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Is Trump Really Running The White House?

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Is Trump Really Running The White House?

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Last Saturday night, Donald Trump attended the Red Cross Ball at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. On Sunday, he watched the Super Bowl at his West Palm Beach golf course. As he left Florida on Monday, news emerged that he will probably return this weekend for golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Two questions. Does Trump think being president is a part-time job? And is Trump the one doing the job?

There’s no clear answer to either one.

Trump OK’d the recent failed commando raid in Yemen after a dinner with national security aides. Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush made such critical judgments only after intense reviews in the Situation Room.

The mission ended with children getting killed in the crossfire and the loss of one of our Navy SEALs. In apparent response to the civilian deaths, Yemen blocked further American ground missions against suspected terrorist groups. Trump’s order freezing immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, Yemen among them, may have been another factor.

Few presidential decisions have been as bizarre as Trump’s giving a permanent seat on the National Security Council to his political schemer Steve Bannon but not to his top military and intelligence advisers. After the bipartisan blowback, Trump reportedly complained to his White House staff that he had not been fully briefed on the controversial executive order. Yet he signed it.

No sane real estate developer would buy a suburban shopping strip without first knowing the particulars. And here’s Trump placing someone with almost no foreign policy experience above the experts — and on matters of grave national security.

There are two possible explanations. One is that Trump is lazy. The other is that his “executive” faculties are not firing on all cylinders.

Either or both could explain the growing impression that Bannon is running the show. A former Goldman Sachs trader funneled through Hollywood, Bannon harbors fantasies of world domination, even taking on the pope.

Trump’s ability to perform nuanced thinking was questioned throughout the presidential campaign. Some supporters made plausible arguments that a sober Republican leadership would keep his craziness in check. But with only a few noble exceptions, Republicans have caved in the face of Trumpian aggression.

The last straw for those already doubting Trump’s mental competence was his nutty calls to foreign leaders. He hit bottom in his abusive conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. After angrily denouncing American promises to take 1,250 refugees being kept in Australian detention centers, Trump reportedly hung up on Turnbull, the leader of a very close American ally.

John R. Schindler, a former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer, is no one’s idea of a liberal. But Trump’s weird behavior on the national security stage has Schindler calling on Congress to do its job and get Trump out of office.

“Our mission now is to put White House back in the hands of sane people,” Schindler tweeted. “This is not about R or D, but don’t destroy the planet w yr Twitter.”

As for some extended playtime in Palm Beach, Trump explained that golf will be a better way to get to know the Japanese leader than having lunch in Washington. That’s doubtful, but if salesman Trump imagines he’s going to charm Abe into doing what Abe doesn’t want to do, just add that to the delusion pile. Abe is not one of the children Trump frolics with at home.

Republican members of Congress can start removing Trump now or wait until the eerie show goes belly up in some catastrophic way. It almost doesn’t matter whether Trump or someone else has been making the calls. Whoever’s doing it is creating a terrible mess.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet a marching band as they arrive at Trump International Golf club to watch the Super Bowl LI between New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.,  February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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Froma Harrop

Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers. Media Matters ranks her column 20th nationally in total readership and 14th in large newspaper concentration. Harrop has been a guest on PBS, MSNBC, Fox News and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a frequent voice on NPR and talk radio stations in every time zone as well.

A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary in 2004 and again in 2011, Harrop was also a Scripps Howard Award finalist for commentary in 2010. She has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has given her five awards.

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48 Comments

  1. I of John February 9, 2017

    We can only resist where possible but in tge end it is up to the GOP to keep it all from boiling over. This is one dangerous game of chicken to play.

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear February 9, 2017

      The Weimars thought they could keep Hitler from “boiling over” too…we see how that worked out.

  2. For Republican Congressmen to remove Trump would require them to care about anything other than themselves.

    Not gonna happen.

    .
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c00856de86193aa70afda61988504428e435c815ad7180ef394079e2583a8fdf.jpg

    Reply
    1. sharon1026 February 9, 2017

      I think a few of them care, like Elizabeth Warren for instance.

