trump officials and staffers support the president, but have moved on. Others are biding their time, or holding fire until they can no longer keep silent (like Kelly).
None of this phases the the man from the Golden Escalator in the least. He’s been doing this gig for 40 years, and whether it’s a casino, an airline, a professional football team, or the White House, it makes no difference at all. Institutions are just not important to Trump, which puts him on the same playing field as the reporters at the New York Times, the activists in the CHOP zone of Seattle, or the QAnon conspiracists he retweets on Twitter.
Flooding the Zone
Institutions appeal to people’s sense of order and rational thought. They are founded on mission statements, charters, rules, procedures, traditions, and detailed plans. The desired outcomes of institutions are carefully measured and compared to plan, with frequent adjustments made according to consensus-driven wisdom. Those who perform best are given influence, and those whose plans are vaporware are discarded.
This is not how Trump operates, or has ever operated. The only measure that matters to him is how much loyalty (defined as undisguised obsequiousness) can be extracted and displayed by individuals seeking to worm their way into his orbit.
Trump’s reflexive response to people and institutions that don’t bend to his ever-morphing will, and also resist smashing is to “flood the zone” of media and go straight to people’s emotional centers. This is why he is so recharged by his rallies; he gets to riff and they cheer. As Antifa topples statues, Trump topples institutions for no reason other than they are there to be toppled.
Here’s how we know the president is feeling the need to smash, being confined like the rest of the young, jobless, bored, horny and cooped-up protestors. As the summer equinox approaches, he’s unleashing a Biblical flood into the media zone.
On a Friday evening, Attorney General William Barr announced that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York–the one investigating the Trump family–Geoffrey Berman (no relation), was stepping down. Except Berman wasn’t.
“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate,” Berman said. “Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption.”Powerful US attorney who investigated Trump associates refuses to step down after Barr tries to push him out, CNN, June 20, 2020
Today (Saturday), the president will host his first rally since coronavirus ended such large indoor gatherings. He will hold the rally in Tulsa, where white mobs massacred blacks in race riots just over 99 years ago, burning what was then one of the most affluent black communities in America.
The rally is feared, and expected, to attract every manner of anti-Trump, and anti-establishment agitator, along with local supporters and ardent Trump fans and his own self-styled agitators.
“What the public needs to understand and those that are coming to Tulsa need to understand is the inter-federal perimeter is controlled by the Secret Service. And they mean business,” [former FBI official Chris] Swecker warned [appearing on The Ingraham Angle]. “They’re going to plan for the worst. They’re going to have, you know, a moderate level of police force showing.Former FBI assistant director predicts ‘every manner of anarchist’ will converge on Tulsa for Trump rally, Fox News, June 19, 2020
Trump’s Twitter feed continues to resemble the wall decor of a Qanon believer’s basement. He is practically begging Antifa to do something stupid, while he goads the CHAZ/CHOP crew to do their worst.
Trump fired three tweets at Dr. Anthony Fauci and the NFL. It’s almost a masterpiece of misdirection.
And as if that’s not enough, events in Atlanta provide plentiful fodder for the media, and race relations have seemed to reach a low point pitting guilt-ridden liberal whites and aggressive historical revisionists against Trump-friendly media operations and free-thinking black supporters.
Consider the zone flooded.
Trump’s presidency will, in hindsight, likely be framed as the old man kicking down the last of the fences established by the WWII veterans who craved order, institutions, and traditions to guide our culture. In turn, the mobs against Trump are fed by the same streak of hedonism and anti-institutional need to smash. This is the fruit of Trump’s tree.
Against this, the institutions, and those who maintain them, are pushing back for their very survival. This president, who needs the institutions to defend, protect and preserve the Constitution, continues to spend his days undermining the very thing he swore to protect.