The two wars, between Trump and the world and between Trump and his staff, feed on each other. I didn’t think it possible, but political coverage intensified this week, became more heated, more alarmist, more electric, more passionate.
Is there a limit, a point past which the dial cannot turn? A few days ago a friend said of the White House, “The wheels are coming off.” But how can wheels come off a plane that did not have them to begin with? For more than two years now Donald Trump has piloted his jet barely above ground level, with half a wing, and a fire in the mess. Yet every time you think the plane will crash, will decompose, he gives it lift, he holds it together. He defies gravity. What goes up, though … .
As it happens I have been reading past issues of National Review, including bound volumes from 1977-1981. I do not know whether Donald Trump fits the historian’s model of a “disjunctive” president like Jimmy Carter, but the two chief executives do share this in common: Both campaigned as outsiders, both brought fellow outsiders with them to Washington, and these coteries of trusted advisers did not mesh with the institutions and personalities and manners they found in the city. In both cases there was a culture clash, apparent from the beginning. It soon became apparent that Carter’s presidency was not only dysfunctional, but a failure.