      1. Joan February 9, 2017

        Elizabeth Warren is a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, she is Not a Republican.

        1. sharon1026 February 9, 2017

          Yes, I know that, I was just commenting that some in that building do care about us.
          The 535 number also include all of the Democrats.

    2. dbtheonly February 9, 2017

      Not gonna happen anytime soon. Or ever if we can’t get the voters to come out.

      Again suggest there are 25th Amendment remedies.

      But echoing: President Pence.

    3. jmprint February 9, 2017

      I think you are wrong, wait and watch as soon as the Judge is in place, he is a goner.

  3. InGen12 February 9, 2017

    The country has had it’s eyes opened and are carefully watching these hacks in Congress. Retribution will come in the next election.

    Reply
  4. Joan February 9, 2017

    GOP representatives have been making the political calculation that an alliance with Trump will cost them less votes than resistance. They are complacent in their belief that we don’t show up to the polls. We must abuse them of the notion that packs with the devil have no consequences. The only way they will turn on the ogrange would be King and acting President Bannon is if they think it will cost them re-election. Their loyalty is party above everything but themselves.
    Democrats, on the other hand, need to find and fund quality candidates so that we have someone to vote FOR.
    We should be able to capitalize on the Trump administrations alienation of African American’s, Latinos, women and immigrants. My guess is that we will have a worsening economy on our side too.

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly February 9, 2017

      Bully.

      Would disagree only to the extent that your list of persons Trump’s alienated is too short.

      Instead suggest, Trump’s alienation of all Americans who aren’t white supremacists.

  5. rednekokie February 9, 2017

    Of course tRump is running the White House. Just exactly as he ran (runs) his business ventures — extremely poorly.

    Reply
  6. FireBaron February 9, 2017

    Froma, I would agree with you except for two words – President Pence.

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear February 9, 2017

      I shudder at the thought too…but maybe he would at least get rid of Bannon.

  7. FireBaron February 9, 2017

    So far Teflon Donnie has racked up more vacation since his inauguration than Dubya and BarryO combined!

    Reply
  8. Dan S February 9, 2017

    Time to fly the US Flag upside down. We’re a nation in crisis with no competent leadership. People wanted change but this abomination I’m sure is not what Trumpvoters had in mind. Of course a lot of people knew he was a conman and unfortunately just enough of the right people in battleground states has stuck this man child on the rest of us. Time to retire the Electoral College vote for good

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly February 9, 2017

      Or instead of ripping the fabric and foundation of the country apart, find a way to reach the voters in between the Applachians and the Rockies.

      1. Mama Bear February 9, 2017

        not possible. They can’t read. They just follow some idiot who promises to bring their jobs back.

        1. dbtheonly February 10, 2017

          Oh Mama,

          They are millions of our fellow citizens.

          And besides it lets me say of our Republic,

          “Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?”

          1. Mama Bear February 10, 2017

            🙂

    2. Karen February 10, 2017

      It’s my feeling that those who voted for him knowing full well that he was a conman did so for one reason only
      To obtain control of the supreme court in order to overturn Roe vs wade. Prolifers with no real concern for life beyond the womb.

  9. stsintl February 9, 2017

    It is well known that Carl Rove [political advisor] was George W. Bush’s brain and Dick Cheney was his Virtual President [VP]. Now we have Steve Bannon as both “brain” and the VP of the POTUS.
    We all need to pray hard for God to bless America and keep it safe from self inflicted wounds.

    Reply
    1. Joan February 9, 2017

      Have you read about Acting President Bannon’s belief in The Fourth Turning? He is actively trying to promote all out warfare between the US and the Muslim world. He is aided and abetted in this by Dominionist ideologues like Pence and Conway. They want the Apocalypse in our lifetimes.

      1. Mama Bear February 9, 2017

        this is the real threat to our world. Another religious war over who’s god has the biggest…hands.

        1. stsintl February 9, 2017

          Virtual President Bannon is working from Hitler’s playbook with his puppet sitting in the Oval Office to sign his executive orders.

