16 minutes that explain the Trump presidency

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after a phone conversation with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto on trade in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 27, 2018. - President Donald Trump said Monday the US had reached a

The President reacted with characteristic defiance to Congress’ repudiation of the national emergency declared in the cause of funding his border wall.

“VETO!” he tweeted, promising to crush the insubordination of lawmakers who had tried, where many others had failed, to rein in his quest for power and contempt for constitutional norms.

Trump’s crisis management reveals defining attributes of this most unique of political careers: The irrepressible energy of a force of nature personality, a refusal to accept a loss and an instinctive reflex to seek a new opening.

But it also showcases less positive traits, including his willingness to trample the truth for his own benefit, a selfish streak for which friendly foreign leaders sometimes pay the price and even a shockingly casual way of talking about political violence.

His full political arsenal was on display in a Trumpian masterclass of a photo-op in the Oval Office Thursday with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

A historian 100 years hence could pull the tape of the 16-minute tour de force and learn everything they needed to know about the Trump presidency.

Trump’s behavior on Thursday offered pointers to how he will attempt to ride out political crosswinds using the unique political tools that made his late-in-life transition from business to Washington so successful.

Thursday’s rebuke from Congress came amid a spell that would have been disastrous for any conventional politician, as legal and congressional probes suggest tough challenges ahead as special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report looms. Unusually, it also included a slap from some Republicans who have been loath to challenge their leader in the first two years of his presidency.

Trump’s refusal to show weakness or humility in defeat allied with a brazen, relentless temperament and an indifference to shame helps explain why he is so hard to bring down.

Showing off sometimes diabolical but compelling political skills, Trump was audacious, provocative and spiteful. He made outrageous boasts about his own success and hinted at his acute sense of human nature and feral appreciation of weakness and discomfort in a political opponent.

Trump also showed his indifference, or rude disregard for the political plights of allied leaders, indulged his willingness to trade in falsehoods, and betrayed his obsessions with his predecessor President Barack Obama.

At Thursday’s White House meeting, Trump was also asked by a reporter about the freshest entrant in the Democratic White House race — former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. He was ready.

Trump makes fun of Beto O'Rourke's hand movements
Trump makes fun of Beto O’Rourke’s hand movements

“Well, I think he’s got a lot of hand movement. I’ve never seen so much hand movement. I said is he crazy or is that just the way he acts.”

The jab at O’Rourke was not just a throwaway. It was a return to the forensic targeting of political opponents that helped Trump dismantle the Republican primary field in 2016.

Mocking O’Rourke’s gestures might seem a frivolous at a time of national political angst and with a heavy duty policy debate…

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