          There are two ways to pick up needles from a haystack. One is to use powerful magnets and search for them. Other is to burn the haystack down and pick them up from the ashes. Unfortunately, Bannon has chosen the second alternative.

  10. Jim Samaras February 9, 2017

    He will charm Abe into anything he wants done. You guys just don’t get it yet

    Reply
    1. jmprint February 9, 2017

      Oh yes we do get the fact that stupid people will also admire that. Are you one of those Jim.

    2. Thoughtopsy February 9, 2017

      Do you have a comment on Trump’s continuous lying yet?
      Or are you still deluding yourself that he speaks only truth?

    3. Independent1 February 9, 2017

      Really, you really think that Abe hasn’t been made aware of just how big a pathological liar Trump is?? You are so moronic that your posts are only good for laughing at!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

      You need to watch this ABC News video which makes Trump look like the biggest fool in the world – a rampant pathological liar – and it’s indisputable because it shows clips of Trump spewing lies and then clips that prove indisputably that what he just said was a blatant lie!!! So Abe is going to believe one word Trump says!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

      President Trump’s complicated relationship with the truth

      http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/president-trumps-complicated-relationship-truth-45366005

    4. Independent1 February 9, 2017

      And here’s another:

      It Took CNN Just Seconds To Debunk Donald Trump’s Latest False Claim

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/chris-cuomo-donald-trump_us_589c8740e4b09bd304c050c6

  11. TZToronto February 9, 2017

    I think one indicator of Trump’s incompetence is his recent 3:00 AM call to General Flynn to ask which is better, a strong U.S. dollar or a weak U.S. dollar. Flynn gave the correct answer–ask an economist. However, Trump graduated from Wharton (not an MBA), but the value of the dollar is a rather basic concept–and Trump doesn’t seem to know about it. He doesn’t even know enough to ask someone other than his national security adviser for the information. Trump is also clearly out of touch when he talks about scrapping trade deals and imposing a 20% tariff on imported goods. He’s out of touch because he can’t envision the effects of doing that. Does he simply think that a tariff on imported goods will produce U.S. jobs? Does he not realize that the higher prices resulting from such a move will produce inflation which, in turn, will mean higher interest rates? Does he not realize that higher interest rates will increase the value of the U.S. dollar and that the values of other currencies will drop, making U.S. goods more expensive in other countries. Does he not see that the trade deficit will increase when foreign-made goods become less expensive, but potentially lower prices of those goods will be offset by the 20% tariff? The only market for U.S.-made goods will be–the U.S. The point is that Trump is a simplistic thinker. He can’t see the ramifications of any decisions he makes. Take the Muslim ban, for example. From his perspective, keeping foreign Muslims out of the U.S. (and marginalizing American Muslims) is a good thing. From the perspective of Muslims in America and around the world, it shows that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam. As a result, recruiting for ISIL becomes easier; homegrown radicalized Muslim youth start to believe that the U.S. hates them, and they become converts to terrorism. This guy is unfit to be America’s leader because he has very little in-depth knowledge of anything except selling his name, suing people, and being sued by those he has cheated or abused. The greatest irony is that lawsuits against him and his administration will increase exponentially as he and his puppet masters continue to make bad decisions.

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly February 10, 2017

      Last year: President getting scary phone call at 3am.
      This year: President making scary phone call at 3am.

  12. latebloomingrandma February 9, 2017

    How many Benghazi investigations were there? When will the investigations start for the Yeman raid?

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear February 9, 2017

      amen sister!

    2. jmprint February 9, 2017

      The thing to do is go on facebook of each and every senator that was on the committee Gowdy and friends and ask them point blank.

      1. dpaano February 10, 2017

        Unfortunately, I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media because they are all time consuming and I have better things to do with my time. But, I agree with you…..anyone on any of those social networks should do EVERYTHING they can to contact their respective government representatives on a REGULAR BASIS!!! Maybe if they hear it enough, they’ll realize that we are in the majority and they shouldn’t depend on 45’s so-called “majority,” because they are actually the minority!

    3. Thoughtopsy February 9, 2017

      Sorry no investigation… the number of American dead did not hit the sweet spot.

      You see it has to be four Americans dead for there to be 8 consecutive Congressional investigations.

      One dead Is too far under four = No investigation.
      And 4,000 American dead and 200,000 Iraqi dead (in search of fake WMDs) was far to high above four = No investigation.

      It’s math.

      1. dbtheonly February 10, 2017

        Rather it’s alphabet: R.

  13. dpaano February 9, 2017

    Am I the only one that notices that whenever Melania is with 45, she’s always about 2 paces behind him? Goes to show what he thinks of women! As for Bannon….he’s to 45 what Cheney was to GWB — the puppet master! Trump has NO idea what he’s doing….he just signs his name and hopes for the best. It’s going to blow up in his face one of these days, and he won’t have anyone to blame but himself!

    Reply
    1. dbtheonly February 10, 2017

      There was a marvelous side-by-side pictures I saw last year.

      The first was President Obama in the pouring rain. He looked cold, wet, and miserable. An aide was holding the umbrella over Michelle.

      The second was Trump in the pouring rain. An aide was holding an umbrella over him and Fla. AG Bondi was struggling to keep up and get under the cover.

      Says it all doesn’t it?

      BTW, it looks like Trump’s staff is also focused on image over substance. Already setting new records for incompetence.

      1. dpaano February 10, 2017

        You’re SOOO correct! He’s totally unqualified, and his billionaire cronies are just as bad! Their only saving grace is that they gave BIGLY donations to his stupid campaign! Not sure how that makes them qualified for the positions he’s nominated them for! Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress just go along with him even when, I’m sure, many of them know he’s an idiot!!!

        1. dbtheonly February 10, 2017

          I would laugh at the absurd level of hypocrisy shown by the Republicans shown in comparing their treatment of President Obama and their demands for the treatment of Trump.

          Except I want to cry instead.

  14. jmprint February 9, 2017

    I bet as soon as Trumpf confirms the “Judge”, he won’t be needed anymore and impeachment from the right will follow shortly. It’s a no win situation for Trump or the American people, because Pence likes playing God, and disregards what Jesus said.

    Reply
  15. yabbed February 9, 2017

    Of course he’s not. He doesn’t have a clue how to run the government and he doesn’t give a hoot. All he wants is to use the office as a money making scheme for himself and his family.

    Reply
  16. Mikey7a February 9, 2017

    Normally I would be upset at any president not working 60+ hours a week in his first 100 days in office. With Donald Trump, I will hope he is away on vacation, three times as much as he’s in the White House.

    Reply
    1. dpaano February 10, 2017

      Well, he DOES play golf quite a bit, but you never hear any Republican complaining like they did when President Obama played a round or two occasionally!!! Apparently, 45 plays every week-end come hell or high water!!! Now he may even be in trouble for “hosting” Abe (the Japanese president) at Mar-a-Lago for the week-end and playing golf. If Abe is paying for his room there, then that’s a big ethics violation; and if 45 is “hosting” him and paying for the room, that’s STILL a big ethics violation. Either way you look at it…..he’s an ethics nightmare! I wish the Democrats AND some of the Republicans (besides McCain and Graham) would get off their butts and start complaining! They KNOW he’s wrong, but they don’t do anything about it!

  17. Dominick Vila February 10, 2017

    It should be evident to the most casual observer by now that Donald Trump is a ceremonial President, emulating the traits of former and current monarchs who relied on their courtiers to do the dirty work of governance. His reaction may not be pleasant if the Constitution-size papers he has been signing with great fanfare continue to get him in trouble. Will he lash out against his courtiers or will put up with their incompetence or malevolent agenda because getting rid of them would mean doing work he is not interested in?

    Reply
    1. dpaano February 10, 2017

      I agree….I’m waiting for him to pull back his nomination of Gorsuch for the Supreme Court based on Gorsuch’s comments about 45’s complaints about the Federal Court judges! This should be interesting. He can’t even keep his OWN people in line in some cases!

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